Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Defence Ties With Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia, Oman Get A Boost

RM Concludes Visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt

Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman concluded a two-day official bilateral visit to Egypt (20-22 September 2018), at the invitation of the Minister of Defence and Military Production & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Raksha Mantri and her counterpart, General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, Minister of Defence and Military Production & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, noted with satisfaction the steadily growing bilateral defence ties between the two nations. They reviewed ongoing bilateral cooperation activities and discussed potential opportunities to further deepen ties and exchanges in the defence sphere.

The Ministers decided to explore deeper cooperation in the fields of defence industry and R&D, including joint production of defence equipment. Both sides reaffirmed their intent to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism. Naval cooperation, including cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness, was identified as an area of potential. India and Egypt would also intensify training interactions between their militaries. The two countries are also working towards holding joint exercises. The two Ministers agreed that technical and expert level delegations in relevant fields would be exchanged to follow up on their discussions.

Smt Sitharaman invited General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed to visit India. The invitation was accepted with pleasure.

Raksha Mantri, who was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour, also laid wreaths at the memorials of the Unknown Soldier and the tomb of late President Anwar Al Sadat.

Raksha Mantri's visit to Cairo was reflective of the vision to build a New Partnership for a New Era between India and Egypt as articulated by Prime Minister Modi and President Sisi during the Egyptian President's State Visit to India in 2016.

Closing Ceremony: Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2018

Exercise Yudh Abhyas, a joint Indo-US Military exercise which witnessed participation of an Infantry Battalion of Indian Army and the 1st Battalion 23 Infantry Regiment of US Army concluded at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand on 29 Sep 2018.

The exercise was the 14th in the Yudh Abhyas series, which started in 2004 under US Army Pacific Partnership Programme. Exercise Yudh Abhyas strengthens and broadens interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and US armies. It is the fourth Indian US Army exercise at Chaubattia and complements number of other exchanges and exercise between the forces. Over the years the two countries have decided to progressively increase the scope and content of the combined exercise and Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2018 has witnessed a Division Headquarter  based command post exercise and one Infantry Battalion each carrying out field training exercise under a joint Brigade Headquarters and discussions on issues of mutual interest by experts of both countries. The exercise provided an ideal platform for the personnel of the two countries to share their experiences on counter terrorist operations, especially in mountainous terrain.

The commanders and staff officers of both sides were exercised to work in close coordination to receive and collate intelligence and to issue suitable operational orders to the combined field training components, who executed these orders on ground in simulated realistic situation. 

The training culminated in a 48 hours consolidation and validation exercise in which troops carried out a daring rescue and destroy mission in the general area of Pilkholi near Chaubattia. The final exercise was reviewed by senior officers from both sides.

Besides training, both the contingents also participated in a number of extracurricular activities including friendly football and basketball matches and a cultural programme during the 'Barakhana' on the final day. A magnificent parade and the customary exchange of mementoes marked the successful completion of Indo-US combined Army Exercise.

The combined exercise was undoubtedly, an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two armies, it further helped in strengthening ties between India and US.
Bilateral Talks on Defence between India and Indonesia 

The Bilateral Defence Minister’s Dialogue between India and Indonesia was successfully concluded in Jakarta, today. 

This meeting between Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and her Indonesian counterpart Gen (Retd) Ryamizard Rycudu comes after both the countries have upgraded their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and have recently concluded a new Defence Cooperation Agreement in May 2018. 

Smt Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated the sustained and mutually beneficial interactions between India and Indonesia as maritime neighbours with a tradition of close political dialogue, economic and trade linkages as well as cultural and people to people interactions between the two nations. 

Conveying satisfaction on the military to military interactions, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman noted that the commencement of bilateral Naval and Air Force exercises as well as the regular conduct of Staff Talks between the three Services sets a strong foundation for bilateral defence cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two countries. In line with the elevation of relationship between the two countries to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the two sides discussed areas of enhancing cooperation, including strengthening maritime and coastal security, through improved information sharing and conduct of specialised training courses. India welcomed Indonesia’s support for the proposal to partner in the Malacca Straits Patrol. 

Potential areas of cooperation in the field of defence industries and defence R&D were also identified between the two countries. Both the Ministers agreed to set up Working Groups to progress the mutually agreed areas of bilateral defence engagements and desired that these Working Groups meet at the earliest opportunity in India. 

