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Monday, 19 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2010




45% IAF air crashes due to human error 
New Delhi, April 18 A whopping 45 per cent of Indian Air Force air crashes in the last six years have taken place due to human error.  The IAF has informed the Parliamentary Committee on Defence that it had recorded a total of 74 air mishaps between April 2004 and March 2010, of which a high of 42 per cent was due to technical faults in the aircraft and a mere 6 per cent due to bird-hits. The figures in percentage would mean the IAF has suffered 33 crashes out of 74 due to human errors, 31 due to technical errors in the aircraft and another 4 due to bird hit. Reasons for the remaining six crashes have not been given to the committee.  The committee, in its latest report submitted to Parliament, noted with concern that these mishaps were taking place in the backdrop of the IAF facing a crisis due to shortage of trainer aircraft and obsolescence of simulators for its pilot trainees.  It pointed out with concern that the IAF's Hindustan Piston Trainer-32, a basic trainer aircraft, had remained grounded for over a year now following a mishap early last year and the Kiran Mk-II HJT-16 simulators were in disuse.  The committee, headed by Congress MP Satpal Maharaj, said the Defence Ministry should take all steps to acquire new trainer aircraft and upgrade the simulators “so that adequate training is provided for pilots, which would definitely result in reduction of accidents due to human failure.”  The IAF has faced problems with HPT-32's engine and airframe, even as it spared all its Kiran trainers (usually used for secondary flying training) to enable rookie pilots to learn flying skills.  It also had a gap in its training syllabus due to the lack of an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) when pilots moved on from Kiran aircraft to MiG-21 supersonic fighter jets.  After a protracted process lasting 20 years, the IAF contracted to buy 66 BAE's Hawk AJTs in 2004 and the first lot were inducted for training pilots in 2008. — PTI






Chinese hackers attack Indian Embassy website 
Moscow, April 18 The website of the Indian Embassy here has been attacked twice by Chinese hackers, prompting the mission to boost its cyber security.  Reliable sources in the Indian Embassy said at least two cyber attacks were traced to Chinese servers, but denied leakage of any confidential information, which is processed by “standalone” computers. The embassy’s Local Area Network (LAN) also has no direct internet access and the firewall has been fortified, they said, adding the only hacking victim was the official website, maintained by the information wing.  The website allows for online filling of visa and passport applications. “The indianembassy.Ru website in the public domain was affected to some extent that e-mail IDs of the senior officials were cloned in the .Com or gmail domains to spread the malware,” the sources said.  “For example for the legitimate ‘infowing@ indianembassy.Ru’, IDs like ‘infowing@indianembassy. com’ and ‘infowing@gmail.Com’ were used to spread spam with malware,” the sources said.  In a recent incident, the ‘Daily Media Digest’ issued by the Information Wing in the evening was received by its recipients, including Moscow-based Indian journalists, early morning and instead of word document, it had RAR archive arrangement.  The prompt warning circulated by the embassy not to open the attachment saved many computers from the fresh lot of malware.  The incident assumes significance in the wake of a report about alleged Chinese cyber espionage which has infected scores of Indian government and defence related sites.  US and Canada based Information Warfare Monitor and Shadowservers Foundation in their report ‘Shadows in the Cloud’ had traced China’s Chengdu based servers of ex-filtering sensitive information from the Indian computers, including Indian diplomatic missions in Moscow, London and Washington.  Commenting on the report, Russian media had raised concerns about sensitive and secret information about Moscow and New Delhi’s defence cooperation falling into the Chinese hands.  Kommersant daily had said even in the cyber age the Russian missions use well tried method of using old typewriters and a sheet of paper to guard their secret information. — PTI





