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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 16 Feb 10








Maoists kill 24 jawans
50 Naxals carrying AK-47s storm EFR camp in West Midnapore
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 15
The Maoists today launched a daring attack at a police camp at Simplipal, Belpaharaia in the Jangalmahal area in West Midnapore and killed at least 20 jawans, some of them gunned down while some others were burnt alive.

The incident occurred while the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) jawans were resting in their camp after returning from a route-combing operation in the area. No further details were available since senior CRPF and police officials were still busy in rescuing the injured policemen.

According to unofficial sources, about 50 Maoists, carrying AK-47 and other deadly weapons, attacked the CRPF camp in the Simplipal Bazar area and killed at least 20 jawans and injured around 30 others.

The Maoists also looted rifles and other firearms stored in the camp. Several landmines were detonated by them during the attack that burnt a large part of the camp. Several jawans had to flee to nearby places to escape the onslaught.

According to local BDO, the Maoists attacked the police camp around 5 pm. Some of the Maoists reached the spot on bikes and they drove away into a nearby jungle soon after the attack, he added.

The incident caused panic among police personnel engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the district. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has expressed concern over the attack.






Defence budget to shoot up, says Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 15
In what is aimed at matching China’s fast-paced military development, Defence Minister A K Antony today said India’s defence expenditure was going to increase in proportion with the overall growth of the country’s economy.

At present India spends some 2.5 per cent of its GDP on defence, which is about Rs 1.41,000 crore. “Indian economy is growing fast. The share of defence budget will also substantially shoot up,” the minister said.

Inaugurating the sixth edition of the bi-annual Indian Defence Exhibition -- the def-expo 2010 -- here, Antony said: “The economy is expected to grow at 8 to 10 per cent for the next two decades. Expenditure on defence … is bound to increase in equal proportion.”

He, however, clarified: “India was not a warmongering country and was a peace-loving nation. At the same time we are ready to meet any challenge to our territorial integrity and sovereignty. We do not want an inch of land of any country and will not let go of an inch of land of our country.”India was strengthening forces so that they could be a deterrent and was procuring equipment for the same. The two new upcoming mountain divisions of the Indian Army are not meant to counter China. They are for the overall security scenario of the North-East, the minister said.

Stressing that the country's political security situation demanded rapid modernisation of the armed forces, Antony called upon the private sector to participate in the process of indigenisation India's armament needs.

“Our government is committed to rapid modernisation of armed forces as we want our forces to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment to defend our sovereignty. It was not aimed at any country,” he said.

He acknowledged that India was slow in weapon procurement when compared to neighbouring countries. The delays would be addressed through the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2010 and the forthcoming Defence Production Policy.







Sukna Land Scam
Delhi HC refuses relief to Lt Gen Rath

New Delhi, February 15
The Delhi High Court today refused to give any relief to Lt Gen PK Rath who had challenged the initiation of Court of Inquiry against him in the Sukna land scam. A Division Bench headed by Justice Geeta Mittal asked the Army officer to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal to challenge the proceedings against him.

“Jurisdiction of this court is barred by the Armed Forces Tribunal Act. In view of this, the petition is dismissed with liberty to petitioner to approach the tribunal,” Justice Mittal said.

Rath had approached the court after he was indicted, along with former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, in the over Rs 300-crore land scam in Darjeeling.

The scam involves the sale of 71 acres of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal for which the Army had issued a no-objection certificate to a private realtor.

Besides Prakash and Rath, the Army probe had indicted Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj Gen PC Sen in the scam.

Advocate Ajit Singh, appearing for Lt Gen Rath, alleged he was being victimised by senior Army officers who had “already made up their mind to frame him in the case”. He claimed the proceedings against Rath were initiated in violation of rules as the officers who had investigated into the allegations against him would be deciding the case.

“The superior officers had already made up their mind to frame up the petitioner. It also clearly vitiated the further proceedings of the Court of Inquiry and sent a clear message to the rest of the officers connected with it,” he said.

The government, on the other hand, opposed the plea of Lt Gen Rath and said proceedings against him would be completed very soon as summary of evidence had begun in Kolkata.

It said the court should not entertain his plea as he should approach the tribunal to challenge proceedings against him.

The court, after hearing the arguments of both sides, refused to interfere in the proceedings and dismissed the petition. — PTI






Fonseka 'to face Military Court very soon'

Press Trust of India / Colombo February 15, 2010, 20:34 IST


Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who is facing sedition charges, will face a military court "very soon", a media report said today.


