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Friday, 2 May 2008

From Today's Papers - May 02

Comment:- Kudos to the brass for sticking by the officers involved, and not getting browbeaten by the powers that be. More than anything else, today this kind of sagacity is the need of the hour in view of the challenges faced by the Army in aspects of man management, and particulary officer management. Had the Chief catipulated to the minister's diktat, the effect on morale would be telling.

Army chief rescues 'drunk' officials from minister's ire


New Delhi: Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor was forced to intervene after an accident involving Minister of State for Defence (Production) Rao Inderjit Singh's car and an army vehicle snow-balled into a minor crisis in New Delhi.

"The driver of the minister's vehicle Wednesday jumped a traffic signal and hit another army vehicle carrying a colonel, a lieutenant colonel and two majors in Delhi Cantonment. A verbal altercation ensued and the driver rang up Rao Inderjit Singh," an army official said Thursday.

The driver, belonging to the transport unit, complained to Singh about the "unruly behaviour" of the senior army officials, who were in civil dress, and said they were threatening him.

"When Singh talked to the officials they refused to recognize him and the minister had to ring up Gen. Kapoor complaining that the senior officials were drunk and creating a ruckus," the army official said.

Gen. Kapoor immediately deputed the Delhi area commander to take stock of the situation. The senior officials were taken to the Army Research and Referral Hospital, where tests revealed that they had consumed a small quantity of alcohol, according to police.

However, the army denied the allegations and said it was Singh's driver who flouted traffic norms.

"An inquiry has been instituted against the driver and the matter is being looked into," the army official said.

Defence Ministry faces flak over IAF's Hawk crash
1 May 2008, 2045 hrs IST

NEW DELHI- With the newly-acquired UK-made Hawk jet trainer meeting with an accident, the IAF's new pilot training programme scheduled to begin in July seems to be in jeopardy.

An inquiry has already been initiated into the causes of the crash of the trainer plane in Bidar in Karnataka on Thursday, which comes close to the "teething problems" the jets faced soon after their acquisitions last year.

The accident of the aircraft which left the fighter reportedly crippled has put a big question mark on the IAF's new
pilot training programme which was to commence in July this year, defence ministry sources said here today.

IAF was to commence the training of its pilots for the final flying courses from July when it was expected to receive 20 of the 24 fighters to be bought in fly away conditions from the British manufacturers.

The Hawk which crashed yesterday was one of the 10 delivered to the IAF.

This was the first accident involving the Hawk jets, which IAF has acquired to impart advanced jet training to its pilots in the wake of spate of air crashes involving its MIG-21 fighters.

According to IAF sources, the Hawks are facing major problems due to supply of "recycled old spares".

The issue of trainers is going to be in focus of discussions during visit of Defence Secretary Vijay Singh to UK later this month.

India has signed a deal worth Rs 8,000 crores for acquiring 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers, of which 10 have been inducted. Under the deal, India is buying 24 Hawks off-the-shelf and remaining 42 would be assembled at HAL Bangalore under technology transfer.

The trainers, Air Force sources said were almost virtually grounded within a month of their delivery due to shortage of essential flying spares.

The Defence Ministry earlier faced intense censure from the Parliamentary watchdog committee Comptroller and Auditor General for buying 30-year-old ship landing tank INS Jalashwa after it was discarded by the US Navy.

Both the IAF and the Hawk manufacturers British Aerospace were silent on the issue.

BAE systems issued a statement last night in which it merely said it would support IAF in its investigations of the causes for the mishap.

Comments and discussion on the issues are invited, to make this more lively.

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