Tag Archives: defense procurement

Indo-US Defence Cooperation: Obama has Delivered on his Promise

The United States administration has removed the names of nine organisations, mostly ISRO and DRDO subsidiaries, from the Entities List and opened the doors for the export of high technology to India. In an even more significant and far reaching move, the notification has moved India from a country group that required strict monitoring under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations to the group comprising members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in recognition of India’s adherence to the regime and its impeccable non-proliferation credentials even though India is not a signatory to the MTCR.

While India values its strategic autonomy and recognises that each bilateral relationship is important in its own way, there can be no doubt that the India-US strategic partnership more than any other will shape the geo-political contours of the 21st century in a manner that enhances peace and stability the world over. The recent Obama visit to India succeeded in taking the India-US strategic partnership to a much higher trajectory.
Perhaps the most important though understated aspect of the Obama visit was the forward movement on almost all facets of defence cooperation. Hi-tech weapons and equipment will now be provided or offered to India by the US. Advanced dual-use technologies will give an edge to India over China, both in security-related and civilian sectors. The recent decision to transform the existing bilateral export control framework for high-tech exports has put an end to the decades old discriminatory technology denial regimes that India had been subjected to. The proposal to lift sanctions on ISRO, DRDO and Bharat Dynamics Limited is a welcome step forward and perhaps the Department of Atomic Energy will also be taken off the Entities List soon.

The proposal to undertake joint development of future weapons systems is also a good development as it will raise India’s technological threshold. However, no transfer of technology has occurred yet. Inevitably, doubts about the availability of future technological upgrades and reliability in supplies of spares will continue to linger in the Indian mind. The case for spares which is pending with the labyrinthine U.S. bureaucracy for long in respect of the AN-TPQ37 Weapon Locating Radars has left a bad taste. The notion that the U.S. cannot be trusted to be a reliable supplier was not dispelled convincingly during President Obama’s visit.

India’s reluctance to sign the CISMOA and BECA agreements continues to dampen U.S. enthusiasm to supply hi-tech weapons and equipment. Massive U.S. conventional military aid to Pakistan militates against India’s strategic interests. While U.S. compulsions and constraints in dealing with the failing Pakistani state are understandable, the supply of military equipment that cannot be used for counter-insurgency operations, will inevitably invite a strong Indian reaction. This was conveyed unequivocally to the U.S. President.

China’s increasing assertiveness and its reluctance to work in unison with the international community to uphold the unfettered use of the global commons like the sea lanes for trade, space and cyberspace have also served to bring the U.S. and India closer. The two countries view their strategic partnership as a hedging strategy against irresponsible Chinese behaviour in Asia. Finally, the Obama visit further consolidated the India-US strategic partnership. It can only gain additional momentum in the decades ahead though the road will undoubtedly be uphill and will be dotted with potholes.

The Dragon Bares its Fangs

China’s Increasing Defence Expenditure is a Cause for Concern

While India’s defence budget for financial year (FY) 2011-12 has remained unchanged in inflation-adjusted real terms (1,64,425 crore, US$ 36 billion), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has been given a 13 per cent increase in planned defence expenditure to US$ 91.5 billion). Though China’s official defence expenditure (ODE) is now about 1.5 per cent of its GDP, China’s GDP has been growing consistently at over 10 per cent per annum. Consequently, given its low inflation base and a strong Yuan, China’s defence expenditure has grown at over 10 per cent annually in real terms over the last decade.

Credit: Telegraph.co.ukChinese analysts invariably claim that the rather steep hike is “caused by the sharp increase in the wages, living expenses and pensions of 2.3 million People’s Liberation Army officers, civilian personnel, soldiers and army retirees.” However, other defence analysts look at the spectacular anti-satellite test successfully conducted by China in January 2007, pictures of the first Chinese aircraft carrier under construction, the acquisition of SU-30 fighter-bombers with air-to-air refuelling capability, the drive towards acquiring re-entry vehicle technology to equip China’s ICBMs with MIRVs, a growing footprint in the South China Sea and cannot not help wonder whether a 21st century arms race has well and truly begun.

