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Monday, 18 October 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 Oct 2010

Deciphering Chinese intent Need for caution but not hysteria
The observations made by the Army chief, General V.K. Singh, in an interview
with The Tribune that there was peace on the border with China but since
there is a disputed border with that country there will always be a concern
that Chinese intentions may change is indicative of a cautious approach in
the Indian establishment towards China. General Singh emphasized that
confidence-building measures were in place. Last month, Defence Minister
A.K. Antony had told a military conference that "we cannot afford to drop
our guard" in relation to China which was improving its military and
physical infrastructure and showing increasing assertiveness. From an
establishment that tends to be very measured and careful in statements on
China, this is a sign of cautious wariness. Significantly, China's position
on Kashmir used to be similar to that of all major powers, viewing it as a
bilateral issue between India and Pakistan that needed to be resolved
peacefully. But Beijing's current practice of issuing stapled visas to
Kashmiris rather than stamping the visa in the passport and the denial of
visa to an Indian army general posted in Jammu and Kashmir who was to lead a
military delegation to China mark a strategic shift in China's attitude
which amounts to questioning India's sovereignty over the territory. At the
same time, China is inducting a large body of troops into the Gilgit region
of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Considering that China also claims about
90,000 square kilometres in Arunachal Pradesh and in April 2009, Beijing
attempted to block a $US2.9 billion Asian Development Bank loan to India
that included a flood control project in that state, there are straws in the
wind that can hardly be wished away. While there is no cause for hysteria
over the downward trend in Sino-Indian political relations in recent months,
and there is cause for satisfaction over the burgeoning economic ties, it is
good for our foreign policy establishment to be watchful over Chinese
intentions. That the China-Pakistan nexus poses a security threat to this
country with the Chinese even assisting Pakistan's nuclear programme is
something that we cannot brush aside as of little consequence.
3-fold hike in rates of ex-servicemen health plan
Vijay Mohan/TNS Chandigarh, October 17 The Union government has revised the
subscription rates for the Ex-servicemen's Contributory Health Scheme
(ECHS). The revision comes about six years after the scheme was first
launched for the veterans. The quantum of increase in rates is over three
times the existing rates. Orders issued by the Ministry of Defence on
September 29 announcing the increase in the one-time payable rates have been
circulated to medical and welfare establishments over the past few days.
The increase in rates, according to sources, is consequent to the hike in
salaries and pension of armed forces personnel following the implementation
of the Sixth Pay Commission. This also comes in the wake of the recent
increase in charges levied by the Central Government Health Scheme for
civilian pensioners. The new ECHS rates for all ranks up to havildar and
equivalent would have to pay Rs 15,000, with the next slab up to naib
subedar being liable to pay Rs 27,000. From subedars up to the rank of
major, the revised charges are Rs 39,000 and for lieutenant colonels and
above, it would be Rs 60,000. Earlier, the contribution for those drawing a
pension of between Rs 3,000 - 6,000 was Rs 4,800, Rs 8,000 for those drawing
Rs 6,001 to Rs 10,000 and for those getting Rs 10,001-Rs 15,000, the rate
was Rs 12,000. Veterans drawing a pension of above Rs 15,000 had to pay Rs
18,000. ECHS was launched in April 2003 and the aim of the scheme was to
provide quality medicare to its members and their dependents.
Unmanned aerial vehicle Rustom takes off
Tribune News Service New Delhi, October 17 The Defence Research and
Development Oganisation (DRDO), said it had successfully flown the
indigenously built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), named "Rustom". It is a
medium altitude long endurance UAV, developed by the Aeronautical
Development Establishment (ADE), a lab of the DRDO. The ADE specialises in
UAVs and flight control systems. The DRDO while releasing a picture of the
UAV said it flown in a manner as planned, up to a height of 3,000 ft and
remained airborne for 30 minutes. "All mission requirements were
completed." UAVs, fitted with sensors and high-resolution cameras, are
critical for the modern battlefield needs and also in counter-insurgency
areas. Recently they were deployed to hover over the national capital to
keep an eye during the just concluded Commonwealth Games. At present the
country imports a majority of its UAV while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is
jointly developing some newer ones with an Israeli partner. The subsequent
flights of the "Rustom" will test and demonstrate capabilities like
controlling the UAV through GPS satellites. The 'Rustom' has been designed
for endurance of 12-15 hour with a 25,000-ft altitude ceiling and 75 kg
payload of cameras and sensors. The data link for this has been developed by
DEAL, another DRDO laboratory, and a private Indian company has built the
Tribunal puts promotion policy on hold
Vijay Mohan/TNS Chandigarh, October 17 The Armed Forces Tribunal has
ordered status quo on the operation of a new promotion policy issued by the
Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) that was being implemented
retrospectively and in the bargain put some Army officers on deputation at a
disadvantage and aimed at demoting them. A colonel had moved the tribunal
on the grounds that the new policy was adopted with effect from April 23
this year and hence not applicable to those promoted and seconded to the
DGQA prior to this date. New guidelines provided that superseded and
non-empanelled Lieutenant Colonels will now not be considered for permanent
secondment and that the Special Merit Board (SMB) had been discontinued. The
fresh policy stated that non-empanelled and superseded officers who had been
granted permanent secondment in the DGQA in the past would only be granted
one promotion to the rank of time-scale colonel and this clause would be
applicable to those non-empanelled officers also who had already promoted to
colonel in the DGQA. The colonel had contended that clauses of the policy
were conceptually flawed because he was not a non-empanelled or superseded
officer since he was a Lt Col when he had been permanently seconded to the
DGQA and had not faced his fresh promotion board at all.
