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Govt okays purchase of 83 Tejas Mk1A fighter jets

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest decision-making body for security issues headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the purchase of 83 Tejas fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore, including infrastructure.

The CCS approved the largest indigenous defense procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crore to strengthen the IAF’s fleet of homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas. “This deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing,” Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said.

Giving out details about the Cabinet decision, the Defense Ministry in a statement said: “The Cabinet has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at the cost of Rs 45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore.”

Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. This aircraft is equipped with critical operational capabilities of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force, IAF.

The LCA-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in the years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50 per cent in the Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60 per cent.

The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is indigenously designed by the Aircraft Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The HAL has already set up second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru Divisions. Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF.

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India will defend territorial integrity: Rajnath

New Delhi: In a clear message to China, just ahead of talks to resolve border issues, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that India is facing challenges on its borders and will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“India is a peace-loving country and that peace can only be ensured through the ability to deter war,” Singh said while speaking at a webinar celebrating the Diamond Jubilee to mark 60 years of the National Defense College in Delhi.

The webinar theme was on ‘India’s National Security – The Decade Ahead’ and it started with a keynote address by Rajnath Singh.

The Minister said: “We believe that differences should not become disputes. We attach importance to the peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue. India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unilateralism and aggression, no matter what the sacrifice.”

India and China are engaged in border disputes for the last seven months in Eastern Ladakh. Despite several rounds of talks between the two countries, the dispute remains unresolved.

Talking about India’s relations with friendly counties he said: “We have enhanced the scope and quality of our relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman in the West and with Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea in the East.”

“India’s strategic partnership with the US is stronger than ever before,” Singh said.

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India, US need to jointly confront China’s threats: Pompeo

New Delhi: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific.

Speaking at the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Pompeo discussed several issues from “cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region”.

Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar at the meeting raised the issue of the security threat India is facing from China. “In the area of defence we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said at the bilateral dialogue.

“Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month,” Pompeo told his counterpart.

The US secretary of state said, “Today is a real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.”

Together, India and the US are building a better future for “our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defence ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century,” he added.

Jaishankar said that as the global economy has taken a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.

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Rajnath urges US defense firms to benefit from eased FDI rules

New Delhi: Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called on American defense companies to take advantage of the easing of foreign direct investments rules in the sector.

After the 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, he said that military to military cooperation between both the countries is progressing very well.

“In the two days meeting, we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries, including our neighborhood and beyond,” he said.

Rajnath Singh also said that both India and the US shared an assessment of the security situation across the Indo-Pacific. “In that process, we reaffirmed our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region,” he said.

About the security situation at Indo-Pacific region, US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper said that India-US stand shoulder to shoulder for a free Indo-Pacific, particularly in view of China’s growing aggression. He also said that the India-US partnership is more important than ever in view of growing security challenges.

About forthcoming naval exercise, Rajnath Singh said that both the countries welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar Exercise. Esper too hailed Malabar Exercise involving the Quad countries and also inclusion of Australia.

Rajnath Singh also said that signing of Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) after signing of the LEMOA in 2016 and the COMCASA in 2018 is a significant achievement.

In the defense industrial cooperation area, Rajnath Singh highlighted the capabilities of Indian defense industry and their usefulness in the supply chain of major US platforms and systems.

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India Latest News USA

Charting the future of India-US ties

By Dhruva Jaishankar

The India-United States (US) relationship has, despite the efforts of naysayers, developed on a positive trajectory over the past two decades. Today, the US is among India’s most important security partners (alongside Russia and France), and arguably the most comprehensive, with collaboration extending to intelligence, homeland security, defense technology, and maritime, space, and cyber cooperation.

Although Europe and Japan remain important countries for Indian trade and incoming investment, the US is also perhaps India’s most comprehensive economic partner, if research and development (R&D), education, technology, employment, energy, and health care are taken into consideration.

For the US, the India partnership has progressed at a time when almost every other major relationship — with both adversaries and allies — has experienced immense tumult. Despite some continuing areas of difference, India is the rare country over which Republicans and Democrats compete to project themselves as the better party to partner.

Nevertheless, whatever the outcome of next month’s US elections, relations between India and the US are set to enter a new, more constructive, but paradoxically more difficult phase.

For example, the basic building blocks of an India-US defense partnership have now been put in place. Whether on logistics or secure communications, the basic agreements required for military cooperation have been — or are about to be — signed. A political level 2+2 dialogue has been institutionalized to oversee the host of working level bilateral and multilateral consultations, covering everything from space and cyber cooperation to defense technology and maritime security.

Defense sales have become routine, with the Indian armed forces employing a growing number of American platforms. Technology barriers, which had once been the major obstacle to closer ties, have largely been overcome. All three military services conduct regular bilateral exercises, and a tri-service exercise has been initiated.

