Indonesia picks France for its new sub ambitions

Indonesia plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines in a move away from refurbishing its old German-built boats

By GABRIEL HONRADA

Indonesia’s Navy has announced plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines. Formalizing a deal expected to jettison South Korea as Jakarta’s primary submarine technology partner.

Scorpene-class subs are jointly built by French shipbuilder Naval Group and Spain’s Navantia. It feature a modular design that can carry a large payload at reduced manning and lifecycle costs.

The diesel-propelled boats measure 66 meters to 82 meters in length. They displace 2,000 tons, carry a crew of 25 to 31 members and feature the SUBTICS Combat Management System.

On February 10, Indonesia’s PT PAL and France’s Naval Group signed a preliminary agreement to collaborate on the construction of two Scorpene submarines and to establish a joint research and development facility in Indonesia.

Both sides aim to finalize a contract by mid-2022 to facilitate the integration of weapons and systems onboard the submarines and the provision of training for operation, construction and sustainment with technology transfer in mind.

The Indonesian Cakra class submarine KRI Nanggala 402 docking at the naval base in Surabaya before its April 2021 disaster. Photo: Handout / Indonesia Military / AFP

The contract may also provide a lead-in for the construction of two more Scorpene subs in Indonesia

That’s likely bad news for Seoul. On February 21, South Korea’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Kim Jung-soo opened the sensitive topic of Indonesia’s order for a second batch of submarines from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

The project to deliver three DSME subs to Indonesia has been in limbo for three years. Indonesia has refused to make the down payment necessary for deliveries to officially begin.

Indonesia is apparently considering canceling the contract in order to reduce defense expenditures amid expectations of shrinking budgets in coming years. The 2021 loss of the KRI Nanggala submarine may have served as an impetus for Indonesia to acquire new-build subs over refurbishing their older German-built, South Korean-refurbished Type 209 units.

 

Preserving strategic independence

France has sold Scorpene subs and Rafale jets to India, and has sold Rafales to Indonesia as well. These arms sales may reflect converging interests between these three countries.

Both France and India harbor fears of becoming subordinate partners within a US-led security architecture. Indonesia has long maintained an independent foreign policy. It has built its defense capabilities without becoming overly reliant on one source.

As such, Indonesia’s purchase of Scorpene subs and Rafale jets may form yet another concrete focal point in an emerging trilateral defense relationship between Indonesia, France and India.

These countries all share democratic principles. Yet they are keen on preserving their strategic independence and national interests without being overly reliant on the US.

UAE’s China Jets Purchase Shows US Relations in ‘Crisis’

China has stepped in to supply the emirate with combat aircraft after a $23bn deal with the US fell through over a row about tech espionage protections

When Iranian-made Houthi missiles and drones hit the international airport in Abu Dhabi in January. It proved to be a wake-up call.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation that prides itself on being safe and business-friendly, was suddenly vulnerable to outside attacks.

It likely contributed to the UAE’s decision to sign a contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) to buy 12 L-15 training and light combat aircraft. With the option for 36 additional jets.

The news was a dramatic boost for the Chinese arms industry. It may help it snare more business in the Middle East.

It is another blow for the US. The deal came hard on the heels of the collapse of the UAE’s plan to spend up to US$23.37 billion on 50 American F-35As, up to 18 MQ-9Bs, and advanced munitions.

The UAE government informed Washington by letter in December that it planned to abandon the deal, according to a December report in the Wall Street Journal.

The L-15 announcement reflects “a confidence crisis, and the US should review its calculations and mend the relations with the UAE,” Fahd Al Halabieh, a Dubai-based defence analyst told Breaking Defense.

He attributed this crisis to a series of recent political spats over many issues related to Iran, the war in Yemen and ties with China.

The UAE also ordered 80 fourth-generation multi-role Rafale fighter jets from France last year in a deal worth US$16 billion.

The UAE’s latest move is another signal that all is not well in the military relationship with the US. It is the China factor that’s the focus of concern.

US ‘Espionage’ Safeguards

The F-35 deal fell through due to concerns over stringent safeguards required by the US to protect against Chinese espionage.

The Emirati government considers security requirements demanded by the US, intended to keep sensitive military technology from Chinese hands, as unacceptable.

The value of the L-15 aircraft deal — which further advances strategic ties between the oil-rich Sheikhdom and Beijing — was not disclosed.

The wealthy Gulf country is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen since 2015.

