An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 21 June 2006


The Shangrila Conference is regularly held as an international security meet organised jointly by the Singapore government and the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and is gaining a reputation as a networking forum for top defence and security experts from Asia and the US. IISS London situated along the Thames river is invaluable for countries and organisations to seek inputs, as it employs experts and ex Intelligence staff from many countries and its predictions and reports are well respected, even though they have a Western interests slant.

Earlier we had reported India's Foreign Secretary Saran's speech at IISS London, on the Indo–US nuclear deal, which appears to be facing an uphill passage but the hope is that it will ultimately pass muster. India should not be in a hurry as it has enough uranium for its reactors, ATV project and for enrichment. We learn that much nuclear research is being done to make power reactors run on low enriched Uranium and that is where the Iran issue is relevant. Iran wants to run its Busheir reactor on highly enriched Uranium.

The IISS is competent to comment on India's maritime issues as former IDSA and NSC researcher Rahul Roychowdhry is a Senior Research Fellow at IISS and though the Shangrila meet is a non Governmental affair, yet very official issues are discussed and resolved.

This year the security of shipping through the Malacca Straits was discussed along with a discussion whether there should be compulsory pilotage and India's bid to join the patrol as a nation whose economic interests are vital in the region, though the Laws of The Seas Conference is quoted rightly by Malaysia for coordinated patrols. The hitch is the Laws of the Seas does not permit patrols in terrotorial waters, yet the IN did it during OP Sagitarius. No IN ship was allowed a port call in Malaysia. Very little is written about this but it needs introspection.

USA trapped India after 9/11 to carry out naval patrols in the Straits much to Malaysia's annoyance and this a subject that needs very diplomatic handling by India's MEA, as India has Singapore's support but we must understand the sensitivities. Hence the India visit of Malaysia's Defence Minister who is a very polished and a well versed politician and also Dy PM was very important. Prasun Sengupta had done an excellent report and we table it below and thank him courtesy Tempur magazine.

In the East the Singapore Conference and meet is very exciting and this year India's Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee attended in early June after his visits to Japan and China where he signed defence agreements. In fact Raja Mohan gives the Defence Minister high marks and it is heartening to note that India is opening up its security perspectives after 50 years of isolation and attachment to USSR and then Russia.

The changes in India's foreign policies are very much military driven and one wishes the PM would adopt such forward looking policies in his globalization attempts too. 

New High In Bilateral Ties

By Prasun K.Sengupta

Bilateral defence cooperation between Malaysia and India, especially in the areas of type-specific training for submarine warfare and air combat tactics, is expected to soar following the landmark seven-day official visit to India starting June 6 by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Hj Abdul Razak along with a high-powered delegation at the invitation of India’s Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee. During this visit the delegation headed by Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib, which included Science, Technology and Innovations Minister, Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis; Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Husin; and Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Anifah Aman; called on Mukherjee as well as India’s three armed services chiefs at South Block (Ministry of Defence).

The visiting Malaysian delegation also visited Mumbai, Nasik and Bangalore and high-tech state-owned defence hardware manufacturing entities like BrahMos Aerospace, Bharat Electronics Ltd, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). During the talks between Mukherjee and Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib, all areas of defence cooperation between the two countries were discussed in great detail, with the discussions also touching on issues for further improving bilateral relations, which embraces all aspects namely political, economic, defence and cultural. Cooperation in the field of defence was formalised by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation between India and Malaysia way back in 1993.

During his meeting with India’s Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib drove home the point about Malaysia being the perfect launching pad to the ASEAN market, which has 500 million people, a combined GDP of US$737 billion (RM2.7 trillion) and trade totalling $720 billion (RM2.64 trillion).The Deputy PM explained that although ASEAN had only half of India’s population, the combined GDP of its 10 member-states is comparable to that of India. He said that Indian businessmen should look at Malaysia first when the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), both currently being negotiated, are successfully completed. “I would urge Indian firms, many of them aspiring global champions in their own right, to make Malaysia their gateway to ASEAN,” Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib added.

