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Saturday, 9 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 09 Jul 2011




Stung by IEDs, CRPF to get tips from Army

New Delhi, July 8 The Army will now train Central Reserve Police Force personnel in detecting and defusing the deadly Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which have claimed lives of over 100 troops and left many more maimed during anti-Naxal operations.  Plans are also afoot to set up an exclusive first-ever school for providing training in handling of IEDs for the country's largest paramilitary force with almost three lakh personnel under its command.  CRPF Director General K Vijay Kumar recently met Army Chief General VK Singh on sharing the expertise of College of Military Training (CME) in Pune to train his men in detecting and defusing IEDs, which have been found hidden at the depth of more than 15-feet in many cases in states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, officials said here.  Various IED tracing devices, ‘dip sticks’ used to detect hidden explosives and sniffer dogs have failed to be foolproof and a number of patrol parties, both on foot and in vehicles, have fallen prey to these deadly explosive devices which are sometimes as heavy as 50 kg.  The CRPF, which is the lead force for anti-naxal operations in the country, has deployed more than 60 battalions (about 60,000 personnel) in various states and it has lost 105 personnel in the last five years due to IED explosions only.  “The IEDs have been a major cause of casualties in the CRPF and other forces operating in the Naxal affected areas. In order to obtain sound expertise to tackle the challenge effectively, the help of the Army school is being taken," a senior CRPF officer said.  The CRPF has recovered 1,547 sets of IEDs during 2006-11 and the numbers have been increasing over the years, according to official data.  In view of the crucial nature of the job, the CME has begun training CRPF officers and men at the Group Centre of the paramilitary force in Pune while the CRPF is looking for land in the city to establish an exclusive centre for training in handling IEDs.  A few army officials will also be sent on deputation to the CRPF to put the school in place. According to the ambitious plan, Army trainers have schooled a few officers and jawans who are operating in Naxal-hit areas and they would subsequently create a pool of experts in prevention, detection, neutralisation, destruction and disposal of IEDs.  An IED bomb data centre, which will act as a repository of such explosive devices, will also be established.  According to the CRPF officer, the training of IED detection and neutralisation will also be imparted to personnel belonging to central forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, at a later stage. — PTI  The Red Threat  The CRPF, which is the lead force for anti-naxal operations in the country, has lost 105 troops in the last five years in IED blasts only.  Various tracing devices - ‘dip sticks’ and sniffer dogs - have failed to be be effective and a number of patrol parties have fallen prey to these deadly explosives.  Plans are now afoot to set up an exclusive first-ever school to provide training in handling of IEDs for the CRPF. The Army experts will pitch in.








“I am the army”

The fog of war thickens in the final stages as the soldiers start leaving the contested battlefield in an indeterminate war. One solitary Englishman survived to tell the base camp at Jalalabad what happened to the British column led by Maj. Gen. William Elphinstone that retreated from Kabul in January 1842 — Assistant Surgeon William Brydon — and he too, with part of his skull sheared off by a sword and was given refuge by a kind-hearted Afghan shepherd who took pity on the Englishman. Later, when asked by his superiors at Jalalabad what happened to the army, Brydon famously answered: “I am the army.”  I found last week’s report by Washington Post rather intriguing — “U.S. turns to other routes to supply Afghan war as relations with Pakistan fray”. True, it makes sense to cut down on the two Pakistani transit routes that currently ferry as much as three quarters of the NATO supplies for troops in Afghanistan. Given the state of play in US-Pakistan relations, the right thing to do is to line up alternate transit routes. But the problem with the alternate supply routes through Central Asia is that they depend on Russia’s goodwill and the US has to first make up its mind as to what to do with Russia — especially if Vladimir Putin returns to power in the Kremlin in the March 2012 presidential election. As Russian history shows, Moscow unfailingly haggles when the interlocutor is desperate.  Something doesn’t gel. Pray, when Russian and US diplomats are descending on Dushanbe, locked in a bitter struggle to secure control of Tajik-Afghan border, when they are outdoing each other in Bishkek, why should Moscow facilitate the consolidation of US and NATO’s military presence in Central Asia? In fact, will Russia do such a favour to the US without consulting China? And, will China welcome it? The WikiLeaks just disclosed over the weekend that China brushed aside repeated US requests to allow transit facilities through Chinese territory to Kazakhstan for ferrying supplies for Afghan war.  The heart of the matter is that a northern transit route can come very handy during the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan. Anders Fogh Rasumssen, NATO’s secretary-general, must be already doing contingency planning on an orderly withdrawal. He has to worry about the men and a lot of heavy equipments that need to be relocated. Technically, the best routes will be via Pakistan to Karachi port and off to Europe. But then, Elphinstone’s shadow looms large at the NATO Hqs in Brussels. So, Rasmussen dropped by for a pow-vow with Dmitry Medvedev who is vacationing in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.  The US faces the same dreadful scenario in Iraq - and in Iraq, all it entails for the remaining 40000 troops to leave is to travel along a 250-kilometer stretch of road cutting through the desert into Kuwait. The US commanders have taken precaution by paying off the 10 tribal leaders along the route a princely amount of 10000 dollars per month just to hire workers to clear the roads so that the US columns can pass without trampling upon the IEDs that the militants may plant. In a June report, NYT quoted Col. Douglas Crissman who is in charge of 4 Iraqi provinces that it is “one of the greatest challenges” to get the US troops safely out of Iraq. He asked: “Our forces were attacked today, and we were just sitting still. What is going to happen to the threat when we line up our trucks to leave and start moving out of the country?” Of course, the militants’ strategy — as manifest in the Taliban attack on the Intercontinental in Kabul — is to step up the efforts to kill US soldiers to press Washington to withdraw troops lock-stock-and-barrel on schedule and not to leave any residues in the Mesopotamian desert.










