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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 31 Aug 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Better variant of Mi-17 copter to be based in Punjab

First lot from Russia arrives in a couple of weeks Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 30 A more powerful and versatile variant of the Mi-17 military chopper is slated to arrive from Russia in 2-3 weeks to beef up the Indian Air Force fleet. It will be based in Punjab.  Sources confirmed that the first lot of the latest Mi-17-V5 is to arrive in the next couple of weeks and will be stationed at a major airbase in the southern part of Punjab. The location has been chosen with care to cater to surrounding areas.  Originally, the first lot of Mi-17-V5 was expected arrive in March. These are part of the 80 choppers India ordered from Russia in 2008 by signing a contract with Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter. According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the deal is worth $1.35 billion (Rs 6,000 crore).  The IAF aims to utilise the Mi-17-V5 helicopters for special heli-borne operations, air-maintenance, transportation of troops and equipment, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and in armed helicopter roles.  For long, Mi-17 chopper variants have been used by para-commandos of the Army and also the Special Operations Group of the NSG. The latest variant will be able to drop 25 troops in one go and from multiple on-board exit points.  At present, the Mi-17-IV version of the chopper is the latest variant in the IAF fleet. The last lot was inducted between 2000 and 2004. The IAF has been operating various types on ‘Mi’ series choppers in the past 40 years. This includes the famous heli-borne operations to drop guns and troops in East Pakistan and also its use during the initial stages of the Kargil war in 1999. The chopper is considered a workhorse in the far-flung areas of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas.  Strategically, India neighbours - Pakistan and China - also operate Mi-17 choppers. While Pakistan has got a few Mi-17-V5 choppers through the US that purchased the same for Afghanistan, China has a joint production agreement with Russia, but is yet to get the Mi-17-V5.  The new variant will have the ability to allow the pilots to start the engines at altitudes of 6,000 m (about 21,000 ft) thus helping in servicing various high-altitude posts in the Himalayas. Each of the two engines can generate 2,200 hp of power. This is a significant improvement over the previous version which has two engines of 1,950 hp each.

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110831/nation.htm#6

 

Changing the goal posts Army chief’s age plea lacks grace

Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh has filed a statutory complaint to the Defence Minister seeking re-examination of his earlier application for a correction in his year of birth. General Singh had filed his earlier plea after seeking legal opinion, including from three retired Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. His recent complaint follows after the Ministry of Defence rejected his earlier plea.  It is regrettable that a Service chief has filed such a statutory complaint to the Defence minister after assuming the top post of Chief of Army Staff. It is for the first time in the country’s post-Independence history that a service chief has sought a change of such a nature based on a birth certificate that shows him a year younger to what he had entered in his recruitment form over four decades ago. The claim, if acceded to by the government, will permit him to serve for an additional nine months. The Army chief’s age claim issue is not about facts as much as it is about propriety. General Singh, who claims that he was born in 1951 as recorded in his birth certificate instead of 1950 as was entered in his records at the time of recruitment, has officially sought a correction only after being appointed to the top post. Considering that he earned all his promotions and eventual appointment as Army chief on the basis of 1950 as his year of birth, it is questionable whether he is being ethical in demanding that he be permitted to retire on the basis of an altogether different year of birth.  It is unfortunate that the institution of Army chief has been dragged into public focus. Both General Singh and the Ministry of Defence could have handled the issue more discreetly. The Defence Minister should have handled the issue with tact and gently persuaded the Army chief to drop the matter while General Singh, on his part, could have been graceful and let the matter be. That way, the honour and dignity of the office of the Army Chief would have been preserved.

