Friday, February 10, 2012

India upgrades its military with China in mind

What a complex web. India is obviously aligned with the west. China has signed a military pact with Russia, who India have bought military hardware from (sub, aircraft carrier...) CIA has Pakistan on its hit list to "dismantle". China is making friends with countries around India. It goes on! I am hoping India can restrain itself from military action; but it will probably be drawn in if the good old aggressor USA sets off something in the region!

India upgrades its military with China in mind
NIRMALA GEORGE, Associated Press
Published 02:53 a.m., Wednesday, February 8, 2012

NEW DELHI (AP) — In recent weeks, India has decided to buy 126 fighter jets from France, taken delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia and prepared for its first aircraft carrier — modernizing its military to face a rising China.

India and China have a long history of tension, dating back to a 1962 border war, and New Delhi has watched with dismay in recent years as Beijing has increased its influence in the Indian Ocean.

China has financed the development of ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, virtually encircling India. Beijing's recent efforts to get access to facilities in the Seychelles have prodded New Delhi to renew its own outreach to the Indian Ocean island state off its west coast.

With its recent purchases, running into tens of billions of dollars, India is finally working to counter what it sees as aggressive incursions by neighboring China into a region India has long dominated.

"The Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean,"James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee last week.

India has created new infantry mountain divisions and plans to raise a strike corps aimed at countering aggression by China. Their border still has not been agreed upon despite 15 rounds of talks, and patrols from the two sides frequently face off on the ground.

Analysts say that although the probability of a conflict between the two Asian giants is remote, a short, sharp conflict in the disputed Himalayan heights can't be ruled out.

"Over the last couple of years, the Chinese have been acting more and more aggressively in the political, diplomatic and military arena," said retired Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal, director of the Indian army-funded Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi.

Indian leaders and defense strategists have watched with alarm as China modernized its forces and extended its military advantage over India. For some in India, countering China is taking precedence even over checking longtime rival Pakistan.

"Of late, there has been a realization (in India) that China is the real danger of the future," Kanwal said.

To compete, India has embarked on a long-overdue drive to modernize its forces and replace their obsolescent, Soviet-era weapons.

Its orders for fighter jets, naval frigates, helicopters and armaments have made India the world's largest importer of arms. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said India accounted for 9 percent of all the world's weapon imports in 2010, the latest year for which figures were available.

Last week's order of 126 combat aircraft, won by France's Dassault, followed a bitter battle by global jet manufacturers hoping to entice India.

The initial cost for the 126 planes is estimated at about $11 billion, but on-board weaponry, technology transfers, maintenance, warranties and other costs are expected to almost double the price.

The Indian navy last week took command of a Russian Nerpa nuclear submarine, renamed INS Chakra-II, at the Russian port of Vladivostok, propelling India into an elite group of countries operating underwater nuclear-powered vessels. Others in the club are the United States, France, Russia, Britain and China.

The Chakra-II, on lease from Russia for the next 10 years at a cost of nearly $1 billion, is expected to be inducted into the navy by March. Later this year, India is expected to take delivery of a retrofitted Soviet-built aircraft carrier.

In addition, six Scorpene subs being built in India under license from France in a $5 billion deal are expected to start going into service in 2015, three years behind schedule, said Defense Minister A.K. Antony. Labor problems and difficulties procuring needed technology have hampered the project, he told the Indian Parliament recently. Critics also blame India's sluggish bureaucracy for the delays.