China’s military aims and modernisation strategy were clearly enunciated in the Defence White Paper of December 2006. “The first step is to lay a solid foundation by 2010, the second is to make major progress around 2020, and the third is to basically reach the strategic goal of building informationised armed forces and being capable of winning informationised wars by the mid-21st century.”

Due to China’s vigorous military modernisation drive, the military gap between India and China is growing every year. India needs to invest more in improving the logistics infrastructure along the border with Tibet, in hi-tech intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems for early warning and in generating land- and air-based firepower asymmetries to counter China’s numerical superiority. India also needs to raise and suitably equip more mountain strike divisions to carry the fight into Chinese territory if it ever becomes necessary.

All of these capabilities will require a large infusion of fresh capital. India’s growing economy can easily sustain a 0.5 to 1.0 per cent hike in the defence budget over a period of three to five years, especially if the government shows the courage to reduce wasteful subsidies.

China’s overall aim is to close the wide military gap between the PLA and the world’s leading military powers, particularly in hardware designed to provide strategic outreach capabilities. Consequently, India must enhance its investment in modernising its armed forces so that they are not found wanting in case of another conflict in the Himalayas in future, both in terms of the adequacy of force levels for carrying the conflict into Tibet and the military hardware (firepower, crew-served weapons and C4I2SR), that is necessary to fight at altitudes above 11,000 feet on the Tibetan Plateau.

Rising Challenges, Declining Resources

India’s defence budget continues to be pegged at less than 2.0 per cent of the country’s GDP despite the recommendations of successive Standing Committees on Defence in India’s Parliament that it should be at least 3.00 per cent if the emerging threats and challenges are to successfully countered.

Credit: news.xinhuanet.comIn his budget speech on February 28, 2011, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee set aside Rs 1,64,425 crore (US$ 36 billion) for defence during the next financial year (FY 2011-12). Though the present allocation shows an increase of 11.59 per cent over the budgetary estimates for FY 2010-11 and 8.47 per cent over the revised estimates, it is barely adequate to neutralise the annual rate of inflation. Inflation in weapons, ammunition and defence equipment is usually much higher than domestic inflation.

Of the total allocation for defence, on the revenue account the army will get Rs 64,250 crore, the navy Rs 10,590 crore, the air force Rs 15,93 billion and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Rs 5,624 crore. The total revenue expenditure planned for the year is Rs 95,216 crore (US$ 21 billion, 58 per cent of the budget). The remaining amount of Rs 69,199 crore (US$ 15 billion, 13.75 per cent increase, 42 per cent of the budget) has been allotted on the capital account for the acquisition of modern weapon systems, including 126 multi-mission, medium-range combat aircraft, C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft, 197 light helicopters, 145 Ultra-light Howitzers and C-17 heavy-lift aircraft. It is well known that India plans to spend approximately US$ 100 billion over 10 years on defence modernisation.

Giving his reaction to the Finance Minister’s budget speech, Defence Minister A K Antony said, “We welcome it as our concerns have been by and large addressed and the Finance Minister has stated that if we have any fresh requirements, they would be made up without any difficulty.” However, while the reactions of the armed forces are not known, they are unlikely to be satisfied as their plans for modernisation have been stymied year after year by the lack of committed budgetary support. The 11th Defence Plan, which will enter its fifth and final year on April 1st, has not yet been accorded approval in principle by the government and, therefore, lacks committed budgetary support. The only silver lining on the horizon is that the funds earmarked on the capital account for FY 2010-11 have been fully spent by the government for the first time in many years.

In addition to the defence budget, the government has also earmarked adequate resources in the annual budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for homeland or internal security. A portion of these funds will be utilised for setting up a National Intelligence Grid and the National Counter-terrorism Centre – measures which are considered necessary consequent to the Mumbai terror strikes in November 2008. Also, funds for the modernisation of central police and para-military forces will be provided from the budget of the MHA.

