All posts in “India”

The Price of Admiralty

Without a doubt, navies are among the most expensive arms a nation may deploy. Our own ongoing going experience being germane – Russia is re-discovering the cost of admiralty and it isn’t always in rubles:

The project to modernize an aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy in Severodvinsk Sevmash has resulted in the bankruptcy of one of Russia’s largest design institutes, the Technology Center of Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (TSTSS), writes today, 14 December, the newspaper Vedomosti . . .(the) 51st Central Design and Technological Institute of Repair” (51th CKTI repair) filed a lawsuit on Dec. 10, demanding to declare OAO Technology Center of Shipbuilding and Ship Repair bankrupt, according to the website of the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. Date of trial has not yet been set.” (

To recap — the INS Vikramaditya, was launched in 1982 as the Baku (renamed in 1991 as the Admiral Gorshkov) and entered service with the (then) Soviet Navy in 1987. After being laid-up for sometime after a 1994 boiler room explosion and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia agreed to sell the Gorshkov to the Indian Navy at a price of $974M, including re-fit. As those of us who have had even passing acquaintance with overhauls of ships long neglected will attest to, initial estimates of effort

Baku (ca. Jan 1989)

and cost are rarely, if ever close to reality. That would be the case with the ex-Gorshkov. In short order, the amount required increased another $1.2B as extensive repairs were required in company with major upgrades (especially it seems, in the vessel’s wiring). This past March, on the occasion of a state visit by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, with the carrier already late in delivery, India agreed to another $2.35B to further cover refurbishment and training of the Indian crew. And now the day of delivery continues to slide, with hopes that delivery to India will come near the end of 2012 and entry into service around 2014. The cost (estimated total of $4.5B) and schedule delays have ignited a round of stormy criticism in the press and among naval strategists who assert that the capability and capacity of the Vikramaditya, *when* delivered, will be anything but state of the art for the costs involved (for comparison’s purpose, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, under construction, displaces 65,600 tones and at present, is estimated to cost $6.2B and provides significantly greater capability and capacity).

But, as indicated above, the cost doesn’t end there. Mirroring a similar failed approach with the development of the Bulava SLBM, a design institute whose business lay in the design of documents for repairing ships, not actually building them, took on the project with fairly predictable results (note that this info comes by way of other St. Petersburg shipbuilders, so caveat emptor... – SJS). Aircraft carriers are incredibly complex with layer upon layer of inter-relationships, many of which aren’t self-evident. On the surface, that may seem to be a simple remove and replace with a touch-up of paint can readily turn into a back-breaking, months-long shipyard endurex — a black hole of funds and manpower. Hard enough for those experienced with the trials (and possessing of the diminishing pool of talent used in the construction) – Herculean for those not.

So, will the institute dissolve in bankruptcy? Likely as not – no. As a national resource, TSTSS will undoubtedly be the benefactor of apolitical solution. But there will remain the matter of settling debts, even as mounting costs limit, delay and cancel other projects.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, another ex-Russian carrier quietly moves closer to the day it will get underway…

(Source: China Military Report)

(h/t: Russian Navy Blogger)

Fifth Generation Fighters – The Competition Casts Its Ballot (UPDATED)


Lots of comparisons to the F-22 based on the front end shots and planform, but I’m also thinking that Sukhoi took some cues from this bad boy:

based on a comparison from the tailfeather POV:

for comparison, here is an in-flight of the YF-22 and YF-23:

Things that make you go hmmm….

In this photo released by the Sukhoi Company Press Service and taken Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, a Russian-made Sukhoi T-50 prototype fifth-generation fighter jet is seen at a test airfield near the Siberian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. Russia’s new fifth-generation stealth fighter made a successful maiden test flight on Friday, the manufacturer said. (AP Photo/Sukhoi Company Press Service)

From  Ria Novosti comes word that Russia’s bid in the 5th generation fighter game has been cast:

Russia’s prototype fifth-generation fighter made a 45-minute maiden flight on Friday in the Far East, Russian television reported.

