Sunday, April 28, 2013

Royal Malaysian Navy Gowind class Corvettes for LCS program to be fitted with stealth 57mm Guns

At the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition 2013, Navy Recognition exclusively learned that the 6 future Gowind class Corvettes (Littoral Combat Ship program) will be fitted with 57mm Mark 3 main guns with stealth cupola from BAE Systems Bofors. We also took the opportunity to get the latest updates on the Malaysian LCS program from Anuar Murad, Director of Defence and Security at Boustead Heavy Industry Corporation.

Anuar Murad, Director of Defence & Security Division at BHIC, gave us the latest updates on the Gowind design for the Royal Malayasian Navy Littoral Combat Ship program.

It was confirmed during LIMA that the combat management system will be the SETIS by DCNS, the Fire Control Systems will be provided by Rheinmetall, and the engines will be provided by MTU. The design seems to have increased in size with the length of the LCS now at 111 meters (compared to 107 as previously reported) with a displacement of about 3,000 tons (compared to full load displacement of 2,730 tonnes as previously announced).

Integrated with SETIS, a combat system derived from FREMM class Frigates, Gowind Combat can tackle air, surface and submarine threats. The shock-resistant platform (built according to military standards), the small radar cross-section together with an excellent acoustic signature makes it a high-performance surface combatant.

Gowind Combat can be operated by a limited crew and has been designed to offer great at-sea availability and reduced life cycle costs.

Read more at:

Seoul Plans Phased-Development, Typhoon-Size Fighter

By Bradley Perrett
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

In all of the West, only one all-new fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35, is in full-scale development. If it outlasts its predecessors, as new products usually do, it could find itself to be the last man standing. The F-35 will have Russian and Chinese competition, but only the U.S. fighter is likely to be engineered to standards that facilitate integration of Western weapons and sensors. For many countries, there will be no real alternative.

Or maybe there will be: a Western fighter from the East.

After at least a decade of studies, the design of South Korea's proposed KF-X fighter is becoming clearer. If it goes ahead, and if it is not heavily revised, it will be a two-engine fighter of the size of the Eurofighter Typhoon, perhaps following the Typhoon and other European fighters in mounting its horizontal stabilizers forward (see specifications table, page 48). It will be designed for Western, especially U.S., weapons and sensors, although later South Korean equipment will be fitted.

First mooted within the government in 1999, and announced as a national objective in 2002, KF-X has been under study for 14 years, repeatedly failing to gain authorization for full-scale development, which it still awaits. Early in the program, the targeted in-service date was 2015; now, it cannot fly before 2021, and therefore cannot be operational until middle 2020s, if it survives powerful opposition (see page 49).

In the air force's planning, KF-X will be a medium fighter, at first serving alongside and then replacing the KF-16, the locally built version of the F-16. Fighters above the KF-S rated as “high” grade—mainly meaning a greater payload range—would be the Boeing F-15K and whichever aircraft is chosen for the current F-X Phase 3 competition (AW&ST April 15, p. 52). Below it will be the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50.

The driving force for a fighter to fill this role has been the defense ministry's Agency for Defense Development (ADD). Program Director Lee Daeyearl answers to ADD chief H.Y. Paik. The ADD is handling the preliminary design and will oversee full-scale development and integration, if KF-X is approved, say government officials. So KAI, the country's combat aircraft specialist, would be only a supplier and, presumably, the detail designer of the airframe. It would not be surprising if the aerospace division of Korean Airlines made some parts. A foreign company would supply the engines. Electronics would come from several manufacturers.

At the top level, a foreign partner will be needed, probably the winner of F-X Phase 3, which means Boeing, Lockheed Martin or the Eurofighter partners. Most South Korean advocates of the program play down the intended role of outsiders. The KF-X will be led by South Koreans, they emphasize. Indonesia, which has contributed engineers and 20% of the funding since 2011 and proposes to order 50, is a junior partner, which is why the aircraft is sometimes called KF-X/IF-X. Attempts to enlist Turkey failed, partly because the South Koreans insisted on leadership; other partners are possible, but none have appeared so far.

Throughout its long gestation, KF-X has faced repeated objections: that it is unaffordable, or at least unjustifiable; that the country lacks the skills to develop it, or at least has too few engineers, especially if it pursues civil airplane and military helicopter programs at the same time; that the U.S., as a technology supplier, would seek to block KF-X sales; and, perhaps above all, that the South Korean fighter cannot offer much that is not already on the market at a lower price.

But backers, particularly ADD, present KF-X as the keystone in South Korea's future military aviation development. It would not just be a home-produced fighter; it would become the host aircraft of South Korean combat aircraft systems, such as sensors and weapons, promoting wider advances in the defense industry. South Korea would be in complete control of its configuration, not needing foreign permission to integrate its systems, as it has for the T-50 supersonic trainer and its combat variants.

In evolving the design and program, ADD has sought to address doubts about South Korea's technological capacity and the aircraft's technological adequacy. In 2009, the developers acknowledged that South Korea could not build a fully stealthy aircraft, equivalent to the F-35. They relaxed the radar cross-section to the level of such aircraft as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon.

That radar cross-section is likely to be in the range of 0.1-1 sq. meters (1.07-10.07 sq. ft.), compared with 1-10 sq. meters for old F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger fighters in South Korean service, says a former air force officer who has been involved in planning for KF-X and other programs. KF-X's intended cross-section “is low enough,” he says, pointing to an official but unpublished study showing gaps in the coverage of North Korean surveillance radars when dealing with such a target. Those gaps exist even without electronic countermeasures degrading the performance of the radars, the study shows.

While the designers relaxed the stealth specification, they notably did not much change the aircraft's external shape and configuration, the foundation of low radar cross-section. The KF-X kept classic stealth features such as parallel edges and surfaces, forward fuselage chines and curved engine inlet ducts. That has allowed ADD this year to propose reintroduction of high-grade stealth in later KF-X versions. Block 2 would have more stealth coatings, radar-absorbing structural materials, tighter control of gaps, “integrated” (presumably flush) aerials, and a weapons bay. It would be as stealthy as an F-117, ADD estimates. Further, unstated improvements would advance Block 3 to the level of the F-35.

