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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 10 Aug 2010






Kunlunshan’ in the Gulf of Aden – PLA Navy Changes Operational Tack?
-                   KK Agnihotri*
-                   August 06, 2010
            The PLA Navy’s first indigenous Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship of Yuzhao class named ‘Kunlunshan’ arrived in the Gulf of Aden on Jul 13, 2010 for its maiden overseas deployment.  The ship, along with another destroyer ‘Lanzhou’ forms part of the sixth anti-piracy task force off Somalia.  Since the commencement of the anti-piracy mission in December 2008, the Chinese Navy has continuously maintained three ships on patrol duties and has turned around its ships six times.  Each set of task force has had a deployment period of about three months.
The 18000 ton Kunlunshan LPD, the largest combat ship of the PLA Navy, is capable of carrying two Z8 (Super Frelon) helicopters and four high speed heavy lift hovercraft.  These hovercraft are reportedly capable of carrying more than 100 tons of load and up to 140 troops.  The ship is also equipped with two LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel) to perform a dual role viz. as ship’s boats and also as rapid manoeuver troop carriers. 
            Till now the latest and the best indigenously built destroyers and frigates of the PLA Navy were deployed for the anti-piracy mission, at about 4500 nautical miles (nm) from the Chinese mainland.  The accompanying table gives a fair idea about the type of ships deployed by the PLA Navy since it commenced its first overseas operational deployment about eighteen months ago. Some of the ships even incorporate the latest stealth features.
Table 1 - Details of PLA Navy Task Force in Gulf of Aden
Task Force
Composition
Type of Ship
Commissioning
Year
Remarks
First
wef Jan 09
Wuhan (169)
Destroyer
2004
With Weishan Hu Tanker
Haikou (171)
Destroyer
2005
Second
wef Apr 09
Shenzhen (167)
Destroyer
1999
Huangshan (570)
Frigate
2008
Third
wef Jul 09
Zoushan (529)
Frigate
2008
With
Qiandao Hu Tanker
Xuzhou (530)
Frigate
2008
Fourth
 wef Nov 09
Ma’anshan (525)
Frigate
2005
Wenzhou (526)
Frigate
2006
Fifth
wef Mar 10
Guang Zhou(168)
Destroyer
2004
With Weishan Hu Tanker
Chaohu (568)
Frigate
2009
Sixth
wef Jul 10
Kunlunshan (998)
Landing Ship
2008
Lanzhou (170)
Destroyer
2004

            However, the abrupt shift in the deployment pattern of PLA Navy platforms for anti piracy mission - from frontline destroyers and frigates to the LPD - definitely signals a ‘change of tack’ as far as its tactical operational strategy for the mission is concerned.  Clearly, there appears to be a serious rethink within the PLA Navy to deploy a force which is more suited for the task at hand.  There has been an ongoing debate amongst maritime security specialists about the wisdom of deploying the best maritime assets armed with ‘State of the art’ weaponry, sensors and systems for a low level, non-traditional, maritime security operation like an anti-piracy mission. In fact, the deployment of such ships amounts to capability overkill, while the limitations with regard to the availability of relevant resources like helicopters and additional fast craft embarked on them still remains.
            Certain characteristics of the landing ships, like the greater endurance, lesser frequency of logistic replenishment, availability of fast attack boats, hovercraft and most importantly - that of multi role helicopters - makes them the ideal platforms for conducting such missions. These ships can also accommodate a large contingent of Special Forces and their gear, as the primary role of the LPD involves the transportation of landing troops along with heavy equipment like vehicles, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), tanks and guns. Such ships can also become excellent command centers because of available space and supporting communication infrastructure, sensors, data links and satellite based systems. Additionally, their capacity to logistically and operationally support other ships to a certain extent also makes them modest ‘force multipliers’ in such operations. It is therefore not surprising that a report prepared for the US Congress by the ‘Congressional Research Service’ in June 2010, actually lists anti-piracy operations as one of the suitable roles for the LPDs. In fact, when the US Navy formed the anti-piracy task force CTF 151, USS San Antonio (LPD 17) was designated as the Flag Ship of the Task Force. This was followed by another landing ship, USS Boxer (LHD 4).
            The PLA Navy must have surely observed the effectiveness of the US and EU LPDs during operations in the Gulf of Aden over the last year and a half, and may have decided to follow suit. Three advantages seem to accrue out of this move.  Firstly, the PLA Navy will be able to practically experience the effectiveness or otherwise of its own LPD operations in the non-traditional maritime security operations by imbibing the best practices followed by other countries operating similar ships. Secondly, the PLA Navy will be able to showcase the capabilities of its indigenous landing ship and its integral equipment to the world at large and may implicitly signal a tacit willingness to operate synergistically with the other ships of similar kind operated by the US, NATO and EU forces.
Thirdly and most importantly, by widening the range of participating ships in this mission, the PLA Navy will be able to provide much needed respite to its most potent surface fleet from the intensive and prolonged tasking of the secondary type. It can be noted from table 1 above that virtually each of the Luyang I and II class destroyers (two each) and Jiangkai I and II class frigates (two and four respectively) have already completed one deployment of more than three months away from their coast. It is considered that such secondary tasking will ultimately result in compromising the operational readiness for their primary role of war fighting mainly on account of avoidable wear and tear, limited engine running hours, crew fatigue and lack of combat training. A possible repetition of this cycle for the same frontline ships will further exacerbate the problem.
It is not known as to how long the PLA Navy is likely to maintain a three ship anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden, but the deployment of its only LPD for the first time ever must have been a result of extensive deliberations on the limitations of operating ships at the end of such a long tether. One can therefore expect to see comparatively older ships of the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean in the near future, if Beijing plans to maintain the current scale of deployment. Success or otherwise of these older ships in the Gulf of Aden would actually prove to be the real acid test for  the PLA Navy with regard to the  sustainability of its presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
* Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or the National Maritime Foundation. The author can be reached at kkagnihotri@maritimeindia.org




