Beijing to deliver 36 fighter jets to Pak
Islamabad, November 11
In a major move to boost its air warfare capability, Pakistan is set to purchase 36 J-10 fighter aircraft from China in a deal worth more than $1.4 billion, with options open for induction of more similar aircraft.
China will supply the J-10 fighter jets, enough to equip two squadrons, under a preliminary agreement that could lead to “more sales,” a Pakistani official has said.
Pakistan might buy “larger numbers” of the multi-role aircraft in the future but has not signed any deal to purchase as many as 150 jets, the official added. The J-10 or Jian 10 is China’s most advanced combat aircraft and is the third generation fighter comparable to American F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Islamabad and Beijing were also collaborating to build an advanced fighter --- JF-17 or “Thunder” and the first of these aircraft were expected to roll out by the end of this month, Pakistan’s Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said recently.
China is one of the main arms suppliers of Pakistan and has sold combat jets to it for over three decades. But Beijing has seldom supplied Pakistan with advanced fighter aircraft like the J-10. Pakistan bought Mirage jets from France in the 1970s and F-16s from the US in the 1980s.
Pakistan had a fleet of 45 F-16s that had been used to some degree in anti-militancy operations in Swat and South Waziristan, defence experts said. The US recently agreed to sell Pakistan another 18 new F-16s and officials also expect the Americans to supply about a dozen used aircraft.
The Pakistan Air Force plans to acquire at least 250 JF-17s over the next four to five years, which would become its future mainstay. The defence experts have described Pakistan's agreement with China to buy the J-10 jets as a “landmark event” in the defence relationship between the two countries.
“This agreement should not simply be seen in the narrow context of Pakistan's relations with China,” said Abdul Qayyum, a retired Pakistani general.
“There is a wider dimension. By sharing its advanced technology with Pakistan, China is... also saying to the world that its defence capability is growing rapidly,” he said. — PTI
US team in Beijing to discuss Af-Pak with China
Press Trust of India, Wednesday November 11, 2009, Washington
A week ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to China, a team of US officials is in Beijing to discuss about Afghanistan and Pakistan with the Chinese authorities.
"I can confirm that there is a team from Ambassador (Richard) Holbrooke's (Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan) office in Beijing for discussions with Chinese officials on both Pakistan and Afghanistan," US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, P J Crowley, said at a news briefing.
"We were looking at how these countries fit in a broader regional context," Crowley said, without giving any detail of the trip by the officials to China on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Centre puts five states on terror alert
Press Trust of India / New Delhi November 11, 2009, 22:10 IST
In the backdrop of American terror suspect David Headley's several visits to India, the Centre today warned five states, including Uttarkhand and Maharashtra, against terrorist attacks particularly targeting military training academies.
Home Ministry sources the alerts were issued as Headley, arrested by FBI for allegedly plotting an attack in India for terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba, on suspicion that during his stay in India between 2006 and 2009 he may have done a recce of some vital installations in India for carrying out strikes.
They said the warnings had been issued to Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra as a precautionary measure after it was found during investigations that Headley had visited Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Agra, Delhi and done a recce of National Defence College and vital installations in other cities.
The sources said it is possible that Headley has established sleeper cells in these states.
He was also conducting recruitment of cadres for Pakistan-based terror group Lashker-e-Taiba, for sending them to a Gulf country using the services of his immigration business set up in Mumbai.
The states alerted have been asked to coordinate with the army authorities as well as the administration of Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and Khadakwasla about the security to the vital installations.
New Delhi: India and Japan have expressed their determination “to take forward bilateral defence exchanges and cooperation”. This will include stepping-up of joint anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. A joint statement was issued at the end of a comprehensive review of Defence cooperation at a meeting between the Defence Minister AK Antony and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa in Tokyo, defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here on Sunday.
The two countries expressed their commitment to ‘contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation’, such as, ASEAN Regional Forum in the field of peace-keeping, peace-building and disaster relief. — TNS
Gen Ghosh is Western Army Commander
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 11
Lt Gen. Shankar Ranjan Ghosh has been appointed as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Chandimandir. At present, he is posted as the GOC, 1 Corps, Mathura. He will assume his new appointment on December 1 from Lt Gen TK Sapru, who is retiring.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, General Gosh was commissioned on November 14, 1971, and immediately participated in the Indo-Pak war in Jammu and Kashmir. He has commanded a brigade on the Line of Control, where he was awarded a Sena Medal and division in strike corps.
Indian Army to deploy more troops along Arunachal border
India is quietly beefing up its defences along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh, even as it publicly downplays the growing diplomatic spat with Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s visit to the state.
The Indian Army will deploy its new 15,000-strong 56 Division in Arunachal, which China claims as its own, within four weeks, a senior defence official told HT, requesting anonymity.
Simultaneously, it has put out a Request for Information (RFI) for acquiring 300 lightweight tanks that can be deployed in the North East and Jammu & Kashmir.
The purpose is to leave nothing to chance, notwithstanding the show of bonhomie between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao at their October 25 meeting in Thailand.
A second division will be deployed in Arunachal Pradesh in the next 12-18 months, the official added.
The army’s RFI states the light tanks should be capable of destroying bunkers and soft-skin vehicles up to 3,000m away and should have armour-piercing anti-tank guided missiles and anti-aircraft machine guns.
The RFI, which is in HT’s possession, also stipulates these tanks should “have protection against nuclear, chemical and biological warfare”.
In recent months, India activated three airfields along the 646 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, last used during the 1962 war with China. The army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have also stepped up patrolling along the LAC.