FTII security officer ‘acts’ as retired Army man, held

The police have arrested a security officer of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) for allegedly posing as a retired Army captain and seized a fake Army dependent card and an ex-servicemen identity card, shown as having isused by the Zilla Sainik Board, from him.  The security officer, Fajliyat Ahmed Bashir Ahmed (43), resident of Staff quarters, FTII on Law College Road, was arrested on a complaint from Subedar Naik Rajendra Kumar (45), a resident of Sub Area Camp, Pune. Police said Ahmed had gone to the URC canteen on the National Cadet Corps (NCC) headquarters premises around 3.40 pm on Thursday and produced a fake Army dependent card at the canteen besides showing a photograph of him in an Army captain’s uniform for purchasing items on concessional rates meant for Defence personnel.  Police said he had also pasted photographs of his son and wife on the Army dependent card for enjoying ex-servicemen’s benefits. However, he was detained for questioning by Army officials at the NCC headquarters. A fake identity card of ex-servicemen issued by Zilla Sainik Board was also found in his possession. A complaint was registered at the Deccan Gymkhana police station later.

On interrogation, Ahmed reportedly confirmed his identity. Police have seized an ex-serviceman identity card, two PAN cards carrying the same number, two fake ID cards of the CRPF, his photographs in Army and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers’ uniform, a new pension card of Indian government and ATM cards from him.








