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STRATEGIKA: Security Digest of India


Digest Compiled by

Rahul Rawat

Doctoral Candidate, Diplomacy and Disarmament Divison, CIPOD, JNU

He tweets at @rawatra10 and can be reached at

Security Digest
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Hello and Welcome to the Strategika, India’s Security Digest, where we track and bring before you all the news and developments related to India’s National Security on a regular basis. Our aim is to provide you with the most comprehensive of data on the ongoing developments concerning India’s National Security

Happy Reading.

Rafale Marine Aircraft

Source: The Wire

Indian Navy begins evaluating Rafale’s compatibility with Vikrant

The Indian Navy (IN) began evaluating its long-standing requirement for multi-role carrier-borne fighters (MRCBF) on Monday, with the French-origin Rafale-M fighter demonstrating its capabilities at its Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa.

Next, the IN will assess Dassault’s twin-engine Rafale-M’s ability to undertake short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) flights and other related operational parameters at the SBTF’s 283-metre mock-up ski jump at INS Hansa.

The Navy’s objective is to assess whether the French fighter would be capable of operating from INS Vikrant, its 37,500-tonne STOBAR indigenous aircraft carrier that began its third round of sea trials over the weekend and is scheduled for commissioning in August, on India’s 75th Independence Day.

Meanwhile, the ongoing flight demonstrations by the Rafale-M fighter and those imminently by the F/A-18 Super Hornet, exhibit the urgency of acquiring naval combat aircraft for Vikrant at a time of great turbulence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the IN’s ‘coming out’ as a ‘pivot’ force in this area.

India undertakes Maritime Partnership Exercise with Japan

Indian Naval Ships Shivalik & Kadmatt undertook Maritime Partnership Exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force Ships Uraga and Hirado in the Bay of Bengal on January 13. The exercise included a wide range of flying operations, replenishment approaches and tactical manoeuvres.

The complex maritime exercises will enable the two navies to further strengthen their already wide-ranging strategic partnership and, when required, to jointly safeguard their maritime interests and ensure peace, security and stability in the region.

Indian Navy's INS Kochi Undertakes PASSEX With Russia's Admiral Tributs In Arabian Sea

Russian ship Admiral Tributs exercised with the Indian Navy's indigenously designed and built guided-missile destroyer, INS Kochi in the Arabian sea on January 14, 2022. The PASSEX showcased “cohesiveness and interoperability between the two navies''.

India and Russia continue to engage annually in naval exercises such as the Indra Navy which is a joint millennial military exercise conducted between both countries since 2003.

INS Kochi, the indigenously designed second ship of the Kolkata-class stealth guided-missile destroyers was built under the code name of Project 15A for the Indian Navy. It was constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai and was later commissioned to the Indian Navy services on September 30, 2015, after undergoing extensive sea trials.

India Mulls Scrapping P-8 Poseidon, MiG-29 Fighter Jet Deal With The US & Russia To Boost ‘Make In India’ Initiative

HAL likely to be in fray for Navy’s NUHs after defence ministry junks Coast Guard chopper deal

The Ministry of Defence is likely to allow state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to bid for the Navy’s programme to buy 111 naval utility helicopters (NUHs), as the Narendra Modi government reviews all foreign procurement programmes in favour of indigenous systems.

The Navy’s proposed NUH programme comes under the ‘strategic partnership’ route, which will allow a selected foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to partner a nominated Indian company to manufacture the choppers domestically.

Defence sources said the HAL has proven its blade-folding capability to the Navy and if the Coast Guard can forgo plans to buy foreign helicopters in favour of HAL, there is no rationale of not including HAL in the competition for NUH.

On Relations With India, Pakistan’s New National Security Policy Makes No Changes, Say Former Envoys

The document claims that Pakistan’s deterrence regime is “aimed at regional peace”. “The expansion of India’s nuclear triad, open-ended statements on nuclear policy, and investments in and introduction of destabilising technologies disturb the strategic balance in the region”.

On relations with India, the document stated that Pakistan wants to “improve relationship with India” but adds that a “just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains at the core of the bilateral relationship”.

Former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, Sharat Sabharwal, observed that “Pakistan has always said that it is willing to have good relations with India but on the condition of Kashmir resolution. This discourse has always been there. So it is nothing new”.

1st S-400 unit to be ready by April, 4 others by 2023

All the five units of the S-400 system, which can take down a hostile aircraft or missile at a range between 40km and 400km, are expected to be operational by next year.

James O’ Brien, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the US State Department’s coordinator for sanctions policy, told the Senate Foreign Committee that while the US has discouraged India from acquiring the S-400 systems from Russia, Washington’s decision on whether to sanction India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or grant a waiver will be done only after weighing important geostrategic considerations in relations to China.

Already, advance consignments of two S-400 systems have arrived in India from Moscow and work is on to assemble the systems and the radars by Indian teams trained in Russia.

