Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 19 Jul 2011






IAF to keep more aircraft operation-ready

Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, July 18 While laying greater focus on maintenance and technical facilities, the IAF has laid out a roadmap for steadily increasing the serviceability of its aerial fleet. To begin with, it has set a target to improve the average serviceability of aircraft and weapons systems by five per cent this year. “Increasing the serviceability of aircraft is among the four niche areas identified by Air Headquarters for 2011-12,” Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal PV Athawale said. “Besides, every aircraft fleet needs mission specific equipment like munitions, night-vision goggles, radar, communication equipment and electronic warfare suites. We are also taking a re-look at its serviceability aspects and related issues,” he added. Increased serviceability means more number of aircraft and weapons systems being available for operational roles at any given time. The serviceability status in the IAF varies from squadron to squadron, depending upon the type of aircraft, availability of spares, level of indigenous technical know-how, and technical facilitiesage of the equipment and frequency of use.  For catering to its need for increased serviceability, greater attention is being paid to technical infrastructure. The IAF has initiated a Rs 350-crore project to modernise and refurbish its base-repair depots. New state-of-the-art equipment was being procured to meet the present and future requirements, while some existing facilities will be upgraded. The Nagpur-based Maintenance Command has eight base-repair depots located across the country for repair, overhaul and modification of aircraft, missiles, radars, avionics and communication equipment. Besides, technical facilities exist at all stations to cater to the day-to-day technical requirement and servicing of aircraft and equipment.  The modernisation project, in which participation by the private sector is also expected, will include procurement of machine tools, testing and evaluation equipment, office automation, fabricating tools as well as refurbishing and air-conditioning hangars, rigs, work bays and laboratories.