The flight had been postponed for 24 hours due to poor weather conditions in Komsomolsk-on-Amur where the prototype is being tested.

“The plane showed a superb performance. It has met all our expectations for the maiden flight,” said Olga Kayukova, a spokesperson for the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer.

Russia has been developing its newest fighter since the 1990s. The country’s top military officials earlier said the stealth fighter jet, with a range of up to 5,500 km, would enter service with the Air Force in 2015.

Russia’s fifth-generation project is Sukhoi’s PAK FA and the current prototype is the T-50. It is designed to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world’s only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II.

The PAK FA is to be equipped with the most advanced technology and armed with next-generation high-precision weaponry.

And India is working with the Russians on a collaborative version:

India, which has a long history of defense relations with Moscow, remains Russia’s sole partner in the project.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was reported to be seeking a 25% share in design and development in the project. It has also sought to modify Sukhoi’s single-seat prototype into the twin-seat fighter India’s Air Force wants.

The Subcontinent’s Missile Race

SS-20_Pershing-II_NASM-displayA quick history lesson.   A quarter of a century ago, the US (and NATO) were engaged in an unprecedented nuclear arms build-up in Europe that was initiated with the deployment of the SS-20 Sabre (NATO)/RT-21M Pioneer (Russia) IRBM in 1976.   Unlike the much older SS-4 and SS-5 IRBMs, employed in 1959 and 1961, the SS-20 was a modern, road-mobile, MIRV’d missile with a CEP of 150m.   In a word – it was a game changer when all 405 were ddeployed by 1986.   The most significant and troublesome aspect of the SS-20 was that it was clearly a first strike weapon, meant for a swift strike against NATO leadership and theater nuclear forces, or TNF which mostly consisted of short- and medium range aircraft and Pershing I missiles.

The primary puropse of NATO’s TNF was to serve as a gap filler betweenUS GLCMconventional forces already ddeployed in Europe and arrayed against a numerically superior Warsaw Pact.   In the nuclear calculus of the time, the survivability and hence, credibility of the TNF deterrent to a Warsaw pact invasion was now markedly reduced.   The Carter Administration, after much public angst,   first promised and then withdrew an offer of deployment of the Enhanced Radiation Warhead (the so-called “neutron bomb”) which did nothing to aid the perception of a weakening US commitment to NATO.   Finally, in following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Carter Administration agreed to the deployment of 572 missiles (100 Pershing II’s and 472 GLCMs) while working on a treaty to ban said weapons.   The Reagan Administration pressed ahead and ddeployed the missiles in 1984 despite massive anti-nuclear rallies in Europe and at home in the US.   Still, between the Reagan Administration and Mikhail Gorbachev on the Soviet side, a landmark treaty was signed on December 8, 1987.   A signatory feature of the treaty was the elimination of an entire class of weapon and prohibition on future development of the same.

Unfortunately, that prohibition didnot extend to other countries, nor to “collaborative” efforts.

brahmosFast forward to today.   Relatively unnoticed by the rest of the world (save a handful of defense -centric specialty e-zines) a full blown missile race is underway on the Asian subcontinent between India and Pakistan, the latest iteration of which features development and deployment of nuclear capable land-attack cruise missiles, one layer of which was revealed today in a failed BrahMos LACM (land attack cruise missile) test:

NEW DELHI: The Army’s endeavour to induct the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as “a precision-strike weapon” took a hit on Tuesday, with the missile failing to achieve laid-down parameters in a test.