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman met Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Gen (Retd) Luhut Panjaitan and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Gen (Retd) Wiranto. During these meetings, issues of strategic interest and potential areas of bilateral defence cooperation were discussed and agreed to. 

As part of her programme, Raksha Mantri Smt Sitharaman also laid a wreath at the Memorial in Jakarta for the Indian soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in Indonesia during World War II.

Defence Minister Appreciates Efficiency of ICG at its commanders’ conference

Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, while inaugurating the 37th Coast Guard Commanders’ Conference here, lauded the exemplary efficiency of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and foresightedness of its leadership for scientific and meticulously planned development of the organisation to meet the emergent challenges.

Raksha Mantri added that admirable capabilities and relentless surveillance efforts of ICG in the vast and expansive maritime zones of India are unmatched in the Indo-Pacific region, and regularly the focus of discussion and appreciation in all international forums.

Smt. Sitharaman also appreciated the exemplary leadership and stellar role of ICG in protecting the citizens in times of adversity particularly post cyclone Ockhi as well as for the overwhelming response during Kerala floods. The RM called upon top Commanders of ICG to deliberate and discuss ways and means to engage fishing communities to adopt technology driven instruments for further enhancing safety and security at sea.

While complimenting consistent efforts of ICG in filling up the gaps in surveillance through CSN Phase-I, Smt. Sitharaman assured staunch commitment of Ministry of Defence (MoD) for completion of Phase-II in a time bound manner.

Director General Coast Guard, Director General Rajendra Singh, thanked the RM and the MoD for the unbounded support towards transforming the ICG capacity and capability and reassured that regardless of any challenge, the ICG remains ever diligent in performing its noble duty of saving life and property in distress at sea and protecting the marine environment and leaving no stone unturned in protecting security interests in the maritime zones of India.

India and Morocco agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security

Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of the National Defence Administration, Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr Abdeltif Loudyi is on a two day official visit to India. The Moroccan Minister  met Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitaraman in South Block in New Delhi today. This is the first ever visit of a Moroccan Defence Minister to India.

During the meeting, both Ministers agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security. The Minister identified fields of Hydrography, Peacekeeping, Telemedicine, Information Technology and Communications as well as Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency as potential areas for bilateral engagement.

Cooperation on defence industry, including collaboration in Ship Building and manufacturing support were also discussed. RM invited the Moroccan Minister to attend Aero India 2019 to be held in Bengaluru in February 2019.

 Two bilateral MoUs, (i) ‘Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space’ between ISRO and the Moroccan Centre of Remote Sensing and (ii) ‘Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security’ between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT –IN), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Moroccan Computer Response Team (ma-CERT) were signed in the presence of Raksha Mantri and the Moroccan Defence Minister.

The Moroccan delegation will also be visiting and interacting with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facilities at Bengaluru as part of programme for the visit.

Defence Acquisition Council Meets 

In furtherance of efforts to reduce timelines in defence procurements and streamline Defence Procurement Procedures, the DAC discussed and approved several amendment to DPP-16, the manual governing the defence procurements. The significant changes inter-alia include limiting the time period for executing Repeat Order to five years after date of completion of warranty of final delivery in the previous contract. Repeat Order provisions have also been extended to procurements by other services like the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) andBorder Roads Organisation (BRO). The amendments also include permissions to commence with benchmarking of cost for equipment immediately on receipt of the trial report in the Service headquarter, legislating provisions for Exchange Rate Variations when pursuing procurement with an ‘Option Clause’, providing clarity on guidelines for easing the provisions for imposition of LD Clause in upgradation/ alteration cases, automatic incorporation of applicability of the latest legislation or changes or amendment of any act or law, rules or regulations.The  DAC also accorded approval for doing away with Bank Guarantee for Essential Parameters ‘B’ if the same are trial evaluated during the field evaluations trials. Direction were also given to include the names of Independent Monitors (IMs) in the RFP for Defence Capital Acquisitions.

These measures will go a long way in obviating under procedural delays and will hasten activities besides shrinking the procurement timelines giving due preference to indigenization.
The DAC also accorded approval for procurement of 1000 engines of 1000 BHP for fitment in T-72 tanks of the Army under ‘Buy & Make’ category and at an approximate cost of over Rs 2300 crore. Post transfer of technology most of these engines will be manufactured by Ordnance Factories Board (OFB). The engines will enhance mobility, agility and acceleration of T-72 tanks making them more versatile and effective in the battlefield.

