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Sunday, 28 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 28 Aug 2011





Chidambaram lays foundation of checkpost on B’desh border

Subhrangshu Gupta Tribune News Service  Kolkata, August 27 Home Minister P Chidambaram today laid the foundation of the integrated checkpost at the Indo-Bangladesh border area in Petrapol under North 24-Parganas district. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and officials of Bangladesh, including home minister Sahara Khatun, were also present on the occasion.  The Rs 172-crore checkpost will be completed within 17 months’ time. It was yet another step for strengthening the country’s relation with Bangladesh, said Chidambaram.  The Home Minister hoped that with the opening of the checkpost at Petrapol, the flow of the passengers and the goods traffic between the two countries would increase, which would benefit both the nations. He announced 17 similar checkposts to be built in the states bordering Bangladesh.  Mamata, who will be accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka on September 6, expressed hope that during talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, all the pending problems between the two countries would be sorted out.  The Chief Minister said she would urge upon them to take necessary steps so that the passenger train services between the two countries could be resumed without any delay.


Beijing maps out source and course of Brahmaputra, Indus

Beijing, August 27 Bracing to build a number of water projects in Tibet, including a dam on the Brahmaputra, Chinese scientists have completed a comprehensive satellite study of cross-border Tibetan rivers, determining their exact sources besides measuring the length of their drainage basins.  Besides mapping out the course of the Brahmaputra, the photographic analysis using expeditions and satellite imagery, the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) also collected details about the flow of Indus which flows through India and Pakistan besides Salween and Irrawaddy rivers that flow through Burma.  Previously, the sources of these four rivers were never clearly designated and differing accounts regarding their lengths and drainage areas confused researchers for many years due to restrictions of natural conditions and surveying and mapping technologies, according to Liu Shaochuang, a researcher with the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications under the CAS.  The result of their analysis and field investigations showed that the Brahmaputra, called Yarlungzangbo in Tibetan language, originates from the Angsi Glacier, located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Burang County of Tibet, and not Chema-yungdung glacier, as claimed by geographer Swami Pranavananda in the 1930s, Liu said.  According to Liu, the river is 3,848-km-long, and its drainage area is 7,12,035 sq km, while previous documents showed that its length varied from 2,900 to 3,350 km and its drainage area between 5,20,000 and 1.73 million sq km.  The data could be useful in the fifth of round of expert-level talks between India and China to exchange hydrological data and flood management of the Brahmaputra.  The study results were announced days after China revealed its plans to build $1.8 billion worth of water projects in Tibet, which presumably included a hydropower project over the Brahmaputra.  The money would go to 16 categories of water programmes covering irrigation, drinking water, flood prevention and control and hydropower, officials of the Tibet’s Water Resources Department said.  According to previous reports, China was planning to build a $1.2 billion run of the river dam to generate 510 mw power. — PTI


