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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

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Twin terror strikes leave two jawans dead in Srinagar
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 31
Militants attacked almost simultaneously within 1 km of the Assembly, shooting dead two baton-carrying CRPF personnel in Lal Chowk from point blank range and throwing a grenade at CRPF personnel in Batamaloo, about 1 km away, injuring 25 persons, including 20 civilians, two police personnel and three CRPF men.

The attack appeared to be a replica of the attack carried out by militants on August 1 when they had shot at two baton-wielding CRPF personnel at Residency Road, one of whom died later, and later shot dead a policeman in Batamaloo.

The deceased CRPF personnel, who received bullet shots in the head and the neck, were identified as Raj Shekhar and Malikarjun of 28 Batallion, and both were on law and order duty outside a bank. Militants were believed to be on a motorcycle.

The incident today sparked off a show of resentment by CRPF jawans who told their visiting officials that they have become easy prey for militants, more so as they are deployed on standing duty on in busy and often hostile neighbourhoods for almost whole day and only have batons to defend themselves.

HK Lohia DIG, Srinagar, made a tacit admission that the defensive deployment of the CRPF has been a counter-productive exercise, providing militants easy targets, and said they would go for a change of strategy. “We will adopt an offensive strategy in coming days and I assure everybody that we would not allow such terror attacks to be repeated,” he said. Lohia said the same group of militants carried out the attack today who were behind the August 1 incident. Militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammad had coordinated these attacks, he said.

Public rebuke of the CRPF by the state administration for its use of “excessive force” has prompted top officials of the paramilitary force to cut down on armed deployment, replacing their weapons with batons. Official sources told The Tribune that not more than a section, which has 10-odd personnel of a company, which has 90 to 100 personnel, is supposed to carry arms when on law and order duty, as per latest directions. With today’s incident underlining CRPF jawans’ vulnerability, this defensive strategy is likely to change.

“We have been discouraged from using weapons under any circumstances. The feeling among our rank and file is that they have been emasculated by their superiors just to be a part of the state administration’s public-relation exercise. I do not know how long this can go on,” the commandant of a battalion said. The Jamait-ul-Mujahideen has owned up the attacks, a claim rubbished by the police.

Harpoon upgrade worries India
Foreign Secy Nirupama Rao’s visit to Pak almost off
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
India is concerned over Pakistan’s a self-rule package for Northern Areas and renaming it as Gilgit-Baltistan as also over reports that Pakistan was illegally modifying American-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles to hit land-based targets.

Meanwhile, a visit by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to Pakistan ahead of the talks between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in late September is almost ruled out, given Islamabad’s intransigent attitude in taking credible action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

Official sources said the External Affairs Ministry had sought details from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s announcement yesterday renaming Northern Areas.

“These areas are an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir…we view the development with concern,” they added.

New Delhi has also viewed with concern a report in The New York Times, which quoted senior US administration officials as saying that Pakistan has modified US-made missiles for potential use against India.

“The government closely monitors all such developments which are of concern to us and have a bearing on our national security…we will take steps necessary to counter any threat to our security,” the sources added.

It is becoming clear that the Sharm el Sheikh joint statement between India and Pakistan is gradually losing its relevance. With Islamabad dilly-dallying on conducting a thorough and fair probe into the Mumbai attacks, India feels it would be meaningless to engage in any structured dialogue with the neighbouring country.

Pakistan has invited the Indian Foreign Secretary to Islamabad to work out the agenda for External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmud Qureshi in New York. However, India is clearly dragging its feet. The impression one gets is that the Foreign Secretaries might also meet only in New York one or two days before the talks between the two Foreign Ministers.

“No decision has been taken (on the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Islamabad)…we will announce as and when a decision is taken,’’ the sources said, clearly underlining the problem India faces in establishing any high-level contact with Islamabad by ignoring domestic opinion.

China darings under Army scrutiny
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Recent developments in China and Pakistan -- India’s two uncomfortable neighbours -- dominated the day as the Indian armed forces underwent a change of guard at the top this morning.

Chief of Navy Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta on superannuation handed over charge to Admiral Nirmal Verma while General Deepak Kapoor took over as the new Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee (COSC).

Notably, the senior-most of the chiefs of the three services is appointed as COSC. Until today, Admiral Mehta was the COSC, who looks after the operational matters of the tri-services issues.

