INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
IDC DEFENCE REVIEW OF INDIA -- 2001
An IDC Analysis
Delhi, 25 December 2001
From the Defence point of view the year 2001 was one of turbulence but there were no major military upheavals in India except the Government’s entering 2002 with threats of going to war. IDC are convinced that most of it is emotional rhetoric which needs to be controlled lest it should turn into real war if some one goofs up. But then except in 1971 when FM Manekshaw cautioned Indira Gandhi and then went to war secretly, there have never been thought out decisions of war in India and this has been highlighted several times in the past. Ranjit Rai's book “Indians Why We are What we Are” cites many instances especially in chapters on Wars India has fought, Sri Lanka Foray 1987 and the Gung Ho Chiefs who almost took India to war in 1988 in Brass Tacks.
was a delayed action war, which India fought with sheer bravery and the
politicians wanted early victory at any cost of lives as a political
necessity because India is conventionally superior to Pakistan. Talk of
war is now on the PM, RM and
EAM's lips and the Finance Minister has stated it will not affect the
economy too much. Hope he is right though IDC could argue otherwise.
Tourists are already cancelling visits, exports are down, rupee and stock
markets are hit and may be we want to squeeze Pakistan, but then we will
be squeezed too. And we do not want USA to help or talk to Musharraf.
on New Year’s Eve, IDC are convinced that if the Chief of the Army Staff
Gen S Padmanabhan who is now the Chairman Chiefs of Staff and de facto CDS
and a responsible thinker is consulted, he will tell the the leaders who
matter in the Government i.e. the
PM, RM, FM and NSA, that should the Army be ordered to hit terrorist
bases in POK by land -- then he
will have to wage war in POK and grab territory to succeed. Pakistan
may well retaliate and grab a chunk of India and the world powers will
definitely react with restraining voices and the Army will have to go into
Pakistan to be in the bargaining
position. The Navy can blockade
Pakistan but 60 coalition ships
are off the Makran coast and will
not allow it easily. No wonder every one including India’s best friend
Russia’s Putin is cautioning India, but the UP elections need a boost so
the rhetoric is normal in India. Troops are moving and nobody is noting
the cost to the nation. The Navy Chief on retiring did say the Navy is in
advanced positions and ready if asked to go to war.
Hence except for the above, 2001 could be called the year of consolidation for the Navy, Air Force and the Army in that order after going nuclear in 1998 and the Kargil war in 1999 that took the Army by surprise. The politico-military situation with Pakistan over Kashmir remained tense keeping the Army engaged along with the Para Military and Police forces in fighting terrorists, with losses of over two thousand civilian and uniformed lives. An average of two uniformed personnel including some officers die every day and life seems to have become cheap. Even an IAF base and the Assembly were attacked in Kashmir and the Parliament was attacked in Delhi by Pakistani terrorists. Despite the September 11 terrorist attacks in USA there was little let up by Pakistan who have kept cross-border terrorism alive under the guise of Freedom Fighters.
annual Defence budget was enhanced to over $13 billion and the long term
procurement programme, especially from Russia took swift steps forward
with USA, Japan and Germany suddenly lifting the sanctions placed on India
in October 1998. The South Asian equations
have altered after the 11 September attacks. India’s orders on Russia
for defence equipment crossed $ 5 billion and are underpinned by
confidential written and verbal understandings of strategic cooperation
between India and Russia and include supply of a Nuclear submarine and SU
30s. The Phalcon AWACS system from Israel has also been cleared by USA for
fitment in a Russian IL-8. These are big steps of consolidation. The
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) India’s oil major has
invested $1.5 billion in the Sakhalin 1 oil fields in some quid pro quo
agreements with Rosenfelt while two large nuclear power plants are also to
be set up by Russia in Southern India. Russia also shipped nuclear fuel to
the Tarapur nuclear plant near Mumbai despite US Defence Secretary
Rumsfeld’s objections. India’s nuclear dilemma deserves appreciation
as the war cry is in the air.
Looking back it is the same BJP Government in power that successfully steered India into the exclusive nuclear club uninvited soon after taking over in May 1998 but without undertaking homework or study of how it would operationalise this newly acquired power. The leaders lacked strategic experience of application of nuclear weaponry and that position remains unchanged. IDC have done some reviews of Ashley Tellis, George Perkowitch, Sanjay Bahaduri and Chengappa’s books to substantiate along with K Subrahmanyan’s writings who are the best researchers on the subject. The Armed Forces were not consulted and therefore it took time for realization to set in, that massive changes would be essential in the basic structure of the Armed Forces as left behind by the British.