Sri Lankan military police arrested General Fonseka last Monday on sedition charges. The government had accused the Opposition presidential candidate of "plotting against the president while in the military... With the idea of overthrowing the government".


The Daily Mirror Online, quoting government sources, said Fonseka, whose arrest has pushed the country into political turmoil, will face the Military Court "very soon".


While the Supreme Court has decided to take up the fundamental rights petition filed by Anoma Fonseka, the wife of the General, against his alleged arbitrary arrest, the military will continue its investigations against Fonseka and produce him before the Military Court soon, a source was quoted as saying by the Sri Lankan news website.


Without elaborating, Director General of the Media Center for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalla said Fonseka can be tried under the military law till May 2010.


"According to the law, we can try him under the military law till May," Hulugalla was quoted as saying.


Rajapaksa and Fonseka, who together planned the military defeat of the LTTE last May, fell out soon. In a bitter presidential contest, the former army chief lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa, triggering a political turmoil in the country.


The Sri Lankan Opposition has called Fonseka's arrest illegal and an act of political vengeance, threatening countrywide protests.


Meanwhile, amid mounting pressure by Buddhist monks to release the "gallant officer", the government plans to send a delegation to meet the country's powerful religious leaders to clarify the reasons behind the detention of Fonseka.


The clergy had appealed to Rajapaksa to release Fonseka from custody, saying it was "unacceptable" to arrest a "gallant officer", who played a key role in defeating LTTE, due to "petty political differences".








Defence expenditure to increase in proportion with growth

Press Trust of India / New Delhi February 15, 2010, 15:33 IST


India today said its defence expenditure will increase "in proportion" with its economic growth rate, which is expected to be around eight to ten per cent for the next two decades.


"India's defence expenditure is 2.5 per cent of its GDP and the economy is expected to grow at eight to ten per cent for the next two decades. The expenditure on defence in absolute terms is also bound to increase in equal proportion," Defence Minister A K Antony said while inaugurating the sixth edition of the biennial Defexpo 2010 here.


India is expected to spend around $50 billion in next 20 years for acquiring weapons for its armed forces.


Antony said the increasing expenditure on defence will help the Indian industry to play a more "meaningful role" in the defence sector in the country.


Emphasising the need for achieving high level of indigenisation in defence needs, Antony said, "Our quest for self-reliance will need cooperation between the public and private sector defence industry. We want public and private sector to work as close partners."


On the new policy changes in the Defence Production Procedure 09, the Minister said, "The recent introduction of 'Buy and Make' Indian category in DPP allows Indian defence industry to forge joint ventures with any foreign company.


Indian private sector will get more opportunities, while foreign partners also will have more scope to forge joint ventures with Indian companies, he said.


Antony said the ministry will soon publish the 'technology perspective and capability roadmap' for the next 15 years, which will highlight the requirements of the armed forces in future and help the defence industry to prepare themselves as per the requirements.


He said the offsets clause in the DPP have resulted in development of India as a global outsourcing hub for global defence manufacturers.


Under the offsets clause, for any defence deal worth over Rs 300 crore, the foreign vendors have to invest 30 per cent of the total worth back into the Indian defence Industry.


Antony said the "licensing conditions" have also been rationalised and necessary structures have been put in place for facilitating banking of offsets.


On the prevailing security scenario, the Minister said India is seen as a "mature and responsible" power and has a stabilising influence at a "politico-security" level in the region, but was ready to meet any challenge to its territorial integrity and sovereignty.


Terming the defexpo 2010 as an opportunity for the global industry to "tap the market and business potential" in India, he welcomed the participants in the event to help in modernisation of Indian armed forces.


Antony said the next defexpo will be held from February 09-12 in 2012.


Over 650 Indian and foreign companies are participating in this edition of the biennial exhibition and 30 official delegations, including 14 Ministerial-level delegations, will take part in it.







Army drive with China in mind


Antony at Defexpo 2010 in Delhi on Monday. Picture by Prem Singh


New Delhi, Feb. 15: Defence minister A.K. Antony today said the army was strengthening its presence in the Northeast along the border with China but India was not “a war-mongering country”.


Antony confirmed for the first time that the army was raising two new mountain divisions in the Northeast, specifically for Arunachal Pradesh, a move resented in China.


The two divisions being raised “were not against China but is part of an overall policy to strengthen the apparatus of the army”.