Army exhibits capability to target drones 
KHAIRPUR TAMEWALI: The Pakistan Army on Sunday effectively targeted a drone aircraft, displaying the capability to target UAVs as part of the Azm-e-Nau III Exercise being conducted by the Pakistan Army in the desert near Bahawalpur. The firepower show included effectively targeting an indigenously developed drone flying at a certain height and speed with the help of Radar Directed Orlikon Anti Aircraft gun. The Air Defence of the Pakistan Army also exhibited the accurate targeting of an enemy aircraft while it is in an attacking position, with a precision through shoulder operated system of Anza-II Missiles. Anza is an indigenously developed missile. app






BAE in talks to supply Hawk jets to India 
By Sylvia Pfeifer in London  Published: April 19 2010 01:41 | Last updated: April 19 2010 01:41  Hawk, BAE Flight path: an Indian Air Force pilot flies a Hawk trainer jet. New Delhi ordered 66 of the aircraft from BAE in 2004 and may place a follow-up order  BAE Systems is in talks with the Indian government to supply up to 60 more Hawk trainer jets to the country’s military in a deal that could be worth up to £500m ($768m).  A deal would probably see Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), the state-run defence company, place an order for the aircraft with the UK-based defence group. This could happen in the next few months, according to industry sources.  India ordered 66 Hawk jets from BAE in 2004 at a cost of about £1bn. Of these, 24 were built by BAE at its Brough plant in the UK’s north-east. The remaining 42 are being manufactured under licence by HAL in India with the first Hawks now in service.  All the aircraft in the follow-up deal would also probably be built by HAL.  BAE has made no secret of its expectations that there could be a follow-on deal. Alan Garwood, BAE group business development director, told the Financial Times: “India is a market in which we see several substantial future business opportunities spanning the air, land, naval and security sectors.  “This includes the potential sale of a further batch of up to 60 additional Hawk training aircraft.”  India became BAE’s seventh core “home” market in 2009, alongside established markets such as the UK, the US and Saudi Arabia.  The Indian government has a strong commitment to national defence with a defence budget of about $24bn in 2008, according to BAE’s latest annual report.  While the government is increasingly committed to developing its own defence industry, it continues to source about 70 per cent of its equipment from foreign suppliers.  BAE is also about to seal a long-awaited armoured vehicle and artillery joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian truck maker.  The venture will tap expertise from BAE’s South African Land Systems OMC to produce landmine-resistant armoured patrol vehicles that it considers well-suited to the Indian army’s needs.  The technology – which is based on a V-shaped underbody – was developed in the 1980s during South Africa’s border war with Angola.  The European defence contractor is also seeking shipbuilding opportunities as India’s navy seeks to expand its fleet from its own dockyards rather than buy warships from other navies.  It is in talks with the Indian navy over the introduction of modular shipbuilding techniques, which allow ships to be built quickly and more safely than traditional methods within the confines of a shipyard’s dry dock.  But the biggest prize of all would be a successful bid to supply 126 fighter jets in a $10bn deal to update India’s ageing strike force. BAE is part of a European defence consortium offering the Eurofighter Typhoon.





