For some years now Russia and India have been attempting to develop closer relations politically, economically and militarily. There are hard geopolitical reasons behind their desire to cooperate within various fields. Primarily, Western support for Pakistan and various Arab Gulf States and the overwhelming military presence of the US in the region have moved Moscow and New Delhi closer recently. However, the relationship in question is not without its inherent problems. There are some geopolitical hurdles between Moscow and New Dehli that need to be overcome. One of the aforementioned obstacles between them is the Chinese factor. For many years China and India, the world's first and second most most populated nations who also happen to be neighbors, have been distrustful of each other. Relations between the two massive Asian nations have always been cordial but cold. However, with these fast changing times, geopolitical policies of various nations have been evolving as well. There are some signs today that China and India may be looking to move closer. Time will tell. Perhaps in the future some form of an alliance formed by Russia, China and India will be worked out. The recently formed Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), primarily an economic union which has taken on a military flavor as of late, is a good template to base this alliance on. Nevertheless, the world today desperately needs a balancing power. The only way the aforementioned will occur is if Russia truly becomes an independent and self-sufficient power with close strategic relations with China, India and various other pivotal nations around the world.
[Indian] Army to Hold Exercises in Russia
Efficacy of equipment to be calibrated. First joint exercise was held in India last year. Both sides to field special forces soldiers.
The Army will hold joint exercises in Russia for the first time from September 15 to 19. This is part of a reciprocal arrangement to promote better ties between the two armies. The first such exercise was held in India last year. During the exercises, outgoing Chief of the Army Staff Gen. J. J. Singh and other top brass will hold talks with senior Russian army officials. There has been a spate of high-level exchanges of officials in the run-up to the apex level defence cooperation meeting in October and a summit meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by the year end. Defence purchases from Russia have been an issue of concern here, as most contracts have been beset by delays and cost escalation. However, it is unlikely for the Indian Army delegation to hold talks on the issue, as there had been no cost escalation for the assembling of T-90 tanks and other equipment sourced from Russia. The exercises will comprise paratroopers jumping from planes to conduct swift seek and destroy operations in the Peskov region. Both sides will field their special forces men for the purpose. The previous exercise, called the “Indra series,” had a similar profile.
India to Buy More T-90 Tanks
India is set to sign a major arms deal with Russia to purchase 350 more upgraded T-90 main battle tanks equipped with French night visions in a deal worth $300 million. The tanks, which would be used to equip two Indian armoured divisions, are expected to be delivered within 3 to 4 years, according to Russian sources here. The deal was to be signed during the visit of a high level Russian defence delegation headed by General Alexi Fedroovich Maslov on Monday, but has run into trouble after Moscow demanded millions of dollars more in sale of additional Sukhoi fighters and Carrier Groshkov. However, the Russians say that they are confident that the deal would go through in the next two months. India is seeking to buy these additional T-90 tanks off the shelf as production under technology transfer at Avadi heavy armament factory is slow due to technical problems. The induction of fresh T-90 tanks would mean that two of the three strike corps of the Indian Army would be equipped with these frontline weapons, which are far superior to Pakistan's T-80 tanks acquired from Ukraine.
India's MiG-29 Fighter Jets to be Upgraded by Russia
India is finalising a proposal to have its fleet of 67 MiG-29 multi-role fighters refurbished for $888 million by the Russian company RSK-MiG, but the upgrade programme is already two years behind schedule. "The programme is part of IAF's (Indian Air Force's) long-term plan to modernise its fighter fleet with the aim of expanding its strategic reach, firepower and area of responsibility over the next decade as India's burgeoning economy and regional importance proliferate," a senior IAF officer told IANS. Granted financial clearance by the defence ministry in fiscal 2005-06, the MiG-29 upgrade project has already been delayed by over two years. It is now likely to commence only in fiscal 2006-07 and be completed around four years later, officials said. The upgraded MiG-29s will remain in service for 10-15 years. The programme includes fitting the MiG-29s with upgraded weapons and a new avionics suite, with the old N-019 radar being replaced by the Phazatron Zhuk-M radar. The MiG-29s will also be upgraded for mid-air refuelling to increase their endurance.
The IAF is currently refurbishing 125 MiG-21 Bis and 40 MiG-27ML fighters. These two jets are being equipped with advanced avionics, improved electronic warfare systems and precision weaponry to boost the IAF's ageing combat fleet that also faces a sharp reduction in numbers over the next decade. By 2010, the IAF will phase out most of its 300-odd MiG-21 variants, its only remaining MiG-23 ground attack squadron or around 16-18 aircraft, around 100-110 MiG-27 fighters that are not being upgraded and two - out of an earlier eight - MiG-25 strategic reconnaissance jets that are still in service. According to officials, RSK-MiG, the original manufacturer of the MiG-29s, will be the sole vendor to upgrade the IAF's fleet of MiG-29B/S fighters and MiG-29UB dual-seat trainers. RSK-MiG will independently source the equipment that the IAF will select for fitting on the jets. In addition, it will carry out life-extension checks on the upgraded multi-role fighters that were first inducted into the IAF in 1986.