This comes at a time when the Pakistan Army is galloping ahead in inducting its nuclear-capable Babur land-attack cruise missile (LACM) – developed with China’s help to have a strike range of over 500 km – in large numbers into its arsenal. (The Economic  Times)


The BrahMos is a joint Indian-Russian venture to build a family of supersonic cruise missiles able to be launched from sea or shore.   Following the model previously established by the 5 recognized nuclear powers (US, Russia, France, Britain, China), India is pursuing a nuclear variant as the primary version of the LACM.   This effort is in parallel with ongoing work on the Agni family of MRBM/IRBMs with the latest, the Agni III ranging far enough to strike almost any target in China,  Pakistan and the Middle East or Russia.

baburcruiseFor its part, Pakistan is busy with the road-mobile Ghauri (1500 km, single stage, liquid-fueled) and Shaheen II (2500 km, 2-stage, solid fueled) MRBMs and the LACM known as the Babur (“Lion”), which is being developed with their Chinese partners and bears a more than passing resemblance to the Tomahawk cruise missile in both physical appearance and attributes such as its navigation package.   The same, incidentally, may be said of China’s DongHai-10 (DH-10) LACM and given the number of Tomahawks fired in the Middle East and in Bosnia, it wouldn’t be surprising  if components hadn’t made their way back to China for re-engineering.   Nevertheless, the 2007 surprise test of the nuclear variant of the Babur caught India by surprise and has had the effect of speeding up the BrahMos program.

he upshot of this sub-continental arms race is a host of potentially bad news for the US.   There are all sorts of lines of intersection between US interests int he region, whether it be the tribal regions along the Pakistani-Afghani border, technology and/or arms proliferation to Iran, the US-Indian nuclear reactor deal, growing Chinese presence along the Silk Road into the ‘stans and proximity to Indian territorial claims, and not least of which is the fact these two countries have twice inside the last half-century engaged in fierce, bloody warfare.   Leavening that frightful mix with the yeast of nuclear missile arms race is daunting at best.

Facing an already overwhelming foreign policy agenda, one wonders if the new Administration and its new Secretary of State will notice, much less take an active interest in working to stem this race.   Building on the INF model, if taken, is only a partial solution as the proliferation of weapons  on the margins of- and in this category is any indicator.    In any event, absent significant technological setbacks or exceptional diplomatic effort, the region appears to be well on its way to seeing significant operational forces deployed within a few years, adding another un-needed strand of complication to a region already binding itself into a Gordian knot.


Mark India: Indian SU-30’s Deployed to Kashmir Region

SU-30 MkI

Little steps…

• 2004 – meet and fight (under albeit very favorable terms for the home team) “vanilla” USAF F-15’s (non-AESA birds) with your new SU-30’s;

COPE India 2004

• 2006 – do it again, but this time against F-16’s;

COPE India 2006

• 2008 - Join up in RED FLAG flying with 4th and 5th gen fighters against adversary air (but never going beak-to-beak with the likes of the Rafaels or Gripens while the F-22 was MIA for RF ’08)…


For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is deploying its most potent Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in Kashmir. Reflecting its new assertiveness, the IAF wants to whet its war-waging prowess in a troubled sector where India has to defend itself from Pakistan and China.


The introduction of Su-30MKIs – which can carry eight tonnes of armament including nuclear bombs – in Srinagar comes at a time when Pakistan’s air force is acquiring new F-16s from the US and JF-17 ‘Thunder’ jets from China. The IAF’s combat fleet consists of some 60 Su-30MKI aircraft housed at Lohegaon near Pune and Bareilly.


The six Su-30MKI fighters based at Srinagar (home to MiG-21 Bison fighters) will carry out “pervasive missions” in the coming days not only over Kashmir skies but also cover the Ladakh sector, including the rugged mountains of Kargil.

For reference, Islamabad, lies a little over 85 nm from the base at Srinagar (the orange lines demark the outline of the disputed boundaries in the Northern Areas):

Flightdeck Friday (III) – Red Flag ’08 Edition

Red Flag has always been a varsity exercise and in recent years, it has seen increased participation from allies and friends.  This year has been no exception with Brazil (F-5s), Sweden (JAS-39 Grippens), France (Rafales) and Turkey F-16s) among the many participants.  This was in addition to the usual USAF, USN and USMC participants.

