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Friday, 26 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 26 Mar 2010

India’s fear: Secret US-Pak deal
 Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, March 25
India has taken a positive view of the US snub to Pakistan over its demand for a civil nuclear accord similar to the Indo-US deal while cautioning Washington to ensure that the aid being given to Islamabad was not diverted towards military activities.  However, New Delhi is closely watching the outcome of the much-talked about strategic dialogue between Islamabad and Washington for any sign of a secret deal on Afghanistan. sThe situation in Afghanistan was of direct concern to India and any deal with the Taliban could push the war-torn nation back into medieval times, sources said.  Officials here heaved a sigh of relief after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton evaded a direct reply when asked if the Obama administration was prepared to discuss a civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan at the end of talks between the two countries in Washington.  The sources clarified that India was not opposed to any country coming to the rescue of another in meeting its energy requirements. “We are not opposed to cooperation in civil nuclear energy field but the international community must adopt a balanced approach in the matter…it must verify the proliferation record of certain countries,” the sources added. They were obviously referring to Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear programme and its dubious proliferation record.  On Washington’s proposal to move forward with 125- million dollars energy-sector projects to Pakistan, the sources said Islamabad has always in the past used non-military aid given to it by Western nations for military projects. The international community must have a mechanism to monitor if Pakistan was using the aid for the purpose it was meant..  On Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi’s statement that India would have to very soon revisit its policy of engaging Pakistan, the sources said New Delhi’s position in the matter was quite unambiguous. “We’re willing to go the extra mile in relations with Pakistan if it takes sincere and credible action against those behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack,’’ they added.  Strategic experts, meanwhile, said India should not become complacent after the US decision to deny Pakistan a nuclear deal.

Army thumbs up to Arjuna tank
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, March 25
After years of dithering, the Indian Army has finally given a “thumbs-up” to the indigenously built Arjuna tank. Following the conclusion of the field trials with the Russian built T-90 tank, well-placed sources in the Indian Army confirmed to The Tribune today that the Arjuna performed satisfactorily.  An officer, part of the week-long comparative trails conducted in the Mahajan firing ranges in Rajasthan, said the performance of Arjuna was “satisfactory”. Sources said Arjuna was only expected to beat the T-90.  The Ministry of Defence could order more of the tanks that are currently produced from the existing facility at Avadi, Tamil Nadu. Two regiments, each of 62 tanks, of the Arjuna have been ordered in the past and the first one has almost finished induction under the 12 Corps, Jodhpur. The Ministry does not want to depend entirely on the Russian platform and the minister AK Antony had ensured a “shoot-out” between the two tanks.  The Arjuna project was approved in 1974 and even after the Army agreed to buy 124 of these it was opposed to further orders.  Minister of state for Defence in the previous UPA term, Rao Inderjit Singh, went on record to state that earlier trials for the Arjuna were “rigged” to downplay the product. Army sources say this was not a trial to replace any of the two tanks. Both, Arjuna and Bhishma (the Indian name for the T-90), will co-exist and be deployed in different battle arenas. The trial was to identify the role of the tanks.  For the trials, 14 Arjuna tanks faced the T-90s. Each squadron was given three tasks: Driving more than 150 km in the deserts, shooting at a set of targets while being stationary as well as on the move and the ability to drive through a water channel.  At 58.5-tonnes, the Arjuna is much heavier than the 46.5 tonne T-90 but with more powerful engines it moved faster.

Navy in aggressive acquisition mode, to have fighter planes
Press Trust of India / New Delhi March 25, 2010, 13:58 IST  Indian Navy plans to take up aggressive acquisition programmes in aviation including induction of fighter planes and multi-role helicopters for its fleet, its Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has said.  "We are acquiring our ships, aircraft and submarines in accordance with the Navy's current Maritime Capability Perspective Plan. There are presently 40 ships and submarines on order," Verma said.  He said in addition, Navy has aggressive acquisition programmes in aviation including induction of Mig 29K, the acquisition of Boeing P8I MPA aircraft, additional Kamov 31 helicopters and new multi-role helicopters.  "We would also by then have our indigenous strategic submarine force fully-operationalised," the Chief of Naval Staff said in an interview to recently published 'Manas Defence Year Book'.  "The linking of all our platforms through ongoing efforts in data linking will realise the creation of a truly network centric force that is tomorrow ready. In sum by 2020, I see a modern and powerful Navy with a large indigenous component, manned by a highly tech-savvy manpower ready to meet the transformational changes," Verma said.  To a question on expanding reach of Chinese Navy in Indian Ocean, he said the force views it with respect and not in confrontational terms.  "We appreciate that the economy of China, like that of India, is highly growth-oriented and, consequently, highly dependent upon energy. Thus, to sustain her economic growth, China -- like India -- must rely increasingly upon external sources of energy and raw materials.  "The principal sources of supply for both countries, lie either in the Indian Ocean, or (they) must travel across the Indian Ocean... Indian Navy views the PLA (People's Liberation Army) Navy with respect and does not see it in confrontational terms," he said.  Verma said as for the expanding reach of the PLA Navy impacting India's security, "we must remember every nation has the right to establish friendly and beneficial relations with others, in accordance with its own national interests.  "We have confidence in our own national and maritime capabilities not to feel threatened by any country's legitimate relations with another," he said adding that the Navy is constantly working at capability enhancement and capacity building in pursuance of the country's strategic requirements and doctrinal necessities.

