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Saturday, 25 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 25 Sep 2010

A day of crash, failures
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 24 India’s defence preparedness lost some sheen today when an IAF MiG-27 crashed in West Bengal - the third in this calendar year and crucially the fifth after the entire fleet of MiG-27 was ‘upgraded’ last year.  Meanwhile, a ‘Prithvi’ missile failed to take off from its launch site in Orissa. For the missile programme, this was the third failure within a year.  The MiG-27 crash is a serious loss, as the entire fleet of about 100-odd ground attack fighters comprising five squadrons had been grounded in February this year following a fatal crash in which a Squadron Leader was killed. The fleet was made airborne in June this year after clearing all tests.  Today’s crash, in which the pilot ejected safely, was the second since then. In July one of the planes crashed killing three civilians in Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.  A major engine snag was the suspected trouble when the fleet was grounded. The flaw seemed to have crept during the overhauling of the aircraft by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The entire fleet had also completed an indigenous upgradation programme last year that was executed by HAL.  Notably, in 2009, two MiG-27s crashed months after the upgradation was completed, making today’s crash the fifth since the multi-crore programme was carried out. The fighters were equipped with modern avionics and a pilot-friendly cockpit with multi-function displays and a head-up display (HUD) while the engine, the R-29, was the same as before.  Following the February grounding, the MiG-27s were taken off the biggest IAF exercise, the Vayushakti, in the end of February.  Separately, India’s indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II ballistic missile failed to take off during a user trial today and a “manufacturing defect” is being suspected for the aborted launch. The nine-metre long state-of-the-art missile, which has already been inducted into the Armed forces, was planned as user trial by the specially formed “Strategic Force Command” (SFC) of the Armed Forces. The previous four user trials of the missile were successfully conducted during the last 12 months from the same site - the last one being on June 18 this year.  This is the third time that a missile launch has failed in the country in the past one year. The night test-firing of the Agni-2 missile failed on November 24 last year but successfully test-fired on May 17 this year. The Ballistic Missile defence shield test in which a Prithvi missile was used had also failed on March 15 this year, but was testfired successfully later.  Dr Prahlada, Scientist, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was quoted by a news agency as saying: “This particular missile might not have taken off perhaps due to a manufacturing defect which must have crept in while integration, as a large number of agencies are involved in the process.”

Rashtriya Rifles organises 'We Stand For Peace' programme
Keeping in view the present situation prevailing in the State Army Rashtriya Rifles (BIHAR) unit Bhaderwah organised one day 'We Stand For Peace' programme in order to built the inter-community bonds among different sections of the society.
KEEPING IN view the present situation prevailing in the state, 4 Rashtriya Rifles (BIHAR) stationed in Bhaderwah organised one day 'We Stand For Peace' programme in order to built the inter-community bonds among the different sections of the society. The function was chaired by Brigadier Sharabh Pachory, Commander, Suigarh Sector.   People belonging to different social, political and religions graced the occassion.  Brigadier Pachory interacted with prominent people from all sections of the society as part of Army’s “winning the heart and mind” measures.  Prominent citizens who spoke on the occasion included Choudhary Shabir Ahmed (National Conference), Shadi Lal Kotwal (Senior Leader BJP), Desh Raj Kotwal (President Sanatana Dharma Sabha), Mast Nath Yogi (State President, JDU), Daya Krishan Kotwal (Ex-BJP State President),  Ashraf Goni (Social Worker), Tariq Hussain Maulvi (Maulana-Jama Masjid), Shabhir Khan (Congress Leader),  Abdul Quyoom, DSP Bhadarwah, Shauqat Ali Malik, Retd DSP Bhadarwah, Manjit Razdan (Advocate), Mohinder Singh, Range Officer, Hammal (Rector), M S Dhillon, Commandant CRPF and  Kuljeet Singh (Professor Jammu University Campus, Bhadarwah).   While addressing, social worker Imtyaz Ahmed Butt appreciated the time to time efforts adopted by the army for helping the common masses when ever they required army's help in any form and also said that the main aim of organising this function was to give the message of communal harmony and brotherhood among the masses. People while speaking assured to maintain peace in the area.  Commander Brigadier Sharabh Pachory extended full cooperation to the civil bodies under the 'Operation Sadhbhavna' project and encouraged all to work fearlessly for the betterment of the society as a whole to maintain communal harmony for the progress of our great nation.  DC, Doda, Farook Ahmed Khan in a message appreciated the efforts of the army for organising such functions.