Notable among the  invitees this year was the Indian Air Force whose marquee participants were the Sukhoi Su-30 Mk I (that’s “I” as in “Indian”) Flankers.  As expected, the Indian Flankers did not showcase their full capability, especially in the EW realm, for much the same reasons th US won’t in other venues with its most advanced aircraft.  Additionally, the Indians employ their Flankers in a different networked schema than the US that includes ground-based infrastructure not brought to Red Flag. Nevertheless, the IAF has apparently given a good accounting of itself,  to the extent the USAF has evidently asked them to be regular participants.  By most accounts, their participation has generally played well at home too.  Oh yes, there was another element of the Indian armed forces that made the trip, but to somewhat less public play too…

One other note – a not inconsiderable element to this was the fact that most of the candidate aircraft for India’s lucrative MRCA competition currently underway, were also participants in the exercise, availing the Indians a chance to assess operations with dissimilar aircraft.

As is usually the case with Red Flag, there is some compelling imagery for the sampling:

IAF Su-30 MkI Flankers at Red Flag

IAF Maintainers conduct post-flight checks.  Note the postions of the engine’s directional nozzles (USAF photo)

Flanker maintenance and flight preps

Keeping them flying is a ‘rond the clock operation, no matter the nationality (USAF photo)

More below the fold:

Continue Reading…

Thursday’s Roll-up Of Missile News

(ed. Been a while since we’ve run this recurring item – some interesting items of note from this week for your perusal.  – SJS)



Successful Agni-III Launch (7 May 08)India’s third test of the indigenously developed Agni-III IRBM on 7 May was evidently a complete success.  Launched from Wheeler Island on the east coast of India, the instrumented payload splashed down about 3,000 km downrange.  Effective range for the Agni-III is claimed in the open press to be in the 3,000-3500 km range with payloads up to 1.5 tonnes.  The two previous tests were split between a failure and claimed success (Apr 07).  There has been much discussion in the open press about the presumed target nation(s) and requirement for such a missile.  Commenting in an article in today’s Times of India, Group Captain R K Das, spokesperson of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command noted:

More Fallout from Georgian UAV Losses

Hermes 450 UAVFrom the Messenger Online comes word that Georgia has withdrawn from a mutual air defense pact with Russia:


Georgia withdraws from air defence treaty with Russia

Georgia has withdrawn from an anti-air defense cooperation treaty with Russia, the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday. A Russian consul was summoned to the ministry and given a note informing Russia of the decision. The treaty was signed by the defense ministries of Georgia and Russia in 1995.


Foreign Ministry calls on UN to investigate Abkhaz air defense systems

The Foreign Ministry called on the UN to investigate Abkhaz air defense systems yesterday, a day after de facto authorities claimed to have downed two more Georgian spy planes in the breakaway region.   Georgia denied the allegations. The Foreign Ministry addressed Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Georgia, urging Arnault and the UN Observer Mission in Georgia to immediately investigate the Abkhaz side’s air defense capabilities.

Georgia claims that a Russian MiG-29 shot down one of its drones on April 20. Russia and de facto Abkhaz authorities claim separatists downed the aircraft.
(Prime News)

 Reading today’s headlines (Minister: Georgia and Russia ‘Very Close to War’) it appears things may indeed be headed south in relations between the countries.  Certainly since (former President now Prime Minister) Putin took a harder stance regarding former Soviet Republics a few years ago, there is a sense that Russia has been spoiling for a fight with Georgia.  There has been no small amount of criticism stemming from the Kremlin regarding Georgia’s rapprochement with the West in general, but the US in particular and especially over possible membership in NATO.  Claiming an interest in protecting Russian citizen’s rights in the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has taken the opportunity to present rather bold military displays, not the least of which was the recent downing of a Georgian UAV by a MiG-29, captured on the UAV’s sensors.   This follows an incident last year where Russian air-to-surface missiles were fired into Georgian territory, again with Russian denials despite evidence collected that showed the Russian origin of the missiles in question.  All in all, something to keep an eye on if we can get past the hand-wringing reports about gas prices and Hillary continuing the campaign, interrupted occasionally with news from Myanmar.



