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Monday, 30 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Mar 09

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The Pioneer

Ex-IAF officer played key role

Retired officer had a hand in scuttling the induction of Akash missile

Josy Joseph. New Delhi

Who were the main actors pushing for the controversial Rs10,000 crore medium-range surface-to-air (MRSAM) contract with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)?
The deal, signed on February 27, just days before the general election was announced, had an unheard of clause for paying Rs600 crore (6% of the contract value) as "business charges".
While Israel's Elul Group is already under scrutiny, serious questions are also being raised about a retired Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who played a crucial role in formally proposing purchase of MRSAMs from Israel. This officer was also responsible for scuttling the large-scale induction of the indigenous surface-to-air missile Akash.
Over the past few days, DNA's investigation has raised questions about the controversial deal with IAI, which is already being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Barak missile deal of 2000. The MRSAM deal was signed despite initial vigilance objections, neutral legal opinions, and the success of the indigenous Advanced Air Defence missile of similar capability.
DNA's investigation found that the IAF officer, who retired about two years ago, is now working for the Israeli arms industry in New Delhi.
Without naming the officer, Defence Research & Development Organisation chief M Natarajan told a press conference in Bangalore during the Aero India show last month that the officer had slashed his predecessor's commitment to induct eight squadrons of Akash missiles. The officer had brought the figure down to just two squadrons. Akash has a range of 27km, while MRSAM has a range of about 70km.
A source in the defence ministry confirmed that even for the induction of these two Akash squadrons, the IAF put a condition that the DRDO must first agree to the MRSAM project. "We were blackmailed into the MRSAM project," said the source. "He [the former IAF officer] killed Akash, blackmailed us to agree to MRSAM, and is now working for them [Israeli arms companies] openly."

"Yes, we are aware (that the officer is working for Israelis)," said a senior defence ministry official, who had defended the government for going ahead with the MRSAM deal.
The official said the ministry has not yet sought clarification from the officer because he retired "two years ago". But "he has very limited access in the defence ministry and air headquarters," the official claimed.
The retired officer had held such a crucial position in the IAF that it is surprising why the government has closed its eyes to his alliance with foreign arms firms after retirement.
The role of another IAF officer is also coming under scrutiny in this matter. He is associated with Nova Integrated Systems, the Tata-IAI joint venture which will be integrating the MRSAM.
Several officials in the defence ministry are baffled how a private-sector firm has been nominated as the integrator for the sensitive missile system. In India, all missile systems are integrated in public-sector units, usually Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
In fact, DRDO suggested BDL as the integrator for the MRSAM, with Israelis supplying the seeker and some radar components and DRDO making the airframe, servos, and propulsion. But Nova will be doing the integration now.
This is yet another decision that has raised eyebrows. Sources in the defence establishment believe it is a perfect example of how the Israelis were able to get through whatever they wanted.

A soldier and gentleman politician
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Always smiling and relaxed, Capt Kanwaljit Singh was a politician with difference. Firm and polite, he made a mark not only in the Shiromani Akali Dal but also in Punjab politics.

Born in Nabha, princely town in Malwa, on September 1, 1942, he had education in Patiala and Chandigarh before joining Indian Army. The soldier in him made him follow self-drawn strict discipline after joining politics in early 80s.

Sitting in front seat of his car, he was returning after attending a function in support of party candidate Daljeet Singh Cheema, when a truck coming from the opposite side rammed into his vehicle that in turn hit another truck injuring him seriously. Timing and type of the accident prompted Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann demand probe by a sitting high court Judge into the mishap. His death sent shock waves in the state and the country.

He leaves a widow, a son and a daughter besides large number of friends and admirers.

His first entry into electoral politics was in 1985 when he defeated Venod Sharma of the Congress by 1193 votes from Banur constituency. He represented the same constituency till now. In 1997, he defeated former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mohinder Singh Gill and in 2002, his opponent was Ms Sheelam Sohi. whom he defeated by 714 votes. In 2007 Assembly elections, he defeated Pappu Sharma, son of former Punjab Finance Minister Hans Raj Sharma.

If Zirakpur and Banur look like extensions of Chandigarh, it is all due to his efforts. Widening of roads, the Zirakpur flyover and Banur becoming hub of technical education is all because of his efforts and vision making this otherwise neglected area fountain of technically qualified youngsters.