An agenda for Hillary ahead of today’s Indo-US talks

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India for the India-US Strategic Dialogue talks provides an opportunity for the US to take India’s pulse on China and to discuss new diplomatic and security initiatives that will contribute to maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia.  The US should demonstrate support for Indian military modernisation and enhanced US–Indian defence ties. Despite US disappointment over India’s decision to de-select two American companies from its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, the US is bound to conclude other major defence deals with India as it pursues an ambitious defence modernization campaign, which includes spending plans of around $35 billion over the next five years.  The US and India may never be "allies" but they share broad strategic interests. B. Mathur / Reuters  Indeed, this year, the two sides finalised a deal worth nearly $4 billion for the US to provide India with C-17 aircraft to give India the second-largest C-17 fleet in the world. Enhancing Indo–US cooperation in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region is also an area of mutual interest that is ripe for new initiatives.  The China angle  India’s rejection of the MMRCA has added a dose of realism to Indo–US relations and reminded US officials that the burgeoning partnership will not always reach the full expectations of either side. Still, the growing strategic challenge presented by a rising China will inevitably drive the US and India to increase cooperation in defence and other key sectors, such as space, maritime security, and nuclear non-proliferation.  India is keeping a wary eye on China’s rapid global ascent. Unresolved border issues that resulted in the Sino–Indian War of 1962 have been heating up again in recent years. Indian policymakers are scrambling to develop effective policies to cope with a rising China by simultaneously pursuing both a robust diplomatic strategy aimed at encouraging peaceful resolution of border disputes and forging strong trade and economic ties and an ambitious military modernization campaign that will build Indian air, naval, and missile capabilities.  By bolstering its naval assets, India will solidify its position in the Indian Ocean and enhance its ability to project power into the Asia Pacific. New Delhi also will continue to boost its medium-range missile programs to deter Beijing and to strengthen its air capabilities to deal with potential flare-ups along their disputed borders.  Meanwhile, China has also been paying increasing attention to India. China’s interests on its southern flank have led the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to strengthen its forces in the Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions bordering India.  The US must keep a watchful eye on the trend lines in Sino–Indian relations and factor these into its overall strategies in the broader Asia region. A strong India able to hold its own against China is in America’s interest.  China’s increased assertiveness in the East and South China Seas over the past year has been accompanied by a hardening position on its border disputes with India. Last summer, India took the unprecedented step of suspending military ties with China in response to Beijing’s refusal to grant a visa to an Indian Army general serving in Jammu and Kashmir. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Delhi last December helped tamp down the disagreement, and military contacts have since resumed. Still, the incident shows the fragility of the Sino–Indian rapprochement and the potential for deepening tensions over the unresolved border issues to escalate.  What Drives Sino–Indian Competition?  The drivers of the current Indian–Chinese rivalry are varied and complex. While China’s economy is several times larger than India’s and its conventional military capabilities today outstrip India’s by almost any comparison, Beijing has begun to take notice of India’s growing global political and economic clout, as well as the broad-based American support for expanding strategic ties with India.  For its part, India, long suspicious of China’s close relations and military support for Pakistan, views an increased Chinese presence in northern Pakistan and expanded civil nuclear cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad as particularly worrisome. Indian military strategists believe they must plan for the possibility of a two-front war with Pakistan and China even as they actively seek dialogues with both to diminish the chances of such a dire scenario.  At the same time, Chinese assessments of Indian military planning suggest a view in Beijing that New Delhi sees China as a major threat. One Chinese assessment concludes that the Indian military sees Pakistan as the main operational opponent and China as a potential operational opponent. It also describes the Indians as seeing China and Pakistan as closely aligned in threatening India.[1]  The rivalry is also driven by the rapidly expanding resource requirements of each country, whose economies continue to grow steadily despite the global economic downturn. Competition over energy and water resources will increasingly shape the contours of their competition, as will each country’s efforts to expand trade and economic relations with countries that are in the other’s traditional sphere of influence.  Indian expert observers do not interpret China’s new-found assertiveness as preparation for imminent conflict, and they continue to calculate that the overall probability of another Sino–Indian war is low. However, they believe China may be trying to enhance its bargaining position in the ongoing border negotiations.  The Indian observers note that incursions across the disputed borders are likely aimed at gaining tactical advantage to bolster Chinese territorial claims.  What the US Should Do  India must include the potential threat of conflict erupting over its disputed borders with China in its security planning and projections. While Pakistan presents the most immediate threat to India, Indian strategists increasingly view China as the most important long-term security challenge. Long-standing China–Pakistan security ties are a continuing source of angst in New Delhi and reminder of a potential two-front war. While India seeks to avoid conflict with China, Indian military planners also assess that they need to develop sufficient capabilities to deter an increasingly powerful and assertive China.  The US should pursue robust strategic and military engagement with India in order to encourage a stable balance of power in Asia that prevents China from dominating the region and surrounding seas. New Delhi—not unlike many other capitals in Asia—balks at the idea of being part of an American-led China “containment” strategy. Some Indian strategists even favour a go-slow approach to the US–Indian partnership in order to avoid raising Chinese ire. But China’s recent posturing on its border disputes with India leaves New Delhi few options other than to play all the strategic cards at its disposal, including deepening and expanding ties with the US. One must also calculate that Chinese alarms over “containment” may in part be a tactic to prevent closer Indian cooperation with nations in the Pacific, including the US.  The partnership between the US and India will almost certainly never develop into an “alliance,” given India’s core foreign policy goal of maintaining its “strategic autonomy.” But an elevated partnership that gives a nod to India’s growing political, economic, and military strength would signal a solidarity that could help deter Chinese military aggression and temper China’s ambitions to revise borders in its favour.  The US and India share a broad strategic interest in setting limits on China’s geopolitical horizons. They can work together to support mutually reinforcing goals without ever becoming “allies” in the traditional sense. To this end, the US should:      Support India’s military modernisation campaign, including its quest for increasingly sophisticated technologies related to its strategic weapons programs.      Develop new initiatives for keeping the Indian Ocean safe and secure, and continue to work with India on maritime security while also seeking to convince New Delhi of the merits of adding the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia to a forum like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.  Additionally, the US should consider engaging the Indian Navy in such areas as anti-submarine warfare training and ocean surveillance capabilities. Improvements in these areas would help to reassure India, especially in the event of a growing PLA naval presence.      Remain engaged with the smaller South Asian states and fully exercise its observer role in the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The US needs to remain focused on its relations with Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh so that these nations do not perceive China as the main economic and political game in town. India is clearly the dominant power in South Asia, but China is making new inroads with these countries that could come at the expense of stability and democratic trends in the region.      Increase cooperation with India to address cyber security threats. The two sides should explore joint efforts to monitor foreign investments in critical Internet technologies and telecommunications in order to establish a means of sharing pertinent cyber threat and vulnerability information to enhance the mutual security of their networks.      Keep strategic messaging in the region consistent. The Administration faltered in 2009 when it promoted U.S.–China “cooperation” in South Asia as part of the US–China Joint Statement. South Asia constitutes India’s immediate neighborhood, and America’s interests in the region are far more aligned with India than they are with China. Stabilising Afghanistan and ensuring that it never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists is one example of the convergence of US–Indian strategic interests in the region. If the US is to forge a lasting partnership with India, it must start by recognising India’s predominant interests in South Asia, even as it promotes peace, stability, and economic progress throughout the Subcontinent.  Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia, and Dean Cheng is Research Fellow in Chinese Political and Security Affairs, in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.









Indian Army Chief using ‘stooges’ in age row

The controversy over the age of the Army Chief General VK Singh is now attaining disgusting proportions. In the backdrop of the proverbial procrastination of the Ministry of Defense to take a firm decision on the case, it is degenerating into an all out media war with wild allegations flying all over. Now a previous Chief has been roped into the controversy with insinuations of having orchestrated a succession plan in connivance with politicians, arms merchants, businessmen and other ambitious Army officers. The insinuations go further to get into their ambit huge arms deals and self serving Army Officers.  The fact of the matter seems to be entirely different. It seems that the present Chief is becoming more and more insecure and cynical as his retirement date is approaching and he is misusing the entire machinery in his command to pressurize the government into toeing his line.  He is being projected as an epitome of virtue; one does not wish to argue this point as long as it is not at the cost of painting all those before and after him as corrupt and manipulative. It is allegations like these, which are coming out at his behest, that are denting the image of the Armed Forces.  It is being said that VK Singh took over the army when it was ridden by scams. A closer scrutiny indicates that the scams happened only under his jurisdiction as Army Commander of the Eastern Command and those involved were on his vindictive hit list more so for having gone against him in his quest to get his birth date Changed; Lt General Avdesh Prakash who was Military Secretary at the time when the controversy arose and who did not agree to Singh’s contention was involved in a misappropriation case. This reeks of vendetta. Now the cases are falling apart and more eggs are likely to fall on the general Singh’s face.  Those who are writing in his favour are also painting organs of the Government like the Ministry of Defence and the Law Ministry as pliable fools on whom a “Sectarian card” can be played by a serving General to change their opinions, absolutely ludicrous and an affront on the Indian state.  In case the Ministry of Defense cannot give a decision on the subject it can, at least, prevail upon Singh to cease this mindless character assassination. The country has enough problems to deal with other than the personal ambitions of a civil servant.  India has had some good Chiefs and so it will have in the future also, the army functioned well enough before Singh came to the helm and it will function equally well after he leaves whether in 2012 or 2013. There is nothing that he can do with one year extension that he could not have done in the two years that he got as the Army Chief, others have achieved more in a lesser time frame. It is time to put a lid on such infantile nonsense that is being fed by a motivated media.  In fact all those who will be negatively affected by this controversy have, till now, maintained a very dignified silence and have left the decision entirely in the hands of the government. All that is appearing in the media is motivated propaganda designed to assist the Chief in his case. Nobody is going to gain much from this trash but the Nation and the army will lose a lot.  It is VK Singh who is using his Military secretary and Adjutant Generals Branches to project his case and pressurize the government into giving a decision in his favour. It is at this level that blatant manipulation is being resorted to. By whose authority did the Army approach the retired Chief Justices of India? How are fringe journalists getting inside information about important defense deals? How do these people know about some inside manipulations of a so called succession plan in the Army? These are the questions that the government should be raising to General Singh and that also fast before the water raises above the head.