India Presses Homegrown Missile Defense

So your one neighbor, Pakistan, possesses nuclear weapons and is working assiduously on short- and medium-range missiles, no doubt with nuclear delivery in mind as part of a deterrent package against your own nuclear forces.  China, with whom you share a fairly long (and disputed) border has also been engaged in building a modern force of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.  According to the latest DoD report on China’s military power, those numbers are now in the neighborhood of 675-710 CSS-7 (300 km range), 315-355 CSS-6 (range 600 km) and 60-80 CSS-5 (range 1750+ km).  Most of these are presumably pointed across the straits at Taiwan, but since they are mobile, may be re-deployed after a fashion.  Against such a growing threat, prudence would seem to dictate building an indigenous ABM capability, which, if open press reports are to be believed, it appears India is well along the road to doing:

Following successful interceptor missile tests in 2006 and 2007, India claims to have developed an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capacity, with operational deployment scheduled by 2011.   

During the November 2006 Prithvi Air Defense Exercise (PADE), a high altitude test was conducted involving the successful interception of a Prithvi ballistic missile by a second modified Prithvi interceptor missile, dubbed the AXO (Atmospheric Intercept System). The agency has also successfully tested the Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile, intended for lower altitude interceptions.

According to sources, a further test is scheduled for this April when two interceptors will target a single incoming missile. Development is also reportedly underway on the high-speed AD-1 and AD-2 ABM systems.  – INS Security Watch: India Missile Defense Dreams (27 March 2008)

Of course, there are those that continue to see any form of defense as inherently unstable:

Defense analysts fear a credible Indian anti-missile capability could promote instability in the South Asia region, triggering responsive arms-procurements and weapons systems development. Moreover, there are fears that US involvement might complicate India’s relations with China, Russia and Pakistan.  – Ibid.

Indeed, one begins to hear many of the same arguments placed in the regional context that have been made in the global one for and against many elements of the debate over nuclear deterrence and what shape or form it takes as well as the role, if any, defense should have.  This mirrored debate is an interesting one to watch for it reflects a growing issue where countries like India, and China, wish to become regionally dominant in like manners as the US has become globally dominant.  That in turn will have an impact in the ongoing discussion and debate over such things as the Maritime Strategy as it will influence force structure, operations, regional security agreements and engagements and initiatives like the ongoing Africa Station. 

It will also have a bearing when those regional powers come in conflict with one another…but we are getting ahead of ourselves.  Something else to think about in the run-up to next week’s renewed discussions over the Maritime Strategy as well as the next nuclear and national strategies.  Make sure you join us then!

India and Nuclear Deterrence


Pursuing disarmament is like chasing butterflies — enjoyable for some retired old men but never-ending and beyond the pale.


Bemused commentary from The Dark Prince following Shultz et al’s article on disarmament in the WSJ earlier this year?  Nope, a commentary by a strategic analyst from India underscoring India’s justification to seek a nuclear deterrent.  Here’s the article from the Times of India:

LEADER ARTICLE: Stop Chasing Illusions
11 Mar 2008, 0011 hrs IST,Brahma Chellaney

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
Nearly a century after chemical arms were introduced in World War I and more than six decades following the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world is at the threshold of new lethal and precision weapons, as underlined by the ongoing research on lasers, information weapons, space-based platforms, anti-satellite weapons and directed energy systems. Technological forces are now shaping geopolitics and power equations in a way unforeseen before in history.

We live in a Hobbesian world, with power coterminous with national security and success. The global power structure reflects this reality. Only countries armed with intercontinental-range weaponry are UN Security Council permanent members, while those seeking new permanent seats have regionally confined capabilities and thus are likely to stay condemned as mere aspirants. Japan, with one-tenth of the population, has a bigger economy than China, but the latter, because of its rising military prowess, gets more international respect.