China’s L-15 advanced jet trainer made its debut at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.

The Hongdu L-15 is a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic platform built to address the demand for training pilots. It has been dubbed a “star model” by Chinese media.

L-15’s Ground Strike Capability

Developed by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), the L-15 designation applies to the export variant of the jet trainer. The domestic version is called JL-10.

The new design provides increased pilot safety while cutting training expenses when compared to competitors.

The aircraft has two AI-222K-25F afterburner turbofan engines. Each having a single afterburner thrust of 4200 kg, a full authority digital engine control module, and a 3,000 flight hour service life, EurAsian Times reported.

Additionally, the L-15 trainer is capable of air combat and ground strikes.

With a payload of 3,000 kg, the L-15 training aircraft has six weapon attachment points. It can also carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and precision-guided bombs.

With characteristics of a third-generation fighter aircraft, it has adopted the aerodynamic profile of large strakes, the structure of a blended wing body, and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system, CGTN reported.

The L-15 attracted interest from the UAE mainly because of its technical performance. Chinese aircraft is an advanced trainer jet that is second to none in the world, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

German, Swedish subs better for Australian needs

New German, Swedish subs offer alternatives to Taiwan’s Indigenous Submarine Program and Australia’s nuclear ones under AUKUS

Last month Germany and Sweden, two world leaders in conventional submarine design, unveiled three models that could prove to be better strategic choices than Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine program and Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under its AUKUS alliance. 

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Maritime Systems (TKMS) in cooperation with Fincantieri of Italy started construction of the U212 Near Future Submarine (NFS) for the Italian Navy. The first U212 NFS is scheduled to be launched in 2026, with its acceptance into the Italian Navy in 2027. Work on the second unit is scheduled to start in 2029. 

The U212 NFS is a design evolution of the U212A, which first entered Italian Navy service in 2006. At present, the Italian Navy operates four U212A units. Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS is 1.2 meters longer, has enhanced hydrodynamics and silence in a 59-meter hull, and surface displacement of 1,600 tons.

Designed to operate in tropical waters

The new class is also designed to operate in tropical waters, meaning that it is optimized for operations in the warmer southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean off North Africa and Turkey. This also means that the design could be sold to tropical climate clients such as Taiwan and Indonesia.

The first two boats of the U212 NFS use the same Siemens hydrogen fuel cell air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology from their U212A predecessors, but introduce lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for its new energy storage and management system, which is billed to be a “game-changer” in underwater warfare. Fincantieri is also developing a new type of AIP system for the third U212 NFS.  

In terms of sensors, the U212 NFS also features a new sail mast design which can accommodate seven electrical masts with one extra space for an optional mast, allowing for future development of the class as a fully electric submarine. 

A fully electric submarine such as the SMX31E New Full Electric Concept completely eliminates any need to surface during operations, meaning it can stay submerged as long as today’s nuclear submarines, which are only limited by crew endurance and supplies.

Current AIP technologies significantly minimize but do not eliminate the need for conventional submarines to periodically surface to run their diesel engines to charge their batteries. 

The Italian Todaro class U212A submarine. Photo: Fincantieri

Other sensors include six non-penetrating electrically hoisted masts and the new generation optical penetrating attack periscope, all provided by L3Harris, low probability of intercept radar by GEM Elettronica, Link 11/16 datalinks from Leonardo and a digital sonar suite by ELAC Sonar. 

Rated to be cyber-secure

Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS features more Italian-made technology, such as an integrated platform control system (IPCS) provided by Fincantieri Seastema, steering and diving control system by Avio Aero, and combat management system (CMS) by Leonardo.

These systems are rated to be cyber-secure by the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), making the U212 NFS the second cyber-secure design by Fincantieri after the Thaon di Revel class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

The class is designed with open architecture in mind, enabling easy software upgrades such as third-party software, remote computing, extensive acoustic processing know-how and submarine mission-specific applications. 

The Leonardo Black Shark Advanced (BSA) torpedo is projected to be the main armament of the U212 NFS, with the class also designed to deploy long-range cruise missiles. The U212 NFS also retains the special forces support capability of the U212A and can operate alongside unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), which extends the surveillance capability of the class. 

Germany and Israel signed a deal for three Dakar0-class submarines from TKMS. These boats are intended to replace three of Israel’s older Dolphin class boats which entered service in the 1990s.

The deal envisions that the first of these new boats would be delivered to Israel in 2027, and includes provisions for the creation of a submarine training simulator in Israel and supply of spare parts. 