These improvements would be added with new systems. So KF-X would, in the end, significantly outperform current fighters—just not immediately.

Since settling on moderate stealth, ADD has been studying two main variables in its design: the number of engines, and the location of horizontal stabilizers. It has settled the first issue—the aircraft will have two engines—but the second issue will depend on the origins of the experienced foreign partner. The KF-X will have conventional aft stabilizers, following concept Design C103, if a U.S. company helps develop it; and forward stabilizers, for Design C203, if a European partner is chosen.

Size appears to have been set by the choice of two engines, the preference of the air force. “We do not have a rubber engine,” says an engineer familiar with the project, meaning that the designers must choose one off the shelf, not have one designed for their specification. So they see available afterburning thrust as 17,700 lb. (from the General Electric F404), 20,200 lb. (from Eurojet EJ200) or 22,000 lb. (from GE F414). The Snecma M88 is not mentioned as a candidate.

The thrust ratings straddle what is available to the Typhoon, and so it is not surprising that the airframes, for both C103 and C203, have been sized for an empty aircraft mass very close to that of the European fighter. Reflecting the great volume typical of stealth designs (partly because snaking inlet ducts demand a bulky fuselage), C103 and C203 each have more internal fuel than the Typhoon.

Also relying on airframe volume, the designers are contriving to work a weapons bay into the Block 2 version. In the Block 1 variant, four Raytheon AIM-120 air-to-air missiles are mounted in recesses under the fuselage, a favorite approach introduced by the Phantom's designers about 60 years ago (see cover photo). Those missiles must move inside the bay for the Block 2 KF-X; there is not enough space to have both a bay and external under-fuselage weapons. Provision for the weapon bay will be in the Block 1 aircraft, ADD says, which must mean that internal equipment will be packaged in some way to easily make space available.

Six more hard points for weapons and other stores are on the wing, the outer two available only for Raytheon AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missiles. ADD's drawings show the others with air-to-ground weapons: GBU-39, GBU-53, CBU-105, GBU-31, GBU-38 and GBU-24 guided bombs and AGM-65 missiles. External fuel tanks are an option for the inner pair of hard points, and models show cruise missiles mounted in those positions, too. There are no wingtip hard points, presumably to restrict radar reflections, but models show sensor pods on the lower corners of the fuselage.

A gun is mounted internally above the left inlet duct.

The prime sensor for KF-X will be a radar with an active, electronically scanned array. A foreign radar will be installed first, while a later version of the fighter will be outfitted with a set based on work that South Korean electronics company LIG Nex1 is undertaking. The designers are also specifying an electro-optical targeting system, an infrared search and track sensor, data link, GPS-INS navigation, “advanced threat warning and countermeasures” and internal electronic countermeasures.

The cockpit will incorporate a helmet-mounted display, a head-up display and multifunction head-down displays. In integrating electronics and weapons, the program intends to follow Western design standards, hence the advantage that KF-X, if built, will hold over Chinese and Russian rivals. Introducing new U.S., European or indeed South Korean equipment should be easier.

The wing of the C103 (tail-aft) version has full-span flaperons and leading-edge flaps for variable camber. The planform is a diamond shape, with 40 deg. leading-edge sweep and 10-deg. forward sweep for the trailing edge.

When the C103 and C203 designs were discussed in February, there was a hint that the two-seat option had been rejected, along with such variants as a single-engine aircraft. But ADD's latest description of the aircraft does show a version with a second seat that replaces the forward fuselage fuel tank. Although the U.S. has decided that simulation obviates the need for a trainer version of the F-35, a second seat is becoming popular again in other fighters for a reason that was familiar decades ago but then fell out of fashion: two people can handle the work of a combat mission more easily than one.

Tap the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST to see a timeline of KF-X program, or go to

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mexico's Drug War: Balkanization Leads to Regional Challenges

Editor's Note: This Security Weekly assesses the most significant cartel-related developments of the first quarter of 2013 and provides updated profiles of Mexico's powerful criminal cartels, as well as a forecast for the rest of this year. It's the executive summary of a more detailed report available to clients of our Mexico Security Monitor service.

By Tristan Reed
Tactical Analyst

Balkanization of Cartels

Since the late 1980s demise of the Guadalajara cartel, which controlled drug trade routes into the United States through most of Mexico, Mexican cartels have followed a trend of fracturing into more geographically compact, regional crime networks. This trend, which we are referring to as "Balkanization," has continued for more than two decades and has impacted all of the major cartel groups in Mexico. Indeed the Sinaloa Federation lost significant assets when the organizations run by Beltran Leyva and Ignacio Coronel split away from it. Los Zetas, currently the other most powerful cartel in Mexico, was formed when it split off from the Gulf cartel in 2010. Still these two organizations have fought hard to resist the trend of fracturing and have been able to grow despite being affected by it. This led to the polarized dynamic observed in 2011 when these two dominant Mexican cartels effectively split Mexican organized crime in two, with one group composed of Los Zetas and its allies and the other composed of the Sinaloa Federation and its allies.

For bigger picture click here.

This trend toward polarization has since been reversed, however, as Balkanization has led to rising regional challenges to both organizations since 2012. Most notable among these is the split between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation. The Sinaloa Federation continues to struggle with regional crime groups for control in western Chihuahua state, northern Sinaloa state, Jalisco state and northern Sonora state. Similarly, Los Zetas saw several regional challengers in 2012. Two regional groups saw sharp increases in their operational capabilities during 2012 and through the first quarter of 2013. These were the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar.
The Beltran Leyva Organization provides another example of the regionalization of Mexican organized crime. It has become an umbrella of autonomous, and in some cases conflicting, groups. Many of the groups that emerged from it control specific geographic areas and fight among each other largely in isolation from the conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation. Many of these successor crime groups, such as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos are currently fighting for their own geographic niches. As its name implies, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco mostly acts in Acapulco, while Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos mostly act in Morelos state.
The ongoing fragmentation of Mexican cartels is not likely to reverse, at least not in the next few years. Despite this, while Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation continue to face new rivals and suffer from internal splintering, their resources are not necessarily declining. Neither criminal organization faces implosion or a substantial decline as a transnational criminal organization as a result of rising regional challengers. Both Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation continue to extend their drug trafficking operations on a transnational level, increasing both their influence and profits. Still, they will continue to face the new reality, in which they are forced to work with -- or fight -- regional groups.

