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India Asks Russia To Revive Su-30MKI Aircraft Licence-Manufacturing Agreement



India has asked Russia to extend the licence-manufacturing agreement for the Su-30MKI aircraft at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facilities in India.  As soon as the 272 planes under the existing order are delivered to the Indian Air Force, the agreement will be revived.

“The request had been made through the Russian agency for military-technical cooperation. Once approved, it could set the ball rolling for extending the life of Su-30SMKI assembly plant at HAL’s Nashik facility”, the informed sources said.

The reports in media speculated that an order for 18 additional Su-30MKI jets including a squadron was in the pipeline and could be taken beyond the 2019-20 timeframe when the current order with HAL is said to expire.

“India’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has requested Moscow to supply HAL with the necessary raw materials and sub-systems required to build addition squadron of Su-30MKI jets”, the media reports had said.

Under a licence-manufacturing agreement, the HAL has manufactured 202 aircraft by sourcing kits from Russia. The HAL might have to pay the licence fee for the right to manufacture the jets. If the 18-order is passed then it will be the single biggest aircraft fleet with the IAF adding up to some 290 jets.

HAL was facing the prospect of its Su-30MKI assembly line was not operating but with the proposed new order, the Su-30MKI will be an operational assembly line for 2-3 years. The upgraded version of Su-30MKI carries the Brahmos cruise missile as well as locally-made beyond-visual-range missiles.

More News at EurAsian Times



First-Ever Bilateral ‘Virtual’ Summit Between India & Australia To Focus On Indo-Pacific & Chinese Expansionism



India’s very first bilateral virtual summit is soon to be held between the Indian PM, Narendra Modi and Australian PM, Scott Morrison, with plans to address issues pertaining to the Indo-Pacific partnership and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the precise dates are presently unavailable, New Delhi and Canberra are close to concluding the Mutual Logistics Sharing Pact which aims to strengthen the proficiency of the Indian Navy to operate eastwards.

The virtual summit will also discuss the conflict of deep interest to both India and Australia which is China’s increasing military presence in the Indo-pacific, a region that includes the Indian Ocean, the west and central part of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

China has outspread its naval forces from the western end of the Indian Ocean to the easternmost position on the west-part of the Pacific Ocean striking a claim to the land and sea regions present there.

“Australia on its own has been participating in various exercises in the region, which is driven by Canberra’s 2016 Defence White Paper which talks about increased engagement in multinational exercises across the Indo-Pacific. And has been cautious in engaging in activities in the Indo-Pacific that may directly confront and anger China,” writes Huma Siddiqui for the Ministry Of External Affairs, India.

Australia’s previous High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu had commented that “Australia and India are working together to promote peace and prosperity based on our shared values and interests in a stable, secure, rules-based and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

The Australian PM’s was previously scheduled for a high profile visit in January 2020 with his delegation of top ministers however, the incident of Australian bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic halted the official itinerary.

Australian High Commissioner-designate to India Barry O’ Farrell told media that “Our Prime Ministers have agreed to schedule a virtual summit very soon given they will not be able to meet in person…On top of leading a quick, decisive and effective domestic COVID-19 response, Prime Minister Modi has been actively engaging leaders and shaping the world’s response through calls and video-conferences.”

While both the Indian PM and his Australian counterpart have had a telephonic discussion about the Covid-19 pandemic, last month. They had discussed the methods and patterns to contain the outbreak of the deadly virus that has now infected more than fifty thousand Indians and about six thousand Aussies.

“Another important area I think Australia and India are likely to intensify collaboration is thinking through the shape of the post-COVID multilateral order. We have long been a supporter of India take its due place at the councils of the world, including attaining permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” added the High commissioner.

Earlier in January 2020, China had dismissed India and Brazil’s entry United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a permanent member; however, it has backed India for non-permanent membership.

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Why India, Pakistan Have Lower Number Of COVID-19 Cases Compared To The US, Europe?



South Asia, home to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka account for almost 20% of the total world population. All of SAARC nations including India and Pakistan have registered only about 1.5 per cent of total COVID-19 cases so far, confusing many health experts. 

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South Asia’s disproportionately lower cases of COVID-19 despite being home to one-fifth of the world’s population have perplexed health experts’ that have put forth various reasons explaining the ‘low figures’.

The country-wise COVID-19 infected number people in South Asia as of April 27 morning IST stand as follows: India – 27,890 cases, Pakistan – 13,328, Bangladesh – 5416 Afghanistan – 1531 Sri Lanka – 523, Maldives – 214, Nepal – 53 and Bhutan – 7. These numbers are astonishingly very low as compared to Europe and North America.

