I’ve always been interested in Indian defence issues, so this is the first article in this series. Most of data and other posts in this series are indexed here.
To be honest, almost anyone apart from regime which had a sloth like AK Antony is an improvement for Indian defence needs. Almost every aspect of Indian defence sector ranging from acquisitions, research, management, border issues suffered immeasurably under UPA government. There were huge bribery scandals, no arms, ammunition, lots of acrimony involving defence personnel and further strengthening of perception of India as a soft state. To list all of those scams, most of them going in to hundreds of crores each will require a whole book, so not listing those here. On the other hand,  NDA government has done some really good work under guidance of Manohar Parrikar and Nirmala Sitaraman  There have been some long pending reforms and good actions in a short amount of time. Another good thing so far is that there have been no bribery scandals or slowdown in process due to fear of it which were the norm in previous regimes.
Akash surface to air missile

Akash surface to air missile


A. Defence Manufacturing and Acquisition

 

Points 9/10.
Defence manufacturing has been a weak point for India and we’ve been dependent on a number of extremely and unreliable weapon suppliers for our needs. Government, defence laboratories, state owned manufactures and Indian armed forces are equally responsible for the mess over the years. The reforms in this field have been very good under Manohar Parrikar and now Sitaraman.  A number of long pending projects have been cleared, private sector is being involved at a much greater scale and money being spent for our defence needs is staying within country. Modi’s Make In India has been a positive factor. All these steps have enabled India to save 1 lakh crore in defence sector. 1* This has been made possible by a number of steps aimed at involving private industry in a much bigger way. One of the major long pending steps was transfer of technology from government owned research labs to industry which happened for first time. 2* 4*
 
GOOD:
  1.  As mentioned above, local defence manufacturing by local private players has received lot of support. A number of Indian companies are now manufacturing all of or major components for missiles, small arms, howitzers, vehicles and various other equipments.  1* 2* 4*
  2. Issue of critical ammunition shortfall has been addressed by giving greater autonomy to armed forces, revamping production at OFB and setting up of private manufacturing plants.  – 3
  3.  Local weapon systems like Akash Surface to Air Missile, 4*  Light Combat Aircraft Tejas fighter 5* and Nag Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) 6* have received much better and their long pending induction in armed forces expedited.
  4.  Development and manufacturing of small arms in India has received a major boost in last 4 years. A number of locally designed and made guns have already been inducted in various state police and paramilitary forces .11* 12* 13* 14* 15*
  5.  Long pending acquisitions and upgrades of essential items for soldiers like armour, helmets and guns have been approved.  Induction of these items was pending for decades. 7* 8* 16* 17*
  6.  Critical issue of shortage of artillery guns has been solved by fast track development and induction of various Indian as well as foreign systems. These have been the first induction of artillery by Indian army since Bofors howitzer in 1986.  18* 19* 20* 21* 22* 23* 24*
  7.  Long pending and seemingly dead deal for India Air Force MRCA (Dassault Rafale) finally signed at good terms. -79*
BAD:
  1.  Some of essential projects like Arjun are still stuck due to battles between Army and DRDO.  In my opinion based on available open source information, army is being very unreasonable here. 25*
  2.  A number of naval projects like  submarines, Vikrant aircraft carrier, ships are delayed and seemingly no steps have been taken to rectify sub-par performance of local shipyards. 26* 27* 28*
  3.  Project for next generation of Infantry Combat Vehicles ( to replace BMP) has made very slow progress.  29*
A C-130 Hercules in a newly commissioned Advanced Landing Grounds

A C-130 Hercules in a newly commissioned Advanced Landing Grounds


B. Terrorism, Border and Internal security

 