Los Zetas

In Hidalgo state, a former Zetas stronghold, the Knights Templar have made significant inroads, although violence has not risen to the level of that in the previously mentioned states. Also, the turf war within Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas that began when Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel in 2010 continues.
In light of Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero's dissent from Los Zetas and the death of former leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano, Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales could face organizational integrity issues during 2013. Signs of such issues appeared in Cancun during the first quarter when some members of Los Zetas reportedly broke from the group and adopted the Gulf cartel name. Besides possible minor dissent, a seemingly new rival has emerged in Tabasco state to counter Los Zetas. A group called Pueblo Unido Contra la Delincuencia, Spanish for "People United Against Crime," carried out a series of executions in Tabasco state throughout the first quarter, but the group's origins and significance remain unclear. No indicators of substantial splintering among Los Zetas have emerged since the Velazquez split.

Sinaloa Federation

Regional organizations continued to challenge the Sinaloa Federation on its turf in western Chihuahua state, northern Sinaloa state and Jalisco state through the first quarter. Intercartel violence in mountainous western Chihuahua continues as the Sinaloa Federation fights La Linea for control of the region's smuggling routes and drug cultivation areas. Los Mazatlecos so far has maintained its control over northern Sinaloa cities, such as Los Mochis and Guasave. It also has continued violent incursions into southern areas of Sinaloa state, such as Mazatlan, Concordia and El Rosario with its ally Los Zetas. 

Gulf Cartel

At the beginning of 2012, Gulf cartel territory appeared likely to be absorbed by larger cartels -- essentially signaling the end of the Gulf cartel. Support from the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar combined with fractures within Los Zetas allowed a Gulf cartel resurgence, leading to a renewed Gulf assault on Los Zetas in the northeastern states of Mexico. The resurgence ended with a series of notable arrests during the last quarter of 2012, such as that of former top leader Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez. The arrests triggered additional Gulf cartel infighting, which peaked in March 2013.
The escalated infighting in the Gulf cartel, particularly in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, highlighted the new state of the Gulf cartel: Instead of operating as a cohesive criminal network, the Gulf cartel now consists of factions linked by history and the Gulf label. The infighting began in 2010 after the death of former top Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel "Tony Tormenta" Cardenas Guillen. The death of Cardenas Guillen split the Gulf cartel into two main factions, Los Rojos and Los Metros. By the first quarter of 2013, infighting had broken out between Los Metros leaders, such as Mario "Pelon" Ramirez Trevino, David "Metro 4" Salgado and Miguel "El Gringo" Villarreal. This suggests the Gulf cartel is further fractured and no longer consists of just two opposing sides. The Gulf cartel may begin acting as a cohesive network during the second quarter after the escalated infighting in March, though this cannot be definitely predicted.
From March 10 to March 19, Reynosa became the focal point for Gulf cartel infighting as Ramirez Trevino escalated his conflict against Villarreal. Ramirez Trevino reportedly expelled Villarreal's faction and its allies from the Reynosa plaza and killed Salgado. This could mean Ramirez Trevino has consolidated control over other Gulf cartel factions. If true, this would represent a substantial shift in organized criminal operations in northeastern Tamaulipas state, where the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar smuggle drugs, people and other illicit commodities through the border towns of Reynosa and Matamoros while Los Zetas maintain a constant interest in fighting for control of the stated cities.
As mentioned during the last annual update, Gulf cartel factions are increasingly reliant on Sinaloa Federation and Knights Templar support to defend the remaining Gulf cartel territory in Tamaulipas state from Los Zetas. This certainly remains true after the first quarter, although the recent shift from Gulf cartel infighting may signal a shift in intercartel dynamics. Since the Gulf cartel in reality consists of separate factions, there is likely a separate relationship between each Gulf cartel faction and the larger criminal organizations reportedly in alignment with them. With Ramirez Trevino now in charge of Reynosa, a city valued by both the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar, his existing relationship with the two organizations will likely influence their strategies for maintaining their interests in Gulf cartel-controlled areas. Additionally, it is not yet clear whether Ramirez Trevino suffered any substantial losses during the March fighting in Reynosa. If he did lose some capabilities fighting Los Zetas in Tamaulipas state, or if he has challenged a faction loyal to either the Sinaloa Federation or the Knights Templar, either organization would likely have to use its own gunmen for defending Gulf cartel-controlled areas or mounting their own incursions into Zetas territory, particularly Nuevo Laredo.
Intercartel violence in the Gulf cartel-controlled city of Reynosa will likely diminish compared to the first quarter of 2013 if Ramirez Trevino has indeed won. This reduction in violence will continue only as long as Ramirez Trevino is able to hold his control over Reynosa. Influence from external organizations, such as Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar, could once again spark violence if Ramirez Trevino's efforts have harmed their trafficking operations through Reynosa or presented a new opportunity to seize control. What, if any, Gulf cartel infighting is ongoing is difficult to gauge.

Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion

The severing of the relationship between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation came to the forefront of conflicts in the Pacific states of Michoacan and Jalisco during the first quarter of 2013. The Sinaloa Federation relied on its alliance with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in defending the critical location of Guadalajara from Los Zetas and used the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as an assault force into Los Zetas strongholds, such as Veracruz state.
Although evidence of the rift between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation began to appear in open-source reporting during the last half of 2012, the conflict between the two organizations only became clear when the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion went on the offensive in Jalisco state by attacking Sinaloa Federation allies Los Coroneles, the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel. 
With a now-fully independent Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the polarization of warring cartels in Mexico has effectively ended. In addition to the existing conflicts between the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation must now focus on reclaiming an operational hold over Jalisco state from the now-rival Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. The second quarter will continue to see a conflict between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Sinaloa Federation-aligned groups in Jalisco state as well as neighboring states like Michoacan.

