Amid ongoing protests against the new Army recruitment scheme 'Agnipath', Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday announced that government will reserve 10 per cent jobs in the Defence Ministry for Agniveers.
"Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh has approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of the job vacancies in Ministry of Defence for 'Agniveers' meeting requisite eligibility criteria", said Defence Ministry Office in a tweet.
The 10 per cent reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings, Defence Ministry Office added further. However, this reservation would be in addition to the existing reservation for ex-servicemen.
The announcement comes after four days of widespread protests and agitation over the scheme by aspirants in several parts of India.
The defence ministry official has also clarified that the necessary steps will be taken to implement these provisions.
"Necessary amendments to relevant recruitment rules will be undertaken to implement these provisions. Defence Public Sector Undertakings will be advised to make similar amendments to their respective recruitment rules. Necessary age relaxation provision will also be made", tweeted the ministry office.
Conflicts between societies and countries, despite so much of advancements in education, science & technology, have become alarming to an extent that if the human civilization will not open a serious discourse and take effective measures in the coming 21st century, the human aggression will one day turn out to be fatal for the existence of entire mankind, as Stephen Hawking pointed out while discussing the dangers for the coming generations. Many of us believe, especially after the COVID 2019 pandemic, that PRC (or China) has gone rogue due to its nefarious exercises in various domains, as a result of which, it has become a major concern and threat to the world, especially India.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of U.S.A, on March 26, 1958, although, pointed out that the United States and other nations should proceed with their peaceful program in space science and exploration, the immensely ambitious spacefaring nations lecherously crave dominance over the outer space. The Outer Space Treaty (OST) was formed in 1950, after the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were developed, with the ability to hit the targets, while travelling through space. The OST endorses the “peaceful use of space” by nixing the use and testing of nuclear weapons, military operations and bases in space. While the OST massively forbids the claim of dominance over space by any nation, it is still obscure on the use of conventional weapons in space and its commercialization. In addition, OST guidelines on banning military activities in space are highly groundless. As for China, the success of the “Two Bombs and One Satellite” project laid the foundation for advanced science & technology programs for its national defense. Even though space technologies have led to the significant advancement of the social well-being in 21st century, space has no longer remained a peaceful domain, because spacefaring nations like China have powerful ambitions to militarize space. Over a period, outer space has become a massively important domain in military operations since space assets of any country provide significant support to its military operations. This is a crucial aspect that has to be embraced while preparing the national security policy of India. Due to the increased space activities, there is an increase not only in the space competition, but an increase in the number of satellite launches, resulting in space debris, and an increase in the “serious level” of distrust between the spacefaring nations. This could lead to a “security dilemma” in the region, as also pointed out in 2019, by space security experts like Ajey Lele and A.M. Lubojemski in their works published separately in Astropolitics. A security dilemma resulting from outer space activities between China & India can generate insecurity, and instability and this is something that can even trigger a war.
Outer space offers myriads of prospects as well as risks that eventually bring about the concerns of space commercialization, space militarization and most importantly space war. Certainly, there is a flagitious ‘space-race’ going on the earth among the countries whose aftermaths are unimaginably precarious. Looking into the geopolitical situation of south Asia and China, it becomes even more challenging to handle the adversaries from both the borders of India i.e. western as well as eastern. The eastern border has a long Himalayan range, so, the landscape and weather conditions on the western side are very different from that of the eastern side, and, in order to face simultaneous challenges from both the adversaries i.e. Pakistan and China, the government machinery of India have to develop capabilities to tackle them. This is definitely not going to be easy, considering the fact that various other factors could pitch in and make the problem even more severe. One such factor is “outer space”, which acts a force multiplier for the air power, where both Pakistan and China are inclined to disturb the “peace” in the outer space and the primary support for such kind of activities appear to come primarily from China since it is much more superior in terms of science & technology compared to Pakistan.
