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Sunday, 15 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 15 Feb 09

Indian Navy gearing up for globe maiden solo, Feb 12: Indian Navy is gearing up for the maiden solo circumnavigation through a yacht.

The journey exploring the globe through sea will begin on August 15, 2009 with Indian Navy's commander Dilip Donde lone handily deciding to circumnavigate the globe.

The yacht built in Goa's Aquarius Fibreglas, ship building unit, was handed over to the Indian Navy today in presence of Chief of Naval staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta."Project Sagar Parikrama aims at undertaking the maiden solo circumnavigation under sails by an Indian," Rear Admiral (Retd) M P Awati, who conceptualised the entire project, told reporters here.

He said that the yacht inspired from Holland designed ship will be used for the mission.

Awati said that to meet the requirements of not passing through canals, a boat has to pass south of the continents of Australia, America and Africa.

The rear admiral said that a number of crewed boats have circular navigated under sails and no one keeps track of them.

"A solo circumnavigation presents an unique set of challenges and is often compared to climbing the Everest," he added.

The Indian Navy will be tracking the boat all the time. "It is also true that when the boat is a couple of thousands miles away from land, there is little that can be done to assist her. Hence the insistence on top quality construction, equipment and training," he said.

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Goa-made yacht ready to make history

13 Feb 2009, 0408 hrs IST, TNN

PANAJI: India’s maiden mission to solo circumnavigate the globe will be attempted on a sail boat made on the island of Divar and named ‘Mhadei’.

No boat flying the Indian flag has undertaken a solo circumnavigation under sails. When Mumbai-based Commander Dilip Donde, 41, of the Indian Navy casts away on August 15 from Mumbai, on a journey estimated to take nine months, he will also be making a bid to enter the elite club of solo circumnavigators.

Aquarius Fibreglass in Goa, owned by Ratnakar Dandekar, bagged the contract to build the 56-ft yacht and worked on a design purchased from a Dutch company.

“The boat’s construction commenced on Christmas Day 2007,” said 83-year-old vice admiral (retd) M P Awati, who was instrumental in conceiving and starting the project.

Speaking at a ceremony at which the yacht was handed over to the navy, chief of naval staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta compared the feat to climbing Mount Everest.

On his journey, Donde will have three stop-overs in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Asked how he would spend his time as he singly traverses the world’s oceans, Donde said if the weather conditions permitted, he would catch up on a novel. “When I need to sleep, the yacht will be on auto-pilot,” he said.

Incidentally, the first person to solo circumnavigate the globe, Sir Robin Knox Johnston of the UK in 1968-69 in 312 days, is in Goa to help tune the boat and train Donde for the mission.

The boat costs around Rs 4 crore, while the journey will come to another Rs 2 crore, the Indian Navy said.

We were ready: Pallam Raju

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: India actually wanted to strike at Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, but maintained restraint for various reasons, said Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju. He was participating in a discussion on ‘Terrorism: A trigger for a breakthrough agenda” on Saturday. He said there were multiple power centres in Pakistan, including the army, the ISI and the jehadis but the weakest was the democratic government. “Under these circumstances, where do we strike? We were prepared, but how would the international community react?” The meet was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Indian Army to degitise it’s war doctrine

By chennaivision at 14 February, 2009, 6:41 pm

Bangalore, The Indian Army is planning to impart the benefits of Information Technology at grass root levels like battalion, regiment and units, by taking up a degitisation of its war doctrine and tactics in the communication systems.

Lt General PC Katoch DG of Information Systems of the Indian Army told reporters at the Aero India-2009 here today that the future wars would be the technology based and this called for modernisation of lower levels of the army.

“At current pace in technology, especially IT, the industry has taken a huge leap. This calls for adopting the technology to revisit and refocus on digitisation of our programmes. Synchronisation of command and control can go a long way in bettering Indian Army’s fighting capabilities and situational awareness,” he said.

He said the speed and pervasiveness of data transmission in the IT age was causing a revolutionary change in the nature of military operations and warfare. The Indian Army had identified the need for systems requirement based on modern communication technology.

The existing legacy system did not allow for such exchange of critical information between the industry and the armed forces, which would be important, he said.

“The requirement at this moment thus is to draft a well defined policy on type of communication services and connectivity to be made available to battalions and regiments. The army’s decades old tactical communications system had served well so far but the future soldier will critically depend on a much broader spectrum of information services like video, graphics data, imagery, collaborative planning tools, remote interactive battlefield opeation systems and distributed data bases,” he said.

In its bid to modernize, the Indian army had embarked upon an aggressive digitization programme and was rapidly changing its doctrine and tactics. However the army needs to change its mindset and gain exposure to current and leading technologies in this field, he added.

AERO INDIA: MoD gives go-ahead to light utility helicopter project

By Siva Govindasamy

India's defence ministry has cleared Hindustan Aeronautics' proposal to manufacture 187 light utility helicopters, paving the way for the company to begin a design phase and possibly sound out potential foreign partners.

"We will now start working on the programme and we expect to begin deliveries in five to six years," says Ashok Baweja, HAL chairman.

The tender is part of a combined requirement by both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. New Delhi has issued a global request for proposals for 197 light utility helicopters, with Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Russia's Rosoboronexport expected to respond. The defence ministry hopes to make a selection by early 2010 and induct the first helicopter in 2011.

There has been speculation that HAL could work with a foreign vendor to develop the aircraft from scratch, although Baweja says that it is too early too say if this would be the case.

Eurocopter, which allowed HAL to licence-produce several hundred Indian versions of the Alouette and Lama, is the likely company if a partner is sought. A possible model for the partnership is one that Eurocopter has with South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries. The company is a partner in the Korea Helicopter Programme, which aims to develop an 8t utility helicopter for the country's army. Eurocopter would also help KAI to market the design outside South Korea.

India requires a smaller single-engine helicopter in the 2.5-3t category, with a range of up to 500km (270nm) and a 500kg (1,100lb) payload. HAL, which will also be responsible for the maintenance of the Western-manufactured helicopters, is likely to create a new division to oversee the entire LUH programme. This will be separate from its existing Dhruv advanced light helicopter and light combat helicopter programmes.

25 killed in US drone attack in Pak tribal belt

Press Trust of India

Saturday, February 14, 2009, (Islamabad)

US drone on Saturday fired missiles in Pakistan's restive tribal belt targeting a stronghold of local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, killing 25 people including two foreigners.

The drone fired two missiles at the home of a tribesman named Roshan Mehsud in Ladha area of South Waziristan Agency early this morning, TV channels reported.

The area in which the attack occurred is considered a stronghold of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mehsud.

Officials and the Taliban told TV channels that 25 people were killed and at least four more were injured in the attack.

Some reports said two foreigners were among the dead.

This was the second time in recent months that the area inhabited by the Mehsud tribe was targeted by the drones.

Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan has witnessed a wave of missile attacks by US drones believed to be operating from Afghanistan. Several top Al-Qaida and

Taliban operatives have been killed in these strikes along with dozens of civilians.

The civilian casualties have sparked an angry reaction from the Pakistan government, which says the missile strikes are counter-productive for the war on terror and a violation of the country's sovereignty.

Taliban trying to take over Pak: Zardari

NDTV Correspondent

Saturday, February 14, 2009, (Islamabad)

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has admitted the presence of the Taliban in large parts of the country and that the militant group was trying to take over Pakistan.

In an interview to an American news channel, which would be aired this Sunday, Zardari said, "Taliban has presence in huge amounts of our land. Yes, that is the fact."

Zardari also said Pakistan had been in denial about the Taliban in the past.

"We have weaknesses and they are taking advantage of that weakness," he said.

Zardari also rejected suggestions that he lacks the full support of the military and intelligence. "If that was the case, Islamabad would have fallen to the Taliban," said Zardari.

Deal on air missile to be finalised soon
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
India and a European missile manufacturer are close to finalising a deal on co-developing a new short-range surface-to-air missile that will primarily be used in air defence of the nation.

Top sources in the Indian Defence Establishment confirmed that talks are in final stages and the modalities were being worked out. It could be finalised within the next few weeks.

The European missile maker MBDA — that is jointly held company of various European nations — is in talks to developed the missile with DRDO. At the government-level transfer of technology to India will be the prime focus and is likely to sail through. Officials of the MBDA were at the Aero India show in Bangalore. The DRDO sources maintain that progress was good.

The MBDA already has a local industrial partner in Bharat Dynamics Limited that has been producing the MILAN series of anti-tanks missile since long for the armed forces.

Sources said talks were on to co-develop the new missile and launcher, using the technology and capabilities of the European company and the DRDO.