Govt clears Rs 1,100 cr coastal security scheme
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 24, 2010, 19:39 IST  Aiming to strengthen country's security along the sealine, the government today approved a Rs 1,100 crore coastal security scheme to be implemented from April 1, 2011.  The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the Home Ministry's proposal for implementating the second phase of coastal security scheme.  Under the scheme, the Centre, with the help of states having coastline, proposes to set up more coastal police stations, purchase high-speed boats, recruit security personnel and procure high-tech gadgets.  Under the first phase of the coastal security scheme, the Centre set up 73 coastal police stations, 97 check posts, 58 outposts and 30 operational barracks, equipped with 204 vessels and vehicles in the nine coastal states, four coastal Union Territories.  After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, which was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who came from Pakistan taking the sea route, the government has been emphasising on securing the country's 7,517 km coastline.  The Supreme Court order to postpone pronouncement of the Ayodhya title suit verdict is also understood to have figured at the CCS meeting.  The CCS is also believed to have discussed the situation in Kashmir. An All Party Delegation led by Home Minister P Chidambaram had visited the state earlier this week.  Another CCS meeting is likely to be held next week to discuss threadbare the situation in the Valley. The demand of the J-K government on partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) may come up.

US wants to strengthen military ties with India: Gates
Press Trust of India / London September 24, 2010, 9:29 IST  Ahead of his meeting with Indian counterpart A K Antony, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the Pentagon wants to strengthen and expand its military to military ties with India.  "We are looking to expand this relationship in ways that are mutually beneficial," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon briefing ahead of the crucial Antony visit next week.  "They (India) have a big competition going on for a new modern fighter. We'll probably have some conversations about that," Gates.  The Defence Secretary said he had a very good visit to India last year wherein he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony.  Responding to a question on the India's concerns about restriction on export of high-technology items, Gates acknowledged that this is high on the agenda and he would like to see those restrictions removed.  "I think that that is certainly high on our list, particularly in the context of export-import, or export controls, and my view of the importance of changing those export controls in ways that better protect the things that are really important and open up trade and allow US companies to sell abroad those things that technologies that are not critical," Gates said.  "So, I think India certainly is high on our list in terms of a country that we would like, I would like to see those restrictions eased," Gates said at the Pentagon news conference which was jointly addressed by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The military-to-military relationship with India is exceptionally strong and growing, said Mullen.  "We are very committed to that, and with all of our services. I was recently there and it has taken on a significance that is equal to so many other historic relationships for us, and we know that," Mullen said.  "The Indian Ocean, we also know, is an incredibly important body of water; not just now, but also in the future. So we recognise the importance of keeping that relationship as strong as it is, and also making it grow," he said.

Indian soldiers' sacrifices in liberating Haifa remembered
2010-09-24 17:10:00  Haifa, Sep 24 (IANS) A moving ceremony to remember some 900 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in liberating this Israeli port city during World War I was held for the first time at the Haifa Cemetery.  Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna and representatives from the Haifa City Council, the Israeli defence ministry, the Haifa Historical Society and the Commonwealth Graves Commission, as also defence attaches from several countries and a host of other dignitaries were present during the ceremony Sep 23 to honour the Indian bravehearts.  This is the first time such a ceremony was held to commemorate the memory of fallen Indian soldiers, apart from the ceremonies normally held by the Commonwealth Graves Commission.  The event was marked by a wreath laying ceremony by Sarna and other dignitaries. Speaking at the ceremony, Sarna underlined the important role played by the Indian soldiers during World War I and the valour shown by them in this theatre of operations.  He thanked the Haifa Historical Society for its untiring efforts to document India's role in this important phase of history which, unfortunately, is not known to many.  A large number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in this region during the war and nearly 900 are cremated/buried in cemeteries across Israel.  Every year on Sep 23, the Indian Army commemorates 'Haifa Day' on which two brave Indian cavalry regiments helped liberate the city in 1918 following dashing cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.  In the autumn of 1918, the brigade was a part of the allied forces sweeping northwards through Palestine in the last great cavalry campaign in history.  During the battle for Haifa in September 1918, the Indian troops exhibited exemplary cavalry skills and bravery in a successful cavalry charge which finally culminated in the liberation of Haifa.  Captain Aman Singh Bahadur and Dafadar Jor Singh were awarded the Indian Order of Merit and Captain Anop Singh and Second Lt. Sagat Singh were awarded the Military Cross in recognition of their bravery in this battle. Major Dalpat Singh, who received the Military Cross, is known in the annals of history a' the 'Hero of'Haifa' for his critical role in the battle.  The action of the Indian troops has been vividly recorded in the Official History of the War - Military operation Egypt and Palestine (volume 2):  'No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign.  Machinegun bullets over and over again failed to stop the galloping horses even though many of them succumbed afterwards to their injuries'.  A two-member Indian Army delegation led by Col. M.S. Jodha, grandson of Captain Aman Singh Bahadur, had especially come here to attend the ceremony.

Bangladesh Concludes Military Exercise with United States
   More than 40 U.S. Airmen and two C-130 Hercules aircraft traveled to the Asian nation to train with the Bangladesh air force to better respond to regional disasters. The exercise - which took place at Kurmitola Air Base - focused on tactical airlift operations with the Bangladesh AN-32 aircraft.    Building up the relationship between the two countries was the theme of Cope South 10. Much of that relationship building happened during exchanges between subject-matter experts in operations, maintenance, navigation and rigging disciplines.  "Their planes are older so we learned some things about the B-model C-130 while we told them about our H-model C-130," said Tech. Sgt. Doug Harper, of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "They're very knowledgeable about the aircraft. They're trying to figure out from us how to improve their aircraft. They're very well rounded. Our work is split up into different specialties in the Air Force. They have far less groups so their maintainers do a lot more."  One of the exercise's objectives was to introduce Bangladesh navigators and pilots to flying missions using night-vision goggles.  "The squadron commander approached me after the briefing and told me how great he thought this would cement the basics for his aircrew," said 1st Lt. Robert Carranza, a C-130 navigator with the 36th Airlift Squadron. "They don't fly much with night vision goggles so being able to take them up on our aircraft for observation rides showed them what their world looks like through NVGs at night."  Bangladesh air force loadmasters also spent time learning how to secure cargo in a different airframe than the one they normally use.  "We went over airdrop limitations, the lengths platforms can be, the different air extraction parachutes that can be used, and our personal experiences of doing training drops," said Staff Sgt. Jace Hartog, from the 36th AS. "They've done airdrops in the past, but not with a C-130. They wanted to learn from somebody that's experienced and wanted to get hands-on application and a general knowledge base so they could start their training."  Air crews from both nations had originally planned to conduct joint airdrops, but flooding at the drop zone prevented the training. However, the crews maximized every opportunity to learn from each other.  Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, of the 374th AMXS, said he found himself assisting Bangladesh aircraft electricians troubleshoot problems they were having with their older model C-130.  "We're just bouncing ideas off of each other to find solutions to problems," Sergeant Smith said.  Cope South 10 was all about continuing to strengthen our relationship with the Bangladesh air force, said Lt. Col. Rick Richard, the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.  "Procedures and techniques were shared by both forces and I think we've learned quite a bit from each other," he said. "We've also expanded our relationships along the way."  Bangladesh Air Vice Marshall Abu Eshrar said he was also impressed by the manner in which the exercise was carried out.  "To me the most important objective we have achieved is extending the friendship, mutual cooperation and understanding between our two countries," he said at the closing ceremony. "I'm confident all the participating team members used this opportunity to further enhance our continued relationship and that this bonding will continue to develop in the days ahead."  At the closing ceremony Brig. Gen. Michael Keltz, the Pacific Air Forces director of operations, plans and programs, called Cope South 10 the experience of a lifetime for those who participated.  "The bottom line is the relationship we have with Bangladesh is very important," he said. "You are in a very strategic region of the world. The better we can work together and the more we understand each other, the better we can work humanitarian affairs and disaster relief."

Indian Air Force to Withdraw 20 Helicopters from United Nations Missions by 2011
URL:  24/9/2010     The Indian Air Force is to withdraw its 20 helicopters from the UN peace-keeping missions beginning November this year in a phased manner.  Defence Ministry sources said in New Delhi today, the de-induction decision was taken after the IAF found itself hard-pressed for choppers while extending logistical help to paramilitary forces in anti-maoist operations. The withdrawal will be completed by June 2011.  AIR correspondent reports IAF's medium-lift MI-17 and MI-8 choppers are deployed in three African countries including Congo and Sudan and help in transportation of UN troops and equipment there.  The Home Ministry has been seeking enhanced logistical support from the IAF in terms of movement of personnel and casualty evacuation particularly in inhospitable areas.  The IAF has a fleet of around 150 medium-lift Mi-17 and Mi-8 helicopters, which are used for maintenance of troops in high altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir and North East and to carry out relief and rescue missions during natural disasters

Russia, China Hold Massive Military Exercises in Central Asia
URL:  24/9/2010     Joint anti-terrorism exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Peace Mission 2010, enter their active phase on Friday at the Matybulak range in southeast Kazakhstan.  The 17-day drills, which began on September 9, are aimed at testing the interoperability of the SCO armed forces in rendering assistance to a member state involved in an internal armed conflict or subjected to a terrorist attack.  The exercises involve some 5,000 servicemen from five of the six SCO member states - Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan has chosen not to take part.  More than 300 military vehicles and over 50 combat aircraft and helicopters from Kazakhstan, China and Russia are employed.  Established in 2001 as a non-military alliance, the regional mutual security group SCO was initially aimed at dealing with Islamic extremism and other security threats in Central Asia, but has since expanded its scope to include cooperation in disaster relief and trade.