The past century was the most momentous in history technologically, with innovations fostering not just rapid economic change, but bringing greater lethality to warfare. Consequently, the 20th century was the bloodiest.

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles came to occupy a central military role. In the new century, the advance of technology and the absence of relevant safeguards or regimes evoke possible scenarios of deadly information and space warfare.

Such are the challenges from the accelerated weaponisation of science that instead of disarmament, rearmament today looms large on the horizon, with the arms race being extended to outer space. Take, for example, America’s February 20 destruction of a crippled satellite by missile strike. Having criticised China’s January 2007 anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test — the first ASAT kill by any power in more than two decades — the US set out to be the first to knock out a space-based asset from a mobile platform at sea, in an operation that resembled shooting down an ICBM, except that the target was larger and easier to destroy.

In a Cold War-reminiscent tone, outgoing President Vladimir Putin last month vowed that Russia will field new strategic weapons because "a new arms race has been unleashed in the world". Alluding to the US pressing ahead with a missile shield in Eastern Europe and working on new warheads, Putin declared: "We didn’t start it… funnelling multibillions of dollars into developing weapon systems". The same day, the Russian foreign minister raised the spectre of "hundreds of thousands of missile interceptors all over the world… in the foreseeable future".

Disarmament fell off the global agenda long ago, with the UN’s Conference on Disarmament (CD) bereft of real work for nearly 12 years now. Yet, some in India continue to chase illusions. More flattering attention has been paid in India than anywhere else to two newspaper articles written by four senior ex-US officials, who in office were votaries of unbridled nuclear might but who now, while peddling a nukes-free world as a distant goal akin to an invisible mountaintop, suggest modest steps for US forces (like changing the antediluvian Cold War posture), only to advocate more rigorous non-proliferation.

India has a rich history of floating disarmament proposals that come back and haunt it as non-proliferation pacts. It was India that put forth the ideas of an NPT and CTBT. Add to that its record of not acting when the time is right. Had it tested when it acquired a nuclear-explosive capability in the mid-1960s, it would have beaten the NPT trap. Had Indira Gandhi pressed ahead and not baulked after the May 1974 test, India would not have faced a rising tide of technology sanctions for the next quarter-century. No nation perhaps has paid a heavier price for indecision than India.

India’s priority today should be its security, given that it still does not have a minimal, let alone credible, nuclear deterrent against China, which is rapidly modernising its arsenal. Yet, India has placed its future deterrent capability at risk by concluding a nuclear deal with the US whose touted energy benefits are dubious and dispensable. It is also unable to control its proverbial itch to win brownie points, as shown by its recent submission of a seven-point proposal to the deadlocked CD, calling for, among other things, the outlawing of nukes. Such ardour is baffling, given that India imports virtually all its conventional weapons and is in position to deter China conventionally.

Pursuing disarmament is like chasing butterflies — enjoyable for some retired old men but never-ending and beyond the pale. Nuclear weapons, as the last US posture review stated, will continue to play a "critical role" because they possess "unique properties". Until such time as nukes remain the premier mass-destruction technology, disarmament will stay a mirage. The Chemical Weapons Convention became possible only when chemical arms ceased to be militarily relevant for the major powers and instead threatened to become the poor state’s WMD. Considering the rapid pace of technological change, a new class of surgical-strike WMD could emerge, even as nuclear weapons, with their unparalleled destructive capacity, stay at the centre of international power and force.

The writer is a strategic affairs analyst.

Expect to see more of this kind of article in the near future as we have a project of sorts coming up – one that will offer some interesting propositions…more later this week. – SJS


Saturday Review of Naval and Missile News

Catching our collective breath before heading out the door for a week of TDY, we pause to review some of the more noteworthy items making the rounds this past week beginning with one reaction to the 2008 DoD report to Congress on China’s Military Power…

Inside The Ring – China Missiles
(WASHINGTON TIMES 07 MAR 08) … Bill Gertz


One little-noticed intelligence disclosure contained in the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power says China now has ballistic missiles designed to hit U.S. aircraft carriers and ships at sea.  The missiles are described in the report as part of China’s "anti-access/area denial capabilities" that include "anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to strike ships at sea, including aircraft carriers."Using a ballistic missile to target ships requires a degree of sophistication not shown by Chinese missiles in the past, and indicates China’s military has mastered precision missile targeting, no doubt helped by the theft of U.S. warhead design and other secrets through espionage in the 1990s.