Republican senator supports waiving CAATSA sanctions against India

India, Senator Todd Young said, is currently taking delivery of the Russian S-400 system. The country is also in the process of acquiring new frigate ships from Russia. "Both are important systems for the Indians," he said during a confirmation hearing for James O'Brien for the position of the State Department coordinator for Sanctions Policy.

"India is a vital ally in our competition against China, and thus, I believe we should resist taking any actions that might drive them away from us and the Quad. I am therefore strongly supportive of waiving CAATSA sanctions against India, given our shared foreign policy interests," Senator Young said.

Rourkela Plant steel to be used by Indian Navy for making submarines

The Rourkela Steel Plant, a unit of Maharatna public sector undertaking SAIL, has received a certificate from the Indian Navy for producing high-strength steel for making submarines.

Rear Admiral R Vishwanathan (heading IN delegation) said, "As a policy, the Indian Navy is using indigenous steel for its ship and submarine manufacturing. The RSP is fulfilling the needs of a tough and meticulous customer like the Indian Navy for the last 10 years...commencement of commercial production of the submarine grade steel will further strengthen our association."

India extends $500 million Line of Credit to help Sri Lanka purchase fuel

India on Tuesday announced a $500 million credit line to help Sri Lanka purchase petroleum products as the island nation struggles with a massive fuel and energy crisis.

In addition to this, the Indian government announced a billion dollar assistance package in addition to other balance of payment support to Sri Lanka. The billion dollar loan credit facility is to be used to avert a food crisis while allowing for the import of items and medicines.

Indian Aircraft Carrier Vikrant completes third sea trials; to be induced into the Indian Navy by this year

The third sea trial of India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier IAC Vikrant started on Sunday, January 9, witnessed the presence of several scientists of the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory, a DRDO facility based at Visakhapatnam.

IAC Vikrant constructed by the Cochin Shipyard Limited has been built at a cost of Rs 23,000 crore and has over 2,300 compartments designed for a crew of around 1,700 people including specialised cabins for women. It will also operate MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31 helicopters, and MH-60R multi-role helicopters.

Pakistan to acquire deadly Turkish torpedo countermeasure system to check Indian Navy’s rapid expansion

In a recent development, Turkey has followed up on its previous decision of 2019 to equip the Pakistani submarines with its torpedo countermeasure systems for the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B-class submarines.

The contract is part of the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B MLU program, which includes the upgrading of three Agosta 90B submarines under a deal signed with the Turkish STM Company in 2016. Pakistan became the second country after Indonesia to employ the Zargana, which many experts call superior to its global competitors.

However, this is not the first time that Turkey is aiding Pakistan in upgrading its naval fleet. The Pakistan Navy inked a contract with ASFAT, a Turkish defence manufacturer, in July 2018 to purchase four MILGEM-class ships.

New chapter in ties as Indian Foreign Secretary meets Germany navy chief, warship ‘Bayern’ visits

India and Germany are opening a new chapter in their defence and security ties as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held maritime security cooperation talks with Germany’s navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach, and a German frigate entered Indian waters for a rare port call.

The developments, seen as a major signal to China, come as Germany strengthens its own Indo-Pacific policy and Berlin identifies New Delhi as one of its key partners in the Indo-Pacific strategic framework.

Germany’s new Olaf Scholz administration has made it clear that as an export-oriented economy, it will maintain its trade ties with India, but will also begin to assert its strategic autonomy, the source said.

Over 45 countries expected to participate in multilateral exercise Milan in 2022: Indian Navy

Biennial multilateral exercise Milan’s 2022 edition is expected to be the largest one with participation of navies of 45-plus countries, said the Indian Navy.

Milan’s 2022 edition is scheduled to be held at Visakhapatnam from February 25 to March 4, the Navy mentioned.

Theme of Milan’s 2022 edition would be ‘Camaraderie-Cohesion-Collaboration’. Milan is a biennial multilateral event hosted by the Indian Navy since 1995.

Pakistan sending IEDs into India through land and sea drug route: Intel report

Delhi Police investigations into the recovery of an RDX-packed improvised explosive device (IED) at Ghazipur has taken a sinister turn with intelligence reports indicating that the Pakistani establishment is using land and sea drug pipeline to push ready-made IEDs into India.

“The IED consignments, funded by drug money, are still coming into India with the objective of fanning a communal flare-up after a major incident,” said a senior official.

In the past decade, tiffin bombs were the signature of Pak-sponsored Indian Mujahideen terrorist group with such IEDs used in 2005 Sarojini Nagar and Paharganj market blasts.

India to send a battalion for peacekeeping ops in Africa

India will next month dispatch an infantry battalion for UN peacekeeping operations in the oil-rich Abyei region in Africa which straddles northern and southern Sudan and is hotly contested by both.

The Indian infantry group with around 570 soldiers will be deployed under the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), which is tasked with monitoring the volatile border between north and south and facilitating humanitarian aid.

The 13-lakh strong Indian Army has contributed over 2.58 lakh troops in 51 of the 71 UN missions since the first one for Korea in 1953-54, with 159 Indian soldiers having also laid down their lives in the operations. The deployments have ranged from Yemen, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia-Eritrea to Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Lebanon, Congo and Sudan.

Apart from “international exposure”, UN assignments also give Indian battalions a much-needed break from being deployed along the long “active” borders with Pakistan and China as well as relentless counter-insurgency operations in J&K and north-east.

China supplies mounted howitzers to Pak to maintain arms parity with India

Over the past decades, Pakistan has been able to punch far beyond its weight category with China doing the heavy lifting against India, be it in arms supply or in multilateral arms control regimes.

Islamabad has received the first batch of Chinese manufactured vehicle mounted howitzers to counter the Indian K-9 Vajra howitzers. Beijing is also supplying NORINCO AR-1 300 mm multi barrel rocket launchers to Rawalpindi so that the Pakistan Army has a reply to Indian rocket launchers. The total contract worth is around USD 512 million.

According to reports, Pakistan in 2019 signed a contract with Chinese arms major NORINCO to supply 236 SH-15 155 mm vehicle mounted howitzers apart from AR-1 heavy rocket launchers.

Clearly, this supply is to boost the firepower of Pakistan army all along the western border, specially to heat up the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in case the existing ceasefire breaks down or to send a message on Kashmir.

India gets first ever export order for BrahMos missiles, signs $374 million contract with Philippines

India got its first ever export order for BrahMos missiles on Friday when the Philippines' Defence Ministry signed USD 374 million contract with the BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd (BAPL) to supply an undisclosed number of missiles, military officials stated.

The BAPL, an India-Russian joint venture, produces the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or from land platforms.

The USD 374 million contract is to supply shore-based anti-ship BrahMos missiles to the Philippines' Navy, the military officials noted.

In Assam, 246 insurgents of two outfits lay down arms, surrender

A total of 246 terrorists from two outfits of Assam, the Tiwa Liberation Army (TLA) and United Gorkha Peoples Organisation (UGPO), formally surrendered and laid down arms before Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati.

Formed in 2014, TLA was mainly active in Marigaon, Nagaon and West Karbi Anglong districts while UGPO, which was formed in 2007, was active in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Biswanath districts.

PM Modi: Cooperation with Central Asia essential for regional security

Mutual cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity, PM Modi said while hosting the first India-Central Asia Summit in a virtual format on 27th January 2022.

The region is central to India's vision of an integrated and stable extended neighbourhood. The current situation in Afghanistan adds further importance to this cooperation, he added.

The leaders have decided to establish a joint working group on Afghanistan at a senior officials' level, the MEA later said.

PM Modi also called for defining an "ambitious vision" to enable adoption of an integrated approach for regional connectivity and cooperation.

Modi had paid a visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015. Subsequently, there have been exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forums.

Defence Secretary holds interaction with Defence Industry

Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar held an interactive session on promoting Defence Exports with the stakeholders of the Defence Industry on 27 January 2022.

More than 500 Defence industries from across public and private sectors, including Industry Associations and Defence Attaches from Indian Missions abroad participated in the session.

The main focus of the session was to understand the challenges faced by Defence Industries and to encapsulate their suggestions for further policy reforms and actions required to enhance the Defence exports.

Army, IAF struggle to exhaust capital budget, Defence Minister asks to expedite spending

The low spending of the defence budget comes as an aberration because the services are learnt to have projected the requirement for capital budgets way higher than they were allocated.

The Army has spent the lowest — approximately 40% — of its capital budget for the ongoing financial year, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) has had a capital expenditure of around 70%. The Navy has spent the highest among the three services at around 90% of its capital outlay.

The defence budget is divided under four broad heads — defence pensions, capital outlay (for new, big-ticket acquisitions and modernisation), revenue (for smaller acquisitions of spares, maintenance costs), and miscellaneous, which includes various administrative expenses.

The Defence Minister emphasised that the services should attempt meeting their domestic expenditure targets earmarked on the capital budget. This was earmarked this year at 64% in the ongoing financial year, as compared to 58% the year before.

Indian Navy ropes in new-age tech, 30 Artificial Intelligence projects in the work

Indian Navy has launched major projects and initiatives to incorporate new-age advanced technology into the service at systems and processes levels.

Commander Vivek Madhwal, Spokesperson Indian Navy said, “Navy is progressing around 30 AI projects and initiatives encompassing Autonomous Systems, Language Translation, Predictive Maintenance, Inventory Management, Text Mining, Perimeter Security, Maritime Domain Awareness and Decision Making.”

Regarding its future endeavour, the Indian Navy in a statement said, “In addition, the Navy is currently in the process of creating a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the field of AI at INS Valsura, which has been instrumental in the progress of pilot projects pertaining to the adoption of AI and BDA in the domain of maintenance, HR and perception assessment, in collaboration with academia and industry.”