US, UK should pressurise Pak to close terror camps: PC
Press Trust of India / London March 25, 2010, 10:31 IST  Pakistan's 'friends' like the US and the UK should persuade it to close terrorist training camps operating there, Home Minister P Chidambaram has said.  In an interview to BBC, he also said that the civilian government in Pakistan has not moved towards reining in the ISI and likened terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba to al-Qaeda.  Chidambaram, on an official visit here, said things would be better "if there is a truly civilian government in Pakistan which can rein in the ISI and direct the army and the ISI to move in and dismantle their terror infrastructure".  "The camps must be closed. Training must come to an end," he said.  To a question whether he has seen any movement in that direction in Pakistan, Chidambaram replied "nothing so far".  Asked what he believed would persuade Pakistan to do that, he said: "The UK, the US know the answer to that question better. Certainly, we have not been able to persuade Pakistan. It is Pakistan's friends, mutual friends, who would have to bring pressure on Pakistan."  Chidambaram said it would be 'naive' for Western countries to think that only India faces the threat from Pakistan-based terrorists.  "Once you allow these terror groups to train, recruit and be able to build capacity to strike, they can strike in India, they can strike in UK, they can strike in Denmark as they were planning out of the Karachi project", he said.  "No country is truly safe....Don't think that India alone is under threat. Every country is under threat from these groups and the Lashkar-e-Taiba today is like the al-Qaeda, a multi-country group".  About his reading of what happened in Pune, Chidambaram said: "Pune was a case where it slipped through the cracks. Pune was a target. There was specific intelligence shared by the Central government with the Maharashtra police and the government. The area, Koregaon park was under a security cover.  "Three times advisory was given to German Bakery and its manager's acknowledged the advisory on every single occasion but they did nothing. They did not even take the minimum security precautions. So, it is an unfortunate case that I would say slipped through the cracks."  He added, "As I said in Parliament, it's a blot. But the lesson is that when there is intelligence, pointed intelligence and advisories are issued, people must cooperate. shops, establishments, hotels, malls must take minimal security precautions."  Asked what had he learnt from Pune about the connection to Pakistan, the Home minister said, "Nothing so far has been brought to my notice."  To a question if he knew where the plot originated from, Chidambaram replied, "I don't know. The investigation is on. Unless it is complete, I can't comment on it."

US snubs Pakistan over nuke deal
March 26, 2010 03:26 IST    The US and Pakistan pledged to redouble efforts to confront terrorism and Washington committed to help Islamabad [ Images ] overcome its crippling energy deficit but there was no mention of a civil nuclear deal as the two nations ended their upgraded strategic dialogue. There was also no reference to US' mediation role in Kashmir [ Images ] as was being pushed by the Pakistani officials.  The first-ever Cabinet-level US-Pak Strategic Dialogue that concluded in Washington on Thursday also saw the two countries reaffirming the importance of advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. Notwithstanding the suspicion in a major section of the American administration over the Inter-Services Intelligence's(Pak apy agency) continued ties with Taliban [ Images ] and Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ], the US pledged to work with Pakistan against terrorism in the region.  "Both sides acknowledged the common threat that terrorism and extremism posed to global, regional and local security," said a joint statement issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the conclusion of the talks. Pakistan appreciated the US security assistance and both governments "committed to redouble their efforts to deal effectively with terrorism and to protect the common ideals and shared values of democracy, tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights". However, there was no reference to US's mediation role in Kashmir or the civilian nuclear deal, two key items onPakistan's wish-list.  The Pakistani delegation among others also included the Pakistan Army [ Images ] Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani [ Images ]. Among major assistance committments offered by the Obama [ Images ] Administration to Pakistan included grants for establishing cold storage facilities and roads. "The US recognised the importance of assisting Pakistan to overcome its energy deficit and committed to further intensify and expand comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector, including through the Signature Energy Programme," the joint statement said.  Islamabad received a grant of nearly US $ 400,000 from the US to establish of a network of cold storage facilities at strategic locations in five key urban areas in Pakistan. The two countries also signed a US $ 40 million letter of intent regarding cooperation in construction of priority roads in Pakistan's NWFP to aid in Malakand's reconstruction. "Recognising the crucial importance of water for human survival and development, both sides decided to add a separate sectoral track in the Strategic Dialogue to focus on water conservation, watershed management and US assistance in water projects," the statement said.  The US and Pakistan discussed to create an investment fund to support increased foreign direct investment anddevelopment in Pakistan. Such a fund could provide much-needed additional support for Pakistan's energy sector and other high priority areas, the joint statement said. Further, it said the US was committed to work towards enhanced market access for Pakistani products as well as towards the early finalisation of reconstruction opportunity zones legislation, which would benefit Afghanistan too.  "The two governments decided to discuss issues related to the Bilateral Investment Treaty in order to stimulate investment in Pakistan," it said. Clinton and Qureshi agreed to hold the next round of Strategic Dialogue in Islamabad in the next six months. It said a Policy Steering Group was established to intensify and expand the sectoral dialogue process in the fields of: economy and trade, energy, defence, security, strategic stability and non-proliferation; law enforcement and counter-terrorism; science and technology; education, agriculture, water, health and communications and publicdiplomacy. Sectoral meetings will be held in Islamabad soon.  Both sides exchanged views on the status of bilateral cooperation and decided to continually provide strategic guidance for strengthening the partnership in the 21st century for realising the aspirations of their people. The two leaders pointed out that the core foundations of this partnership are shared democratic values, mutual trustand mutual respect. A stable, enduring and broad-based cooperative partnership is in the fundamental interest of both thecountries, it added. Both the US and Pakistan are determined to foster goodwill and friendship between their people and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation, the joint statement said.
India tries to play catch-up with Pakistani drones . Pakistan has already received US Shadow drones, but Pakistan has already been working on its own drones.      THE LETHAL PAKISTANI BURRAQ IS THE PREDATOR EQUIVALENT: The Burraq is capable of reconnaissance and missile attacks:  “PAC engineers have been working on the first UAV project of the country for two years,” according to a report published on the aviation industry Flightglobal website in August. Pakistan is also reported to be flight-testing the Burraq, named for a winged-horse type creature in Islamic tradition. The Burraq is to be equipped with National Engineering and Scientific Commission (or NESCom) designed laser designator and laser-guided missiles. Unlike the Falco, Burraq will be able to attack and destroy targets.  Pakistan has now virtually become a member of the club of countries manufacturing drones. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) desperately needs UAVs capable of firing at targeted militants.  The Falco, with an autonomous navigation and control system, has a standard control link range of 200 kilometers and is capable of short take-offs from semi-prepared airstrips. Among its prominent features are automatic take-off and landing, fully redundant and fault-tolerant control systems and near-real-time target image processing.      ISLAMABAD — After years of watching U.S. drones operate along its Afghan border, Pakistan is working on its own Predator-like unmanned aerial vehicle to undertake the same mission, sources here said.  The sources said the country’s air force and government-owned defense conglomerate, the National Engineering and Scientific Commission, are flight-testing a new-design aircraft to be equipped with a NESCom-designed laser designator and laser-guided missiles. The Burraq UAV is named for a winged horse creature in Islamic tradition, similar to Pegasus.      According to local news reports, Pakistan is focusing its unmanned aircraft efforts on upgrading various older UAVs with Chinese help. But the sources note that no domestically produced UAVis large enough to heft both a missile and a targeting system. The military’s most capable UAV is the air force’s Selex Galileo Falco, which can laser-designate targets for other platforms but cannot deliver munitions.      Officials with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Defence Production here refused to confirm or deny the program’s existence. A spokesman for the military’s Inter Services Public Relations said it was “not ready to give a statement on the issue at this time.” One former air force officer said the notion of a Pakistan-developed hunter-killer UAV is credible. “You only have to see our track record,” said Kaiser Tufail, a retired air commodore. “We have some fantastic achievements in the field of defense.”      Tufail said Pakistan needs such a weapon. Anti-terror operations on the frontier require “hours and hours of round-the-clock reconnaissance,” married with the ability to strike quickly when a target is spotted, he said. Help from China? Analysts were more dubious about Pakistan’s ability to produce a laser-guided missile, but they noted that help might be found in China or Turkey. Turkey, with whom Pakistan has an agreement to cooperate on UAV development, is seeking an armed UAV, preferably the Predator or MQ-9 Reaper. This UAVmay someday be armed with the UMTAS infrared guided anti-tank missile being developed by the Turkish firm Roketsan to arm the T-129 attack helicopter.      Pakistan could simply produce China’s new CH-3 unmanned combat air vehicle, “or co-produce any number of Chinese components to assemble a unique UCAV,” said Richard Fisher, China specialist and senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington. “China has also developed the unique AR-1, a 45-kilogram, laser-guided attack missile, apparently designed specifically for light winged or helicopter UCAVs,” he said. Pakistan reported developing armed UAV By Usman Ansari – Staff writer, Saturday May 9, 2009 8:17:26 EDT  The Burraq is based on the Falco – SELEX GALILEO technology. We produce information on the Selix Galileo so that an adequate comparison can be made with the Burraq.  NEW DELHI: New battlelines are being drawn for a spy drone versus spy drone face-off between India and Pakistan. Even as Islamabad continues to badger Washington to give it armed drones like `Predators’, New Delhi is quietly working towards bolstering its fleet of reconnaissance and `killer’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).  While Pakistan has been after US to get `strategic’ UAVs like `Predators’, the latter has so far only agreed to supply `tactical’ unarmed `Shadow’ drones for intelligence-gathering missions.  `Predators’ and `Reapers’, controlled from hundreds of miles away through satellites, can unleash havoc with their `Hellfire’ missiles…The Times of India  Unable to produce its own drones, the Bharati (aka Indian) establishment is doing what it does best–tries to buy drones. Most of the time, the exporting nations sell their junk to Delhi. Corrupt Bharati politicians don’t really care about the quality of the equipment–as long as their pockets are filled.  In the latest such contract inked with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) a few days ago, India has ordered a few more `Heron’ MALE (medium-altitude, long endurance) drones, ground control systems and data terminals for around Rs 700 crore, defence ministry sources said on Thursday.  The importance of UAVs in modern-day warfare cannot be overstated, both for their snooping as well as targeting capabilities.  Bharat has been unable to produce any drones on its own–however it does have stripped down versions of Israeli UAVs.  These primarily include Israeli ones like Searcher-II and Heron, as also some Harpy `killer’ drones designed to detect and destroy enemy radars by functioning like cruise missiles.  Under the latest deal, Navy will now get two more Herons to add to its UAV fleet of eight Searcher-II and four Herons, which are being used for maritime surveillance up to 200 nautical miles.  There is also the ongoing Rs 1,163 crore joint IAI-DRDO project for NRUAVs (naval rotary UAVs) or unmanned helicopters operating from warship decks for advanced ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) missions.  As reported by TOI earlier, Army is also going in for two more `troops’ (8 birds each) of advanced Heron UAVs for Rs 1,118 crore after the Defence Acquisitions Council approved it in February 2009.  Apart from using UAVs for spying and directing precision-guided munitions, IAF is now looking to induct Israeli Harop `killer’ UAVs from 2011 onwards. Like the Harpy, Harop drones are capable of loitering over targets before they explode into them. But what makes them more advanced is that they also have electro-optical sensors to make them capable of even hitting important enemy military installations like missile sites.  While Harpy and Harop are kamikaze UAVs which perish with the targets, Predators and Reapers are more like fighters since they return to their bases to get a fresh stock of missiles for new missions.  The next phase will be that of full-fledged UCAVs (combat UAVs) being currently developed to replace manned fighter jets for medium and long-range conventional or nuclear bombing missions. India lines up Israeli drones in race with Pak