Indian Army chief's remarks unwise, jingoistic, says Pakistan
Press Trust of India, Updated: October 17, 2010 18:40 IST Ads by Google
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Window & Door Company Islamabad: Pakistan has termed as
"jingoistic" and "unwise" Indian Army chief's remarks describing the country
as a major irritant for India's security and about the possibility of a war
in a nuclear scenario. Pakistan's Foreign Office also reacted angrily to
what it called "uncalled for" remarks on the country's internal affairs.
Rejecting the allegations made by Army chief General VK Singh, Foreign
Office spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement, "The government of
Pakistan takes a serious exception to the reported statement of the Indian
Army chief about his threat perception from Pakistan, war under a nuclear
scenario and uncalled for and gratuitous comments on the internal affairs of
Pakistan." The repetitive mentions by Indian Army's high command "about war
under the nuclear scenario is not only irresponsible but also jingoistic and
unwise," Basit said.
Such statements and grandstanding by India are evidently unhelpful to the
cause of promoting peace, security and stability in South Asia," he added.
Pakistan remains committed to a purposeful and result-oriented dialogue with
India on all outstanding issues, including the "core issue of Jammu and
Kashmir," the spokesman said. Speaking at a seminar in New Delhi yesterday,
Singh had described Pakistan and China as major irritants for India's
security. He said India should have substantial war fighting capabilities
to fight in a nuclear scenario. Singh had said that terrorist
infrastructure was still intact in Pakistan and that the problem of
governance in the country and support for terror groups could have a
fall-out on India. For NDTV Updates, follow us on Twitter or join us on

UAV test flightgoes off smoothly
TNN, Oct 18, 2010, 12.09am IST BANGALORE: Aeronautical Development
Establishment (ADE), Bangalore-based DRDO laboratory, has developed and
successfully test flown an unmanned aerial vehicle Rustom 1 on Saturday from
Taneja Aerospace and aviation ( TAAL) airfield located at Hosur. The
aircraft took off even in inclement weather conditions for a first flight,
flew for 12 minutes and landed successfully meeting all its objectives.
Being the first full flight of the aircraft, it was under the command of Lt
Col VS Thapa of Indian Army, an experienced external pilot for UAVs who was
situated at the edge of the runway. He controlled the craft without any
difficulty throughout its flight which included the pilot-assisted takeoff,
flight in air and a copybook-style landing. While the aircraft has many
auto features like GPS-controlled Way Point Navigation and Get U Home even
in its first flight, they will be exercised in the subsequent flights. The
UAV has an endurance of 12 to 15 hours and can carry payloads up to 75 kg
and has an altitude ceiling of 25,000 feet. Such flights of UAVs remove the
risk to the human pilots when they have to fly them in hazardous zones. The
data link system for this UAV was designed and developed by another DRDO lab
called Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) situated in
Dehradun. Its airframe is made by a private company called Zephyr situated
in Coimbatore and most of its onboard systems are also manufactured by
Indian private industries. This development is the forerunner to the medium
altitude long endurance UAV project Rustom H to be taken up by the lab
shortly. This also paves way for the development of Unmanned Combat Aerial
Vehicles in the country. This UAV can be used by all the three armed
services of our country.