Points 7/10.
This seems to be another field in which Modi government has done much better than previous regimes, but still fall shorts of expectations. Everyone already knows about some big actions like surgical strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan and Myanmar. Home Minister Rajnath Singh faces regular abuse on social media for various reasons, but his work has proven that he is one of better ministers that this department has seen for quite some time. Some good work has been done to contain Maoists inside Indian hinterland. For the first time, civilian financiers and moles whose support enables Islamic terrorism in J&K have been targeted on such a large scale.  But there are still a  few issues which have not been addressed completely.
GOOD:
  1. Cross border strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Myanmar have sent a strong message and raised morale.35* 36* 37* . There have been various other small scale operations against pakis which haven’t received that much coverage. 38*
  2.  Area under Maoist influence has shrunk quite a bit. Good intelligence work, better connect with locals and coordination between different state police forces and paramilitary forces has yielded good results. 30* 31* 32* 33* 34*
  3.  Indian Army and BSF have been given  greater autonomy to handle mischief by Pakis at border. It has yielded some good results and raised confidence of soldiers. Even BSF is regularly bashing up Paki posts which fire or try to insert terrorists. Pakis have now begged to enforce 2003 ceasefire agreement again. 39* 40* 41* 52*
  4. Overground workers, financiers and various other supporters of muslim terrorists in J&K have been raided and arrested not just in the state, but outside too. 42* 43* 44* 45*
  5. Shelters, aid and other facilities to victims of cross border shelling by pakis is being provided. It’s still not enough, but is first step for a long pending need. 55*
  6. Border issues with China have seen India get a bit more vocal and assertive compared to previous incidents. It has not been perfect, but still better than what we used to see earlier. Steps are being taken to reduce Chinese advantages like construction of border roads,  raising of dedicated military units and airfields 65* 66* 67* 68* 69* 70*
  7. One of the biggest improvements is visible in number of terrorist attacks and resulting causalities. Since 2014, there has been a massive drop in number of terrorist incidents in India outside J&K. 80* 81*
BAD:
  1. This regime isn’t immune to appeasement policies when it comes to muslims leading to stupid decisions like ceasefire during ramzan. There have been some good successes against armed terrorists in Kashmir but issue of unarmed terrorists like the type who pelt stones and their supporters has not been adequately addressed.46*. After terrorist attack in Pathankot, we invited Pakistanis for a so called joint investigation. 48*
  2. Khalistani militants continue to make noise and try to be a nuisance in some foreign countries. They have not been countered effectively. 47*
  3. Resettlement of Kashmiri Hindus back in Kashmir is still not done. Very few steps have been taken to ensure that the displaced Hindus get their properties back 53* 54*
  4. Issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar has been a major failure. They have been allowed to settle in many parts of India and existing ones have not been deported. 50* 51*
  5. No progress of taking PoK back or support of locals there against paki hegemony.
  6. Forces involved in counter insurgency operations should have received better moral support from the government. Admittedly, it is just a point of view, but there have been incidents where soft jihadi Mufti regime in J&K (of which BJP is a part) has tried to implicate and harass security forces in fake cases. With BJP as partner in the govt, people had expected much stricter action against jihadi kashmiri muslims. But Mufti and her colleagues seem to be in control of administration. 76* 77*

C. Other Defence Issues

Points 7/10
This section is for other issues related to Indian defence like government policies related to defence, handling of grievances and so on. For the abuse BJP gets from left-liberal circles for being regressive, a lot of pioneering work has been done like much greater participation of women in defence including path breaking combat roles. We also got our first female Minister of Defence and so far she has done an excellent job. There have been some good developments and for some aspects, things have remained the same if not worse.
GOOD: 
  1. For the first time, women are being given combat roles in Air Force, Coast Guard and various other branches like Assam Rifles.  56* 57* 58* 59*
  2. One Rank One Pension has been rolled out. It is not perfect and the events leading up to it’s implementation were avoidable. But the basic work has been done and the veterans have started to receive their dues. 60* 61* 62*
  3. Indian Ministry Of Defence has decided to not challenge disability pension for soldiers. 63*
BAD:
  1. There has been very little progress in resolving the issue of disparity between pay of civilian and military officers. 64*
  2. Some stupid decisions like opening up of cantonment roads for civilian traffic 71* 72* which was later reversed. 73*
  3. Spending on defence has not been up to expectations. 75*
  4. Arun Jaitley was given additional charge of defence ministry for quite some time. These departments need two separate heads, not a single person juggling the two jobs. 74*

VERDICT:

So far, this regime has been one of the best ones for Indian defence sector. As mentioned above, it is not perfect and a lot still needs to be done in due time.As far as the shortcomings are concerned, there are some very sore points like handling of illegal immigrants and civilian jihadis in Kashmir.  But even the detractors and people with very high expectations should be reasonably happy with the performance so far.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

 


SOURCES:

1. Modi’s Make in India just saved Rs 1 lakh crore in defence sector.  http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/make-in-india-initiative-defence-ministry-drdo-modi/1/1102047.html
4.  We have given nearly 300 transfer of technologies in the last three years https://www.theweek.in/theweek/current/2018/05/18/interview-s-christopher-chairman-drdo.html
7. Defence ministry’s Rs 16,000-crore arms buy: 7.40 lakh assault rifles, 5,719 sniper rifles for Indian forces https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/defence-ministry-s-big-buy-7-40-lakh-assault-rifles-5-719-sniper-rifles-for-indian-forces/story-VWv9j4Fmso14HvkPeY7p7I.html
17. After 9-Year Wait, Indian Soldiers To Finally Get Bulletproof Jackets https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/after-9-year-wait-indian-soldiers-to-finally-get-bulletproof-jackets-1834945
21. Know all about Indian Army’s latest self-propelled gun K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 calibre howitzer http://zeenews.india.com/india/know-all-about-indian-armys-latest-self-propelled-gun-k9-vajra-t-155mm/52-calibre-howitzer-2106142.html
22. India’s Fastest Deal: #MakeInIndia K-9 Guns To Start Deliveries In 11 Months https://www.livefistdefence.com/2017/04/indias-fastest-deal-makeinindia-k-9-guns-to-start-deliveries-in-11-months.html
24. First five Indian M777 howitzers to enter service in September http://www.janes.com/article/79359/first-five-indian-m777-howitzers-to-enter-service-in-september
26. Aircraft carrier Vikrant to be commissioned by 2020 https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/62574359.cms
29. Army’s combat vehicle project gets green signal Read more at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/63071229.cms
32. Maoists area of influence shrinks; 44 districts removed from affected list: Union Home Secretary http://zeenews.india.com/india/maoists-area-of-influence-shrinks-44-districts-removed-from-affected-list-union-home-secretary-2100351.html
34. Echo from the hills of Chhattisgarh: ‘We are the first Bastariya Battalion http://indianexpress.com/article/india/echo-from-the-hills-of-chhattisgarh-we-are-the-first-bastariya-battalion-5185799/
35. India Claims ‘Surgical Strikes’ Across Line of Control in Kashmir https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/world/asia/kashmir-india-pakistan.html
37.India carries out ‘surgical strikes’ against Pakistan after Kashmir attack http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-india-pakistan-20160929-snap-story.html
38. Revenge of ‘The Fallen’ – Part 1 https://satyavijayi.com/revenge-of-the-fallen-part-1/
41. India-Pak thaw: Both agree to follow ceasefire on LoC in letter and spirit http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-pakistan-army-follow-ceasefire-on-loc-in-letter-and-spirit-5196476/
48. Pathankot attack probe: What made Govt invite Pakistan, asks Parliamentary Panel http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/pathankot-attack-probe-parliamentary-panel-pakistan-help-2782934/
51.  Deport Bangladeshi Immigrants Along With Rohingyas Within a Year: PIL in SC https://www.news18.com/news/india/deport-bangladeshi-immigrants-along-with-rohingyas-within-a-year-pil-in-sc-1525531.html
54. Resettlement of Kashmiri Hindus – The inside story and The way forward  http://www.opindia.com/2017/01/resettlement-of-kashmiri-hindus-the-inside-story-and-the-way-forward/
57. In A First, Indian Coast Guard Deploys Female Officers In Combat Roles https://topyaps.com/indian-coast-guard-females-combat-roles
61. Revised Pensionary benefits under OROP released to over Two Lakh Defence Pensioners http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=137870
64. Military-civil rift over rank and pay parity likely to widen: Sources  http://zeenews.india.com/india/military-civil-rift-over-rank-and-pay-parity-likely-to-widen-sources-2051346.html
65. Roads to all China border posts soon, says Rajnath Singh Union home minister https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/roads-to-all-china-border-posts-soon-says-rajnath-singh/articleshow/62330709.cms
66. Chinese and Indian troops face off in Bhutan border dispute https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/06/china-india-bhutan-standoff-disputed-territory
68. Amid China Standoff, India Hits Pedal on Border Road Construction After Delay https://sputniknews.com/asia/201708021056101593-india-road-construction/
69. India to Add Seven More Advanced Airfields Near Border With China https://sputniknews.com/military/201804201063756549-india-adds-airfields-near-china-border/
76. Army orders court of inquiry against Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/army-orders-court-of-inquiry-against-major-nitin-gogoi/articleshow/64319258.cms
77. Major Leetul Gogoi raided our home at night: Mother of woman at hotel http://indianexpress.com/article/india/major-leetul-gogoi-raided-our-home-at-night-mother-of-woman-at-hotel-5190226/
78. J-K govt to move court for pardons of 4,961 stone-pelters https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cases-against-5-000-stone-pelters-in-j-k-to-be-withdrawn/story-DGhAV4nSVbqu0Q7DsnIzOM.html
79. India, France ink €7.87 billion agreement for 36 Rafales  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/India-France-ink-€7.87-billion-agreement-for-36-Rafales/article14995775.ece
80. 2017: The Zero Death Year!  http://5forty3.in/gaze_articles.php?articalid=205
81. India Fatalities: 1994-2018 http://www.satp.org/Datasheets.aspx?countries=india

Name: Chandhar Airbase

Type: Pakistan Air Force operated airfield, no civilian use.

Location: Punjab, Pakistan.

Coordinates: 32° 4’38.20″N   73°47’23.65″E

Occupants: PAF

Airstrip Length: 2.4 km

Comments: There is very little information about Chandhar airbase available in open sources. It’s about 77 km away from international border and seems to be military installation for use only during war time as a way of dispersing aircraft. There are some aircraft shelters, basic underground storage bunkers but  limited support infrastructure. It’s surrounded by farms on all sides and shows very little signs of activity, construction and changes.

 

Chandhar airbase, Distance from border 77 km

Chandhar airbase, Distance from border 77 km

 

Aircraft shelter 1

Aircraft shelters 1

Aircraft shelters 2

Aircraft shelters 2

 

Aircraft shelters 3

Aircraft shelters 3

 

Hardened bunker

Hardened bunker

 

Possible underground bunker and air defence site

Possible underground bunker and air defence site

 

Unidentified (possible AD site)

Unidentified (possible AD site)

 

Index Post

 

 

Name: Shamsi Airfield (Bhandari Airstrip)

Type: Airstrip first leased to UAE for hunting wildlife, then to USA for military operations.

Location: Washuk District, Balochistan, Pakistan.

Coordinates:   27°50’51.00″N   65° 9’35.63″E

Occupants: It was used by USA as a base for Predator drones from 2001 till 2011. Leased by UAE from 1992-2001. Now presumably controlled by Pakistan FC.

Comments: Shamsi Airfield caught my interest in particular due to the fact that no new imagery is available since after 2014. Another point of interest is it’s use by USA from 2001 till 2011 as a base for armed Predator drones which were used in counter terrorism attacks in nearby areas. USA vacated this base after frictions arising due to American raids inside Pakistani territory leading to deaths of 24 Paki armymen. This base for previously under control of UAE which used it for falconry trips.

Shamsi Airfield, 440 km from IB

Shamsi Airfield, 440 km from IB

Shamsi Airfield, airstrip length 2.3 km

Shamsi Airfield, airstrip length 2.3 km

Shamsi Airfield, airstrip length 2.3 km

Transport airplane on ground

Transport airplane on ground

Structures on way to airstrip from the main road

Structures on way to airstrip from the main road

Look like shipping containers

Look like shipping containers

3 American Predator drones in 2004

3 American Predator drones in 2004

New hangars and buildings constructed after the previous image was taken Before 2004, there was only a single small hangar

New hangars and buildings constructed after the previous image was taken Before 2004, there was only a single small hangar

Unidentified structure on right was constructed after 2007

Unidentified structure on right was constructed after 2007

A Mi-17 helicopter and Paki personnel after USA's evacuation of the base.

A Mi-17 helicopter and Paki personnel after USA’s evacuation of the base.

Pakistani and American personnel near a drone

Pakistani and American personnel near a drone

Index Post

Name: Peshawar Airbase

Type: Military airbase with an adjacent civilian airport.

Location: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa., Pakistan.

Coordinates:  33°59’57.74″N   71°30’53.90″E

Occupants: No. 26 and 16 squadrons of PAF operating JF-17 fighters

Peshawar airbase. Distance from LoC 218 km

Peshawar airbase. Distance from LoC 218 km

 

Peshawar airbase. airstrip 2.65 km length

Peshawar airbase. airstrip 2.65 km length

 

Aircraft on ground 1

Aircraft on ground 1

 

Aircraft on ground 2. Possibly A-5 fighter Near hardened shelter

Aircraft on ground 2. Possibly A-5 fighter Near hardened shelter

 

Aircraft on ground 3. JF-17 on Taxiway

Aircraft on ground 3. JF-17 on Taxiway

 

Aircraft on ground 4. A-5 Near hardened shelters and helicopter (unidentified) base

Aircraft on ground 4. A-5 Near hardened shelters and helicopter (unidentified) base

Aircraft on ground 5. 3 JF-17 near shelters.

Aircraft on ground 5. 3 JF-17 near shelters.

 

Aircraft on ground 6. Possible decommissioned Shenyang F-6,

Aircraft on ground 6. Possible decommissioned Shenyang F-6,

Aircraft on ground 7 from 2014. These hardened shelters almost always have aircraft nearby

Aircraft on ground 7 from 2014. These hardened shelters almost always have aircraft nearby

 

Aircraft on ground 8. Multiple helicopters and planes including one on display

Aircraft on ground 8. Multiple helicopters and planes including one on display

 

Aircraft on ground 9. Six A5s and one helicopter in 2007

Aircraft on ground 9. Six A5s and one helicopter in 2007

 

 

Aircraft on ground 10. Multiple types of aircraft including A5, F-6, F-86 and a few unidentified aircraft , most likely decommissioned. 2012

Aircraft on ground 10. Multiple types of aircraft including A5, F-6, F-86 and a few unidentified aircraft , most likely decommissioned. 2012

Aircraft on ground 11. Same place in 2017 with lot more aircrafts

Aircraft on ground 11. Same place in 2017 with lot more aircrafts

 

Aircraft on ground 12. A-5s lined up in 2010

Aircraft on ground 12. A-5s lined up in 2010

 

Aircraft on ground 13. One JF-17, one small plane and a helicopter

Aircraft on ground 13. One JF-17, one small plane and a helicopter

 

Aircraft on ground 14. One JF-17 on runway and taxiway each

Aircraft on ground 14. One JF-17 on runway and taxiway each

 

Hardened aircraft shelters with some activity going on nearby

Hardened aircraft shelters with some activity going on nearby

 

Aircraft on ground 15. Civilian aviation terminal

Aircraft on ground 15. Civilian aviation terminal

 

Hardened underground bunkers

Hardened underground bunkers

 

Possible air defence sites

Possible air defence site

 

Aircraft on ground 16. Helicopters and a transporter plane

Aircraft on ground 16. Helicopters and a transporter plane

 

Another air defence site

Another air defence site

Unidentified. Possible underground storage, missile launch or air defence site

Unidentified. Possible underground storage, missile launch or air defence site

 

Underground fuel storage ?

Underground fuel storage ?

 

Cantonment board office

Cantonment board office

 

 

Peshawar is one of the more important bases for PAF and houses 2 squadrons of their frontline JF-17 fighters. This airbase has been the target for 2 major islamist terrorist attacks in 2007 and 2012. In 2015,  adjoining Camp Badaber also suffered an attack with 29 causalities. This base was used by the 6937th Communications Group of United States Air Force from July 17, 1959 until January 7, 1970

Index Post

Previous Post in this series  Sukkur Airfield

Name: Sukkur Airport (IATA: SKZ, ICAO: OPSK)

Type: FOB (Forward Operating Base) and a small domestic airport.

Location: Sindh, Pakistan.

Coordinates: 27°43′19″N  68°47′30″E

Sukkur Distance from IB 97 km

Sukkur Distance from International Border  97 km

 

Sukkur airstrip 2.76km

Sukkur airstrip 2.76km

 

Aircraft shelters on end of runway

Aircraft shelters on end of runway

4 more aircraft shelters

4 more aircraft shelters

 

Sukkur Airfield, some construction is going on in April 2017

Sukkur Airfield, some construction is going on in April 2017

 

Possibly hardened bunkers at end of the airstrip

Possibly hardened bunkers at end of the airstrip

 

A twin engined aircraft on airstrip in front of hangars

A twin engined aircraft on airstrip in front of hangars

 

Unidentified structures

Unidentified structures

 

Swampy area near end of airstrip which gets flooded during monsoons

Swampy area near end of airstrip which gets flooded during monsoons

 

 

Sukkur barrage and bridge over Indus River

Sukkur barrage and bridge over Indus River

A small aircraft parked near the terminal

A small aircraft parked near the terminal

 

Barrage on Indus river

Barrage on Indus river

 

Sukkur Airfield is a dual use airport, but has limited military traffic. It is very near to the Thar desert.  The barrage shown above was a possible target for Indian offensive in 1971 as it is a vital piece of infrastructure irrigating much of the agricultural land nearby.

Index Post: