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Friday, 27 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 27 May 2016

No good or bad terrorist, President tells Beijing
Fixing issues ‘test of political acumen’: Pranab; China says be realistic
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

Beijing, May 26
President Pranab Mukherjee today reached out to China over resolving differences saying it was “a test of our political acumen”. The tone was distinctly conciliatory, and China also said both countries need to be “realistic” when it comes to resolving the differences.

In the morning, the President addressed a lecture at Peking University where he said: “I consider it a test of our political acumen when we are called upon to draw upon our civilisational wisdom and resolve these differences to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.”

“Both sides should work with the aim of ensuring that we do not burden our coming generations by leaving our unresolved problems to them. I am confident that by ensuring that these matters are not aggravated and by remaining sensitive to mutual concerns, we can minimise our differences and maximise our convergences,” he said.

The President later met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang. At a media briefing, Xiao Qian, DG, Asia at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, pointed in the same direction indicating both nations had agreed to keep talking while realising that the issues between the two should not come in the way of development and closer co-operation.

The issue of counter-terrorism also came up during the President’s meetings with the Chinese leadership.

The Chinese side said while the issue of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar was not raised, the two countries discussed counter-terrorism and agreed to co-operation exchanges under the framework of the United Nations, BRICS and other international agencies.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar while briefing journalists said India conveyed that both India and China were affected by terrorism and that there was no such thing as a good terrorist or a bad terrorist.

He added that both nations must have an understanding, both bilateral and multilateral, in fighting terrorism and that both nations would strike together on this in the UN. The President’s visit to China is primarily being seen as a signal from both leaderships that they are committed to talking and to strengthening the relationship. The contentious issues will take their time to get sorted out but the talks must continue.
‘At LAC, we’re defensive, not offensive’
As NDA govt completes 2 years in power, Ajay Banerjee talks to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the nation’s future plans and readiness on security front

After assuming charge as the Defence Minister in Nov 2014, how difficult it has been to balance military ties with the US, Russia, China and Japan?

If you have an autonomous independent decision-making ability and do not enter the campus (camps or groups), you can maintain good relations with all four.

Russia had made public its disappointment over deepening India-US relations.

Those are just media reports. Maybe the disappointment was aired during the previous government. This government has maintained balanced relationship with all countries. No one needs to fear unnecessarily.

Is India thinking of following the US-style theatre military commands?

I have been talking on this for the past one year. It’s wise to debate for people to start finding options.

What progress has been made on maintaining peace along the Line of Actual Control with China?

The border issue will be resolved when both sides will have confidence in each other. It will take some time. A beginning has been made.

Amid peace talks, China is building up a Tibetan military command and we are raising a mountain strike Corps. Is there dichotomy in this?

I don’t think so. Even the best of friends have some border patrolling. We are not making aggressive postures. We are building up military position as a defensive mechanism, not as an offensive mechanism. We are not adding anything.

Will the Logistics Support Agreement (Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement) be signed during the PM’s visit to the US in June?

I don’t link it with the PM’s visit. If it happens, it will be good. We are trying. A draft has been exchanged and I will receive the file in a day or two. Minor issues remain but we are close to an understanding.

Have you taken any steps to address the shortage of fighter jets in the IAF?

We will not allow any major dip (in squadron strength, which is now at 34 squadrons of 16-18 planes each against the needed 42). The Design and Development contract for the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with Russia will be signed soon. It will take 8-10 years. Three squadrons of Sukhoi will reach India. It will be followed by the Tejas and French-origin Rafale.

You have cracked down on AgustaWestland. Its mother company Finmeccanica is in the race for other bids in India.

We will have to ask for fresh tenders in all such cases. Can’t help it. We have to thank the Congress for this situation. We can opt for a direct government-to-government deal if the national security is affected. But it cannot be a general _decision. I will not allow blacklisting at the cost of national security.

Is the ministry being bifurcated for a separate procurement cell?

A specific cell will be created comprising experts to take care of the acquisitions. It will be within the Defence Ministry, but won’t be an integral part of it. They can do their own work and give an outcome.

What is your vision for the next three years?

To have a very fit, effective and properly equipped force. I am trying to ensure that it happens.

What has been your toughest moment so far?