Rolta's revenues to grow 17% annually
Nitin Shrivastava Monday, April 19, 2010 2:20 Mid-size information technology company Rolta India is set to benefit from increasing government spend on infrastructure and modernisation of the defence sector apart from improvement in the scenario for the IT sector.  Business: Rolta India, together with its subsidiaries, provides engineering design, geospatial information solutions (GIS), e-business, and other IT-related services for companies in the defence, homeland security, government, utilities, communications, transportation, process and power and enterprise IT sectors.  Having both engineering and IT expertise enables Rolta to provide comprehensive solutions for engineering procurement and construction and owner-operators, from concept to completion of new plants and for ongoing operations.  Rolta’s business can be segregated into three sub verticals — enterprise GIS (EGIS), enterprise design & operation solutions (EDOS), and enterprise IT solutions (EITS).  The EGIS division offers digital mapping solutions using aerial imaging and satellite remote sensing for the Army, Coast Guard, border and surveillance of sensitive installations, vessel traffic management, etc. This division contributesaround 50% of the firm’s revenues. Rolta enjoys a domestic market share of 70% in GIS and 90% in EDA. It has an almost 95% share in defence geospatial market.  The EDOS division contributes around 26% to its revenues. It offers plant design automation and performance management solutions and undertakes all activities involved in engineering, design and procurement of projects.  The EITS division provides differentiated solutions by combining IT skills with varied domain expertise. It offers delivery capabilities in business analytics, management, enterprise applications, enterprise integration and IT infrastructure management.  Rolta derives almost 55% of its revenues from the domestic market. The rest comes from overseas, with round 32% from North America. Due to a mixed portfolio of services and large geographical presence, it is not over-dependent on any particular market. Also the impact of currency fluctuation is lesser.  Investment rationale: Rolta is now focusing on its portfolio offerings, which incorporates intellectual property (IP) as part of the solutions for various verticals. This approach would help it improve margins and annuity revenue potential compared with the traditional servicing model. It has been able to maintain Ebidta margins of around 37% for the last few quarters and the management is confident of closing above its guidance of 35% margins.  Rolta recently acquired OneGIS, which specialises in high-end consulting. The buy will help it significantly strengthen its consulting capabilities especially in the utilities, water, gas and telecom sectors. Rolta is looking toraise $120-150 million for acquisitions.  Rolta orders worth Rs 1,769 crore across the three verticals domains, with EGIS order book at Rs 8,700 crore, EDOS at Rs 5,200 crore and EITS at Rs 3,700 crore. The management believes it can execute these orders over the next six quarters with around Rs 400 crore of orders in Q4FY10.  Operating margin has been stable at 37.8%. Rolta feels it can maintain these margins with increased operational efficiencies and has guided for a 37-38% operating margin for FY10. It has around Rs 130 crore cash on hand and has utilised most of its cash recently to pay off debt.  Concerns: Any slowdown in the capex plans of engineering companies due to the economic slowdown would impact Rolta’s revenues. Also it faces currency exchange risks though a low exposure to overseas currencies places it in better position than other IT companies.  Valuations: The company’s revenues are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% over FY09-FY11E. Also, due to increased focus on higher-margin IP-related solutions and low interest costs, net profit (excluding exceptional items) is expected to rise at a CAGR of 15% over FY09-FY11E.  At the current market price of Rs 183.60, Rolta trades at a P/E ratio of 11.72x and 9.13x its FY10E and FY11E earnings, respectively. In view of its unique business model with exposure to both the engineering and IT domains and a balanced geographical spread, Rolta can be looked at current levels from a medium-term perspective.