Militarization of space is not a new concern as major space powers like USA and Russia have developed capabilities like kamikaze and stalker satellites to disable or destroy enemy satellites, but, what is distressing in the 21st century is the huge investment and acceleration of offensive as well as chest-thumping projects on outer space by China. One of the China’s chest-thumping exercises in space took place on 11 January 2007 when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), for the first time in its history, destroyed its own heavy, weather satellite, thereby showing its capabilities to the world through the launch of direct- kill, anti-satellite test (ASAT 2007). The direct hit to the defunct satellite created a large cloud of long-lasting space debris, the presence of which, will continue to create a serious threat for a long time to the existing International Space Station (ISS), and other orbiting satellites in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The controversial ASAT test by China had the potential to aggravate the spacefaring nations and such an event could be treated as a violation of the “Peaceful Uses of Outer Space”. In the last ten years or so, China has performed several tests, e.g., in 2013, China tested one of its satellites in a geosynchronous orbit, and where USA’s ISR satellites were placed which are generally deployed for spy activities. In 2015, again, satellites were tested by China, which was strong enough to destroy the USA’s satellites orbiting outside the earth’s atmosphere. During the launch of Aolong-I spacecraft, in 2016, China came up with a false claim and called the mission a “Debris Cleaner” in space, while the other reports red-flagged it to be an “Anti-Satellite Weapon” as it had a robotic arm designed for multiple uses. China has developed counter-space capabilities, equipped with anti-satellite missiles, satellite jammers and direct energy weapons. With these capabilities, China’s PLA can target the enemy satellite and shoot it within the blink of an eye. The “peace” proposition is lost when we scan the entire spectrum of Chinese space capabilities, as Chinese space weapons exist today only to dread the world and leave humanity to keep guessing about some horrific adversity in the future. In April 2011, NASA banned the involvement of Chinese astronauts and scientists in ISS due to security concerns, and, thereafter, China established its own crewed- space station, up in space where the visit of an astronaut and scientist, associated with NASA in any form, is highly forbidden. The Chinese space station has posed a threat to the world, as there is a high potency of the Chinese abducting the orbiting satellites of the target nations, or most wickedly, it may cause serious damage to the human life, active in the ISS. China is empowering its PLA and posturing for a vivacious war in the heavens in the future. The Chinese defense white paper of 2019 gives a strategic tenor to outer space. It is, therefore, clear that, along with the integration of space military capabilities, China is enraptured in the development of anti-satellite weapons and lethiferous counter-space technologies of various kinds that bestow the security and military needs of any country and poses a threat to U.S.A. as well as Russian satellites.
China, under its “China’s dream of becoming far stronger than the United States of America,” is aiming for better prosperity and global influence and it aspires to become a super-power in the next 20-30 years from now. Such a Chinese dream of becoming the world leader has been reflected in the recent past and the road to the Chinese dream will go through the development of advanced space programs, according to Xinhua. Now China has developed advanced technological capabilities in space some of which have disruptive capabilities. Moreover, the Beidou Satellite Navigation System developed by China, and the third after the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russian GLONASS system, has placed several satellites in space, thus the Beidou constellation continues to expand. The space capabilities developed by China is providing a strong boost to Pakistan’s space program, e.g., China has launched two satellites in Pakistan on 9 July 2018 from the Chinese soil, in fact, one of the satellites, i.e. Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite or PRSS-1, was developed for Pakistan by China Academy of Space Technology. An agreement was signed in 2019 between China and Pakistan on space exploration and that would see both states develop space-related science and technology, undertake astronaut training and carry out space missions. The technology transfer through CPEC and other routes and the increased cooperation between China and Pakistan, are a serious concern for India because the PRSS-1 is equipped with advanced instruments and technologies that could be used to keep an eye on India. It is, therefore, Xi Jinping’s vision of modernization and the Chinese dream appear to be very aggressive as it can have serious repercussions on India in the future. In the United Nations, China prefers to avoid discussing its serious level engagements with its all-weather friend i.e. Pakistan outer space. On one hand, Xi Jinping is aiming toward making China a space power, on the other hand, he had developed a station in SUPARCO, Pakistan for Beidou navigational system, which means that in days to come Pakistan is going to rely on Beidou to a large degree and its military will no doubt utilize the Beidou data against India.