Outgoing Navy Chief Sureesh Mehta today said Pakistan's illegal modification of US-supplied anti-ship Harpoon missiles to strike land-based targets was against "India's interest". “This has nothing to do with self-defence (of Pakistan). It is against India's interest… This shows the danger of proliferation and we have been telling this from time to time,” Mehta said while addressing mediapersons.

Mehta's comments came in response to questions on New York Times report that Pakistan had illegally modified the Harpoon missile, enabling it to strike land-based targets, which could be a potential threat. Pakistan, however, rejected the charge. Mehta's assessment was shared by Admiral Verma, who said this was one reason why government had been expressing concern over a period of time about the transfers that were going on to "our neighbour".

Admiral Verma said the Navy's endeavour would be to ensure nobody came within the striking distance of India and launch such missiles.

General Deepak Kapoor confirmed the intrusions by Chinese choppers in eastern Ladakh, but said they were largely inadvertent. "There have been several violations and one incursion by a Chinese helicopter in the past few months. It could have happened due to a navigational error, but that does not justify it. It was taken up at the border personnel meet,” Kapoor told reporters after taking over as the COSC.

Is India's Pak policy at crossroads?

Nidhi Razdan, Monday August 31, 2009, New Delhi

Is India confused on how to proceed with Pakistan? In September, the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers are supposed to meet in New York, and ahead of that, the foreign secretaries were expected to hold talks. But India has still not set a date.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the flak for the joint statement that followed a handshake at Sharm El-Sheikh, and since that July meeting, the government's Pakistan policy stands at crossroads, not sure which direction to take.

India has still not set dates for the two foreign secretaries to meet, which is expected as a precursor to talks between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September, and the road ahead looks shaky.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry say that with no real progress on terror, talks even at the foreign secretary level won't serve a purpose.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mohammad Qureshi has said the Indian Foreign Secretary has been invited to Islamabad for talks, but New Delhi has refused to even confirm or deny the invite exists.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has just said the atmosphere for a composite dialogue is not conducive. Sources say the Congress doesn't want to risk any major move with Pakistan until after the Maharashtra elections, though some officials insist the PMO is planning something significant on the Indo-Pak front.

Sources say this confusion stems from the fact that the Prime Minister himself is driving foreign policy, particularly on Pakistan. So many officials, even in the MEA, are not entirely in the loop.

HAL has a solution to IAF's pilot training crisis

September 01, 2009 01:57 IST

Not since the dark decade of the 1990s, when the Indian Air Force crashed 177 aircraft -- losing 54 young pilots and some Rs 1,000 crore worth of equipment -- has the air force faced such a pilot training crisis.

The long-delayed Hawk trainers, which began arriving in India in 2007, have improved advanced training for IAF flyers. But the crucial introduction to flying, conducted in antiquated HPT-32 Deepak and HJT-16 Kiran aircraft, is taking a growing toll on pilots' lives.

On July 31, after two senior flying instructors from the Air Force Academy near Hyderabad, died in a crash, the IAF halted all "Stage-1" training, which is done on Deepaks.

Chronically prone to engine failure (100 engine emergencies reported in recent years), 10 Deepak trainers have crashed this last decade. A recent CAG report has slammed the aircraft as "technologically outdated and beset by flight safety hazards".

But "Stage-2" training, which is done on the HJT-16 Kiran trainer, is an even grimmer story: 13 crashes over the last decade have taken a deadly toll on pilots' lives.

Now Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has stepped into the breach, renewing an offer to develop a modern replacement for the Deepak. Ashok Nayak, chairman of HAL, told Business Standard: "Two years ago, we offered the IAF a replacement for the Deepak. This single-engine aircraft, which we call the Hindustan Turbo Trainer -- 40 (HTT-40), can be delivered within six years."

But a flustered IAF, short of pilots and keen to recommence training, is demanding immediate purchase of Stage-1 trainers from the global market. The Ministry of Defence is evaluating whether the IAF's immediate requirement can be bought off-the-shelf, while HAL goes ahead with a programme to design and build the HTT-40. A total of 200 basic trainers is the estimated requirement.

The last purchase of trainer aircraft, the BAE Systems Hawk, took 18 years to materialise.