  Pak game plan in J&K Need to formulate an effective strategy
 by K. Subrahmanyam  FOR eight weeks the Kashmir valley has been rocked by civilian violence in spite of the clamping of curfew. Crowds collect and indulge in heavy stone-throwing or destruction of public property to provoke the police to open fire, resulting in many wounded and a few deaths. It is claimed that security personnel open fire on non-violent protesters resulting in the death of innocent bystanders.  The Kashmir police do not appear to be adequately trained in effective crowd control. They do not use the more effective crowd-dispersal instrument, the CS gas, in addition to tear gas. There are stun-grenades and other agents which they have not used. Consequently, the avoidable firing has led to the death of some innocent bystanders. Our sympathies must go to the bereaved families and the wounded, and they should be adequately compensated.  Reports say that there is anger among the people of Kashmir and they all chant “azadi”.  There is no doubt that the state and Central governments should do everything possible to assuage the anger of the people and restore normalcy. An all-party delegation of state legislators is to meet the Prime Minister on Tuesday, August 10, in Delhi. An impression was sought to be given earlier that these disturbances were all spontaneous and they were leaderless. On Friday, Home Minister Chidambaram came out with his assessment that the disturbances were the result of a new Pakistani strategy to use civil unrest instead of terrorism as its preferred strategy.  Meanwhile, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most hardline separatist leader, has called for peaceful protest and avoidance of destruction of public property and has emphasised that there would be no peace in Kashmir unless India agrees to the plebiscite as per the UN resolution concerned.  The fact that this is a carefully orchestrated operation has been evident from the first day itself. It is obvious that there was a pattern of crowds collecting and provoking the Kashmir police to open fire. Earlier, the media carried a briefing from official sources of conversation intercepts between the Pakistani handlers and their agents in the valley that there should be more martyrs. In the age of the Internet, the mobile telephone and Facebook, it is not necessary for a crowd to be led visibly by a leader. What seems to have happened is that the ISI has activated all its sleeper agents introduced over the years in the valley and they seem to be in charge of crowd assembly, its provocation of the police by heavy stone-throwing, arson and public property destruction. There seems to be a well-organised underground terror campaign to intimidate political leaders and policemen by holding out threats to their families. That in turn seems to have paralysed the police from taking effective action, using CS gas, stun-grenades, laser beams and other non-lethal crowd-control devices. The J&K police invariably ask the available Central Reserve Police Force jawans to open fire.The casualty in the firing and the funeral procession become the justification for the next day’s violence.  Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaque Kayani has repudiated General Pervez Musharraf’s back-channel negotiations on Kashmir. General Kayani was in charge of the ISI for three years when he had infiltrated hundreds of sleeper jehadis into the valley. When faced with the Indian and US pressure on terrorism, he appears to have decided to fall back upon his secret weapon of unleashing the civil unrest in the Kashmir valley. He is under great compulsion since the US is pressing him to take action against the jehadis in North Waziristan whom he considers his “strategic assets”. The US wants this to happen before September so that the US public anger on Pakistani game of deception disclosed by WikiLeaks will not have a negative impact on the forthcoming elections in the US.  Kayani would like to create problems for India in Kashmir before US President Obama’s visit to Delhi in November and as the UN General Assembly is in session in New York. Foreign Minister S.M. Qureshi’s rude behaviour during the Foreign Ministers’ talks was the second scene in Act one of the play. The play began with the initiation of the civil disturbance in Kashmir before the Islamabad meeting.  It is a pity that our young media people who interviewed Hurriyat leader Geelani had not adequately studied the UN plebiscite resolution and why Musharraf had agreed to lay it aside and consider the solution to make the Line of Control irrelevant. The UN resolution called for all people who entered the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit, Baltistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, to leave the area before a plebiscite can be held. In the last 63 years literally millions of Pakistanis have settled in these areas and generations of children and grandchildren have been born to them.  In Jammu and Kasmir in India, non-J&K people are not allowed to take permanent residence, own property or be included in the electoral rolls. If the plebiscite is to be held Geelani should get an assurance from the Pakistani authorities that they will vacate millions of people disqualified under the plebiscite provision from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Does he have such an assurance? It is because of this action of Pakistan of Pakistanising the portion of Kashmir under its control that UN mediator Gunnar Jarring came to the conclusion in 1957 that plebiscite was no longer feasible.  With a few hundred paid people commanded by scores of awakened “sleeper” jehadis, manipulating them and collecting a crowd of thousands is standard practice. Even our political parties know how to rent a crowd. Initiating violence by such jehadis is not a difficult problem. Irrespective of whether Geelani’s call for peaceful protest is genuine or it includes “nonviolent stone throwing” and “peaceful arson”, the country should be prepared for a Pakistani strategic offensive which is likely to reach its peak during the UN General Assembly session and just before the Obama visit. Just recall the massacre of Sikhs to coincide with former US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India.  There is no doubt that in this case there appears to be an intelligence collection and reporting and assessment failure. Otherwise it is difficult to explain the statements of this upsurge being a spontaneous and leaderless one. What else can explain traders foregoing their business for weeks on end because of the curfew, or women and children being exposed to police response?  The government has to formulate an effective strategy to forestall the Pakistani game plan.There has also been an enormous failure in perception projection on the part of the government that calls for immediate remedying. The political process in Kashmir can be revived only when the Kashmiri politicians can have a sense of security free of the threat of sleeper jehadis in their midst.That is going to take some time. The silence and the inaction of the Kashmir valley politicians say it all.








IAF’s daring rescue
 Tribune News Service A rescued person being taken to Army hospital at Leh on Tuesday. A rescued person being taken to Army hospital at Leh on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal  Leh, August 9 The IAF’s Siachen Pioneers, a chopper unit at Leh, was today called in to rescue 89 persons, including 81 foreign nationals, who had been trapped for three days in the remote Zanskar valley that does not any have road access even under normal circumstances.  With the experience of having conducted several sorties to Siachen and similar tough areas, Wing Commander Manish Patel landed the first sortie on an open ledge overlooking the Zanskar river around 6 am. Over the next seven hours, IAF pilots undertook 63 sorties to the narrow gorge that hardly offered enough turning radius to even small Chetaah choppers. It was not possible to fly the bigger Mi 17 in that kind of narrow space, said Air Vice-Marshal Jaswinder Chauhan, Air Officer Commanding of the J&K area.  The group of foreigners were part of a group of 130 trekkers from 12 countries and were stranded at Skyu, a small hamlet.  Each Cheetah helicopter can accommodate a maximum of three passengers at sea level. This rescue effort was carried out at an altitude of 11,000 feet, around 30 km off the Leh-Kargil road head near Nimu. In this case, only one or two persons could be accommodated in each sortie. Some of the persons were injured. The flying time for the Leh-Zanskar-Leh trip was 45 minutes and six choppers were pressed into service.  Of the 81 foreigners rescued today, 17 were from the UK, 17 from France, nine from the Netherlands, eight from Czech Republic, seven from Germany, four from Israel, four from Switzerland, four from Romania, three from Austria, three from Australia, three from Italy and two from Spain. Six local guides and three porters were also evacuated. The IAF personnel provided first aid to the injured.  However, Karnataka cadre IAS officer Anand Subba Rao was not so lucky. He was airlifted from the Pang area on the Leh-Rohtang road and was declared “brought dead” at the Army hospital. He could not survive the cold and lack of oxygen for three days at Pang. The officer and his wife were part of a 16-member group. 








No threat to Beating the Retreat ceremony: Pak
Last updated on: August 10, 2010 01:41 IST Tags: Pakistan, BSF, Brigadier Shafaquat Khan, Vasudevan, Wagah Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  Pakistan has made elaborate security arrangements on its territory during the routine evening Beating the Retreat ceremony, said a senior official of the country on Monday.  Talking to media, Pakistan Rangers Deputy Director General Brigadier Shafaquat Khan, who arrived here along with a 15-member delegation, said there was no imminent security threat at Wagah border in Pakistan from any outlawed organisation during the evening ceremony.  The Pakistan Government has already made foolproof elaborate security arrangements at the International Border(IB)for the parade, he asserted.  Khan was with his team to participate in the quarterly meeting with his Indian BSF counterparts to discus the international border related issues.  The key issues discussed in the meeting were related to defence construction on IB, allegedly by Pakistan on its side, firing incidents, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, inadvertent border crossing, infiltration and other matter of mutual interests, said Indian BSF DIG C Vasudevan.









 Kashmir: Echoes from 20 years ago
The war of perception Politicians are out of touch with sentiment on the street The Internet is the new front in the battle Last updated on: August 6, 2010 14:28 IST Share this Ask Users Write a Comment      Next The recent violence suggests that, after 20 years, Kashmir has indeed changed though not in the ways commonly suggested, says Sanjay Kak.  When columns of the Indian Army drove through Srinagar on July 7, rifles pointed out at the city, it was meant as a show of force; to tell its 'mutinous' population -- and those watching elsewhere -- just who was really in charge. Disconcertingly for the Indian government, it has had the opposite effect. Alarm bells have been sounding off: the situation in Kashmir is again explosive; the lid looks ready to blow off.  Although the army has for years virtually controlled rural Kashmir, images of grim-faced soldiers on a 'flag-march' in Srinagar carried a different symbolism. For Srinagar has been the exception -- the showpiece of 'normalcy', of a possible return to the bosom of India's accommodating heart.  Typically, the well-publicised entry of the soldiers was followed by a flurry of obtuse clarifications: the army was not taking over Srinagar; this was not a flag-march, only a 'movement of a convoy'; yes, it was a flag-march, but only in the city's 'periphery'. The contradictions seemed to stem from a reluctance to deal with the elephant in the room: after more than 15 years, the army had once again been called out to stem civil unrest in Srinagar.  When the Indian Army was deployed in Kashmir during the 1990s, the rebellion seemed to be fast spinning out of India's control. Twenty years later, what has changed? There is now a massive investment in a 'security grid', built with more than 500,000 security personnel and shored up by a formidable intelligence network, said to involve some 100,000 people. The armed militancy, too, has officially been contained.  Meanwhile, the exercise of 'free and fair' elections has been carried out to persuade the world that democracy has indeed returned to Kashmir. (Elections certainly delivered the young and telegenic Omar Abdullah as chief minister; but about democracy, Kashmiris will be less sanguine. They will recognise it the day the military columns and camps are gone from the valley.)  Yet July was haunted by echoes of the early years of the tehreek, the movement for self-determination. As a brutally imposed lockdown curfew entered its fourth day, there was no safe passage past the paramilitary checkpoints not for ambulances, not for journalists. For those four days, Srinagar's newspapers were not published; local cable channels were restricted to just 10 minutes a day, and still had to make time for official views. SMS services remained blocked the entire month; in some troubled towns, cell-phone services were completely discontinued.  But Srinagar still reverberated with slogans every night, amplified from neighbourhood mosques: 'Hum kya chahte? Azadi!' (What do we want? Freedom!) and 'Go back, India! Go back!'