According to some of the recent reviews of the US-China Economic and Security review commission, China’s modernization puts an emphasis on the development of dual-use technology and fusion of military-civil objectives for the military as well as economic growth. China considers space as a new battlefield. It develops false justifications and propaganda, e.g., on Shijian-17 satellite capabilities, China maintains that the satellite can be utilized for communication and space debris, but, in reality, the satellite has a robotic arm that has the potential to disable a satellite. In the document of China presented in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA Resolution 75/36, 2020), there is hardly any discussion of Chinese ASAT 2007, rather it blames USA for inciting China and insufficient peace laws for outer space. By blaming USA, China tries to justify the aggressive space strides that it has undertaken since the beginning of the 21st century. While in UNGA, China pops up to stand for the peace in outer space, regardless of its contentious space programs, it is quite likely that China just takes a fancy to engage the entire world by working on the lines of “hide your capacities, bide your time”.
The most basic factor behind the plummeting relationships between India and China is the long-term border dispute between the two countries. Even more surprising is to see that despite so much of efforts in the last 80 years or so on the international relations between China and India, China has its own, separate way of executing things, and every time, it comes with surprises of a kind that proves that negotiations and peace talks do not matter much for China, as it has its own way of handling issues and developing programs in a manner that could be considered highly non-standard, fatal and nefarious. After several efforts, visits, and negotiations, the relationships between the two Asian giants abruptly become very critical, it can be understood from the frequent skirmishes along the Sino-Indian border regions that were noticed by the entire world. China is a land of turmoil, it suffers, from middle-kingdom syndrome and pokes the world, and shows its ignobility in outer space. It is a country that has witnessed horrible incidents like the Great Famine of China, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and COVID-2019 outbreak from Wuhan. The Guangxi massacre cannot be discounted in any manner but China suppresses horrific incidents of cannibalism. The nuisance in Tibet on the ecosystem of China is already well documented. China, no doubt being supercilious, with the mentality of “winner at any cost”, emerges not just as an economic power but rather a threat to not only many countries but the emerging human civilization, earth and outer space. Thus the question arises whether and how China should be ‘dealt with’ firmly by the world’s major forces. The hodgepodge of China’s space program with its Chinese mindset is going to create a lot of ruckus in outer space in the near future that can turn out to be disastrous for the deep space missions and the human space endeavors.
Under Modi’s leadership, India has witnessed a major development and an unprecedented rise in the space domain. India showed its potential through Mission Shakti, i.e. India’s ASAT 2019, and it is a carefully orchestrated plan compared to China. India has its own GPS named “NAVIK” that can be used to gather data during times of conflict along the borders. The commercial arm of India’s Space Research Organization i.e. New Space India Limited (NSIL) has come into the picture. NSIL will be involved in PSLV production, SSLV manufacturing through Indian industries, launch services and prosper private entrepreneurship in space-related technologies. India appears to follow the Space 2.0 approach that was advocated by the space security experts like Malcolm Davis associated with an Australian think tank. The agencies like Defense Space Agency to handle the military issues and threats of space have come into the picture. In order to bring improved operational mechanisms in the area of Space Situational Awareness or SSA, the Directorate of Space Situational Awareness has been established, and the Network for space object Tracking and Analysis NETRA project has been initiated to keep a track from a control center on space object using radar and optical telescope. India’s space organization ISRO has signed MoU with research institutions like the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore and ARIES, Nainital to develop space situational awareness capabilities. NETRA will be controlled from ISTRAC campus located in Bangalore. The deep-space missions of India are already in place and more such missions are under development. It is expected that a lot of spin-off technologies will be developed that would be helpful from the viewpoint of intelligence & security. India’s cooperation on SSA should be improved with European Space Agency and European Union. While China is showcasing its space-military capabilities, like ASAT, through its zero-sum games on space, then advocating “peaceful use of outer space” globally, India, on the other hand, should opt a reverse approach in a subtle manner and expose China to the international platform.
The development in India’s space sector is not of offensive nature. The programs like NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) can be visualized as a positive engagement between two space agencies. Moreover, India is inclined toward space debris diminution and effective management of space. In UNGA resolution 75/36, India is determined to use space for welfare and opposes space militarization. The basic governing principles of India’s foreign policy advocates peace, mutual respect and sustainability. In space cooperation, India should continue to engage meaningfully within the bare bones of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the QUAD. The member countries of QUAD have already shown a lot of “restraint” and “responsible behavior” on the nuclear and space issues in the past, therefore, the QUAD has to stay relevant and effective in the future. When and how the private players will be included in the space-related technological developments while adopting the Space 2.0 approach would be an imperative within the QUAD setup. With increased cooperation on various domains with QUAD, it would be possible to reach a level of cooperation, where it would be easy for the emerging, spacefaring nations like India to persuade the world for a long-time on peaceful usage of outer space, space security & safety and increased sustainability for the coming 21st century.
