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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Italy's Cruel Judicial Farce & India's Pathetic Politicians

Whenever there emerges a cocktail made up of a notoriously trigger-happy bunch of Italian state prosecutors, pathetic Indian politicians—both those in power and those voted out of power—so full of unconscionable behavior, a cabal of unscrupulous Italian citizens masquerading as product marketers, and hyper-ventilating Indian broadcast TV channels, the end-result can only be mayhem and obfuscation, with the truth nowhere in sight. On February 14, 2013 India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) had produced a document that—had anyone bothered to read it—most notably the Italian magistrates—they would have indisputably cleared all Indian citizens of any wrongdoing by removing the motive for corruption. 
All that the three-year trials process in Italy has produced so far is the indictment and sentencing of  Giuseppe Orsi, former CEO Finmeccanica; and Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland. No material evidence to date has come to light about any direct or indirect money-trail that leads to any Indian official or politician, nor of any wrongdoing done by anyone from either the MoD or the Indian Air Force (IAF). Worse, the material evidence gathered from the alleged middlemen—Guido Ralph Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and James Christian Michel—clearly show them to be groping in the dark and being totally unaware of how exactly the MoD’s procurement-related decision-making process works. For, had they have had even the slightest idea about who had the final say in selecting the VVIP helicopters, they would have clearly mentioned the post of Director of the Special Protection Group (SPG) as being the key and most critical stakeholder of the VVIP helicopter selection process. Yet, nowhere is the SPG’s Director mentioned in any piece of paper containing the handwritten notations of these alleged middlemen. Nor is there any material evidence of any money laundering exercise involving any financial institution.  
It was in August 1999 that the IAF, which is responsible for carrying out VVIP communication taskings, had proposed the replacement of its then Mi-8T VVIP helicopters of its Air HQ Communication Squadron due to severe operational constraints, such as the Mi-8T’s inability of to operate at night and in adverse weather, inability to operate safely at places in elevations beyond 2,000 metres, and the approaching end of their total technical service lives (TTSL). Consequently, a global Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in March 2002 to which four OEMs—AgustaWestland, Eurocopter SA, Rosoboronexport State Corp and Sikorsky Helicopters—responded. The IAF’s Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) subsequently shortlisted three helicopters and accordingly competitive flight evaluations were conducted. Since AgustaWestland’s AW-101 was not certified for operating at an altitude of 6,000 metres, it did not participate in the flight evaluations. Russia’s Mi-172 could not comply with 7 mandatory Operational Requirements (OR). After flight evaluations, only Eurocopter’s EC-225 was found suitable for acquisition. On November 19, 2003 a meeting was taken by Brajesh Mishra, the then Principal Secretary-cum-National Security Adviser (NSA) to the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on this subject. In this meeting, Mishra had observed that his main concern was that the framing of the mandatory ORs had led India effectively into a single vendor situation. It was also noted that very rarely have India’s Presidents or Prime Ministers have made visits to places involving flying at an altitude beyond 4,500 metres. In the meeting it was therefore decided to make the mandatory OR for an operational altitude 4,500 metres. The higher flying ceiling of 6,000 metres, and the mandated internal cabin height of 1.8 metres could be made desirable ORs. Later, a letter dated December 22, 2003 from Mishra to the then Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the IAF, ACM Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy, stating that it was unfortunate that neither PMO nor the Special Protection Group (SPG) was consulted while framing these mandatory ORs. Mishra suggested that the CAS and the Defence Secretary may jointly review the matter to draw up realistic mandatory ORs satisfying operational, security and convenience requirements of VVIPs, and also set in motion a fast-track process for selection and acquisition of the replacement helicopters. In pursuance of this directive, the ORs were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG and MoD between March, 2005 to September, 2006 and the indicated changes were incorporated. No ambiguity is thus possible: the decision to lower the service ceiling requirement was official and above-board. It was taken during a meeting chaired by the PM’s Principal Secretary-cum-NSA, was followed up in writing with the IAF’s CAS, and was reviewed by the then-Defence Secretary. Subsequently, the revised ORs were deliberated at length for 18 months by the involved SPG and IAF authorities before becoming effective, and were all included in the final RFP document. The acceptance of necessity (AON) for the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters was accorded by the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the ‘Buy’ category with 30% industrial offsets on January 3, 2006.
Next, the RFP was issued to six OEMs on September 27, 2006. Three OEMs—Sikorsky (S-92), AgustaWestland (AW-101) and Rosoboronexport (Mi-172 ) responded to the RFP. Rosoboronexport did not submit the mandated earnest money deposit and the Integrity Pact, along with the Technical and Commercial Proposals (TCP). It had been made clear to Rosoboronexport in February 2007 that this was a global tender and hence every contractual clause would apply to all vendors without exception. As no Integrity Pact and earnest money deposit were received from Rosoboronexport, the Mi-172’s TCP was not accepted. Subsequently, a team comprising officials of the IAF and SPG carried out Field Evaluation Trials (FET) of the AW-101 in the UK and of the S-92 in the US from January 16, 2008 till February 19, 2008. The FET team submitted its report in April 2008 and recommended the AW-101 for service induction. The IAF’s own internal Staff Evaluation Report (SER) concluded that the S-92 was non-compliant with respect to four staff qualitative requirements (SQR)m these being the absence of a missile approach warning system (MAWS), service ceiling of 4.5km, deficient drift-down altitude, and deficient hover-out-of-ground-effect parameters. In addition, the AW-101, unlike the S-92, featured a high tail-boom since it would allow the VVIP’s motorised vehicles to come right next to the rear-ramp and not expose the protected persons to a threat from anyone in the vicinity. The SER thus assessed AW-101 to be fully compliant with all SQRs. 
The Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) constituted by the MoD on August 6, 2008 found that the FETs, compliance to SQRs and selection of the competing OEMs were all done according to the prescribed/mandated procedures. A Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) was subsequently constituted and it carried out negotiations with AgustaWestland between September 19, 2008 and January 21, 2009. While the CNC was progressing with negotiations, the IAF recommended the inclusion of Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS-II) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) as additional fitments for all 12 AW-101s, while the SPG recommended the inclusion of integral MEDEVAC systems for 8 of the 12 VVIP helicopters. These additional equipment were considered to be essential for safe and effective operation of the helicopters in the VVIP transportation role. The CNC, thereafter, recommended contract signature at a negotiated fixed-price of €556.262 million ($827 million), or Rs.3,550 crore. The draft contract was next submitted for approval by the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) and was approved by the CCNS on January 18, 2010. Consequently, the MoD inked the contract with AgustaWestland for 12 AW-101s each powered by three Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM-322 engines on February 8, 2010. 
The AW-101 procurement contract included specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence. Article 22 of the contract dealt with penalty for use of undue influence. This clause entitled the ‘Buyer’ to cancel the contract with the ‘Seller’ and recover from it the amount of any loss arising from such cancellations. Article 23 of the contract dealing with agents and agency commission required the ‘Seller’ to confirm and declare that it had not engaged any individual or firm, whether Indian or foreign, whosoever, to intercede, facilitate or in any way to recommend to the Government of India or any of its functionaries, whether officially or unofficially, to award of the contract to the ‘Seller’ nor had any amount been paid, promised or intended to be paid to any such individual or firm in respect of any such intercession, facilitation or recommendation. This clause further entitled the ‘Buyer’ to consider cancellation of the contract without any entitlement or compensation to the ‘Seller’ who shall be liable to refund all payments made by the ‘Buyer’ in terms of the contract along with interest. In addition to the above contractual provisions, Agusta Westland had signed an Integrity Pact with the Government of India. The validity of this Integrity Pact is from the date of its signing and extends up to five years or the complete execution of the contract, whichever is later. Under the Integrity Pact, the ‘Seller’ OEM committed itself to take all measures necessary to prevent corrupt practices, unfair means and illegal activities during any stage of the bid or during any pre-contract or post-contract stage. Any breach of the provisions of the Integrity Pact entitled the ‘Buyer’ to take actions against the ‘Seller’ which included forfeiture of the earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of the contract without giving any compensation, recovery of all the sums already paid with interest, cancellation of any other contracts with the bidder, and to debar the bidder from entering into any bid from the Government of India for a minimum period of five years, which may be extended. 
By July 2012 IAF pilots began AW-101-related flying conversion training in the UK, and the first AW-101 arrived at the Palam air base on December 20, 2012 while the second was delivered on December 22 and the third on December 24, 2012. Earlier, in October 2012, the MoD’s Defence Secretary wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs’ )MEA) Secretary (West) to take up the matter of alleged corrupt practices related the the AW-101 procurement contract with the UK in view of the alleged involvement of a British citizen (James Christian Michel), and the fact that the contract was signed with UK-based AgustaWestland. In November 2012, the MEA’s Secretary (West) replied to Defence Secretary, stating that “the UK authorities (i.e. the UK Serious Fraud Office were waiting for the results of the Italian investigation in order to ascertain whether there are further actions to take”. 
However, by late 2013 Indian Defence Minister Arackaparambil Kurien Antony single-handedly took the decision to first block progress-payments to AgustaWestland, then to cancel the contract, and finally to sue for payment of the surety and performance bonds that the company had placed in escrow, on the basis of unproven allegations. In doing so, Antony ignored a fundamental legal and moral principle: that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. This is unconscionable behavior for a Union Cabinet Minister in “the world’s largest democracy,” and can only be explained by motives other that a constitutional duty to his mission. The reality is that Antony, as the upcoming general election neared, even wanted to put AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica, its corporate parent, on the government’s blacklist, until he was blocked by the Government of India’s Solicitor-General. By January 2014, the MoD had cancelled the €566 million contract, as well as encashed €228 million of AgustaWestland’s €278 million performance bond, which dented the OEM’s cash position and that of its holding company Finmeccanica. All of this for no other reason than an Indian minister’s overwhelming pre-occupation with his political future.
So, what are the results of the Italian investigative efforts thus far? Firstly, they have only ended up insulting the institution of the IAF. Secondly, they have denied the much-needed replacement VVIP helicopters that are not only required for flying India’s President, Vice-President and Prime Minister, but are also meant for use by the country’s National Command Authority (NCA) in times of emergencies. In addition, such helicopters are also required to be put at the disposal of visiting foreign Heads of State/Government. Imagine such an official guest refusing to fly on-board a Mi-17IV or Mi-17V-5—both of which generally shunned by civilian VVIPs across the globe due to their deficient flight-safety features.   
Here is what India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) says about the Mi-17 family of helicopters: “The MGB drives the hydraulic pumps. Hydraulic power is required for the flying controls. The hydraulic system has OM-15 hydraulic oil. Hydraulic System has a main and standby system. Both systems have independent tanks, pumps, accumulators and pipelines. However, both the pipelines feed only a single booster, which in turn moves the control surfaces. There are a total of 4 boosters in the system. One critical weakness in the system is that if there is a leakage in the booster, there is a possibility of the entire oil from both the main and the standby systems leaking out. The emergency procedure for a total hydraulic failure is to have both pilots flying the aircraft in unison to a landing. The Mi 17V-5, which is a military version of the Mi-17, is being flown by the IAF and Border Security Force. As per the Flight Manual of this aircraft, the crew is to abandon the aircraft in case of total hydraulic failure. In case they cannot, then they have to resort to flying by both pilots to land immediately. Therefore, the procedure given in the Mi-17’s Flight Manual for total hydraulic does not inspire confidence in the pilots. All of them feel that this aircraft cannot be flown with a total hydraulic failure. They feel that this aircraft cannot even be taxied on ground with total hydraulic failure.”