Army nod with rider to fire on Maoists

New Delhi, July 8: Whether bait or cat’s paw, the army can open fire on Maoists if it is attacked, in fresh Rules of Engagement (RoE) that the government has approved.  The rules of engagement are for a brigade-minus force (less than 3,000 soldiers) camping near Bastar’s Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh for a 75km road to be “sanitised”.  The force is headed for Narayanpur, also in Chhattisgarh, where the army has been allocated 750sqkm for a “manoeuvre range” to train in jungle warfare.  But with little clarity in the government on the role of the army — and opposition to deployment in the “hinterland” from the army brass itself — the two battalions in Bastar may well end up either baiting the Maoists or forming the assault force tasked to beard the militants in their own den.  The two battalions from the Assam and Bihar regiments are led by a brigadier. They have stopped short of heading to their designated training range.  The rules of engagement for the army, as it camps “at the mouth of the tiger’s den” — as an officer put it — say:  The army can fire in self-defence if attacked by Maoists;  It should train in the area allocated to it without using live fire;  It must fortify its camp(s) without damage to the environment;  It should sanitise its access roads and approaches with the help of the police;  It must restrict interaction with civilians to a bare minimum.  The army chief, General V.K. Singh, had said on Army Day in January that he had asked the government for RoE after being allocated land in Narayanpur district for training. Part of Narayanpur district is in the region called Abujhmarh where Maoists are suspected to have a large base. The area has been surveyed only from the air.  There are similar rules of engagement for the Indian Air Force that is deployed to assist central and state security forces in counter-Naxalite operations. But the big difference is that the IAF’s helicopters and crew are not based in Naxalite-influenced areas but only fly in.  The present situation in Chhattisgarh’s south is a volatile mix: the army is already on the ground, it has been given the RoE, the Maoists have opposed its presence and now the Supreme Court has ruled that the tribal special police officers, who know the terrain best, should be disarmed and effectively disbanded.  Even within the government, there is little clarity on why the army should have chosen or been allocated land for a training facility in such a sensitive area at this juncture when official policy — and even the army brass itself — does not favour deployment in the hinterland.  It is the first of the RoE for the army — the right to fire in self-defence — that could be the most sensitive. In about half-a-dozen statements since January this year, the Maoists have opposed the presence of the army and scoffed at the official reason — that the army was there only for training.  There is a distinct possibility that the militants could precipitate a situation by either attacking the soldiers and/or their assets and/or their supplies (of food and rations) to escalate the violence.  In the current scenario, for example, the army units camping near Kondagaon on NH 43 will have to be fed by civilian suppliers who may be more vulnerable to attacks.  Such attacks have taken place many times with militants targeting the supply lines of central security forces in Dantewada, particularly on the road from Dornapal to Jagargunda that passes through Mukram, the village near which 76 policemen were killed in an ambush on April 6 last year.  The army’s training expedition in Chhattisgarh is backed up by a command structure that has been recently erected. The operation is under the overall supervision of the Central Command headquartered in Lucknow.  Under the Central Command are two area commands — Uttar Bharat and Madhya Bharat.  The Madhya Bharat area command now has a sub area command in Raipur whose responsibility covers Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The Uttar Bharat area command’s responsibility covers Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.  “Area” and “sub area” commands are static formations unlike corps and divisions that are mobile. An area command is headed by a major general and a sub area command by a brigadier.  The Central Command (like all commands) is headed by a lieutenant general. Top









US eyeing 'huge opportunities' in India's defence sector

The United States is not looking to re-enter the race for the multi-billion-dollar contract for India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), but, instead, is eyeing other “huge opportunities” in the defence sector worth nearly $30 billion over the next few years.  US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake dismissed speculation on the MMRCA issue following media reports last month that American defence supplier Lockheed Martin may hope to rejoin the race by offering its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Indian Air Force had left Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN and Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet out of its shortlist earlier this year, opting to choose between the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Answering a question from Business Standard during a media interaction, on whether the US believed there was still a window open for an American company to re-enter the MMRCA bid, Blake said, “No, we are not looking…not pressuring the Indian government to try and reopen the bid. We would welcome, and US companies would welcome the opportunity if they decide to reopen the bid for their own reasons.”  The Indian government has also said its selection process was irreversible. Blake said the US was looking past the MMRCA deal to “other huge opportunities” in defence sales to India, pointing to $30-billion worth of potential defence contracts, to be awarded by India over the next few years.  The US official was previewing the next round of the India-US Strategic Dialogue, to be led by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 18 in New Delhi.  On civilian nuclear cooperation, Blake said the Obama Administration remained fully committed to the bilateral agreement and “fully supports the so-called clean exception granted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to India”. He added that nothing in the latest NSG guidelines tightening export of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to countries that had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would affect the implementation of the India-US nuclear deal.  While the planned start of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this month and the possible role of the Taliban in that country have raised concerns in India, Blake told Business Standard that the US had drawn “red lines” for any engagement with elements of the Taliban. This would be limited to those prepared to renounce violence, ties to Al Qaeda and a willingness to abide by the Afghan constitution, he said. Emphasising that the process was just beginning now and would be an “Afghan-led process”, Blake said Clinton would discuss the issue with Indian officials on the margins of the Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi.  The US also believes concerns about corruption and a lack of transparency have had an impact on investment into India. However, Blake said the US was confident the Indian government and Parliament were taking these challenges seriously and hoped for progress on this front.  According to Blake, the US expects this year’s Strategic Dialogue to take Indo-US relations to the “next level” by focusing on how the two countries can cooperate in Afghanistan and also expand their cooperation in Asia.