Health Experts have put forward various reasons in trying to explain this disparity with some attributing the lower number of cases to warmer and humid weather and protection offered by the tuberculosis vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) that is prevalent in the Indian subcontinent.

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Other medics have attributed the lower number of cases to the better immune system among those in the Indian subcontinent while some have argued that South Asian countries implemented better physical distancing measures.

The lower testing record of SAARC nations may not fully explain the fewer cases. India conducted just 335 tests per million as compared to Bhutan and Maldives that conducted around 11,000 tests and 6,871 tests per million and yet all of them had fewer positive COVID-19 cases as against France, Germany and the US which conducted 7103, 20,629 and 12,659 tests per million.

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Another reason attributed to the lower number of cases of COVID-19 in South Asia is the early lockdown implemented by the respective Governments.

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka began implementation of the lockdown around the same time around late march soon after the first few cases of the infections were reported. India extended the measure till May 3.

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By contrast, the US, one of the worst-affected countries, enforced stay-at-home orders around late March and early April even though the country was in the grip of the pandemic.

India also fared better in the lockdown stringency score than the UK and US. India’s scored 100 as against 64.5 for UK and 76.1 for the US, according to an analysis by researchers from the University of Oxford.

India’s Union Health Ministry said that the doubling rate was reduced to 7.5 days from an earlier period of 3.4 days since the lockdown was implemented. Bhutan and the Maldives had their first positive COVID-19 case only in the first week of March while Sri Lanka confirmed the first positive case in March.

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Another factor contributing to the lower number of cases in South Asia despite having almost 1/5 of the world’s population is believed to be its demographics. Evidence has already shown that older people are more susceptible to COVID-19.

The average age in India is 26.8 years while it is below 25 years in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. The average for Italy is 45 while it is above 40 for Germany, France and the United Kingdom. India has just 7.4 per cent senior citizens while Italy has 25 per cent population above 60 years.

Another possible reason behind the lower number of cases in the subcontinent is believed to better immune system of South Asians. Indians and other South Asians are exposed to more germs and infections as compared to European and American population making their natural immune response better, according to experts.

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However, some experts disagreed with the theory pointing out to the fact that India has the highest burden of tuberculosisKala-azar and the fourth-highest malaria incidence in the world to make this hypothesis unreliable.

According to health experts, India and European countries reported the first infected case in nearly the same time frame but the number of cases in Europe exploded in April (after starting steadily in March) and this pattern could repeat in India and other SAARC nations if measures are eased.

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Pakistan Navy SEALs Have Access To Mystery Submarines Stationed In Karachi – Reports



In a special naval base in Pakistan’s capital Karachi, H.I Sutton writing for the Forbes asserts that Pakistan Navy has a secret, mini-submarine, that Pakistan Navy’s Special Service Group (SSG-N) has at its disposal.

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This is an artist’s first impression of the submarine. Measuring around 55 feet long by 7 to 8 feet across, it is a small forces type which means that is a fraction of the size 0f a real submarine.

Judging from its location and size it is said to be used by the Navy’s Special Service Group, known as SSG (N). The SEAL terminology it uses is borrowed from the US Navy SEALs and is considered as an equivalent given their long history of training with the American unit.

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An  X-Craft by category, this was a term inherited after the Italian manufacturer  Cos.Mo.S (commonly written Cosmos) sold two sets of midget submarines to Pakistan in the past. An equivalent of the X craft in the American navy SEAL is a submarine  Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) now entering service.

It may be intended to replace the Pakistani Navy’s existing X-Craft. Pakistan operates three MG-110 X-Craft which were built locally between 1993 and 1996. They are getting long in the tooth and are due for replacement.

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But the Italian firm which designed them, Cos.Mo.S was closed down twenty years ago. Today its designs are continued by respected Italian manufacturer Drass. They offer a series of modern X-Craft that may be ideal for Pakistan, writes  Sutton.

Although there are not many clues about the first appearance of the submarine, one clue relates it to a statement in the Pakistani Defence Production Division (MoDP) 2015-16 yearbook which listed the “Indigenous design and construction of 01 Midget Submarine” as a target for 2016-2017.

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Reports like this also highlight the involvement of the Turkish firm STM (Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş.) which could have developed a mini-submarine for Pakistan.

Writing about the unclear operational status of the submarine, Sutton says the analysis of commercial satellite imagery shows that the boat rarely (if ever) goes in the water. The submarine is maintained well as the tent that covers it is moved and changed quite often.  Despite these details, what it’s called and what exactly it does remains unclear.

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