And finally, to add insult to injury, Italian state prosecutors will be the only characters in this sorry story to escape unscathed. 

So, if all those pathetic politicians (both of the ruling national coalition and those of the UPA-1/2 coalitions) in Lutyens’ Delhi are indeed serious about seeking the truth while ensuring that the prestige of the IAF and the survivability of India’s NCA are assured, then they better take heed of how Taiwan had overcome a similar crisis in the not-too-distant past. The details of this case are as follows:

On August 31, 1991 France and Taiwan signed the ‘Bravo Contract’ to supply six Lafayette-class guided-missile frigates (FFG) for a total of US$2.5 billion. The buyer of the FFGs was the Plans Office of the Republic of China Navy (RoCN), acting on behalf Taiwan. The FFGs were to be built by DCNS. Shortly thereafter, the authorities in Taiwan accused the French state-owned ELF Aquitaine of having paid bribes through Thomson CSF (now THALES Group) to persuade both French government and RoCN authorities to approve the contract and launched an investigation. Taiwan initiated arbitration proceedings against DCNI during the second half of 2010. The case was eventually heard by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration. The court found that THALES Group had violated the anti-corruption terms of the contract and was therefore liable to repay all bribes, plus associated interest and legal fees. THALES appealed, and the decision was upheld by the Paris Court of Appeal, ordering THALES Group to pay compensation to Taiwan in the amount of €630 million (US$913 million). The French government and THALES Group announced the payment of the fine, with the French government paying approximately 72.54%, or around €457 million, and THALES Group the remainder.

The Rebuttals
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had submitted a report on the acquisition of helicopters for Very Very Important Persons (VVIPs) on August 13, 2013. The audit sought to examine the process of acquisition of VVIP helicopters and its compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), the prescribed procedure for procurement in the defence services. The report can be read here:

Key findings and recommendations of the CAG in this report were obviously derived by officials who were not domain experts. The findings/recommendations are detailed below as are their rebuttals:

Claim: The initial Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the Ministry of Defence in 2002 mandated an altitude requirement of 6,000 metres. Only one helicopter, the EC-225 of Eurocopter met this requirement. The EH-101 helicopter (later renamed AW-101) of AgustaWestland did not meet this requirement.
Fact: That’s because that RFP was based on specifications that favoured only the EC-225 and the Mi-172. In fact, the MoD had in 1999 estimated that the total acquisition cost of eight VVIP transportation helicopters would be no more than Rs.793 crore, and this figure pertained to only the Mi-172 helicopter that did not contain any customer-specified equipment. The MoD had obtained such cost estimations from Pawan Hans Ltd, which had by then been operating the Mi-172.  
Claim: However, the first RFP was cancelled due to the emergence of a single-vendor situation. In the revised RFP in 2006, the altitude requirement was reduced to 4,500 metres, and a cabin height requirement of 1.8 metres was introduced, making the AW-101 eligible, and the EC 225 ineligible. The lowering of the altitude requirement was against the ORs of the procured helicopters, especially in many areas of the north and north east of India. In addition, the single-vendor situation remained even after lowering the altitude requirement, because of which the AW-101 of AgustaWestland was selected.
Fact: Totally untrue. At a meeting of the PMO on November 19, 2003, it was Brajesh Mishra who, acting upon the advice of the SPG, directed that the desired VVIP helicopter’s service ceiling be reduced from 6,000 metres (18,000 feet) to 4,500 metres or 14, 000 feet; that the internal cabin be of the stand-up type, meaning a height increase from 1.4 metres to 1.8 metres; and an increase in the number of VVIP helicopters from 8 to 12. Thus, 3 (THREE) different deviations were sought from the PMO, and NOT from IAF HQ. A letter to this effect was later drafted by Brajesh Mishra from the PMO and this letter was dated December 22, 2003 and it was addressed to both IAF HQ and to the SPG’s Director. As a result of this, from that day itself, the EC-225 got disqualified since its cabin height was only 1.45 metres. Insterad, from then on, three contenders remained in the fray, i.e. the Mi-172, the S-92 and the AW-101, with the latter two having cabin heights of 1.82 metres.
Claim: The revised SQRs in 2006 made competition more restrictive instead of making the procurement procedures more broad-based to increase competition. The fresh RFP with revised SQRs was issued to only 6 vendors as opposed to 11 in 2002.
Fact: This is spectacularly ridiculous. Can anyone in the CAG or in this world ever explain how a competitive evaluation process involving 12 contenders can guarantee a far better deal than a competitive evaluation process involving 6 contenders? Can even a single such precedence be sited from anywhere else in this world?
Claim: The Field Evaluation Trial (FET) of the AW-101 was conducted on representative helicopters and not the actual helicopter. The AW-101 was still at the development stage at the time of the FET.
Fact: Totally wrong. The AW-101, known earlier as the EH-101, has been available as a fully developed and flight-certified helicopter since the 1990s. Furthermore, never in the history of aviation has any aircraft or helicopter been developed from scratch as a VVIP platform. Every VVIP helicopter flying today makes use of a platform that was originally developed for either military/military utility usage and that has been customised through customer-specified fitments. Similarly, when the Indian Navy wanted to evaluate the contenders for its LRMR/ASW platform requirements, it had to evaluate representative candidates like the Airbus A319MPA and the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.  
Claim: Although the 2006 RFP had laid down the necessity of carrying out the field evaluations in India, they were conducted abroad. The recommendation and assurance given by the IAF Chief (October 2007) to conduct evaluation trials abroad lacked justification.
Fact: Necessity, yes; compulsory, no. Deviations from this requirement have always been allowed over the past 16 years. For i9nstance, field evaluations of VVIP transport aircraft like the Boeing BBJ and Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy were all conducted abroad in the previous decade.  
Claim: Given the low utilisation levels of the existing fleet of helicopters, the MoD was not justified in procuring four additional helicopters for VVIPs.
Fact: The existing Mi-8Ts had approached the end of their TTSLs by 2005 itself and therefore could be used only sparingly. Instead, most VVIP flying between 2005 and now has been done on board the IAF’s Mi-17-IVs, 40 of which were bought early in the previous decade.
Claim: The cost benchmarked by the Contract Negotiation Committee was much higher than the offered price, allowing no room for negotiation. Hence, it provided no realistic basis for obtaining an assurance about a reasonable cost procurement of AW -101.
Fact: The MoD’s benchmarked cost was Rs.4,877.5 crore while AgustaWestland’s offer-price was Rs.3,966 crore, meaning the former figure was 22.80% higher. The final negotiated figure was Rs. 3,550 crore. Therefore, to claim that there was no room for negotiations on the price issue is blatantly false. Usually, the benchmarked cost has a 20% mark-up in order to factor in various variables, such as the customisation of the platform (through the incorporation of special fitments) and the quantum of spares-support required for a finite period of time, like for a single year or for a three-year period.

Other Slanderous Claims
The Milan Appellate Court’s judgment concerning Indian citizens, which relies almost entirely on the testimony of Guido Haschke, blandly states: “Ultimately, there are no elements of certainty to affirm this beyond any reasonable doubt that the reduction in the operating height was made contrary to the public (duty), and then (Air Chief) Marshal Tyagi carried out specific acts contrary to his duty; it remains, anyway, the wrongfulness of his conduct, for having offered to cooperate with AW in an economic operation which prohibited all forms of mediation, and for having received a large compensation in relation to its institutional activity.”
Now, either Italian state prosecutors and court judges are spectacularly insane, or they are loathe to do their homework. For instance, the date on which written directives to revise the QRs were issued from the Indian PMO to IAF HQ was December 22, 2003 and at that time the IAF’s CAS was ACM Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy. ACM Shashindra Pal Tyagi took over as the 20th CAS of the IAF only on December 31, 2004, and had retired on March 31, 2007. The competitive evaluations of the two shortlisted contenders were done during the tenure of ACM Fali H Major, while contract signature for Contract No. HQ/S96062/6/ASR was done when ACM P V Naik was the CAS. Furthermore, if at all the Italian state prosecutors and the presiding Judge of the Milan Appellate Court were to have done their homework on how exactly the decision-making process works for military procurements, they surely wouldn’t have targetted S P Tyagi. All they had to do was study this document:

It is evident from this document that the primary decision-makers on all technical aspects of production evaluations/shortlisting within IAF HQ are the VCAS and DCAS Branches, and not the office of the CAS. The bulk of the work is done by the concerned Project Director who reports to the DCAS Branch and the final call is taken by the VCAS Branch. The only job then left for the CAS is to ENDORSE the recommendations and conclusions. He does not have the authority to either revise or reverse anything at this stage.  
Then we have utterly false canards being spread by the TIMESNow broadcast TV channel, such as ZAPPA being a code-word. In reality, Zappa is the surname of Giorgio Zappa, the former CEO of Finmeccanica. Similarly, this Channel has since claimed that AgustaWestland International Ltd (AWIL) is not an OEM. In reality, AWIL is indeed the OEM whose helicopter manufacturing facilities are located in Yeovil, Somerset in the United Kingdom, where the IAF’s first three already-delivered AW-101s were built. And just like AWIL, the Italy-based helicopter manufacturing subsidiary of Finmeccanica SpA is known as AgustaWestland SpA, while the facility based in The Netherlands is known as Agusta Westland NV, Netherlands. 

The false canards being spread by TIMESNow can be viewed here:

Friday, April 15, 2016

DEFEXPO 2016 Show Report-2

Undersea Webs
A web of strategic projects is now taking firm shape as India enters into closer multilateral military cooperation relationships with Japan, Australia and the United States, as well as regional powers like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Matters began taking on urgency in late September 2014, after US President Barack Obama and PM Modi have pledged to intensify cooperation in maritime security. Following this, on March 16, 2015 the defence ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the end of the two-day 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Langkawi, Malaysia, collectively stated that they wanted India to play a far bigger role in both the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the South China Sea.
In the near future, therefore, under the auspices of the US–India Defence Framework Agreement, foundational pacts like the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA), and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), are likely to be inked by the two countries later this year. Concurrently, Japan can be expected to extend funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency for the upgradation of naval air bases and construction of new ELINT/SIGINT stations along the Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands, which is made up of 572 islands (of which only 34 are presently inhabited), stretching around 470 miles north to south. But most importantly, preliminary planning has commenced on a Japan-financed project that calls for 1) laying of an undersea optical fibre cable from Chennai to Port Blair; and 2) the construction of an undersea network of seabed-based surveillance sensors stretching from the tip of Sumatra right up to Indira Point. Once completed, this network will be an integral part of the existing US-Japan ‘Fish Hook’ sound surveillance (SOSUS) network that will play a pivotal role in constantly monitoring all submarine patrols mounted by China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) in both the South China Sea and the IOR. This network will in turn be networked with the Indian Navy’s (IN) high-bandwidth National Command Control and Communications Intelligence network (NC3I), which has been set up under the IN’s National Maritime Domain Awareness (NMDA) project at a cost of Rs.1,003 crores. At the heart of the NC3I is the Gurgaon-based, Rs.453 crore Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC), whose systems integration software packages were supplied by Raytheon and CISCO. 
Oblique references to all these developments were made in the joint statement that was issued last month after the visiting US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter held delegation-level talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. The joint statement spoke about: A) new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and maritime domain awareness; B) commencement of navy-to-navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare; and 3) enhancing on-going navy-to-navy discussions to cover submarine-related issues.
The US was always interested in Japanese and Indian locations for its SOSUS stations. Initially called Project Caesar, this involved running cables out on continental shelves and connecting them to hydrophones suspended above the sea bottom at optimum signal depths. An ‘experimental station’ was established at the north-western tip of Hokkaido in 1957, with the cable extending into the Soya (La Perouse) Strait. It monitored all Soviet submarine traffic going in and out of Vladivostok and Nakhodka in the Sea of Japan. Undersea surveillance systems and associated shore-based data collection stations code-named Barrier and Bronco were installed in Japan in the 1960s. Acoustic data collected at these sites was transmitted by US defence communications satellites to US Navy (USN) processing and analysis centres in the US. In the 1970s, a network between between Japan and the Korean Peninsula was commissioned. By 1980, three stations at Wakkanai (designated JAP-4), Tsushima (JAP-108) and the Ryukyu Islands (RYU-80) were operational in Japan, along with earlier stations built in the Tsushima Straits and the Okinawa area. The existence of old cables at Horonai Point in north-west Honshu, which during the Cold War led out to SOSUS arrays in the Sea of Japan, has been widely described by scuba divers. By the mid-1980s the SOSUS hydrophone arrays stretched from southern Japan to The Philippines, covering the approaches to China. After the collapse of the USSR and the decline of the submarine threat to the US in the early 1990s, the USN allowed its SOSUS systems in the north-west Pacific to atrophy, although some arrays were retained in working order so as to support civilian scientific research (such as tracking whales and monitoring undersea volcanic activity). According to a USN directive issued in August 1994, all seabed-based fixed-arrays in the Pacific were placed on ‘hot standby’; personnel would ‘not be routinely assigned to monitor fixed-array data’ unless that data was required for operational purposes, but in practice the probability of being able to reconstitute them to full operational status was ‘extremely low’.  
However, in the early 2000s, facing an increasing PLAN submarine force and more aggressive PLAN submarine patrols, the USN decided that it needed a new chain of fixed arrays designed primarily to monitor the movement of PLAN submarines between the East China Sea and South China Sea on the one hand, and between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean on the other. Thus was born the US-Japan ‘Fish Hook Undersea Defense Line’ in early 2005, stretching from Japan southwards to Southeast Asia, with key nodes at Okinawa, Guam and Taiwan. Beginning from near Kagoshima in the southwest part of Kyushu, it runs down the Osumi archipelago to Okinawa, then to Miyako-jima and Yonaguni in the southern part of the Ryukyu Islands, past Taiwan to the Balabac Islands in The Philippines, to Lomkok in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, across the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, and from northern Sumatra to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Three major gaps—between Yonaguni and Suao in north-east Taiwan (120km), between Kaohsiung in south-western Taiwan and the Dongsha (Pratas) Islands (450km) where the East China Sea meets the South China Sea, and across the Bashi Channel (220km) between Hengchun at Taiwan’s southernmost tip and Luzon Island in The Philippines—were plugged. In addition, the USN installed a new SOSUS network, stretching from Sasebo down to Okinawa, in 2006, when the US cable-laying ship USNS Zeus operated together with oceanographic survey vessels and nuclear submarines in this area. In July 2013, Beijing claimed that the US and Japan had jointly established ‘very large underwater monitoring systems’ at the northern and southern ends of Taiwan. One of these stretched from Yonaguni to the Senkaku Islands (about 150km), while the other covered the Bashi Channel down to The Philippines. Thus, this US-Japan undersea trip-wire around the PLAN presently extends across the Tsushima Strait between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, and from Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu down past Taiwan to The Philippines. The curve of the hook stretches across the Java Sea from Kalimantan to Java, across the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, and from the northern tip of Sumatra along the eastern side of India’s Andaman and Nicobar island chain. Real-time information-sharing between the US and Japan joins the undersea defence line-up, effectively drawing a tight arc around Southeast Asia, from the Andaman Sea to Japan.

