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Thursday, 24 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 24 Feb 2011

HAL to develop warplane engines with French firm
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, February 23 India’s ability to produce an engine for its fighter aircraft is slated for a turnaround. State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is in the final stages of talks with leading French engine-maker Snecma to co-design and co-develop an engine for its indigenous fighters.  Snecma is the same company that had developed engines (jointly with Rolls Royce) for the supersonic jet Concorde that last flew in 2003. Nowadays, Snecma engines power the latest French Air Force fighter Raffale, while its cryogenic engines power the European space satellite launchers. Its sister company, Turbomeca, has been already working with HAL and has co-developed Shakti engine for Dhruv-Mk III choppers, specially designed to operate in areas like Siachen. The first lot of five such choppers has been handed over to the Indian Army.  Defence Minister AK Antony told the Rajya Sabha this morning that it was proposed to develop a production version Kaveri (K10) engine on co-design and co-development basis with Snecma, France. “The technical evaluation for the proposal has been completed,” he added. The HAL, the IAF and the Indian Navy, helped by the finance wing, are negotiating the commercial aspects.  Sources said the new engine could be used in the proposed twin-engine medium combat aircraft that would follow Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. The Ministry of Defence has set a deadline of 2015 to start the project. It has already chosen US company General Electric’s 414 engine for the next lot of Tejas.  The first indications about the new engine emerged at the recently concluded Aero India show when French Ambassador to India Jérôme Bonnafont talked about it. The engine has been code-named Kaveri (K-10). India has, so far, made nine prototypes of Kaveri engines. About 1,975 hours of testing has been conducted on Kaveri engines.  The last Kaveri engine prototype has been integrated with IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute, Russia. The Kaveri engine project was sanctioned in March 1989.

MiG 21 to be phased out by 2017
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 23 Faced with more than 40 air crashes involving various planes of the IAF, the government today said it would start the last round of phasing out soviet-origin MiG 21 fighters by 2014.  The last of these single-engined planes would be out of the IAF by 2017. Defence Minister AK Antony told the Rajya Sabha that a number of modern aircraft such as Sukhoi-30 MKI, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and the Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) would be procured to replace squadrons of MiG 21 and already-phased-out MiG 23. The Air force had a “clear-cut plan” to phase out MiG 21 by 2017, he said. Introduced in 1963, these planes the uncharitable sobriquet of “flying coffins”.

Indo-Pak talks on March 28
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 23 The Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan will hold two-day talks in New Delhi on March 28 and 29, marking the resumption of structured dialogue between the two neighbours. This will be the first structured bilateral Secretary-level meeting on counter-terrorism after the recent Indo-Pak decision to resume comprehensive talks. The dialogue was suspended following the Mumbai carnage.  Islamabad, responding to New Delhi, had conveyed its consent to the meeting on March 28-29. Union Home Secretary GK Pillai had extended the invitation to Pakistan Interior Secretary Chaudhry Qamar Zaman last week. India had proposed two sets of dates - March 21-22 and March 28-29.  It is likely that India will take up the case of seeking action against persons responsible for the 26/11 attack. New Delhi has always maintained that Islamabad arrested the peripheral players while the key planners are roaming around free and spewing venom against India.

Wannabe agents minus intelligence
 SUJAN DUTTA  New Delhi, Feb. 23: A candidate appearing before an interview board for a job with a desperately short-staffed intelligence agency identified Hyderabad, not Bangalore, as the capital of Karnataka.  Another candidate, asked about his opinion on the situation in Kashmir and what role cross-border infiltration played, was so nervous that he could barely stutter a reply.  A “tail-end” syndrome is plaguing India’s intelligence services that are attracting only those who are at the bottom of the pile in the civil services exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, a study by two think tanks, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) and the Observer Research Foundation, has found.  In the shadowy world of espionage, the methods of functioning are rarely publicised. But the report by the IDSA and the ORF casts light on glaring communication gaps and deficiencies in and among the agencies. The outfits are hampered not only by the poor quality of staff but also by an absence of scientists and technologists who can deal with modern snooping equipment confidently.  Findings of the report were presented here today to a gathering of retired and serving intelligence officers and a prominent politician who often speaks for the Congress. Senior intelligence operatives are now saying there is a case for a direct recruitment system so that they are able to attract better talent to become agents, just like the UK’s MI-5 has done.  A retired bureaucrat who is often invited to interview prospective candidates said: “We are sent a list of candidates who are basically rejects of the other services. They either do not have it in them (to make the grade) or are overawed by the interview board and the questions or just do not turn up even after being appointed.”  The upshot is that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the cabinet secretariat, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Security Council Secretariat, the National Technical Research Organisation — in fact, the entire alphabet soup of intelligence agencies run by the Centre — including the Military Intelligence and the Defence Intelligence Agency are unable to fill crucial posts.  The report, only parts of which were presented by the research team led by a retired IAS officer who served with the cabinet secretariat, urges the government to consider a drastic overhaul of the intelligence gathering, analysis and sharing mechanism.  In a marked departure from Union home minister P. Chidambaram’s proposal to make a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) an overarching intelligence outfit, the report treats the suggested centre as just one among several.  It says the government should review the role of the national security advisor (NSA). The NSA has in effect become the “chief diplomatic adviser” to the Prime Minister.  The report recommends that the government study the creation of a new portfolio in the cabinet — a minister for security because of the way the NSA’s role has evolved.  It recommends that a National Intelligence Co-ordinator reporting to the NSA should become the nodal office through which all intelligence agencies interact. During their study, the researchers said they found that the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee and the National Security Council Secretariat — which were merged and then separated — often overlapped.  The researchers found that even in Indian embassies, high commissions and consulates abroad, there was a disconnect between the heads of missions and the intelligence operatives. “It is all right if heads of missions want to know about developments but operatives feel uncomfortable about liaising because they are asked questions on operational issues (such as sources and informants),” one researcher said.  The researchers found that though RAW — the agency for gathering external intelligence — has 21 senior posts (of the rank of joint secretary and above) from the cabinet committee on appointments for officers from the armed forces, it was making do with only 13. The army, navy and the air force were unwilling to spare their resources, citing a shortage of officers.  The study found that while most operatives wanted to be intelligence-gatherers — because that is the “glamour job” — there was a reluctance to be analysts. Agents were not familiar with the language and the area they were assigned to.  “It may so often be that a man in China does not know Chinese, another in Russia may not know Russian and another in the Middle East will not know Arabic or Persian but the guy in Washington will know English,” the researcher scoffed.

Indian Army to conduct more recruitment rallies in Kashmir
Srinagar: Overwhelmed by the response of the youth to its week-long recruitment rally in Ganderbal district, Army on Wednesday assured many more rallies to give greater opportunity to all the aspirants of Jammu and Kashmir.  "We will have many more similar rallies to give greater opportunity to all aspirants of Jammu and Kashmir. The army is looking to enroll the best and brightest young men from Kashmir," a defence spokesman said. The recruitment rally at Sainik School Manasbal in Ganderbal district, 30 kms from here, began on February 19 and attracted thousands of candidates, most of whom were left disappointed for varied reasons.  "Naturally, the process has to be merit based giving a fair and impartial opportunity to all eligible Kashmiri youth. Some of the candidates who have come here, do not have their complete documents and some are overage," the spokesman said.  The rally, which will conclude on February 25, was meant for recruitment of general duty soldiers, clerk, store keeper, technical and nursing assistant, the spokesman said, adding, the locals participated in the rally with great enthusiasm. "The rally is a step by the army to ameliorate the conditions of unemployed youth of the Valley. The huge turnout for recruitment despite inclement weather implies that the army has carved a niche for itself in the hearts and minds of Kashmiris as well as the civil administration," he said.  The spokesman said the youth have realised the importance of the army and they want to join the same.

Blacklisted Israeli defence firm to face action soon: Antony
2011-02-23 20:20:00 New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) The government will soon decide on penal action against an Israeli defence company blacklisted in connection with a graft case filed by the CBI against a former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief, the Rajya Sabha was informed Wednesday.  The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed the case against Sudipto Ghosh, former director general of OFB, in May 2009.  Defence Minister A.K. Antony, in a written reply, said his ministry has issued show cause notices to Israeli Military Industries (IMI) last year, following which the company requested for supporting documents on the charges against it.  The ministry provided the firm with documents and materials.  'A decision regarding the penal action will be taken after examining the reply of IMI and in consultation with the ministry of law and justice and the Central Vigilance Commission,' Antony said.  After examining the first information report (FIR) lodged by the CBI against Ghosh, the defence ministry, through an order May 28, 2009, decided to put on hold all contracts with companies named by the investigating agency in the graft case.  IMI, one of the six companies under the CBI scanner, was to set up ordnance factories near Nalanda in Bihar for manufacturing bi-modular charges for the Bofors artillery guns of the army under a Rs.12 billion (about $260 million) contract.  The ministry's order stopping implementation of the contract was contested by the defence firms in the Delhi High Court, which set it aside and directed the ministry that penal action against the companies could be taken only after following principles of natural justice.  Accordingly, the ministry issued show cause notices to all the companies on the basis of the CBI's FIR. The firms denied the allegations and sought specific evidence based on which penal action was proposed against them.  The CBI filed a charge sheet in the case against Ghosh in June 2010 and also recommended the blacklisting of IMI, along with five other companies of both Indian and foreign origin, for being involved in corruption.  Following the charge sheet, fresh notices were issued to IMI, Antony added.

IAF lost 40 planes, 45 lives lost in 3 years: Antony
New Delhi, Feb 23, (PTI):  The Indian Air Force (IAF) lost 40 aircraft in different accidents in which 45 people were killed in the last 3 years, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.  "During the last three years (February 1, 2008 to February 17, 2011), 16 pilots, 24 service personnel and five civilians have died in 40 air crashes reported in Indian Air Force (IAF) in the last three years," Defence Minister A K Antony said while replying to a written question.  The Defence Minister said every accident was thoroughly investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to ascertain the cause of the accident and remedial measures are taken accordingly to check their recurrence.  "IAF has taken various measures relating to strengthening the aviation safety organisation, streamlining of accident reporting procedure to identify vulnerable areas and institute remedial measures to reduce aircraft accidents," he added.  On the collision of the Navy's frigate INS Vindhyagiri off Mumbai harbour, he said "a Board of Inquiry has been ordered by the Indian Navy. The reason for the collision and details of damage sustained and losses suffered will be established on completion of the Board of Inquiry", Antony said.  On the recent crash involving an Indian army helicopter near Nasik on February 2, the Defence Minister said "the loss to private property and to the government will be ascertained in the CoI."

Ashok Leyland Defence and KMW to develop advanced defence systems
news        23 February 2011                   Ashok Leyland Defence Systems Ltd. and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG, Munich, Germany, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly devfelop advanced defence systems for the Indian and global defence establishments.  KMW leads the European market for armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles.  Under the pact, the two companies will initially develop armoured wheeled vehicles, recovery vehicles, artillery and combat systems, bridge laying systems and other similar products.  "This strategic partnership seeks to harness the formidable skills of both companies, namely, the technological bandwidth of KMW and our approach to innovations aimed at cost advantage," says Dr V. Sumantran, chairman, Ashok Leyland Defence Systems. "For ALDS, this brings a new range of product opportunities with which we hope to fulfill India's growing defence needs and over time to address select overseas markets."  Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS), a newly formed company in which the Hinduja flagship, Ashok Leyland, has 26-per cent equity, will design and develo defence vehicles.  Ashok Leyland says it is the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to the Indian Army with over 60,000 of its Stallion vehicles forming the Army's logistics backbone.

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