Singapore gun arrives today; stage set for artillery trials
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi April 19, 2010, 0:43 IST  With artillery having killed more soldiers during the last century than any other battlefield weapon, the decade-plus delay in equipping the Indian Army with modern artillery guns is widely considered a major procurement lapse.  The stop-start-stop process of buying 1,580 towed guns for the Indian Army will effectively restart on Monday when a C-130 Hercules aircraft lands in New Delhi, carrying a 155-millimetre artillery gun for trials this summer.  This gun, the Indian Field Howitzer-2000 (IFH-2000), developed by Singapore Technologies Kinetics, or STK, is competing for the Indian tender with British company BAE Systems’ FH-77B-05, a derivative of the controversial and respected Bofors gun. The lower-profile IFH-2000 is the world’s first 155mm 52-calibre howitzer, which the Singapore Armed Forces have used for over a decade.  A 52-calibre howitzer fires heavier shells than older, 39-calibre and 45-calibre guns, inflicting greater punishment on the target. The Indian tender for towed guns specifies that only 52-calibre guns will be evaluated.  Trials for procuring 155 mm, 52-calibre towed guns began in summer 2002, when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) began evaluating three guns from BAE Systems; Israeli firm, Soltam; and South African company, Denel. Five rounds of trials, conducted in 2002; 2003; 2004; and 2006; reached no conclusion. Denel was blacklisted for corruption in September 2005; the other two guns did not meet the army’s standards.  The trials remain dogged by controversy even after a fresh tender was issued in 2008. Last year, one of the two contenders, STK, was unofficially blacklisted for corruption after the arrest of former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief Sudipta Ghosh. But CBI investigations have made no apparent headway in the past year; not even a charge-sheet has been filed against Sudipta Ghosh. Now, STK has been asked to field its gun for trials.  STK plans to start preparing for the impending trials by practising firing at the Pokhran ranges using Indian ammunition and a crack gun crew of seven former Indian Army artillerymen, recruited by STK’s Indian partner, Punj Lloyd Ltd.  The BAE Systems gun, too, is in India, having been brought for the Defence Expo in February and for trials scheduled immediately after that. But those trials were postponed when the IFH-2000 was damaged in Singapore while being loaded into an aircraft for despatch to India.  “Punj Lloyd is STK’s Indian partner for the 155 mm gun,” explains Patrick Choy, STK’s international marketing chief. “STK will rely on them for logistics and engineering support during the trials; and if STK is awarded the contract, we will manufacture a substantial part of the gun at Punj Lloyd’s facilities near Gwalior.”  STK’s rival in this tender, BAE Systems, has a similar arrangement with its Indian partner, Mahindra & Mahindra. These two companies have formed an Indian joint venture, Defence Land Systems, with Rs 100 crore equity held on a 74-26 per cent basis between Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems.  At stake in the forthcoming trials is an order, worth $1.8 billion (about Rs 8,000 crore), for the outright supply of 400 towed guns; and the licensed production in India of another 1,180 guns. If the MoD imposes even the minimum offset requirement of 30 per cent, that would translate into $540 million (about Rs 2,400 crore) worth of manufacture within India.  STK and BAE Systems are also vying for a $700-million (over Rs 3,100 crore) contract for 140 ultralight howitzers (ULHs) for Indian mountain divisions.  Two more artillery purchases are simultaneously in the works: A $800 million (Rs 3,500 crore) order for 100 medium guns, mounted in tracked vehicles, for self-propelled (SP) medium regiments that go into battle with India’s strike corps. Another $900 million (Rs 4,000 crore) will buy 180 vehicle-mounted guns for more SP regiments.  The stakes are high for everyone involved. For BAE Systems, this is an opportunity to bury the stigma of the Bofors scandal; for STK, this is a golden opening into the lucrative Indian market; and for the Indian Army, desperately short of artillery firepower, this is a chance to fill a gaping operational void.






* Pakistan army stage massive drill in Cholistan desert     
STAFF WRITER 17:10 HRS IST  Rezaul H Laskar  Islamabad, Apr 18 (PTI) As Pakistan's armed forces today staged a massive drill in the Cholistan desert, close to the Indian border, the country's civil and military leadership said Islamabad's defence strategy is based on credible minimum deterrence and had "no offensive design" against anyone.  Addressing a gathering that witnessed manoeuvres by tanks, combat jets and helicopter gunships, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan?s military strategy is based on "credible minimum deterrence".  Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in his address, said, "Pakistan harbours no offensive design against anyone but self-defence is our inherent right. We will protect and defend Pakistan at all costs."  The drill in the desert was part of the Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve)-3 exercise, Pakistan?s largest ever wargame for which the military has mobilised nearly 50,000 troops, tanks, artillery and jets.






Indian army opens firing at Shakargarh Sector 
Posted on Apr 19th, 2010 under "Pakistan"  Indian army opens firing at Shakargarh Sector  SIALKOT: Indian troops again opened unprovoked fire at the working boundary in Shakargarh Sector here on Monday.  Indian forces fired more than 90 rounds and mortar shells at the working boundary in Shakargarh Sector.  It is second incident of unprovoked Indian firing in the area this month causing harassment in the population.  The firing has become frequent as there were six such incidents in March and the border officials of the two sides has held a flag meeting to sort out the issue.



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