China’s Undersea Trip-Wire
The PLAN’s seabed-based surveillance network, developed jointly by Ukraine and China since 1996, has been under installation along China's territorial waters since 2012, with work expected to be completed later this year. The seabed-based component of this network comprises arrays of hydrophones and magnetic anomaly detectors spaced along undersea cables laid at the axis of deep sound-channels roughly normal to the direction that the arrays are to listen. This capability is next paired with maritime reconnaissance/ASW aircraft assets to establish a multi-tier ASW network. The first naval bases to be covered by this network were the PLAN’s submarine bases in four sites: the Bohai shipyard at Huludao on the Bohai Sea where all nuclear-powered submarines are built; the North Sea Fleet’s Xiaopingdao naval refit base near Dalian where the SSBNs are fitted out for SLBM test-firings from the Bohai Sea across China into Delingha in the Qinghai desert and the desert of Lop Nor in Xinjiang; the North Sea Fleet’s base at Jianggezhuang (Laoshan) approximately 18km east of Qingdao in Shandong Province; and the South Sea Fleet’s bases at Longpo and Yulin at Yalong Bay near Sanya on the southern tip of Hainan Island.
As far back as 2001, a researcher at the PLAN’s Institute 715 had published a survey of ocean surveillance technologies that included a detailed discussion of the US SOSUS programme. Later, one of the most detailed discussions of China’s seabed-based surveillance networks appeared in the journal Shandong Science in 2010. However, Shandong was apparently not the only coastal area pushing forward with R & D on seabed-based sensors. Further down south and located near Shanghai at the mouth of large Hangzhou Bay, an ‘East Sea Ocean Floor Observation Test Station’, also known as the Xiaoqushan Station, was discussed extensively by Chinese researchers in an article appearing in Science Bulletin in 2011. Focussing on the collection of a variety of oceanographic information—tidal and current data, for example—experimentation with sonars is presently ongoing at this station with a wireless data-collection system that was commissioned into service in April 2009. Another analysis by several PLAN researchers in late 2012 discussed this station and military applications for its seabed-based sensors, alongside civilian uses, including environmental protection, navigation, and disaster prevention. The analysis compared different configurations for seabed-based sensor networks, including linear, circular, and tree-type designs, and also evaluating their respective cost, security and reliability implications. It also mentioned the Xiaoqushan Station as the basis for a larger ‘East Sea Ocean Floor Sensor Network’ that will be completed by 2016. The analysis also mentioned undersea mobile sensor stations, as well as fixed seabed sensors.