This year’s defence budget is 1.84 per cent of the projected GDP and 13.07 per cent of the total Central government expenditure. China’s official defence expenditure is US$ 78 billion (3.5 per cent of its GDP) while its actual expenditure is well above US$ 100 billion. The U.S. defence expenditure was US$ 530 billion in fiscal year 2010, excluding funds allotted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, the 13th Finance Commission has recommended that the nation’s defence expenditure should progressively come down to 1.76 per cent of the GDP by 2014-15. Quite clearly the Finance Ministry appears to have decided to pay heed to this advice.

India’s defense budget increase

In the 2011 Union Budget presented yesterday in the Indian Parliament, the Finance Minister announced an 11% hike in the defense budget during the next fiscal year. India has now set the defense budget for FY 2011-12 at $36.28 billion. Forty percent of the budget would be spent on capital expenses, while the rest goes towards maintaining the Indian Army, which is one of the largest in the world.

The significant rise in defense spending could be attributed to the increasing military capabilities of India’s two immediate neighbors with whom it has fought wars previously – China and Pakistan. Over the last few years China has been rapidly expanding its defense spending, and it has grown approximately 13% annual on an average since 1989. According to some estimates, China’s defense spending in 2010 was about $100 billion. The size of its army is almost twice that of India’s and is much better equipped.

On its western border, Pakistan has been going through a rough phase of economic, political and social upheaval, while its military budget keeps increasing. Last year it increased its defense spending by 17%, partly to aid U.S. in the war on terror. This is in addition to the economic and military aid the U.S. provides Pakistan for the same purpose. Over the last few weeks there have also been news of a rapid increases in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, with it set to overtake Britain as the fifth largest nuclear power. Pakistan is building its fourth plutonium reactor and has more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons. Not to mention that the Pakistan Army and the ISI policies have traditionally been India-centric, with a majority of the forces deployed along the Indian border.

Under such external circumstances and the need to upgrade and procure equipments and machinery, the Indian defense spending increase seems well placed. India has a few procurement deals lined up for the year, but it would need to do a lot more to match up to China’s standards. As its primary competitor not only economically, but also for geopolitical influence particularly in East Asia and Africa, India needs to speed up and match up its defense capabilities with those of China. A strong military would be essential to counter any potential threats from an unstable AfPak region.

Circumstantially as important as it may be, the increases in defense spending of all the three countries contribute to the arms race in the region taking it to the edge of volatility. While it would not be prudent to expect a decrease in expenditures or an end to military procurements and upgrades, the three countries need to make concentrated efforts to reduce the need for the increase in military spending.

Dangerous Conspiracy behind Pak’s Indeterminate Nukes

By Bhaskar Roy

Indian Review of Global Affairs

Recently, leaked reports from U.S. government sources said Pakistan’s deployed nuclear warheads may have crossed 100, surpassing India’s estimated 60 -70 warheads, with Pakistan emerging as the 5th nuclear weapon power in the world.

paknukesThe Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), has claimed that the latest satellite imagery obtained by it shows that the fourth reactor at Khushab, Pakistan, is at an early stage of construction, and is nearly the same shape and size as the second and third reactors.

The Khushab complex planned to have four reactors.  The first was a heavy water reactor built in the 1990s and known as the Khushab Nuclear Complex-I or KNC-I.  The KNC-II, a plutonium producing reactor became operational in 1996.  It is estimated to produce 22 Kgs of plutonium per year.  The KNC-III, another plutonium reactor is scheduled to become operational this year, 2011.  The KNC-IV is now on the way, and construction work is going on well.  An expert on nuclear weapons proliferation was quoted recently as saying that the KNC-IV reiterates the point that Pakistan was determined to produce a lot of plutonium to make nuclear weapons far exceeding its need.

In addition, Pakistan has a reprocessing facility at the Pakistan Institute of Science and Technology (PINSTECH), and reports suggest other such facilities exist elsewhere in the country.

The Khushab complex also has a tritium production facility, an element that boosts the yield of a nuclear weapon.  Pakistan’s original fissile material facility remains at Kahuta.  This is a gas centrifuge, producing highly enriched uranium (HEU), estimated to produce 100 Kgs of fissile material a year.  Several other uranium enrichment facilities reportedly exist, including one at Golra Sharif, 15 Kms from Islamabad.

