Israel, India Start To Equip Sea Forces With Barak-8 Defenses
TEL AVIV AND NEW DELHI — Israeli and Indian navies are poised to equip their warships with advanced Barak-8 anti-missile and air defense systems following last week’s long-awaited test, capping nearly eight years of cooperative development.Led by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the vertically launched intercepting system has a 70-kilometer range and provides persistent 360-degree coverage against saturation attacks by sea-skimming missiles and a spectrum of air-breathing threats.IAI executives said sea-based versions are now ready for full-rate production for both navies, which are expected to declare initial operational capability in a number of months.In parallel, an IAI-led team is readying a ground-based version for the Indian Air Force, with projected deployment to begin next year and extend through 2017.Defense officials and Navy officers from both countries hailed the successful Nov. 10 intercept test as validation of all system elements and a testament to their strategic ties.An Indian Navy official noted that the program had run nearly four years behind schedule, primarily due to problems with the DRDO-developed rocket motor, “which affected the range and operational capability to engage sonic targets.”The Barak-8 system had been slated for delivery by 2011 under a 2006 government-to-government contract, Indian officials said.Boaz Levy, executive vice president and general manager of IAI’s Systems, Missiles and Space Group, told Israel-based reporters that engine-related problems have been resolved and that all elements of sea- and ground-based variants are validated and ready for serial production.“It was a perfect interception. Just beautiful,” Levy said of the Nov. 10 test against an air-breathing target simulating advanced maneuvering capabilities of fighter bombers.Alluding to developmental challenges and schedule glitches, Rear Adm. Ophir Shoham, director of Israel’s Defense Research and Development Directorate (DR&DD), said the Barak-8 project showcased “constructive cooperation between the Indian DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organization] and the Israeli DR&DD and the armed forces of both nations.“Together, they have pushed forward this important program, overcoming technological challenges and earning achievements along the way,” he said.Similarly, Avinash Chander, DRDO chief and scientific adviser to India’s minister of defense, hailed the test as “an important milestone” in bilateral cooperation.Chander led a delegation of Defence Ministry officials, scientists and Navy officers participating with Israeli counterparts in the milestone test. Last week’s success transitions the program into another series of operational tests as flagship partners equip and field sea-based defenses.Sources in New Delhi said the Indian Navy plans to begin equipping the Barak-8 long-range surface-to-air missile defense system on its stealth warships, under construction at state-owned Mazagon Docks.An Indian DRDO official said last week’s test validated the system’s ability to perform maneuvers. He said the intercepting system will be tested in India before the project is completed.In Israel, the Navy plans to equip its three Sa’ar-5 corvettes with the system. One of the Sa’ar-5s has already been outfitted with the active electronically scanned array radar system developed by IAI’s Elta Systems subsidiary for the Barak-8 program. The radar consists of four large panels positioned at both ends of the ship for persistent, all-weather, 360-degree coverage.Under Israel’s operational concept, individual ships are capable of operating independently or as a battle group, where smaller vessels are slaved to the Barak-8-equipped command ship.“The C4I system is unprecedented in its sophistication,” Levy said. “All ships in the group see the entire picture.”IAI data released shortly after last week’s test said the system uses an advanced broadband communication network to coordinate between the missile and batteries.“The system deals with short-, medium- and long-range threats, where its interconnectivity among the various ships in the naval task force enables it to be a multilayer air and missile defense system of systems,” according to IAI.An Indian DRDO official said dozens of DRDO scientists have been stationed in Israel for the duration of the project.An IAI executive said IAI and its team of subcontractors are already supplying the system “to a number of customers” whom he declined to identify beyond flagship users in Tel Aviv and New Delhi. Email: email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org://www.defensenews.com/article/20141119/DEFREG/311190040/Israel-India-Start-Equip-Sea-Forces-Barak-8-Defenses?odyssey=nav%7Chead
India and Pakistan 'battle' for Afghanistan
Experts say the impending departure of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan could push India and Pakistan toward a proxy war in the conflict-ridden state, as New Delhi and Islamabad fight for influence in the country.
"The danger for Pakistan is [...] the Indian influence in Afghanistan," former Pakistani President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf recently told the AFP news agency in an interview in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi. "They (India) want to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan."
"If Indians are using some ethnic groups in Afghanistan, then Pakistan will use its own support, and our ethnic allies are certainly Pashtuns," Musharraf continued.