US giving hi-tech weapons to Pakistan worries India
Indrani Bagchi, TNN, Mar 26, 2010, 02.42am IST      NEW DELHI: The prospect of a nuclear deal for Pakistan gives India less sleepless nights than the fact that the US, in an attempt to "incentivise" Pakistan, is piling on sophisticated military equipment that have little to do with counter-terrorism but more to do with targeting India.  With the first lot of 18 F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft due to be delivered in the next few months, India is raising the diplomatic pitch against the transfer of such equipment to Pakistan.  While defence minister A K Antony has articulated these concerns, this has been the subject of a lot of diplomatic traffic between New Delhi and Washington lately. Officials expect this will sharpen in the run-up to the India-US strategic dialogue scheduled for June in Washington.  Apart from the F-16s worth $1.43 billion, the US is also financing $477 million (of $891 million) for almost 60 mid-life update kits for its older fleet of F-16s A/B combat aircraft and financing part of 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers. Under the "excess defence articles" EDA, the US will be giving one ex-Oliver Hazard Perry class missile frigate (worth $67 million) as well as 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters (worth $48 million of which 12 have already been delivered) and 121 refurbished TOW missile launchers. The US has already given 5,250 TOW anti-armour missiles to Pakistan.  After the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said these military supplies would be expedited. "We've agreed to fast-track our requests that have been pending for months and years, on the transfer of military equipment to Pakistan," Qureshi said.  Since 2001, Pakistan has received 14 F-16s (as part of an earlier deal) and 39 T-37 military trainer jets. Under the compensation scheme for the terror war, under which the US pays Pakistan to fight its own terrorists, the US has transferred $7.2 billion to Pakistan since 2002. According to official US figures, this is set to spike by $3.4 billion for the coming year. This is apart from the fact that the US administration has asked its Congress for more money to Pakistan this year.  While sources here said India had no quarrel with the US compensating Pakistan for its counter-terrorism efforts, a lot of the equipment from US is being diverted to build up Pakistan army's capability against India.