He also expressed his wish to see more Indian companies operating from Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), which currently hosts 52 Indian ICT companies. He also launched the Malaysia-India CEO’s Forum, and also urged Malaysian businessmen to build and expand their footprints in India’s rapidly growing economy, which held vast opportunities for entrepreneurs with vision and tenacity. He said that they should, however, keep in mind that India was a very large and diverse country and that they must choose the right sectors, partners and regions to play in. Using a military analogy, the Deputy PM and Defence Minister said: “Pick your battles well, invest wisely in the Generals and the foot soldiers who will be fighting with you on the ground”.

On June 7, days after India offered to assist in ‘compulsory pilotage’ of the strategic Malacca Straits, the issue figured prominently in one-to-one and delegation level talks between Datp’ Sri Mohd Najib and Mukherjee. India has backed the major East Asian security initiative to enforce ‘compulsory pilotage’ of the Straits mooted jointly by Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesiaas a means to safeguard commercial shipping through the channel against sea piracy and fears of threats of maritime terrorism. Mukherjee had earlier outlined New Delhi’s support to the initiative at the annual Shangri La security dialogue held over in Singapore in early June. Mukherjee reiterated India’s willingness to assist in the project and share its expertise in maritime security with nations of the region. On June 8, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib visited the BrahMos Weapon Design Complex where he was shown on-going R & D efforts to develop an air-launched variant of the BrahMos supersonic multi-role cruise missile by late 2007.

On June 9, while visiting the Ozhar, Nasik-based facilities of HAL where 140 Su- 30MKIs are being licence-built for the Indian Air Force (IAF), Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib disclosed that Malaysia is keen to cooperate with India on tactical air combat training for the former’s Su-30MKM aircrew as well as in submarine warfare for the crew complement of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (RMN) two Scorpene submarines. “The Su-30s used by both countries are the same, although the avionics on the Indian version are slightly different. Malaysia will soon request India to train its air force pilots to fly the 18 Su- 30MKMs on order and it is up to India to give its approval. We will also request India to help us with technical type-training for our Su-30MKM ground crew, as well as for providing us with assured supply of spare parts and ground-support equipment,” he said, adding that Malaysia is also looking at working with India on type-specific training of its Scorpene submarine crew and through-life maintenance of the RMN’s Scorpene submarines, which are scheduled to be delivered in late 2008. “We can look at the possibility of joint training on (submarine warfare) tactics, since India has acquired six such submarines,” Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib said.

To arrest the steady depletion of the IAF’s combat aircraft inventories, HAL is increasing the licenced-production rate of Su-30MKIs from eight aircraft per annum to 13. Consequently, the Su-30MKI production run, which was earlier scheduled to finish by 2017, will now be over by 2012. Presently, the IAF is operating three Su-30MKI squadrons — 20 (Lightnings), 24 (Hunting Hawks) and 30 (Rhino). The IAF plans to deploy a total of six such squadrons in future. The first two licence-built Su-30MKIs took to the skies in October, 2004 for flight tests and these were handed over to the IAF in March 2005.

The indigenous content in the Su-30MKI at present is just about 15%. But this will be increased progressively to 45%. In addition, both India and Russia on January 6 this year agreed to carry out ‘block-wise’ improvements of the Su-30MKI. The total licenced-production cost of 140 Su-30MKIs projected by India’s Ministry of Defence in 2000 was $4.91 billion ($22.12 million per aircraft) at the 2000 price level, while in a detailed project report prepared by HAL in July 2005, the amount shown was $8.71 billion ($39.22 million per aircraft), almost a 100% increase. Even this is openended as the 2.5% cost esclation agreed to by India is applicable only till 2007. This includes $9 million—the cost of translating the aircraft’s Licenced Technical Documentation from Russian to English and developing suitable computer formats for storage, retrieval, distribution and updating.

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