Successful Flight Test of Astra BVR Air-to-Air Missile

Astra, the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), was successfully test fired by the Indian Air Force from Su-30 aircraft, today from Air Force Station, Kalaikunda. The missile successfully engaged a manoeuvring target with high precision meeting the mission objectives. In the series of trials held to date, Astra has been launched in the complete Su-30 flight envelope. The flight test assumes significance as it was part of the series of final pre-induction trials. Astra is the best in class weapon system and has undergone more than twenty developmental trials.

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman lauded the efforts of Indian Air Force, DRDO and associated team members involved in the mission and said India has attained a high level of capability in the indigenous design and development of advanced weapon systems.

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)

Working group meeting on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (27 – 28 september 2018)

In the series of meetings of IONS Working Group (IWG) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), the 3rd meeting is scheduled at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Vishakhapatnam from 27 to 28 September 2018. IONS, the 21st century’s first significant international maritime security initiative launched in February 2008, provides a forum for discussion of regional maritime issues and promotes friendly relationships among member nations. It presently has 24 members and eight observer navies. 

Participants from the IWG member nations including Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Oman and Thailand, will be participating in the two day event. The ‘Guidelines on HADR for IONS nations’, prepared by the Indian Navy will be validated by conduct of a Table Top Exercise as part of the meeting. The participants will also exchange lessons learnt during the conduct of HADR operations by respective navies with special reference to galvanising the IONS efforts to respond in a faster and coordinated manner. 

Contract for construction of diving support Vessels(DSV) signed

 A contract was signed by the Indian Navy with M/s Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Vishakhapatnam, on 20 Sep 18 for construction of two Diving Support Vessels (DSV) to augment the Indian Navy’s submarine support operations on either coast.
The first vessel to be built over a 36 month period would be followed by the second, six months later. The vessels to be based at Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai respectively, would be of 118 m in length and of approximately 7,650 T displacement.

In addition to operating submarines to secure our waters, the Indian Navy undertakes diving operations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This necessitates extensive diving operations to facilitate various activities such as submarine rescue, under water inspection, testing or salvage, and recovery of objects/ship aircraft lost at sea. As these activities involve diving operations with divers remaining underwater for prolonged durations, it requires a suitable platform for their launch and recovery, as well as for carriage of related tools and equipment. The DSV is also equipped with a Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV), which significantly enhances its Submarine Rescue Capabilities. Contract for procurement of two sets of non-tethered DSRV, capable of effecting submarine rescue upto depths of 650 meters has been concluded with M/s James Fisher Defence, UK in Mar 16. The first DSRV was delivered at Mumbai in Apr 18 and the second DSRV slated for Vishakhapatnam is expected by end Dec 18.

While a submarine is a significant strategic asset, it is also vulnerable to action damage, requiring extensive diving for undertaking Search and Rescue (SAR) operations that demand the availability of a credible and suitably equipped platform. Induction of DSVs equipped with DSRV, would go a long way in enhancing the Indian Navy’s capability and reach of submarine rescue operations in the IOR.

BRO provides humanitarian assistance tourists stranded in Leh and Lahaul valley due to heavy snowfall

Early snowfall in higher reaches, cloud burst and heavy rain devastated large parts of Himachal Pradesh from22 to 24 Sep 2018. Kullu district and Lahaul-Spiti were worst affected.  Also due to heavy snowfall on Rohtang Pass, Lahaul and Spiti Valley have been cut off, which affected large number of tourist who have gone to Leh and Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh. They have been stranded at number of isolated locations.

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on war footing started clearing various axes. Today from Project Rohtang Tunnel, team under Maj Shashi Chauhan and CaptAashishSinglaalongwith machinery were deployed to clear road axis upto Shishu and Koksar in Lahaul Valley to supplement efforts of 70 RCC of 38 BRTF .  By evening approx. 300 people from Shishu and Koksarhave been rescued out from Lahaul Valley to Solang in Manali through Rohtang Tunnel. The rescued people include faculty and students from IITMandi, IITsRoorkee, Guwahati and Mumbai and some foreigners on trekking besides locals from Himachal Pradesh.

