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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Feb 09

Government orders for PB4 for all Lt Cols issued. Check here for details.

MoD orders more pay, but issues still remain
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
While the much-awaited orders for placing officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and equivalent in pay band-4 have finally come through, the issue of pay and status disparity has only been partially resolved.

The government sanction letter for placing Lieutenant Colonels in the higher pay band was received at service headquarters today, sources said. The issue of grade pay for Lieutenant Colonels equal to their IAS counterparts and the issue of command and control are still pending.

Lieutenant Colonels have been upgraded to the Rs 37,400-67,000 bracket (PB-4) with a grade of Rs 8,000 from the earlier scale of Rs 15,600-39,100 (PB-3) with grade pay of Rs 7,600. The Services, however, had sought grade pay of Rs 8,700 at par with their civilian counterparts.

Sources said that the high-powered committee, set up recently, is yet to look into the status and command and control issue of military ranks vis-à-vis other organisations. The issue of granting lieutenant generals pay scales equivalent to that of a director-general of police is also pending.

Upgradation of pay scales means that Lieutenant Colonels would now be senior to deputy secretaries to the government of India, directors in state governments, senior superintendents of police and deputy commissioners of police, district collectors and district magistrates in the junior administrative grade, scientists ‘D” in technical services, commandants (junior grade) in the Coast Guard and the non-functional selective grade in central engineering services, sources added.

According to a letter issued by Ajay Tirkey, Joint Secretary in the MoD, PB-4 would be applicable to tenure postings with DRDO, DGQA, NCC, ISOs, etc. which fall within the purview of the ministry and for whom the pay allowances are paid from the MoD budget and deputation and training on foreign assignments.

Tenure postings to organistions including Assam Rifles, NSG, BRO etc. where “duty is military in nature and the officers posted would be carrying out the vital role which services otherwise would have to fulfill themselves”, would also come under the ambit of PB--4

Lieutenant Colonels on deputation to certain organisations like NHA, IRCON, Pawan Hans, state governments, etc, where the nature of duties is “not in line with normal combat profile of service personnel,” would draw PB-3 scales.

Special Army Instruction and fitment tables for enhancing the pay of lieutenant colonels would be issued by Army Headquarters shortly.

Aero India to be mega affair
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 2
Defence minister AK Antony will inaugurate the 7th edition of Aero India 2009, a premier air show of Asia, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station here on February 11.

The five-day show is being organised by the Ministry of Defence and managed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). While six successful editions of Aero India were organised earlier between 1996 and 2007, the coming show would be much bigger than the ones held before.

Aero India will showcase the latest in the field of military and civil aircrafts, vital components for aircraft engines, avionics systems & sub systems, airfield radars and new age technologies used in the defence sector. It is learnt that 592 exhibitors from 25 countries will participate in the show. The overseas participants include UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and Ukraine. China, which shunned the previous air shows held in India, will also be participating this year.

Aircrafts, including F-16, F-18, MiG-35D, Eurofighter, IJT, Dhruv, Hawk, C-17, Embraer 135 business jet Legacy 600, C-130J, Citation XLS,G 550, AN-12 Cargo and A-310 MRTT, will be on display at the show. The exhibition will consist of both airborne and static displays of a wide range of civil and military aircrafts from leading manufacturers.

Defence ministers of seven foreign countries will converge in Bangalore for the show. Besides, a high- level delegations from 40 countries will watch the show. Opening up of the defence sector in India to foreign direct investment, the modernisation plan of its armed forces and enormous new opportunities in the civil aviation sector have brought new avenues for investment in the country.

‘Pak may turn into a failed nation soon’

New Delhi, February 2
With Pakistan dithering over the global call to act against terror groups involved in the Mumbai terror strikes, a US-based intelligence think tank has projected that the South Asian state can very well turn into a “failed country” soon.

“Pakistan already is in crisis, and in some ways it is hard to imagine it getting much worse. But if it continues to destabilise, it could very well turn into a failed country...albeit a failed country with a nuclear arsenal,” security think tank Stratfor said in its annual forecast on ‘Jihadism’.

The report, titled ‘Jihadism in 2009: The trends continue’ and released in January, said Pakistan was once again the critical location for the Jihadists.

“Given the number of plots linked to Pakistan in recent years, including the November 26 Mumbai attacks and almost every significant plot since 9/11, all eyes will be watching Pakistan carefully,” it said.

Slamming Pakistan for being home to the Al-Qaida’s core leadership as it pursues its ideological war, the think tank said the South Asian nation was also home to a number of Jihadist groups.

Stating that the coming year might prove to be pivotal in the global efforts against the Jihadists in Pakistan, the Stratfor forecast noted that before it became a failed state, there were a number of precursor stages it probably would pass through.

“This type of anarchy in Pakistan could give the Jihadists an opportunity to exert control in a way similar to what they had done in places like Afghanistan and Somalia.” The most optimist assessment was if Pakistan re-establishes control over its territory and the ISI, the development could deal a terrible blow to the terror groups’ aspirations. — PTI

NSA Cautions US Against 'Barking Up the Wrong Tree' on Kashmir

New Delhi
Rejecting any attempt to link the Kashmir issue with violence in Pakistan's tribal areas, National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan has said US President Barack Obama would be "barking up the wrong tree" if he subscribes to such views.

"References made by President Obama did seem to suggest that there is some kind of a link between the settlement on Pakistan's western border and the Kashmir issue. Certainly that had caused concern," Narayanan told Karan Thapar's "India tonight" programme.

Narayanan, however, added that India had made it known to the Obama team at the outset that it would not like India-Pakistan relations to be on the agenda of Richard Holbrooke, special representative of the US for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The reference to India or Kashmir was finally excluded from the brief of Holbrooke after India's vehement opposition to such a suggestion.

Narayanan said that such references were made by Obama when he was campaigning or when he was president-elect.

"We tend to sort of say let's wait and see what he does when he come into office," Narayanan said. "I don't think we had any major exchanges with members of the Obama administration later on."

"I do think that we could make President Obama understand; if he does have any such views then he is barking up the wrong tree," he said.

Narayanan's repudiation of any link between Kashmir and terrorism comes before Holbrooke's first visit to the region, likely in the next six-seven days.

Besides Pakistan and Afghanistan, Holbrooke will also be coming to India to explore how India and the US can work together to bring stability to the South Asian region.

The United States has made it clear that Holbrooke has no mandate to deal with Kashmir and his sole job is to help bring stability to Afghanistan.

Global Meltdown Not to Impact
India's Military Modernization

New Delhi
The global meltdown will not impact on India's military modernization that envisages the purchase of hardware worth Rs.1.4 trillion ($30 billion) over the next five years, a top official said Monday.

"The global meltdown is a reality but India's military modernization will continue as before. There is no question of scaling down our modernization plans," Secretary (Defence Production) Pradeep Kumar said.

He was addressing a press conference here ahead of the bi-annual Aero India military air show at Bangalore Feb 11-15.

Given the fact that one-third of the value of all military deals has to be reinvested in the country, the air show has attracted a record 592 exhibitors - 303 from 25 countries and 289 from India - making the seventh edition of the event the biggest yet, Kumar pointed out.

"The offsets (reinvestment) policy provides a tremendous opportunity for foreign manufacturers and events like Aero India provide them the ideal opportunity to establish business-to-business contacts," he added.

"Aero India will provide an ideal window of opportunity for companies to not only network with the Indian industry but also to benefit from the sharing of expertise in the fields of R&D production and product support with other global players," Kumar maintained.

Towards this end, 153 meetings have already been fixed via a web portal launched by the defence ministry, which is organizing the air show in tandem with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"Many more are in the pipeline and the number could swell considerably by the time the show opens," Kumar said.

The bulk of the foreign participation - 31 companies each - is from Germany and France, followed by Britain (26), Russia (24), the US (22), Italy (19), Belgium (17), Israel (11) and Australia (10).

A number of foreign aircraft including the F-16, F-18, MiG-35D, Eurofighter, C-17, Embraer 135 business jet, C-130J, Citation XLS, AN-12 Cargo and A-310 MRTT, will be on display.

Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will showcase the indigenous Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, as also the BaE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) it is building under license.

With the covered area at the show spread over 44,000 sq metres, another 4,000 sq metres have been set aside for the static displays.