The decision to hit back after 18 soldiers of the 6 Dogra regiment were ambushed in Manipur. The decision was not tough, but its execution was.
Lt Gen KJ Singh exhorts students to join armed forces
Tribune News Service

Solan, May 26
In a bid to inspire students from elite public schools to join the armed forces in view of their declining interest towards this profession, Lt Gen KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC in C), Western Command, today addressed the students of The Lawrence School at Sanawar and motivated them to choose a career in the armed forces.

Delivering a talk on “Leadership – A Way of Life” in the school, he reminisced his days as a trainee at the National Defence Academy where he came across officers from this school and always looked with awe at Sanawar. He inspired the students to opt for a career in the armed forces, which helped in bringing out the cutting edge leadership in an individual.

He said,“It is the leadership packaged into a concept called management, which has evolved as an important tool of running corporate sectors in today’s world.”

Delving into the essence of the Indian Army, he described it as a secular and apolitical entity, which was living and fighting for the name of the battalion (naam), owing allegiance (namak) to the nation while upholding its honour (flag or Nishaan).

He said, “The officers laying down their lives are far more in the Indian Army than other armies, as we are trained to lead from the front.” As future leaders, administrators _and business tycoons of the country, he urged the students to employ the soldiers who superannuate at a young age for their sense of loyalty and discipline.

He said, “You cannot fool the world, your character should be strong and only then will you be followed by the people. He advised the students to be proactive and realise their aims. He said they should inculcate various qualities like a strong will-power, physical and moral courage, quick decision making, human-relation skills, tolerance for ambiguity, wisdom and vision, equanimity, team-building and apt management skills.

He compared the Army to a mobile with dual SIMs of one’s family and regiment, where regiment takes precedence over the family owing to a sense of camaraderie. He concluded his address by saying that “if you want to thank a soldier, be the kind of Indian worth fighting for”.

Headmaster Vinay Pandey gave a memento to the GOC in C as a token of appreciation and gratitude.
J&K: Three militants killed as Army foils infiltration bid in Nowgam sector
Joshi said that the slain militants were infiltrators who had sneaked into the Valley through Nowgam sector. "Our troops are still engaged in encounter," he added.
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Three militants were killed on Thursday as army foiled an infiltration bid in north Kashmir’s Nowgam sector, the operation is still underway and more troops have been rushed to the area.

An army official said that on Wednesday evening they spotted a group of militants near the LoC at Tootmar Gali in Nowagam sector where the first encounter had begun. The army had reports that five to six militants had sneaked into the Valley through Tootmat Gali in the past few days.

Defence spokesman, Lt Col N N Joshi confirmed that the three militants have been killed in the gunfight. “The operation is still underway at Nowgam forests. The militants were spotted late last night and the encounter began in the morning,” he said.

Joshi said that the slain militants were infiltrators who had sneaked into the Valley through Nowgam sector. “Our troops are still engaged in encounter,” he added.
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Thursday, 26 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 26 May 2016

West straining Sino-India ties: State media
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

Beijing, May 25
Amid President Pranab Mukherjee’s ongoing visit, China seems to be softening its stance towards India with state news agency Xinhua running an article blaming the West for the hyped tension between “the dragon and the elephant”. One of the reasons for this could be growing Chinese apprehensions that India, Japan and the US are getting together as a power bloc to challenge Beijing’s dominance in the region.

The report talks about the Chabahar port and how this is also being used to drive a wedge between the two Asian giants. “One of the latest targets of their smear campaign is a New Delhi-Tehran deal on developing Iran’s port of Chabahar. The seaport is 100 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar seaport, which is co-developed by China. Those media claim the Elephant-Dragon rivalry is unavoidable,” said the Xinhua report today. The report goes on to add that such hype is both “untrue and harmful”.

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The report comes out heavily in its criticism of the Western media, which it blames for creating such tension between China and other nations. The report goes on to state: “Yet the distorted coverage of China-India ties lays bare a deep and unfounded bias against China among Western media”.
Cop killed, another hurt in militant attack in Pulwama
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 25
A policeman was killed and another injured in a militant attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district today.

The militants carried out the attack at Monghama village in Pulwama, nearly 30 km from Srinagar, where National Conference district president and former MLA Ghulam Mohiuddin had gone to attend a marriage function.

“As the former MLA went inside the house, the militants fired indiscriminately at his Personal Security Officer (PSO) Shabir Ahmad, who was in civilian clothes. The bullets hit Shabir and another policeman Riyaz Ahmed, who was talking to the Personal Security Officer. The militants also snatched the rifle of Shabir before fleeing,” a police officer in Pulwama said.

The injured policeman, Ahmed, succumbed to his injuries on the way to a hospital. Ahmed was posted at District Police Lines, Pulwama, and was not on duty and was at the village to attend the marriage function of his cousin.

The militants believed to be two in number escaped even as the police said that one of them was injured in retaliatory firing.

The incident created panic in the village. The guests at the wedding were seen running for cover after the shootout. The National Conference leader escaped unhurt in the attack. Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Rayees Mohammad Bhat said that they had got some clues about the attack. “We are working on them,” Bhat told The Tribune.

No militant group has so far claimed the responsibility for the attack.

With this incident in the last three days, four policemen have been killed by militants across Kashmir. On Monday, militants had shot three cops in Srinagar in two attacks.
Kathua bids adieu to its soldier shot in Manipur
Kathua, May 25
Rifleman Pawan Singh of 29 Assam Rifles, who attained martyrdom along with six other Army men at Jouti in Manipur in North-East on May 22, was cremated with full military honours at Khank village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district on Wednesday.

Pawan Singh’s family members were inconsolable and completely shattered as martyr’s 11-year-old son Ansh lit the funeral pyre amid slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. Rich tributes were paid to the martyr, who was also accorded a gun salute, by hundreds of people from different sections of society.

The martyr’s father, Baldev Singh, fainted several times even as the villagers helped him reach the cremation ground.

In the morning, Pawan Singh’s body wrapped in Tricolour reached his native village where a large number of people and senior officers, including Deputy Commissioner Romesh Kumar and Commanding Officer Vimal Monga, _were present.

Baldev Singh, who is a heart patient, said that he was proud that his son had laid down his life for the country. Pawan was only breadwinner of the family as his younger brother looks after agricultural activities at his home.

Pawan Singh had left his home to join duty on May 10 last after he had come on leave to perform the last rites of his mother, Attar Devi.

The martyr is survived by his wife Bindu and two children — Ansh Rajput and eight-year-old Palak Rajput. While Bindu was inconsolable, Ansh and Palak are yet to recover from the shock of their father’s death.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and saluted the supreme sacrifice of the martyr.
Israel beats Sweden and Russia to become the frontrunner in Indian Army's quest for air defence system
The Indian Army has posed a requirement for a fast reaction air defence cover against enemy aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, and the probable solution has been found in the form of Israeli Spyder system, which has emerged as the frontrunner in this quest.

It was in 2011 that the Indian Army had started a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) programme, and it is now nearing final selection, for a contract valued at over Rs 18,000 crore.

As per sources, the Israeli Spyder system, which has been manufactured by Rafael Advanced Systems, has come up as the frontrunner, given that its competitors, SAAB (Sweden) and Rosoboronexport (Russia), were not able to perform during technical trials that the Indian Army carried out last year.

This could mean a possible go ahead for the Israeli system to reach the the opening of the price bid, which is the next stage of procurement.

The winning company would need to transfer the technology to India, so that the system can be locally manufactured.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered Spyder, which has been inducted to protect sensitive air fields along the border.

Talking of 'Make in India,' the Indian Army has already ordered the Indian-made Akash SAM systems, however, these have been assigned the task of protecting static or defensive units, given that they carry limited mobility and take a larger reaction time to an incoming attack.

Anyway, the SRSAM project was launched with a 'global buy' clause, so that the Indian private industry could also be given a chance to invest in it. As per sources, the project is valued at close to Rs 6,000 crore and would need investment from joint ventures and production facilities in India.
USA and China cutting down Army strength, will India follow suit?

As China catches up on USA in defence capability and starts flexing its muscles on world stage, the two countries are now facing a showdown in South China Sea.

Interestingly, at the same time, both the countries are engaged in major military reforms to make their armed forces lean and mean. In the year 2015, the Indian Defence Minister Parrikar had said “The NDA government had plans to slash non-operational ‘flab’ of the 1.18 million strong Army both in terms of manpower and infrastructure to ensure cost-effectiveness and better teeth-to-tail ratio”.

Effectively, the world’s three largest Armies are under man-power downsizing. Personnel are long-term massive costs in defence budgets. In January 2014, China decided to reduce its military regions from seven to five theatre Commands and to create a joint command for coordinated tri-service operations in East China Sea. In November 2015, they scrapped three of the four army headquarters. China has 1.6 million personnels in the Army, 240,000 in Navy and 400,000 in Air Force and has decided to cut the 2.3 million force by 300,000 to 2.0 million. Around 70% of the cut was in the land-based units. China does not anticipate a ground invasion currently. The reorganisation is also a response to the USA’s Asia Pivot strategy. The plan is to shift resources from land forces to sea and air, and to modernise. China’s slowing economy is having an impact on government spending, including the country’s military budget.

Peoples Liberation Army (PLA’s) traditional priority to land forces and greater hierarchical position enjoyed by the Army over Navy and Air Force will now change. The aim is to cut troops linked to outdated equipment, office staff and non-combat personnel. China had also seen growth in military wages in recent years, eating into the defence budget. To compete with the modern US Army, China had no choice but to cut flab and modernise. A new “Space Force” would be formed under the PLA Air Force. As part of consolidating power, President Xi has also sacked a few Generals as part of his anti-corruption drive and to streamline layers of command and bureaucracy within PLA. Even when troop reduction is completed in 2017, China will still have the world’s largest army.

As of 2016, the United States spends about $580.3 billion annually to fund its military forces. The projected active duty end strength in the armed forces for 2016 was 1,301,300. The US DoD 2017 budget caters for active strength of 1,281,900. Most cuts are planned in US Army. US Army which had mushroomed over the years; especially after September 2001 attacks will be cut down to pre-World War II size. Dwindling defence budgets are also indicative of the political thinking. The US Army from its recent peak of 570,000 troops in 2010 is planned to be reduced to 440,000 by 2018. It has already cut 80,000 soldiers since 2010. Another 40,000 will be cut by the end of 2018. Thrust will shift to Cyber and Special warfare and unmanned systems. The reduction is planned in spite the operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State continue to be the main threats to the US.

Additionally, reports state that 17,000 Army civilian employees would be laid off. Pentagon may turn increasingly toward the Navy for its primary military needs. As of December 9, 2015, the US Navy has 272 active ships, the lowest since 1916. With the F-35 programme still going strong, and the new long-range strike bomber cleared, USAF is less affected. Shrinking the top brass is one of the number of ideas through command structure changes. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter feels there are too many four-star appointment slots. Headquarters have either become top-heavy or less efficient. Military had to cut many important defence acquisitions due to budget cuts.

Indian Defence Minister has made it clear that there is an urgent need for downsizing in non-operational areas both due to budgetary constraints and unrealistic non-operational holdings. Money saved could go into the urgently needed requirements such as 17 Corps (mountain strike corps) with 90,000 troops at cost of Rs 65,000 crores which is temporarily held back. The areas that could be a target for cuts could be the 'sahayak' (orderly) for officers or deploying soldiers for escort duties or to man unit-run canteens. Many peace area activities like transportation, logistics, cooking and serving etc. are being outsourced. Newer weapon systems require lesser man-power but units are still manned at old scales. Honest open approach can help identify many more areas where non-combat personnel can be shed to convert to combat posts. Many civilian posts can easily be shed if the government has the political will and can be diverted to operational personnel. Indian Army currently has a strength of 1,129,900 active personnel, Indian Air Force has 127,200 and Indian Navy has 58,350, totalling 1,325,450. Para military forces also have 1,300,586 personnel.

Just a peace dividend in J&K could have meant cutting 100,000 soldiers. The cuts may not be physical but savings could be diverted to new raisings to cater to operational units for a two-front war.

Indian Army honours Mrs India world, five other soldier wives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Iris Maju ,Mrs India World has been honoured by the Army with the title ‘Woman of Substance’ along with five army wives with varied achievements including Veena Malik, Arjuna award winner and Para Olympian.

At a function recently held at Sam Manekshaw Hall in Delhi, Mrs. Namita Suhag wife of General Dalbir Singh Suhag,Chief of Army Staff honored Iris Maju for her outstanding contribution to Army Wives Welfare Association(AWWA), an association established for the empowerment and welfare of wives of Army Jawans) and for her representaition of the country in the Mrs World pageant. Iris is married to Colonel Maju Joseph, Indian Army.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 25 May 2016

Prez in China with NSG agenda
Don’t club us with Pak on N-club membership, Pranab to tell Beijing
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

Guangzhou, May 24
India is looking to de-hyphenate itself from Pakistan as far as membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) goes. As President Pranab Mukherjee landed in China on a four-day visit, those familiar with the developments made it clear that India had never objected to Pakistan's NSG membership.

“China, along with other countries, have been maintaining that there should be a thorough discussion on whether non-NPT countries can join the NSG, and this decision should be made on consensus. This applies to all non-NPT countries, including Pakistan,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told mediapersons on Monday, ahead of Mukherjee's visit.

China had recently objected to India's membership of the NSG on the grounds that it has yet to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This was  seen as a sign of China's friendship towards Pakistan which has been arguing that if India is allowed in the elite NSG club, so should Pakistan.

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However, those in the know in the government maintain that India has never endorsed or blocked Pakistan’s membership to the club. The membership is by consensus and the US has backed India's claim, given India’s clean record on non-proliferation. Pakistan, whose nuclear proliferation record has always been a matter of concern, is pushing for a berth in the NSG, if India gets it. India had recently cited the example of France which became a member of the NSG without signing the NPT. The Chinese have, however, countered this saying, "France was a founder of the NSG so the issue of its acceptance to the NSG did not exist."

Officials in the government said the Chinese argument (that India could not be admitted in the NSG club without first signing the NPT) did not hold because there were no set of rules as such for the NSG membership. Also, India is primarily concerned with its own membership rather than that of another country.

India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are some of the UN members that have not signed the NPT yet. The NSG membership issue is likely to be raised by Mukherjee during his talks with the Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping, over the course of next few days. While the India-China relationship is a not a smooth one, it is nevertheless being hoped that the visit of the President will help remove the strain between the two countries.
US Senate okays Bill to block $300 m aid to Pak
Washington, May 24
A Senate panel has approved a legislation that blocks $300 million military aid to Pakistan unless the Defence Secretary certifies to the Congress that Islamabad is taking “demonstrable” steps against the Haqqani terror network.

The Senate Armed Services Committee — which renewed blockage of $300 million coalition support fund to Pakistan subject to action against the Haqqani network like previous year when it passed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA)-2017 last week — has, however, argued in favour of continuing security assistance to Pakistan.
“In recognition of the critical importance of the bilateral US-Pakistan relationship and the need for enhanced security and stability in Pakistan, the committee recommends a provision that would provide the Secretary of Defence the authority to reimburse Pakistan up to $800 million in fiscal year 2017 for certain activities that enhance the security situation in the northwest regions of Pakistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,” it said in a report.

“The provision would also make $300 million of this amount contingent upon a certification from the Secretary of Defence that Pakistan is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network in Pakistan,” the report said.

The NDAA-2017 is scheduled to come up before the Senate for voting, during which several Senators are expected to bring in amendments to this Bill. Senate version of the NDAA differed from that of the House on many issues, including Pakistan. While the House version of the Bill, which was passed last week, calls for blocking $450 million of the $900 million US aid to Pakistan in coalition support fund, the Senate version has reduced both figures to $300 million and $800 million, respectively.

“The Defence Secretary has not taken a decision yet,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Devis told reporters when asked if Ashton Carter has issued the Congress- mandated certification. — PTI
The LCA’s 33-year journey far from tejas
Dinesh Kumar
The Tejas LCA, India's indigenously developed light combat aircraft, which continues to be under development for the last three decades, is a compromised aircraft and has only 35 per cent indigenous components. The induction schedule has been revised several times from the initial 1995 deadline.
In Sanskrit, tejas, the name given to India's indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA), means brilliance. On May 17, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would induct its first squadron of Tejas in July, while giving the thumbs up after flying its trainer version. Much as this news may seem to be “brilliant”, the fact is that this hugely delayed aircraft is yet to get its final operational clearance which is currently rescheduled for December this year. Worse, the Tejas Mark-I (Mk-I) is a heavily compromised aircraft with significantly reduced operational capability. Besides, the IAF's first Tejas squadron will comprise a mere four aircraft, that is one-fourth the normal size of a fighter squadron, which will be only high on symbolism and undoubtedly far from tejas (brilliant).  

The LCA's long journey began over three decades ago in 1983 when the government sanctioned the project followed by the constituting of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in June 1984. In October 1985, the IAF issued its list of requirements needed in the aircraft with a demand for 240 LCAs, including 20 trainers to be inducted by 1994. The LCA was supposed to replace the ageing Soviet-origin MiG-21s, the mainstay of the IAF, which were then scheduled to be phased out in the 1990s. 

Incidentally, the LCA was conceived just as the IAF was retiring India's first indigenously developed fighter — the Hindustan Fighter (HF)-24, also known as Marut. The government then did not consider it worthy to upgrade and develop further variants of the HF-24 which had been conceived in 1955, designed by a reputed German aeronautical engineer (Kurt Tank), first test flown in 1961 and which later saw action in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Instead, this aerodynamically well-designed single-seat twin-engine but under-powered ground attack aircraft was retired in 1985. The ADA thus started from scratch.

The LCA, as is the case with all major defence research and development projects, is a mind-boggling case study of delays, slippages, compromise and mismanagement (despite some hard work) that continues till date. There are two other disconcerting realities about the Tejas. First, the aircraft is far from indigenous, with only 35 per cent made in India and 65 per cent components sourced from overseas (mostly American and Israeli), making it an import-dependent aircraft. In fact, every major component starting from the engine and flight-control system to armaments is of foreign origin. 

Second, the Tejas Mk-I has significant shortfalls, with 53 waivers and concessions. These shortfalls include lower engine thrust, higher weight, limited fuel capacity in the absence of drop tanks, markedly deficient self-protection jammers which limit its electronic warfare capability and the absence of Radar Warning Receivers and Counter Measures Dispensing System to name a few. Neither are there any certified trainer aircraft to train pilots. This has reduced the aircraft's operational capability and survivability, thereby limiting its operational utilisation. Although these shortcomings are expected to be overcome in the Mk-II version currently scheduled to be completed by December 2018, it could, however, take longer to complete considering the track record.

Consider the following: The LCA's first flight was originally scheduled for 1991, only to be revised to 1996, 1999 and 2000, before being first test flown in January 2001. Similarly, the induction schedule has been revised several times from the initial 1995 to 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and now 2018 (for the Mk-II), by when 35 years would have elapsed. In the meantime, owing to the inordinate delay in the development of the LCA, the government has already spent Rs 20,000 crore for upgrading 125 Soviet-origin MiG-21 Bis and 62 MiG-29 fighters, 61 British-origin Jaguar strike aircraft and the French Mirage-2000 even as the IAF's squadron strength has fallen from the sanctioned 42 to 33, with all MiG-23, MiG-25 and several MiG-21 squadrons having been retired.

There are several reasons behind the delay of the LCA. Apart from a period of post-May 1998 nuclear test sanctions, among the most notable has been India's inability to develop several key components which has necessitated design changes and purchases from overseas. This includes the failure to develop the Kaveri engine (started in 1989 with unending deadline revision to 1996, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012 and currently unknown along with a cost escalation from the original Rs 383 crore to Rs 2,839 crore as of December 2009). This has necessitated a design modification each in the Mk-I variant for the American General Electric F-404 engine and in Mk-II for the F-414 engine.

The ADA was unable to develop the Multi-Mode Radar for tracking multiple targets (original deadline December 1997, with a deal for co-development with Israel finally signed in June 2009), the Flight Control System Actuators (currently American), Radome (British) and the Multi-Functional Display System (Israeli), among several other critical items. The IAF too ended up causing a delay of over seven years because it wanted changes in the armament: the Israeli R 73E close combat missile instead of the R-60; integration of the Israeli Derby and Python-5 beyond visual range missile; addition of the Russian 500 kg M-62 bombs; and a Counter Measures Dispensing System. Some of these features and armaments are yet to be incorporated in the Mk-I. 

One hopes that the Tejas will not meet the same fate as that of the import-dependent “indigenous” Arjun tank which was conceived over four decades ago in 1974. Only 124 of the Arjun Mk-I are in service, while the Army still awaits the Mk-II. Clearly, the ADA with its 152 work centres engaged in developing the LCA needs to put in more tejas (brilliance) in developing the Tejas.
45 ultras killed by Army in Valley this year
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 24
The Army has gone full throttle this year so far and eliminated 45 militants in Kashmir. It has also reviewed its summer strategy along the 744-km-long Line of Control (LoC).

“A total of 45 militants have been eliminated by security forces in Kashmir from January 1 this year,” said  Col SD Goswami, Northern Command’s Udhampur-based defence spokesperson.

On May 16, a militant, Bilal Bhat, had jumped off a cliff to escape soldiers and died, taking the total number of slain militants to 46. Bhat along with his two associates was trying to exfiltrate to PoK via the LoC in the Poonch sector.

Army sources, however, said that despite gunning down 45 militants in Kashmir this year, militants were waiting in launching pads on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

“The terrain is such that possibilities of successful infiltration cannot be ruled out. At the same time, there is immense pressure on ultras in launching pads because of continual success achieved by security forces in Kashmir this year,” they added.