HAL executives are confident that the HTT-40 can be delivered in six years. They point to the success of HAL's ongoing project to develop and build an Intermediate Jet Trainer, which will replace the Kiran as a Stage-2 trainer. Powered by a custom-designed AL-55I engine from Russia [ Images ], the first Sitara trainer from the production line is scheduled to fly next week.

Says the HAL chairman: "The IJT project has demonstrated HAL's capability to design, build and deliver trainer aircraft on time. We will deliver the IAF's current order of 12 IJTs by the end of next year."

If the HTT-40 enters service as a Stage-1 trainer, the entire spectrum of fighter training for IAF pilots will be conducted on HAL-built aircraft. After Stage-1 training on the HTT-40, Stage-2 will be conducted on the Sitara IJT; Stage-3 training will be done on the Hawk advanced jet trainer, now being produced in HAL Bangalore, under Transfer of Technology from BAE Systems, UK.

Meanwhile, HAL is pushing the concept of Phase-4 training on a supersonic fighter: its newly developed twin-seater Light Combat Aircraft. So far, the IAF hasn't bought the idea.

War hero's grandson finally has a job

September 01, 2009 00:30 IST

Forty-four years after he laid down his life in defence of the nation, Param Vir Chakra awardee Grenadier Abdul Hameed's grandson was offered a labourer's job by the Uttar Pradesh [ Images ] government.

The move that came late Tuesday night followed a two day-long dharna by the deceased's soldier's wife and grandson before the UP Vidhan Sabha.

Hameed was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallantry in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, when he single-handedly blew off five Pakistani tanks.

Hameed's octogenarian widow had repeatedly urged successive governments to get one of her grandsons a job in the state government. But her plea fell on deaf ears and other than lip service none of the governments cared to listen to her plea for building a memorial in the martyr's name in their home village.

According to a spokesman of the chief minister's office, 'no sooner than the chief minister came to know about that Abdul Hamid's aged widow Rasoolan Bibi and grandson Shamim were staging a 'dharna' outside the state assembly in Lucknow [ Images ], to press their long pending demand for a government job to one of their family members, she promptly issued instructions to appoint Shamim in the UP Power Corporation."

He said, "Since the grandson's qualification was Intermediate (Class XII), there were only two options -- either to offer a peon's job which was stagnant, or a labourer's position that provides scope to rise up to the junior engineer's level."

Keeping that in view, the UP Power Corporation issued an appointment letter as a labourer with monthly emoluments touching Rs 7800. In keeping with Shamim's request for a posting in Hamid's home district, he was given a posting in Ghazipur unit of the Power Corporation.

After Shamim accepted the appointment letter around 10.30 pm, local authorities arranged an official vehicle for him and his grandmother to be transported back to their village in Ghazipur later in the night.

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

India, Namibia sign defence, N-pacts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
India and Namibia today signed key accords for cooperation in the field of defence and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, among other things.

New Delhi also announced its decision to offer to Namibia Lines of Credit of $100 million dollars over the next five years to be used in projects and supplies of products from India.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who is on a state visit to India, held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders here today.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including bilateral ties as well as international developments.

Apart from the accords for cooperation in defence and energy field, the two countries inked MOUs/agreements on cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources; establishing a Pan-African e-Network; and on waiver of visas for diplomatic and official passports.

Significance is being attached to the agreement on nuclear energy. After the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowed trade in nuclear technology and fuel with India, New Delhi has been looking for new sources to tap nuclear energy to meet its increasing electricity needs.

But with limited domestic uranium reserves, India has been looking abroad to get assured supplies. It has already signed an agreement with Kazakhstan.

After signing of the bilateral agreements, the Prime Minister said India was committed to help Namibia in all spheres. The Namibian President said he was fully satisfied with the talks that he had with the Indian leader.

Both countries were committed to the Non-Aligned Movement and wanted continuation of reform process of the United Nations, particularly democratisation of United Nations Security Council.

The Indian side expressed its deep appreciation to Namibia for its consistent support to India’s candidature for a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council, and for its support to New Delhi’s bid candidature for a non-permanent seat for 2011-12.

New Navy chief lists out priorities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Admiral Nirmal Verma took over as the Chief of Navy Staff from Admiral Sureesh Mehta today. On the first day in office, he laid out his priority as “sustaining the growth of the Navy with due attention to indigenisation”.

He said the acquisition of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (Gorshkov), new long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I and under-construction Scorpene submarines was of utmost priority.

Talking about indigenisation, he highlighted the need to closely monitor development and production to ensure induction within planned time frame. Alternatives must be processed concurrently to ensure there was no void in combat capability, he said.

The Navy training was also being realigned to ensure that the technology-intensive force was manned correctly, he said.

He is the 20th CNS of Independent India and the 18th Indian to take command of the Indian Navy.

The change of command ceremonies included a function organised by the principal staff officers and other senior staff officers of the Navy to bid adieu to Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

Admiral Nirmal Verma is a specialist in communication and electronic warfare. He has an amalgamation of Indian and global experience.

Gen Loomba is DG military intelligence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Lt Gen RK Loomba today took over as the Director General of Military Intelligence. Posted with the 3 Corps prior to this, Lt Gen Loomba replaces Lt Gen DS Bartwal, who has superannuated.

An alumni of National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Gen Loomba was commissioned into the Army in June 1970 in the Skinner’s Horse.

He has commanded the Deccan Horse and has varied experience in all types of terrain on almost all fronts in the country. He has held numerous important appointments at various levels.

Pak designs against India
US must strictly monitor use of aid

THE report that Pakistan has illegally modified the US-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles and P-3C surveillance aircraft to target India is an alarming development. Interestingly, Pakistan’s perfidy has been exposed by the Obama administration itself, as the report carried in The New York Times reveals. The US detection of the breach of an understanding by Islamabad has confirmed India’s stand that military aid that Pakistan gets from the US and other sources is routinely diverted to building its armed strength against India. New Delhi has brought this to the notice of Washington time and again but in vain.

Some time ago the Obama administration had declared that the $7.5 billion aid it had promised to Pakistan would be released during the next five years on condition that it must be used for the intended purposes like fighting the Taliban and other militant forces active in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It is not known what arrangements the US has made to ensure that the US funds would not be diverted for strengthening the Pakistan Army vis-à-vis India. Now that the legislation on the aid package has gone to the US Congress, the Obama administration must fix strict conditions so that the funds are utilised for the specified purposes only. Any violation of the conditions imposed should result in the stoppage of the aid forthwith. This is the only way to make Pakistan conduct itself responsibly.

Pakistan has been using the Al-Qaida and Taliban threat to peace as a ruse to get not only massive aid but also advanced military technology for its nefarious designs against India. The latest case in point is Islamabad’s request for the US Drone technology on the pretext of taking on the Taliban and other extremists more effectively. Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made the request against when he met US Special Envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan Richard Holbrooke in Islamabad recently. The US must understand that any such sensitive technology transfer will have larger implications and will not be in the interest of peace in South Asia.

Challenges from China
Need for defence modernisation
by Kamlendra Kanwar

India’s just-retired naval chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s recent warning that China will become a “primary challenge” for India in the future and that “in military terms, both conventional and non-conventional, this country has neither the capability nor the intention to match China force for force” was a candid statement of fact though it caused many eyebrows to rise in policy-making circles.

The Chinese threat has generally been talked of in hushed tones. During NDA rule the then Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, had disturbed a hornet’s nest when in 1998 he stated that China was India’s enemy number one. Though he later expressed regret over the remark, suspicion of Chinese intentions has been a reality in the Indian foreign affairs establishment for long.

Admiral Mehta’s prediction that Beijing’s territorial claims would become more assertive as its military capabilities continue to develop cannot be taken lightly. He surely knew what he was talking about when he addressed the National Maritime Convention in New Delhi earlier this month. As Admiral Mehta was dwelling on Chinese assertiveness, Beijing was all set to launch its largest-ever military exercise involving 50,000 troops not far from the Indian border.

While China holds on to 38,000 sq km in the western sector occupied during the 1962 hostilities, its growing assertion of its claim over nearly 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh has a history to it. The legendary first chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong, had once termed Tibet as the palm of a hand with its five fingers as Ladakh, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and the North-East Frontier Agency. He had claimed that these were Chinese territories that needed to be ‘liberated’.

Mao often quoted a famous Chinese saying, “…If the east wind does not prevail over the west wind, then east wind will prevail over the east wind.” This was interpreted as an obsession to dominate other nations in their vicinity.

Though the spurt in Sino-Indian trade in recent times has encouraged the view that the economic inter-dependence of the two Asian giants would ensure that they don’t go to war again as they did in 1962, China’s consistent support to Pakistan, both overt and covert, and its fanning of Naxalism in large parts of India leave no room for complacency.

It is no secret that nuclear weapons and missile technology were transferred to Pakistan by China in an effort to build it up as a bulwark against India. Likewise, Maoists in Nepal supported on the sly by the Chinese are in cahoots with the Indian Maoists who now control 40 per cent of India’s territory.

The Chinese have also seen to it that all of India’s neighbours —Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and even Sri Lanka — remain under their spell.

India has indeed come a long way from the days when the shadow of China evoked great fear in the establishment but there is still much ground to cover.

A recent manifestation of this country’s new-found confidence was the deployment of a full squadron of 18 Sukhoi fighter aircraft a bare 370 km from the last post on the India-China border. Considering that China had earlier deployed ground troops on a major scale in this sensitive area, this was a much-needed Indian response to Chinese hegemonistic activity on the northeastern border with India.

Earlier, in June last a leading Chinese newspaper, Global Times, which is the official organ of the Communist Party of China, had editorially described the Indian decision to station 60,000 troops in Arunachal Pradesh as a “military provocation” and warned India that it “needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China”.

The editorial linked this move to a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his government would “make no concessions to China on territorial disputes” despite cooperative India-China relations. Said the editorial: “This ‘tough posture’ may win Dr. Singh some applause among India’s domestic nationalists, but this is dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in.”

Apparently, the Chinese have been unaccustomed to India’s show of confidence and their reaction stems from unhappiness over the growing clout that India enjoys in the world at large.

While border talks have been continuing with both sides reiterating their position, there is an undercurrent of strain that surfaces from time to time. The latest flashpoint was the Asian Development Bank’s nod to the funding of an irrigation project in Arunachal Pradesh late last year.

In the face of China’s objection, the ADB recently approved a $60 million loan for a watershed development project in Arunachal, as part of its $2.9 billion India development plan for three years to 2012. The Chinese claim that the area that India calls Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it and that the ADB had no business including it in the India aid plan.

India’s stand was that while Arunachal was an integral part of its territory, China’s objection on political grounds was a clear violation of the ADB’s charter which prohibits the Bank from evaluating any proposal on grounds other than economic.

China angrily rejected India’s assertion that Arunachal Pradesh was its integral part, insisting that Beijing never recognised the “illegal” McMahon Line and that the status of the border state was “never officially demarcated”.

Though the Chinese are now clearly upping the ante on Arunachal, their designs were clear nearly three years ago when, on the eve of the visit of their president, Hu Jintao to India, China’s ambassador Sun Yuxi created a diplomatic flutter by reiterating Beijing’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

Significantly, China is setting rail tracks very close to Arunachal Pradesh whereas the nearest Indian railhead is far away.

All this may not presage war both because India is no longer weak and helpless as it was in 1962 and trade between the two countries is on an upward spiral to the benefit of both countries, but it does not bode well for relations between the two neighbours. India can hardly ignore the fact that the Chinese worked assiduously behind the scenes to block the Nuclear Suppliers Group from allowing access of nuclear fuel and technology to this country. That it failed to achieve its goal is quite another matter.

Clearly, India can ill afford to lower its guard. Beijing deploys the world’s biggest army, and its defence spending is rising faster than any other power. According to official figures, Beijing’s military budget in 2008 was 418 billion yuan — £35 billion — a rise of 17.8 per cent on 2007. This already exceeds Britain’s defence budget of £34 billion and places China’s military spending second only to the US.

According to figures from Jane’s, the military specialists, the Chinese defence budget has risen by 178 per cent in the past seven years, even after adjusting for inflation. At this rate, China will spend £180 billion — half of the Pentagon’s current budget and five times Britain’s — by 2020.

India has to match up to Chinese preparedness through its own military modernisation programme and also through strategic alliances. After the huge outgo on salaries of defence personnel, there is sadly little left from the budgeted amounts for the modernisation of the armed forces. But even that remains partially unspent. There is indeed a long way to go before this country can consider itself duly equipped to face up to the Chinese threat.

BAE Systems Loses Out on U.S. Defense Deal

The British military contractor fails to secure a $281 million American military contract to build armored trucks in a setback in BAE's U.S. expansion

By Sarah Arnott

BAE Systems has failed to win the $281m (£173m) follow-on US government contract for armoured battlefield vehicles, sending its stock tumbling by more than 5 per cent yesterday.

The loss of the contract to its Wisconsin-based rival Oshkosh Defense is the first major setback since BAE Systems launched its US expansion strategy two years ago.

Under the existing contract, BAE Systems will carry on producing FMTV vehicles for the US Department of Defence (DoD) until the fourth quarter of next year. The programme is still expected to generate $2bn for the company both this year and next. Not only will there be no direct hit on revenues from the loss of the follow-on contract, but the company was already anticipating revenue from the programme to drop to less than $1bn from 2011, BAE Systems said yesterday. But the news of its failure to win the new deal nonetheless left the shares as the FTSE 100's biggest fallers yesterday, dropping 18p, or 5.6 per cent, to 306p.

"The full implications of this decision cannot be assessed until consultations with the DoD have been completed regarding their intentions to transition the programme to the new arrangements," BAE Systems's statement to the Stock Exchange said.

The company, which is the world's second largest defence contractor after Lockheed Martin, has held the contract to supply the US military's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) programme since 1991, through its 1997 purchase of Armor Holdings. In total, more than 50,000 vehicles have been supplied so far, including trucks to transport troops to the combat zone and trucks to haul cargo, artillery and air defence systems.

Sources close to BAE Systems were yesterday downplaying the loss, claiming it was the result of a strategic decision rather than being beaten in a straight fight because Oshkosh won the deal by offering a price lower than BAE Systems thought was realistic. BAE Systems faced serious financial problems in 2002 after unwisely low bids for two UK programmes—the Nimrod helicopter and Astute submarine—led to massive overruns, contretemps with the UK government and a string of profits warnings. "BAE has learned its lessons from Nimrod and Astute and being burned on a cost basis," one source said.

BAE Systems has pursued a rapid US expansion programme over the last two years. Prior to the acquisition of Armor Holdings for £2.3bn in May 2007, the company had only nominal interests on the other side of the Atlantic, through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. But the Armor purchase not only brought significant contracts with it—including the FMTV programme—but also offered a springboard for other deals. BAE Systems is now the fourth-biggest defence contractor in the US market, and the division accounts for more than half of the company's £18.5bn annual sales.

The massive deal covered its purchase price within just two months, winning a $500m deal to build Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and also a $3.5bn re-tender of the FMTV programme which included an order to build 10,000 armoured lorries.

The US is not BAE Systems' only big growth market. It is also focusing on expansion in India and Saudi Arabia, where defence spending is expected to rise, as well as growing niche markets such as cyber security.

At the company's first-half results in July, Ian King, the chief executive, said he expected combat aircraft to take over from land vehicles as the main driver of growth.

The new phase of FMTV is initially for production of more than 2,500 trucks, Oshkosh said yesterday, with a possible total of up to 23,000 over five years. The company has already beaten BAE Systems once this summer. In June, it won the $3.3bn deal to build for the US military all-terrain vehicles to protect troops against roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

Chief of defence staff in national interest: Army chief

August 31st, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, who took over as the new chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) Monday, said creation of the post of chief of defence staff (CDS) is in the national interest.

He took over as the chairman, COSC from outgoing Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta. The COSC was constituted to coordinate among the three forces till the time a consensus is reached on the creation of a CDS.

“I think the sooner we shift to CDS the better. It is under consideration of the government. It is in the national interest to shift to the system,” Kapoor said after the taking over ceremony.

Kapoor, who was commissioned in the Indian Army in June 1967, took over as the army chief on Sep 30, 2007.

Having taken an active part in the 1971 Bangladesh war, he has commanded a brigade on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, a division under a strike corps during the army’s deployment along the border with Pakistan after the Dec 13, 2001 attack on parliament and a corps on the Indo-China border. He also headed the Northern Command.

Kapoor has also represented the country as the chief operations officer for all United Nations Forces deployed in Somalia from 1994 to 1995.

Navy Chief’s shot

Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who has retired as the Chief of the Navy Staff, is not known to mince words. At his farewell press conference, however, Mehta did not “take the bait.” He ducked controversial questions.

He had a piece of advice for the media – it should be responsible and report carefully. He issued a small clarification on his recent remarks on China saying “you people misquoted me”. Later, he even shouted at a reporter. “Do you run the Navy or I do …?”.

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