In early 2013, China Science Daily’s March 26 edition opted to go public with the system by publishing a feature with the banner headline: “Here They Are Quietly Listening to the Ocean: The Whole Story of the Building of Our Country’s First Deep Sea Ocean Floor Sensor Network Base”. According to this article, R & D efforts had commenced in 1996 and an initial prototype of the seabed-based sensor system was tested back in 2005 in the waters surrounding the PLAN’s base at Qingdao in Shandong Province. An additional site was selected for the Longpo naval base, and work formally commenced there in April 2009. Initial set-up was completed in 2010. The undersea-sensor system has since been integrated with a larger surveillance network that also has airborne and space-based components. Two articles appearing in mid-2013 in the technical journal Ship Electronic Engineering, confirmed that this network was now at an active deployment stage. One article discussed the technical challenge of energy supply by proposing a low-power ‘sleep-wake mode’, and mentioned the interesting additional problem that a country’s undersea sensors are subject to being captured by an adversary. Another article discussed the importance of advances in ‘burst communications’ for enhancing the military value of the seabed-based sensor network. A mid-2012 analysis in the naval magazine Modern Ships unequivocally confirmed the existence of PLAN’s network of seabed-based sensors. The cover-story of a second quasi-official naval journal, Naval & Merchant Ships from mid-2013, similarly showed an acute PLAN sensitivity to its perceived vulnerability to Western and Japanese submarines. The central concern shown there was protecting the PLAN’s SSBNs, while the main threat vector mentioned was the USN.
Moreover, it put forward a plausible theory of limited war in the nuclear age: “Limited war theory does not permit the enemy country to become a target. But to win the war one must defeat the enemy’s military forces so that the SSBN can become the ideal target.” The article asserted that the range of PLAN’s SLBMs (the JL-2 SLBM on the Type 094 Jin-class SSBN has a range of 7,400km) must be extended “so that one-way passage to the patrol area is shortened to 5-10 days.” At present, all PLAN-operated submarines are evaluated to be highly vulnerable to detection from “US warships employing active sonar as well as US Navy SSNs lurking near Chinese harbours.” To address this dire situation, the seabed-based surveillance system is deemed critical: “Among the various ASW elements, the seabed-based surveillance system is the foundation and heart, offering advanced warning for the sortie of ASW aircraft and light warship escorts.” The article continued: “The hardest part of ASW is early detection. If China can only find the targets, PLAN’s ASW forces can then apply pressure against the activities of US submarines, limiting their intelligence and attack capabilities.” While this article discusses other critical ASW elements—even highlighting the role of aircraft carriers, for example—a clear focus and conclusion of this analysis is the priority to deploy seabed-based surveillance systems. It envisioned a sequential process: “In order for China to build a relatively tight ASW network, we must first [outside of all major fleet bases] construct fixed seabed sonar arrays for continuous surveillance and control of sea areas close to ports.” The analysis further advocates that after building a network proximate to its naval bases, the PLAN should deploy seabed-based sonar arrays to the west of Okinawa, to the east of Taiwan, and into the Luzon Strait.” Nor should China’s ambitions for undersea surveillance be restricted to the “near seas,” according to this analysis, as it suggested that more distant areas, such as the Bay of Bengal, may be appropriate sites for future Chinese seabed-based sonar arrays “in order to support ASW operations in those sea areas.”