“We have to be on guard and ensure that our armed forces are an effective deterrent,” he said.


The confirmation today from Antony added to the perception that much of India’s planned large-scale arms purchases were driven by New Delhi’s wariness of China’s growing military might. Antony has himself admitted in the past that across the boundary, China’s border infrastructure was superior to India’s.


The minister was speaking at a news conference in Defexpo 2010, Asia’s largest arms bazaar, that he opened this morning, and was watched by representatives of military hardware and software companies from across the world.


A division has between 15,000-17,000 in the plains but a mountain division is larger. Last June, Arunachal governor and former army chief, General (retired) J.J. Singh said India was adding about 50,000 troops in the Northeast.


“As a general policy, our government is trying to be friendly with all our neighbours. With China also, in many areas our relations are improving,” he explained when asked about the reinforcing of the army in Arunachal.


“We will not take an inch of soil from any country but we will also not give away an inch of soil. We are strengthening our armed forces to act as an effective deterrent,” he said.


Earlier, opening the exhibition, the minister said the Indian economy was slated to grow by 8 to 10 per cent. Defence expenditure was between 2.3 and 2.5 per cent of the GDP. Capital expenditure on defence acquisitions will rise proportionately.


In the last five years alone, he said, capital expenditure on defence was more than double the amount spent in the previous five years.


Antony said that along with an amended defence procurement policy (DPP) in about two months, the government was also crafting a defence production policy that would encourage greater participation by Indian companies in defence acquisitions.


Currently, more than 70 per cent of Indian defence acquisitions is through imports.


According to one industry estimate, Indian defence purchases in the decade till 2020 could top $100 billion.







India to deploy Akash missiles in North-East to deter China

Rajat Pandit, TNN, 16 February 2010, 03:03am IST

NEW DELHI: India plans to progressively base six surface-to-air Akash missile squadrons in the North-East to counter the threat posed by Chinese fighters, helicopters and drones in the region.


Sources say IAF will get eight Akash tactical air defence squadrons by 2015, with the first one becoming operational by 2011 itself, at a cost of over Rs 6,100 crore. Every squadron will have two `flights' of four Akash launchers each. Moreover, the Army is now poised to order two Akash regiments, with six firing batteries each, for around Rs 4,000 crore.


With an effective interception range of 25 km, the DRDO-developed Akash system with supersonic missiles and a network of radars is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously in all-weather conditions. With an 88% "kill probability'', it can even take on sub-sonic cruise missiles.


The plan to base Akash squadrons in North-East constitutes yet another step to counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the unresolved 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).


Though it woke up quite late, India is now fastracking measures like raising of two new specialised infantry mountain divisions and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh and basing of two Sukhoi-30MKI squadrons (36 fighters) each at Tezpur and Chabua in Assam.


India is also looking to deploy the 3,500-km Agni-III and the under-development over 5,000-km Agni-V ballistic missiles as soon as possible. While Agni-III will be operationally ready by 2011-2012, the two new infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, will be in place by 2012.


The government, of course, likes to downplay all this. Defence minister A K Antony on Monday said the two new divisions were part of the overall strategy to strengthen the armed forces.


"It's not directed at China or any country. The aim is to have an effective deterrent against any threat or eventuality,'' said Antony, after inaugurating DefExpo-2010, which has attracted a record 650 companies.


India is not "a war-mongering country'', nor does it covet "even an inch'' of any country's territory. "But we are ready to defend every inch of our territory... Our aim is to give the most modern equipment to our armed forces so that they can meet any challenge from any quarter at any time,'' said Antony.


Yes, there is the long-pending border dispute with China, but both New Delhi and Beijing are trying to "amicably resolve'' it through talks. Relations with China in other sectors like trade have dramatically improved, said Antony.


While this is certainly true, China is upgrading as many as 14 airfields in Tibet, of which at least half are now fully-operational. Its Linzi airbase, for instance, is not even 30 km away from the LAC in Arunachal.


With straight double-digit hikes in its defence budget for over 20 years, the 2.25-million strong People's Liberation Army has swiftly enhanced its transborder and `area-denial' military capabilities as well as bolstered its nuclear missile arsenal.






Antony says Pakistan not invited to participate in Defence exhibition NEW DELHI, Feb 15 (APP) Indian Defence Minister A K Antony said here on Monday India did not invite Pakistan to participate in the defence exhibition which began here on Monday.When asked at a press conference, that why China and Pakistan were not invited to the DefExpo this year, Antony said Beijing was requested to attend the AeroIndia show in Bangalore last year but they had not participated in it.

“Since they were not keen on attending, we did not send them any invitation this time. Regarding Pakistan, we have not invited them till date,” Antony said.

In all, thirty five countries including the US and Israel are participating in the 4-day defence exhibition.

To another question, Antony said the Indian Army was raising two new mountain divisions in the North-East along the borders with China.

“I must tell you it is not against China. But these are being raised under the overall policies to strengthen presence of the armed forces in the North-East,” Antony claimed.

“We have to be on guard. So we have to strengthen our armed forces to act as a deterrent. That is our policy. That is why we are modernising all their equipment,” Antony said.

He said India was implementing an ambitious modernisation programme.  IAF was being equipped with modern systems. The Indian army was also being strengthened for security of land mass from Kutch in the West to North East, occupied Kashmir in the north to the southern most parts of the country, he said.

As a general policy, India was trying to be friendly with all its neighbours, Antony claimed.






* Leyland unveils armoured vehicles at Defence expo


New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Ashok Leyland, the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to the Indian Army, today unveiled an Armoured Stallion, an Armoured Bus and a Mine Protected Vehicle here.


"Our entry into armoured vehicles is in answer to an ever-increasing demand from the armed forces for well-engineered, high-mobility, high protection, tactical vehicles that can be used in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations," the company's Chief Operating Officer Vinod K Dasari said at the Defexpo.


"Over the last three decades we have been playing a pivotal role in the modernisation of the Indian Army and with these new tactical offerings and more on the anvil, we are well-placed to engage the armed forces on more fronts in terms of product opportunities and also look at new geographies.






Suspicious object found in Ambala’s army area


Suspicious object found in Ambala’s army area


Ambala (Haryana), Feb 15 – Army authorities in this major defence base Monday afternoon carried out a controlled explosion after finding a bomb-like object, police said.


No loss to life or property was reported after the controlled explosion was carried out near a garbage bin at the Ambala Cantonment, 45 km from Chandigarh.


The bomb was first detected by a garbage-picker who alerted residents of nearby homes. It was placed close to the wall of the Kharga Army canteen located here.


An Army bomb disposal squad sealed the area and carried out the controlled blast after placing sandbags around it.


Ambala Cantonment is a major base of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is one of the oldest cantonments in the country.


Police officials who visited the spot said that the suspected object looked like a bomb covered with gunny-bags.







Eurocopter AS550 C3 undergoing trials with Indian Army and Air Force for Reconnaissance and Surveillance

February 15th, 2010 | email this | digg it

Posted by Frontier India Strategic and Defence

Eurocopter, has a significant presence at Defexpo 2010, with its star product, the AS 550 C3, which is participating in the ongoing trials for the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.


As Norbert Ducrot, Eurocopter Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing Asia points out “By participating in the key RFPs with our best products, we hope to continue to support India acquire the right mission equipment and develop a strengthened aerospace industry. Over the next few months we will also further our relationship with India by exploring opportunities for setting up joint ventures with our long time partners and establish a stronger footprint to provide end-to-end service to the country. ”


The AS550 C3 which is undergoing trials for the Indian Army and Air Force requirement of Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopters will be one of the key products to be showcased at the event. Also showcased will be specification and mock-up models of the EC 725, which is Eurocopter’s key offering for the Indian Multi-role Helicopter requirements and the Panther, which is suited for the requirements of the Indian Coast Guard.


With reference to both the Indian military and civil markets, Eurocopter currently holds a leading position achieved through strong partnerships. In the military space, Eurocopter has had a fruitful association with India for over 4 decades through two co-operation agreements with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).The relationship started with a license production enabling HAL to manufacture more than 600 helicopters of the Alouette 3 and Lama type (Cheetah/Chetak). In 1984, HAL associated with Eurocopter in the development of the Advanced Light Helicopter. The cooperation with HAL has been further strenghtened with Eurocopter outsourcing metallic and composite work packages and today, HAL is part of Eurocopter global supply chain by producing Ecureuil/Fennec airframes, joining the ranks of very few select tier I suppliers.


In the civil space, Eurocopter has succesfully formed partnerships in both public and private sector with Pawan Hans Helicopter Limited and Indocopters. These partnerships cover the entire spectrum of helicopter activities, from manufacturing to operations, maintenance and product support.







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