Indian-Israeli relationship of convenience
by David Harris
JERUSALEM, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- India and Israel have reportedly finalized the details of a 1.1-billion-U.S. dollar deal for the supply to New Delhi of the Israeli-made Barak-8 tactical air-defense system.
The contract was set up earlier this year, but was sealed this week with the visit to Israel of India's army head, Deepak Kapoor.
The agreement is the latest in a series in recent years that makes Israel India's largest military supplier. India is now also Israel's largest customer.
The sale of weapons systems to New Delhi is only part of the story. The countries share intelligence in the war on terror and have blooming ties in the agricultural sector.
However, as Yiftah Shapir, an expert on the Indian military at Israel's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, sees it, the relationship is one of convenience and usefulness rather than one based on shared philosophies. He does not see that changing anytime soon.
BASIS OF RELATIONSHIP
Until 1991, the Indians refused point-blank to have anything to do with Israel. There were various reasons for this distance. One of them was India's desire not to upset its Muslim neighbors and its own huge Muslim minority. India has the world's second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia.
"Due to the problems in the Middle East, the relationship between India and Israel could not flower," said retired Air Commodore Prashant Dikshit, deputy director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi.
However, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, which was India's largest military supplier at the time, New Delhi had to look for new partners, said Dikshit.
Israel's military industries were and are recognized as being among the best in the world. India, not wanting to put all its eggs in one basket, be that the United States, France or elsewhere, seized on the opportunity.
"We have what to offer, sell and advise; and adding to that the very important Indian policy of not being dependent on any world power. While they may purchase an aircraft from the U.S. they will not sign exclusivity with the U.S. or Russia," said Shapir.
While India enjoys a good military-sales understanding with Israel it is not on the same level as the one New Delhi enjoyed with Moscow prior to 1991. That is because India now also has military partners in the guise of Washington and Paris, said Dikshit.
Indian government's view is that "with whomever we have a relationship as a supplier it must benefit systems and technology within the country," he added.
Even though India and Israel have built up a strong bilateral military rapport, ties between the two countries are not the best. This is further proof, said Shapir, that this is a marriage of convenience.
"Relations on the diplomatic front are very limited. No Indian foreign minister has ever visited Israel. In international forums India votes against us. India is not our partner diplomatically," said Shapir.
Dikshit denies that religious considerations given India's geopolitical location next to the Muslim world influences its rationale.
First he points to the Muslim majority within and then he argues that Indian regional policy is based on mutual trust and vital interests rather than faith.
The terrorism factor is another string in the bow of Indian-Israeli relations. In recent years, and particularly since the Mumbai terror attacks of just under 12 months ago, Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies have been cooperating in a bid to prevent further attacks.
Little is known about this work, with the same being said for the exact nature of military cooperation over and above the sales of weapons systems. It is thought Israeli soldiers are not based in India, and when senior Israeli military personnel are reported to make trips to New Delhi and into Kashmir, such visits are always denied by both countries. Similarly Shapir does not think there is cooperation in the nuclear weapons' arena.
Israeli civilian employees of the country's military industries do make regular trips to India to oversee systems already installed, particularly in the radar field, with the contested Kashmir on the Pakistani frontier a frequent destination.
MILITARY RELATIONSHIP BEING WATCHED
The Indian-Israeli military relationship is being closely watched from across that border by the Pakistani government and military. Islamabad has a stated policy of promoting arms reduction in South Asia, according to Shaiq Hussein, foreign affairs and security correspondent for the Pakistani daily The Nation.
The acquisition of systems like the Barak-8, which will reportedly be delivered in 2017, is of concern to the Pakistani government and military.
"Pakistan has always seen that nexus between Israel and India with suspicion," said Hussein.
He stressed, however, that the source of the weapons is not the problem, rather the fact that India purchases and deploys them.
In years to come India is likely to continue to work with Israel's military industries, as long as their products remain top of the range. In 2008 India ordered surface-to-air missiles from two of Israel's key military companies, Israel Aircraft Industries and Rafael.
In May of this year, India added the Israeli-built early-warning Phalcon system to its military hardware, making India one of just eight nations known to have Airborne Warning and Control System technology.
However, Shapir is of the opinion that as India expands or renews its basic military hardware -- tanks, fighter jets and so on-- Israel will not win any major orders.
It is very simply the case that India will do what is best for its defense, ordering hardware from the most appropriate manufacturers, while hedging its bets by signing deals with suppliers from multiple nations. Israel is a part of that mix, but is unlikely to become more central than it is already in the foreseeable future.
Notices to defence ministry, army for bias in military school intake
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the defence ministry and the directorate general of military training for alleged bias against disabled children in admission to military schools across India.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar was hearing a public interest petition filed by Social Jurist, an NGO, against an advertisement for admission to class VI in the military schools across the country.
The advertisement invited applications only from medically-fit children.
Ashok Agarwal, the advocate for the petitioner, said the advertisement is contrary to the provisions of Persons with Disabilities Act.
The court asked the ministry and the army to reply by Dec 16.
* Army to procure 100 Armoured Personnel Carriers
New Delhi, Nov 11 (PTI) In an effort to strengthen its mechanised forces, the Indian Army is looking forward to procure over 100 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) for deployment in different kinds of terrains.
The Army has initiated the process of acquiring these APCs by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) recently.
As per the RFI issued by the Army, at least 100 APCs will be procured from the vendor chosen after the acquisition process and the rest would be licence-produced in India after a Transfer of Technology to an indigenous firm.
According to Defence Ministry officials, over a period of five years, the Indian army is looking to add over 500 new APCs to its existing fleet of around 1,500 Russian-origin BMP-I and BMP-IIs.
The Indian Army at present has 26 mechanised infantry battalions with its APCs having the capability to carry around 10 soldiers each.