Time to step up maritime surveillance
by Paramjit Singh Sandhu

The use of sea route for coordinated terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 has made effective maritime domain awareness (MDA) imperative. There is greater need for the MDA considering the size, spread and economic wealth of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

India has two coastlines that are over 7,500 km long, which is nearly half as long as the land borders of 15,900 km. A comparison of 3.3 million square km land area with the 3.5 million square km of ocean (2 million square km of EEZ up to 200 km plus approximately 1.5 million square km of extended continental shelf up to 350 km) highlights the need of a new formula to allocate defense budget in proportion to the areas (size) of responsibility, strategic importance and their economic worth.

The budget allocation for maritime security (not Naval or Coast Guard ship procurement) needs to be increased and the available resources should be utilised economically in consonance with the current and future national maritime security needs. The simplistic comparison of the cost of procurement vis-à-vis the potency of fire power are shortsighted assessments and one needs to include the lifecycle cost, flexibility of single unit deployment, tied support necessary for operation in hostile environment and the risk to life of onboard personnel.

The protection of the EEZ, seaborne trade and credible capability to ensure fulfillment of national political and military objectives at sea constitutes India’s maritime security. For water-tight maritime security, all the constabulary and naval defense forces need to be coherent. The MDA can be effective if there is optimum deployment of constabulary force and expensive naval weapon systems during peace and war.

According to the Eighth Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (June 2008), the strategy for fighting terror in India has to be evolved in the overall context of a national security strategy. National security, in its broadest sense, means security of life and property of every citizen in the country as well as the common wealth of the nation, which belongs to all. National security is a comprehensive and dynamic concept that is related to the capability of the country to maintain its sovereignty and independence.

Apart from the military power, it represents the balance-sheet of a nation’s achievement in diplomatic, economic, technical, social and other fields of national endeavour. Easy availability of cell phones have made it easy for one to coordinate and control terrorist activities across the borders. Despite best efforts, illegal narcotics trade continues across the coastal waters of India and developed nations like the US. These smugglers have no ethics, moral values and will do anything for money.

While replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “I am conscious that our systems and procedures need review. On behalf of the Government, I would like to apologise to our people for the fact that these dastardly acts could not be prevented. The Mumbai incident has highlighted gaps in our preparedness to deal with these kinds of assaults. We need to equip ourselves more effectively to deal with this unprecedented threat and challenge to our country’s integrity and unity…The need for stronger measures to protect our coastline has been highlighted before, but the progress on ground in this regards has obviously been tardy and too slow.”

Surely, national security cannot persist without addressing maritime threat perceptions by the optimum integration of all available means of national power. The same has been seen on the land borders. Sizeable portion of the land forces are involved in securing land borders by continuous armed surveillance, patrolling sensitive areas and collecting intelligence. The means to achieve national security are also limited due to procurement and operating costs. The procurement of eight Boeing 737-800 based P8-I MMA (Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft) with a nose bomb bay and armed with harpoon anti shipping missile, is timely.

However, the cost of $ 2+ billion vs. capability and operational risk management for the required task goes in the favour of armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There is an urgent need to acquire a few surveillance aerostats and flights of armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These could be deployed sector wise along the coast and island territories in a synchronous and overlapping pattern of operation.

The Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) could be employed over safe waters to have real time data link with UAVs deployed in harm’s way. Unmanned under water Vehicles (UUVs) are recommended for sub surface surveillance of our maritime areas of interest. These could also be integrated with the LRMPs. The UAVs and UUVs are difficult to detect and engage by enemy offensive or defensive forces. A peacetime accident or incident of UAVs does not create international media hype even if it takes place in the enemy territory. Since in the current time of crises, the lone aircraft carrier is under refit at Kochi, more fighters of IAF should be integrated for maritime security.

Owing to the limited line of sight ranges of surface ships, effective surveillance of India’s maritime economic zones is viable only from the air. This would require setting up of a Joint Maritime Air Command (JMAC) under the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) through Head Quarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS). The JMAC due to the nature of its tasking should be commanded by an officer with maritime aviation background and have a mix of Air Force, Navy, Army, Coast Guards and para military personnel.

Any maritime strategy without adequate integration of UAVs will not only be wasteful and undesirable but also fall short of meeting the needs of MDA and national economic security. Setting up of a JMAC under HQ, the IDS is a must to ensure a highly integrated maritime security and professionally sound management of maritime airspace and control.n

The writer, a retired IAF Group Captain, has done doctoral thesis on India’s maritime security from Punjabi University, Patiala

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