Sources said the rapidly depleting cadre of militant outfits in Kashmir had become a cause for concern for the Pakistani army and the ISI.

“While the Army will be consolidating the gains made in the hinterland (within the state), we have a robust counter-infiltration strategy on the LoC, which has an appropriate mix of technology and human resource,” said the sources.

“Innovative troop deployment, including ambushes, efficient use of surveillance and monitoring devices, besides fencing along the LoC have enhanced our ability to detect and intercept infiltration,” the sources added.

The Army anticipates that militants in launching pads may try some non-traditional routes to sneak into J&K this summer.

“Our endeavour has always been to intercept and neutralise them (militants) before they reach the barbed fence,” they added.

As per an official report, 18 “highly trained” militants crossed the LoC and sneaked into Kashmir via frontier Kupwara district in April this year. Out of them, five were shot dead in recent encounters with security forces.

Last year, over 100 militants were killed by the Army in the state.
Bodies of six Assam Rifles personnel flown to native places
A wreath laying ceremony was conducted at 12 Bihar Headquarters in the state capital to pay tribute to the martyrs.
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Bodies of the six Assam Rifles personnel who were killed in an ambush on May 21 in Chandeldistrict of Manipur were today flown to their respective homes from Imphal airport in a special Indian Air Force flight.

Prior to that around 9.30 am, a wreath laying ceremony was conducted at 12 Bihar Headquarters in the state capital to pay tribute to the martyrs.

The solemn ceremony was attended by Chief Minister O Ibobi, his deputy Gaikhangam and high ranking officers of the Assam Rifles based in Manipur.
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The deceased included Junior Commission Officer BaldevKumar (55) from Himachal Pradesh, Havaldar Susarjit (27), Rifleman Pawan Singh (39) of Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir), Rifleman Mahesh Gurung (43) of Uttarkhand, Riflemen Bhupendra Kumar (32) from Himachal Pradesh and Akhilesh Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, AR sources said.

The six soldiers were killed in an ambush near the Indo-Myanmar border’s “No Man’s Land” while coming back from a land-slide affected village in Manipur to their base camp.

CorCom, a conglomerate of proscribed outfits, in a statement issued to the media had claimed that the ambush was carried out by them.
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Army promises to hit back hard on Manipur militants
"I can assure you no setback can ever dilute the resilience of the Indian Army," said Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.
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The Army on Tuesday vowed to hit back hard on the militants who carried out an ambush which killed six Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur’s Chandel district on Sunday. “In counter-insurgency operation it is a matter of initiative and opportunity. They have been able to get this opportunity but it is not long before we hit back and we will hit back very hard,” Lt Gen Abhay Krishna, General Officer Commanding of 3 Corps, told reporters here.

The Army and Assam Rifles have been continuously running an intensive combing operation to trace the militants in the deep jungles near Indo-Myanmar border, where the incident happened on Sunday afternoon. Refusing to divulge details of the operations before the media, Krishna said the search was on in the jungles.
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“I can assure you no setback can ever dilute the resilience of the Indian Army. We are trained to be resilient. This type of casualties is a setback for everybody but it is also an opportunity to bounce back and bounce back with a bigger success,” he said, adding strong action cannot be taken at the press of a button.

On the security situation in Manipur where 18 army personnel were killed in the same district last year in an ambush by NSCN(K) militants, the officer said, “After one year they have been able to get this opportunity but we will wrest
this opportunity and initiative very soon”.

Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh condemned the incident. We stand united in the fight against insurgents and ill continue to strive for furtherance of peace in the region, he said, adding those involved in such crimes will be severely punished.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had directed security forces to take “strongest possible action” against the militants involved in the ambush.

Meanwhile, the mortal remains of the martyrs were sent to their hometowns in two specially requisitioned Indian Air
Force aircraft accompanied by a team of Assam Rifles personnel. In a solemn wreath laying ceremony conducted in true traditions of the Indian Armed Forces, homage was paid to the six martyrs of 29 Assam Rifles.

Wreaths were laid by the Chief Minister, his deputy Gaikhangam and high ranking officers of Army and Assam Rifles based in Manipur. CorCom, a conglomerate of proscribed outfits, in a statement issued to the media, had claimed that the ambush was carried out by them.

The deceased include a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and five jawans of the Assam Rifles.
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