NEWS

COMBINED COMMANDERS CONFERENCE ABOARD INS VIKRAMADITYA AT SEA

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, chaired the Combined Commanders Conference on board INS Vikramaditya at Sea, off the coast of Kochi on December 15, 2015. This is the first time that the Combined Commanders Conference has been held on board an aircraft carrier. In his address the Prime Minister stated that the aircraft carrier is ‘the instrument of our maritime power and a symbol of our maritime responsibility’. He paid tributes to the armed forces and complimented them on the yeoman work done by them during the recent floods in Chennai, the earthquake in Nepal and the relief work carried out in Yemen. He gave his commitment for the speedy implementation of OROP and for building the National War Memorial and Museum in the heart of our nation’s capital. He also committed to improve skills and opportunities for ex-servicemen, so that when they leave the Service, they can still serve the nation with pride and dignity. The Prime Minister also spoke of the many challenges which the nation faced and steps being taken by his government to address them. He stated that while the nation is committed to peace, it will never ever drop its guard and will continue to strengthen our defence capabilities and infrastructure as also regional and global partnerships. He also stated that the process of defence procurements has been speeded up and firm steps are being taken to address shortages and cater for replacements. The public sector too is gearing up to the challenge and defence manufacturing is being transformed through radically new policies and initiatives. The Prime Minister also emphasised the need for modernisation of the force into one that is agile, mobile and driven by technology, which has the capability to win wars swiftly. This, he stated, would require reforms in senior defence management.

INDIA STRENGTHENS TIES WITH SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA

During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Singapore on 23 November 2015, the two nations signed 10 bilateral agreements including a joint declaration on ‘strategic partnership’.As per the MEA spokesperson, Mr Vikas Swarup, the Indian premier met his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam. During the visit,10 bilateral documents were signed across sectors, showing “a large bandwidth of cooperation”.These included joint declaration on strategic partnership to defence, cyber security, shipping, culture, and civil aviation. Earlier, on his four day visit to Malaysia, both countries agreed to strengthen their defence cooperation, including improved maritime security and disaster response in the region. At the end of his visit to Malaysia, the PM said that he was “pleased that we have agreed to upgrade our joint exercises and set up the SU-30 Forum”. He added that“we will do more in terms of level and complexity of exercises, and collaboration in training and defence equipment.”Besides agreeing to regular summits, ministerial dialogues and official meetings, the two countries have agreed to cooperate in cybersecurity. Raising the issue of terrorism, the Prime Minister said the recent attacks in different countries were a reminder of the global nature of this threat. In this context, he said Malaysia had provided leadership in combating extremism and radicalisation, rejecting any link between terrorism and religion, and in highlighting the real values of Islam.

SAAB’s GRIPPEN FIGHTER AIRCRAFT

Sweden has offered to manufacture its fifth generation Gripen fighter aircraft in India, along with technology transfer. Sweden’s defence manufacturer Saab has, besides offering to set up a base in India, has also indicated its willingness to collaborate with India in the development of aerospace capability for the next 100 years and partner in developing the next version of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), being developed and designed by Aeronautical Development Agency. Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab’s aeronautics division, stated that the offer of technology transfer would be real as they are offering India ‘full system control’ and ‘full software control’.

MULTI NATION MILITARY EXERCISE TO BE HOSTED IN PUNE

The Indian Army will hold its largest ever multi-nation military exercise in Pune next year, in which all the ten member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its eight dialogue partners will participate. For the period2014-17, ASEAN had developed a roadmap to build common understanding to achieve interoperability in the fields of Humanitarian Mine Action and UN Peacekeeping Operations in the region. Besides ASEAN’s 10 member states, the Field Training Exercise (FTX-2016) would involve participation from and eight dialogue partner countries which are Australia, China, India,Japan,New Zealand, South Korea, US, and Russia. It aims to promote practical cooperation and give opportunity to share and learn good practices from each other. ASEAN is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Earlier, ASEAN and India had reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen and advance the strategic partnership and step-up cooperation.

WHITHER FGFA?

During the visit of the Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Boisov to India in early December, the visiting dignitary stated that testing of the PAK FA is nearly complete. The 5th generation fighter is intended to replace the Mig-29 and Su-27 currently in service in India. The fighter is part of a development partnership between Russian manufacturer Sukhoi and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The IAF may purchase 154 of the aircraft once they come into service in 2016. The PAK FA is set to rival the US made F-35 fighter, but holds a major export advantage in that it is much more cost effective. However, negotiations between the two countries over the joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), have been stalled over the last two years. There are two parts to the FGFA project. One is the research and development (R&D) contract for $11 billion for long-term development of the jet. It has been pending ratification since 2013. The second is the actual joint-production or manufacturing of the plane. The preliminary design stage of the FGFA programme was completed in June 2013 and India has so far spent Rs 1,483.15 crore on it. As a result, the T-50 fighter jet has been built for the Russians under its PAK-FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation) programme for the FGFA. The jet is already testflying and is slated to be inducted into the Russian air force in 2016.

CHINA: PLAN FIELDS A NEW TYPE 94 JIN CLASS SUBMARINE

The Chinesenavy has recently completed a series of ‘realistic confrontation training exercises’ in the South China Sea (SCS) which could set the tone for renewed tension in the disputed waters.The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fielded a new type of ‘submarine’. However, it is not clear if the vessel was one of the new Type 94 Jin-class nuclear submarines.Multi-type of destroyers and frigates carrying anti-submarine helicopters were part of the exercise.Sources said the vessel was a submarine submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN – in other terms, a nuclearpowered sub capable of carrying nuclear missiles). This was second such exercise within weeks

CONCERNS OVER IOR

During his visit to Sri Lanka from November 23-25 for the Galle Dialogue, Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan warned that the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) faces a broad spectrum of traditional and nontraditional threats, which would require stronger regional collaborative mechanisms and architectures to ensure maritime stability. He added that the Indian Navy is cognisant of the fact that maintaining stability in the maritime domain is a shared responsibility of all coastal states, which can best be achieved through a cooperative and collaborative approach through open, inclusive regional mechanisms. A unique factor that differentiates the Indian Ocean from the other two major oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic, is that 80% of the oil and trade that emanates in the IOR is “extra-regional” in nature. This implies that any impediment to the free movement of oil or trade through the IOR will have an impact not just on the economies of the region, but the global economy as well. It’s in the IOR where interests of the rim countries as well as major geo-political entities intersect. Holding that the IOR faced threats ranging from asymmetric warfare and maritime terrorism to piracy and illicit trafficking, the Naval Chief said that globalisation has led to vulnerability of the oceans and no single navy was robust enough to monitor the “global commons” and handle the varied challenges on its own. Therefore, the new Indian maritime security strategy is centred on ‘shaping a favourable and positive maritime environment’,with presence, maritime engagement and regional maritime domain awareness amongst its key pillars.

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