Growing Tentacles
The PLAN presently has an estimated 60 double-hulled submarines, of which 51 are diesel-electric SSKs (two Type 877EKM, ten Type 636, 13 Type 039 Song-class, four S-20/Type 041A Yuan-class, four S-20/Type 041B Yuan-class and 18 Type 035 Ming-class) and eight (four Type 091 Han-class and four Type 093 Shang-class) are nuclear-powered SSNs. In addition, there’s one Type 092 Xia-class and two Type 094 Jin-class SSBNs, with five more of the latter due for delivery in future. Also due for procurement in future are 15 single-hulled SSKs (most likely Russia’s Amur 1650-class) powered by indigenously-developed Stirling Engine air-independent propulsion systems. The number of PLAN submarine sorties has approximately quadrupled over the last seven years, with an average of 12 patrols being conducted each year between 2008 and 2015, following on from six in 2007, two 2006 none in 2005. In the Indian Ocean region (IOR), the PLAN has so far carried out three submarine patrols (all accompanied by Type 925/Type 926 submarine tenders), with the submarines being kept its vessels out at sea for 95 days during each patrol. 
The PLAN’s first SSN patrol within the IOR lasted from December 3, 2013 till February 12, 2014. One Type 093 Shang-class boat left Longpo its bastion at Yulin on December 3. Ten days later, on December 13, the SSN reached the Gulf of Aden via the Ombai Wetar Strait near Indonesia. It remained on patrol in the area for nearly two months. Next to follow was the Type 039 Song-class SSK ‘Great Wall 0329’, which later docked at the China-funded Colombo International Container Terminal in Sri Lanka from September 7 to 14, 2014 along with the Type 925-class tender 861 Changxingdao. This was followed by a patrol of a Type 091 SSN from December 13, 2014 to February 14, 2015. Next came a S-20/Type 041A Yuan-class SSK that docked at Pakistan’s Karachi port in late May 2015, and was accompanied by a Type 925 Dajiang-class submarine tender. From this, it can be deduced that in the years to come, the PLAN will continue with this practice of launching at the very least two annual long-distance patrols—one each by an SSN and SSK—into the IOR. Entry while remaining submerged into the IOR from either the South China Sea or the Pacific Ocean will be made through either the Lombok Strait or the Ombai Wetar Straits astride Indonesia. 
During future hostilities with either the US or India, the most likely destinations of PLAN’s SSNs within the IOR will be the area around Diego Garcia and the Chagos Trench. Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Archipelago, situated on the southernmost part of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. To the east lies the Chagos Trench, a 400 mile-long underwater canyon that ranges in depth from less than 1,000 metres to more than 5,000 metres, and the most likely area where the IN’s SSBNs will be lurking during operational patrols.
All vessels, including warships, enjoy the right of innocent passage through archipelagic waters. Innocent passage requires a vessel to conduct continuous and expeditious transit in a manner that is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the archipelagic state. For a submarine, innocent passage means transiting on the surface, as is the case with the Malacca Strait. But the Lombok Strait astride Indonesia is not considered archipelagic waters, rather it is part of an Archipelagic Sea Lane (ASL) that carves a path from Lombok in southwest Indian Ocean, through the Flores Sea, the Makassar Strait, the Sulawesi and Celebes Seas and on to the Pacific Ocean. It is like this because Indonesia desires sovereignty within the archipelago beyond the normal 12nm territorial water limit, which can be granted in relation to archipelagic states in certain circumstances, provided the ASLs are designated. For a submarine, normal passage means transiting submerged. The other interesting thing about ASLs is that, unlike innocent passage through archipelagic waters, which can be suspended temporarily on a non-discriminatory basis, this is not the case for ASLs. Any PLAN submarine can legally transit Lombok dived. If it chooses to loiter illegally and then gets caught, it can feign normal passage. 
Unlike the Sunda Strait—which forms part of a separate ASL, but is realistically too shallow for dived passage by all but the most daring/lucky of submarine operators—the Lombok Strait is relatively deep (varying between 800 and 1,000 metres). At the southern end of the Strait, where the channel is divided by the Island of Nusa Penida, a shallow sill is located. Depths rise to between 200 and 250 metres in the channel to the east of Nusa Penida. The sill is of huge importance to the oceanographic behaviour in the Strait, particularly since the Lombok Sea serves as one of two outlets (the other being the Timor Passage) for a great body of warm water that flows from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean—the so called Indonesian Throughflow. This sill, coupled with the Throughflow and tidal flow, results in relatively large current flows, typically from north to south, but is sometimes reversed. Current flows near the sill can reach 3.5 metres per second during spring tide periods. In the deeper water to the north of the sill it slows to between 0.2 to 0.5 metres. It must be noted, however, that current velocities vary as a function of depth. The upper 100 metres carry 50% of the total water transport through the Lombok Strait. Current velocities are, therefore, maximum at the surface with a sharp decrease from 75 to 300 metres. These currents are a quite significant for submarine operations, particularly diesel-electric SSKs, which must conserve battery life or that cannot take advantage of the deeper areas where the current is minimal. They also create interesting and complicated acoustic conditions for sonar on account of the varying temperature and salinity gradients across the current-related layers.

Other Expo Updates
The Arjun Mk.2 MBT prototype displayed at DEFEXPO 2016 hosted a new commander‘s panoramic sight developed by BEL. 
The earlier Arjun Mk.1A prototype had sported the ELBIT Systems-supplied COAPS panoramic sight.
Efforts also continue to achieve weight reductions not just for the Arjun Mk.2, but also for the T-72M1 and T-90 merdium battle tanks.
For supplying four LPHs to the Indian Navy, the competition is between the team of Fincantieri of Italy and Mazagon Docks Ltd on one hand, and Larsen & Toubro teamed up with Navantia of Spain.
Will upload several more slides in the coming days.