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Monday, 8 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 08 Mar 2010






India voices concern over US equipping Pak army

Press Trust of India, Sunday March 7, 2010, Thiruvananthapuram


Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday expressed serious concern over the US equipping Pakistan army with modern weapons and asked Washington to ensure that they were not used against India.


"United States decision to provide sophisticated weapons (to Pakistan) is a matter of serious concern to India. The US should ensure that these weapons are not targeted against India", Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.


Noting that the issue had already been taken up with the US Defence Secretary during his visit to India recently, he said the American explanation that Pakistan army has to be strengthened to fight terrorist outfits like Al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan was not convincing to India.


Antony, who inaugurated a new building at the Coast Guard Station at Vizhinjam, said, "Our past experience is bitter" on this issue.


The Defence Minister said he told US Defence Secretary that even though they were providing equipment to fight terrorists, Pakistan army was deploying them on Jammu and Kashmir borders.


"This is a matter of concern to India and I hope that the US will take a serious note of this," Antony said.


He said while India preferred to carry on talks with Pakistan, Islamabad should take firm action to dismantle as many as 42 terrorist camps operating on its soil.


"Unless these terrorist camps are destroyed, it is a difficult situation. We want some action (by Pakistan) to dismantle these camps," he said.


On infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir, Antony said the situation in the state had improved and tourists had started visiting it again. However, there were forces that still create trouble.


"Normalcy is returning and tourists are coming. But some forces against India have not reconciled with the situation.


So, they have redoubled their attempts to infiltrate but our forces have by and large checked their attempts," he said.


After Mumbai terror strikes, Indian forces had been maintaining an "eternal vigil". It was due to the alertness of the defence forces that many attempts by terrorists to strike were foiled, he said.


Rejecting the criticism by certain defence analysts that the acquisition of equipment for the Army had been less in the last few years, Antony said, in fact, this had doubled in the last five to six years.


On the latest position on purchase of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, he said the process was in the final stages.


Antony ruled out the use of military to combat Naxal violence, saying a permanent solution to deal with it was to strengthen state police forces.


However, he said military would provide logistic support like training and assistance to state police forces in their effort to combat the Naxal threat.


Replying to a question, Antony said the government has no information on China instigating Maoists in India.


Earlier after inaugurating the Coast Guard Administrative complex, Antony said Coast Guard plans to set up Coast Guard Air Enclave at Kochi, Goa, Mangalore and Vishakapatnam.


Indian Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral Anil Chopra said Coast Guard would be strengthened by inducting 85 more ships by 2012.


As part of expanding its marine intelligence gathering activities, Coastal Surveillance Network has been established, Chopra said.







Major General promoted 15 yrs after retirement

New Delhi, March 7
A Major General, who retired 15 years ago, has been granted promotion to the rank of Lt General by the Armed Forces Tribunal here.

After the Tribunal order, Maj Gen Devendra Nath Verma, a former Signals officer who retired on September 30, 1995, will “notionally” become a Lt General and would be given all pensionary and financial benefits attached with the promotion.

"Since the petitioner has retired, he may be granted notional promotion to that of a Lt General with effect from October 1, 1995, and the financial consequences that would have accrued to him had he been in service, including that of pensionary benefits," a two-member Bench headed by Tribunal chairperson Justice AK Mathur said.

Demanding quashing of his retirement, Verma had petitioned that service extension of three months given to another officer, Lt Gen PD Bhargava (retd), was stage-managed, which denied him the opportunity for promotion to the rank of Lt General.

Verma also contended that the three-month extension given to Bhargava was not recommended by the Army but was granted suo motu by the Defence Ministry. Agreeing with Verma's contention, the Tribunal said the granting of extension to Bhargava was “totally unjustified and ultra-vires”. — PTI






Our military doctrine is purely defensive: Pakistan

March 07, 2010 21:57 IST


Describing India's [ Images ] massive militarisation as dangerous for peace in the region, Pakistan has said that its military doctrine was purely defensive.


"It is India's dangerous military doctrines and massive militarisation that are matters of huge concern for regional stability whereas Pakistan has always acted to protect its legitimate security interests.


Our military doctrine is purely defensive in nature," Pakistan's foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told the News.


Basit was reacting to Indian Defence Minister AK Antony's statement that "United States decision to provide sophisticated weapons (to Pakistan) is a matter of serious concern to India."


He brushed aside Antony's criticism saying it is for the world to see that the country's military doctrine is purely defensive in nature.


Basit said the American explanation that the Pakistan Army [ Images ] has to be strengthened to fight terrorist outfits like the Al Qaeda [ Images ] and the Taliban [ Images ] in Afghanistan was not convincing enough for India.

"Our past experience is bitter," he said, adding that the acquisition of equipment for its army had been doubled in the last five years.






Army opts for Nag missile as it enters final trials

Ajai Shukla / Hyderabad March 08, 2010, 1:09 IST


In Rajasthan, this May, the indigenously developed Nag (Cobra) missile will undergo a final round of trials before entering service in the Indian Army’s arsenal. Developed by the Defence R&D Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad, the army is delighted with how the Nag has performed in a series of earlier trials. A senior army officer calls it “the world’s deadliest anti-tank guided missile (ATGM)”.


Indian infantry formations urgently want a potent ATGM to handle Pakistani tank forces that now bristle with capable Ukrainian T-80 and Chinese T-85 tanks.


So confident is the army about the Nag that, even before trails are completed, it has budgeted Rs 335 crores for buying 443 Nag missiles, which will be manufactured at the public sector Bharat Dynamics Limited. The missiles will equip Reconnaissance and Support Battalions, mechanised units that locate and destroy enemy tanks.


In trials last summer six Nag missiles were fired at tanks 3-4 km away; each of them hit their target precisely. Next month the Nag must demonstrate its capability at its minimum range of 500 metres.


“Since the Nag travels at 230 metres per second, it has just 2 seconds to align itself to a target that is 500 metres away. But we are confident that the Nag will meet this requirement during the forthcoming trials”, the DRDL’s Officiating Director, Amal Chakrabarti, told Business Standard during a visit to the Hyderabad missile complex.


The Nag is a third-generation (Gen-3), “fire-and-forget” missile; once it is fired, its seeker automatically guides the missile to even a fast-moving tank. In earlier-generation missiles an operator had to guide it all the way, often exposing himself to enemy fire. The world has just a handful of “fire-and-forget” missiles, such as the American Javelin, and the Israeli Spike. The Javelin and the Spike are lighter missiles that can be carried by a soldier; the Nag is a heavier and more powerful missile designed to operate from vehicles and helicopters.


While the infrared seekers of the Javelin and the Spike can be jammed, the Nag’s optical guidance system makes it virtually jam-proof. The indigenous development of an imaging seeker, a highly complex and closely guarded technology, is the Nag’s greatest triumph.


Here’s how it works. Nag missile operators search for enemy tanks through thermal imaging telescopes, which see as well by night as they do by day. Picking up a tank, the operator locks the Nag’s seeker onto the target. A digital snapshot of the target is automatically taken, which serves as a reference image. As the Nag streaks towards the target, at 230 metres per second, the seeker takes repeated snapshots of the target; each one is compared with the reference image, and deviations are translated through on-board algorithms into corrections to the Nag’s control fins, which steer the missile precisely at the target.


This method of firing is termed “lock-on before launch” or LOBL. In the pipeline is an even more sophisticated method —- “lock-on after launch” or LOAL —- for the helicopter-mounted Nag, or HELINA, which can target a tank 7 kilometres away. Since the target will seldom be visible at such a distance, the missile operator launches the HELINA in the general direction of the target. As it flies towards the target, the Nag’s seeker downlinks to the missile operator images of the area ahead; after travelling 3-4 kilometres, i.e. after about 12-16 seconds, the operator will be able to identify enemy tanks. He will lock the seeker onto the tank he wishes to destroy, and the command will be uplinked to the missile in mid-flight. After that, the missile homes in onto the target and destroys it.


The Nag provides its operator with another important tactical advantage. The plume of burning propellant from the tail of most missiles gives away its flight path and allows the target to get behind cover. The Nag, in contrast, is visible only during the first one second of flight, when the missile’s booster imparts 90% of the momentum; after that, a sustainer maintains the missile’s speed, burning a smokeless propellant that is practically invisible.


Acceptance of the Nag missile into service will be a triumphant conclusion to the Defence R&D Organisation’s (DRDO’s) long-delayed, but eventually successful, Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). Initiated in 1983 by then DRDO boss, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the IGMDP set out to develop five missiles: the Agni and Prithvi ballistic missiles; the Akash and Trishul anti-aircraft missiles; and the Nag ATGM. Only the Trishul will have failed to be accepted into service.






Defence budget- Measly hike, lacks punch

Category »  Editorial Posted On Sunday, March 07, 2010

After the huge 34 per cent jump in allocation in 2009-2010 to plug operational gaps in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, the defence outlay got a measly 3.98 per cent this fiscal 2010-2011, higher than last year but the lowest in seven years. Though the defence budget for 2009-10 had increased by 34 per cent over the previous year- it was one of the highest raise in India's history- yet a large part of this increase went towards the higher salaries recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission. And while the operating expenditure of the Armed Forces has been on the rise, the capital expenditure declined last year. This does not bode well for defence modernisation.

If the revised estimates of last year are taken into account, then the budget has a slightly healthier 8.13 per cent hike. For the record, the 2010-2011-defence outlay stands at Rs. 1,44,344 crore compared to last year's allocation of Rs. 1,41,703 crore.

With this measly hike of about four per cent, the modernisation of the 13-lakh strong Armed Forces is going to suffer seriously in the absence of concrete long-term strategic plans to systematically build military capabilities. This when the threat perception from both China and Pakistan is growing. India not only has to evolve an Israeli model if it desires to obviate threat perception from its adversaries but its defence outlay needs to be trebled. "Needless to say, any additional requirement for the nation's security will be provided for," said Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, which is the only saving grace.

The capital outlay, largely meant for acquiring new weapon systems and platforms, is pegged at Rs 60,000 crore this fiscal, which represents a 9.4 per cent jump over last year's allocation of Rs 54,824 crore. It becomes a robust 25.4 per cent if compared to revised estimates at Rs 47,824 crore of 2009-10. Out of Rs 60,000 crore of capital outlay, the Indian Air Force has got the biggest chunk of Rs 24,954 crore. The Army got Rs 16,969 crore, Navy Rs 2,972 crore, Naval Fleet Rs 6,950 crore and Naval Dockyard Rs 417 crore.

An explanation offered is that the IAF is set to purchase some 126 multi-role fighters. It has floated a tender for attack helicopters and also transport helicopters besides new training aircraft for its fighter pilots. Additionally, it is set to purchase critical equipment for air defence.

This apart, the major equipment that could come up for purchase includes the sea-borne aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and the large lending ships. The Army will be buying heavy vehicles worth Rs 1074 crore, while Rs 4,722 crore has been allocated for its construction activity.

However, the recurring ghost of unspent funds and defence deal scams continues to haunt the Armed Forces, with the defence ministry stifling red tape and cumbersome procurement procedures. It has failed to spend Rs 7,000 crore from 2009-2010 capital outlay. That is a sign that the Armed Forces, worrying more on operating costs than long-term investments, are not being pushed to improve their teeth-to-tail ratios. Of the three Services, the Navy is the only one acting against this trend. In the absence of any strategic guidance, modernisation plans will in all likelihood continue to lag behind.

Indeed, the entire planning process needs a complete overhaul. From the lack of adequate number of submarines, obsolete radars and outdated air defence weapons to the failure to induct new 155 mm artillery Howitzers since the Bofors case of the mid 90s, the Forces have had several gaps in operational capabilities. This despite the fact that the nation has spent over $50 billion for arms acquisitions since the 1990 Kargil conflict.

If the projected GDP for 2010-1011 is taken, the country's defence expenditure is a mere 2.12 per cent, less than the 3 per cent demanded by the Armed Forces and strategic experts since a long time. For the past two decades, India's military expenditure has hovered around 2.75 per cent of the GDP.

On a broader note, there is a need for India to strengthen its diplomatic and military capabilities in consonance with its rise as an economic power. Contrary to those who argue in favour of spending more on development instead of defence say, the "guns versus butter" debate is spurious: Unless adequate provisions are made for defence, no State will be able to pursue its developmental agenda. This is even truer in India, which faces a unique security environment with two of its "adversaries" straddling it on both sides of its borders and problems on all sides of its periphery. Compared with China's 7 per cent and Pakistan's 5 per cent of the GDP defence expenditure, India's defence budget continues to be very low.

Finally, the issue of spending on defence should also require taking a closer look at the foreign ministry's budget. That budget may have increased by 24 per cent last year, but the Indian Foreign Service needs a major revamp; it continues to be extremely small, compared with the expanding interests of the country, in almost every part of the world. Defence and diplomacy are two sides of the same coin and India cannot afford to ignore either of these.

There is no substitute for strategic thinking and institutional effectiveness in foreign and security policymaking. We may well need a blue ribbon commission to inquire into this. Otherwise, budgets will come and go without adequately serving Indian security interests.

In order to make the workforce more competitive, the government has curtailed certain tax benefits, rewarding sufficient autonomy to help them compete and create a level-playing field so that the private sector comes forward for defence production via the joint venture route. The Defence Minister, AK Antony, has indicated that the government is examining all pros and cons before it sets a time-frame for the Defence Production Policy in which the provisions would be incorporated to seek indulgence of private sector for defence exports with minimum government approvals. In the absence of the policy, exports of defence articles, equipment, component and finished products are cumbersome but something would have to be done on this front.

Defence experts feel that a clear-cut road map for corporatisation of ordnance factories should be seriously considered. Without it the country's defence production will remain import-oriented and the factories and its workforce would not be competitive enough.

Keeping in view the threat perception there is a dire need of building roads, railway lines and airports for the jet fighters' operations right up to the borders as has been done by China. Pakistan is trying to settle its ex-servicemen nearer to the borders and arming them for better security alerts. Thus, India must be strong enough like Israel to counter any attack of offensive from our adversaries. Time to get started.

Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd), INFA






French Army band performs in New Delhi

March 7, 2010 – 12:21 pm


New Delhi, Mar 7 (ANI): The French Army band performed here on Saturday, as India invited military bands and cultural troupes of armies from around the world to strengthen ties and promote peace through music.


The itinerary included performances by world-class musicians of The Royal EME (UK), The French Army, The Sri Lankan Army, The Bangladesh Army and The Nepalese Army apart from bands of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.

Jerome Bonnafont, French Ambassador to India, who was present at the event, said the two countries had excellent relations.


“It’’s really an excellent relationship. It’’s based on mutual trust. It’’s based on common values, it’’s also based on the conviction that India and France can hand-in-hand both develop each other and make a positive impact on globalization, for peace, against terrorism, for poverty alleviation, for fighting against, for example, climate change, etc.

So, it’’s very-very friendly relationship, which we call strategic partnership,” he said.


The function is a one of a kind, as it is for the first time that such a presentation is initiated by the Indian armed forces.


Musicians in all world-class armies have played a pivotal role not only in high standards of ceremonial functions, but also in adding vigour to the daily routine of regimental life of a soldier. (ANI)







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