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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

From Today's Papers - 22 Dec 2010






Pilotless aircraft flight tested  New Delhi, December 21 India's indigenous Lakshaya pilotless target aircraft was successfully flight tested to check user requirements for such a combat aerial vehicle.  "Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment conducted the flight test of Lakshya-2 successfully yesterday," a Defence Research and Development Organisation press release said here today.  The aircraft is built to meet anticipated users requirements for such a vehicle for testing out their guns and missiles and the users have indicated their requirement of flying it at very low altitudes of 15 to 25 metres above sea level to simulating trajectory of low-level cruise missiles.  "ADE prepared the Lakshya-2 with necessary hardware and software for meeting the user requirements. The flight test was of 32 minutes.”— TNS

IAF, IGNOU sign MoU  New Delhi: Addressing needs of higher learning of its personnel below officers rank, Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). The signing of the MOU signals the launch of ‘Akashdeep.’  This a project dealing in registering existing airmen training institutes as community colleges enabling all serving airmen to obtain a Bachelor’s degree within 8-13 years of their service. The MoU was signed by the Air Officer-In-charge Personnel, Air Marshal KJ Mathews on behalf of the IAF and by IGNOU Vice Chancellor, Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai.— TNS

Malfeasance in the military It can be relied upon to apply the correctives  by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)  For some time the military has been much in the news for almost all the wrong reasons. With the increasing number of scandals and scams being reported by the media, one cannot help but suffer the sinking feeling that the Indian military, too, along with almost every other constituent of the government is on the downward slide. Some may argue that the military can be no other than a mirror image of society from which it draws its manpower. Even so the ethos, the sense of honour and discipline in the military make it apart from society at large and as such can be relied upon to apply the correctives and stay on course.  It may be instructive to put in the right perspective some of the scams which have in the recent past drawn attention of the media and seem to tarnish the military’s fair image. Take the case of Sukna scandal. It relates to the issue of the No-Objection Certificate ( NOC ) to a private party for building a school on a piece of land outside the cantonment (not Army land). This NOC contravened a law that no civil construction can be allowed within 1000 yards of the cantonment boundary, but there has to be a notification to that end by the civil authority. In this case,there was no notification. Even so, the NOC issue was taken as an improper act and disciplinary action initiated against the officers concerned, including three general-rank officers.  In the Tehelka episode, one senior officer was put behind the bars and the career of another general came to an end for merely accepting dinner from a Tehelka team. Some others suffered various degrees of punishment. As against this, those from the Ministry of Defence and involved in the case are yet to be punished. The additional secretary who accepted a gold chain from the Tehelka team was soon promoted. One defence secretary charge-sheeted in the Bofors case, instead of facing proceedings against him, was given the assignment of a Lt-Governor, placing him outside the reach of the long arm of the law. Another defence secretary was indicted by the Delhi High Court for altering the annual confidential report (an official document) of an air force officer. He was merely shifted to another ministry. Then there was the case of a defence secretary who on his own went ahead and entered into a dubious deal for the purchase of one lakh rifles for the Army for which no ammunition was available in the world market. Nothing happened against him. It would be interesting to note that none of these cases were brought to light by any internal mechanism of the Ministry of Defence. This was done by outside agencies.  In the case of some other scandals and fake encounters by Army men, which have been in public domain, action was taken and those involved were arrested, including a few senior-level officers, while some others were given a range of punishments. A number of cases reported later have not seen timely disposal, as the officers concerned have been seeking relief from civil courts, resulting in delays. They may be able to buy time, but in no way will they escape the wrath of the military law.  In the high-voltage case relating to the Adarsh Housing Society flats in Mumbai, the malfeasance is far more serious than the Sukna scam. In this particular case, the land (named Khukhri Park) was given to the Army by the civil administration a few decades earlier in exchange for some land of the Army elsewhere, taken by the civil administration to make a bypass, etc. Since this land was given to the Army, in the first place it should have come on the land records of the Defence Estates Department (a department of the MoD). This was obviously not done and the land remained on the records of the civil administration, though ipso facto the land belonged to the military and was in its possession. There is no provision under which this piece of land could be given to anybody, even to Kargil widows/heroes, without sanction from the Union Cabinet in Delhi. Putting the label of “Kargil war widows/heroes” on the Adarsh Housing Society appears to have been a later-day innovation.  It was the implied ambiguity in the ownership of the land which was exploited by RC Thakur, a functionary in the Defence Estates Office ( DEO ) at Mumbai. Though the military was the de-facto and de-jure owner of this land, slip-up, intentional or otherwise by the Defence Estates office, in not taking it on its records was of little consequence. While the military land records are maintained by the Defence Estate Office, it is the Army Commander who is the custodian of all kinds of military land within his command.  The sub-area commander of the military station at Colaba (who later came back as area commander after an NDC course), the subsequent area commanders and some others most shamefully collaborated in this nefarious scheme. They also roped in some of their greedy seniors. Not to be left out, those in the politico-bureaucratic set-up who were to give various clearances for the project picked up slices of the cake for themselves, friends and relatives. Eventually they formed the majority. Some others who could and were equally desperate for that piece of cake too joined in. Since this building was originally meant to have only six floors, its foundation would have been laid to cater to that requirement. Therefore, how could the building with the same foundation be raised to 30/31 floors? The mischief runs deeper.  From the large number of cases that have been brought to light, the impression seems to prevail that the military, too, has gone under. With officer-strength of over 35,000, even dozens of cases should not cause any alarm. The environment in the country is conducive to corruption, and an increasing number of Army men are not able to resist the temptation. It would be interesting to note that only the military organisations that come in contact or deal with the civilian contractors and wheeler-dealers of civil organisations are affected by the corroding influence of corruption. All the others in the military abide by high standards of integrity and honesty.  Therefore, it would be seen that it is the military’s own internal mechanism which invariably brought these cases to light and then proceedings were launched against the suspects. One can be certain that in the Adarsh Housing Society case, too, those whose actions are still governed by the military law (military law continues to operate in the case of an individual up to two years after retirement ) will face the military’s music.  While the military can be relied upon to routinely deal with the rot that seems to be creeping into its system, more vigorous and determined efforts will have to be made by the top brass to dig out every suspected case of corruption and misconduct and promptly dealt with. The exaggerated notion of scale and scope of privileges which supposedly go with higher ranks needs to be curbed. The present Army Chief is known for high integrity, probity and moral values and will surely clean up the Augean stables.  The writer is a retired Deputy Chief of the Army Staff.

India, Russia sign 29 pacts Both nations to jointly develop fifth generation fighters; set trade target of $20 bn by 2015 Moscow asks Pak to punish 26/11 attackers; supports India’s bid for UNSC seat Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service   Main pacts  Cooperation in the field of elections by exchanging information, expertise. Cooperation in emergency management, including disaster forecasting. Mutual simplification of travel documents for certain categories of nationals. Cooperation in science, technology and innovation. To establish India-Russia scientific and technological centre. Joint research and development in reactor technology. Cooperation in the area of IT, IT-enabled services. Cooperation in area of pharmaceuticals  New Delhi, December 21 India and Russia today demonstrated to the world why their relationship was so special. While they could not formally ink the agreement for setting up additional nuclear power units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, the two countries signed a record 29 deals, including one on joint designing and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and another for jointly undertaking projects in the oil and gas sector in India, Russia or a third country.  Close on the heels of visits by other top world leaders, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came calling on New Delhi, making all the right noises to deepen the strategic partnership between the two time-tested friends.  In a joint statement issued after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Russian leader, the two countries asked Pakistan to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.  The Russian President endorsed India’s candidature for a permanent UN Security Council seat and also promised to support New Delhi’s quest to become a full-fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), MTCR and the Wassenaar Arrangement.  Apart from 11 pacts, which were signed after the talks between the two sides, 18 agreements, including those between private companies of both the countries, were inked on the margins of the Manmohan-Medvedev summit. The two countries also set an ambitious bilateral trade target of $ 20 billion by 2015.  The most significant of the accords signed this afternoon was the one on FGFA, estimated to be worth about $ 30 billion, with India planning to induct up to 300 of these aircraft into its Air Force. The contract envisages joint development of preliminary design contract (PDC) for the advanced fighter jet and will involve Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from India and the Sukhoi Design Bureau and Rosoboronexport on the Russian side. Russia has been seeking to fend off growing international competition from the US and Europe to retain its edge in the lucrative Indian defence market as this country diversifies its resources of military hardware.  In the civil nuclear cooperation field, the two sides reviewed the progress made for commission of Kudankulam I and II units and for setting up two more units there. “Discussions have progressed on the construction of additional Russian nuclear reactors at Kudankulam, and we have signed an agreement to broaden scientific and technical cooperation in the field of nuclear energy,” the joint statement said. The two sides are learnt to have reached a broad agreement on additional nuclear power units at Kudankulam but have not been able to complete price negotiations. Unlike Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who last week shied away from saying a word against Pakistan on the issue of terrorism during his visit to New Delhi, the Russian leader made statements which played well with his hosts.  “Terrorists are criminals.... They should be extradited to be punished. Those who hide terrorists conceal criminals,” Medvedev said when asked how Russia looked at safe havens of terror operations in the region. His remarks are being read here as an endorsement of New Delhi’s demand that Pakistan hand over to India the masterminds behind the 26/11 attacks.  “We understand that the extradition process is quite complicated but it is important that international cooperation in this field should be in place between all those interested in the fight against terrorism,” Medvedev said.  “I believe that no modern civilised state can hide terrorists as law-abiding citizens and cannot proceed on the assumption that they will change,” he said.