India's antiquated forces
Deba R Mohanty Posted online: 2010-10-18 22:50:15+05:30 Chief of the Indian
Air Force ACM PV Naik has gone on record recently to admit that half of the
Indian aerospace fighter arsenal was obsolete. The defence minister, AK
Antony, subsequently tried to play down the condition by urging that the
Indian defence industry must be encouraged by the state to improve the
degree of self-reliance and fight obsolescence in this fast-paced
technological environment. If this was not enough, ACM Naik has warned the
country that the security situation in and around India was like a
'volcano', which necessitated an extremely high level of preparedness by the
air force, in particular, and the entire armed forces, in general. If
unstable security conditions as well as strategic global aspirations
necessitate India to build a formidable military capability, 'obsolescence'
is one problem that should not have affected the armed forces as badly as it
has today. Let's see how prepared the Indian armed forces are for any
situation. Not only the Indian aerospace but also land and naval arsenals
are fast becoming obsolete. Consider this: IAF has a sanctioned strength of
39.5 combat squadrons, yet is barely 30 squadrons strong now, and aims to
have a 45 squadron strength in the near future, if former ACM Fali Major is
to be believed. If four to six squadrons of MiGs are to be phased out in
time and the 126 MMRCA and LCAs are not replenished in time, India is likely
to manage with about 26 fighter squadrons for the next six to seven years!
Even acquisitions of Su-30s would not be able to compensate for some time
and the joint development of the fifth generation fighter (with Russia) can
only happen by the early 2020s, if everything goes according to plan.
Transport, trainers, heavy lifts, medium and heavy choppers, mid-air
refuellers and others are also in short supply, if the desirable level of
Indian aerospace power is taken into consideration. The situation is
worrisome. The land-based arsenal looks no better. Former Army Chief VP
Malik's famous admission—we will fight with whatever we have—is not passé.
General VK Singh's immediate predecessor General Deepak Kapoor has gone on
record saying that 80% of the land equipment is night-blind. Apart from
night-blindness, the land forces are in short supply practically on every
front—from infantry and weaponry to larger land systems. Heavy tanks may be
an exception; India lacks light and medium tanks, and varieties of
artilleries, the latter being a hostage to 'Bofors' syndrome. Artillery and
air wing have been worst affected as tender after tender has been cancelled
in recent years, thanks primarily to non-military reasons (read, allegations
and counter allegations by vendors and so-called technical reasons mentioned
by the MoD). The Navy seems a little better off among the services, yet its
projected plans to have an aircraft carrier fleet, sufficient numbers of
submarines, frigates, destroyers and other smaller warships are also in
short supply, although to a lesser degree in comparison to its counterparts.
Most worrying is a scenario in which even if the MoD is able to acquire 90%
of the systems that it envisages for the planned long-term military
modernisation programme, 'obsolescence' could still be more than 40%—10+%
larger than any ideal arsenal should possess. Obsolescence and numeric
deficits in the Indian arsenal are a result of a host of factors, spanning
from defence planning to procurement processes. The blame game is easy
within defence establishments as any stakeholder can accuse the other
without much accountability. However, the worst sufferer is the end-user
whose modernisation programme is hit badly, which leads to further
obsolescence. Speak to any military leader—while they may put on a brave
face in public, they are quite worried! India has been fighting
technological obsolescence for several decades as it is not only capital
intensive but also involves consistent scientific and industrial endeavours.
That's why you have only five-odd aero-engine manufacturers who have held
hostage the fighter components of aerospace power in the world. That's why
you see only a handful of countries devoting scientific and financial
resources towards aerospace and unmanned systems. Where does India stand—its
indigenous Kaveri aero-engine programme now looks towards either GE-414 or
EJ-200; its aerospace engineering programmes attract less and less talent,
its futuristic programmes are not adequately funded (DRDO budget is $2
billion). The private sector is kept at an arm's length since they are
branded 'strategic' and hence have no place for private enterprise! This is
despite the fact that Godrej & Boyce, Tata Power, Larsen & Toubro,
and other companies have supplied critical components to many Indian
strategic military programmes. Long planning processes coupled with delays
have also contributed significantly to technological obsolescence. As a
former IAF officer put it, by the time LCA is ready, it may well become a
trainer instead of a fighter! If LCA takes decades, acquisitions do not
happen in two or three years either. The 126 MMRCA deal serves as a case in
point. ACM Naik and AK Antony are true to their words—the former lays out
the problem and the latter a possible answer. Betwixt the two lies the great
Indian tragedy of a lack of strategic vision and political courage, rigid
institutional mechanisms, complex procurement procedures and virtually no
accountability in the defence sector. The author is a senior fellow in
Security Studies at the Observer Research Foundation. These are his personal

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