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Sunday, 27 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 27 Jul

Here's a copy of a letter to Mayura J from DNA India :-


I happened to see your story on the missing sailor who was declared a deserter on

I wanted to give you another input which perhaps the missing sailor's wife or even her Advocate did not know as becomes apparent from the story.

Govt of India had, in 1988, issued an order stating therein that family pension and related benefits have to be released to the families of all defence personnel one year after they go missing. Hence post 1988, there is no requirement of waiting for 7 years for declaration of death for the purposes of grant of benefits. Moreover, it has also been ordained by the Ministry of Defence that a person cannot be declared a deserter unless there is some conclusive evidence on record of his desertion. Such cases have to be classified as 'missing' and not 'deserters'. It is unfortunate that the govt forces petitioners to obtain Hon'ble Courts for grant of relief which is in any case available under state policy. I'm also sure that the counsel for Union of India must have hidden the ibid policy in his reply to the petition.


Maj Navdeep Singh, Advocate, Punjab & Haryana High Court Chandigarh

US Soldiers to Learn Guerrilla Warfare n Mizoram Forest
By Syed Zarir Hussain

Vairengte (Mizoram)
Thirty US soldiers are set to undergo training for three weeks in low-intensity guerrilla warfare from Indian anti-terror experts in the forests of Mizoram, military officials said Saturday.
An Indian army commander said the training on unconventional warfare begins Aug 2 at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte, about 100 km from state capital Aizawl.
A group of 30 elite Indian army commandos, including four officers, will also take part in the joint exercise.
“The training schedule involves a rigorous drill on how to tackle urban terrorism and low intensity conflict, besides simulated anti-insurgency operations for the American soldiers,” a senior army official told IANS, requesting anonymity.
The 30 US soldiers are from the Special Forces or the Green Berets, tasked with eight primary missions - unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, psychological operations and information operations.
“The US soldiers would share their experiences in tackling urban terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the Indians would pass on their tactics used in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of the northeast,” the commander said.
There was a similar exercise in the past involving Indian and US soldiers at Vairengte.
The school at Vairengte is considered one of the world's most prestigious anti-terrorist institutions with troops from several countries getting counter-insurgency training.
"The motto of the institute is to fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla," a CIJWS commander said.
"The training module is non-conventional and once a soldier undergoes training here, he can face all deadly situations anywhere in the world.”
About 250 American soldiers have already undergone training at Vairengte in the last four years.
"The troops are taught to live in difficult and hostile terrain, eat and sleep like the guerrilla and strike as silently as the guerrilla," the commander said.
“The exercise is aimed at honing special skills for soldiers who are exposed to terrorist attacks in recent years.”
Spurred by the successes in combating militancy to a great extent, New Delhi in 2001 opened the school at Vairengte for soldiers from abroad with three US army officers being the first overseas batch to be trained.
But it was only after the Sep 11, 2001 terror strikes in the US that the jungle warfare school at Vairengte began attracting military cadets from across the world.
The training module includes lectures and seminars, besides mock operations in the rugged jungles in Mizoram.
The Vairengte School at present runs four counter-insurgency and jungle warfare courses open only to officers and soldiers below 28 years of age.
The school was set up in 1970 after Indian soldiers suffered heavy casualties at the hands of northeastern rebels who were adept at hit-and-run guerrilla tactics.

IANS | July 26, 2008

Country remembers its Kargil war heroes

ANI Srinagar Sat, 26 Jul 2008:

Srinagar, July 26 (ANI): Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday paid tributes to its 1999 Kargil heroes who sacrificed their lives while flushing out Pakistani soldiers in an undeclared war.

Nearly 500 soldiers died on the snow-capped peaks of Kargil in the campaign to oust hundreds of fighters whorossed into Indian territory from Pakistan in the summer of 1999.

The day is observed as 'Vijay Divas'.

"We observe the day as 'Vijay Divas', to remember our soldiers who successfully fought the intruders and sacrificed their life to make our borders safe," said Major General D.M. Chaudhary, General Officer Commanding, Tiger Division in Jammu.

The face-off in the Kargil mountains nearly brought nuclear- capable India and Pakistan to the brink of their fourth full-scale war.

India saw the fighting in the Kargil sector of Kashmir as an undeclared war with Pakistan. Pakistan denied any involvement in the intrusion saying Kashmiri militants had occupied the heights.

Indian army, backed by air force fighter jets and gunships, could evict the intruders from the icy heights only after a nearly three-month long haul.

India and Pakistan have introduced a number of confidence-building measures after nearly coming eyeball to eyeball in 2002 after Islamic militants raided Parliament on December 13, 2001.

More than 45,000 people have been killed in anti-India revolt by separatists in Indian Kashmir since 1989. (ANI)

Catchovsky-22: The scandal that is the T-90

On 22nd and 23rd July, tank experts from across the world gathered in Delhi. The occasion was a seminar --- organised by the Indian Army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF) in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) --- aimed at advising the Indian Army on how best to go about designing its next generation of armoured vehicles: the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT) and Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV). Despite two years of labour, the army’s tank directorate, the DGMF, has failed to decide on a suitable design.

As many of these experts told me, on condition of anonymity, the DGMF’s problems lie in its decision to start designing an MBT all over again. Instead of building on two decades of experience gained while designing the indigenous Arjun tank, perhaps by framing the requirements for an advanced version of the Arjun, the army is going back to the start line.

Experts at the seminar --- including Israeli tank legend, Maj Gen Yossi Ben-Hanan, who designed that country’s successful Merkava tank --- pointed out that tank design is evolutionary, each design building upon the previous one. The Israelis began designing their Merkava-1 MBT in 1970; today they have the world class Merkava-4. The US Army put all their World War II experience into designing the M-47; that led, through the M-48 and the M-60, to the successful M-1 Abrams design. The Russians started in 1940 with the T-32 tank; the great tank battles on the Eastern Front during the Second World War saw the T-32 fathering the T-54. That led to the T-55; the T-72 followed, which was further refined to today’s T-90.

India, like many religious fundamentalists, has rejected the theory of evolution. The Combat Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE) in Chennai, which has designed the Arjun, is now offering an improved Arjun-2 with more modern electronics. But last month, the army’s top tank-man, Lt Gen D Bhardwaj, trashed two decades of indigenous design work on the Arjun; he declared that the army would buy just 124 Arjuns for its 4000-tank fleet.

On 23rd July, Maj Gen Yossi Ben-Hanan warned the audience, “A decision taken today to build an Indian tank will yield an MBT only 15 years hence.”

And so, for the next15 years, while India grapples with a fresh design and fresh design problems, Russia will fill the Indian inventory, just as it has for the last 35 years. Frustrated army procurement manages point out that Moscow has flagrantly violated the February 2001 contract to supply India with 310 Russian-built T-90s and then transfer the technology, materials and components to build another 1000 in India. Seven years after that contract was signed, not a single T-90 has rolled out of Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) Avadi, where they are to be built. Senior MoD sources explain that Russia has failed to provide the critical technologies and components needed for T-90 manufacture.

Russia has not been sued for this breech of contract; instead it has been rewarded. Last December, India ordered 347 more fully built T-90s, at prices far higher than the first batch. (I understand that the first 310 T-90s cost India about Rs 9 crores apiece; the second batch of 347 T-90s will cost Rs 14 crores each, an escalation of over 50%) But most crucially, the December 2007 contract for 347 T-90s will delay the indigenous manufacture of T-90s even further, since the Russian plant cannot transfer any components or materials until it meets the fresh Indian order.
A furious official from HVF Avadi calls it “the perfect Catch-22 situation.”
Meanwhile, the 310 T-90s, which have been delivered by Russia and introduced into service, are far from battle worthy. The crucial tank Fire Control System (FCS), especially the Thermal Imaging Sight, through which the crew aims and fires at the enemy, has failed to function in Indian summers. An obliging Russian industry body, Rosoboronexport, offered to sell India “tank air conditioners”, even though no other tank in our inventory needs or uses air-conditioning.

The Russian air-conditioners were put through trials, which were a miserable failure. The driver of the trial tank fainted from heatstroke. Now the MoD has floated a global tender for air-conditioning the T-90s, as well as the T-72s which have functioned without air-conditioners for the last 29 years.

Meanwhile, the new Arjun production line at HVF Avadi has already churned out close to 70 Arjun tanks. They like there uncollected, even as the rate of production is quickening. The army continues to stonewall the Defence R&D Organisation’s (DRDO’s) pleas for comparative trials between the Arjun, the T-90, and the near-obsolescent T-72. The Arjun has successfully completed Phases IV and V of the Accelerated Usage cum Reliability Trials (AUCRT) which finished last month, during which the Arjun’s electronics worked flawlessly, without any air-conditioning.

But the DGMF is sticking to its guns; the army refuses to accept more Arjuns

Kargil Victory: An ecstasy now lost in oblivion

Biplob Ghosal

July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas to commemorate the victory of the Indian Army in Kargil. However, many of us seem to have forgotten the ones who sacrificed their life for the nation during that war.
The Kargil war, also known as the Kargil conflict, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan lasting for more than two months (May 8 to July 14). Pakistani forces and Kashmiri militants were located on the Kargil ridges when both sides had commonly ceased their military operations. The war took place because of the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants on the side of the Line of Control, which acts as the border between the two countries.
But today, it seems that people of India have forgotten the young brave soldiers who gave their life for the pride of the country. Their families got wholehearted support during the war, but at present, they are fighting the battle of life alone. Nobody seems to be bothered about them, not even the government.
June 9 was the date when the mutilated bodies of Lieutenant Saurav Kalia and five others of the 4 Jat Regiment were received by the Indian soldiers from the Pakistani Army in the Kargil sector. It was a gruesome sight as their bodies had been badly mutilated. These were true signs that they had been tortured. This was clearly aimed at causing nationwide outrage and provoking India’s sentiments.
Earlier, on June 7, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given a staunch statement saying, "We must hope, my countrymen, that even now reason will prevail, that those within Pakistan, who see the folly of aggression, will have their way." And then he added, "Till that happens, we have a job on our hands." The power in his voice spread across the country conveying his and India's resolve to give a stiff reply to the Pakistani offensive in the Kargil sector.
After the Indo-Pak War of 1971, there had been a long period of relative calm between the two countries. But during the 1990s, tensions and conflict with separatists in Kashmir as well as nuclear tests by both countries in 1998 changed the scenario.
Both the countries had signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999 to provide a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue.
However, some officers in the military of Pakistan covertly trained and sent troops and paramilitary forces, some allegedly in the guise of mujahideen, into the Indian territory.
The aim was to cut down the link between Kashmir and Laddakh, and force Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement on the Kashmir dispute.
Pakistan also had in mind that tension in the particular region would bring international concern over the Kashmir issue, helping it to a speedy resolution. But some writers have also have the thinking that it might have been a retaliation for India's ‘Operation Meghdoot’ in 1984 that seized much of Siachen Glacier.
Because of the extreme winter in Kashmir, it was common practice for the Indian and Pakistan Army to vacate the posts and reoccupy them in the spring. That particular year, the Pakistan Army reoccupied the posts before the scheduled time.
The Occupation
It was during May 1999 when the Pakistani Army decided to grab the Kargil posts, which at that time were vacant as the Indian Army was pulling back from these high altitude posts because of severe weather conditions during winter. Troops from the elite Special Services Group as well as four to seven battalions of the Northern Light Infantry backed by Kashmiri guerrillas and Afghan mercenaries had accumulated and overtly set up their bases on the Indian-controlled region.
Initially, these incursions were not spotted as the Pakistani Army continuously indulged in artillery fire from across the Line of Control, which provided a safe cover for the infiltrators. But in the second week of May, an Indian patrol team, acting on a tip-off by a local shepherd in the Batalik sector, was suddenly attacked from a covert position. This led to the exposure of the infiltration.
The Indian troops initially, with little knowledge of the extent of the encroachment, claimed that they would force out the infiltrators within a few days. However, reports of infiltration from the other areas of the LoC made it clear that the plan of attack was on a much bigger scale.
The Government of India responded strongly with ‘Operation Vijay’ and a massive mobilisation of 200,000 Indian troops was declared. But due to rugged terrain, division and corps operations could not be increased; most of the fighting was at the regimental or battalion level. In effect, two divisions numbering 20,000, plus several thousands from the paramilitary forces of the Indian Army and the Air Force, were deployed in the particular zone. The total number of Indian soldiers that were involved in the operation in the Kargil-Drass sector was approximately 30,000. The number of infiltrators was close to 5,000 that included troops from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which were providing additional artillery support.
The Kargil war can be divided into three stages:
Pakistan first captured several strategic high points in the Indian-controlled sector of Kashmir. India then attacked and captured the vital transportation routes and finally pushed Pakistani forces back across the Line of Control with its mighty military power.
By the time Operation Vijay reached its fourth week, the Indian armed forces had, to an extent, reversed the tide. With the Air Force and artillery providing fire cover, infantry platoons skilled in mountain warfare had scaled frightening heights averaging 18,000 ft to be able to strike down the intruders hidden on the ridges.
But, victory comes with huge sacrifice and this time also the sacrifices were too many. While the brave Indian soldiers were moving ahead for the kill, they were shot down by some murderous firing. The death toll reached 98 by June 11, with over 317 injured.
Though the Indian Army was claiming that they had pushed the intruders back by almost 10 km all along the 180-km stretch of the Line of Control, it was hard to believe. Still, the Army was able to get back some of the key ridges after hard-fought battles but Pakistan was in a commanding position and had possession of the vital peaks from where it posed a major threat to India. To dislodge even one soldier occupying the high ground it requires as many as 100 soldiers, including infantry and artillery support.
As the strategic ridges manned by the infiltrators were being reinforced by trained Pakistani Army regulars numbering close to 1,000 - much higher than earlier estimates of 300 to 700. With the backing of well-coordinated military planning and leadership and extensive firepower and heavy artillery support the Indian Army had sensed that the war would not be a brief one.
The Pakistani artillery accurately hit the Kargil district headquarters just when it had moved to what it thought was the safer Suru valley nearby. Under the sustained offensive, the Indian Army was forced to rethink its strategy on Kargil as to how long it will take to reoccupy the heights.
That's because Defence Minister George Fernandes' announcement of 48 hours to push the intruders behind the LoC had become a joke as the Army Headquarter was forced to shift that to a month. Meanwhile, the Army had moved 25,000 additional troops to the war zone.
By the last week of June, the Indian Army had shaken off the advantage of surprise that Pakistan had and worked out a tactical strategy to make the infiltrators flee Indian territory. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs along with the three services chiefs made an assessment of the situation and also looked at other factors that would play an important role in forcing Pakistan to back down.
Nuclear factor
One of the main concerns in the international community during the Kargil crisis was that both neighbours had access to weapons of mass destruction, and if the war intensified, it could have led to nuclear war.
The India-Pakistan conflict became very tensed when the US received intelligence that Pakistani nuclear warheads might be used. Then US President Bill Clinton tried to dissuade Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif from nuclear brinkmanship threatening the South Asian country of dire consequences. Sensing a deteriorating military scenario, diplomatic isolation, and the risks of a larger conventional and nuclear war, Sharif ordered the Pakistani Army to vacate the Kargil heights. He later claimed in his official biography that General Pervez Musharraf had moved nuclear warheads without informing him.
War coming to an end
Following the US’s warning on July 4, Sharif agreed to withdraw the Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a halt. Though, some of the militants did not wish to retreat, and the United Jihad Council rejected Pakistan's plan to retreat, instead deciding to fight on.
Indian army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as soon as the last of these Jihadists in the sector had been cleared, the fighting was ceased on July 26.
Since, then the day has been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India.
Lessons to be learnt
Pakistan must understand that dialogue is the best option for sorting out mutual problems between the two countries. Pakistan should make serious efforts to ensure that a General doesn't take steps that deliberately weaken the peace process.
India 's policy of peace had earned her praise from all over the world, yet it must take serious steps to enhance its defence preparations and do not take defence preparedness for granted. Kargil has also been termed as an intelligence failure and negligence. India must make sure that such mistakes don’t repeat and steps should be taken to make intelligence system more powerful.
Kargil Vijay Diwas
July 26 is Vijay Divas, the day we celebrate our victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War. It is the day, which makes us proud not only of the victory but also of our soldiers, who helped us hold our heads high. It’s the day in the year 1999 that the Indian victory over Pakistan was complete. And it has been nine years today, nine long years since our pride was restored. It seems that the nation has forgotten the unsung heroes of our motherland as this particular day was directed to keep celebrations of Kargil victory, a low profile event in the subsequent years.