Indian Army Conducting User Trials for High Altitude, Anti-Mine Footwear
URL:  21/9/2010     Troops deployed in high-altitude and naxal-affected areas are set to get designer footwear to protect them from 'anti-personnel' mines and frost bite. Indigenous anti-mine and snow boots designed by Footwear Design and Development Institute are on user trial by the Indian Army.  "The shoes made by FDDI along with other contenders are on user trial by the Army and a decision in this regard is expected to be taken soon," said an Army official requesting anonymity.  "The present anti-mine shoe used by the army comes from the Czech Republic. It weighs around 4 kilograms and is uncomfortable. The shoe made by us is lighter at 2.9 kgs and is on trial," says V B Parvatikar, Director (Technical) and the main architect of the shoes.  "The pressure in a mine blast is 45000kg/cm square. The anti-mine shoe's shock absorption brings it down to 160kg/cm square. So, now, a soldier's bones will get fractured in the worst cases where as earlier, they used to get powdered," he says.  The anti-mine boot has passed the blast test and is a contribution to human welfare with the objective to reduce soft-tissue, bone and vascular injuries to the foot and leg of victims involved in antipersonnel mine explosions.  Anti-mine boots are combat design boot for troops with direct moulded polyether PU sole with chrome tanned leather upper lined with foam and vegetable tanned nappa leather. Army's MGO (Master General Ordnance) is looking for snow shoes for defence personnel at snow hound areas, high altitudes with snow cladded mountains, varying and difficult terrains.  "Frost bite is a major worry at higher altitudes. The present shoes being used now come from Italy and Russia. The snow shoe made by us has longer life," says Parvatikar. The outer shell of the snow boot is made of special plastic to withstand temperature from -60°C to 100°C. Its surface is highly scratch resistant and has high tear strength.  The outer sole is made of natural rubber for high skid resistance even at difficult terrains and in snow whereas the outer shell has been provided with special metallic (corrosion resistant) trims and flat laces for quick donning and doffing.  The inner shoe is made of leather, synthetic, textile and sample lining to provide snug fitting, warmth and comfort in higher altitudes.  While the life of the snow boot is longer, anti-mine shoe becomes useless after a mine blast.  "There are problems of supply as these shoes are imported at the moment and cost around 12,000 to 13,000 per pair. We have brought down the cost to 2,000 to 3,000," says Parvatikar.

Defective INSAS, Army wants new AK-47s
NAGPUR: The indigenous 5.56x45mm Insas (Indian National Small Arms System) rifle has been the standard assault weapon for the Indian Army since the late 1990s. However, the jawans using it in counter-insurgency operations find it ineffective.  As part of the new Army doctrine, the gun is meant to incapacitate the enemy, rather than kill. Insas has a smaller calibre, which means it has less power. This is because — and it's the official view — injuring an enemy can lead to enemy soldiers getting engaged in tending the wounded, thus yielding a tactical battlefield advantage.  The technocrats who interacted with soldiers in the forward areas were told that this theory does not work with terrorists who, apart from attacking in small numbers, are never bothered about evacuating their injured. Hence, the soldiers say, they want to shoot to kill, rather than maim.  The soldiers also spoke about practical difficulties in using Insas. It's accurate but not as rugged as the AK-47 used by terrorists, they say. Also, its sling often snaps while firing, making it fall during manoeuvres. The sling also obstructs the rifle's sight. But most of all, the size of the sling never took into account the bullet proof jacket worn by jawans. As a result, it falls short and is uncomfortable to hold. This hampers quick reaction. Insas also does not have a rapid fire feature; it shoots only three rounds in a single burst.  ''The barrel overheats with continuous firing. The magazine cracks even on falling, which is common during action. Oil spillage while firing is also major trouble,'' said a source quoting soldiers. ''Zeroing (adjusting the sight for aim) has to be done each time the rifle is opened to clean or for any other reason. Lack of proper zeroing hampers the working of night vision device,'' said the same source.  The total additional weight — around 40 kg with bulletproof jacket and signalling equipment — that a soldier carries is also a matter of concern, as is the colour of the rifle: they want it in brown which offers better camouflaging. On the positive side, Insas's transparent magazine helps soldiers keep a count of bullets.  Former director general of infantry, Lt General Shanker Prasad, said Insas is antiquated and the Infantry needs a modern rifle. The Army has repeatedly asked for new assault weapons, but nothing has moved. It's learnt that forces are now expecting new indigenously developed AK-47 rifle said to be an improvement on the original.

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