DRDO to develop army's next-generation tank
 Ajai Shukla / New Delhi August 10, 2010, 0:31 IST  With most of our armour unfit to fight at night, the project is crucial.  In March this year, during trials in the Rajasthan desert, the Defence R&D Organisation’s Arjun tank conclusively outperformed the Russian T-90, the army’s showpiece. Buoyed by that success and by the army’s consequent order for 124 additional Arjuns, the DRDO is now readying to develop India’s next-generation tank, currently termed the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT).  While costs are still being evaluated, the projections are mind-boggling. The development cost alone could be Rs 5,000 crore. Then, the replacement cost of the Indian Army’s 4,000 tanks — at a conservative Rs 25 crore per FMBT — adds to Rs 1,00,000 crore. The bulk of this would flow, over years of production, to Tier-I and Tier-II suppliers from small and medium industries.  For the first time, the DRDO has outlined the FMBT project’s contours. Talking exclusively to Business Standard, DRDO chief and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, V K Saraswat, revealed, “While the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) has been handed over to private industry, the DRDO will develop the FMBT. We need about seven-eight years from the time the project is formally sanctioned. The army and the DRDO have already identified the major features of the FMBT, which are quite different from the Arjun. While the Arjun is a 60-tonne tank, the FMBT will be lighter… about 50 tonnes. It will be a highly mobile tank.”  Vital project The FMBT project, says the military, is crucial for India’s future battle readiness. As army chief, General Deepak Kapoor pronounced 80 per cent of India’s tank fleet unfit to fight at night, which is when most tank battles take place. The bulk of our fleet, some 2,400 obsolescent Russian T-72s, are being shoddily patched up (see Business Standard, Feb 3, ‘Army to spend billions on outdated T-72 tanks’). More modern T-90 tanks were procured from Russia in 2001, shorn of crucial systems to reduce prices, after parliamentary dissent threatened to derail the contract (Business Standard, Feb 4, ‘Piercing the army’s armour of deception’). Only now, after nine years of stonewalling, has Russia transferred the technology needed to build the T-90 in India.  Urgently in need of capable tanks, the army has worked with DRDO to finalise a broad range of capabilities for the FMBT. These have been formalised in a document called the Preliminary Specifications Qualitative Requirement (PSQR). The detailed specifications of the FMBT, once finalised, will be listed in General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR).  Amongst the capabilities being finalised for the GSQR are: active armour, which will shoot down enemy anti-tank projectiles before they strike the FMBT; extreme mobility, which makes the FMBT much harder to hit; the capability to operate in a nuclear-contaminated battlefield without exposing the crew to radiation; and the networked flow of information to the FMBT, providing full situational awareness to the crew, even when “buttoned down” inside the tank.  Also being finalised is the FMBT armament, a key attribute that determines a tank’s battlefield influence. The Arjun already has a heavy 120mm ‘main gun’, and two small-calibre machine guns; the recently ordered batch of 124 Arjuns will also fire anti-tank missiles through their main gun. The army wants all of those for the FMBT, with ranges enhanced through technological improvements.  However, the DRDO chief ruled out an electromagnetic gun, the next generation in high-velocity guns towards which armament technology aspires. “The Future MBT is not so far in the future,” Saraswat quipped.  FICV, too With the FMBT project squarely on its agenda, the DRDO also envisages a major role in developing the FICV. Says the DRDO chief, “The FICV is not just a conventional armoured vehicle for transporting soldiers. It involves advanced technologies and multidisciplinary integration, which private industry has never done. Only the DRDO and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have that experience. DRDO teams are already thinking about the technologies that should go into the FICV. But this is only to support private industry in making the FICV project a success.”  While private industry weighs its options about where to manufacture the FICV, the DRDO has already chosen the Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) in Avadi —- the OFB facility that builds the Arjun —- as the FMBT production line.  “It will definitely be produced in HVF. I see no way that we can go away from HVF,” says Saraswat. “The HVF will work with us from the preliminary design of the FMBT, so that we can go from prototype to mass production without any hiccups.”










Ajai Shukla: You got it! Now deserve it
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi August 10, 2010, 0:38 IST  Three Indian private companies with ambitions in the defence sector won a major battle when they were invited to compete, on level terms with the public sector, in developing a Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) for the Indian Army. In the FICV project, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has conceded almost everything that the private sector has demanded since it was allowed into defence production in 2001. The MoD will fund 80 per cent of the development cost of the FICV. And, with the army looking to buy in quantity, economies of scale are guaranteed during production.  For those who did not read yesterday’s Business Standard, four Indian companies — Tata Motors, the Mahindra Group, L&T and the MoD-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) — will submit proposals on August 25 for designing and building 2,600 new-generation FICVs. Two vendors with the best proposals will be invited to develop a prototype each, contributing just 20 per cent of the expense. Then, after the army chooses the better design, the winner will build 65-70 per cent of the army’s requirement of FICVs; the runner-up will build the rest.  In this welcome decision, the MoD has followed the American defence procurement model, in which the Pentagon funds a development competition between two or more private companies for each new weapons system. So far New Delhi has usually nominated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop such systems and the OFB to manufacture them.  But with big changes come high expectations. Having granted the private sector its wish list, the MoD and the Indian Army will carefully observe how the private vendors handle their first-ever development contract. Any shortfalls will reinforce long-held MoD prejudices. “We told you so!” will go the chorus in South Block, “Only the public sector has the skills and the commitment needed for defence production.”  The comparison may even be directly tested, since the OFB — potentially in partnership with the DRDO — is in contention to develop the FICV.  There are three pitfalls that the private sector must avoid. First, the selected vendor(s) must not fall short of the army’s expectations, or in providing users with a development experience that contrasts tellingly with past experience with the DRDO and OFB. In this, a draw would be a loss; only an innings victory would suffice.  Secondly, the private sector must not front for foreign partners, who seek to bring in existing products through the back door. As the debutante private vendors step into the FICV arena, the spotlight will play unkindly on those clutching the arm of a muscular foreign partner.  Global arms majors have figured that a risk-free way of cracking India’s difficult procurement procedures is to partner an Indian company in a “Make” contract, and pass off existing products under the rubric of “joint development”. A top manager in one of the private companies vying for the FICV contract recounts, “I have received more partnership proposals for the FICV than I ever received for any other weapons platform.”  Reflecting this trend, private companies worry that the OFB is about to join hands with Russian export controller, Rosonboronexport, to “jointly develop” a variant of the tested BMP-3 ICV. To circumvent such a possibility, the private vendors must accept the developmental risk of proposing an FICV that is technologically beyond anything on the market today. They have been asked to develop a Futuristic ICV. The specifications they submit on the 25th must go well beyond avant-garde.  Thirdly, when history is written, the FICV will be less about who built it or how much profit was made. This chapter will be more about whether India’s private sector used this heaven-sent, MoD-funded opportunity to build its technological capability. Private sector managers argue that each technology decision — whether to develop or buy — should be treated as a business case. But this irreproachable commercial logic misses the significance of this turning point. The private sector’s success in grabbing the moment will be measured in the currency of technologies that were developed along with the FICV.  Certain technologies that will go into the FICV are presently beyond the vendors, e.g., an indigenous engine, or a transmission system. If a technological breakthrough seems impossible during the FICV’s development, a foreign partnership is a better option than holding the project hostage. But there are many achievable technologies and sub-systems — e.g., in electronics, ballistic computation, night-vision devices, fire control systems, and gun control systems — that can realistically be achieved by putting more money into R&D. If the MoD is unwilling to go beyond what was tendered, private vendors need to loosen their purse strings. At the end of the FICV project, the private vendors must be able to point out key technologies that they developed in-country.  The MoD’s “Make” procedure mandates that 50 per cent of the FICV must be indigenously produced. This is easily achieved by producing low-and-mid-end systems and components like the armoured hull and turret, the suspension system, the electricals and the basic electronics. A more convincing measure of success for the private sector would be an ability to claim that it met that 50 per cent requirement in components that were developed and refined during the course of the FICV project.









RAF 'to take brunt of cuts'
Monday, August 09, 2010  The Royal Air Force may face the heaviest cuts in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, it has been reported.  Detailed proposals seen by The Daily Telegraph call for cuts of around 16,000 personnel - including 7,000 from the Royal Air Force - as well as hundreds of jets and other aircraft and around a dozen ships from the Royal Navy  With 295 aircraft set to go, the plans would leave the UK with under 200 fighters, and would cost the RAF its position as the world's fifth biggest air force.  The cuts would include previously leaked plans to scrap all 120 GR4 Tornado jets, saving £7.5bn but resulting in almost 5,000 job losses at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Marham. The number of Eurofighter Typhoons would be reduced from 160 to 107, all to be stationed at one air base creating an estimated saving of £1bn.  All 36 Hercules transport aircraft are to be phased out for replacement by the 22 A400Ms that are due to be ordered and a number of surveillance planes, including the nine Nimrod MR4 reconnaissance aircraft at a cost of £3.6bn, may also be scrapped under the plans.  The same proposals would see a 40 per cent cut in the number of armoured vehicles available to the Army, as well as the loss of around 5,000 troops following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The size of infantry battalions may also be increased to 750 troops.  The Navy faces the smallest cuts in the leaked plans, with 2,000 sailors and marines, two submarines, three amphibious ships and more than 100 senior officers to go.  The plans are reportedly being drawn up without taking the capital costs of the replacement nuclear deterrent into account, with the reduction in forces expected to shock Chancellor George Osborne into possibly limiting the extent of cuts required.