BrahMos, Russian NPO Mashinostroyenia sign protocol Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 21, 2010, 14:56 IST  With an aim to maintain seamless supply of cruise missiles to the Indian armed forces, BrahMos Aerospace and Russian NPO Mashinostroyenia have signed a protocol to ensure there are no price escalation issues during the duration of the contract.  "Both sides have agreed to take necessary steps to secure the unconditional execution of the contracts for deliveries to the Indian armed forces. This makes it a first of its kind in the relationship between India and Russia that there would be no price escalation issue during the duration of the contract," BrahMos officials told PTI here.  In recent times, several defence contracts with Russia have faced problems after Moscow escalated the price of defence hardware mid-way like the increase in cost of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from $974 million to over $2.3 billion.  Under the agreement, both sides pledged their readiness to work towards developing hypersonic version of the missile to maintain its leadership in cruise missiles, they said.  BrahMos is planning to develop a hypersonic version of the 290 km-range cruise missile, which would travel at speeds above 5 Mach.  The protocol has been signed by NPO Mashinostroyenia Director General and Designer General A G Leonov and BrahMos Aerospace Chief A Sivathanu Pillai during the two day visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to India.  The Russian side committed full support of its specialists to Indian industries for manufacturing elements of missiles which are presently not produced in India, officials said.  BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between India and Russia. Premier defence research organisation DRDO represents India and NPO Mashinostroyenia represents Russia in it.  The missile has already been inducted into the Indian Army and the Navy and the work on its air launched version is on.

Russia, India sign defence, nuclear deals Reuters / New Delhi December 21, 2010, 13:01 IST  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian PM Manmohan SinghRussia and India signed agreements on Tuesday to work on a design project for a fifth-generation fighter aircraft and expand capacity at the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam.  The two countries agreed to build the third and fourth generating units for the nuclear power plant in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, according to a statement.  The agreements were signed during a two-day visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to India.

India’s first NBC recce vehicle launched in Pune DNA / Rahul Chandawarkar / Wednesday, December 22, 2010 2:00 IST  India’s first wholly indigenous NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) reconnaissance (recce) vehicledesigned, developed and manufactured by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was handed over to the Indian Army in Pune on Tuesday.  The recce vehicle costs Rs6.5 crore compared to an equivalent international price of Rs20 crore.  In a function held at the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) on Tuesday, W Selvamurthy, chief controller, research and development (life sciences), DRDO handed over four such vehicles to Lt Gen MC Badhani, engineer-in-chief, Indian Army.  With these, the first Limited Series Production order of eight NBC recce vehicles have been handed over to the army. It has placed an order for 16 more with the DRDO, which they are confident of delivering by 2013.  The NBC recce vehicles, which have been fitted with hi-tech sensors, are able to monitor radiologically and chemically contaminated areas.