While Israel keeps the technical details of its new submarines classified, these new boats are said to be significantly more capable than the preceding Dolphin boats. The boats are said to be armed with 16 multipurpose torpedo tubes that can fire torpedoes, Turbo Popeye cruise missiles and even manned swimmer delivery systems, submersibles designed to stealthily insert special forces teams for covert underwater or amphibious operations.

Possibility of a vertical launch systems (VLS)?

Concept art of the Dakar class released by TKMS shows a much-enlarged sail, which has led to different speculation about the design’s capabilities. Speculations abound that this distinctive feature could be used to house vertical launch systems (VLS) for nuclear-tipped cruise or ballistic missiles. (Israel, of course, is tight-lipped about its alleged nuclear weapons program.) 

In comparison, South Korea’s Chang Bogo III submarine, which is based on the German U214 design, is armed with six VLS launchers for the Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile. It is the first conventionally powered AIP submarine that is armed with such.

Sweden has also begun the construction of its A26 Blekinge class submarines. It is a follow-on design to Sweden’s Gotland boats, whose stealth capabilities were made famous in 2005 by sinking the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier during naval exercises.

The Swedish Navy has ordered two units, the HSwMS Blekinge and HSwMS Skåne, with the aft section of one boat already put in place. 

The class is built around Saab’s Ghost technology, which stands for Genuine Holistic Stealth. Ghost is a family of technologies meant to reduce the Blekinge boats’ detectable signatures.

Some of these technologies include rubberized mounts and baffles inside the submarine to reduce detectable machinery and crew noise, and careful design of all interior surfaces to minimize noise such as specific airflow speeds in air ducts, minimum bending radius on cables and pipes and the design of outboard holes and cavities.

In addition, the Blekinge class uses a new hull and fin shape to reduce hydrodynamic noise, and the boats’ mast has a unique shape to minimize radar signature. 

Extended operation time

The class features an improved version of the Stirling AIP engine fitted in the Gotland class, which is 30% smaller, yet delivers more power. The Stirling AIP engine works by heating and cooling gases in its cylinders to force pistons up and down.

In the case of the Gotland and Blekinge boats, liquid oxygen and diesel are used to heat the engine, while cold seawater is used for cooling. This technology allows the class to operate for an extended time without surfacing to recharge its batteries by running its diesel engines.  

A unique feature of the Blekinge boats is the Multi Mission Portal, which allows the launch and retrieval of diverse mission payloads, such as special forces or UUVs to extend the boats’ sensor range, which makes the class a potent underwater intelligence-gathering platform. 

Moreover, Sweden also offers the Oceanic Extended Range (XR) submarines, which are designed for navies whose capability requirements include extended missions or long-distance operations.

Notably, the Australian Collins-class was built according to this design philosophy. The Collins boats were built between 1993 to 2001, with Saab working alongside the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), providing technology transfer for design and construction using an advanced modular method. 

Offering more sensible alternatives to Australia and Taiwan

These new submarine designs may satisfy the submarine capability requirements of both Taiwan and Australia, offering more sensible alternatives considering the tactical, operational, strategic and political challenges they face in their respective submarine programs. 

In the case of Taiwan, it has a significant shipbuilding industry but has limited experience in building warships, and no experience in building submarines.

While countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Spain, the UK and the US are assisting Taiwan in building its own conventional submarines, this is not a guarantee of success. For instance, Australia’s Collins boats were built from the Saab Gotland class, and Australia received considerable technical assistance from Sweden and the US in this project.

However, the Collins class turned out to be plagued with various problems, which forced Australia to seek replacements.  

It may be more rational for Taiwan to harness its strengths, such as AI, software, semiconductors, electronics and the production of asymmetric weapons, which it can realistically manufacture such as torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles, rather than take huge risks by building its own submarines.

Also, should Taiwan persist in acquiring submarines, these subsystems can be integrated into an established, open-architecture submarine design suited for tropical operations. 

An Open Architecture design

Thus, the U212 NFS or a derivative of the class makes sense for Taiwan’s submarine capability requirements. It is an open-architecture design, as shown by the integration of Italian and US subsystems into a German hull, and is designed for tropical operations as well.

As such, Taiwanese subsystems and weapons can be fitted into this already established design. Such an arrangement fulfills Taiwan’s capability requirements for submarines and harnesses its stronger strategic sectors.  