Knights Templar

The Knights Templar experienced intensified conflict during the first quarter from their principal rival, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. In an effort to combat the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the Knights Templar have allied with other Sinaloa Federation-aligned groups, the Gulf cartel and Los Coroneles, referring to themselves as "Los Aliados" to fight the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion within Jalisco. Violence as a result of this alliance against the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has been most notable in the Guadalajara metropolitan area as well as towns lying on highways 15 and 90, which connect to Guadalajara.
In addition to the Knights Templar offensive into Jalisco state, the group is currently defending its stronghold of Michoacan state. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion also has conducted violent assaults against the Knights Templar in Michoacan, particularly on routes leading from Jalisco state toward Apatzingan, Michoacan state. This assault has increased intercartel violence along the border of the two states as part of a tit-for-tat dynamic. 
Citizens of Buenavista Tomatlan, Michoacan state, a municipality lying amid territory contested by the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar, have recently set up a community police force to counter Knights Templar operations in the municipality. As in some other areas of Mexico, this community police force is a volunteer force that assumed law enforcement responsibilities independent of the Mexican government. The community police, while established to thwart the Knights Templar, have created tension between the communities of Buenavista Tomatlan and the government. On March 8, the Mexican military detained approximately 34 members of the community police force that had been created in February in Buenavista Tomatlan.
The Buenavista Tomatlan arrests occurred after the community police took over the municipal police station March 4 and detained the municipal police chief, who the Mexican military later freed. Notably, the Mexican government claimed at least 30 of the detained community police belonged to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. If true, this suggests it has made territorial gains to the point of infiltrating the community police. However, there has been no confirmation on whether the accusations are true. Regardless, the community police force of Buenavista Tomatlan has placed its focus on stopping Knights Templar operations in the area, a focus that could only benefit the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's war with its rivals.

Read more: Mexico's Drug War: Balkanization Leads to Regional Challenges | Stratfor 

Boston Bombing Suspects: Grassroots Militants from Chechnya

The identities of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing -- Chechen brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 -- appear tentatively to confirm several of Stratfor's suspicions. From this profile, the simple nature of the attack, their efforts to rob a convenience store and their lack of an escape plan, we can at least say at this point in time that they were what we refer to as grassroots militants. Despite being amateurs, such militants clearly still pose a significant threat.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Timothy Alben (C) of the Massachusetts State Police and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis (Center R) in Watertown, Mass., on April 19

Just after 10 p.m. on April 18, the Tsarnaev brothers were identified after having robbed a convenience store in Cambridge, Mass., just three miles from Boston, hours earlier. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, who responded to the robbery, was shot and killed and found in his car by fellow responding officers. The two suspects later hijacked an SUV at gunpoint, releasing the driver unharmed. Authorities later caught up to the suspects, and a car chase ensued.
Just after midnight, the car chase ended with a gunfight in Watertown, Mass. The suspects reportedly threw explosive devices at police, though it is not yet confirmed what types of explosives allegedly were used. During the firefight, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was wounded, taken into custody and later reported dead. Some press reports suggest he may have been wearing some sort of suicide belt or vest. Dzhokhar escaped by driving the stolen SUV through the police barricade and remains at large. According to media reports, a third accomplice was detained earlier this morning by authorities and is being questioned.
According to The New York Times, the two men are from Chechnya. Their family also reportedly lived briefly in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, before moving to the United States in 2002. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's profile on VKontakte, a Russian social media website, said he attended school at the School No. 1 of Makhachkala, spoke English, Russian and Chechen and listed his worldview as Islam. A school administrator from the School No. 1 said the two suspects and their family had previously lived in Kyrgyzstan before moving to Dagestan.
Given that they are grassroots actors, there is likely only a small chance that the authorities will discover a formal link between the suspects and a state sponsor or a professional terrorist group such as al Qaeda or one of its franchise groups. Any link will likely be ideological rather than operational, although it is possible that the two have attended some type of basic militant training abroad. Given what we have learned about the suspects and the nature of the improvised explosive devices they constructed, it is very likely that the authorities will find that the brothers had read and studied al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire Magazine.
This case also highlights our analysis that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from grassroots operatives who live in the West rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in severity but broadened in scope in recent years -- a trend we expect to continue.
There will always be plenty of soft targets in a free society, and it is incredibly easy to kill people, even for untrained operatives. In this case, the brothers conducted an attack that was within their capabilities rather than attempting something more grandiose that would require outside assistance -- and which could therefore have put them in jeopardy of running into a government informant as they sought help. It is thus important for citizens to practice good situational awareness and to serve as grassroots defenders against the grassroots threat.

Read more: Boston Bombing Suspects: Grassroots Militants from Chechnya | Stratfor 

Ospreys to Israel in Major Arms Deal


Israel will receive the MV-22 Osprey in the first foreign sale of the tilt-rotor aircraft as part of major arms deals with Mideast allies to guard against the threat from Iran, senior Defense Department officials said Friday.

The Ospreys were the “most significant” assets in the total arms package and were “for the first time being made available for Israel to purchase,” a senior DOD official said in a background briefing on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s upcoming Mideast trip.

Israel has not yet decided on how many of the troop-carry Ospreys, made by Bell Boeing of Fort Worth, Texas, will be purchased, DOD officials said. Bell and the Marine Corps have been negotiating with the United Arab Emirates for more than a year on Osprey sales, and the discussions were continuing, the officials said.
The civil war in Syria will be at the top of the agenda for Hagel’s trip beginning this weekend to Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, the officials said.

One defense official said the arms package “doesn’t signal a change in policy toward Iran,” but a second official added that “the common threat in the region is clear.”
In addition to the Ospreys, Israel will also be getting advanced radars for Israeli fighter and attack aircraft, and anti-radiation missiles for targeting enemy radar sites.

The UAE will be getting 25 advanced F-16 fighters made by Lockheed Martin for $4.25 billion, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also agreed to buy additional standoff missiles and smart bomb s, the DOD officials said.
The total value of the sales to Israel and the regional allies will be about $10 billion. A Defense Department official called it “the most complex and carefully orchestrated arms packages in history.”

