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Thursday, 18 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 Feb 2010







Talks with Pak are only exploratory: Krishna to NDTV

NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday February 17, 2010, New Delhi


Defending India's decision to renew talks with Pakistan, the Foreign Affairs Minister has told NDTV that this round of talks is exploratory.


In an interview to NDTV's Barkha Dutt, S M Krishna said that these talks between Foreign Secretaries later this month do not suggest a return to the composite dialogue that India and Pakistan were engaged in before the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.


Krishna says that despite Saturday's bomb blast in Pune, India will not restrict the agenda to terrorism. He added that Pakistan is free to bring up any issue.


Pakistan responded by saying that it will ask for a clarification on Krishna's remarks that a composite dialogue is not on the table.


In a statement, Pakistan said: "We have noted with concern remarks attributed by the media to India's External Affairs Minister on the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in New Delhi that these will be unifocal and that there would be no resumption of Composite Dialogue. This is contrary to our understanding.  "


The statement continued: "Outcome of the meeting should not be prejudged nor its scope circumscribed.  A clarification is being sought on this account."


There has been considerable debate within the Opposition, as also within the Prime Minister's Cabinet, about whether India should talk to Pakistan at a time when the country has been struck by its biggest terror attack since 26/11. Eleven people were killed and 59 injured when a bomb exploded at Pune's German Bakery on Saturday. (Read: 11 dead, 59 injured in German bakery blast)


On Sunday, BJP leader Arun Jaitley had said, "These were Indian pre-conditions that as long as Pakistani soil is used for building infrastructure of terror against India, and till such time there is cooperation in the context of 26/11, we cannot talk to Pakistan. The composite dialogue cannot resume. But nothing seems to have changed and the government of India took a U-turn." (Read: Indo-Pak talks on despite Pune blasts)


After the Pune attacks, a video surfaced in which Hafiz Abdur Rahman Makki, leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, warned of attacks in three Indian cities. Makki delivered his hate speech in Muzzafarabad in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir earlier this month, as part of a conference of anti-India jihadi groups who commemorated Kashmir Solidarity Day. (Read: Pak group 'owns up' Pune blast)


Pakistan has repeatedly said that it wants to renew composite dialogue with India, and discuss Kashmir.


On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani offered to enhance cooperation with India in the field of intelligence to avert attacks like the Pune blast that could "further the agenda of terrorists" who were holding the bilateral ties 'hostage'. Gilani also stated that he "was determined not to allow use of its soil for any terrorist activity against any of its neighbours," Gilani said. (Read: After Pune, Gilani offers help against terror attacks)


The Indian government has confirmed that the Pune blast is linked to David Coleman Headley - the US national who visited Pune and surveyed the city's Jewish community center, Chabad House, and the Osho Ashram, both of which are located right next to the German Bakery. Headley is being tried in America for helping the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to plan and execute the 26/11 attacks. (Read: Headley link to Pune blast: Home Secretary to NDTV)






Nations vie to outdo Russia for military ties with India
New Delhi’s defence market is expected to touch $100 billion over the next decade
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
Looking to replicate the five decades’ old “strong and reliable” Indo-Russian military ties, several countries are working hard to change their geo-political strategies and find a way into the lucrative Indian defence market that is expected to touch a whopping US$100 billion over the next decade.

The ongoing DefExpo in the National Capital is full of aspiring countries and also those who are already doing business with India -- representatives from 35 countries are here. Some are virtually “snapping at the heels” of Russia that is India’s largest defence partner and supplier. Companies have made inroads and have cut into what was once a solely Russian domain. Others are waiting in the wings and want their home countries to change strategies to suit India.

Yesterday, the head of the Rosoboronexport (the Russian conglomerate of companies), Victor Komardin, stressed that Russia was a dependable partner for India. He hinted at the days of the cold war and post-Indo-China conflict when the erstwhile USSR delivered the then top-line fighter MiG 21 in the early 1960s.

Now, the two countries are co-developing a cruise missile -- Brahmos -- and the next generation fighter planes. India also produces the Sukhoi-30 and the T-90 tanks here by itself, among other equipment. The upcoming Indian nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, also has a strong Russian element.