Australia may have made a mistake in the first place in disqualifying TKMS in favor of DCNS from France, as the U214 class from TKMS has capabilities that far exceed those of the Collins class. Further, TKMS offered Australia the U216, which is a scaled-up version of the U214 built to Australian capability requirements. 

Australia initially chose to settle on the DCNS Shortfin Barracuda as a replacement for its Collins boats.

However, the deal with DCNS ran into several problems, such as finding a sensible rationale to justify retrofitting a conventional propulsion system to a hull designed for nuclear propulsion, the incompatibility of US combat systems in a French-designed hull, long development time leading to obsolescence on delivery, the failure of DCNS to invest enough in Australian suppliers and labor and cost overruns.

These factors may have led Australia to drop its deal with DCNS and make a bold move to acquire nuclear submarines with technical assistance from the US and UK under AUKUS. 

Doubts about Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines

It is highly likely that Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines under AUKUS will not materialize, as political considerations regarding maintaining command and control should Australia lease a US Virginia class nuclear boat, vague terms in technology, cost and labor sharing within AUKUS, opposition to nuclear power in Australia and its lack of infrastructure to support nuclear submarines play out against its plan.

That said, Australia may have compounded its mistakes in its deal with DCNS by picking an equally unfeasible solution with AUKUS for its submarine capability requirements.  

In addition, should Australia choose to lease nuclear submarines from the US, it would not be until the 2030s when an aging US nuclear boat would be available for lease, and only in the 2040s would Australian nuclear boats have any strategic effect.

This leaves a huge capability gap between the planned obsolescence of Australia’s Collins boats in 2026, and before its planned nuclear submarines become fully operational in the 2040s.

By then, the geopolitical situation and China’s naval capabilities may have vastly changed. Australia’s only feasible choice to maintain its underwater warfare capabilities is to acquire conventional submarines to fill this capability gap. 

However, with the capabilities of today’s conventional submarines approaching those of their nuclear counterparts, perhaps Australia’s quest for nuclear submarines was an unnecessary venture in the first place. 

Considering Australia’s bad experiences with its Saab-built Collins boats and its deal with DCNS, it may well do for it to revisit talks with TKMS to acquire new conventional submarines that fulfill its capability requirements. 

Why is the United States deliberately destroying the French military-industrial complex?

The French military-industrial complex is unique in its essence and has no analogues in Europe (except for Russia). In the world it lags behind only the United States. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the fact that the Americans are actively sabotaging French orders and intercepting them without ceremony with their “partner”.

“The French defense industry is unique in the West. It is the only one, besides the US military-industrial complex, capable of designing and producing all military systems: armored vehicles, combat aircraft, submarines, helicopters, missiles, radars, space systems …” – Military Review .

Everyone remembers the famous story of the Mistral helicopter carriers, which France during the time of François Hollande refused to transfer to Russia under US pressure and then paid our country an astronomical fine. 

Also in the fall of last year, the Americans “threw” France with the order of nuclear submarines for Australia, forcing the latter to abandon the contract in favor of their technologies. But these are far from isolated cases. The United States has been methodically strangling a strong competitor from the international arms market for a long time. 

In 2016, the Polish authorities unexpectedly canceled the contract for the supply of 50 military transport helicopters H225M Caracal. Or last year, after the visit of US President Joe Biden to Geneva (in 2021 for negotiations with Vladimir Putin), Switzerland suddenly called the F-35 “the best aircraft” and refused to purchase all other options, including … the French fighter Rafale … Coincidence?

The list is long

The list of refusals is endless: from corvettes for Qatar to the notorious submarines for Australia. And at the end of 2021, Washington is actively trying to squeeze the Rafale out of the Indonesian tender in order to impose its F-16 Viper.

Paris is naturally not happy with this “policy”. But the world market regulator capable of restraining the Americans does not exist at the moment. Market relations just don’t work here. Otherwise, no one would buy, for example, expensive American fighters at a loss. But this is the harsh reality. For example, the same French Suffren-class nuclear submarine costs about 1 billion euros, and the American Virginia – already at $ 3.5 billion, although it is inferior to that in terms of maneuverability efficiency.

The collapse of the French military-industrial complex is both commercial and strategic. Having eliminated a direct competitor, the Americans, in fact, will not leave potential customers with a choice. As a result, Americans will become monopolists dictating their own terms. And Paris, having lost its own military-industrial complex, will lose its sovereignty. What kind of European army can we talk about without its own weapons?

Mistral

Australia & Serbia potential buyers of T-7A Red Hawk

Australia is looking to replace older jet trainers, but Serbia could be first to adopt the jet in a combat role

Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer, which it developed together with Swedish aviation firm Saab for the U.S. Air Force, is already generating interest on the international market. The T-7A, which could also have a future as a light combat aircraft, is now officially in the running to replace the Royal Australian Air Force’s BAE Hawk jet trainers and could be an option to supplant the Serbian Air Force’s G-4 Super Galeb jet trainers and J-22 Orao ground attack planes.

Boeing officially announced that it had submitted the T-7A for Australia AIR 6002 Phase 1 future Lead-In Fighter Training System (LIFTS) competition on July 30, 2020, according to FlightGlobal. This was five days after Nenad Miloradovic, Serbia’s Acting Assistant Minister of Defense for Material Resources, said his country was exploring the possibility of buying Red Hawks in a televised interview, which Jane’s was first to report on.

“The T-7, which is scalable, interoperable and configurable, is ideally suited to address the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) next-generation frontline fast-jet aircraft training requirements,” Boeing said in a statement to FlightGlobal regarding the Australian LIFTS program.

“No other training system in the world today will better develop the skills required to operate the RAAF’s most advanced frontline aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and the F-35,” Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s Vice President for the T-7 program, added. It’s worth noting that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler are both also Boeing products. The RAAF is also an operator of Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and is working with the company’s Australia-based division on an advanced loyal wingman-type drone effort, known as the Airpower Teaming System, which you can read about more in this past War Zone piece.

The RAAF is looking to replace its entire fleet

The RAAF is looking to replace its entire fleet of approximately 33 BAE Hawk Mk 127 Lead-in Fighter (LIF) jet trainers, which it first ordered in 1997. Last year, the U.K.-based manufacturer completed an upgrade program for all of these jets, which included a improved electronic warfare system, as well as Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning (EGPWS) and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) suites. Though these aircraft don’t have a radar of their own, they also have updated radar emulation capabilities when combined with podded systems, such as the Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI) pod. The aircraft have new glass cockpits with digital multi-function displays, as well.

The upgraded Mk 127s have a configuration very similar to the Hawk T2s, originally known as Mk 128s, that the U.K. Royal Air Force flies. It’s interesting to note that Northrop Grumman had initially planned to submit the T2 to the U.S. Air Force’s T-X competition, but ultimately went with a clean sheet design after deciding that the modernized Hawk could not meet that program’s requirements. The Boeing-Saab T-7A was the winner of the T-X competition in 2018.

Australia hopes to have picked a winner for its LIFTS competition in the next few years and have all of the new jet trainers delivered by 2033. Previous estimates have said that the entire procurement effort, which could include various ancillary items and services, could cost between $4 and $5 billion Australian dollars, or between around $2.85 billion and $3.56 billion at the present rate of conversion. The U.S. Air Force is only slated to receive its first production T-7As in 2023.

Serbia is looking to replace its G-4 Super Galeb and J-22 Orao

Serbia is also in the process of exploring replacement options for its G-4 Super Galebs and J-22 Oraos, both of which were developed by SOKO in the former Yugoslavia during the Cold War. SOKO designed the G-4 on its own, but crafted the J-22 together with Romania’s Avioane Craiova. The J-22 first entered Yugoslav service in 1978, with the G-4 arriving five years later. The Serbia Air Force inherited examples of both of these aircraft, among many other types, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, which began in 1991.

That Serbia is looking at the T-7A as one possible replacement for its G-4s makes good sense. The single-engine G-4 is roughly comparable to many other jet trainers of its era, including early generations of the BAE Hawk. The Red Hawk would offer a substantial increase in overall capability and performance over the Super Galebs in lead-in and advanced jet trainer roles. 

However, if the Serbian Air Force were to adopt the T-7A, or a variant or derivative thereof, as a replacement for the J-22, it would make the country the first to operate the aircraft in a dedicated combat role. The J-22 is a ground-attack aircraft that can also carry out tactical reconnaissance missions when carrying a pod equipped with visual and infrared cameras. The jet has an internally-mounted 23mm GSh-23 twin-barrel automatic cannon and can carry various weapons on any of five external hardpoints, two under each wing and one under the fuselage centerline. 