Kahuta was the traditional center of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.  Such centers have reportedly spread, to ensure that targeting one does not cripple Pakistan’s capabilities.

Pakistan has two types of delivery vehicles – the F-16 aircraft earlier provided by the US, and a variety of surface-to-surface missiles acquired from China and North Korea initially, and later developed in Pakistan using these designs and components.

The first nuclear weapon capable missile, the M-II with a range of 290 Kms, was acquired from China in 1991-92.  This was followed by the Nadong acquired from North Korea.  The main missiles ready are the Hatf-III (Gaznavi) with a range of 300-400 Kms; the solid fuel-IV (Shaheen), with a range over 450 Kms; and the liquid fuel Hatf-V  (Ghauri) with an approximate range of 1,300 Kms.  The solid fuel Hatf-VI (Shaheen-2), with a range of 2,000 Kms may have already been deployed or soon to be deployed.  The ground based cruise missile (Babur), and the air launched Ra’ad, with ranges around  320 Kms are under development. (see Congressional Research  Service Report, of January 13, 2011).

The above gives a glimpse of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery system.  From the available information, Pakistan’s declaration of maintaining a minimum credible deterrence against India becomes questionable.  How much is still not minimum with more than 100 deployed warheads and ballistic missiles with upto a range of 2000 Kms covering most of India?  Pakistan’s current weapons stockpile is more than is required for its stated deterrence, and a doctrine which includes “first use”, as against India’s 60 to 70 warheads and declared doctrine of ‘no first use”.  Its nuclear weapons build up activities and development of long range ballistic missiles and airborne cruise missiles, suggests an ambition much beyond India.  So, what is Pakistan’s ambition that its burgeoning nuclear arsenal is going to serve?

It is well known that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons achievement is not indigenous.  It had, on the one hand, active foreign assistance which is still continuing.  It also acquired technology and know-how through its own efforts and that of a friendly country.  On the other hand, the United States and several western countries winked and looked away while blatant proliferation was indulged in by Pakistan, China and North Korea.  That is how Pakistan has emerged as the 5th largest nuclear weapons state in the world, and its activities suggest that it may surpass the U.K. and France in another decade.  Operationalization of KNC-III and KNC-IV will ensure that.

The West or NATO led by the U.S. failed to recognize those activities because of narrow geopolitical objectives.  During the cold war, the US-Pakistan-China axis evolved to counter the Soviet Union, and India was perceived as a Soviet ally.  Post cold war, the deep antipathy towards India remained for quite some time in Washington.  One cannot say with full confidence that the whole of Washington has moved away from the Pakistan appeasing line because of its current engagement in the region.

In parallel, in spite of several run-ins with China last year, the U.S. may not be keen to further antagonise China because of huge economic interests.  Militarily, the US, especially the Pentagon, is looking at Beijing more in bilateral terms (which includes the Asia Pacific region).

The history of China-Pakistan nuclear and missile cooperation is well known and needs no repetition.  The Pakistan establishment, especially the military is elated with China’s power and assistance.  It believes that it now stands toe-to-toe with India.

China created nuclear Pakistan to counter India, but the Pakistanis are unable to understand that China has used Pakistan all along.  Neither Islamabad nor the GHQ in Rawalpindi have ever stopped to objectively assess how little economic assistance they have received from China over the years.  Today China, with $2.8 trillion foreign exchange reserve, is not doing anything for Pakistan to extricate it from its economic hole.  When Pakistan suffered its worst ever floods, China did pathetically little, given its economic power.  Its investment in Pakistan is basically in the mining area which is to its own interest and in infrastructure like the Gwadar port which will serve China’s interest.  The trade imbalance between the two tells the story.  Pakistan’s economy is kept  afloat  by the U.S. and  the west.  Pakistan hardly realises that China is driving it to become a military nation, a fact which is beginning to worry most countries.  The Pakistani people will ignore this at their own peril.