The sales grew out of President Obama’s directive to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last year to look for ways to boost Israeli’s qualitative military edge in the region, the DOD officials said.
“We had been looking for ways to increase the capabilities of Israel in a significant way,” a Defense Department official said.

By boosting Israel’s capabilities, the sales to the Arab allies also became more politically viable in Congress, the officials said. Israel currently receives $3.1 billion in U.S. military aid, and another $300 million for missile defense, the Defense Department officials said.
The additional sales “will raise Israel’s military superiority to a level that it has never been rasied to before,” a defense official said.

The Ospreys, which provide longer-range and faster troop carrying and supply missions than conventional helicopters, have a checkered history.

More than 30 Marines were killed in testing, and the aircraft survived numerous attempts to cancel the program over cost overruns and systems’ failures.
The Marines have stressed that the Ospreys proved their worth in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the aircraft earlier this year passed another hurdle when they were deployed for the first time to Japan over the protests of Okinawa residents.

Read more: 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The unsettling science behind the Lion Air crash

 Lion Air Boeing 737
ndonesian rescue workers help remove a section of a Lion Air Boeing 737 four days after it crashed into the sea near Bali. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty)

For all the headline-grabbing stories about security breaches, intoxicated pilots and faulty equipment, sometimes a commercial plane’s worst enemy is Mother Nature.
That appears to be the case for a new Boeing 737, operated by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, that crashed into the shallow waters off the coast of Bali on 13 April, just short of the runway at Ngurah Rai Airport. At the helm was an experienced pilot who managed to save all 108 passengers and crew, but told Reuters it felt like his aircraft was“dragged” down by wind as he fought to regain control. The crash – and the pilot’s alarming comments – are renewing fears about the chilling phenomenon known as windshear.
A windshear or “microburst” is a sudden change in wind speed and direction that can cause planes to rapidly lose altitude. They are often caused by storms creating strong downdrafts of wind.
Airplanes rely on wind speed and direction to control takeoff and landing, typically doing so in the direction of the wind. But sudden shifts in wind speed and direction can cause planes to lose control, especially during takeoff and landing, when they are low to the ground and have reduced engine power and little room to manoeuvre.
How likely is it that Lion Air’s crash was caused by a windshear? Officials from a bevy of agencies – including Indonesian state officials, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA), the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency and Boeing – are investigating the incident and expect to release their findings within a month. But initial tests show that the pilot was experienced, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the plane, a brand new Boeing 737, had no technical issues, all of which rules out pilot or plane error.
What’s more, weather reports indicate a strong storm and driving rains were developing as the plane attempted to land, which lends support to the idea of windshear as the culprit.
But the surprising – and unnerving – point is that aviation officials consider windshear to be a problem that was solved long ago. Between 1964 and 1985 windshear was responsible for some 26 civil aircraft crashes in the US, leaving about 500 fatalities and about 200 injuries,according to NASA.  The most famous incident involved a Delta Airlines Lockheed Tristar, which crashed in 1985, killing 134 passengers and crew near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
Since then, windshear-related incidents have dropped considerably, thanks to FAA- and NASA-developed technology that warns pilots of oncoming storms. The Predictive Windshear System, available below 700m, warns pilots some 10 to 40 seconds ahead of windshear to go around the bursts.
But for now, a lot of unknowns remain, including whether the Lion Air crash was caused by windshear, whether the windshear warning system was functioning on the aircraft and perhaps the biggest question for the airline industry – whether windshear may again become a serious concern.

Light Aircraft Support: The Choice Was Clear

By Fred George
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

For a second time, W.W. “Bill” Boisture, the CEO of Beechcraft Corp. (formerly Hawker Beechcraft), is challenging the U.S. Air Force's decision to award a contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. to supply 20 Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft for the Light Air Support (LAS) program for use by the Afghan military.

Boisture claims the Defense Department is spending significantly more for the A-29B than it would for Beechcraft's AT-6, its proposed LAS variant of the T-6 Texan II turboprop primary trainer. The T-6 is a well-proven platform, and the AT-6 shares about 80% of its parts.

I could see Boisture's point if lowest cost were the only criterion for awarding a contract and if the AT-6 and A-29B offered equivalent capabilities. But neither point is the case.
I have flown both aircraft and there are significant differences. The AT-6 is a trainer that has been adapted for the LAS role with a 1,600-shp engine, a beefed-up wing with hard points, plus twin external gun pods, an electro-optical/infrared camera sensor ball and a network-centric C2ISR communications suite, among other significant improvements. On paper, that gives the AT-6 virtually the same capabilities as the A-29B Super Tucano.

Walk around the two aircraft, though, and obvious differences emerge. Built from the ground up for the light attack role, the Brazilian contender is considerably larger than the Beechcraft. The relatively small five-blade propeller offers 5 in. more ground clearance than the AT-6's four-blade prop, and its oil cooler intake is much higher, for protection against foreign object damage. These features make the Super Tucano better suited to rough-field operations.

The A-29B's wingspan is 4 ft. wider than the AT-6's and the lateral distance between the landing gear is 50% greater, making the aircraft easier to handle on runways in stiff crosswinds. The A-29B's main landing gear rolling stock is larger, featuring low-pressure 6.5-10 tires that are better suited to unimproved runway operations than the AT-6's high-pressure, 4.4-20 tires that are designed for smooth pavement. The A-29B's fuselage is 3 ft. longer and its vertical stabilizer is 2.3 ft. higher, providing more aerodynamic stability to handle the 1,600-shp engine.

The Super Tucano, to be assembled in Jacksonville, Fla., has two internally mounted 250-round FN Herstal .50-caliber guns plus four wing-mounted hard points for external stores and a center-line fuselage station for an external fuel tank. It can carry 3,420 lb. of external stores with fully loaded guns.

The AT-6 has six wing hard points, two of which can accommodate 400-round FN Herstal .50-caliber gun pods. While the AT-6 carries more ammunition, internal guns are easier to keep boresight-aligned than external gun pods. And the AT-6's external stores load is limited to 2,675 lb. with fully loaded gun pods.