Ferrying VIPs to carrying hay, these copters do it all

Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service  Bangalore, August 27 In a board put up at the hangar of the Mi-8 helicopters at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore, an appreciation note handed out by former US President Bill Clinton is displayed side by side with a picture of jawans dropping fodder from helicopter for cattle marooned in the flood-affected areas of Karnataka.  That sums up the life of the personnel of the 109 helicopter unit based in Bangalore - flying VIPs one day and stepping into the scene for relief operations for impoverished villagers the next.  While fighter jets of the IAF hog the limelight most of the time, the helicopters are more like backroom operators who do not get much publicity despite their crucial role in providing back up support to the Army.  “In advanced areas we even carry hay for the Army’s mule contingent. These specially trained mules are no ordinary animal. They are like soldiers,” says Sri Hari, commanding officer of the IAF’s 109 helicopter unit.  Narrating one of his most memorable experience as a helicopter pilot, Sri Hari said, “When I was posted at Mohanbari in Dibrugarh, Assam, I got an SOS that a woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy in an Arunachal Pradesh village needed urgent evacuation to hospital. I took off from Mohanbari and brought the woman to hospital. Later, I learnt that she had given birth to a child and both she and the child were in good health. You cannot imagine the joy the news gave me.”  Raised in Chandigarh in 1961, the 109 helicopter unit completed 50 years of its existence yesterday. Its present fleet consists of 10 Mi-8 helicopters. These will be phased out from 2012 onwards and the state-of-the-art Russian Mi-17 v5 helicopters will take their place.  The flying crews of 109, known as “The Knights”, are excited about the new acquisition. Having glass cockpits, weather radar and various other advancements over the Mi-8 helicopters, the Mi-17 v5 also has the provision of carrying additional fuel tanks that enable the multi-role helicopters to fly over 1,600 km at a stretch.  Sri Hari has seen battle in Democratic Republic of Congo, where he spent a year (2006-07) as a part of the UN forces. “The Mi-17 fleet of the IAF was flying Pakistani troops. We carried out many successful operations. A notable operation was against the Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda when he had attacked the lakeside town of Goma. In a joint operation Indian and Pakistani troops successfully repulsed the attack,” Sri Hari said.  Mi-35 helicopters of the IAF were used as gunships in that particular operation. By accurate delivery of its rockets, the Mi-35 had created mayhem among Nkunda’s forces in that engagement.  “The Pakistanis and the Chinese members  of the UN contingent treated us very well in Congo. Having noticed mango trees near Tanganyika Lake, some of us started missing mango pickles. The Pakistanis made sure that we got enough mangoes so that we could have our beloved pickle,” recalled Sri Hari.  The 109 helicopter unit got a taste of the battle first in the 1962 Sino-Indian war which took place within a year of its raising. The unit later took part in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars, in the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka and in the Operation Cactus in the Maldives in 1988.  For Operation Cactus, the 109 fleet had performed the rare feat of transporting Indian troops to Male by flying more than 600 miles over the Indian Ocean non-stop.  “A helicopter can rescue a person who cannot be reached with any other mode of transport. During a military engagement, a helicopter can be used for both covert and overt operations. No fixed wing aircraft (planes) can perform so many roles. I always wanted to become a helicopter pilot,” Sri Hari said.  IAF’s 109 chopper unit turns 50      The unit was raised in Chandigarh in 1961     Its present fleet consists of 10 Mi-8 helicopters, which will be phased out from 2012 onwards     Faster, tech-superior Russian Mi-17 v5 choppers will replace them


US surveillance drone crashes in Pakistan   Read more at:

Quetta:  An American surveillance drone equipped with a camera crashed in southwestern Pakistan today close to the Afghan border, local officials said, adding the wreckage had been recovered.  The unmanned aircraft went down because of a technical fault just inside Pakistani territory in Chaman town, in insurgency-hit Baluchistan province, but had caused no damage, a security official in the area told AFP.  "It was an American surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle. It crashed on this side of the border," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding the wreckage of the aircraft had been recovered.  Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Pakistan probably let Chinese engineers examine what was left of a top-secret US stealth helicopter that crashed in the country during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.  Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said US intelligence agencies concluded it was likely that Chinese engineers -- at the invitation of Pakistani spies - took detailed photographs of the severed tail of the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with classified technology designed to elude radar.  Relations between Pakistan and the United States are at a low point, strained by the covert American raid that killed bin Laden near Pakistan's main military academy and Pakistan's earlier detention of a CIA contractor.  An official from Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps in Quetta, Baluchistan province's main town, confirmed Thursday's incident.  "Some spare parts and a camera were also found with it," the official said. "It crashed near a Frontier Corps fort in Chaman but caused no damage."  Such crashes of US drone aircraft are rare but a Pakistani surveillance drone went down in the city of Karachi in July after hitting a bird on a routine flight.  In September 2008, tribesmen in the country's South Waziristan tribal district claimed to have shot down a US surveillance drone in Jalal village near the Afghan border.  The Pakistani army said it was investigating but did not make the results of that probe public.  The United States uses unmanned aircraft in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and to monitor militants in Pakistan, from where Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked fighters launch attacks in Afghanistan.  It also uses Predator armed drones to launch missile attacks aimed at militants in Pakistan's unstable northwestern border areas.  The campaign is deeply unpopular among an anti-American public and the government has publicly demanded an end to the attacks, although in private military and civilian leaders are thought to co-operate with the programme.   Read more at:


India deploys UAVs along LoC in IHK

ISLAMABAD: Indian Army has deployed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Northern part of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) to track the movement of Kashmiris. “The UAVs are fitted with human movement detection sensors. These fly from army’s aviation base located at Mansbal in north Kashmir every evening. The UAVs move in different directions in Kupwara and Bandipore districts to keep a watchful eye on the LoC,” a Srinagar-based daily newspaper quoting Indian defence sources reported. While confirming the deployment of UAVs, Indian Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar talking to media men in Srinagar said, “Yes, UAVs are being used. In fact, UAVs and other surveillance devices, including thermal devices, hand held thermal imagers, night vision devices and night vision goggles are being used by army along the LoC.” The report said that the UAVs were used for the first time by Indian army in 2010 on experimental basis. Besides putting up a 434-km-long barbed wire fencing along the LoC, the Army has also installed Israel-made surveillance grid in north Kashmir. The ‘Surveillance Grid’ is the first monitoring system of its kind in South Asia.\08\28\story_28-8-2011_pg7_10


India’s New Strike Corps

The news that the Indian Army is preparing to set up a new strike corps tasked with attacking targets in China in the event of a war between the two neighbours marks a bold escalation in India’s attempts to balance against China militarily and to assert control over its Himalayan possessions.  China’s defeat of India in the 1962 border conflict left behind a conceptual legacy of one-way traffic in the disputed areas of the Himalayas, and a sense that India would henceforth be the party on the back foot. Indeed, this has often been the case on the ground, with Indian allegations about Chinese incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) never really drying up, but with India lacking the resources to do very much about them. Just this month, there were Indian media reports of Chinese military construction on India’s side of the line in Ladakh (known as Aksai Chin by the Chinese).  The formation of the new strike corps has been under consideration for the last two years, but has only now been confirmed. It’s reported that it will focus on the eastern end of the contested border to bolster India’s defence of Arunachal Pradesh (what China calls Southern Tibet), as do the two new mountain divisions numbering 35,000 troops that the Indian Army has already raised. These are based in Nagaland and Assam, just south of the disputed province. However, the strike corps will consist of a further 40,000 troops, and its presence will significantly alter the Himalayan dynamic, with Indian forces in the region previously adopting a more defensive posture.  Efforts are under way to improve Sino-Indian military diplomacy: bilateral talks resumed in June following a spat in 2010, joint counter-terrorism exercises have been held, and there are hopes of conducting an inaugural joint air exercise next year. However, there’s a risk that the military build-up that both sides have embarked upon could overshadow the dialogue. In addition to its new divisions, India is spending $2 billion upgrading its defensive infrastructure along the LoAC, and has deployed 36 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft near the border at Tezpur. For its part, China has significantly enhanced its infrastructure leading up to the border, notably in the form of an extensive rail network, as well as deploying road-mobile DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles in the area.  The question now is how China reacts to India’s determination to overcome its historic inability to strike back at China. Indian defence officials have long complained that their Chinese counterparts never used to take them seriously, but with the establishment of a large new army corps whose express purpose is to invade and assume control of areas of Chinese territory, they have surely now got Beijing’s attention.  At the very least, Chinese forces can be expected to tread more carefully in future in a region that is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most heavily fortified, and potentially most dangerous, flashpoints.


Defence Land Systems India plans infantry combat vehicles, artillery systems

NEW DELHI: Defence Land Systems India, a joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems Plc, on Thursday said it plans to develop infantry combat vehicles and artillery systems as it looks to expand its product portfolio.  The company today announced handing over of six Mine Protected Vehicle India (MPV-I) to Jharkhand Police to mark the beginning of serial production of the landmine protected vehicles from its Prithla plant, near Faridabad.  It expects to sell about MPV-I next fiscal as it eyes big orders from the Home Ministry for CRPF and other state police forces for mine protected vehicles.


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