* The authors belong to Plasma Astrophysics Research Laboratory of Dr. K.A.P. Singh, Department of Physics, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, UP, India, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward the East Sea on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, just a day after US President Joe Biden wrapped up his Asia trip highlighting America's security commitment to Seoul and Tokyo.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launches from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at around 6 a.m., 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m., respectively, which marked the North's 17th show of force this year, Yonhap news agency reported.
"While reinforcing monitoring and vigilance activities, our military, in close cooperation with the United States, is maintaining a full readiness posture," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
The launches followed speculation that the North could conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or nuclear test to bolster its military presence and tighten national unity amid Covid-19 outbreaks and economic woes.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said Wednesday's missile launches highlight the "destabilising impact of the DPRK's illicit weapons programme." DPRK stands for the North's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"We are aware of the multiple DPRK ballistic missile launches today and are assessing and consulting closely with our allies and partners," it said in a press release. "The US commitment to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad."
On Tuesday, Biden concluded his first Asia trip since his inauguration early last year.
During a summit with President Yoon Suk-yeol on Saturday, Biden reaffirmed the US "extended deterrence" commitment to South Korea using the "full range of US defence capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities."
To deal with rising North Korean threats, the two leaders agreed to expand the allies' combined exercises and reactivate a key deterrence dialogue. Biden also reaffirmed the US' commitment to deploying its strategic military assets "in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary."
Earlier this month, the North launched what was thought to be an ICBM and then an apparent submarine-launched ballistic missile -- in a move seen as an effort to diversify its nuclear delivery vehicles.
The US provided intelligence that helped Ukraine sink the Moskva, Russia's flagship Black Sea missile cruiser, the media report.
Unnamed officials said Ukraine had asked the US about a ship sailing to the south of Odessa, to which Washington said it was the Moskva and helped confirm its location, the BBC reported.
Ukraine then struck it with two missiles, the officials were quoted as saying.
The officials said they did not know that Ukraine would target the Moskva after helping determine its location.
The 510-crew missile cruiser had led Russia's naval assault on Ukraine, and its sinking in April was a major symbolic and military blow, BBC reported.
At the time, the Russian Defence Ministry said ammunition on board the Moskva exploded in an unexplained fire and the ship tipped over while being towed back to port.
The US is yet to directly address the reports about the Moskva.
However Pentagon spokesman John Kirby denied earlier media reports that the US was providing information about the locations of senior Russian generals on the battlefield, so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.
"We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military," he said.
Kirby said Ukraine combined information that the US and others provided with their own battlefield intelligence.
"Then they make their own decisions, and they take their own actions," he said.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) also denied the US was helping Ukraine target senior Russian officers.
"We do not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals," NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.
A Self-reliance in defence sector will have middle and long-term benefits, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointing out that it will help in building the foundation of a robust industrial base in India.
Singh, while addressing the 37th Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on Thursday, described self-reliance as essential for not only building the domestic capacity, but also for safeguarding the sovereignty of the country.
"Our past experiences have taught us that India cannot depend on imports for its security and security. Recent conflicts, especially the situation in Ukraine, have told us that not just defence supplies, but commercial contracts are also prone to be affected when it comes to national interests," he added.
He listed out some of the recent initiatives taken by the government, terming them as building blocks of a self-reliant structure which will empower the domestic manufacturers and help India emerge as a net exporter of defence equipment.
The Defence Minister reiterated that the government is "leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety and security of the people of the country".
He added that India has emerged as the foremost responder for out of area contingencies across the region. Singh also lauded the Armed Forces and other organs of the state for their combined contribution in achieving the objective.
He called for technology evolution, gaining expertise and human resource management to defend the country against space-guided attacks and protect the space assets.