Nepal Assures India to Address its Infiltration Concern Shirish B Pradhan/Kathmandu | Dec 21, 2010 Nepal has assured India that it will accord priority to its concern on cross-border infiltration by criminals and terrorists taking advantage of the open border between the two nations.  The assurance came at a meeting between visiting Indian Army chief General V K Singh and his Nepalese counterpart General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung yesterday, Nepal Army sources said today.  "The senior army officials also expressed Nepal's commitment in launching campaign against rising terrorism menace in global context and assured to address with priority the concern shown by India regarding possible infiltration by criminals and terrorists taking the advantage of the open border between the two countries," the sources said.  India has expressed concern over cross-border terrorist activities through Nepal, which shares nearly 1850 km open border with India.  The two top commanders, during the meeting, also discussed various issues, including matters relating to expanding bilateral relations between the two armies.  Besides, senior Nepalese army officials briefed Singh about the army's contribution in help maintaining peace and security in the country, assistance in development and construction works, disaster management works and wildlife preservation activities among others.  Singh, who is on a four-day visit to Nepal, today visited tourist hub Pokhara where he inspected pension camps and met Indian Army veterans.  Addressing the ex-Nepal Army in Pokhara, Singh said he will be making an extra effort to maintain friendly relations between the two countries.  Later in the day, he will visit pilgrim site Jomsom at the mountainous region in northern part of the country bordering China. In Jomsom, Singh is scheduled to inspect Mountain Warfare School being operated by Nepal Army, where some Indian Army cadres are receiving training, sources said.  Gen Singh, who is leading a six-member delegation of the Indian Army, arrived here yesterday.  Signifying the close relationship between the two militaries, General Singh will be conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army on Wednesday by President Ram Baran Yadav, who is the Supreme Commander of the country's armed forces.  This is the second visit of an incumbent Indian army chief in a year to receive the honorary title. General Deepak Kapoor, the then Indian Army chief was also decorated with the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army in January.  Wednesday, he will call on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Defence Minister Vidya Devi Bhandari. Gen Singh will also visit Birendra Peace Works Training Centre at Panchkhal in the east of Kathmandu.

Manufacturers prepare for Indian micro UAV contest By Arie Egozi  Israeli manufacturers are preparing to team with Indian companies to offer mini- and micro-unmanned air vehicles. The Indian army is expected to release a request for quotations for the project in the first quarter of 2011.  Israel Aerospace Industries already has a strong foothold in India's defence establishment and is likely to offer one or more of its small UAV systems directly - possibly the developmental Mini Panther tiltrotor.  Aeronautics Defense Systems and Elbit Systems are looking for local partners, while BlueBird has already finalised a teaming agreement with Indian company Dynamatic Technologies.  BlueBird president Ronen Nadir says the teaming agreement is aimed, among other things, at establishing a better position in the forthcoming tender.  The Indian army is expected to seek delivery of 500 mini- and micro-UAV systems, with the selected design providing an endurance of at least 30min and the ability to be operated by one or two soldiers.  An earlier request for information also specified the use of either fuel or battery power, with hand-launch or vertical take-off and landing options.

Indian Army Scouts For F-INSAS Assault Rifle As part of the Indian Army's phased future infantry soldier as a system (F-INSAS) programme to create a fully integrated infantry soldier, Army HQ has floated requirements [PDF] for a new assault rifle that will, potentially, be license-built in large numbers. A questionaire provided with RFI points to what the Army is looking for in its new ambidextrous assault rifle:  The Army has put down its preference for a modular assault rifle with changeable multiple caliber barrels to support 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm, 6.8x43mm and 6.5 Grendel rounds. The rifle needs to have an integrated sighting system that includes a luminous tipped flip-up iron sight, telescopic sight and a holographic reflex sight with a visible laser illuminator. It clearly wants an advanced under-barrel grenade launcher with a standalone firing mode governed by a multipurpose fire control system.



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