Captain Kanwaljit Singh proved his credentials in every portfolio he held in the Punjab Council of Ministers during his three terms as ruling party legislator. When Surjit Singh Barnala became the Chief Minister, he did commendable job as Home Minister as the state was still reeling from militancy.

In the 2002 SAD-BJP government, he was Finance Minister. This was the only time when a non-Congress government completed five-year term. His handling of finance was lauded by even opposition benches.

In the present government, he was given portfolio of Cooperation, Defence Services Welfare, Removal of Grievances, pensions and welfare of pensioners. He tried to revive cooperative movement in the state. All sugar mills in the cooperative sector were revived and upgraded.

On important issues, he would invite senior journalists either for views or to interact on what the state should do on complex issues.

He was upset when the Akali Dal split and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) came into being. As believer in Panthic agenda, he stood by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Surjit Singh Barnala as general secretary of the Dal. When the Longowal Dal merged back with the mainstream Shiromani Akali Dal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh continued to hold the position of general secretary till his death. He went to jail several times in support of Panthic morchas.

Being a former soldier welfare of ex-servicemen was very dear to him.

BrahMos Block II version test-fired

New Delhi, March 29

For the second time in a month, the Block II version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile with a striking range of 290 km, successfully hit its target during a test at the Pokhran firing range today, DRDO officials said.

“The missile was successfully launched at 11.15 am in the morning and in the next two-and-a-half minutes, it hit the bull’s eye in the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan,” an official told.

This was the third test-firing of the latest Block II version of the missile.

During the test, Army’s Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General AS Sekhon, Artillery School Commandant Lt Gen Rao and Additional Director General (Artillery) Major General VK Tiwari were present.

The launch of the latest land attack version of the missile being developed for the Army was also witnessed by DRDO’s Chief Controller and BrahMos Aerospace Chairman A Sivathanu Pillai and DRDL Director P Venugopalan.

After today’s test, officials said the development phase of the Block II version of the missile was over and it was ready for induction in the Army. They said the mission objectives of the test were completely fulfilled.

The third trial of the missile has come at a time when the Army has not yet come out with its findings about the analysis of the flight and the mission of the March 4 test, when the missile hit its target from a distance of around 90 kms at the Pokharan test-firing range.

In the first test on January 20, the missile failed to hit its target due to glitches in the homing device of the missile. The missile had taken off successfully but deviated from its path in mid-course and landed far away from its target. Sources said the defects were rectified at the time of the last test when it went on to hit the target.

They said the “unique” technology in the Block II missiles made them “unparallelled” and would help the armed forces hit even “insignificant targets” hidden in cluster of buildings.

“The new seeker is unique and would help us to hit our targets, which are insignificant in terms of size, in a cluster of large buildings. India is now the only nation in the world with this advanced technology,” an official claimed.

DRDO officials claimed that BrahMos would be able to start deliveries of the 240 missiles ordered by the Army in two years from now as per the original schedule. The Army has already inducted one regiment of the Block I version of the missile. — PTI

Nehruvian bravado haunts IAF’s vistas - Part I

The announcement came shortly after the second prototype (PT-2) of the light transport aircraft (LTA) Saras crashed on the outskirts of Bangalore in early March. The 14-seater multi-role plane is being developed by ’expert’ science research VIPs at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a CSIR outfit.

More than the monstrous sums squandered in the development, which has been going on since the early 1990s, the real tragedy was the loss of three young IAF officers. Test pilots Wg. Cdr. Praveen, Wg. Cdr. Deepesh Shah, and Test Engineer Squadron Leader Ilayaraja, who were on board the pre-doomed aircraft, died in the crash.

NAL chief AR Upadhyaya had taken the considered view that the accident must not hamper the program in India’s quest for beating the big names in the business. If Brahmachari, who met NAL ’scientists’ and relatives of the deceased pilots, is to be believed, the father of one of the pilots told him that completion of the Rs 200 crore project would be a fitting tribute to his son.

Whether it was true or not, it is this suicidal mindset - not just being prepared to become a martyr if needed but actually dying due to the ineptitude and criminal negligence of top bosses and utter mismanagement - that is being promoted by fake experts living in a Nehru era time warp.

A high-profile science babu who has dedicated his entire career (pushing files) to the country in one of the 37 research institutes governed by CSIR paid a typical homage saying, “These young officers have supported the test flying of the LTA, knowing fully well the risks involved with the experimental production. No great success can be achieved without paying the price.”

What he did not mention explicitly was that the price involved in fitting emergency equipment like ejection seats, mandatory when test flying unproven stuff, was too high compared to the cheap lives of passionate IAF officers in India!

This attitude came to the fore just one month previously in case of LTA’s compatriot LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) named Tejas. Air Commodore Rohit Varma, who heads the LCA flight testing at the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), said, “Unlike other countries where test pilots are retired airmen, our test pilots are all serving pilots, bringing in contemporary experience of our operating environment!”

Countries which really want to develop such machines are idiots by implication because they believe that only highly experienced pilots will be able to take split-second decisions, often needed while facing situations that could not have been predicted! Apparently, the dare devilry or agility of pilots who have hundreds of flying hours left in them are not the attributes needed for this job.

NFTC bosses incidentally boast, “This centre has been set up entirely indigenously.” This is a sick Nehruvian mindset obsolete in an age when the concept ’global hubs’ is in vogue. Even far richer countries prefer to source such items in other countries in order to keep pace with advancements and to ensure quality and cost-effectiveness, rather than sink money in indigenization.

Rapid fire experts of India have come out with a brilliant idea to cut down the likely setback due to the fate of the PT-2, which was completely destroyed in the accident. The PT-1 aircraft will be modified and touted as the PT-3 by fitting the higher thrust Pratt and Whitney engines! Bring a donkey, present it as a horse and get a willing jockey to ride it! After all, any number of suckers are available to test-fly such make believe machines and become martyrs.

Of note, the PT-1 that had its first flight in May 2004, exceeded its empty weight target by almost a tonne. That is 25 per cent. Therefore, the PT-2, which first flew three years later than the PT-1 did (and crashed now), was fitted with the 1200 shp version of the original 850 shp engines, imported from Pratt & Whitney, Canada.

The PT-3 was supposed to be a ’production-standard prototype’, targeting a 500-kg weight reduction, using advanced materials. It was expected to fly by 2009-end, pushing certification into 2010.;jsessionid=C5B7352116F8CF1F7B4001C57F06FA28?articleID=15762344

Supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile Hits 'Bull's Eye'

New Delhi

The Indian Army Sunday successfully test fired the land attack version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. The missile took off successfully and hit the "bull's eye", an official statement said.

The missile, a joint venture of India and Russia, was fired at 11.15 a.m. Sunday.

"Today (Sunday) land attack version of BrahMos block-II was tested from a mobile autonomous launcher at Pokhran test range by the Indian Army. The missile took off successfully and hit the desired target at bull's eye meeting all mission parameters," a statement issued by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said.

This is the second launch this month and third this year for the block-II version for the army.

In the first test, the missile failed to hit the target. The army kept the results of the second test under wraps even though DRDO termed it successful.

"With this launch, the requirement of army for the land attack version with block-II advanced seeker software with target discriminating capabilities has been fully met and this version is ready for induction," the statement said.

According to the DRDO officials, the missile will provide an enhanced capability to the army for selection of a particular land target among a group of targets.

The launch was witnessed by Director General Military Operations Lt. Gen. A.S. Sekhon, Commandant School of Artillery Lt. Gen. K.R. Rao and Additional Director General Artillery Maj. Gen. V.K. Tiwari along with other senior army officers.

The CEO of BrahMos A. Sivathanu Pillai and other senior scientists were also present during the launch, the release added.

Cruise missiles fly at low altitudes and have the ability to evade enemy radars and air-defence systems. They are also easier and cheaper to operate.

The Indian Army has already begun inducting the land-fired version of the BrahMos, with the first battery entering service in June 2007. Each battery is equipped with four mobile launchers mounted on heavy 12x12 Tatra transporters.

The army plans to induct three more such batteries.

The anti-ship naval version has also been inducted into service with its integration on the destroyer INS Rajput, with two other ships of the same class to be similarly equipped.

The missiles will also be mounted on the three 7,000 tonne Kolkata class destroyers currently being constructed at Mumbai's Mazagon docks.

The missile, which takes its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, has a 300-km range and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead. It can achieve speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound.

Chinese hackers target Dalai, Indian embassy PCs

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 29, 2009, (New York)

A vast cyber spy network controlled from China has infiltrated government and private computers in 103 countries, including those of Indian embassy in Washington and the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, a media report said on Sunday.

Canadian researchers, The New York Times reported, have concluded that the computers based almost exclusively in China are controlling the network and stealing documents, but stopped short of saying that the Chinese government was involved.

It quoted researchers as saying that they had found no evidence that the US government offices had been infiltrated, although a NATO computer was monitored by the spies for half a day and computers of the Indian embassy in Washington were infiltrated.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software or malware, the paper said, quoting a report being issued shortly.

Their sleuthing, it said, opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than 2 years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focussed on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, the paper reported.

It quoted intelligence analysts as saying that many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programmes to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected, the paper said. This is also believed to be the first time researchers have been able to expose the workings of a computer system used in an intrusion of this magnitude.

Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the paper said quoting the report -- "Tracking 'GhostNet': Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network."

Working with the Tibetans, the researchers found that specific correspondence had been stolen and that the intruders had gained control of the electronic mail server computers of the Dalai Lama's organisation, the Times said.

The electronic spy game has had at least some real-world impact, the researchers were quoted as saying. For example, they said, after an e-mail invitation was sent by the Dalai's office to a foreign diplomat, Chinese government made a call to the diplomat discouraging a visit.

Also, a woman working for a group making Internet contacts between Tibetan exiles and Chinese citizens was stopped by Chinese intelligence officers on her way back to Tibet, shown transcripts of her online conversations and warned to stop her political activities, the paper reported.

The Toronto researchers said they had notified international law enforcement agencies of the spying operation, which in their view exposed basic shortcomings in the legal structure of cyberspace. The FBI, the Times said, declined to comment on the operation.

Although the Canadian researchers said that most of the computers behind the spying were in China, the paper said, they cautioned against concluding that China's government was involved. The spying could be a non-state, for-profit operation, for example, or one run by private citizens in China known as "patriotic hackers."

"We're a bit more careful about it, knowing the nuance of what happens in the subterranean realms," Ronald J Deibert, a member of the research group and an associate professor of political science at Munk, was quoted as saying. "This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It's a murky realm that we're lifting the lid on."

A spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York, the paper said, dismissed the idea that China was involved. "These are old stories and they are nonsense," the spokesman, Wenqi Gao, said. "The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cyber crime."

Drone attacks inside Pak having effect: US

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 29, 2009, (Islamabad)

The US drone attacks inside Pakistan were "having an effect" but Washington and Islamabad will decide whether to continue the strikes, which have been unpopular in the country, a top American official has said.

"They (drone attacks) are having an effect (but) whether they continue or not will be up to the Pakistani government and our government working side by side in a collaborative way," said US National Security Adviser James Jones.

"The attacks have done a couple of things: One, they have been targeted very specifically against Al-Qaida. Two, they produce very low collateral damage," Jones told the Pakistani daily 'Dawn'.

This was the first time a senior US official has spoken on record about drone attacks. Jones said that Washington's relation with Islamabad are "in a restart mode we are having very intensive dialogues. We were building trust and confidence between the armed forces."

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said the US had no plans to send American troops inside Pakistani territory. He said Pakistanis were operating on their side of the border.
"We operate differently on the other side of the border," he added.

N. Korea plans missile launch
by Blaine Harden

WHILE North Korea has been making missiles to intimidate its neighbors for nearly half a century, what makes this launch particularly worrying is the increasing possibility – as assessed by U.S. intelligence and some independent experts – that it has built or is attempting to build nuclear warheads small enough to fit atop its growing number of missiles.

North Korea "may be able to successfully mate a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile," Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this month in testimony prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

David Albright, a physicist and nuclear weapons expert who runs the Washington-
based Institute for Science and International Security, has written that North
Korea is "likely able to build a crude nuclear warhead" for its mid-range missiles
that target Japan.

Experts agree that North Korea is probably years away from putting nuclear warheads on long-range missiles that could hit the United States.

"North Korea's nuclear strategy is to keep everyone confused, keep everyone wondering," Albright said.