New cool vests for soldiers to beat heat

Jodhpur : India will soon provide its soldiers a jacket that will help them beat the summer heat in the Rajasthan desert.  The jacket or cool vest, designed and developed by a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab here, helps the soldiers to bear the desert temperatures that shoot up to over 50 degree Celsius, defence ministry spokesperson Colonel S.D. Goswami told IANS.  The summer heat in the desert "adversely affects" the performance of the soldiers deployed in Rajasthan along the border with Pakistan.  Among the health problems faced by soldiers on active duty due to over exposure to summer heat includes exhaustion, cramps, rashes, stroke and at times even death.  "The cool vest or jacket absorbs body's excessive heat, thus cooling the soft tissue and blood, as it circulates throughout the cardiovascular system. The body remains calmer, metabolic activity may slow, and less body fluid is lost, maintaining suitable electrolyte balance needed for proper muscle function and optimum physical performance," Goswami said.  "The vest's pockets are packed with micro-encapsulated and gelled special phase change material that absorb body and environmental heat to provide comfort to human body in extreme heat condition.  "The comfort duration of this vest is about two to two-and-half hours after which the jacket has to be recharged for two to three hours in deep freezer or normal refrigerator," he added.  The cost of the cool vest is Rs.2,000.  "The Border Security Force has already carried out a user-trial of the jacket and we have received a positive report from them," said a defence lab official.  The vest will also make a difference for soldiers carrying out operational training, the crew of battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers, soldiers on guard duties and other professional duties in extreme climatic conditions










Ministry of Defence strikes blow for private sector in defence

In a victory for India’s private sector defence manufacturers, the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) apex decision making body, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), will today issue a ruling that recognises the right of our private companies to compete against the public sector in bidding for top-secret defence projects.  At the DAC meeting here today, a vital Electronic Warfare (EW) system for the army’s mechanised corps will be categorised as ‘Buy Indian’, instead of being handed over on a platter to government-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL, also termed a defence public sector unit), as the MoD had earlier planned.

The ‘Buy Indan’ category (described in the currently valid Defence Procurement Policy of 2011, or DPP-2011) implies a range of Indian companies would be invited to bid for the estimated Rs 1,800-crore contract to develop a ‘Track and wheel-based EW system’ (TWBEWS).  EW is modern warfare’s increasingly crucial fourth dimension, fought over the electromagnetic spectrum using sophisticated detection and jamming equipment. The winner of the physical battle on land, sea and air is being increasingly decided through this unseen battle, where both sides scan each other’s radio, radar and data emissions. This helps them gather intelligence and, at a key moment in battle, cripple the enemy’s electronics with powerful electromagnetic surges, leaving him directionless and blind.  With electronics now ubiquitous in military systems — fighter aircraft, tanks, guns and missiles — a potent EW system degrades the enemy’s capability, breaking his force into isolated, incoherent units. For obvious reasons of security, the military wants EW systems to be designed and built entirely in India.  Initially, several Indian companies were offered the opportunity to develop a TWBEWS (MoD letter No B/50529/TWBEWS/ SURAJ dated June 12, 2008). Then, as Business Standard reported on February 12, 2010, (‘MoD breaks its own rules to favour its PSU’), the MoD discarded competitive bidding and handed the contract to BEL, categorising the procurement as ‘BUY INDIAN, BEL’ No such category exists in the MoD’s Defence Procurement Procedures of 2006 and 2008 (DPP-2006; and DPP-2008).  ‘PSUs are special’ At that time, the minister of state for defence production, M M Pallam Raju, had justified BEL’s preferential treatment, saying, “I think that we have a responsibility to the DPSUs, since [their] ownership rests with the Government of India.”  The MoD has been forced to abandon that paternalistic approach under pressure from the Indian Army. After BEL made little headway in integrating EW systems into armoured vehicles, senior generals began to worry if their mechanised formations — which have the crucial wartime task of striking deep into Pakistan — might be left without EW support. The army then demanded the TWBEWS be awarded by competitive tender.  BEL and other companies that now hope to compete in the massive Rs 1,800-crore tender for the TWBEWS see it as a cash cow that would cross-subsidise several other EW projects being tendered. These include the Integrated EW system for cross-country and desert terrain; the Heliborne EW system; and the ‘Integrated electronic warfare system (IEWS) for mountain terrain”.  This reverse for BEL has not seriously dented MoD’s support to it. Though the giant DPSU was eliminated from the global tender for the IEWS for mountain terrain (BEL’s product was judged technically unsuitable, leaving Tata Power and Israeli company ELTA in the fray), the MoD has awarded a follow-on tranche of the project (called Him Shakti) to BEL without competitive bidding. MoD had also awarded BEL earlier contracts for low power jammers and a low intensity conflict EW system.  Each corps of the Indian Army will be allocated an EW system. While the basic electronic components in each remain the same, the packaging and inbuilt mobility caters for the operational role of the corps. For instance, the IEWS for mountain terrain is mounted on smaller, lighter vehicles and has a manpack component. In contrast, TWBEWS is mounted on armoured, tracked vehicles and will be allocated to each of the three strike corps.










Indian military getting navigation aids

OSLO, Norway, July 7 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's European subsidiary, Northrop Grumman Park Air Systems, is providing a range of navigation equipment for Indian air bases.  The equipment includes Instrument Landing Systems and Doppler VHF Omni-directional Range Systems as part of the Indian air force's modernization of air field infrastructure.  Under the contract -- awarded by the Tata Power Company Limited, Strategic Electronics Division -- Northrop will supply 30 NORMARC 7000 ILS and 31 NORMARC DVOR systems with deliveries to be completed in 42 months.  This is the first phase of the MAFI India project. The current contract provides an option for a second phase of the program for modernizing a further 30 airfields operated by the Indian armed forces.  "The MAFI-I contract, won against a global tender of the defense ministry, is a watershed moment, not only for us, but also for increasing private sector participation in the Indian defense sector," said Tata Power SED Chief Executive officer Rahul Chaudhry.  The project is to ensure Indian military air fields are capable of handling all types of aircraft operated by the air force at all times, including jet fighters and military transport aircraft currently being acquired. When completed, the project will provide the airfields with modern air traffic management, navigation and landing systems and meteorological and communications facilities.  "This significant contract recognizes NORMARC as the industry benchmark for ground-based navigational aids and will double the size of our installed NORMARC ILS base in India," said Eldar Hauge, managing director of Northrop Grumman Park Air Systems in Norway. "We are certain that the collaboration with Tata Power SED and their other subcontractors will result in provision of world-class airfields to the Indian air force."  The monetary value of the award wasn't disclosed.  Read more:








A lost war history of Indians in China

Seventy years ago, Sikh, Rajput and Chinese regiments fought together against the Japanese in the battle of Hong Kong. This is the kind of narrative you don't expect to hear in Beijing even if it pops up soon after dialogue between the rival militaries recently resumed after a tense year-long gap.  This week, a small audience of Indian diplomats and the Indian and foreign media, gathered to hear an illustrated talk of the defence attache's travels retracing the history of Indian troops in old war-torn China. It threw up nuggets of military history that may, if better known, ease some of the strain in building strategic ties.  "It's not well known that a day after Pearl Harbour, the Indian and Chinese regiments fought on the same side,'' said colonel G Jaishankar.  The armies staring down the disputed Himalayan boundary separating India and China may find it hard to imagine this shared slice of history from 1941. Two decades later, Indians and Chinese fought a war against each other.  In his travels as a history buff, the official photographed the transformation of landmarks from northern Beijing to southwest Yunnan. In northeast Dalian, the scene of a former British-Indian encampment is now an IT park.  "These are aspects of history we should be aware of,'' he said.  Stories have gone down in historic records, of Indian soldiers under Britain who fought opium wars and waded through drainage channels to help lift the siege of Peking's legation quarters in 1900. Photographs of Sikhs guarding the Shanghai concessions are sprinkled in landmarks including the Oriental Pearl Tower.  Some strands of the joint action of Indians and Chinese in December 1941 remain lost. About 585 Indians were commemorated as the commonwealth war dead in Hong Kong. Graves in 15 Chinese cemeteries were lost during the cultural revolution of 1966-76.  In the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, a curator showed Jaishankar a relic saved in storage. It is the only bell saved from a set of six bells used in Ming harvest ceremonies.  In 1994, the Indian army returned the bell, which was part of the British loot from Peking.  Jaishankar is still searching for an authentic Yunnan Rupee minted for trade between British India and the mountainous province.








Indian army $10-bn combat vehicle order!!!