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110831/edit.htm#1

 

Raytheon-TATA in USD 24 million deal for Indian Air Force Traffic Management

2011-08-02 Raytheon has bagged a USD 23.2 million contract from Tata Power Strategic Electronic Systems to automate air traffic management systems of the Indian Air Force. This was first reported at the Paris Air Show earlier this summer.  The contract was part of project for modernization of its airfield infrastructure (MAFI) of the Indian Air Force. The project aims to make all IAF air bases capable of handling all types of modern transport and fighter aircraft at all times.  From Economic Times:      Tata Power Strategic Electronic Systems is the prime contractor of the project, which is undertaking the programme to upgrade 30 airbases of IAF in the first phase of the project. Raytheon also has tie-ups in India with L&T and BEL, and is eyeing a bigger presence in India in the long term.      In the MAFI project, Raytheon Network Centric Systems will supply a variant of its globally deployed AutoTrac family of air traffic management systems. Raytheon NCS command and control systems vice president Andy Zogg said the company's AutoTrac system would provide IAF with a modern automated systems backbone for easier and rapid incorporation of new tools and functionality as they become available.      The US-based $25-billion Ratyehon has a presence in electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the area of sensing, and offers a broad range of mission support services, among others.      The Indian defence market has attracted the attention of defence and aerospace players at the Paris Air Show here, particularly in the backdrop of projections that the country's defence market could be in the range of $ 80 billion over the next 4-5 years. There are also expectations among participants here that the Indian defence sector would opt for unmanned air vehicles, tactical missiles destroyers and more radar-based warfare systems in the coming years.

 

 

http://www.india-defence.com/reports-5102

 

INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) Harbor Trials Scheduled for August 2011

2011-08-02 Set for induction into the Indian Navy in 2012, the harbour trials of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) are expected to begin by the end of this month (August 2011) in Russia. These trials are aimed at testing the functioning of all the systems of the warship, senior Navy sources told Press Trust of India.  The harbour trials will be followed up by sea trials which are expected to start by November where the major systems of the warship including its weapon firing capabilities would be put to test, they said.The sources said that the warship is expected to be delivered as per the original schedule of December 2012.  The 45,000 tonne, 283-metre aircraft carrier, rechristened INS Vikramaditya by the Indian Navy, is undergoing refit and repairs at the Sevmash shipyard in Russia.During his recent visit to Russia, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar was taken to the Sevmash shipyard and shown the progress in work on the Gorshkov.  The contract for the warship was signed between India and Russia in 2004 but the cost escalation and price revision by Russia for retrofitting the ship were cited as reasons for the delay.  After long negotiations, the two sides had settled on USD 2.3 billion as the price of the second hand warship.With only a lone aircraft carrier INS Virat being operated now, the Russian origin warship is key to India's plan of having one aircraft carrier each on both the seaboards.  Construction of another indigenous aircraft carrier is on in Kochi and is expected to be inducted into the navy by the end of 2014.

 

 

http://www.india-defence.com/reports-5105

 

Construction of Second Nuclear Submarine Begins in Visakhapatnam, India

2011-08-02 Construction of India's second nuclear submarine has begun at a classified facility in Visakhapatnam. This has been reported by local newspapers and television news channels. This project was launched just 24 months after India's first nuclear submarine INS Arihant was commissioned.  "The second programme took far lesser time than Arihant to reach the shipyard from the drawing board. This time we had a clear plan and we had learned a lot from our mistakes," top sources told the daily.  Though exact details of the submarine's progress have not been made public yet, it is learnt that fabrication of the hull and body has begun. The reactor is being constructed with Russia's help. The project is expected to be ready for sea trials by 2015. By that time India would have a Russian submarine and INS Arihant deployed.  The Akula-II class nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa, to be renamed INS Chakra, will be handed over to Indian Navy by Russian Navy in November-December on a 10-year lease.

 

 

http://www.india-defence.com/reports-5106

 

Bofors ghost hovers over artillery deals

NEW DELHI: Exactly 25 years after India last bought artillery guns from Bofors, its efforts to get a new generation of these critical weapon systems have yet again run into rough weather in the final moment.  Sources said the government has referred a government-to-government deal with the US to acquire Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) in the final stage to the law ministry because of a court order. Purchase of another artillery system, towed guns, too has run into trouble with the government ordering legal vetting if the tender from an Israeli firm was an effort to circumvent its tough anti-corruption stand.  Both the developments together have dashed Army's hopes of inducting new generation artillery guns in the immediate future. Internally, Army has been projecting that it would sign the ULH deal with the US in this financial year, while the field trials of towed guns would begin early next year. Now, both the targets could well be derailed.  The ghost of Bofors seems to be haunting the artillery plans. It was in 1986 that India last signed a deal for new artillery guns, with Bofors of Sweden. A year later, allegations emerged of kickbacks in the deal, freezing the artillery gun contract, and resulting in an anti-corruption wave across the country that swept aside the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress party in the 1989 elections. Since then, several efforts to buy new artillery guns have all run aground over the past 25 years.  But the latest setback comes when the government was tantalizingly close to signing the ULH deal with the US. The latest developments would deeply disappoint the Army, which was hoping to sign the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) deal with the US for ultra light howitzers in the next few months. In fact, the first payment for the deal, estimated at over a billion dollars, is budgeted in this financial year.  Sources said the Army had completed its proposal, including detailed field evaluation reports, and had gone to the Defence Acquisition Council headed by defence minister A K Antony recently, when the MoD pointed out the Delhi High Court order. The court had in May ordered MoD not to proceed with the purchase of ULH under an open tender, in which Singapore Technologies was a participant.  The Singapore firm and six others were blacklisted in 2009 after they figured in CBI investigations into a bribery scandal. So, the open tender for ULH was cancelled. Then the government initiated the FMS deal with the US, to buy M777 guns from BAE Systems.  However, MoD has now pointed out that purchase of ULH could possibly be contempt of court. But the Army argues that the FMS deal with the US was a separate deal, and not part of the tender over which the Singaporean firm went to court. The government has now referred the entire issue to the law ministry for legal opinion, a senior official said.  Meanwhile, the tender for towed artillery guns too has come under a shadow. Sources said the Army received two tenders in response to its RFP -- one from French firm Nexter and the other from Elbit Systems, an Israeli firm.  Senior officials said Elbit, which originally did not make artillery, bid on the strength of its recent acquisition of another Israeli firm Soltam which manufactures artillery guns. Soltam, however, has a controversial past in India. It was mentioned in an FIR filed by CBI in 2007 into a bribery scandal in the upgunning of artillery guns, and was accused of paying kickbacks to among others arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, who left India after the case was filed. Soltam is also accused of reneging on this particular contract for upgunning of old artillery guns. So, the company technically is a "defaulter and under criminal investigation, a source said.  In light of this fact, MoD has now decided to legally examine whether Elbit's tender for towed guns can be accepted. "If we were to accept Elbit's tender, then other companies that are blacklisted by us could use such fronts to bid for contracts. Thus, our efforts at sending a strong signal to companies committing corrupt practices could fail, a senior official said.

 

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Bofors-ghost-hovers-over-artillery-deals/articleshow/9802834.cms

 

Army chief backs Anna: Military overreach

New Delhi:  It's not usual for a service chief to speak on developments that are not his immediate concern. But that did not stop Army chief, General VK Singh, from expressing his opinion on Anna Hazare's movement at a function in Mumbai last week.   "We are witnessing the power of democracy, the power of the people," General Singh said.   Many feel this was out of turn as were some other comments leading to questions about a possible disconnect between the civilian and military leadership of the country.   In July 2010, General Singh indicated that the political leadership had been lacking in Kashmir.   "Kashmir situation has been tense for quite some time. And the reasons are many. The basic reason is that we have not built up on the gains that we've made to our advantage," General Singh said.   Naturally, the state government hit back with National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah saying the Army chief had no business talking about policy matters.   Next came the then Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik's curt response to Home Minister P Chidambaram's suggestion in April 2010  that his men needed air force back up in Naxal areas.   "The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. So, I'm not in favour of using Air Force in Naxal areas," the Air Force chief said.   But controversies that took on international proportions were those generated by the then Air Force chief's warning to Pakistan against a nuclear strike. And before that, Army chief's claim that India too could carry out a Geronimo-type operation.   "If the situation should ever arise then any of the three armed forces are capable of conducting a similar operation," General VK Singh said on July 12, 2011.   Some of the controversial comments have come in response to questions from the media and raises the question - what should the service chiefs do in the age of 24x7 news when mikes are thrust in their faces and a no comment is rarely accepted.   The latest controversy is the public battle over Army chief's age where General Singh has taken the unprecedented step of filing a statutory complaint with the Defence Minister.   Read more at:

 

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/army-chief-backs-anna-military-overreach-130223&cp

 

 

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