Export of BrahMos only after meeting our requirements: Govt
  Government on Monday said it will export the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos supersonic Cruise missile to friendly countries taking into account the security needs of the two nations.  "The Inter-Governmental Agreement signed by the two governments stipulates that the missile will be inducted in the armed forces of the India and Russia and also will be exported to friendly countries," Defence Minister A K Antony said replying to a question in the Lok Sabha.  He said India in consultation with Russian government will export BrahMos cruise missile to friendly countries taking into account the security needs of the both countries.  Antony said presently, the missiles are being produced for meeting requirements of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force on priority and "export will start only after meeting minimum requirements of the country".  The Minister said the two countries have also signed an agreement on the missile which has been approved by the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military Technical Cooperation.  Answering another query on missiles, Antony said there was no plan to accept the conditions of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).






Arjun Tanks
                18:16 IST The Indian Army is placing an order for 124 Arjun Tanks Mark – II in addition to the equal number of Mark – I ordered earlier. Tank T-90, Tank T-72, and Arjun tanks are all main battle tanks of the Indian Army.  This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri BP Tarai and Shri Prabodh Panda in Lok Sabha today.









Army open to permanent stint for women
 TNN, Aug 3, 2010, 12.40am IST NEW DELHI: Women officers got a shot in the arm on Monday with the government telling the Supreme Court it was willing to consider them for permanent commission in the Indian Army, at least in some branches.  In the face of SC's incisive questioning on apparent prima facie discrimination against women short service commission (SSC) officers, the Centre hurriedly agreed to consider permanent commission for them in its legal and education wings, with retrospective effect.  Solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam tried to justify the Army's decision not to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers retrospectively on the ground that they had not been given adequate training, and that those enrolled in the Army after 2008 would be entitled to permanent commission in the Judge Advocate General (legal) and educational wings.  But, with a bench, comprising Justices J M Panchal and Gyan Sudha Misra (the lone woman judge in SC), interjecting frequently to question the basis of this discriminatory attitude, Subramaniam conceded that in two months, the Army would consider grant of permanent commission to women SSC officers in legal and educational wings.  Standing virtually in contempt of the Delhi HC's March 12 order directing the defence forces to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers, more so after Indian Air Force (IAF) fell in line, the SG had a tough task standing up to a barrage of questions from the bench ^ "what is the difference between a male SSC officer and a female SSC officer? What is the nature of job entrusted to them? If women are eligible for permanent commission in IAF, why not in Army?" Though the SG agreed that the Centre would consider grant of permanent commission to women, there was a shocking revelation ^ there was no notification as claimed by the Centre earlier for non-grant of permanent commission to women SSC officers but a decision that had been interpreted to mean so.  This was evident when additional solicitor general Parag Tripathi read out the notification only for the bench, "So, permanent commission per se is not defined. If you cannot grant them permanent commission, then why grant them SSC at all?"  Though the development could instil hope for permanent commission for 2,200 women SSC officers in the armed forces - 1,200 in Army, 750 in IAF and 250 in Navy - it still appears to be a long battle. For, the SG was categorical that granting permanent commission to women SSC officers in combat units - infantry and artillery - could create a huge operational problem.  "It is relatively easy to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers in IAF. But in Army, grant of permanent commission means the women have to lead battalions into combat zones. For this, they have not been trained. A woman SSC officer receives only 29 weeks of training while her male counterpart is imparted 46 weeks, which includes combat training and leading troops in combat zones," Subramaniam said.  The bench, while staying the contempt proceedings against the defence ministry for not implementing the HC directive within stipulated time, said it would later consider the larger question - whether or not to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers in combat units.






* Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or the National Maritime Foundation. The author can be reached at kkagnihotri@maritimeindia.org

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