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Wednesday, 21 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 21 May

T-20 tanks need cooling
Army proposes air-conditioners
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 20
India’s main battle tank, the Russian-built T-90, is facing problems with its sophisticated computerised systems as they are not working properly in high temperatures which is a routine during the summer in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat.

The Army has now requested the ministry of defence to install air-conditioners in the tanks as the electronics have been failing when temperatures rise above the 45° Celsius. Sources said the project to install air-conditioners would be handled in India only. It will be a big task as about 300 T-90 tanks are required to be re-fitted and equipped with a cooling system.

The heat is hampering the working of the sophisticated system on board and also slows down the firing capability. Modern tanks, like modern aircraft, have a very sensitive sensor and computer-based firing and navigation system. The source added that the Defence Research and Development Organisation would be roped in for the project that would require some hardcore engineering work.

However, it will not be an easy job. The tank does not have space within its exterior armour that can take an AC unit. Moreover, an externally mounted AC unit will be a liability in case of a conflict. Also an auxillary power unit will be required to power the AC. Again fitting this power unit will be task in itself, said a top official.

The existing power system drawn from a 1000 horse power engine may not be enough to run the 46-tonne tank and also power the AC. And this is not some normal air conditioning it will require a powerful AC as the temperatures in the desert areas like Barmer, located smack on the border with Pakistan, go up to the 50° C mark. And the inside of the tank can be even more heat generating. The temperature inside the chamber will be required to be brought down to a comfortable 30 degrees as the hood will be required to be closed to make the AC effective.

Even if the auxiliary power system is fitted it will need fuel to run and this will mean drawing fuel from the tank’s existing supplies.

In the past it has been observed that the systems of the tanks gets heated so much that ice packs were needed to cool them.

Hijacked Jordanian Vessel
Navy to join in rescue mission
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 20
The Indian Navy is all set to join the mission to rescue the crew members of the Jordanian vessel M V Victoria, which was captured by pirates off Somalia on Saturday. According to sources here, Indian Navy’s frigate INS Delhi is all set to sail on the rescue mission.

The ship was on a humanitarian mission to distribute sugar to the war-torn country, when she was taken by pirates. The 21-member crew includes 10 Indians. According to information available from the directorate-general of shipping (DGS) here, the M V Victoria has been traced to the Hobiyo Port, some 500 km, away from Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The ship is said to have been berthed at the port.

The condition of the hostages is not known. The pirates are said to be demanding a ransom for the release of the hostages. The ship is owned by the UAE-based Five Seas Company. So far, the company managers have denied that any ransom has been paid.

The DGS said the Indian government has received an assurance from the US Navy of all possible assistance in the rescue of the hostages. The US Naval Forces-Central Command in Bahrain has offered all possible help, the DGS said here today. The vessel was carrying a cargo of 4,200 tonne of bagged sugar under the world food programme (WFP) from Mumbai port for distribution in Somalia. The ship had a crew of 21, of whom 10 were Indians, while the rest were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Kenya. The ship’s managers denied that they had got any demands from hijackers. They were attempting to establish contact with the hijackers through cargo consignees in Mogadishu.

The DGS has approached the ministry of transport in Jordan requesting their cooperation to resolve the issue. The ship managers have assured that they will pass on the details of all Indian crew members on board the hijacked vessel as soon as possible. Reports said armed Somalian pirates in three speed boats managed to overwhelm the crew and take over the ship.

Pakistan, India swear by ceasefire along LoC
Afzal Khan & Agencies

Islamabad, May 20
On the eve of foreign ministerial level talks between India and Pakistan scheduled to open here on Wednesday, the latter has announced the release of 99 Indian fishermen detained for illegally encroaching into Pakistani waters.

Foreign secretaries of the two countries - Pakistan’s Salman Rashid and India’s Shivshankar Menon - today led the official teams of their respective countries to lay down agenda for talks between Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

India voiced its concern over several incidents of firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control, (LoC) following which Islamabad gave an assurance that it is committed to maintaining the ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Both sides made it clear that they attach great importance to the ceasefire and they want to make it hold,” Shiv Shankar Menon said after talks. Menon said the matter had also been taken up by the directors-general of Military Operations of the two countries and both sides are committed to maintaining the ceasefire which came into force in November 2003.

The eight-point agenda of the talks on Tuesday included confidence-building measures, Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics, economic cooperation and bilateral exchanges. Both sides welcomed marked reduction in mutual tension and hoped this would lead to mutual prosperity and progress.

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