BRO also provided medical aid and refreshment to rescued people at Project Rohtang Tunnel.  Co-ordination has been done with civil administration to safely take the rescued individuals to Manali and further to their destination.

Rohtang Tunnel which is under construction by BRO contributed immensely to evacuate and rescue stranded persons from Lahaul Valley to Manali.

Rescue efforts will continue for next few days until all stranded persons are evacuated and safely taken out from Lahaul & Spiti Valley.

India and Oman Agree to Enhance Bilateral Cooperation in the Field of Maritime Security and Defence Industry

His Excellency, Sayyid Badr Saud Harib Al Busaidi, the Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, Sultanate of Oman, is on an official visit to India at the invitation of Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Omani Minister met with RakshaMantri in South Block today afternoon. The Ministers undertook a comprehensive review of bilateral defence cooperation and  discussed measures to further enhance bilateral exchanges.

India and Oman share strong and multifaceted defence ties. The three wings of the Armed Forces hold staff talks and advanced joint exercises with each other. Several enabling agreements and Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between the two countries pertaining to defence related issues. 

During today’s meeting, both Ministers agreed upon a range of measures to enhance the defence relationship between the two countries. Cooperation in maritime security and defence industry engagement were prioritized for future engagement. 
Both Ministers also shared their perspectives on recent developments related to regional security.

Successful Flight Test of Prahar

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested the indigenously developed surface-to-surface tactical missile ‘Prahar’, from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Balasore, today. Range stations and electro optical systems tracked the missile throughout its flight. ‘Prahar’ is a contemporary weapon system capable of carrying multiple types of warheads and neutralizing a wide variety of targets.

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO, Army, Industries and other team members for the successful mission and said “indigenously developed Prahar will further strengthen our defence capabilities.”

Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G. Satheesh Reddy witnessed the launch and complimented all the team members.     

Outreach Programmeat Air Force Station Nal 

This year marks the 86th anniversary of Indian Air Force.  As part of Air Force Day Celebration, Air Force Station Nal conducted an outreach programme ‘VAYUSENA PRADARSHANI’ from 0730h onwards on 21 Oct 18 for the general public.

Approximately 1.5 lakh people including civilians, armed force personnel, paramilitary forces and nearly 12000 children from different schools/colleges in and around Bikaner witnessed this programme on 21 Oct 18.  Response of people was overwhelming and they were thrilled to see the spectacular display of Suryakiran Aerobatic Team, Akash Ganga Sky Diving Team, Air Warrior Drill Team (AWDT) and live concert by Air Force Band. 

A publicity stall was set up at the venue to motivate the aspiring youth and children to chosen Indian Air Force as a career option. 

Defence India Startup Challenge Deadline Gets Extended

The last date for submission of applications to the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC), being organised by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) has been extended till October 31, 2018.
The Defence India Startup Challenge has been launched by the Defence Innovation Organisation with support from Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence and Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog for the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) scheme. 

The challenge was launched on August 04, 2018 by Raksha Mantri, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and calls for proposals to address specific technological needs of the Indian defence establishment. Applicants (startups/MSMEs & individuals) showing capability, intent, and promise to be able to produce functional prototypes or to productise existing technologies in areas listed below will be awarded up to Rs. 1.5 crores, strictly on a milestone basis in the form of grant/equity/debt/other relevant structures along with incubation and mentoring support. 

The Defence India Startup Challenge has 11 problem statements by Ministry of Defence, thrown open for prospective solutions to be provided by the Indian start up eco-system. The problem statement sectors are as below: -

i.          Individual Protection System with built-in sensors
ii.         See Through Armour
iii.        Carbon Fibre Winding (CFW)
iv.        Active Protection System (APS)
v.         Secure hardware based offline Encrypt or Device for Graded Security
vi.        Development of 4G/LTE based Tactical Local Area Network
vii.       Development of Advanced Technology Based Desalination System (Water Purification) and Bilge Oily Water Separation System
viii.      Artificial Intelligence in Logistics & SCM
ix.        Unmanned Surface and Underwater Vehicles
x.         Remotely Piloted Airborne Vehicles
xi.        Laser Weaponry

Applications can be submitted at aim.gov.in/idex, by October 31, 2018, in the online form.

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