Belt into the front seat of each aircraft and more important differences emerge. The A-29B's canopy is considerably larger, affording better visibility in the combat environment. Front and rear internal windshields protect the crew if the canopy is lost in combat. Its sensor ball is mounted farther forward on the bottom of the fuselage so its view of targets abeam the aircraft is not blocked by the wing when the aircraft is banked. The larger wing affords more lateral control with asymmetric external stores loads, such as a pilot might encounter if a 500-lb. smart bomb hangs up on an ejector rack.

The A-29B also has anti-skid power brakes, a computer that calculates drag and runway distance for 133 different external stores configurations and an autopilot that can be coupled to the mission computer to reduce pilot workload. The aircraft also has a proven combat record, having logged more than 18,000 hr., mainly in counterinsurgency operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It has amassed about 180,000 hr. with the air forces of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. Deliveries now have begun to Angola and Indonesia.

But, even if the two aircraft were exactly comparable, the long-term financial staying power of the two companies is not the same. That is a key risk factor written into the Federal Acquisition Regulation decision-making process. Sierra Nevada and Embraer have strong product portfolios and robust balance sheets. They will assemble the Super Tucano in Jacksonville. Beechcraft, having shed several unviable product lines, just now is emerging from bankruptcy. The Wichita manufacturer still faces a tough road to recovery. So, on balance, I believe the Air Force twice made the best choice for LAS, first in December 2011 and again in 2013.

Tap on the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST for more on the LAS procurement saga, including Fred George's pilot reports on the AT-6B and Super Tucano, or go to

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Know your own strength

India is poised to become one of the four largest military powers in the world by the end of the decade. It needs to think about what that means