The India president of a leading foreign manufacturer says future Indian decisions will be made in the backdrop of such a Russian model of participation. The same has to be replicated by others to survive.

Talking to The Tribune, Matthias Schmidlin, India campaign director, Eurofighter, says the European conglomerate will leverage the clout of the partner nations — UK, Italy, Spain and Germany. “The four nations will combine their political strength.” The company is a bidder in the 126 medium fighters’ deal worth US$10 billion. The company’s sister concern, Eurojet, is a bidder for the engine to be fitted onto the next generation of the Indian-built light combat aircraft — Tejas.

India head of the BaE, Andrew Gallaghar, says the company was looking to create designers and developers here in India itself. French company DCNS has been making submarines at Mumbai. Italian company Fincantieri is providing the design for India’s under-construction sea-borne aircraft carrier and its propulsion system.

The engines of the Italian ship and the Indian ship are common. It is also making a set of three fleet tankers for the Indian navy. The first one will be delivered by December this year, says Arvind Singh Raghav, who heads the India office of the company. Another Italian company, Finmeccanica, yesterday signed a deal with TATA to make choppers.

US company Boeing has won a contract to supply the long-range reconnaissance aircraft. The US Congress has also okayed the ultra-light howitzer of the BaE for direct sales and India is expected to be beneficiary. The gun can be lifted by a chopper and moved in the mountains. Israel has developed an airborne radar and supplies UAVs to India, besides high-end radars and missiles.

Also, German major Thyssenkrupp Marine systems is in talks with three Indian defence shipyards for making ships. “We will build here itself and transfer technology,” says Stephen Laufer.

European missile maker MBDA says it is ready to sign up for the short-range air defence missile and is waiting for the DRDO to finalise matters. Korean Aerospace Industries, a firm owned by Samsung, is one of the bidders to make the basic trainer for the IAF.







Now, army wants to dump the indigenous Insas rifle

Josy Joseph / DNA

Thursday, February 18, 2010 1:37 IST

New Delhi: Yet another move by the Indian Army to dump indigenous equipment has come under sharp focus within the services and outside. The decision to look for a foreign replacement for the Indian small arms system (Insas) assault rifle — the standard rifle of an Indian soldier — came as the army is under attack from various quarters for its resistance to the Arjun tank.


The Insas and Arjun are indigenously made, and are among rare successes for India, which is heavily dependent on foreign firms for defence equipment.


The army wants to dump the Insas as it allegedly doesn’t measure up to its requirements. One of the arguments is that it does not instantly kill the enemy. But its defenders pointed out that it was not supposed to kill the enemy, but injure him so that in a battlefield more of his fellow soldiers are busy evacuating the injured.


A serving senior officer from the infantry said it was baffling that the infantry directorate has issued a global tender for replacing the Insas. “It has been designed precisely according to our quality requirements. If we have new requirements, we should ask the ordnance factory board to rework it, and not scrap the project,” the officer, who was involved in the induction of Insas, told DNA. He pointed out that the rifle had undergone several refinements, so it is now a “good weapon”.


Insas is a 5.56mm rifle, and performs as well as any in its class, argued its supporters. “It may not be as finished as others, but then you get an Insas for only Rs24,000. Its comparative guns are in the range of Rs1.25 lakh,” an official pointed out.


The global RFP (request for proposal) issued for a new assault rifle for the army stipulated that it had to be lighter than 3.5kg, making impossible for the Insas to even compete in the tender; an Insas weighs 4.1kg.






Tata Motors to bid for bullet-proof vehicles of Indian Army



Tata Motors, which has supplied about 1.2-lakh units to India’s defence and paramilitary forces since 1958, is drawing up plans to bid for supplying light bullet-proof vehicles, to be manufactured on its multi-utility vehicle Sumo’s platform. On the sidelines of launching a mine-protected vehicle at the DEFEXPO, India’s largest vehiclemaker has confirmed that that it is participating in a government bid to supply almost 1,000 light bullet proof vehicles to the armed forces with a possible order size of Rs. 350 crore. Besides the Indian Army, the company will also offer the vehicle to paramilitary and police forces too. It is to be mentioned that India has earmarked US$30.5 billion as capital expenditure on defense for the current fiscal year through March 3 and the federal government is in the process of upgrading its armed forces by floating tenders for the purchase of new vehicles, arms and fighter jets as part of the modernization exercise, as claimed by Dow Jones in its report.