"Change is the law of nature. It is eternal. This law is applicable to war as well. As students of military affairs and geopolitics, it is our duty to keep anticipating the nature of future wars. Steps are being taken by our adversaries towards military use of space. This is likely to have an adverse effect on our interests. We, therefore, need to identify and be fully prepared for the evolving security challenges," he said.
Singh added that the nature of future wars can be assessed through a closer look at the situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and the recent Ukrainian conflict. "Although these trends are suggestive, but we can gain a deeper understanding by correlating them with our local threats."
The Defence Minister voiced the government's resolve to provide specialised skills training to the armed forces personnel, especially IAF, in latest technology to make them future ready.
Further, highlighting the importance of technology in wars, Singh said that the use of technology has seen an unprecedented increase in recent times. He, however, stated that expensive platforms/weapon systems do not alone ensure victory; it is their employment which gives an edge in wars.
"Be it precision guided munition, unmanned aerial vehicles or manpack anti-tank weapons, their deployment in any future war will be as critical as it had been in the past. Technology is a force multiplier, but without innovative deployment, state-of-the-art equipment will be a mere display," he added.
Singh asserted that through the process of integration structures can be built for bringing together the forces and greater synergy can be established between them through joint vision, training, planning and execution of operations.
"The ongoing process of integration of the armed forces is aimed at not only increasing the combined capability, but also efficiency. There have been deliberations in the armed forces regarding the envisaged changes. This consultative process will continue till the implementation of the reforms. We have to keep in mind that its long term success will depend on the vision of the planners just as much it depends on those who implement it. I have full faith that in future more unity will be established not just ideologically, but also in action," he said.
Indian Army's Vice Chief Lt Gen Manoj C. Pande was on Monday appointed as the next Chief of the Army Staff - the first engineer to hold the top post.
He succeed Gen M.M. Naravane on April 30, 2022.
Born on May 6, 1962, Lt General Pande was commissioned on December 24, 1982 in the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers), and during his long and distinguished service spanning over 39 years, has served in a variety of command, staff, and instructional appointments.
He has commanded an Engineer Brigade in the Western Theatre as part of Strike Corps, and an Infantry Brigade along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. His other important command appointments include a Mountain Division in the high-altitude area of western Ladakh and a Corps deployed along the LAC and in the counter-insurgency operations area of the Eastern Command.
He had been Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command and as the Eastern Army Commander at Kolkata before taking over as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.
An alumnus of National Defence Academy, he has also studied at Staff College, Camberley (UK), Army War College, Mhow and National Defence College, New Delhi.
Amid the Ukraine war and sanctions, Russia has begun delivering the second squadron of S-400 advanced surface-to-air missile defense systems to India, ahead of schedule, officials said.
By end of this month, the delivery of the critical system will be completed and thereafter it will be deployed.
The first squadron of the S-400 system arrived in India in December 2021 and has been deployed on the Punjab border to thwart any airstrikes from both Pakistan and China.
India has procured five S-400 systems from Russia through a $5-billion deal signed in October 2018.
All the five units of the S-400 system, which can take down a hostile aircraft or missile at a range between 40km and 400km, are expected to be operational by 2022.
The S-400 system is capable of tracking, engaging and addressing the threat of Chinese or Pakistani fighters the moment they take off from air bases. The system can track multiple targets at multiple ranges and neutralise them simultaneously.
India decided to upgrade its military infrastructure when the country was locked in a major faceoff with China along the Line of Actual Control in July 2020. The threat of two-front war - from China and Pakistan - made India go for large scale arms deals and Russia is still one of India's largest arms suppliers.
There were apprehension about the delay in delivery of critical weapon system after Russia's war with Ukraine. However, with the delivery of the second squadron of S-400 system, India is hopeful of getting other military capabilities.
Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited India and had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and apprised them of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine while discussing bilateral ties.
Lavrov and Jaishankar held discussions over Russia's crude oil offer, rupee-ruble payment, ongoing arms deals, Ukraine crisis, and the situation in Afghanistan and Iran.
Israel has successfully completed the first tests of a new laser-based system designed to intercept drones, missiles and other aerial threats, Israel's Defence Ministry has said.
In the first-phase tests, the system was able, for the first time, to intercept drones, mortars, rockets, and anti-tank missiles, the Defence Ministry added on Thursday in a statement.
"The program aims to develop a high-power ground and aerial laser system equipped to deal with long-range, high-intensity threats," it said.
The development of the system has been led by the Defence Ministry's Research and Development Division, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems, two Israeli weapons and security companies, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the Ministry, following the tests, Israel became "one of the first countries in the world to successfully develop high-power laser technology at an operational standard with operational interception capabilities."
"Today marks the first time that a high-power, Israeli-made laser system successfully intercepted various targets, constituting a breakthrough on a global scale," Defence Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter.
Israel's goal is to develop "an efficient, inexpensive, and innovative" system and to bring it to operational status "as soon as possible," Gantz added.
Yaniv Rotem, Head of the Defence Ministry's Research and Development Division, said in a statement that the laser "is a game-changer thanks to its easily operated system and significant economic advantages."
"The next step is to continue the development and initial system deployment within Israel," he said, adding that the Ministry plans to station multiple laser transmitters along Israel's borders over the next decade.
The Ministry said the laser system has been developed as "an effective and economically efficient addition" to the country's multi-tiered air defence array, which includes the short-range anti-rocket Iron Dome system; David's Sling, a medium to long-range missiles defence system; and the long-range Arrow-3.
A training institute for drone pilots would be set up in the state by Drone Imaging and Information Service of Haryana Ltd (DRIISHYA), it was announced on Thursday.
A decision in this regard was taken at the second board of directors meeting of DRIISHYA chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar here.
The Chief Minister was apprised that Haryana is the first state to create a separate corporation to faster the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-driven governance application.
"This is a unique beginning as with the help of drones, illegal encroachments can be controlled, besides detecting their expansion as manual surveys were conducted earlier that were time consuming, costly and required more manpower," he said, as per an official statement.
Directing the officers to ensure quick disposal of various types of surveys and imaging work, Khattar said besides the Revenue Department, the use of drones should also be ensured in other departments, including Urban Local Bodies, Power, Disaster Management, Mining, and Forests.
The Chief Minister was also apprised about the procurement of drones in various categories and different sensors.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin assured India on Monday that the US will continue to stand by it in the face of threats from China.
Welcoming Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for bilateral talks at the Pentagon, Austin said: "Beijing is eroding the security of the Indo-Pacific region from its construction of dual-use infrastructure along your border to its unlawful claims in the South China Sea, and we will continue to stand alongside you as you defend your sovereign interest."
He said that they were meeting "at a critical moment in the US-India defence partnership".
Austin said: "Our partnership is based on a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, one grounded in principles such as the rule of law and national sovereignty. We're facing urgent and mounting challenges to this shared vision."
"China is attempting to challenge and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours," he said.
Rajnath Singh, who was greeted by an honour guard at the Pentagon, did not mention China or Russia in his response, which was in Hindi with English language interpretation.
He said that "our visit here shall take India-US comprehensive strategic partnership to the next level" and the 2+2 Dialogue that will include External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Secretary of State Antony Blinken "are indeed important landmarks in our bilateral relationship".
Austin also referred to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, currently the prime concern of the US.
"Beijing is not alone in its efforts to undermine the security of its neighbours and to change the status quo by force.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian devastation that it has created are blatant attempts to undermine the international order that is grounded in the rules and the principles that we share," he said.
"Just as India's leadership is central to this rules-based order, so, too, is the US-India defence partnership and our collaboration with like-minded partners," Austin added.
"We now coordinate along -- alongside each other across the Indo-Pacific region and across domains, which is truly extraordinary, and we are committed to working seamlessly with you across new and emerging domains, including space and cyberspace," he said.
India and the US are to sign a memorandum of understanding on Space Situational Awareness aimed at protecting the space assets of the two countries.
Austin's reference to China's "construction of dual-use infrastructure" was about Beijing's projects in the countries surrounding India that could fall into its hands as has happened with a Sri Lankan port that Colombo handed over to China on a 99-year lease unable to keep up loan payments.
India is all set to position itself as a global hub of manufacturing weapons, warships, planes and arms and ammunitions. It is steadily becoming self-reliant in the sector and the Union government is also giving the necessary impetus with a proper budgetary allocation of funds.
According to Department of Defence Production, Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Israel, Egypt, UAE, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Poland, Spain and Chile are India's export destinations for defence items.
Developing economies find India an attractive destination given the quality of products and price range it offers.
India has spent 2.1 per cent of GDP on defence in 2021-22. In the Union Budget of 2022-23, Rs 5.25 trillion is allocated towards defence and there is a 19 per cent increase in defence capital expenditure in FY 2021-22.
India has 15 per cent share in global arms imports.
The government's constant push to become self-reliant in the defence manufacturing sector is bearing fruit and India along with manufacturing and reducing its dependence on only imports is also exporting defence equipment.
The value of exports of defence items, including major items in FY 2014-15 and 2020-21 was Rs 1,940.64 crore and Rs 8,434.84 crore respectively. The government has also spelt out its vision of achieving a turnover of $25 billion, including export of $5 billion in aerospace, and defence goods and services by 2025. In the fiscal ended on March 31, 2022, military equipment exports stood at Rs 11,607 crore ($1.54 billion).
Defence items being exported by India include missiles, the advanced light helicopter, offshore patrol vessels, personal protective gear, surveillance systems and a variety of radars.
India accounts for 3.7 per cent of the global military spending, making it the third-highest military spender in the world. Under the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan -- 1,580 towed guns, 100 tracked guns and 814 mounted gun systems will be required in India.
Government has issued a total of 568 defence industrial licenses to 351 companies. Out of these, a total of 113 companies covering 170 defence industrial licenses have conveyed commencement of production.
To provide a competitive advantage to the sector, the Government of India changed the automatic route limit for FDI in the defence sector to 74 per cent; this will boost national security, self-sufficiency in product design, increase investments, income and employment.
In November 2021, Defence Acquisition Council boosted the 'Make in India' initiative by according Acceptance of Necessity-- to capital acquisition proposals worth Rs 7,965 crore ($1.07 billion) -- for modernisation and operational needs of the armed forces.
On October 15, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the seven defence public sector undertakings -- created through the restructuring of the Ordnance Factory Board -- to improve functional autonomy, efficiency, growth potential and innovation in the defence sector.
According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, India's defence manufacturing sector has been witnessing a compound annual growth rate of 3.9 per cent between 2016 and 2020. Demand growth is likely to accelerate with rising concerns of national security.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2021, report published in March 2022, the volume of international transfers of major arms in 2017-21 was 4.6 per cent lower than in 2012-16, but was 3.9 per cent higher than in 2007-11. The five largest arms exporters in 2017-21 were the US, Russia, France, China and Germany. The five largest arms importers were India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia and China.
Between 2012-16 and 2017-21 Indian arms imports decreased by 21 per cent. Despite this, India was the world's largest importer of major arms in 2017-21 and accounted for 11 per cent of total global arms imports in the period. Russia was the largest supplier of major arms to India in both 2012-16 and 2017-21, but India's imports of Russian arms dropped by 47 per cent between the two periods as several large programmes for Russian arms wound down, the report said.
This combined with India's increased efforts to diversify its arms supplier base meant that Russia's share of total Indian arms imports fell from 69 to 46 per cent, it added.
To bolster defence manufacturing in the country, DRDO and Directorate of Defence Research and Development, Ministry of Defence, Israel, have entered into a Bilateral Innovation Agreement to promote innovation and accelerated R&D in startups and MSMEs of both countries for the development of dual-use technologies.
The Cabinet Committee on Security on March 30, 2022, approved the procurement of 15 light combat helicopter limited series production at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.
Light combat helicopter limited series production is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state of the art modern combat helicopter containing nearly 45 per cent indigenous content by value which will progressively increase to more than 55 per cent for SP version.
The success story of Indian private defence companies is ruling the roost and showing a promising future for others. A few names include Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, Tata and Bengaluru-based Dynamite Technologies.
Mahindra is manufacturing the ULH M77 guns in collaboration with Bae Systems. It also has a separate contract with the Indian Navy to make submarine warfare suites.
The Ministry of Defence has also identified 18 major platforms for industry-led design and development.
The major international investors in India in the sector are Airbus, Bae Systems, Pilatus, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Rafael and Dassault.