Well, OK.  Here’s what is in the DoD report:

  • China is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on a variant of the CSS-5 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) as a component of its anti-access strategy. The missile has a range in excess of 1,500 km and, when incorporated into a sophisticated command and control system, is a key component of China’s anti-access strategy to provide the PLA the capability to attack ships at sea, including aircraft carriers, from great distances.


  • Missiles/C4ISR: By fusing advanced ballistic and cruise missiles with a modern C4ISR architecture, the PLA is seeking to build the capability to degrade a potential adversary’s force generation and sustainment by holding at risk or striking aircraft carriers, logistics nodes, and regional bases. (from Asymmetric Warfighting section)


  • Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs) (1,000-3,000 km). The PLA is acquiring conventional MRBMs to increase the range to which it can conduct precision strikes, to include targeting naval ships, including aircraft carriers, operating far from China’s shores. (from the "Building Capacity for Conventional Precision Strike" vignette)

 As Galrahn mentioned in an earlier posting, there’s an awful lot the DoD report takes a pass on or glosses over which in turn, provides the fodder for columnists like Gertz to run with.  To be sure, China is making progress in the area of fielding an ASBM, but there remain significant hurdles to overcome.  Longtime readers are familiar with the topic, but for our newer readers, we have covered this issue in some depth here and here.  Bottomline – the Chinese are going to find that the open ocean surveillance & tracking portion of the equation that enables the ASBM will be fairly difficult, just as the Soviets before them found out, especially when faced with a CSG that doesn’t want to be found and can employ non-kinetic measures to ensure those ends. 

India has had a pretty busy couple of weeks missile-wise…


Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Indian Ministry of Defence

18:23 IST

A naval version of the Brahmos cruise missile was successfully tested off Andamans coast this morning. The missile was launched from the decks of INS Rajput at 10.30 AM and precisely hit a land target in one of the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. DRDO scientists said the missile met all flight parameters during its launch, flight and zeroed in on the designated target among the group of targets, destroying it with a thunderous blast. This mission is very important as it has established the sea to land attack capability of the formidable weapon system. It was the 15th successive successful launch of the Brahmos missile, developed jointly by India and Russia.  The Indian Navy’s Andaman & Nicobar Command provided the logistics support to the missile test. The command deployed ten ships, three aircraft and three helicopters for mission support. The parameters set for the mission were kept extremely difficult including the positioning of the target to achieve maximum output. The 100 percent success of the launch once again demonstrated the tremendous capability of BRAHMOS weapon system.  The launch was witnessed by Dr.A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace, along with the officiating Commander in Chief of the Andaman Command, Rear Admiral P.K. Nair along with other senior naval officers and defence scientists. The Defence Minister Shri A.K. Antony congratulated the Navy and team of scientists for the successful launch of BRAHMOS. 


India conducts successful test of K-15 submarine launched ballistic missile news
26 February 2008

New Delhi: India on Tuesday successfully tested an undersea, nuclear capable, ballistic missile on the eastern coast, off the port city of Vishakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s eastern command. The test catapults India into an elite club of nations – US, Russia, France, China who posses the required expertise in this area.  The K-15 missile, with a range of 700km, was test fired at 1258 hours from a pontoon immersed in the sea and eyewitness reports say that they saw the missile rising from the waters into the sky.  "The test firing was successful," defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said. DRDO’s initial response was that it was awaiting final evaluations from warships deployed in the sea.  According to reports, this was the first full-fledged test of the missile after three-four dry runs.  For the lack of a suitable submarine platform, the test was conducted from a submerged pontoon.  The test was conducted off the coast of Vishakhapatnam, where India’s advanced technology vessel (ATV) project is under way. The ATV is the project name for India’s nuclear submarine, which is due to enter sea trials sometime next year.  According to Dr Prahlada, chief controller, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), it would need just one test to ratify the missile, which would be the strike weapon onboard the ATV.