Defence ministers from eight countries - Bolivia, France, the Maldives, Mongolia, Oman, Peru and Surinam will converge on Bangalore for the show. Besides, high-level delegations from 40 countries will witness the show.

China will be represented for the first time through a token 10-member delegation.

"I would not read too much into this," Kumar replied when asked whether this was a sign of the growing warmth between the two militaries.

Encounter’ of disabled
Army in dock
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 2
A bandh called by two tea tribes organisations to protest against “encounter” killing of a physically challenged teenager by the Army brought life to a grinding halt in Sivasagar district and parts of upper Assam today.

Army personnel, hot on the trail of some militants of the outlawed ULFA, ended up killing 18-year-old Bishnu Tanti from tea workers’ community at Tingalibam tea estate under the Sonari police station in Sivasagar district after a botched encounter on Thursday.

The Army, initially, claimed that Bishnu was an ULFA militant who was killed in an encounter and a pistol was recovered from the site. But the killing infuriated tea workers community in the area as Bishnu was a physically challenged teenager who had gone out of his home to fetch water.

Enraged by the killing, All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (AATSA) and All Adivasi Students’ Association (AASAA) called for a 12-hour Sivasagar district bandh today demanding exemplary punishment to Army personnel involved in the killing of the innocent youth and an unconditional apology from the Army unit responsible for the “operation”. The bandh call was supported by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the People’s Committee for Peace Initiative in Assam (PCPIA).

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said the Army had ordered a probe into the encounter killing even as the state government had entrusted the Commissioner of upper Assam division to conduct a simultaneous probe into the incident that led to the killing of the youth.

“I have talked with the GoC 4 Corps of the Army about the incident and told that killing of innocent people in the operation against insurgents will not be tolerated,” Gogoi said.

Build It Right, And They Will Come

February 2, 2009: The Indian Army is refusing to buy any more BrahMos cruise missiles until the system has proved, via realistic testing, that it can do what it was designed to do. The army version of BrahMos failed its first operational test recently. While the Indian Navy is happy with the performance of its version of the missile (which is used to destroy enemy warships), the army version is equipped with a different terminal guidance system, that is supposed to enable the missile to hit a target in a cluttered environment. This is basically a video camera which broadcasts back to an operator images of what the missile is headed for. This is so minor adjustments can be made, to insure that the right, say, building can be hit. In addition to getting that new guidance seeker working, the army is also concerned with the high cost of each missile (over $2 million).

The Indian Army BrahMos is fired from a truck mounted launcher, and during the test, missed its target some 200 kilometers distant. The missile was accepted for service in the Indian Navy three years ago, but the first operational test of the army version was delayed as engineers fussed over technical issues. The missile had performed well in development tests. But an operational test means the missile is issued to a combat unit, and fired by a military crew. Russia has had problems like this before, as have all countries. But Russia has had more problems with high tech weapons, like BrahMos, than Western nations.

Last year, India ordered 800 more of the new PJ-10 BrahMos missiles. The Indian Army had planned to buy 80 launchers as well. Russia has not yet ordered any BrahMos, while India is also working on lighter versions for use by aircraft and submarines.

The 3.2 ton BrahMos has a range of 300 kilometers and a 660 pound warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic is its high speed, literally faster (at up to 3,000 feet per second) than a rifle bullet. Guidance is GPS or inertial to reach the general area of the target (usually a ship or other small target), then radar (in the navy version) that will identify the specific target and hit it. The warhead weighs 660 pounds, and the high speed at impact causes additional damage (because of the weight of the entire missile.)

India and Russia developed the weapon together, and now offer the BrahMos for export. The high price of each missile, about $2.3 million, restricts the number of countries that can afford it. Different versions of the PJ-10 can be fired from aircraft, ships, ground launchers or submarines. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept, and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons, the others, three tons or more.

The 29 foot long, 670mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-NX-26 (Yakhont) anti-ship missile, which was in development when the Cold War ended in 1991. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer made a deal with India to finish the job. India put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development. The PJ-10 is also being built in Russia. Efforts are being made to export up to 2,000. China and Iran have also expressed interest in the weapon, but only Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Kuwait and the UAE (United Arab Emirates have been approached with a sales pitch. Russia and India are encouraged enough to invest in BrahMos 2, which will use a scramjet, instead of a ramjet, in the second stage. This would double speed, and make the missile much more difficult to defend against.

The large order from India indicates it plans to make the missile a major weapon system. The BrahMos can carry a nuclear warhead, but is designed mainly to go after high value targets that require a large warhead and great accuracy. The BrahMos could take out enemy headquarters, or key weapons systems (especially those employing electronic or nuclear weapons.)

Pakistan Commits to Further Militarization: UAVs, Submarines, AWACS on Shopping List

Daily News & Updates

India Defence Premium

Dated 2/2/2009

Reports indicated that Pakistan Navy confirmed their intention to acquire drones, spy planes and submarines. Speaking Thursday at a ceremony to induct a Fokker aircraft and commission the T-56 Engine Test Bench at the Pakistan Navy Aviation Base PNS Mehran, Admiral Noman Bashir described the induction of Z-9 helicopters, airborne early warning systems (AEWs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as force multipliers for the navy's fleet of aircraft.

The T-56 engine powers the navy's P-3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft. To enhance the navy's 'subsurface defence capabilities', Bashir said a contract would soon be signed for the German-designed HDW Type-214 submarines. Commander of Naval Aviation, Commodore Adnan Nazir, said the Fokker, being a versatile aircraft, would serve to augment the operational capabilities of the fleet.

The setting up of the T-56 Engine Test Bench was a step towards self-reliance as it would be used for overhauling and maintaining the P-3C aircraft, Dawn Friday quoted Nazir as saying.

PAKISTAN:The way forward in Swat

By Khurshid Khan

Much has been written about Swat in the press and talked about on T.V channels. The issue has come to the surface and has attained the attention of national and International communities at large. It is good say that the press has come up to the mark. In addition to this, the National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution condemning the militants for violating fundamental rights of the people of Swat. This action should be taken as the collective voice of the people of Pakistan. Surly, now, the people of Swat will be hoping against hope.

The Government of Pakistan is now in a position to take prompt action both politically and military. The political action should come first for the long-lasting peace. A strong political will can pull the valley out from the syndrome.

Central and provincial leadership should prepare themselves for any kind of challenge. Risks shine talent, and fear paralyses both brain and soul. Extra- ordinary circumstances make leaders and a leader is judged by the decisions he takes in these extra-ordinary times. Decisive leadership has always inspired the Pukhtuns. It has shown less regard for the passive one. People praise the quick decision making process of the Taliban Islamic courts and its hundred percent of its implementation, regardless who may be the accused. Where the people will go for a complaint is not difficult to grasp.

The current law and order situation in the country, in general, and in Swat in particular, is not only a serious threat to the safety of its citizens, properties and writ of the government, but a challenging task for the present leadership. The private schools management association has declined the request of the administration to reopen the schools. The association’s president was firm that he will only open the schools when Fazlullah give permission and announced it on FM radio. The people of the area are looking towards its leadership in a suspicious way, which is a clear symptom of mistrust. The local people had complaints about the suffering of innocents, both at the hands of Taliban and security forces. The prolonged curfew and road blockage in Swat had also multiplied the worries of common people. Confidence building measures are the remedy and more delay will make it irreversible.

Before initiating any move towards peace and harmony in the valley, the leadership should make themselves aware about the upsurge and should think about the reasons behind it. The people of the valley have suffered due to the weaknesses of the State institutions, humiliating behaviour of the Police, revenue department, doctors’ commercial approach to patients, timber and land mafias, and lawyers’ exploitation of the clients and the complex judicial system since 1969. These problems created a gap between State and the people, which has been, very cleverly, filled by the non state actors. It can, now, easily be understood how the people of Swat have been trapped.

Provincial minister Ayub Khan and two MPAs, Sher Shah Khan and Sayed Jaffar Shah, visited the turbulent valley, almost after seven months, to convey a message to the people that they were there to be with them. The MPAs held a press conference there and also met with Afzal Khan Lala in his native village Duruskhela. They said that “The morale of Afzal Khan Lala was quite high” and he also told them that “he would never leave his soil for the fear of extremists who were bent on destroying lives, values and property of the Pakhtuns in the area”. The MPAs recalled that “under the new strategy, the public representatives along with high-ups of the provincial government would visit Swat on weekly basis in order to boost up the people’s morale and supervise and coordinate drive against militants in Swat.” Their visit will restore the confidence and trust of the people in the turbulent valley. Now the time has come that top leadership of Pakistan should visit Swat and sit with people for achieving the goal of peace and harmony.

Swat is virtually handed over to army for operation against the non state actors. Army has launched its operation ’Rah-i-Haq ‘since November 2007 but the situation is still not under control. Maintaining law and order is a job description of police and district administration. The close co -ordination of military and civil administration can bring betterment in the deteriorated law and order in the restive valley. Civil administration and fighting an irregular war are not the mandate of the army because it is trained for conventional war. Whereas this is, first and foremost, a war needing intelligence acts first. The ongoing war has been killing innocent people and destroying properties because of the use of mortar, gunship helicopters and canons, but damages on the part of the militants are low.

Besides operation, the government should also address the governance issues more seriously. Keeping in view the historical status of the valley, special laws can also be kept under consideration because the area falls in PATA. If a Nizam-e-Adl Regulation can be promulgated only in this area, then why not special laws may not be formulated for Swat.

Committed personals of DMG may be persuaded to perform duties in these extra ordinary times. They should be empowered and allowed to spread their own wings; the district and Tehseel Nazims should work closely with DCO Swat and commissioner Malakand. It is common saying in Swat, that law rules over the poor. This stain of ugliness should be washed away with the introduction of people friendly police having professional zeal, with strong commitment to the supremacy of the rule of law.

After 1994 uprising in Swat, the Government has announced Malakand Package to address those issues which caused that mayhem. Its budget was in Billions financed by Asian Development Bank, but did not meet the objectives of poverty alleviation in the far flung areas falling in its domain. This kind of repetitions will carry the valley in to another syndrome.

If, according to Shireen Mazari, “Deliberate games are being played by various powerful elements in the state”, we can only say “when the gold rusts what the iron will do”.

(The writer is Peshawar based academician.)

Courtesy: The News International

P-8I Reconnaissance Aircraft Deal: Boeing to Tie Up with L&T, BEL, Wipro, HCL and HAL

American plane maker Boeing Co. will buy aerospace structures and aviation electronics products worth at least $600 million, or Rs2,941 crore, from seven firms in India as part of the so-called offsets against winning a $2.1 billion contract early in January to supply eight P-8I reconnaissance planes to the Indian Navy.

According to two persons familiar with the development, the offset contracts are being placed with Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Wipro Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd , Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Dynamatic Technologies Ltd and Macmet Technologies Ltd, a unit of Canada's aerospace simulator maker CAE Inc. They did not share details about the contract division.

On 9 January, Boeing said the first of the P-8I, a variant of the P-8A Poseidon, the long-range marine patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, will be delivered to the Indian Navy, its first non-US customer, by 2011. The remaining will be delivered by 2015. "Our team is working on the offset strategy and will be in touch with industry partners in a while," said Swati Rangachari, a spokeswoman for Boeing in India. "We will concentrate in the areas of avionics (aviation electronics) and aerostructures."

Wipro, HCL, L&T and HAL declined to comment.

Ravish Malhotra, chief operating officer at Dynamatics, confirmed that the firm had been chosen as a vendor. A BEL executive said the firm had entered into an agreement with Boeing on the offsets contracts, but a contract was yet to be signed. "The scope of work includes supply of communication equipment, radars, electronic warfare systems and contract manufacturing," said I. V. Sarma, director for research and development at BEL.

Boeing's is so far the largest offset commitment for an Indian defence deal since the government mandated foreign arms makers to source at least 30% of the value of the contract of more than Rs300 crore from local firms. On 1 December, Astra Microwave Products Ltd, a Hyderabad based-firm building microwave wireless technologies, said it won a Rs57 crore offset contract from Israel's ELTA Systems Ltd, against supply of microwave wireless sub systems for India's defence radar programme. L&T is the other firm to win part of the Rs243 crore deal from ELTA.

India's imports of military hardware and software could reach a cumulative $30 billion by 2012, according to a study by industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India or Assocham. In the same period, Assocham said, Indian companies are expected to get offset orders from global military equipment makers of nearly Rs49,000 crore, or $10 billion.

