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Saturday, 17 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 17 May

Indian Navy set to get Boeing P-8i Poseidons
Huma Siddiqui
Posted online: Friday , May 16, 2008 at 0211 hrs

Renton (Washington State),May 15 Indian Navy will soon have an edge in the Indian Ocean once it inks $2.2 billion deal for eight maritime patrol planes from Boeing.The agreement is expected to be signed soon.

The Boeing P-8i Poseidons long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR)patrol aircraft will enable the Indian Navy to operate a platform almost simultaneously with the USNavy.

Richard Buck,Boeing's international programme manager for P8,said that India would be able to leverage on the substantial investment made in the P8 by the US Navy.

A lot of issues relating to the P-8i for the Indian Navy are still in the process of being sorted out,said Buck.

So far,the company officials claim that $4 billion had already been spent on the development of the aircraft.The uniqueness of the programme is that it is not being negotiated under the US foreign military sales (FMS)programme but as adirectcommercial agreement between Boeing and the Indian Navy.

Responding to a question, Buck said,"Under the request for proposal (RFP)received, the first aircraft has to be delivered within 48 months of the contract being signed and the remaining within an eight-year time frame."

Buck said,"We are offering next generation technology that will keep the plane in service till 2050at the least.Beit in an anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare,intelligence gathering,surveillance or reconnaissance roles,the P8I combines superior performance and proven reliability againstanyotheraircraftflying today."

The P-8i,based on the Boeing-737 commercial airliner, was competing with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS)'s A-319 maritime patrol aircraft and other contenders in meeting 'qualitative requirements'in the technical trials held by the Navy.The P-8i,a customised version for the Indian Navy,is based on the hugely successful Boeing-737 commercial airliner.The navy had,in November 2006,expressed an interest in the aircraft as a replacement for its existing fleet of Il-38 aircraft.

Battle of tanks hots up, Antony backs Arjun
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 16
The battle over the Arjun tank, which is being developed indigenously, is hotting up. Defence minister A.K. Antony, it is learnt, has asked the Army top brass to compare Arjun and Russian T-90 tanks on all parameters and then decide where does the Arjun tank stand.

Well-placed sources in the defence ministry confirmed that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) authorities had met Antony and told him that small glitches that cropped up in the tank’s ongoing trials were being blown out of proportion. These were correctable and had been corrected. The tanks were doing very well in the accelerated user-cum-reliability trials being conducted somewhere in desert at present. Tank’s firing was on target and very reliable and accurate. Not a single barrel of the main gun of the Arjun tank had burst while the T-90s had seen five barrel bursts and many more in the T-72s.

The reality was contrary to the statements made by the Army before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, said a top official while telling the DRDO’s opinion to the minister. The small problem in the German company Renk’s gear box had been sorted out with the introduction of a software. The same company supplies gearboxes to leading tank makers across the globe.

The parliamentary committee submitted its report last month and it had quoted the Army authorities as saying the Arjun tank was way below its expectations. Since then there had been a frenzy of activity. Sources said the DRDO officials did a point-to-point comparison of the Arjun tank with the T-90 tank before the defence minister and other senior functionaries in the ministry of defence. For long the DRDO wanted such a comparison, but it never materialised.

On the issue of the Arjun tank being heavy, the sources quoted the DRDO officials saying they never said the T-90 tanks were not needed. Rather the entire lot of light and heavy tanks were needed for battles on varied terrains. “The weight of the Arjun is not a constraint, it rather runs faster and crosses the marshy terrain at Lassian in Gurdaspur where the T-90 or T-72 series of tanks cannot even venture. The weight is not the issue. All major tanks of the US, Israel, Germany, the UK and France weigh about 60 tonnes each like the Arjun.

The sources said the defence minister was also informed that the import of a fresh lot of tanks from Russia and the induction of Arjun was not linked. The import of tanks should continue independently. The country has the capability to produce about 50-60 tanks every year.

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