Although China is a signatory to all non-proliferation regimes, it has been contravening them with impunity.  With its new found economic and military power it believes that it can do very much what it likes.
It is no secret that Pakistan continues to receive active assistance from China for its plutonium route.  It has also received technology to reduce the size of its nuclear warheads, and plutonium is, therefore, important.  The China-Pak alliance mainly targets India.  In the last two years or so China has made several assertive and aggressive moves against India.  Beijing is being extremely irresponsible, because Pakistan ultimately may not follow exactly the script written by China.  That is the emerging threat to the entire international community.
How secure is Pakistan’s nuclear asset?   The US, at the very highest level, have periodically certified that those are secure.  True, after the revelations of the A.Q. Khan Proliferation network, steps were taken to establish multi-layer security.  But the Americans agree that vulnerabilities exist, as stated by former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Maples in March, 2009.

How secure is secure in a volatile state like Pakistan with rising radical Islamism, with several factions fighting against the state?  The former IAEA Director General Mohammad EL Baradei had also expressed the fear that a radical regime could take over power in Pakistan, thereby acquiring control of the nuclear weapons.
It  must not be forgotten that A.Q. Khan and at least two of his nuclear scientist colleagues were in touch with Ossama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda group between 1988 and 2001/2.  Intelligence reports say the Khan-Ossama meeting was facilitated by the ISI in a safe-house of the organization, and Khan was also flown to Afghanistan in an ISI helicopter.  Recent reports suggest that the Al Qaeda has been seeking fissile material and technology.

One can never be too sure that more A.Q. Khans are not sleeping inside Pakistan’s nuclear establishment.  Even the real brain behind Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, the low profile Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, had close friends among Islamists.  One cannot help but ask the question why Pakistan refused steadfastly to given access to the USA and the IAEA to question Khan.  Could Khan reveal names of his kind still inside the nuclear establishment and the involvement of the army in   the net-work?

The international community must ponder on the recent developments in Pakistan.  Take the case of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.  He was killed by his own body guard because of his anti-Islamist and secular disposition.  Most  lawyers and the public declined to protest against Taseer’s killer, save a few in the media who are waging a lonely battle against the Islamists.

Fearless, liberal member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Sherry Rehman, had to withdraw her bill on Blasphemy Amendment law under pressure from the party and Prime Minister Yusaf Raja Gilani.  The government succumbed to the threat from the Islamists.  The banned terrorist organization, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) can gather  20,000 people on the streets with a click of their fingers.  The LET remains banned in Pakistan in name only.

In all this, the Pakistan army remained silent.  It is well known that the government cannot move one inch in issues related to security and foreign policy without the army’s clearance.  So, what was the army’s role in the government giving way to the Islamists?  It may be recalled that radical Islamism was brought to the fore by the Pakistani army, especially Gen. and President Zia-ul-Haq.  The Islamist groups remain assets of the army in Afghanistan and in the operations against India.

The silence of the international community over Pakistan’s rapid accumulation of nuclear weapons, and China’s assistance, is confounding.  The obvious answer is Pakistan’s importance in combating extremists and militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, though it is evident whatever Pakistan has done in fighting terrorism has been done under pressure.

Imagine a man like Zia-ul-Haq, becoming the Chief of the army and, in a coup, takes over the government. With such a huge nuclear arsenal which is still growing, Pakistan will not remain India-centric.  It will move against the Christian west with the U.S. as the central target. 9/11 may look like a school play compared to what they can do.  This may be an extreme scenario.  More likely is the possibility of fissile material with dirty bomb technology falling in the hands of the jehadis across the region. Jehadis have among them highly educated technology savvy members.

The U.S. and the west remain short sighted and narrowly focussed, refusing to acknowledge and address a growing threat of dimensions never seen before.  The U.S. must accept that the billions of dollars it is pumping into Pakistan for development is not feeding the hungry but fattening the war machine of Pakistan.

(The article originally appeared at www.irgamag.com. USINPAC and IRGA are content partners.)