Reeling under the heat of internal debate, the Government was caught on the back foot by Pakistan’s aggressiveness in the form of Kargil war. The conventional Army was found fighting a war without the available force multipliers of technology like infrared devices, weapon locating radars, EW equipment, satellite photography and modern small arms. Thermal imaging devices, grenade launchers, ammunition, rifles and 180 ELTA EL/M2140 battlefield Surveillance Radars worth 100 million dollars have had to be acquired since. The RM told the Parliament that 129 contracts were hastily signed and as an example Israel supplied 26,000 rounds of T 72 Ammunition worth $30 million. Then Tehelka and the US$2500 per coffin case have revealed that many haphazard purchases followed.
of lives were heavy and committees were set up under Defence and Home
Ministries to recommend changes in
the Armed Forces and Intelligence set ups. The changes now under
implementation are mainly in the higher control of defence, procurement
procedures, creation of a separate strategic force and revamping of the
intelligence and paramilitary set up.
However, their pace has been slow and turf battles between Services
and bureaucrats’ interests have not been absent. All we have is the
skeleton apparatus and the Services are thrilled as many promotions have
taken place. IDC will follow the restructuring and continue to report
Defence Management and Procurement
A National Security Council and a National Security Advisory Board were set up in 1998 but the working of the former serviced by the erstwhile Joint Intelligence Committee was ad hoc and the NSAB had lapsed and has been recently reconstituted under a former Ambassador. Only the template for a CDS, a VCDS and three DCDS has just moved in. A three star General, Lt Gen PS Joshi was appointed in October as the interim Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CIDS) and IDC presume he will become the VCDS.
The proposed four star CDS when appointed will be equal but just above the other three Chiefs and become the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He will be the single point Adviser to the Government and have administrative control of the strategic and nuclear forces as well as the newly formed India’s first tri-service Command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands at Port Blair.
A Special Secretary has been appointed for procurement in the MOD and three-tier political and professional committees announced for joint selection, negotiation and induction of equipment for the three Armed Forces which was previously being handled individually by the Services and controlled by the Joint Secretary of each Service. It is hoped that lobbying and corruption will reduce and greater harmonization between the Services will be achieved as the term 'jointness' has entered Indian Armed Forces' thinking.
Government has also stated via media and has
legalised and reintroduced the system of
Defence Agents after a thirteen-year ban. However IDC has not been
able to get hold of any notification on the Foreign Direct Investment in
Defence which is anxiously awaited from the Commerce and Industry
Ministries. However the rush to appoint agents has begun. IDC learnt the
applicants would be permitted to take commissions
in Indian rupees and the figures will
have to be spelt out in the contracts and they will be required to
disclose all details of their bank accounts and assets and be cleared by
the MOD, Tax authorities and Intelligence Agencies.
purse strings of the Government are open wide and there is anticipation
that the $1.3 billion deal for the 66 Advanced Jet Trainers, the 4 TU 22M
Bombers under the pretext of Maritime Recce offered to the Navy and the
large 40,000 ton Carrier Gorshkov with MIG 29Ks with
N 10 Radar, will be signed soon as the home work is well advanced.
Force. 50 SU MkI 30 aircraft were ordered from IAPO and two squadrons
have been supplied and based at Pune. The delivery of the rest and the
upgrading of the already supplied lot have been speeded up and 140 will by
manufactured by HAL in India. This is the largest single deal signed and
will cost the nation over $2.5 billion. Russia and India will also design
a fifth generation fighter and transport planes jointly. The IAF is also
finalizing IL-76 mid air refuellers and the IL- 8 AEW platform with the
Israeli Phalcon AEW with Ku band side scanning radars, which now has
US clearance as it has Lockheed inputs.