The next steps towards a more robust defense partnership, however, present far more difficult challenges. Further defense co-production and R&D will require significant changes to India’s defense industrial ecosystem, including predictability concerning Indian procurement and considerations of export markets, as India integrates into international supply chains. Greater interoperability will entail a distribution of labour and planning for specific scenarios, which, in turn, will require a degree of trust from both countries.

Similar challenges are discernible in the cyber domain and on emerging technology more generally. Again, the broad tenets of India-US cooperation are now more or less in place, with a degree of information-sharing between emergency response teams that would have been unheard of a decade ago. A shared understanding of the promise of various emerging technologies, and concern about China’s potential global role, have led to India-US cooperation in new multilateral entities.

The challenges may be even greater in implementing India-US cooperation on development assistance and infrastructure in third countries. Both have articulated similar concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and both India and the US bring certain strengths to the table when it comes to development assistance. India’s State-backed foreign assistance, loans, and investment are no longer negligible, especially in South Asia and Africa.

Meanwhile, the US — which was already a major foreign grant assistance provider through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — has increased its capacity for overseas lending through the BUILD Act and is formulating standards via the Blue Dot Network.

But despite top-down agreement, India-US joint coordination — let alone collaboration — may prove more complicated.

Despite talk of a “trade war” and tariffs under President Donald Trump, goods trade between India and the US grew from about $60 billion in 2013 to over $90 billion in 2019. Prior to the pandemic, the number of Indian students in the US increased, as did two-way investment.

But further economic relations will likely be based less on goods trade, and more on other aspects of economic cooperation. These might include higher education, health care, innovation, and green energy collaboration, areas where the impact may be less quantifiable but no less important. But these forms of collaboration will, in turn, require major steps to ensure regulatory and policy predictability.

The next stage in India-US relations, while rewarding, may not be without its regular frustrations.

(Dhruva Jaishankar is director of the US Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation. The opinion piece appeared in The Hindustan Times)

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Self-reliant India is for stable global order: PM Modi

New Delhi: Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) is not an inward looking idea but is for a stable global order, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address to the captains of the Indian defense industry to reassure them.

“Atmanirbhar Bharat will make the global economy resilient, stable, and will work towards world peace. India has potential to be a supplier of defense equipment to friendly countries. India will be a net security provider in IOR (Indian Ocean Region),” Modi said, reports IANS.

He was addressing all defense stakeholders during ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat – Defence Industry Outreach Webinar’ organized by FICCI, jointly with the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) of Ministry of Defence.

He also addressed the concerns of foreign investors in India. “For long, FDI was not allowed in the defense sector. Our government came and made changes. For the first time, 74 percent of FDI has been allowed. We have opened the doors. For decades, ordnance factories were running without focus and the country was incurring loss. The echo system was limited. We are now corporatizing ordnance factories.”

Modi said that the government is committed to Make in India a success and make India an export hub. “Our government has taken several reform measures like a bankruptcy code, ease of business etc… Ending red tapism and spreading red carpet is our motto,” Modi said.

Appreciating Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for creating a platform for all the stakeholders to make India self-reliant in the defense sector, the Prime Minister said that the deliberation that is happening in defense sector will give more strength to the commitment of making India self-reliant. Modi also said that Rajnath Singh is working in mission mode.

Modi said, “India for ages has been a big importer of defense equipment. India has potential however it is very far away from other countries in defense production. Unfortunately, earlier India never focused on this sector.”

The prime minister said that the earlier government never took defense production seriously and treated it as a routine subject.

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India and Australia sign strategic defense deal

New Delhi: India and Australia have sealed a deal to get access to each other’s military bases, the Indian foreign ministry said – a pact that would clear the way for more military exchanges and exercises in the Indo-Pacific.

The mutual logistic support agreement was signed during a virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The agreement allows Indian and Australian military ships and aircraft to refuel and access maintenance facilities at each other’s bases.

India has a similar pact with the United States, which is seen as part of broader security cooperation to balance China’s growing economic and military weight in the region.

Indian troops are locked in a standoff with Chinese troops on their disputed border, the most serious crisis in years, on top of concerns about a huge trade imbalance in Beijing’s favor.

Australia’s trade frictions with China are also growing, and its push last month for an international review into the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus drew opposition from China.

Morrison was due in India in January but was forced to cancel the trip because of the bushfires crisis in Australia.

The holding of the summit now, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, showed the importance the two leaders attached to bilateral ties, officials said.

“This is the first time that Prime Minister Modi will be holding a bilateral virtual summit. This signifies the strengthening of ties with Australia and its upward trajectory,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said before the signing of the deal.

India is also considering Australia’s participation in annual naval exercises it holds with the US and Japan in the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a cementing of security ties between the four countries, military officials said.

A similar exercise in 2007 had angered China.

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