Mumbai/New Delhi: Ashok Leyland (ALL), Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Bharat Forge, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) are among those who have bid for a $10-billion (R44,000 core) defence ministry contract to supply combat vehicles for the Indian Army. The size of the tender is comparable to the one for combat aircraft being finalised by the ministry. The ministry will shortlist two vendors for Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICVs) by July end, based on technical and commercial criteria under the ‘buy & make’ category. Under this category, only Indian companies with technical and financial capabilities are asked to submit bids.  Infantry combat vehicles are armoured vehicles carrying soldiers and supporting main battle tanks with firepower in war. Their armour is lighter than main tanks’ but heavier than armoured personnel carriers’.  While ALL and L&T have bid as a team, state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is also believed to be in the fray. The defenceministry was yet to respond to an email query sent to it several days ago on the subject. The Army would require 2,610 FICVs to replace the existing, Soviet-vintage ‘Sarath’ BMP-II combat vehicles built by OFB. Sarath has been in service for around 31 years, and will be phased out from 2017. Confirming ALL’s involvement, V Sumantran, executive vice-chairman, Hinduja Automotive UK, said: “We are working on the FICV project with L&T.”  Subodh Tandale, Bharat Forge executive director, also confirmed the firm’s interest in the contract, saying, “We are working on the FICV project and will not just be a component supplier but participate on a bigger scale.” A Tata Motors official confirmed participation in the project but was unwilling to go on record. Kutub Hai, head, Mahindra Defence Systems, said: “We are one of the shortlisted companies and are now waiting for the final shortlist which should be out byend of July or early August.” In the early stages of selecting a new combat vehicle, the Army headquarters outlines its existing capabilities and future requirements, indicating its long-term requirement in terms of numbers, time schedule, fund availability and technologies. This is scrutinised by a committee before listing it as a ‘buy & make (Indian)’ project.  Indian firms reputed to have requisite technical and financial capabilities to undertake such projects are invited to bid and shortlisted. The winner will be expected to build 70% of the vehicle.  As per India’s defence procurement rules framed in 2008, the FICVs will be built in an integrated manner involving the Army, the defence ministry and the industry in aspects of research, design, development and production of systems. Detailed specifications for FICVs are still being outlined. According to sources, the FICV is expected to be half-tracked and half-wheeled, and a combat vehicle ready for inland warfare.$10-bn-combat-vehicle-order.html








Army's Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT) project likely to be delayed

BANGALORE: Army's futuristic tank programme is likely to be delayed, with the military still procrastinating over its requirements, more than six months after it was scheduled to hand it over to the country's defence research establishment. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is yet to receive a critical document listing the Army's technological and combat wish list for its Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT).  The DRDO was keen on finalising the design for the ambitious project by 2013. No indications have been provided by the Army as to when it will hand over the Preliminary Specifications Qualitative Requirements (PSQR), which is seen as a sanction to kick-start development activities on the FMBT. "The draft PSQR finalised by a former DGM is now being refined by the newly-appointed DGM. Nothing has been finalised yet, and we have not even started any discussions on it," said P Sivakumar , director of Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment.  The document, which is expected to provide a clear technological roadmap of the country's much-vaunted next generation battle tank by broadly listing its main features, is the precursor to the General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) document, which in turn, details its exact features. Due to the delay, drafting the GSQR document would go beyond the year 2012-13.  In September 2010, the CVRDE director had told ET that the Director-General of the Army's Mechanised Forces has communicated that the PSQR would be sent to the DRDO by December last year, once the army gets the necessary feedback from its various divisions relating to the FMBT. In order to ensure that it hits the ground running as and when it receives the green-light from the Army, the DRDO has decided to start work on the tank project based on the previous draft PSQR. "We are working on the design, based on the draft PSQR. But unless we get a clear confirmation, we will not be able to start action on the development side," Sivakumar said.  The design and development of the FMBT has been conceived under a rather tight timeline set by the Army. The DRDO has been told that it will have to finalise its design activities by 2013.  The country's military, which has projected a need for about 1,200 FMBTs, has indicated in no uncertain terms that it expects the tank to go into production by 2020. Initial development costs for the project, which is seen as crucial for the country's future battle readiness, has been estimated at Rs 1,500-crore.  The Indian Army's desperate need for stateof-the-art tanks has been well documented, with a significant portion of its 4,000-strong fleet populated by largely obsolete, nightblind Russian-made T-72 tanks, which have been in service for more than 30 years.  Its battles with the DRDO, marked by the Army's reluctance to induct the Arjun Main Battle Tank, have only recently subsided after the country's first indigenously-built tank comprehensively outperformed its current showpiece, the T-90, in war-games conducted last year. Sivakumar rubbished claims that the FMBT programme was to be shelved, and hence the delays by the Army. "It will definitely not be shelved, because there is a critical requirement," he said.




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