The biggest of such orders will come from local sourcing in a purchase of 126 fighter aircraft, estimated to cost Rs42,000 crore. "The focus (to source locally) for foreign vendors, at least in the short term, would be in avionics and software, in which India is strong, and also in structural components," said Ratan Shrivastava, director for aerospace and defence at the New Delhi offices of research firm Frost and Sullivan.

India-Pakistan tensions down, says Gen Kapoor


LAHORE: The tensions arising between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks have “come down now”, a report in the Hindustan Times quoted Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor as saying on Saturday.

According to the paper, Kapoor said there had been extra movement of troops on the Pakistan side after the Mumbai attacks, as tensions between the two countries escalated.

At the same time, the terror infrastructure “is very much in existence in Pakistan”, he was quoted as saying.

Kapoor said the Indian military was fully prepared to “act or react in the manner the country’s political leadership wanted” it to in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

“As far as the military is concerned, it acts or reacts in a manner the country’s political leadership wants it to,” Kapoor told reporters at the high security Badami Bagh headquarters of the army’s 15 Corps in Srinagar.

He said infiltration could not be ruled out as the high Himalayan passes reopened after the winter.

“The security forces are taking all possible precautions to check infiltration through a three-tier mechanism,” he was reported as saying.

Arms companies make beeline for India

3 Feb 2009, 0242 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit , TNN

NEW DELHI: There is simply no business like the arms business, murky and time-consuming it might be. India says the global economic meltdown will not adversely impact its quest for military hardware and software.

With India to spend well over $30 billion for importing weapon systems and platforms over the next four-five years, global armament giants are jostling to grab a piece of the lucrative action.

India is already the developing world's largest arms importer, having notched deals worth around $28 billion since the 1999 Kargil conflict. And now, with the government deciding to fast-track defence deals after 26/11 to plug gaps in the operational capabilities of Army, Navy, IAF and Coast Guard, armament companies are once again making a beeline for India.

There will be as many as 303 foreign companies, as also 289 Indian firms, to hawk their wares during Aero India-2009 in Bangalore from February 11 to 15.

Leading the pack will be Germany and France, with 31 companies each. They will be followed by UK (26), Russia (24), US (22), Italy (19), Belgium (17), Israel (11) and Australia (10).

"Yes, there is the economic turmoil. But India's defence programmes will continue as before. There is no scaling down of the modernisation of armed forces, nor any fund constraints,'' defence production secretary Pradeep Kumar said on Monday.

So, it's no wonder that international aviation majors ranging from Boeing, Sikorsky, EADS and BAE Systems to MiG-Sukhoi, Embraer, Bombardier and SAAB will all be there at Aero-India.

The rich pickings are there for all to see. If IAF has the mammoth $10.4-billion project to acquire 126 new multi-role combat aircraft, with the six contenders now preparing for trials in April-May, the Army, Navy and Coast Guard too want to bolster their own air wings.

The armed forces, for instance, are in the market for around 700 helicopters, with roughly half of them to be acquired from foreign firms, over the next 10 years at an overall cost of around Rs 17,000 crore.

After signing the $1.2-billion deal for 80 Russian Mi-17 V-5 helicopters last month and virtually finalising the one for 12 VVIP choppers, MoD is looking to purchase 197 "light utility'' helicopters for Rs 3,000 crore as well as 22 attack helicopters.

Consider just the Navy. After MoD inked the $2.1-billion contract for eight Boeing P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft on January 1, the deals for 29 more Russian MiG-29Ks for Rs 5,380 crore, five Kamov-31 early-warning helicopters for Rs 1,377 crore and two Israeli Heron UAVs for Rs 386 crore are now ready.

That's not all. Navy is also hunting for six to eight medium-range reconnaissance planes, each worth around Rs 270-300 crore, and an initial 16 multi-role helicopters with anti-submarine warfare capabilities, each costing Rs 110 crore, out of a projected requirement of 60.

Radars is another "hot area'' after 26/11. From coastal to low-level transportable radars to Aerostats and AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), India plans to procure them in huge numbers.

Coast Guard alone is looking for 38 new radars to boost its coastal surveillance capabilities. IAF and Navy, in turn, are looking at inducting nine more EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars as a follow-on order to the two such radars inducted in 2004-2005 under a $145-million deal with Israel.

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