III-class, Project 1135, 6 guided missile frigates –– INS Talwar,
Trishul and Tabar worth $600 million have progressed
at St Petersburg and the keel for the Type 17A designed by the
Naval Design Bureau on similar lines at Mazagon Docks has been laid. The
third Krivack was launched in the presence of the Defence Secretary
Yogendra Narain end May 2001 but the Russian demands for training costs
were high and have been resolved recently, as it will involve testing the
missiles with targets. These ships will have some Indian equipment and
Wartsila diesel generators from Finland and the new Russian A-190 quick
firing 100 mm gun and the Kashtan air defence system and vertical launched
Klubs. The model was displayed by the Navy on Navy Day. Up to 200 Novator
3M54E Klub missiles are being supplied for two of the three Kilo class
submarines being refitted in Russia and the future needs for the Type 17A
and the three follow on improved stealth Delhi class ordered on Mazagoan
docks. 4 Kamov Ka-31, air borne early warning helicopters worth $28
million, and six Ka-28 ASW helicopters worth $18 million are planned for
early delivery and 6 Plus 1 Barak vertical launched SAM systems have been
supplied by IAI and Rafael of Israel.
LOI for an air defence ship whose model testing is complete has
been placed on Cochin Shipyard and Indian DRDO and NPO Mach will coproduce
the Brahmos missile even for exports.
The Indian team completed inspection of T-90 MBTs with the Reflecks
anti-tank missile and B 31 diesel engine worth $650 million at Nizhny
Tagil. The supply for the first 120 has commenced and local production for
the balance 190 has been finalized from
at the Avadi tank factory.
of Defence and Service Headquarters
year 2001 was full of administrative challenges for MOD as the Tehelka
expose of politicians and uniformed personnel receiving money from arms
peddlers was broadcast on TV, in early 2001. It stunned the nation.
Defence Minister George Fernandes resigned on 15 March
but was reinstated on October 15. The MOD was at a loss how to
handle the media and appointed experts and attempted to get engaged in all
aspects of Media and Information Warfare without success. A senior
journalist G Verghese was taken on as consultant and toured the world
including MOD UK and has tendered a report. A one star Army officer was
appointed in the Ministry of External affairs soon after the 11 September
attacks. Most procurements were perforce contracted from
Russia because of sanctions by USA, Japan and Germany which are all
selectively lifted now. This saw MOD interacting closely with Russia’s
Rosboronexport and signed many MOUs, which were monitored by the National
Security Adviser Brajesh Misra for most of the acquisition programme.
Israel became the second largest Defence supplier and visits were
exchanged. Jaswant Singh handled the Defence portfolio in addition to
External Affairs for six months and got his associate and former Minister
of State Arun Singh to assist and write out the many changes, which are
now to be implemented. He had to leave as soon as George Fernandes
Armed Forces Brief
Indian Army with a budget of $7.4 billion under Gen S Padmanabhan who IDC
feel is tipped to be the CDS, was deeply engaged in getting the
Prithvi SSM batteries into operational state and prepare to induct the
Agni-II ICBMs and understand the nuclear training and delivery challenges
of the future. Seminars were held behind closed doors with scientists from
BARC, DRDO and the Atomic Energy Commissions and the findings were presented at the Commanders Conference. The duration of field
postings for units in the forward areas were enhanced but there are man
power shortages in the Army especially in the officer cadre -- a challenge
the Army has to face and reorganize, besides bearing the brunt of
terrorism as it enters the nuclear realm. The Navy successfully licked the
stabilization problems of the Prithvi and Dhanush at sea and the 150 mile
advanced Prithvi was fired successfully with a homing head.
The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sushil Kumar handed over on 29th to Admiral (Designate) Madhavendra Singh -- the UK and USA trained Vice Chief with prophetic words at an impressive ceremony in Delhi. He said it was a cold foggy morning but the vision of the Navy was clear and bright. A most professional officer in the Navy has taken over the reins. During the year the Navy conducted the International Fleet Review with élan, commissioned INS Mumbai (D63), INS Kirch (P62) and Kulish (P63) the second and third Kora Class with 16 Kh 35 Uran SSMS, patrol craft Tarasa (T63) and Tilang Chang (T61) and survey ship INS Darshak leaving only the survey ship Sarveshak to be commissioned soon. The Navy with its $1.7 billion budget steered itself well and has consolidated its template for the next few years. The order book at the Naval Yards is full and another large LST (M) similar to INS Magar was ordered on Garden Reach Workshops.
Naval aviation undertook challenges to keep the 100 aircraft strong force operational, as the aging IL 38s and TU 142 took on refurbishments in Russia and India. It suffered two fatal Sea Harrier and Ka-28 crashes off Goa but INS Viraat was made operational with no mishaps and is another record in naval aviation. There was a shortage of technical officers and short service commissions were resorted to. Ashore the Navy made progress with the permanent Naval Academy on the West coast at Ehzimala near Calicut and with the new Naval base, Seabird Phase 1, at Karwar near Goa . There were no VIP visits to India save the Chief of Myanmar Navy Vice Admiral Kyi Min in November to the training command in Cochin and the Western Fleet.