Stand up for our soldiers Rishabh Srivastava 25 July 2008, Friday

VICTORY IN Kargil was certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valour with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was an extraordinary achievement for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms. July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas, to mark the victory in Kargil. The young officers and soldiers were primarily responsible for India’s victory in Kargil. As a grateful citizen of this nation I pay my homage and salute those brave soldiers who “gave their today for our tomorrow.”

But nine year on I feel that we as a nation are callous towards our soldiers. A soldier lays down his life to protect the integrity of the nation, which is his duty. The duty to live up to the trust of billions of people, duty to save the motherland from enemy, duty to keep the integrity of the country intact. A soldier fulfills all his duties but can the same be applied to Ministry of Defence (MoD) or for that matter to our bureaucrats and politicians. They earned money on the bodies of the martyrs. They even neglected the intelligence failure. Like the other wars Kargil was also converted to genuine victory. India declared ceasefire when Army was ready for the final assault. Nehru’s mistake in calling a ceasefire too early and taking the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations for resolution are fairly well-chronicled, as a starting point for the modern-day Kashmir issue. Under pressure from Mountbatten and personally committed to peace and non-violence, Nehru opted for a civilised resolution to the conflict. The 1965 war with Pakistan did not end in a decisive victory for any one side. When Pakistan captured the Akhnoor and Chicken’s Neck in Kashmir, Shastri’s aggressive reaction of opening war along the entire western front with Pakistan had resulted in the Indian Army making substantial inroads into Pakistan territory and famously coming within striking distance of Lahore. Shastri, for reasons still not quite clear, decided to play a Prithviraj Chauhan to Ayub Khan’s Mohammed Ghouri. He agreed to withdraw the Indian Army from all captured territories, including some strategic territories in Kashmir. 1971 was probably the best opportunity that India had to resolve the Kashmir issue on terms favourable to it. India had come out of the war not only a decisive but also a magnanimous victor. The ceasefire Indira Gandhi unilaterally declared, against the advice of her armed forces commanders, was driven by realpolitik and economic reasons.

We as a citizen join hands and come forward to extend our support to our brave soldiers. But only when there is a war. We forget them during peace time. Why? Why can’t a nation salute its soldiers when he is alive, not just when he is dead?

Few months ago after the recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission, former servicemen staged protest against the recommendation. They said that the Sixth Pay Commission hasn’t met the expectations of the defence personnels. Minister of State for Defence M Pallam Raju voiced displeasure over the protests by the ex-servicemen, saying it was not dignified on their part. I agree with Raju because India is perhaps the only nation where the politicians are not interested in looking into the grievances of the services. The government must realise that they have taken such a step because their demands are very genuine and they have protested as the last resort. If government hopes to solve the trouble with the laid-back attitude then it is trying to fool itself. A nation is as strong as its armed forces. The words like non-violence and world peace are used these days but one must understand that on the international stage you are identified by your defence forces. Unfortunately, government hasn’t woken from slumber. In India, soldiers are treated shabbily, their prestige is often mocked at and their fate is decided by the IAS babus who have earned notoriety for reasons other than providing a clean administration and efficient governance. Hence joining the forces is no longer a matter of pride and preference, consider the number of vacancies the forces have now. When the ugly politicians look down on patriotism and honour of the soldier, we see heroes laid to rest unsung and soldiers committing suicide.

The defence forces are facing shortage of thousands of officers which has been accentuated by the attrition. This year National Defence Academy (NDA), which has the intake of 300 could get only 192 cadets while Indian Military Academy (IMA) got 86 out of 250 intake capacity. The signs are really disappointing and the government must not take it lightly. After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru neglected the army for years and thus China was able to attack India without any hesitation. He himself later admitted this.

The Indian public and press remain apathetic on defence issues as well. Kargil war was duly covered by media. But when the war was over none of the media houses took the issues of unceremonious treatment meted to the families of martyrs. We forgot that our soldiers are still guarding the frontiers. We as a nation never try to understand the sacrifices, problems and demands of the forces. The problems of the forces is not a priority for our politicians. There has been no solution till date concerning to the Sixth Pay Commission report. It may be seen that initially, an IAS officer and defence service officer start off on an equal footing so far their salary is concerned. But after a year or two, an IAS officer is promoted to the post of under secretary which is equivalent to the rank of a Major or equivalent ranks in other wings of defence forces, where as, the officers in defence services attain the rank of a Major after seven years. As such, a wide gap is created in the salary of an under secretary and an officer of the rank of Major and equivalent ranks in the defence forces.

Memorial to Kargil martyrs soon
S.M.A. Kazmi
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 26
Uttarakhand remembered its Kargil war martyrs on the occasion of the Kargil Vijay Diwas here today.

Jawans and officers of the armed forced hailing from Uttarakhand suffered the maximum number of casualties in the entire country. Out of total 526 soldiers, who laid down their lives in ousting the Pakistani army from Kargil heights in 1999, 73 were from Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand CM Maj-Gen B.C. Khanduri (retd) was the first to lay a wreath at the Martyrs' Memorial at Gandhi Park here today along with other leaders. Similar wreath-laying ceremonies were also held at the war memorials at Lansdown, Ranikhet, Garhi Cantonment and Premnagar.

