CAATSA Current Affairs - 2019
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Both India and Vietnam attach great importance to defence cooperation. India is one of only three countries with whom Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership. Defence ties between India and Vietnam are guided by the “Common Vision on Defense Ties 2015-20”.
Common Vision on Defense Ties
In 2005, India and Vietnam have signed a Joint Vision Statement on defence cooperation for 2015-2020. The five year Joint Vision statement builds on the earlier mechanisms of cooperation and processes between the two nations for elevating the defence and security relationship. The Joint Vision statement has given further impetus to the India-Vietnam’s expanding defence and strategic ties. Even though progress has been made toward the vision’s objectives related to joint training and cybersecurity cooperation, substantive weapon sales from India to Vietnam remain unrealized. India has been trying to hasten the matter of weapons transfers to Vietnam via high-level exchanges that seek to address Vietnamese concerns.
Strengthening Defence Cooperation
India is eager to contribute to the deterrent potential of a Vietnam with whom it has significant geopolitical congruence. India also aims at building up its own position as a supplier in the Asian arms market simultaneously. Following steps have been initiated by India in this regard:
- India has offered a $500 million line of credit (LoC) for defence purchases.
- India has also offered Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM), which has a range of 27 kilometers and can achieve speeds in excess of Mach 2. Since Akash has more than 90% indigenous content India can transfer this weapon system to Vietnam without taking into consideration the views of a third party like Russia, which co-developed the BrahMos.
- India’s Bharat Electronics (BEL), opened its first-ever representative office in Hanoi with the objective of marketing the company’s weapons systems, radar systems, naval systems, military communication systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, combat management systems and coastal surveillance systems.
- Cooperation in the sphere of cyber security is epitomized by the Army Software Park in Nha Trang, which is being built with Indian financial support to the tune of $5 million.
- Both India and Vietnam are also looking at the proposal under which India would train Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF) pilots on their Su-30 MK2Vs which are similar to the Su-30 MKIs operated by the IAF. The cooperation aims at increasing Vietnam’s ability to fight, if deterrence were to break down.
- The Indian Navy has been training Vietnamese sailors to operate the Vietnamese People’s Navy’s (VPN’s) Kilo-class submarines at Visakhapatnam since 2013.
- An order for building 10 high-speed patrol vessels for the Vietnamese Border Guards is being executed by India’s Larsen & Toubro under the aegis of a $100 million LoC extended by India.
- India is also a front runner for upgrading two Vietnamese Petya-class frigates for which it had supplied spares in the past.
India hopes that persistent efforts will bear fruit in the near future. Hopes are particularly high because the coming into effect of the U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) has made the Vietnamese both wary of depending too much on the Russians or switching over to the Americans as a supplier.
It is said that Indian capacity building assistance to Vietnam as a symmetric response to China’s close military relationship with Pakistan. China is making intermittent noises about the India-Vietnam defense relationship. But the India- Vietnam defence cooperation is not centered on China even though it provides an added advantage of containing China.
Indian Army has picked Russia’s Igla-S missile system as choice for its multibillion dollar contract for man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS). Igla-S bid around $1.47 billion from Russia’s Rosoboronexport had emerged lowest bidder for Indian Army’s Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) deal. The other bidders were MBDA of France (bid of $3.68 billion) and SAAB of Sweden (bid of $2.6 billion). The deal is expected to be inked when Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical cooperation meeting will take place in Moscow in December 2018.
Concerns for this deal
There is shadow of US financial sanctions for arms purchases from Russia under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law that restricts defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea. US is yet to grant India waiver for $5.43 billion S-400 surface-to-air missiles defence system as well as naval warship deal with Russia signed in early October 2018 under CAATSA. US had imposed sanctions on China for purchasing Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles defence system from Russia as it violated US sanctions under CAATSA.
It is latest model of Russian MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense system) technology. It offers superior performance over earlier supplied SA-18 missiles to India. It is designed for use against visible aerial targets at short range such as tactical aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), cruise missile, head-on or receding, in presence of natural (background) clutter and countermeasures. As per requirements of Indian Army, it will have maximum range of 6km, altitude of 3km along with all-weather capability. Igla-S missile system will replace the existing Igla in service which is in urgent need of replacement.
Indian Army had initiated process to procure VSHORAD missiles in 2010. It had went through several rounds of trails before Igla-S qualified in January 2018, along with two other competitors Swedish SAAB’s RBS70 NG, and France’s MBDA Mistral. VSHORAD programme was initiated to replace Russian Igla-M systems that have been used by Army since the 1980s is considered critical for defence against incoming helicopters, UAVs and ground attack aircraft. Under this programme, Indian Army had issued Request for Proposal (RFP) for 5,175 missiles and associated equipment, out of which around 2,300 missiles will be bought in fully formed condition, 260 will be in semi-knocked down (SKD) condition and 1,000 missiles will be completely knocked down (CKD) and 600 missiles will be produced in India under Make in India initiative.