Navy was very active soon after Op Enduring Freedom and USA has offered
exercises off the West coast and further cooperation in the Arabian Sea
and sought the use of Indian facilities, which the Government is likely to
consider. If accepted it will be a boost for the Navy. The challenge
before the Navy will be to induct the new ships and equipment including
the nuclear class submarine and speed up the building of ships at yards as
funds are not constrained, and conclude the Type 75 Scorpene submarine,
Air Defence Ship and Gorshkov
contracts. IDC feels the Navy has done well as it is technologically adept
and there has been team work at the top.
IAF. With a $3.3 billion budget IAF had a lack luster year and consolidated its assets. Their plans to induct 66 AJT Advanced Jet Trainers did not bear fruit and the outgoing Chief regretted it. The negotiations with BAE came to a halt and IDC hear it still breathes. The IAF was also in the process of evaluating other offers from Brazil, Russia (MIG AT) and Italy .The IAF’s main challenge has been to bring down the high annual accident rate which has always exceeded 20 per year and is no different this year with the latest one on 26 Dec causing the death of Sqn Ldr Madhukar Seth near Jodhpur.
Air Marshal La Fountaine and Dr Abdul Kalam Committees had offered
solutions but the MIG 21 series especially the older versions have been in
the lead with accidents. In
2001, till October there had
been 9 MIG 21s, one each MIG 23, MIG27, MIG29, Jaguar, Kiran trainer and
four helicopters crashes with over twelve fatalities.
The plan to upgrade the 123 MIG 21 Bis has begun at HAL on the
lines of the two upgraded models flown in from Russia. At the year end Air
Chief Marshal (Designate) S Krishnaswamy will succeed ACM A Y Tipnis.
DRDO with a $700 million budget under Dr Atre a Canada trained Sonar
Scientist who took over from India’s Missile Scientist Dr Abdul Kalam
has again witnessed criticisms for delays in projects.
It is top heavy with armchair scientists and widely spread
laboratories with responsibility for production also.
Most of its projects guzzled money but were yet to deliver. The
Light Combat Aircraft flew the first set of trial sorties but progress has
been slow, and the IAF is skeptical whether the fighter would be
operational in this decade. The ATV
nuclear submarine project’s hull modules design and the ship building
facility at Vishakapatnam, where the 7700 ton boat will be assembled,
moved ahead and it was reported that Russians have recently arrived to
assist in commissioning the reactor that will be placed inside the boat.
The missile programme of DRDO saw the 3000 km ICBM AGNI II go in for series production at Bharat Dynamics and Prithvi SSMs were pressed into service. However the SAM Trishul even after 55 flight trials could not be operationalised and would be obsolescent for the Navy at least, as the Israeli Barak, IAI / Rafael has been inducted. DRDO continued good work in other minor fields including high altitude clothing and its Samyukta, Sangrha and Samvahak EW surveillance equipment, Tranquil radar warner and Tempest IAF sensors and Sarvadrishta system for satellite imagery made progress. The Navy also received support for its series of sonars which are offshoots of the original APSOH and the Panchatandriya was fitted in INS Karanj for trials. The bane of the DRDO has been the lack of coordination and control by the Services so essential for the coordination of a project.
was hoped the CDS would have some control to audit the DRDO but that is
unlikely. In the Intelligence field ISRO launched the Technical
Experimental satellite (TES) with a one meter resolution panchromatic
camera and this should be of great support to the Armed Forces which has
the DIPAC imagery facility for analysis.
conclusion is that the Armed Forces have done well under the turbulence in
the MOD and the political parties but then the whole apparatus has to pull
together. The challenges therefore before the Indian security makers is
how to make three separate Armed Forces come together and into the
decision making process as the September 11 events have led to USA
supporting India’s arch enemy Pakistan to overwhelm the Taliban. USA
wishes to come closer to India and that needs to be supported.
The Armed Forces have to implement the new CDS system in the New
Year and carve out the Strategic Force with least upheaval while it
remains alert on the borders and hope that it does not have to go to war
unless the strategic objectives of the Government are made clear and the
Armed Forces are convinced they are achievable.