Singaporean Army hold military exercise in India
NEW DELHI (PTI): Facing a space-crunch in their own country, Singaporean armoured forces are taking part in a month-long training exercise at Indian Army's Babina field-firing range in Uttar Pradesh.  Around 550 personnel of the Singaporean Army along with their armoured personnel carriers, Bronco all-terrain tracked vehicles, Spike anti-tank guided missiles and other latest equipment are participating in the exercise which started on March 1, army officials said on Wednesday.  "The month long training exercise will culminate in a bilateral joint exercise codenamed 'Bold Kurukshetra' involving the Indian mechanised forces," they added.  As part of defence cooperation agreements signed in 2003 and 2008, Indian defence facilities are annually used by the Singaporean armed forces to train its personnel as it does not have the required training space.  Singaporean Air Force trains at the Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal whereas its land forces practice at the Deolali artillery firing ranges and Babina.  Singapore has similar agreements with countries such as the US, France, Australia, Thailand and Brunei.  Singapore makes payment to India for using the training facilities and has stationed some of its military equipment here on a permanent basis.  Indian forces also get the opportunity to train on the Singaporean equipment such as F-16 fighters during such training exercises.  Indian Air Force holds a joint air to air exercise codenamed 'Sindex' with Singapore whereas the two navies conduct the 'Simbex' exercise every year.

MOD Questions Infantry’s Procurement Projects 
The increasing number of fast-track purchases for the Indian Army has triggered off suspicions of foul-play since competitive bidding and tenders are being scrapped, and a possibility has arisen that decisions were being manipulated. The Indian government is now trying to investigate the matter.  The matter of biased decision making by certain factions in the Indian Army in these fast track acquisition may turn murky, since the Director-General (infantry) Lieutenant General Jasbir Singh was discharged from his post in New Delhi last week. Incidentally, Lieutenant General Jasbir Singh was supervising the fast track acquisitions of the Indian Army, besides other acquisitions for the Indian Army’s Infantry units.  Sources disclosed that a decision to investigate these matters has not yet been finalised, but the Indian Army leadership and Ministry of Defence may have to re-assess the tenders as well as the recent acquisitions made by the Infantry Directorate. It has been noted most of these requests for fast track purchases were being pushed consistently by the Infantry Directorate to the Indian Ministry of defence. Some of the fast track foreign acquisitions have actually jeopardised the indigenous work on arms and equipment. On the one hand, research, development and trials were being carried out on indigenous equipment and in the end; quick decisions to acquire foreign equipment were being made.  It has been established that those fast-track purchases were sanctioned after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 and these were mostly meant to equip the “Ghatak” units of the Army, which comprises about 20 soldiers trained as commandos for conducting ambushes and carrying out attacks on enemy territory. The question remains whether these hastily acquired off-the-shelf arms and equipment were being made by unfair decision-making of the Infantry directorate.

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