The PLA has upgraded Hotan air base in Xinjiang and Nyingchi air base in Tibet. Both bases are just across the LAC in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh respectively with the PLA deploying S-400 squadrons to protect them from Indian aerial threat.
It is with 9 hours in advance that the projection of the Air Force composed of 3 Rafale and 2 A330 MRTT Phénix landed in Papeete. A mission that lasted 39 hours and 8 minutes instead of the 48 planned ...
Even before landing, the arrival of the Rafales seems eagerly awaited by the Tahitians. The local press even mentions a July 14 for the Archipelago. On the outskirts of Faaa international airport all the neighbors are on their balconies. The runway personnel stopped work and even the air traffic controllers left their towers to watch the show. The Rafale landed after the arrival of the first Phoenix, but according to a combat procedure, landing one after the other every 30 seconds.
What the press does not yet know is that the Heifara mission is not just a logistical demonstration, it is above all a spectacular combat mission. At the time of the necessary stopover the day before at the US Air Force base in Travis, the briefing was clear "An opposing nation is contesting the sovereignty of France and its freedom of movement by installing the first fruits in the Polynesian archipelago. of a future prohibition bubble. In this now highly contested space, the political power followed the recommendations of the CPCO. And the CDAOA of Lyon gave us the order to proceed with its destruction ... We have 3 Rafale, therefore 6 Scalp cruise missiles. The risk of the assignment is classified as “HIGH”.So during this crossing of the Pacific which will last 9 hours if we lose in the second part of the journey a Rafale forced to ejection we continue the mission, if we lose a supply tank we continue the mission ”… All the hypotheses of incidents are then methodically evoked during a "What If" session and meticulously processed.
The crews and their mechanics arrive before 4 a.m. After a first flight of 12 hours in a row, a record, restarting the engines is critical. The detachment holds its breath because the slightest engine failure would compromise the mission. But the logistics of the US Air Force forgot the rations of the pilots, too bad, the non-commissioned officers of the Phoenix command organize the collection to make up for it. While in the cockpit, we are busy testing a new command system that will allow the CPCO to follow in an ultra-secure manner from Paris all the stages of the most critical part of the mission. No incident is to be deplored and the imperturbable device pursues its destination at a rapid pace, because time control in battle is the key.After the sixth and last refueling and more than 8 hours of flight in the same position and a time difference of 12 hours, the Rafale pilots grouped for several minutes around the Phénix C2, abruptly left the detachment, overhanging it by ten meters, before "breaking" down to the left in a lightning acceleration which causes them to disappear in less than 4 seconds. The lightning raid has begun, and will lead them to strike at more than 250 km the anti-aircraft defense systems installed in violation of international law. If no weapons were fired, all electromagnetic stealth, targeting and engagement procedures were followed to the letter. Intrigued by this unique operating mode, more than 17,000 km from France,the American authorities have asked the command of the Heifara mission to debrief them on the way back, which will take them to Hawaii and then to Langley.
India on Thursday said discussions are going on with the US on the S-400 missile defence deal, a day after US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman expressed unease over New Delhi's procurement of the Russian weapons system.
"This has been under discussion between our two countries for some time. It was raised and we have discussed it and explained our perspective. And discussions on this are ongoing," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
He was replying to a question on Sherman's comments on Wednesday on the India-Russia deal.
Sherman, on a three-day visit to India, told journalists that any decision on possible sanctions on the S-400 deal will be made by President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The issue of India procuring the S-400 missile system from Russia figured in Sherman's wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday and both sides hoped to find a way out on the issue through dialogue.
"We've been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody's security interest. That said, we have a strong partnership with India," Sherman said.
"We want to be very thoughtful about the ways ahead, and discussions between our countries try to solve problems and I hope we will be able to in this instance as well," she said.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary on Tuesday said that the first batch of S-400 missile defence system will arrive in India from Russia by this year.
The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for the purchase of S-400 missile defences from Russia.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems in 2019. The S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following US sanctions on Turkey, there have been apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures against India.
2 Comments Russian ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said in April that both Russia and India do not recognise bilateral sanctions as they are "illegal tools" of "unlawful and unfair" competition and pressure.
India’s nearly completed, $5.43 billion purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense systems raises serious obstacles to closer politico-military relations between Washington and New Delhi. It requires rigorous strategic thinking to avoid hampering deeper policy relationships within the Asian “Quad” (the U.S., India, Japan and Australia), compromising America’s stealth technology or jeopardizing seemingly mundane but often critical issues of interoperability among national militaries. Finding mutually acceptable solutions has enormous implications; so does failure.
Undoubtedly, India needs advanced air defenses. It has long, difficult-to-defend borders with China; Beijing’s growing navy is increasingly menacing, as are Pakistan’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, fostered by China.
But India’s S-400 purchase, formalized in October 2018, was a mistake, even from its own strategic perspective. New Delhi directly challenged earlier U.S. legislation intended to block significant Russian weapons sales, and which provided very limited presidential waiver authority.
Especially unfathomable in why India would acquire the same system China was buying, risking that Beijing’s cyber warriors, perhaps exploiting Moscow-inserted back doors, could cripple their defenses in a crisis. Turkey’s similar purchase of S-400s, and the dynamics among the three transactions, bear particularly on the current campaign to waive sanctions against India.
Washington sanctioned Beijing in September 2018 with broad U.S. domestic support. Turkey’s acquisition provoked considerable controversy, coming as it did from a NATO ally. S-400s are, not surprisingly, completely incompatible with NATO-wide air defense capabilities, leaving the alliance’s southeastern flank potentially vulnerable. (A humorous contemporaneous remark was that Turkish President Recep Erdogan wanted the S-400s to defend himself against Ankara’s own air force.)
In addition, Turkey co-produced components of the stealthy F-35 and had ordered 100 of them. Significant exposure of F-35s to S-400 radars would give the air-defense operator a clear advantage in detecting F-35s despite their stealth, thereby possibly fatally compromising the entire F-35 program. After extended debate, President Trump reluctantly and belatedly ejected Turkey from the F-35 program in 2020 and imposed economic sanctions. To this day, the potential proximity of U.S. F-35s and Russian S-400s in Turkey arouses concern.
Perhaps bolstered by Trump’s evident reluctance to punish Turkey and equally evident divisions among Trump’s advisers, India’s decision to proceed nonetheless reflects a backward-looking dependence on Russia for sophisticated aerospace and weapons technology. Now, with deliveries imminent, Indian sources still argue that the deal shouldn’t be cancelled: The actual agreement was in 2016 (before the sanctions legislation), India is dependent on Russia for spare parts and maintenance under previous weapons-systems contracts and imposing sanctions would push New Delhi back toward Moscow.
These are arguments of inertia and complacency, and they should carry no weight for the U.S. Vague assertions about future conduct, even accompanied by reduced reliance on major purchases from Russia, are insufficient to risk undermining our global efforts to counter the spread of Kremlin arms sales. Having New Delhi and Washington grow closer means just that, not equivocating or reversing field.
In fact, India’s direction in foreign arms purchases is decidedly unclear. Last week, its ambassador to Russia, Bala Venkatesh Varma, said that “there has been a fundamental change in how our defense relationship has moved in the last three years. Russia has moved back again as the top defense partner of India.” Still worse are reports that, even before the initial S-400 purchases are fully deployed, India and China are considering upgrading to the new S-500 system.
Skeptics might say New Delhi is playing Washington. Even viewed benignly, India is sending contradictory signals, likely due to competing views inside its government and body politic. Whatever Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reasons, the other Quad members have compelling reasons for New Delhi to articulate its future defense-procurement strategies more precisely. No one need commit to a full-blown, politico-military alliance to see the importance of striving for interoperability among like-minded states before things go further, if they ever do. NATO struggled with interoperability problems for decades, thereby leaving the alliance less effective, operationally and as a deterrent. There is no reason to engender potential problems, which prudent planning could avoid.
In such circumstances, any U.S. waiver for India’s S-400 purchases must come with clear conditions and requirements. Pending legislation in Congress says merely that the president may not impose sanctions upon a Quad member unless he “certifies … that that government is not participating in quadrilateral cooperation … on security matters that are critical to the United States’ strategic interests.” That is no condition at all; if those were the facts, it would mean there was no Quad, but merely a Trio.
Developing U.S. conditions for the waiver is an urgent priority. Washington should at least require an agreed-upon timeline and metrics to reduce Indian purchases of sophisticated Russian weapons systems, regular Quad consultations on meeting these targets and more extensive politico-military planning for Indo-Pacific threats, thereby shaping future procurement requirements.
We need not insist that India acquire all its future high-end weapons systems from the U.S., although it would obviously be helpful to see larger purchases than at present. Many Western countries are capable of supplying Indian needs, further highlighting the advantages of breaking the Russian mold. America, Japan, Australia and others also could offer opportunities for defense cooperation with India along the lines of the AUKUS project on nuclear-powered submarines, to enhance India’s own domestic weapons productions.
This model is important not only for the Indo-U.S. relationship but for many others, including Turkey. If sanctions waivers or general lassitude regarding Russian weapons sales and their consequences for regional balances of power become commonplace in Washington, the problem will continue to grow. It is entirely certain that an Indian waiver will trigger instant demands for like treatment from Turkey and other prospective purchasers, while enabling Rosoboronexport, Russia’s foreign-military-sales agency, to exploit our lack of willpower. Ironically, Turkey might warrant a waiver, with appropriate conditions, if the Turks remove Erdogan from office in upcoming elections, so resolving the India problem could well be precedential.
Decisions of this magnitude require Washington to pursue a conscious strategic approach, rather than simply treating an Indian waiver (or any other) as a one-off. Time is short.
John Bolton was national security adviser to President Trump from 2018 to 2019, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and held senior State Department posts in 2001-2005 and 1985-1989. His most recent book is “The Room Where It Happened" (2020). He is the founder of John Bolton Super PAC, a political action committee supporting candidates who believe in a strong U.S. foreign policy.