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STRENGTHENING STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP

India is looking to strengthen its relation with other countries for defence cooperation. It includes many dimensions such as the sale, purchase and joint development, ToT, intelligence sharing and coordination for counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. The recent visits by Prime Minister and Defence Minister are the steps in strengthening strategic relationship.

India's military for years has experienced a shortage of arms after the Soviet era and has been on a quest to restock it. In the last three years, India imported arms worth $14 billions. The orders placed in last 3 years and value in Rs Crores on some of the leading supplier countries is as under:-

If we closely look at figures of the orders placed by India for supplying arms, USA stands first, Russia stands second, Israel is in the third position, and France comes the fourth position. Russia has been a long time arm supplier to India. India's friendship with Russia is about 70 years old. From 2012 to 2016, Russia supplied 68 per cent of India's arms import, as per the survey by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In the same period, the US supplied 14 per cent of arms to India, followed by Israel (7.2 per cent). Russia has provided India with sophisticated systems such as the long-range radars for the anti-ballistic missile defence system and the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft.

            With the coming of the new government, defence policies have undergone major changes. In order to reduce our dependency on other countries, now, emphasis is on 'Make in India' rather than buying or importing from other countries. Defence cooperation includes many dimensions such as the sale, purchase and joint development of military equipment, transfer of technology, intelligence sharing and coordination for counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. Recently, we have witnessed that many of the countries came forward to share their transfer of technology (ToT) with India. The ToT will boost up defence manufacturing under 'Make in India'. To accomplish the goal of 'Make in India', India is trying to negotiate and enter into strategic defence partnership to get the defence deal signed.

            The sequential visits during the May end and June 2017 by the Prime Minster and Defence Minister finalized a roadmap to further boost bilateral defence cooperation, which ranges from joint development of futuristic weapon systems to a major upgrade of military-to-military ties. Beside the military-technical cooperation, outcome lays out the roadmap for specific activities to enhance cooperation in the field of political and military dialogue, exercises, exchange of visits, military cooperation and training.

Russia

During the BRIC summit held in Goa in October 2016, both India and Russia have signed 16 agreements across multiple sectors following the delegation-level talks co-chaired by both Russian and Indian PM. Both the countries signed 16 agreements across multiple sectors. In major defence procurement, India has signed a $5 billion (Rs. 39,000 crore) agreement with Russia to buy five S-400 Triumph air defence systems, along with deals for construction of 1135 series of frigates and a joint venture to manufacture Kamov helicopters.

            During the Indian PM's visit to Russia in May, 2017 while addressing the Russian Industrial leaders he said that, defence should be a key area in Indo-Russian collaboration and the government had approved a policy to allow Indian companies to manufacture defence equipment with foreign players.

            The defence minister during his visit to Moscow in June 2017 for 17th India-Russia inter-governmental commission on military-technical cooperation inked a protocol which aims to enhance cooperation in the field of political and military dialogue, exercises, exchange of visits, military cooperation and training. Russia is on course to bag defence projects worth around $10.5 billion, which includes   procurement of S400 air defence systems, Four Grigorivich-class frigates, 200 Kamov-226T light helicopters and future course of action on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).

            In June, 2017 Russia has agreed to supply India with the fourth generation MiG 35 an updated version of MiG 29 series specialised aircrafts. Each plane costs around $46 million. It has highly advanced avionics and weapons systems, including the NESA radar. It has a multi-role profile and its new location system enables it to operate freely from inputs provided from ground, adding to its operational flexibility.

            United Shipbuilding Corporation of Russia had sought the allotment of land for the establishment of Shipyard at Rambilli. The proposal entails an initial investment of Rs 500 crore, the turnover is likely to be Rs. 6,000 crore in the initial years.  Incidentally, Reliance ADA Group had signed a MoU with the Andhra government in 2016 to set up a defence shipyard at Rambilli with an investment of Rs. 5,000 crore. So far, there is no progress on the project.

            Russian company Kalashnokov is likely to sign a contract with India for manufacture of AK-47 in tune with the AK-100. Russia has already conducted preliminary negotiations with a number of companies in India and it is ready to arrange a licensed production of its weapon in India. As per contract, the Defence industry of India will receive manufacturing techniques of up-to-date arms, an opportunity to dynamically re-equip security and law enforcement agencies and offer jobs to people. It is planning to produce at least 50,000 rifles a year and enhancing output further.

Russian Rosoboronexport in cooperation with Italy is likely to modernize India's Su-30MKI multirole air superiority fighters. The Indian Air Force has a fleet of over 200 Su-30MKI fighter jets built in India under the license, will undergo upgradation with the AL-41F turbofan engines designed for 4++ generation aircraft, currently being installed on the Su-35 fighters.

