IAF Mirage Upgrade by France
After protracted negotiations, a deal worth $2.2 billion for the mid-life upgrade of the fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 combat aircraft acquired by the IAF in the mid eighties in response to the supply of F-16 fighters to Pakistan by the US, is expected to be finalised shortly. The package, designed to convert this ageing fleet into next-generation fighters, will include upgrade of airborne radar, weapon suites, missiles and electronic warfare systems.
Meanwhile, as per reports in the French media, possibly on request or pressure from India, Sarkozy’s government has decided to suspend sales to Pakistan of $1.6 billion worth of electronics and missiles to upgrade China-supplied JF-17 fighters. This is a part of a larger deal signed earlier with Pakistan.
The other concerns as per the reports are about Pakistan’s ability to cope with the huge financial outlay as also the safety of the sophisticated technology being provided to Islamabad. French hardware is generally priced high and India had received offers from other countries including Israel to upgrade the Mirage 2000 fleet at competitive prices.
However, the French strategy of offering similar equipment to Pakistan could have been aimed at softening India’s stand on price negotiations and close the deal quickly. But India resorted to some hard bargaining by not succumbing to French tactics on pricing.
Indian Navy Launches P15A
Hull of the third ship of the P15A Kolkatta-class destroyer was launched by Elizabeth Antony, wife of Defence Minister AK Antony at the Mazagaon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai on April 01, 2010 in the presence of the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma and other dignitaries.
Project 15-A, though conceived as a follow-on of the earlier P-15 Delhi Class, had incorporated major advances in its weapons and sensors and is technologically far superior.
These are the largest warships ever constructed at the Mazagaon Docks, the oldest and the most prolific of all Indian Naval dockyards. The lead ship INS Kolkatta and its sister ship INS Kochi have already been launched. The Delhi-class destroyers, INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai, also built at Mazagaon Dock, are considered to be frontline ships of the Indian Navy.
With a length of 163 metres, width of 17.4 metres and displacement of 6,800 tonnes, the Kolkatta-class ships will carry two helicopters onboard. Project 15-A destroyers will incorporate Indian systems including the Hull Mounted Sonar Array – New Generation and the Nagin active towed array sonar, jointly developed by the DRDO’s Naval Science and Technology Laboratory in Visakhapatnam and Bharat Electronics Ltd in Bangalore.
It will also feature reduced noise and radar signatures, affording the ship a certain degree of stealth. Russian assistance with shafts, propellers and the know-how for pontoon-assisted launches for Project 15-A is available.
India and South Korea Explore Nuclear & Space Cooperation
In the talks between the Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his South Korean counterpart Yu Myung-hwan, India and South Korea have agreed to explore the possibilities for bilateral civil nuclear cooperation as well as the launching of South Korean satellites aboard India’s space launch vehicles. Both sides agreed to pursue a nuclear cooperation deal.
After securing a contract to build nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates, South Korea is seeking participation in India’s civil nuclear industry.
In the area of space activities, there is already a memorandum of understanding between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute which allows both sides to explore commercial opportunities with each other. The matter of Korea seeking launch facilities for its satellites, assumes critical importance in the face of multiple failures of Korea’s launch vehicle newly developed in collaboration with Russia.