"The avionics architecture that the IAF is firming up will be a mix-and-match of Russian, local and imported systems that are likely to be sourced from France, Israel and possibly even the US," a senior official said. Various options being debated by the IAF include dispatching a limited number of MiG-29 fighters to RSK-MiG in Russia for being upgraded. This would be similar to the procedure adopted for two MiG-21 jets that were retrofitted in Russia in the late 1990s. Following this, the programme was completed at the IAF's base repair depot at Nashik in western India. Meanwhile, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) managing director K.P. Puri recently said 94 of 125 MiG-21s had been upgraded to the MiG 21 "Bison" standard at the HAL complex at Nashik. The remaining 29 jets would be upgraded by the yearend. At least three MiG-21 Bisons, however, have crashed since 2004. HAL is the prime contractor for the $626 million MiG-21 upgrade programme that, besides the Russian, includes French and Israeli avionics and weapons manufacturers and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Cleared in 1996, the project was to have been completed by 2001. But officials admitted it had been delayed by nearly five years because of technical, financial and bureaucratic "glitches" involving the IAF, the defence ministry, HAL and MiG. Prototypes of the MiG-27 jets refurbished by HAL at Nashik under the supervision of the Defence Avionics and Research Establishment at Bangalore have already been certified. The first 12 upgraded ground attack fighters will be handed over to the IAF later this year. The remaining 28 MiG-27s, HAL officials said, would be upgraded at the rate of one a month under the $133 million service life-extension programme signed in mid-2001. Over a year behind schedule, this project is due for completion by end-2008. The MiG-27s, which are undergoing an extensive avionics retrofitting, will remain in service till 2020 and even beyond.
Indian Team in Moscow to Talk Military Shopping
A high-level Indian delegation led by National Security Advisor MK Narayanan is in Moscow to thrash out contentious issues such as the delay in the acquisition of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and Russia’s demand for more money for military hardware. Several high-level meetings are lined up between the two countries to resolve niggling issues ahead of the talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin in November. Another high-level army delegation led by Army Chief Gen JJ Singh is expected in Moscow next month to carry negotiations forward. Antony told parliament here last week that some “unforeseen” problems have caused delays in the acquisition of the aircraft carrier. He said construction or repair of an aircraft carrier was a complex exercise and various problems can arise, which have to be resolved through interactions between concerned agencies. Sources here, however, said Russia is demanding more money for the Gorshkov and Sukhoi Su-30MKI projects. Citing the weakening dollar and strengthening rouble, Russia is reported to have asked for an additional $113 million for refurbishing the Gorshkov. Russia gifted the aircraft carrier to India and an amount of $1.5 billion had been agreed for refurbishing it with armaments and fighter planes. Indian officials say the contract does not contain a price escalation clause. The aircraft was to be delivered to India in 2008. However, reports say Russia has stopped work on the carrier at their Sevmash shipyard and this has pushed the delivery schedule to somewhere around 2012. Apparently, Moscow has diverted a major portion of the workforce at the yard to the construction of a nuclear submarine. Similarly, the Russians have asked for an additional five payment for an additional 40 Su-30 combat jets as well as the 138 jets that are to be manufactured in India under license. Though General Singh’s scheduled visit next month is timed to coincide with the first ever major joint Indo-Russian anti-terrorism exercise, sources said the price escalation issue will figure prominently in the talks. India’s crack paratroopers are also set to take part in “search and destroy” exercises code named Indra-2007 in the headquarters of Russia’s elite airborne division in the Pskov region deep in the northwestern part of Russia from September 16 to 18. The area is situated only a few dozen kilometres from the NATO borders of Estonia and Lithuania.
India’s Sukhois Turn it on in UK skies, Turn Off Radars
IAF pilots participating in the UK-Indian exercise Indra Dhanush last month switched off the radars on their Sukhois to prevent secret radio frequencies from being picked up by Western military intelligence. The IAF was so concerned about protecting the new-age Sukhois’ highly classified NO11M Bars radars — designed by the Russian Phazotron company — that pilots were ordered not to use them at all during the exercise, top Indian sources here confirmed to The Indian Express. Asked if the radars were blocked at the request of Sukhois’ Russian designers, the source explained, “It was for a mixture of reasons. The Russians have their IPRs (intellectual property rights) and we have our concerns.” The source added, “India opened up four or five years ago, but we’re still building up confidence in each other. It’s a step-by-step process, we’ve always moved step by step.” The frequency of the Su-30 MKI fighter’s radar is jealously guarded because once disclosed it neutralises both the aircraft and its missiles. And obviously, if India is to maintain its air superiority over Pakistan — and the SU-30 is the world’s most advanced fighter bomber — it needs to make sure that Islamabad does not gain access to its radar frequencies via friendly Western governments. In fact, during Indra Dhanush, the IAF pilots’ refusal to use their radars created problems that the RAF overcame by flying its Tornado F3s alongside each of the six Su-30s. Later, RAF commanding officer for the exercise, Wing Commander John Prescott, admitted: “It isn’t the way we normally do business. When we are working with another fighter, we would expect the pilot to use his radar for long-range targeting and to take the beyond visual range (BVR) shots as well.” But stressing that the exercise was a success, Wg Cdr Prescott told UK’s Defence News: “Working with a nation we were not familiar with proved to be extremely good value. It is good for both sides to be able to adapt and work with each other and gain a level of understanding with officers and airmen — not just in the air but in a social situation as well.”
India Develops Sea-Launched Cruise Missile
India has developed a submarine launched supersonic missile, a modification of the BrahMos Russian-Indian cruise missile, the Press Trust of India quoted Defense Minister A. K. Antony as saying. He said the missile has yet to undergo trials before it can be adopted by the Navy. The PTI quoted experts as saying that the submarines in service with the Navy, namely the German HDW series and the Russian Kilo class, do not have the capability to launch such missiles. India has asked Russia for a loan of submarines to carry out test trials of the BrahMos underwater-launched missiles, or alternatively, that the trials be carried out in Russian waters, Naval sources said. India's Army adopted the BrahMos missile for service in late June. The missile was developed as a joint venture set up by DRDO and Russia's Mashinostroyenia science and production association. BrahMos is designed to engage targets flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and at a speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. The company is currently working on an airborne version, which could be installed on the Sukhoi-30MKI air superiority fighters of the Indian Air Force. Experts estimate that India might purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its Armed Forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to third countries during the same period.