G-4 Super Galeb – Serbian Air Force

Potential to serve as a light fighter jet

Serbia didn’t come to the idea of using a version of the T-7A in this role, either. There has already been talk for years, as The War Zone has explored in the past, about how the Red Hawk offers the growth potential to serve as a light fighter jet with a robust ground-attack capability. Boeing itself highlighted this again just this month, suggesting that the aircraft could be a good and relatively low-cost choice for countries looking to replace aging light jet combat aircraft, such as Northrop F-5 Tiger IIs and Franco-German Alpha Jets. Both of those Cold War-era aircraft remain in widespread use around the world.

The G-4s also have a limited secondary air-to-ground capability. It is possible that Serbia could acquire a single trainer-attack-type variant to replace both those jets and the J-22s.

“These are the initial steps in developing new capabilities as no such capital acquisition is realized overnight,” Miloradovic said in his interview, according to Jane’s. “The [T-7A] aircraft itself is supersonic and features modern avionics, and as such would be able to entirely replace our ground attack aviation and being multirole would also be able to support our [MiG-29 Fulcrum] interceptors.”

Beyond the Red Hawk’s capabilities and performance, any foreign customer would be able to benefit from the significant investments that the U.S. government has already made in the design, as well as the supply chains to support it, all of which will help reduce the jet’s unit cost and what it takes to operate and maintain it. The U.S. Air Force has already said it will buy at least 351 examples and possibly up to 475 of the T-7As, which are set to be a major component of its future pilot training programs, if nothing else, for years to come.

Source: The Drive

The new anti-aircraft missile system 98Р6Е “Abakan”

The features of the highly specialized anti-aircraft complex of the Russian design “Abakan”, capable of withstanding ballistic missiles, have become known. At the same time, the new air defense system is as automated as possible. It is analogous to the well-proven Israeli Iron Dome system

SAM is not strategic, and this is emphasized by its developers. “Abakan” is not a competitor to the S-300 and S-400. This is a highly specialized system, and this is its main feature. The tasks of “Abakan” include the interception of operational-tactical ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic targets, for other targets it does not work as efficiently.

The anti-aircraft missile system ZRK 98R6E “Abakan” used missiles from one air defense system, and the radar from another. When creating it, the developers took missiles from the Antey-4000 anti-aircraft system and a radar station from one of the promising anti-aircraft systems. Which one is not disclosed. This combination made it possible to make “Abakan” unique in its characteristics.

The future customer of the complex was one of the countries of the Middle East. It required specific characteristics. A multifunctional complex of the S-400 or S-500 type was not required. The order was for a highly specialized anti-aircraft complex capable of fighting ballistic targets.

Moreover, it had to be as automated as possible. Russian developers from “Almaz-Antey” managed to create in a short time the air defense system “Abakan”. It fully meets the requirements of the customer. The complex is designed to combat single-stage missiles with a speed of up to 3 km per second.

The air defense missile system is capable of hitting targets at an altitude of 25 km and a range of up to 45 km. The complex can be easily integrated into any anti-missile system and can operate both autonomously and in conjunction with other air defense systems.

Part of a bigger system

The complex was created to work in tandem with Russian long-range anti-aircraft missile systems. Its task is to supplement them. It is designed to help can create a modular air defense system. It is known that the same S-400 has a limited number of launchers, and if you borrow a certain number of missiles to intercept complex targets, then the number of ammunition for intercepting conventional targets will already be less than required.

Here “Abakan” will come to the rescue, which will deal with complex ballistic targets. The complex is capable of destroying both modern and advanced non-strategic ballistic missiles in the air.   Also, “Abakan” can work in conjunction with foreign anti-aircraft missile systems. Any country can expand the capabilities of its air defense-missile defense system with the help of “Abakan”.

The combination of S-400 and “Abakan” is becoming especially relevant. This takes place in the context of a bet on the so-called oversaturation of air defense/missile defense. It is when a large number of objects are simultaneously attacked. This is most clearly seen in the technology of “drone swarm” being created in many developed countries. It theoretically can break through almost any air defense, since there are not enough missiles for all these kamikaze drones and attack drones.

Similar to the Israeli Iron Dome 

“Abakan” can work not only in conjunction with other air defense systems, but also independently. The complex is capable of performing tasks that are inherent in such a tactical missile defense complex as the Israeli Iron Dome. Experts call the new Russian air defense system a universal air defense-missile defense system, which can be used to protect important military-industrial facilities, including command posts, from enemy strike weapons.