UNLIKE many other Asian countries—and in stark contrast to neighbouring Pakistan—India has never been run by its generals. The upper ranks of the powerful civil service of the colonial Raj were largely Hindu, while Muslims were disproportionately represented in the army. On gaining independence the Indian political elite, which had a strong pacifist bent, was determined to keep the generals in their place. In this it has happily succeeded.
But there have been costs. One is that India exhibits a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture. It has fought a number of limited wars—one with China, which it lost, and several with Pakistan, which it mostly won, if not always convincingly—and it faces a range of threats, including jihadist terrorism and a persistent Maoist insurgency. Yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.
That clout is growing fast. For the past five years India has been the world’s largest importer of weapons (see chart). A deal for $12 billion or more to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France is slowly drawing towards completion. India has more active military personnel than any Asian country other than China, and its defence budget has risen to $46.8 billion. Today it is the world’s seventh-largest military spender; IHS Jane’s, a consultancy, reckons that by 2020 it will have overtaken Japan, France and Britain to come in fourth. It has a nuclear stockpile of 80 or more warheads to which it could easily add more, and ballistic missiles that can deliver some of them to any point in Pakistan. It has recently tested a missile with a range of 5,000km (3,100 miles), which would reach most of China.
Which way to face?
Apart from the always-vocal press and New Delhi’s lively think-tanks, India and its leaders show little interest in military or strategic issues. Strategic defence reviews like those that take place in America, Britain and France, informed by serving officers and civil servants but led by politicians, are unknown in India. The armed forces regard the Ministry of Defence as woefully ignorant on military matters, with few of the skills needed to provide support in areas such as logistics and procurement (they also resent its control over senior promotions). Civil servants pass through the ministry rather than making careers there. The Ministry of External Affairs, which should be crucial to informing the country’s strategic vision, is puny. Singapore, with a population of 5m, has a foreign service about the same size as India’s. China’s is eight times larger.
The main threats facing India are clear: an unstable, fading but dangerous Pakistan; a swaggering and intimidating China. One invokes feelings of superiority close to contempt, the other inferiority and envy. In terms of India’s regional status and future prospects as a “great power”, China matters most; but the vexatious relationship with Pakistan still dominates military thinking.
A recent attempt to thaw relations between the two countries is having some success. But tension along the “line of control” that separates the two sides in the absence of an agreed border in Kashmir can flare up at any time. To complicate things, China and Pakistan are close, and China is not above encouraging its grateful ally to be a thorn in India’s side. Pakistan also uses jihadist terrorists to conduct a proxy war against India “under its nuclear umbrella”, as exasperated Indians put it. The attack on India’s parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group with close links to Pakistan’s intelligence service, brought the two countries to the brink of war. The memory of the 2008 commando raid on Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba, another terrorist organisation, is still raw.
Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are a constant concern. Its arsenal of warheads, developed with Chinese assistance, is at least as large as India’s and probably larger. It has missiles of mainly Chinese design that can reach most Indian cities and, unlike India, it does not have a “no first use” policy. Indeed, to offset the growing superiority of India’s conventional forces, it is developing nuclear weapons for the battlefield that may be placed under the control of commanders in the field.
Much bigger and richer, India has tended to win its wars with Pakistan. Its plans for doing so again, if it feels provoked, are worrying. For much of the past decade the army has been working on a doctrine known as “Cold Start” that would see rapid armoured thrusts into Pakistan with close air support. The idea is to inflict damage on Pakistan’s forces at a mere 72 hours’ notice, seizing territory quickly enough not to incur a nuclear response. At a tactical level, this assumes a capacity for high-tech combined-arms warfare that India may not possess. At the strategic level it supposes that Pakistan will hesitate before unleashing nukes, and it sits ill with the Indian tradition of strategic restraint. Civilian officials and politicians unconvincingly deny that Cold Start even exists.
Bharat Karnad of the Centre for Policy Research, a think-tank, believes Pakistan’s main danger to India is as a failed state, not a military adversary. He sees Cold Start as a “blind alley” which wastes military and financial resources that should be used to deter the “proto-hegemon”, China. Others agree. In 2009 A.K. Antony, the defence minister, told the armed forces that they should consider China rather than Pakistan the main threat to India’s security and deploy themselves accordingly. But not much happened. Mr Karnad sees feeble civilian strategic direction combining with the army’s innate conservatism to stop India doing what it needs to.
The “line of actual control” between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese refer to as South Tibet, is not as tense as the one in Kashmir. Talks between the two countries aimed at resolving the border issue have been going on for ten years and 15 rounds. In official statements both sides stress that the dispute does not preclude partnership in pursuit of other goals.
But it is hard to ignore the pace of military investment on the Chinese side of the line. Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies points to the construction of new railways, 58,000km of all-weather roads, five air bases, supply hubs and communication posts. China would be able to strike with power and speed if it decided to seize the Indian-controlled territory which it claims as its own, says Mr Karnad. He thinks the Indian army, habituated to “passive-reactive” planning when it comes to the Chinese, has deprived itself of the means to mount a counter-offensive.
Unable to match Chinese might on land, an alternative could be to respond at sea. Such a riposte was floated in a semi-official strategy document called “Nonalignment 2.0”, promoted last year by some former national security advisers and blessed by the current one, Shivshankar Menon. India’s naval advantage might allow it, for example, to impede oil traffic heading for China through the Malacca Strait.
China and India are both rapidly developing their navies from coastal defence forces into instruments that can project power further afield; within this decade, they expect to have three operational carrier groups each. Some Indian strategists believe that, as China extends its reach into the Indian Ocean to safeguard its access to natural resources, the countries’ navies are as likely to clash as their armies.
Two if by sea
China’s navy is expanding at a clip that India cannot match—by 2020 it is expected to have 73 major warships and 78 submarines, 12 of them nuclear—but India’s sailors are highly competent. They have been operating an aircraft-carrier since the 1960s, whereas China is only now getting into the game. India fears China’s development of facilities at ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar—a so-called “string of pearls” around the ocean that bears India’s name; Mr Antony called the announcement in February that a Chinese company would run the Pakistani port of Gwadar a “matter of concern”. China sees a threat in India’s developing naval relationships with Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and, most of all, America. India now conducts more naval exercises with America than with any other country.
India’s navy has experience, geography and some powerful friends on its side. However, it is still the poor relation to India’s other armed services, with only 19% of the defence budget compared with 25% for the air force and 50% for the army.
The air force also receives the lion’s share of the capital-equipment budget—double the amount given to the navy. It is buying the Rafales from France and upgrading its older, mainly Russian, fighters with new weapons and radars. A joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia’s Sukhoi is developing a “fifth generation” strike fighter to rival America’s F-35. As well as indulging its pilots’ need for speed, though, the air force is placing a new emphasis on “enablers”. It is negotiating the purchase of six Airbus A330 military tankers and five new airborne early-warning and control aircraft. It has also addressed weaknesses in heavy lift by buying ten giant Boeing C-17 transports, with the prospect of more to come. Less clear is the priority the air force gives to the army’s requirements for close air support over its more traditional role of air defence, particularly after losing a squabble over who operates combat helicopters.
With the army training for a blitzkrieg against Pakistan and the navy preparing to confront Chinese blue-water adventurism, it is easy to get the impression that each service is planning for its own war without much thought to the requirements of the other two. Lip-service is paid to co-operation in planning, doctrine and operations, but this “jointness” is mostly aspirational. India lacks a chief of the defence staff of the kind most countries have. The government, ever-suspicious of the armed forces, appears not to want a single point of military advice. Nor do the service chiefs, jealous of their own autonomy.
The absence of a strategic culture and the distrust between civilian-run ministries and the armed forces has undermined military effectiveness in another way—by contributing to a procurement system even more dysfunctional than those of other countries. The defence industrial sector, dominated by the sprawling Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), remains stuck in state control and the country’s protectionist past. According to a recent defence-ministry audit, only 29% of the products developed by the DRDO in the past 17 years have entered service with the armed forces. The organisation is a byword for late-arriving and expensive flops.
The cost of developing a heavy tank, the Arjun, exceeded the original estimates by 20 times. But according to Ajai Shukla, a former officer who now writes on defence for the Business Standard, the army wants to stick with its elderly Russian T-72s and newer T-90s, fearing that the Arjun, as well as being overweight, may be unreliable. A programme to build a light combat aircraft to replace the Mirages and MiG-21s of an earlier generation started more than quarter of a century ago. But the Tejas aircraft that resulted has still not entered service.
There are signs of slow change. These include interest in allowing partnerships between India’s small but growing private-sector defence firms and foreign companies, which should stimulate technology transfer. But the deal to buy the Rafale has hit difficulties because, though Dassault would prefer to team up with private-sector firms such as Tata and Reliance, the government wants it to work with stodgy HAL. Even if Dassault had a free choice of partners, though, it is not clear that Indian industry could handle the amount of work the contract seeks to set aside for it.
Richard Bitzinger, a former RAND Corporation analyst now at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, sums up the problem in a recent study for the Zurich-based International Relations and Security Network. If India does not stop coddling its existing state-run military-industrial complex, he says, it will never be capable of supplying its armed forces with the modern equipment they require. Without a concerted reform effort, a good part of the $200 billion India is due to spend on weaponry over the next 15 years looks likely to be wasted.
The tiger and the eagle
The money it will spend abroad also carries risks. Big foreign deals lend themselves to corruption. Investigations into accusations of bribery can delay delivery of urgently needed kit for years. The latest “scandal” of this sort surrounds a $750m order for helicopters from Italy’s Finmeccanica. The firm denies any wrongdoing, but the deal has been put on hold.
Britain, France, Israel and, above all, Russia (which still accounts for more than half of India’s military imports), look poised to be beneficiaries of the coming binge. America will get big contracts, too. But despite a ground-breaking civil nuclear deal in 2005 and the subsequent warming of relations, America is still regarded as a less politically reliable partner in Delhi. The distrust stems partly from previous arms embargoes, partly from America’s former closeness to Pakistan, partly from India’s concerns about being the junior partner in a relationship with the world’s pre-eminent superpower.
The dilemma over how close to get to America is particularly acute when it comes to China. America and India appear to share similar objectives. Neither wants the Indian Ocean to become a Chinese “lake”. But India does not want to provoke China into thinking that it is ganging up with America. And it worries that the complex relationship between America and China, while often scratchy, is of such vital importance that, in a crisis, America would dump India rather than face down China. An Indian navy ordered to close down China’s oil supplies would not be able to do so if its American friends were set against it.
India’s search for the status appropriate to its ever-increasing economic muscle remains faltering and uncertain. Its problems with Pakistan are not of the sort that can be solved militarily. Mr Karnad argues that India, from a position of strength, should build better relations with Pakistan through some unilateral gestures, for example cutting back the size of the armoured forces massed in the deserts of Rajasthan and withdrawing its short-range missiles. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, head of Pakistan’s army, has declared internal terrorism to be a greater danger to his country than India. That may also offer an opportunity.
China’s confidence in its new military power is unnerving to India. But if a condescending China in its pomp is galling, one in economic trouble or political turmoil and pandering to xenophobic popular opinion would be worse. Japan and South Korea have the reassurance of formal alliances with America. India does not. It is building new relationships with its neighbours to the east through military co-operation and trade deals. But it is reluctant to form or join more robust institutional security frameworks.
Instead of clear strategic thinking, India shuffles along, impeded by its caution and bureaucratic inertia. The symbol of these failings is India’s reluctance to reform a defence-industrial base that wastes huge amounts of money, supplies the armed forces with substandard kit and leaves the country dependent on foreigners for military modernisation.
Since independence India has got away with having a weak strategic culture. Its undersized military ambitions have kept it out of most scrapes and allowed it to concentrate on other things instead. But as China bulks up, India’s strategic shortcomings are becoming a liability. And they are an obstacle to India’s dreams of becoming a true 21st-century power.

Indian-Israeli Defence Cooperation: The Elusive Strategic Partnership – Analysis


Indian-Israeli defence cooperation is mainly based on Israeli arms sales to India, which are increasingly critical, in military and economic terms, to both countries. However much Israel might like to expand this cooperation into a larger strategic partnership, India appears content with keeping this relationship limited and tactical.
By Richard A. Bitzinger
DEFENCE COOPERATION has always been a low-key but essential element in relations between Israel and India. While most of this cooperation has taken place below the radar of international affairs, it has nonetheless been critical to the expansion of ties between these two countries since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1992.
At issue – particularly for Israel – is whether growing military ties can cement a broader “strategic partnership” between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

A symbiotic relationship?

Most of this cooperation has taken the shape of Israeli arms sales to India. Israel has become India’s second largest arms supplier, after Russia, and in particular niches, it is perhaps the leading provider of advanced armaments and military technology to the Indian military. During the first decade of the 21st century, Israel has transferred an estimated US$10 billion worth of military equipment to India. These deals include unmanned aerial vehicles and armed drones, missiles, and targeting pods. Of particular note, Israel has supplied India with radar systems for airborne early warning and missile defence.
In many ways, Israeli arms transfers to India have been a mutually beneficial, almost symbiotic relationship. Israeli technology fills critical gaps in India’s woefully deficient defence industrial base. After more than 50 years of effort, India’s defence industry has been unable to deliver the vast bulk of advanced military equipment its military demands, leaving it dependent on foreign suppliers.
Israel is often a ready, no-strings-attached arms supplier. Moreover, it has been willing to transfer technology and manufacturing know-how to help improve India’s defence industry.
At the same time, India is a critical market for an Israeli arms industry that desperately needs arms exports in order to survive. Fully 75 percent of Israel’s defence sales are to overseas buyers. Those revenues provide necessary income to underwrite military R&D programmes that in turn aid Israel’s own defence, such as the Iron Dome short-range missile defence system.

Expanding cooperation beyond arms sales

While arms sales constitute the largest chunk of Indo-Israeli defence cooperation, other forms of collaboration have emerged. In particular, Tel Aviv and New Delhi recognise that terror is a threat common to both countries (particularly after the 2008 Mumbai attack), and Israel has offered to cooperate with India in fighting terrorism, including intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorist training, and joint exercises.
Both countries have also exchanged military visits in an effort to expand military-to-military ties. Finally, Israel and India have expanded their cooperation in outer space, with India launching two Israeli surveillance satellites. Co-development of earth-observation satellites – an area where Israel has considerable expertise – is also a possibility.

Indo-Israeli defence cooperation: tactical or strategic?

One can perceive the Indo-Israeli defence relationship in two ways. First, it is at present mainly a buyer-supplier relationship, that is, a simple case of a motivated customer (the Indian military) and an equally motivated seller (the Israeli defence industry) securing a mutually beneficial but limited relationship. In other words, Israel sells weapons to India, India buys them, and that’s that.
On the other hand, there may be some – particularly in Israel – who like to build upon this basic supply-and-demand relationship and turn it into something bigger. A true “strategic partnership” between Tel Aviv and New Delhi would particularly bring benefits to Israel.
Such a strategic partnership would help Israel in a number of ways. It could, for example, induce New Delhi to use its position as a leading player within the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) to soften or mitigate the NAM’s anti-Israeli policies. It could also provide Israel with an important partner in the struggle against Islamist terrorism, given their common challenges.
Above all, perhaps, Israel would probably like to see India also demarcate or lessen its relationship with Iran, which is seen by Tel Aviv to be a major threat to the Jewish state. In this regard, warming US-Indian ties (particularly in the nuclear area) could help Israel by creating another pressure point by which to entice New Delhi to reverse its often pro-Tehran stance. For example, India has several times voted to censure Iran in the IAEA over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Limits and constraints

Nevertheless, beyond arms sales and a few other areas of defence cooperation, it is unlikely that Israel will soon, if ever, realise a strategic partnership with India. While India maybe be very important to Israel’s foreign and security policy, New Delhi sees the relationship in a much more limited respect. India has too many internal constraints – a Muslim population of 160 million, an ardently anti-Israeli left – to ever get too cozy with Israel.
India can always find other arms suppliers to keep the Israelis continuing to offer weapons systems absent any broader political deals. Above all, New Delhi is unlikely to abandon its longstanding and multifaceted relationship with Iran, in exchange for closer ties with Israel, which may or may not pay larger dividends.
Israeli arms sales to India may be mutually beneficial, but they are largely confined to what they are: a limited economic, military-technical connection. So long as New Delhi sees Indo-Israel defence cooperation as a tactical relationship, then that is probably where it will remain.
Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow with the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Formerly with the RAND Corp. and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, he has been writing on military and defence economic issues for more than 20 years.