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DEFENCE - October 2020

Oct 2020

Oct 31, 2020

First Phase of Malabar Exercise from November 3-6

  • In the midst of its bitter border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, India will hold the first phase of the Malabar Naval Exercise with navies of the US, Japan and Australia from November 3 to 6 in the Bay of Bengal off Visakhapatnam coast.
  • The second phase of the mega exercise is scheduled to be held from November 17-20 in the Arabian Sea.
  • China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The first phase of the drill would witness complex and advanced naval exercises, including surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations, besides cross-deck flying, seamanship evolutions and weapon firing exercises.
  • The exercise will be conducted as a "non-contact and at sea only" drill in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015.

India Test-fires Air-launched Version of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile

  • The Indian Air Force successfully test-fired an air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi fighter aircraft in the Bay of Bengal. The missile hit a sinking ship with deadly accuracy and the test-firing produced desired results.
  • The aircraft, belonging to Thanjavur-based Tigersharks squadron, took off from a frontline airbase in Punjab and it was refuelled mid-air before the missile was released.
  • In May 2019, the Indian Air Force for the first time had successfully test-fired the aerial version of the BrahMos missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft.

Oct 30, 2020

United States Offers India F-18 Naval Fighter Jets

  • Seeking to develop further closer ties with India, the United States of America has offered its F-18 naval fighter jets for the Indian Navy's requirements of combat jets for its aircraft carriers.
  • The Indian Navy had a few years ago expressed interest in the acquisition of 57 naval fighter aircraft for operations from its aircraft carriers including the present INS Vikramaditya and the under-construction Indigenous aircraft carrier.
  • The American Government has offered to provide their naval fighter aircraft F-18 for the Indian Navy under a government proposal at the meeting between defence delegations of both countries during the 2+2 meetings.
  • The aircraft offered by the American government is said to be the advanced version of the plane which was on offer to the Indian Air Force for its requirement of 126 Multirole Medium Combat Aircraft in which only Rafale and European Eurofighter had been able to meet the qualitative requirements and finally the French plane had been selected.

Oct 29, 2020

India's Place in Missile Race

  • US, Russia and China continue to remain the strongest in the world because of their missile strength. Missile power is seen to be the utmost strength of countries in today's time and the country that amasses the greater number of missiles and has the state-of-the-art R&D will outdo others in the global race for supremacy.
  • According to an NYT report, Russia, America, China, Britain, France and India are considered the most powerful countries in the world in missile strength.
  • These countries have such missiles that can attack any part of the world and lead the race for missile supremacy.
  • The US, Russia and China have hypersonic technology missiles, while India has also successfully tested hypersonic technology.
  • North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea and Taiwan are also moving fast in gaining missile strength as these countries are also engaged in making their missile systems modern and powerful.

Oct 28, 2020

LCA-SpORT Program Renamed as LCA-LIFT

  • The Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SpORT) a Proposed lead-in-fighter trainer (LIFT) built on the Light Combat Aircraft Twin-seater Trainer platform has been renamed as LCA-LIFT keeping with international conventions, confirmed Group Captain Harsh Vardhan Thakur, Test Pilot with HAL who had conceived SpORT Program and has been confirmed that the program is now a full-fledged separate program which will be developed in parallel with the Tejas Mk1A Program now by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). 
  • LCA-LIFT built on the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas platform is a fighter trainer that can help pilots of modern aircraft including the Rafale and SU-30 MKi that can also be used as a Combat aircraft when required by the airforce.

China's First Domestically Built Aircraft Carrier

  • China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier Shandong has completed regular testing and training missions at sea and is expected to be combat-ready by this year-end.
  • Chinese aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong have completed routine training and sea trials.
  • Liaoning, a refit of the Soviet-era ship, was commissioned in 2012, while  Shandong was commissioned into the PLA Navy in December last year (2019).
  • China plans to have six aircraft carriers.

Oct 27, 2020

India to Get 5 Military Theatre Commands

  • The Indian military is expected to be reorganised under five theatre commands by 2022 with defined areas of operation and a seamless command structure for synchronised operations. 
  • With the department of military affairs soon to have additional and joint secretaries after Cabinet clearance, the task of reorganisation of the three services under theatre commands has begun with a China specific Northern Command and Pakistan specific Western command under serious consideration. India's Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat has been given the mandate by the Narendra Modi government to create theatre commands much like the ones China and the US currently have. 

Indian Military to Get Access to US Satellite Data

  • The Indian military is set to get access to the satellite network of the United States, allowing it to target enemy positions with more precision.
  • The key pact will be signed to share real-time geo-spatial intelligence, information on maps and satellite images for defence.
  • Called the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), it will allow geo-spatial mapping of the land mass. The imagery generated from it can be used to accurately operate drones and long-range missiles.
  • The contours of the land mass have to be known accurately to achieve precision strike from huge distances.
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