Remembering the martyrs, Khanduri said that Indian forces despite being handicapped by many factors fought valiantly to defeat Pakistani forces in Kargil and the nation would always be indebted to the heroes who laid down their lives to write another glorious chapter of bravery and resilience of the Indian forces.

He reiterated the resolve of his government to do everything possible for the soldiers and ex-servicemen of the state. Khanduri had earlier enhanced 20 times the award money given by the state government to gallantry award winners.

With 18 martyrs in Kargil war, Dehra Dun district topped the list of martyrs in the state followed by Pauri Garhwal with 17, Tehri Garhwal 15 and Chamoli 11. Major Vivek Gupta of Dehra Dun was posthumously given the Mahavir Chakra for exemplary gallantry in the Kargil war.

New Delhi: After paying homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here today to mark Vijay Diwas — the victorious culmination of the war with Pakistan in 1999 — Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said the war memorial will be built.

General Kapoor laid a wreath during the ceremony here this evening where the top brass of the armed forces was present.

Nine years after more than 600 Indian Army officers and soldiers died trying to recapture the icy heights around Kargil and Drass, the war memorial has been an issue that has been close to the hearts of the armed forces.

The BJP, which was the ruling party during the Kargil war, organised a function where its president Rajnath Singh demanded a better pay package for defence personnel and said the government should ensure a second-career option for those who take early retirement.

He also urged retired defence personnel to form a defence policy group and compile their demands. Rajnath Singh also criticised the ruling UPA government for failing to meet the demands of defence personnel in the Sixth Pay Commission.

HAL to fly into LatAm market with Cheetah
Huma Siddiqui
Posted online: Friday , July 25, 2008 at 01:12 hrs

New Delhi, Jul 24 After tasting success with its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv’ helicopters, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is poised to make further inroads into the Latin American market with its light helicopter Cheetah.
According to highly placed sources in the ministry of defence (MoD), “Surinam and Colombia have expressed interest in the ‘Cheetah’ helicopters.”
These countries have seen the performance of these helicopters and a team will probably travel there for the display, sources said.
The Cheetah is a multi-functional, simple, light-weight helicopters which has specially been designed for operations over long distances.
The five-setter Cheetah, can be used for observation, surveillance, logistic support, earth research and rescue operations. “The Cheetah has been manufactured by the HAL for both military and civil purposes and is the version of the SA 315 Lama under licence of Turbomeca in France,” explained officials.
“The queries that we have received for the Latin American countries are for the civilian usage,” said sources.
These machines have the ability over the latest technologies like a hydraulic servo control, ultra sensitive constant speed indicator and a automatic start system so that the machine can be started in a very short time.
Presently, the MoD is working on a plan to acquire 400 light helicopters for the armed forces to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet, which the Army and Air Force have been using for more than three decades.
India is expected to buy half of the helicopters from a yet-to-be decided foreign vendor and the state-run HAL will be asked to design and build the remaining.
Also, for the India Navy’s rotary UAVs, an agreement has already been reached with IAI of Israel for joint development, under which the conversion of the Cheetah helicopter will be done with introduction of automated controls.
“The choice of Cheetah was obvious as we have them in large numbers, all the three services use them and they are time-tested. While the contract has yet not been signed, we have started work on collection of aerodynamic data on Cheetah helicopter so that necessary flight control systems can be developed,” said officials of HAL.
To start with, two Cheetah helicopters will be converted—one in India and another in Israel. Subsequently, HAL will produce fresh Cheetah helicopters with the automatic control system in place.

Indian army to help prevent rhino poaching

GAUHATI, India - Authorities in northeastern India have asked the army to help protect endangered one-horned rhinoceroses from poachers and have made the soldiers honorary wildlife wardens, officials said Saturday.
"The army will now assist the authorities at the Kaziranga National Park in protecting the rhino," park director S.N. Buragohain told The Associated Press.
The soldiers will live in tents in the park, he said.
The 267 square mile park, about 135 miles east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, is home to more than 1,800 of the world's estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinoceroses.
Poachers killed about 20 rhinos in the park last year and six have been killed so far this year.
"The army's presence is expected to keep poachers away. This is good news for us," Buragohain said.
Soldiers have also been asked to be part of anti-poaching drives in at least six other national parks and sanctuaries in the state.
Gangs of armed poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe have aphrodisiac qualities and are used in medicines in parts of South and Southeast Asia.
Rhino horns are also popular in the Middle East, where they are fashioned into handles for ornamental daggers.
Authorities in Assam earlier deployed lightly armed forest guards in Kaziranga who were unable to stop the poaching.

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