The country's founding dictator, the late Kim Il Sung, created a military academy 44 years ago to "nurture" missile builders, ordering them to make weapons that could strike Japan and "prevent" the United States from meddling on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong Il, has continued to nurture the missile makers, who have built more than 200 Nodong missiles capable of hitting most of Japan.

The Kim dynasty's commitment to missiles continues to rattle nerves, with Japan and South Korea repeatedly protesting as North Korea moves closer to the planned launch of its new long-range missile.

North Korea says it plans to put a communications satellite into orbit, but that claim is widely viewed as a pretext for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Taepodong-2. The U.S. national intelligence director, Dennis Blair, told a Senate committee that a three-stage missile of this type, if it works, could strike the continental United States.

"Most of the world understands the game they're playing," Blair said, adding that North Korea "risks international opprobrium and hopefully worse" if the launch proceeds. If the international community sanctions North Korea for the launch, Pyongyang threatened this week to abrogate an agreement with the United States and five other countries to abandon nuclear weapons in return for aid and other concessions. It has also threatened to go to war, if what it calls its peaceful research launch is shot down.

North Korea exploded a small nuclear device in 2006 and has since declared it has "weaponized" its entire plutonium stockpile, which it says totals 57 pounds – enough, experts say, to build four or five bombs.

But it is another major technical step to miniaturize these bombs for missile
delivery. Scientists and governments disagree about how far North Korea has
gone toward this goal.

The governments of South Korea and Japan both say that North Korea has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear warheads.

But Japan's Defense Ministry has concluded that North Korea may be getting close. "We cannot deny that North Korea will probably be able to do that in a short period of time," said Atsuo Suzuki, director of the ministry's defense intelligence division.

And South Korea's foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, told reporters that North Korea's push to develop "long-range missile capability after a nuclear test is literally (making) weapons of mass destruction."

North Korea's test of a nuclear device in 2006 produced such a small explosion
that it was probably only a partial success, according to Theodore Postol, a
professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.

Based on this one test of a nuclear device, Postol said, it is "not credible" that North Korea could have succeeded in less than three years in miniaturizing "an advance design" nuclear warhead.

But he said there is a remote possibility that North Korea has made a warhead of an untested crude design that could produce a relatively small nuclear explosion, akin to its 2006 test.

It would be the equivalent of exploding several hundred tons of TNT, as
compared with the exponentially more destructive 25-kiloton blast of an
advanced nuclear warhead.

Postol estimates that it is possible for North Korea to make a warhead that is small and light enough to be mounted on a Nodong missile, which has a diameter of about 4 feet and can carry a payload of about 2,200 pounds.

"It would be a very inefficient way to use a weapon," he said. "But if you are desperate enough, I think such a weapon would certainly have deterrent capability. Tokyo is a large enough target to be relatively sure that a non-full-yield weapon would still cause tremendous death and destruction."

North Korea's missiles are inaccurate and decades out-of-date by the rocket-science standards of the United States, Russia and China. Most of its more than 800 missiles are believed to be modified versions of Scuds, a Soviet-era weapon with rocket motors and guidance systems that date from the 1950s.

The Scud was never intended to be a precision weapon. Iraq's Saddam Hussein sprayed dozens of them around Israel in the first Gulf War to terrorize civilians and provoke the government. Similarly, pin-point accuracy is hardly the point of North Korea's missile program, analysts say.

"Even with very low accuracy, that is sufficient to create fear in civilian society," said Cha Du-Hyeogn, a research fellow at the government-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

"The leaders of North Korea are not madmen. They have their own reasoning. They want attention, and they want rewards for not using these weapons."

Missile-making in North Korea has been sufficiently menacing – and marketable – to qualify as one of the few successful industries in the history of the secretive communist country, where a comand-style economy has largely collapsed and chronic food shortages cause widespread malnutrition.

In 1999, the North halted missile tests to negotiate improved ties with the Clinton administration, but talks were suspended after the election of George W. Bush.

Despite its poverty, North Korea has made itself into the "greatest supplier
of missiles, missile components and related technologies" in the developing
world, according to a 2008 report for the U.S. Army War College's Strategic
Studies Institute by Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based analyst with the
International Crisis Group.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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