United States

In the last 15 years, India has bought weaponry and equipment from US, worth $15 billion. Some of the recently signed deals  in the delivery pipeline are four Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime aircraft for a billion dollars; about $3 billion worth of helicopters  including 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lifters  and a $700 million order for 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers.

            Recent visit by US Security Advisor's to India and the visit by Indian PM, the US has affirmed on Indo-Us Strategic Partnership involving countering terrorism and to advance regional peace, security and stability. India is seen as a major defence partner for working together on strengthening the bilateral defence technology on advanced defence equipment almost at par with the closest US allies. Thus, giving impetus to both countries trade and manufacturing partnership, which will be mutually beneficial to both.

            US has offered India the sale of 22 Sea Guardian MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Systems, worth  over $2 billions, built by General Atomics, to enhance India's capabilities and promote shared security interests.US has also approved  the sale of C-17 Globe master manufactured by Boeing, a contract worth $366.2 million to India.

            Recently, Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) has signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin (LM) to produce 100 F-16 Block 70 fighter jet. The agreement will enable TASL to integrate Indian sensors and systems into the high-technology and future upgrades for the aircraft.

            With India already admitted to the Missile Technology Control Regime, the joint statement expressed strong support for “early membership” to the other three global proliferation regimes - the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.

Israel

During the Indian PM's visit to Israel, both the countries agreed on cooperation in establishing bilateral, defence, science, transfer of technology, technical know-how, water and agriculture, terrorism, cyber security, higher education, free movement of people, visa, research and innovation etc. India has emerged as Israel's biggest defense buyer.

In addition number of defence industrial tie-ups details of which are mentioned below, emerged during the visit:-

India Israel Innovation Initiative Fund (I4F): Israel and India launched a technology fund named as 'The Israel India Innovation Initiative Fund, or I4F' aimed at growing the countries' business relationship. Each government will put $4 million a year for five years into the fund, which aims to encourage Indians to invest in Israel's technology ecosystem and spur large Indian companies to open development centres there. India is looking for military and other technologies seeks to move aggressively into the digital age. Israel, whose export-focused economy relies heavily on technology, is eager to penetrate India's market of 1.3 billion citizens.

IAI seeks Start-ups: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is to supply systems for Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles to Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) for installation on Indian warships, is looking to engage with start-ups that work in the field of aviation and defence. IAI is keen to build country's first aviation accelerator. The Bedek Aviation Group, IAI's biggest division will host the accelerator. The aim is to identify start-ups that have passed the seed stage, so that their products can be used by IAI. The start-ups will utilise IAI's infrastructural facilities as well as professional guidance from leading aviation specialists. . The decision has sparked interest among Indian conglomerates such as the Kalyani Group and Piramal Enterprises.

Wipro-IAI Tie up: Wipro and IAI have tied up for manufacturing composite aero-structure parts and assemblies to meet the requirements of global aircraft OEMs and tier-1 suppliers of IAI, to meet the offset obligations.

TAU Tie up with Wipro and Kalyani Group: Wipro and Kalyani entered a partnership with Tel Aviv University (TAU) Israel for research in emerging technologies.

Mahindra Ties up Elbit Subsidiary: Cyclone, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems has tied up with Mahindra Aerostructures to collaborate on the production of aerostructure parts and assemblies. The two companies had inked an agreement earlier, and now propose to team up on new work opportunities.

IAI - Bharat Forge: Bharat Forge and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) signed an MoU to expand the joint venture to develop, build market and manufacture selected air defence systems and light weight special purpose munitions.

IAI  Dynamatic & Elcom: Dynamatic Technologies, IAI and Elcom signed a strategic teaming agreement for industrial cooperation and local production of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in India.

GWRL Signs MoU with Aero-T: Garware-Wall Ropes (GWRL) has signed an MoU with Israel's Aero-T for manufacturing advanced aerostats. Aerostats have capabilities of operating at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and are augmented with radars, a force multiplier, very effective for low-level ground surveillance.

Conclusion

Entering into contracts with US, Russia and Israel will not just build up defence relationship or enhance strategic partnership but will promote political, diplomatic and economic relationship as well. It will bring all the country entering into partnership to share ToT establish their regional units in India enabling India to achieve 'Make in India' goal, reduce dependency, train technically and provide employment opportunities to both sides. The visit of Indian PM to Israel had a good impact on Israel and both the countries have signed joint statement and MoU on a wide range of areas including water, agriculture, higher education, research, cooperation in military and security, supply of necessary equipments to India. Israel has extended its cooperation not in friendship only but also in politics, diplomatic and economic sector. As of today, both US and Russia is the largest Arm supplier to India but it is predicted that Israel will take over both countries.

 

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