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Wednesday, 7 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 07 May

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The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India

Arjun tanks would be inducted into the forces: Antony
6 May 2008, 1711 hrs IST,

NEW DELHI: Ruling out the possibility of abandoning the indigenous main battle tank Arjun project, Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday said the tanks would soon be inducted into the armed forces after faults were rectified.

"There is no question of abandoning the prestigious project," Antony told. "It is the country's first effort to produce such complex war machines and there are bound to be hiccups".

The minister's remarks come in the backdrop of Government informing Parliament on Monday that the tanks were found to have "low accuracy", frequent break down of power packs and problems with its gun barrel in the recent accelerated user-cum-reliability trials.

The tanks also had problems with consistency and recorded failure of hydropenumatic suspension units and shearing of top rolls, Government informed the Lok Sabha.

"The rectification of these defects and performance of the tanks were being closely monitored," Antony said.

Antony said there was some delay in the issue of tanks to the army due to design modifications and removal of defects noticed during various trials.

He said the manufacture of the tank was being monitored by a team headed by Director General of Mechanised forces and a steering committee under the chairmanship of the Secretary Defence Production and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister.

Pay Hike Issue
Defence chiefs convey discontent to panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 6
The “discontent” in the defence forces over the “insufficient financial hike” recommended by the sixth pay commission was conveyed to the committee of secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary K.M Chandrasekhar here this afternoon.

The chiefs of three services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, put the matter on behalf of the forces.

Largely matters that were discussed in the Army Commanders conference last week were put before the committee today. Sources said the service chiefs were hopeful that their demands would be met.

One of the demands made to the committee of secretaries was the increase in military service pay for persons below officer ranks (PBOR’s) from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000.

The committee was also informed that the status of the Army officers vis-à-vis civil officers has been lowered and correction was required.

On the pay hike for officers it was pointed out that 94 per cent of the entire lot of officers from Lieutenant to Brigadier will retire in one pay band only. Introduction of two more pay bands.

One between Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel and the other between Colonels and Brigadiers with suitable raise linked to the length of service, was sought.

Striking distance
China flexes naval muscle

THE sheer size of the Chinese naval base at Hainan island, its undersea access points and other advanced facilities, and the presence of nuclear missile-carrying submarines have clearly startled, if not shocked, the Indian security establishment. The usual platitudes about being ready for any security eventuality are all that will publicly emerge from a reported meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security to be held on the issue shortly. While the fact that the Sanya Nuclear Submarine Naval base was being built was known, the new revelations further highlight the growing gap in military capabilities between India and China.

Apart from the massive size and new facilities, there are also several locational advantages for the Chinese. For one thing, the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Islands are now within 2000 nautical miles. What is more, defence experts are pointing out that unlike the shallow waters off the Chinese mainland, the waters are deep along the Hainan coast, and submarines can dive quickly out of sight of the preying eyes, either earth-based or up in satellites. Underground caverns, tunnels and storage facilities also permit the Chinese to store, load and embark nuclear-tipped missiles in relative secrecy. Important economic shipping routes can be interdicted at key choke points.

Both the Chinese Air Force and the Chinese Navy have made rapid strides in modernisation over the last decade or so, while India has struggled with both its procurement processes and its indigenous projects. While endless delays are taking place in modernising even our artillery, the Chinese have gone ahead to acquire the most modern fighter planes, ships and submarines. Apart from the Sukhois, the yet-to-be-built Scorpenes and the odd missile or two, precious little augmentation is taking place in our offensive and defensive capabilities. China’s reach and power are continuously expanding whereas our strategic autonomy and diplomatic manoeuvring room are constantly eroding. Unless there is strong political will to put India’s military modernisation projects on fast track, the gap will widen, with serious consequences for the country.

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