Antony gags Army, Navy, Air Force

NEW DELHI: The defence ministry has directed the Army, Navy and IAF to restrict their interactions with the media to the bare minimum, in what is being interpreted in military circles as a gag order.  Sources said defence minister A K Antony in a confidential communication earlier this month to the three Service chiefs — Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Admiral Nirmal Verma and General V K Singh – virtually asked them to scale down the interface with journalists across all ranks.  While refusing to "divulge the contents of the communication" in question, MoD officials said the aim was to curb "loose comments" that create "needless problems" for the government.  "No one in the military should speak out-of-turn on contentious issues or policies which are still being formulated," said an official. Despite repeated attempts, Antony himself could not be contacted to explain the rationale or the immediate provocation for the directive.  The diktat, however, comes in the backdrop of the military leadership in recent days speaking about the Indian armed forces also being capable of launching an Abbottabad-like operation as well as the need for New Delhi to remove the existing 5,000-km cap on strategic missiles and develop ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) with strike ranges of 10,000 km and beyond.  For instance, Pakistan had torn into Gen Singh's remark that the Indian armed forces were "competent" to carry out an operation similar to the one conducted by US SEALS to take out Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in early May.  While Army was quick to clarify that Gen Singh had merely responded, without naming Pakistan, to a query about whether India too had surgical strike capabilities, Islamabad had sharply warned New Delhi that any such "misadventure" would lead to a "terrible catastrophe".  MoD's directive to the armed forces, of course, once again brings to fore the sheer disconnect between its civilian and military wings despite all the big talk about "integration" between them. The military, on its part, feels slighted that "civilian control" has come to mean "bureaucratic" rather than "political" over the years.  "Indian armed forces have always been avowedly apolitical, recognizing civilian supremacy as a fundamental core principle. Top military leaders, rarely if ever, act as loose canons...but there is always this tendency to dub them just that," said a senior Army officer.  "If a mike is thrust in the face of a Service chief at a public function, should he duck the question to act completely unlike a military leader? Or, speak in a professional manner about his force, its capabilities and concerns?" he asked.










Procurement panel for lifting defence FDI cap

Sanjeeb Mukherjee / New Delhi July 19, 2011, 0:21 IST  The committee on public procurement has criticised defence sector PSUs and ordnance factories for their role in inefficient defence purchases that leads to high costs and outdated technologies.  The committee also advocated lifting the 26 per cent cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in private companies meeting the requirements of the defence sector because it acts as a barrier to set up hi-tech production.

The panel’s observations were, however, strongly opposed by the defence ministry. The ministry argued that raising the FDI cap on defence production is not the panacea for all ills because issues like export-control laws and political and strategic considerations would still govern transfer of high-end technologies.  The panel, headed by former bureaucrat Vinod Dhall, said defence public sector enterprises (DPSEs) and ordnance factories (OFs) produce low-technology components and are operating primarily as aggregators and assembly plants, sourcing most of their components from private producers.  “Over 70 per cent of the cost of the product supplied by DPSEs and OFs is expended on external procurement,” the report, being considered by a group of ministers (GoM), said.  The ministry of defence in its argument said there was no authentic data to suggest ordnance factories and defence public sector enterprises source large part of their components from outside. “Both in India and abroad, single-source procurement is inherent to defence procurement, because vendor base for major weapon systems and platforms is restricted due to high design, development costs, long gestation lags and lumpy capital investment along with uncertain flow of orders.”  The ministry has instead suggested that rigorous and independent cost audits should be done of DPSEs and OFs while negotiating prices. The report, which has been finalised with dissenting notes from three members, said the government should consider progressive corporatisation of selected ordnance factories to bring in greater transparency in their operations.  The committee also called for expanding the vendor base for defence procurement by encouraging private producers to participate in domestic defence procurement.  The Dhall committee has also been critical of the existing off-set policy in defence procurement for foreign vendors, wherein the vendor has to invest 30 per cent of their value of procurement order or Rs 300 crore or more in defence procurement units in India or purchase goods worth the same value from the Indian defence industry.  “As foreign companies are not allowed to invest more than 26 per cent in domestic private companies in the form of equity and as most of the local defence sector is in the hands of DPSEs and OFs, many foreign companies might not be interested in selling to India,” the committee observed.  The defence ministry contended that the offset policy introduced in 2005 has, in fact, helped in increasing sourcing of defence products and services from Indian companies.




No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal