Defence Current Affairs And Updates 28 October 2020

BECA: The deal that will make Indian missiles deadlier has finally been signed

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation or BECA, long in the making, has finally been signed by India and the US.
  • The agreement will enable India to gain access to extremely accurate geo-spatial data. This is going to have major implications for a range of military aspects, such as giving Indian missiles a killer edge.

What is this all about?

  • BECA is the last of the pacts that America signs with close partners. The pact basically facilitates interoperability of forces and exchange of sensitive and classified information.
  • India and the US have already signed three key foundational agreements — General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018.
  • Supplemented by highly accurate US satellites, this geospatial information can help in navigation and, more importantly, in targeting military assets.

The information shared could be either digital or printed.

  • The information that is shared include maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data. A majority of this data is usually unclassified and aimed at facilitating standardisation. There, however, are provisions for sharing classified data also. While sharing classified info, safeguards are put in place to make sure that no third party gets access.

What took it this long?

  • The pact was under discussion for more than a decade. The UPA government had initially blocked it owing to fears raised by security forces on “protection of classified information and access to classified laboratories in India”.
  • Most of these fears have been addressed over many rounds of talks. Also, increasing trust between India and the US played a major part.
  • The agreement on sharing military logistics, which spawned the most political concerns, had been reached a while ago.

How it changes things for India?

  • Although both sides will share sensitive information under BECA, the agreement is likely to benefit India more. It will give India access to military-grade data “that can help draw up target coordinates”.
  • In essence, these military-grade coordinates can help direct missiles of air-launched bombs to a terror location in the neighbourhood with high accuracy.
  • It will primarily help in long-range navigation and missile-targeting with increased accuracy. Given the current geopolitical situation, this data will be relevant on both the northern and western borders of India, said Captain Vikram Mahajan (retired), director, Aerospace and Defence at USISPF.

8th round of India-China military talks to focus on fixing buffer zones along LAC delayed

  • As India and the United States have signed landmark defence pact BECA with an aim to bolster their military ties, the move has apparently become a matter of concern for China which is locked in a bitter standoff with New Delhi in eastern Ladakh.
  • India and China were expected to hold the eighth round of Corps Commander-level talks last week but Beijing reportedly delayed the meeting.
  • This comes as US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in India on Monday on a two-day visit for the Indo-US 2+2 dialogue during which they are expected to discuss several key and strategic issues, including the ongoing border tension between India and China in eastern Ladakh and Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • These talks will focus on finalizing the exact locations of the buffer zones to be created along the LAC in eastern Ladakh with an aim to work out a partial disengagement of troops over the next three weeks before the heavy winter sets in.
  • A certain amount of thinning of infantry may take place as a confidence-building measure. Depending on how the next round of talks progress, the pull-back of the additional reserve troops can happen, in two parts.

Taiwan says new arms purchases to boost credible and asymmetric combat capabilities

  • Taiwan said Tuesday that recent proposed of U.S. sales of missiles and other arms systems will boost the island’s ability to credibly defend itself, amid rising threats from China.
  • The comments from defense ministry spokesperson Shih Shun-wen came a day after China said it would exact unspecified retaliation against companies that make the weapons systems, including Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co.’s defense division, the lead contractor on a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan.
  • Facing a potential Chinese foe with overwhelming superiority in missiles, soldiers, ships and planes, Taiwan has struggle to assure its own people and key ally the U.S. that it is capable of and willing to see to its own defense. The sides split amid a civil war in 1949 and China considers Taiwan its own territory to brought under its control by force if necessary.
  • “The purchase of these weapons will enhance Taiwan’s credible combat capabilities and asymmetric combat capabilities,” Shih told reporters at a briefing, using a term for countering a much stronger foe with precision weapons and advanced tactics. “This will also enhance our overall combat capabilities to contribute to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
  • The Trump administration on Monday notified Congress of plans for the Harpoon system, whose missiles are capable of striking ships and land targets. Boeing says the missile uses GPS-aided inertial navigation and delivers a 500-pound blast warhead. It can target coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, ships in port, and port and industrial facilities.
  • That followed another proposed sale announced Oct. 21 to provide $1.8 billion worth of weaponry, including missile and rocket systems, and upgraded equipment for Taiwan’s F-16 jet fighters.
  • Taiwan has long been an irritant in U.S.-China relations. Washington has no formal relations with the island’s democratically elected government but is its main ally. U.S. law requires the government to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. In recent years, weapons sales to the island have increased in quantity and quality, as China builds the world’s second most powerful military dedicated largely to defeating Taiwan and achieving its goal of annexation.
  • Stepped-up patrols by Chinese warplanes this year have put Taiwan’s forces under increasingly strain, increasing the importance of developing new weapons systems or buying them from abroad.
  • Beijing regularly pressures American companies including Boeing in an effort to influence U.S. policy. China is one of Boeing’s biggest markets for commercial aircraft, which might make it vulnerable to a boycott, but China’s defense ministry mentioned only Boeing’s military arm, Boeing Defense, not its civilian jetliner business.

ISRO’s high-speed satellite Internet cover for Galwan Valley panchayats soon

  • As India-China border situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains tense, the Bharat Broadband Nigam (BBNL) and Telecommunications Consultants India (TCIL) have prepared a blueprint to rollout high-speed satellite Internet connectivity in strategically important border terrains.
  • As per the high-speed internet rollout plan, about 5,000 remote gram panchayats in over 15 states and union territories have been identified. These remote regions will be given access to high-speed internet connectivity.
  • The internet connectivity project under the Centre’s Digital India initiative will connect 5,000-panchayats through a satellite link as part of the BharatNet Programme. Under this programme, broadband connectivity is likely to be provided to about 2.5 lakh gram panchayats throughout the country.
  • Some of the critical areas covered under the project also include all strategic border areas of Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, where the standoff with Chinese troops has been going on since May along with other border NE states.
  • Hughes India, a majority-owned subsidiary of US-based Hughes Network Systems, will provide internet service to each panchayat using capacity from Isro’s Gsat-19 and Gsat-11 satellites with the Hughes JUPITER system, the de facto standard for satellite broadband implementations, a government statement said.
  • “BharatNet is the backbone of Digital India, being created to achieve the objectives of the PM’s Digital India Mission. The BharatNet network is being created to provide affordable high-speed broadband access to rural citizens and institutions of all the gram panchayats. We are happy to be partnering with TCIL and Hughes to leverage satellite broadband to connect gram panchayats that are remote or in difficult terrain,” BBNL CMD Sarvesh Singh said.

QUICK REVIEW

  1. The internet connectivity project under the Centre’s Digital India initiative will connect 5,000-panchayats through a satellite link as part of what Programme?
  2. IndiaNet
  3. BharatNet
  4. SatelliteNet
  5. InfraNet

ANSWER: B

  • Which among these deals was signed in 2016 by India with the US?
  • General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA)

ANSWER: B

  • Which among these deals explains about sharing of mutual critical information and military-grade data that can help draw up target coordinates in enemy area?
  • General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA)

ANSWER: D

Hemanth Kasturi

    General Studies Tutor at SSBCrackExams, Graduate in Aeronautical Engineering, Cleared NDA, CDS, INET, AFCAT exams.

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