Like so much of the rest of India’s ongoing arms build-up and overhaul, the above begs the question of serving as the genesis of a sub-continent arms race with Pakistan.  India would argue that when one pulls back and looks at the larger aspect of the region, at the areas of competition between India and China over natural resources as well as points of friction over border areas and territorial claims it becomes clearer that their press for modernized weapons, such as that embodied by the ongoing MRCA competion, for an extended and survivable nuclear deterrent enabled by the AGNI IRBM follow-on and the K-15 SLBM respectively is positioned more against China than Pakistan.  Yet there is the unintended consequences effect and that factor is very much at work in the Indo-Pakistani dynamic.  India’s press for significant and noteworthy quantitative and qualitative improvements in conventional and nuclear force structure will force a response from Pakistan which can ill afford to permit the perception of a growing imbalance on its border.  We say perception because where nuclear weapons are concerned, and especially in the subcontinent, more is definitely not better in terms of proliferation concerns.  A costly arms race (does Pakistan really need an SLBM as many Pakistani writers are suddenly asserting in the wake of India’s test?) that takes away from Pakistan’s more immediate concerns – stability of the central government and control of the outlying provinces vs Islamic fundamentalists, and is the last thing that nation needs.  We see this a major foreign policy challenge/opportunity for the next administration – whomever it is. 



 Bulava Gets New Lease – Deployment Likely Delayed

And finally, word comes this week from Pavel that it appears that despite its dismal flight record to date, that Russia will continue work on developing the Bulava for deployment on the new Yuri Dolgorukiy SSBN.  Of course the fact that the Yuri Dolgorukiy and the rest of the Borei class SSBNs were designed such that they could only carry the Bulava had no small bearing on that decision.

Six Test Firings = Zero Hits: Indian Navy Refuses Sub Delivery

In 2001 India signed a contract with Russia to upgrade 10 Kilo class submarines to enable them to employ the Klub land attack cruise missile,  The first of these subs, the INS Sindhuvijay, recently conducted pre-delivery tests with an Indian crew which included six test firings of the Klub.  All six tests were considered failures with the Indian Navy saying they had failed to perform up to parameters.  As a result, the Indian Navy has refused delivery of the sub and is demanding the Russians rectify the situation.  Export variants of the anti-ship versions of the Klub, sent to India in 2006,  were found to have severe accuracy problems.  Repeated misses led Indian Navy experts to trace the problem to the Russian-made gyros in the subs, leading the navy to contract with the French for a new gyro.  This, of course, also comes on the heels of the standoff between Russia and India over the cost- and schedule overruns on the refitment of the ex-Russian carrier Gorshkov with Russia demanding an additional $1.5B US to complete the work.  According to a 9 January statement by Russia’s Defense Minister Antony, there remains no resolution.

With the competition for the MRCA well underway as well as other modernization efforts within the Indian armed forces, it is clear India is looking outside tradtional (read: Russian)  sources.  Whether the very open campaign one sees in the Indian press over Russian arms failures represents the beginning of a clear break with their traditional supplier or merely an attempt to bring some very public heat to gain leverage remains to be seen.  What is clear is that the near future on the Asian subcontinent will be very interesting in this arena.


According to the 16 Jan edition of Ria Novosti, delivery will be delayed by up to 6 months whil the sub awiats further misile tests in the White Sea in the July-August ’08 timeframe.

"The submarine has passed all its sea trials and was ready in November 2007, but the delivery had to be delayed due to problems with the Club-S system," a Zvyozdochka spokesman said.