“There are several other domestic companies also participating in the contract for supply of light bullet vehicles,” a senior Tata official said. While not commenting on the value of the government contract, officials indicated that each light bullet proof vehicle produced by the group costs about Rs 35 lakh. He also said, “We are competing with all local vehicle manufacturers like Mahindra and Mahindra and Ashok Leyland for the Indian Army contract.”


Another senior official said, “Tata Motors will also participate in production of futuristic infantry combat vehicles, which would work as a system integrator, besides participating in the upgrading and overhaul program of the Indian Army's T-72 tank.”


According to company vice-chairman Ravi Kant, “The defence business is becoming a big business. We are the largest commercial vehicle maker, so we think we are poised to play an important role.”


As mentioned in the beginning, Tata Motors has rolled out the mine protected vehicle, as part of its strategy to enhance the scope of its defence business right up to frontline combat vehicles. The newly launched mine protected vehicle is based on modular flexibility, offering three doors for faster and easier exit in emergency situations, but also an air-conditioned cabin and nine firing ports.So far, Tata Motors had been supplying vehicles, including troop carriers, armoured buses, light specialist vehicles and aviation fuel dispensers. With the launch of mine-proof vehicles, the company aims to widen its portfolio.


"Our aim is to participate in the entire defence value chain. Besides consolidating our traditional supplies, going forward we will also participate in creating vehicles and equipment specific to the defence sector," managing director (India Operations) P.M. Telang said.






Why Police came shopping at Army exposition?

By: Anshuman G Dutta

Date: 2010-02-17



Faced with terror and naxals para-military forces too show keen interest in acquiring new arms and technologies


What 9/11 did to the US homeland security, 26/11 had done to internal security scenario in India.

The security forces are fast realizing that the threat to inland targets is much more real than on the borders. Apart from their terror perception, the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 have also changed the shopping style of the para-military and police forces. At least the ongoing Defexpo suggests a similar shift.


While the armed forces still remain the biggest stakeholders, state police forces and Central Para-Military Forces (CPMF) have sneaked into the growing market of security equipments in last few years.


A status check with some of the prominent defence equipment manufacturers exhibiting their products in the exhibition clearly showed that police forces across the country will soon grab the biggest pie of the industry. Sources also revealed that with government accepting left wing extremism as the biggest security threat and the demand for advanced technology for police and para-military forces is all set to touch new highs.


"The possibility of military confrontation with any country has gone down but the concept of homeland security is expanding," said an official from Ministry of Defence.


Para-military forces and state police forces have shown keen interest in acquiring state of the art bulletproof jackets, helmets, Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV), Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and night vision devices.

Realizing the shift in the market pattern Indian manufactures also geared up meet the growing demand. While almost all the state police forces engaged in naxal warfare are procuring bullet proof jackets the demand for high end equipments like mine protected vehicles too is rising.


Mahindra Defence Systems, which unveiled its MPV is also looking forward to orders from para-military and police forces. The company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qhutube Hai said security agencies under Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are showing tremendous interest in their products.


Besides Mahindra Defence Systems, Ashoka Leyland and Tata Industries have also launched their MPVs and are looking forward to buyers from CPMFs and police forces.


"The defence market is no more a defence market; it has become a security market which is providing equipments and services for armed forces and central para military as well as police forces," said Deba R Mohanty, senior fellow and a prominent defence analyst from Observer Research Foundation (ORF).


"Currently the products in the defence and security market are being diversified to cater to the need of para-militaries and police forces also. Many systems used by the police and para-militaries and conventional armed forces are similar in nature like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and MPVs," he added.


While Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal are taking the lead, other states are also showing keen interest in such systems. "MHA has issued a tender for 59,000 bulletproof jackets while we have already provided jackets to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Gujarat governments," said a senior official from MKU Pvt Limited, manufacturers of bulletproof jackets and night vision devices.





Guns and vehicles: the Mahindras bet big on defence

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi February 17, 2010, 0:09 IST


Anand Mahindra is relying on BAE Systems, his foreign partner, to win mega military contracts


As Anand Mahindra unveiled his new defence company’s latest product —- the Mine Protected Vehicle for India (MPVI) —- the lights, music and camouflage-clad female models could only briefly obscure the most glaring truth at the ongoing Defexpo 2010 here: that India’s private sector, even after investing thousands of crores in defence technology, infrastructure and corporate structures, is still waiting for Ministry of Defence (MoD) orders.


The new MPVI, like Mahindra Defence Systems’ Rakshak, Marksman and Axe vehicles before it, was developed with the pro-active strategy of creating and stimulating MoD demand. So far, those orders have failed to materialise. MDS’ order book mainly features the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and state governments buying protection for their police forces.


Ironically, the Mahindra Group’s breakthrough in defence could come from guns, not vehicles. Parked alongside the MPVI, and dominating the display hall, are two 155mm guns that could shape the future of MDS. One is the modernised version of the well-known FH-77B Bofors gun; the other is the M777 ultralight howitzer (ULH). India is considering buying hundreds of these guns for several billion dollars.


The Bofors gun will be leaving for the next phase of long-running Indian Army trials in Leh at the end of the Defexpo; army sources say it has been the leading contender so far. Meanwhile, New Delhi has approached Washington for buying the M777 ULH, which is manufactured in America.


Anand Mahindra is betting big on BAE Systems, his foreign partner, winning these contracts. In an audacious move, he has increased his stakes in the defence business, rather than reducing his exposure. A joint venture —- called Defence Land Systems India or DLSI —- has been formed with MDS holding 74 per cent of the Rs 100-crore JV, and BAE Systems 26 per cent. The government turned down a request for BAE Systems to be allowed to hold 49 per cent.


Speaking to Business Standard, Mahindra noted that the MoHA’s and state governments’ orders of protected vehicles had kept MDS in the black, even in the absence of MoD orders. The Faridabad plant that built those vehicles, now transferred to DLSI, would keep rolling. And, as soon as the gun contract is won, DLSI would set up a new factory to build 55 per cent of the gun system in India.


Mahindra believes that, “The negative perception against the Bofors gun no longer exists; the gun never committed any crime. And, after the gun’s performance in the Kargil conflict, the country and the MoD are ready to buy it. We have already created a business model to be prepared for that moment and will build the facilities that are needed for manufacturing the gun in India.”


Haryana Chief Minister B S Hooda is believed to have suggested that the Mahindras set up the new gun factory in Haryana, near Rohtak.


Anand Mahindra says BAE Systems is genuinely committed to transferring to DLSI the crucial technologies needed to build the gun in India, though BAE had, in the past, expressed concern about holding just 26 per cent of the equity. “There is no option for BAE Systems; this is a business necessity for them. The price sensitivity of buyers today requires them to cut costs and we have displayed our competence in high-tech manufacture while building automobiles.”


A riskier challenge ahead for the Mahindra group is its ambitious venture into developing and manufacturing the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) for the Indian Army. The MoD will choose between the Tatas, L&T, MDS and the public sector Ordnance Factory Board. Mahindra believes its strong automotive heritage and the foray into manufacturing protected vehicles, such as the MPVI, equips it to develop a quality product.


It is not yet clear whether MDS would partner BAE Systems, the world’s largest ground systems company, in developing the FICV.


In the immediate future, the MPVI will compete for orders with similar vehicles developed by several other domestic manufacturers, including Ashok Leyland and the Tata Group. The MoD procured a significant part of its requirement of almost 400 MPVs from the public sector Ordnance Factory, Medak.


The Axe and the Rakshak —- two of the vehicles that MDS has developed for security forces —- are currently competing for a big Rs 350-crore army order for some 950 vehicles.


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