For the first time, the Abakan air defense missile system was presented at the international exhibition Dubai Airshow 2021, held in the United Arab Emirates in November this year.

Russia and India signed documents on military cooperation

Russia and India have signed several documents on small arms and military cooperation, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter.

“I am glad that a number of agreements, contracts and protocols have been signed regarding small arms and military cooperation,” the Indian minister wrote.

However, he added that India “appreciates the strong support of Russia.” “We hope that our cooperation will bring peace, prosperity and stability to the entire region,” Singh said.

On December 6, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the beginning in New Delhi of a meeting of the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military and military-technical cooperation with the participation of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. During the meeting, he noted that India is one of the key partners of Russia in the defense sphere, and relations between the countries are of a “particularly privileged strategic nature.”

“The unprecedented level of trust between our countries is evidenced by the intensity and depth of military-technical cooperation, which is reaching a new qualitative level every year,” the Russian Defense Minister said.

On December 6, the Ministry of Defense announced the signing of an agreement between the governments of the two countries on a program of military-technical cooperation until 2030. The document implies cooperation of the branches and arms of the armed forces, and includes the supply and development of weapons and military equipment.

On November 14, the director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) of Russia, Dmitry Shugaev, announced the start of supplies to India of equipment for S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. The contract for the supply of the complexes was signed in 2016. India became the third foreign buyer of these complexes after China and Turkey.

Why India and Russia need an alliance?

Before gaining independence, India was a colony of Great Britain. After World War II, when the Cold War broke out between the USSR and the United States, India chose neutrality. Along with Egypt and Cuba, she joined the Non-Aligned Movement.

At the same time, the Indians had rather close relations with the USSR. Soviet Union provided significant military assistance to India under Khrushchev during the Indo-Chinese conflict. And despite the fact that China was a communist country and Moscow’s ally in the Cold War. In the same 1960s, Moscow supported New Delhi in a dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir. Moreover, it was with the participation of Chairman of the Council of Ministers Kosygin that the Second Indo-Pakistani War was stopped. The declaration on January 10, 1966 on the cessation of fighting was signed in Tashkent.

India is trying to pursue the same course of non-alignment today. 

However, just as then, geopolitical realities – lingering rivalries with China and Pakistan – are forcing Indians to seek strong allies. In this sense, India has little choice: the United States, the European Union and Russia. Europe could be a mainstay, but traditionally tries not to get involved in the battle of the titans. Even in the US-Russian confrontation, the Europeans are calling for a reduction in the intensity of passions, and by the way, they recently challenged the conclusions of the US intelligence about the alleged Russian invasion. The EU has close economic ties with China. Plus the EU is a very heterogeneous structure. France is now offended by the Anglo-Saxons because of the anti-Chinese AUKUS. Germany is very modest in foreign policy.

As for the United States itself, this would be a very convenient option for India. The United States is now actively opposing China. Both economically and through military alliances. India participates in the QUAD alliance and is conducting naval exercises in the Indian Ocean with the United States, Japan and Australia. The last of them, in October, became the largest in 40 years. Only the whole snag of the alliance with Washington for New Delhi is that the Americans demand complete submission . The United States literally prohibits India from buying S-400 air defense systems from Russia. It is threatening it with sanctions, as was the case with Turkey.

Unique partners

Russia is for India, if not the only, then at least a unique partner. Unlike the United States, it will not oppose China. But at the same time the Russian Federation is selling weapons to India. That helps maintain the balance of power in Asia. It is thanks to Russian efforts that India and China are now full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Can you imagine joint military exercises between Indians and Chinese under the auspices of the Pentagon? Of course not. But almost such exercises took place this year! In September, 200 Indian military personnel, as well as Chinese and Pakistani observers, took part in the Russian-Belarusian maneuvers “West-2021”.

Russia is trying to bring China and India closer together economically. Within the BRICS format, there is a joint pool of reserve currencies, which helps to strengthen the financial sovereignty of the five countries. Russia is strengthening India’s defenses and working to reduce its conflict with China. Separately, it is also worth mentioning the North-South project, leading from Russia to India and vice versa. That will enhance trade opportunities and macro-regional significance of both countries.

For Russia lations with India must be strengthened. This enhances its role in Asia. It strengthens its cards in front of the United States. And, in a good sense of the word, allows it to balance the growing China. After all, an alliance with India is good money. For 30 years, the supply of aircraft, tanks and Kalashnikovs alone increased the Russian budget by $ 60 billion.