Musharraf, a former military dictator who ruled the Islamic country from 1999 to 2007, has beenunder house arrest on treason charges, but his words still carry weight. Some Pakistani observers believe that the former general is still close to the current military leadership of the nuclear-armed state, and that he is probably only echoing his former institution's views on India and Afghanistan.
The South Asian country's civilian leadership, too, has similar views on Afghanistan, terrorism and Islamist militants. On November 17, Sartaj Aziz, national security adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told the BBC that there was no need for Pakistan to target militants who did not threaten the country's security.
"Why should enemies of the US unnecessarily become our foes," Aziz said. "Some of them were dangerous for us and some are not. Why must we make enemies out of them all?" he said, referring to the militant Haqqani network.
These are two different statements by two Pakistani leaders but they carry a single narrative: Islamabad feels threatened by New Delhi's close ties with Kabul; hence it will likely continue to use some factions of the Taliban as counter-balancing forces in its western neighborhood.
Same old policies
There is nothing new about Pakistan's Afghanistan policy though. The country's military and civil establishment, analysts say, still consider the Taliban an important strategic ally, who they think should be part of the Afghan government after the NATO pullout. Observers say that the Pakistani military hopes to regain the influence in Kabul it once enjoyed before the United States and its allies toppled the pro-Pakistan Taliban government in 2001.
"Kabul is friendlier towards New Delhi now, whereas Islamabad continues to back the Taliban, as now officially admitted by Sartaj Aziz. Pakistan wishes to change this scenario and turn Afghanistan into its political backyard once again," London-based journalist and researcher Farooq Sulehria told DW.
Afghanistan faces the daunting task of ensuring strong security forces after 13 years of foreign occupation and fire power
Matt Waldman, a researcher on the Afghanistan conflict at Harvard University, believes that Pakistan won't relinquish its support for the Taliban until the regional dynamics undergo a transformation. "The evidence indicates that the Pakistan hasn't fundamentally changed its Afghanistan policy," Waldman told DW.
Siegfried O. Wolf, a political science expert at Heidelberg University, is of the same view. He told DW that he was convinced that several elements within the Pakistan security apparatus still believe that the Taliban could be used as a strategic tool to counter Indian presence in Afghanistan.
A lost cause
Earlier this year, New Delhi announced a two billion USD aid package for Afghanistan - the biggest India has ever given to another country.
While India has been active in rebuilding Afghanistan since 2001, Pakistan's role has been negligible in this regard, says Sulehria. "By backing the Taliban, Islamabad has contributed to the country's destruction. I frequently visit Kabul and I can say that Pakistan is very unpopular in Afghanistan. Sadly, Islamabad is not ready to change course," the expert added.
Vivek Kumar, a New Delhi-based journalist, says that the Indian and Pakistani interests have always clashed in Afghanistan, and that he does not foresee a major change in these dynamics. "The Indian government would want the new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to follow his predecessor Hamid Karzai's path. India has invested a lot in Afghanistan, and all this investment is strategically aimed at minimizing Pakistan's influence," he said, adding that Indian PM Narendra Modi would also like to enhance his country's partnership with Kabul in the security sector.
Sulehria says that Afghanistan has changed a lot over the past years, and that objective realities and subjective factors are not in Pakistan's favor anymore. "Pakistan will not be able to dictate terms to the Afghan administration and the rest of the world now. I think Pakistan has already lost the proxy war."
Long term vs short term goals
But with a bilateral security agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington in place, it will be difficult for either Pakistan or India to destabilize Afghanistan. The pact, which was approved by President Ghani in September, is aimed at strengthening Afghan security forces while they work to stave off the Taliban. Under the deal, international forces will provide training and support to Afghanistan's security forces.
Commenting on the BSA and the future of Afghanistan, Owais Tohid, a Karachi-based senior journalist, said that the security pact was a "wake-up call" for Pakistani rulers, who should not hope for a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan.
The journalist is of the view that instead of focusing on short-term benefits, Islamabad should forge a long-term alliance with Afghanistan based on commercial and economic interests. "In the long run, it will be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. These short-term strategic gains only reflect the myopic mindset of Pakistani policymakers," Tohid said.http://www.dw.de/india-and-pakistan-battle-for-afghanistan/a-18073889
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