Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

From Russia, with Love [284/365]

Overly-patriotic Indians and retired (and semi-retired) military men celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The rest of us were busy reading about how DLF gave some pocket money to Robert Vadra.


So while we were all busy seeing hastily put up montages of out-dated Sukhoi's and MIGs that haven't fallen off the sky yet, there was one tiny bit of news that went ignored- Russia pushed the delivery of the refitted Admiral Gorshkov aka INS Vikramaditya by another 11 months.
Reason: The 45,000 ton aircraft carrier failed its extensive sea-trails. The boilers in the refitted aircraft carrier failed and the vessel could not accelerate to its maximum speed. Gee!

For the uninitiated, the Soviet Union era Gorshkov which was formerly known as Baku was decommissioned eight years after it was commissioned in 1987. Strangely, the reason why it was decommissioned was because of an explosion in the boilers and it was considered too nonviable to recommission the massive carrier. Deja vu, anyone?! It was put up for sale in 1996. And eight years later, Russia managed to sell the Gorshkov to India. 

This would be the start of years of retrofitting and repairs as both India and Russia began to haggle over the price.
Finally, after years of negotiation, in 2004 it was decided that India would pay Russia $2.3 billion which was thrice the original price of $947 million.

...and What could be

Now, the funny part- India would get the ship free while paying for the $800 million for retrofitting and upgrading the ship and an additional billion for aircraft and weapon systems, like 12 single-seat Mikoyan MiG-29K 'Fulcrum-D' and 4 dual-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft (with an option for 14 more aircraft) at $1 billion, 6 Kamov Ka-31 "Helix" reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters, torpedo tubes, missile systems, and artillery units. Today as news of the delay came, it was rumored that Delhi will have to pay $4 billion for the second-hand aircraft carrier.

Now, call me a stingy Indian or a cynic, but if agreeing to pay 6 times the original price of a product isn't foolish enough, then irritating cost escalations because of delayed delivery is beyond the realm of common-sense. The simplest analogy I can think of is if you are agreeing to buying an apartment to be delivered at a mutually agreeable date and price, then any delay to deliver it on time can and should attract penalties or a revocation of the contract. While we may never know the real cost of the INS Vikramaditya, I doubt if we will need an aircraft carrier that costs as much as the Gorshkov has.

Back to present day, India's defense minister Mr AK Antony did some politi-speak. Ahead of high-level defense ministerial meetings, Delhi warned that it would penalize Moscow five percent of the contract value for any further delays. Yeah right!
I am pretty sure the Generals at Kremlin would be rolling on the floor laughing at how they have 'sold' the Gorshkov to the Indians.

Cliched as it sounds, for a country that lacks basic infrastructure, education and employment, will the INS Vikramaditya ever pay for itself?
For a hand-me-down, it sure is an expensive deal. But we are like that only. We like to brag at how we got a great deal even if we got a dud. 

And in the meanwhile, here's a message from Russia; To India. With Love

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freeze! [115/365]

source: The Telegraph
It's just April and we've got a full deck of exciting things happening.
While it appears like we'll have a full show at the Olympics which is just 100 days away, we are already having a race of another kind happening. An Arms race.

So, India decided to go ahead with a missile that can reach any part of China.
China, being the cry baby it is, first declares the missile is nothing compared to the ones it has but later declares the missile could actually go further than it was announced.
Predictably Pakistan, not used to being ignored by both India and China, has test fired it's own 'India missile', a modified version of the Shaheen. (Read the explosive news here)

If the threat of a nuclear war was not frightening, this would have been the stuff of standup comedians.
Pakistan was the target of our fear and hate psychosis until a few years ago. And then we tested our nukes, intimidating our western neighbor. All we wanted, was to scare the Pakis just enough to keep them on the edge but not push them over that they attack us. But they did and when the world reacted in aghast against Pakistan, we achieved our first moral victory. Our victory at the battlefield mattered less. Gradually, we lost our interest in Pakistan and trained our bofors at another troublesome neighbor - China.
For many years, and since the latest Indo Sino war, China has been restructuring itself. She has been quietly yet consistently growing. Organically and otherwise. Into an economy that the world cannot live without. Today, over 80% of everything manufactured or processed is Made In China. They build 15 fully equipped cities in a year while we struggle with a over-bridge for 10. I know I sound cynic but the proof is in the pudding.
Our government fumbles with every single infrastructure project and corruption is so deep rooted that it's slowly desensitized us.

So if you can't reach them, scare them.
Enter Agni 5. (Read my earlier post commemorating death)

But here's what I'm thinking.
Why do we need to annihilate a country that we can stand to gain a lot, if only we are friendly.
We needed 5 versions of a missile before we could build one that could reach all of China?! What did the first four versions reach? Srilanka? Andamans?

If you ask me, I think the Pakis had the missile a long while now. It's just taken them some time to translate the Chinese manuals.
Why Pakistan still finds India a threat is something I find disconcerting. With all the thaw that has been happening between the nations, a missile test like this puts a freeze on our bonhomie. Maybe we could test our 'Pakistan missile' again. Just to remind them that we already have a missile that can reach any spot in Pakistan.

What are we trying to achieve with all these missiles?
Intimidation is one of them.
While both the countries have showed how they can push each other's buttons really well, I think it's time we stop all this posturing.
Deep down, we desire to live together.
When we are the same culturally, geographically and ethnically, why can't we learn to live together as well?
We may not be able to beat China alone, but together we can achieve a super- economy that is unbeatable.

Perhaps our political fathers have been frightened at the prospect of having us work in harmony. Maybe they just want to keep our twin away.
And a missile is a wonderful way to do that.

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