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Thursday, 17 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 17 Nov 2011

Agni-V with 5,000-km range to be test-fired in coming Feb
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 16 India today announced its intent to test a nuclear-warhead capable ballistic missile in February 2012 that can travel more than 5,000 km - bringing vast parts of its rapidly emerging neighbour China within striking range. Named Agni-V, it can be fired from a road-mobile launch pad and this will put India closer to the missile capabilities of nations like the US, Russia and China.  In missile terminology, Agni-V will be classified just short of the inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) - that have a range of 5,500 km or more.  The US, Russia and China have ICBMs that can hit targets more than 9,000-11,000 km away. As it falls short by 500 km, the Agni-V will be categorised as a ‘sub-ICBM’. Chinese ICBM, Dong Feng 31, can target areas over a 11,000-km range while Russia and US have had such capabilities from the days of the Cold War.  The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), buoyed by yesterday’s successful launch of nuclear-capable Agni-IV having a range of 3,000 km, today said that it would take 2-3 years for the Agni-V to be inducted into the armed forces.  DRDO chief VK Saraswat said, “The Agni-IV test gives us the strength to test Agni-V. The two have similar technologies, though Agni-V will be a three-stage propulsion system instead of the two-phase propulsion system of the Agni-IV”.  The Agni-V will have higher payload capability, a specialised booster and a new set of road-mobile launchers. The smaller versions of the missiles like Agni-II and Agni-III are rail-mobile which poses limitations in transportation especially when keeping these hidden from overhead satellites and prying human eyes.  Tessy Thomas, Director of the Agni-IV programme, said, “It is a tremendous feeling.” For Thomas, who is the first woman Director of a strategic missile programme, it was special as the Agni-IV was carrying technology which was new and largely indigenous.  Dr Saraswat, clarified that “unlike the Cold War (when the USSR and US raced against each other in war technology), we are not competing with China.” He went on to said that “technology control regimes - restrictions imposed on India by the developed world during the 1990s - had helped us.”  “It prompted us to do better and develop our own systems,” the DRDO boss said while adding “We now produce our own titanium, high-grade steel (that withstands 3,000°C temperature when the missile re-enters the atmosphere while travelling at very high speed), composite carbon  fibre and automated missile guidance technology. All this provides performance that is far better than globally available systems.” MIssile MuScle  l Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) have a range of 5,500 km or more. The Agni-V, with a range of 5,000 km, will be classified as a ‘sub-ICBM’  l The US, Russia and China have ICBMs that can hit targets more than 9,000-11,000 km away  l Chinese ICBM, Dong Feng 31, can target areas over a 11,000-km range while Russia and US have had such capabilities from the days of the Cold War
US, Australia ink defence pact
America to deploy up to 2,500 marines at a de facto base in northern Australia * China upset, says it may not be in interest of nations in Asia-Pacific region  Canberra, November 16 US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today unveiled plans to deepen the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, with 2,500 US marines operating out of a de facto base in northern Australia.  China, already worried the United States is caging it in, immediately questioned whether strengthening military alliances would help the region when economic woes put a premium on cooperation.  "With my visit to the region, I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific region," Obama told a joint news conference with Gillard in Canberra.  From next year, US troops and aircraft will operate out of the tropical city of Darwin, only 820 km from Indonesia, able to respond quickly to any humanitarian and security issues in Southeast Asia, where disputes over sovereignty of the South China Sea are causing rising tensions.  "It is appropriate for us to make sure...that the security architecture for the region is updated for the 21st century and this initiative is going to allow us to do that," Obama said.  He stressed that it was not an attempt to isolate China which is concerned that Washington is trying to encircle it with bases in Japan and South Korea and now troops in Australia.  "The notion that we fear China is mistaken. The notion that we are looking to exclude China is mistaken," he said, adding China was not being excluded from the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) on trade. "We welcome a rising, peaceful China."  But China's rising power means it must take on greater responsibilities to ensure free trade and security in the region, he added. "It's important for them to play by the rules of the road and, in fact, help underwrite the rules that have allowed so much remarkable economic progress," he said. — Reuters
'Agni-IV better than Pakistan's missile, among world's best'   Read more at:
New Delhi:  The Agni-IV, India's latest strategic nuclear-capable missile, is among the world's best and better than Pakistan's missiles, VK Saraswat head of its developer, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said here on Wednesday.  "I have no doubt that Agni-IV compares with what is available in its class of missiles like the Pershing (US medium range ballistic missile)," Saraswat said at a press conference when asked if India can now say its missile technology is superior to that of Pakistan.  "If I am comparing Agni-IV with Pershing-I or Pershing-II missiles in terms of technology...I am talking in terms of technology, not in terms of range, as Pershing missiles have higher meets global standards," he said, to stress the point.  "Whether our missiles vis-a-vis our adversaries, it meets the Pershing standards or not, that you have to find out," he said in response to a comparison with Pakistan's ballistic missile programme.  "As far as I am concerned, we have state-of-the-art ballistic missiles," he added.  Agni-IV, a 3,500-km range strategic missile, was successfully tested by India on Tuesday.  Pakistan's ballistic missile programme has Gauri and Shaheen medium range and intermediate range ballistic missiles in its arsenal. It is believed that Pakistan's missile programme borrowed heavily from China and North Korea to build its technology, particular for long-range missiles.   Read more at:
India’s border plans will go nowhere: China daily
Zeenews Bureau  New Delhi: India’s plans to recruit 100,000 soldiers over the next five years and deploy them on the Indo-China border to strengthen its defence mechanism has clearly annoyed China, which says New Delhi’s troop buildup will go nowhere.  As per a report published in a leading Chinese daily, the Communist state thinks that India’s military buildup will only aggravate tensions between the two countries. The reaction from the Chinese side came nearly two weeks after the Defense Ministry here approved a USD 13 billion military modernization plan.  Against the backdrop of Chinese military buildup along the international border, the Army recently proposed an increase in its strength by around one lakh and raising a new mountain strike corps along with other new formations in the Northeast.  “We have proposed to increase our strength by another 90,000 to one lakh troops and that has been cleared by the Defence Ministry. The proposal is at present awaiting clearance from the Finance Ministry,” Army sources said.  Army's present strength is more than 11 lakh troops including over 35,000 officers. As per reports, the increase in the number of troops will be done in a phased manner over a period of more than five to six years.  Asked about the expansion plan, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju had said, “We are keen on securing borders and we will take steps to do so. Wherever we feel there is a threat, adequate measures will be taken.”  When quizzed about reports that China could do a Kargil on India, he said, “There is nothing to be particularly alarmed about the Chinese border.” He said this while talking to reporters at a function in Manekshaw Centre recently.  Under the Army proposal, which is likely to cost over Rs 60,000 crore, the Army has sought government's sanction for raising a mountain strike corps and four mountain divisions.  The Army is also planning to deploy two independent armoured brigades in Uttarakhand and Ladakh. Once cleared, the proposal would be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval and financial sanction.  The average growth rate of India's military spending has stood at 7 percent to 8 percent for more than a decade, and its military spending ranks ninth in the world. India is also the world's largest arms importer.  “Despite India’s huge military spending, its economic growth has recently been slow, with last year’s economic growth rate hitting a six-year low. It is very difficult to considerably increase military spending for military buildup amid the economic downturn, so India needs to first create a tense atmosphere and transfer domestic problems in hopes of securing more military spending,” the Chinese media was quoted as saying.  The Chinese media further alleges that India continues to hold joint military drills with China's neighboring states, which shows its intention to confront China.
Army plans military schools in three states
By IANS,  Raipur: The Indian Army plans to set up military schools in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha under the central command of the defence establishment, a senior officer said Wednesday.  "The first such military school is proposed to come up in Chhattisgarh," Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Ahluwalia, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Army's Central Command, told newsmen here.  He informed that there were only a few military schools in the country and the Army was exploring the possibilities of setting up new ones.  The officer remarked about the presence of thousands of armymen in Chhattisgarh's Maoist stronghold restive Bastar region for a jungle warfare training camp. "The Army still believes that Naxalites are their brothers and sisters, we have taken up several social responsibility works in the red zone near Narayanpur in Bastar region included health camp attended by hundreds of people," he said.  "When the Army was stepping into Naxal (Maoist) heartland, there were talks why were they were moving in the war zone. Now I can say that the war zone will be converted into a peace zone soon," Ahluwalia said referring to a number of social works being carried out by the armymen in violence-hit Bastar region.
Elite northern military unit allows US quick intervention in a crisis
THE arrival of a 2500-strong marines taskforce in the Northern Territory is just the start of greater co-operation with the US.  Also planned are increased use of air and naval bases, army training areas and bombing ranges across the Top End.  There are usually 200 to 300 US military personnel in Australia working on defence co-operation and, in particular, planning the massive annual Talisman Sabre exercise involving US and regional armed forces.  By early next year, an advance party of about 250 personnel from a US marines air-ground taskforce will move into the Darwin area.  They will spend six months training through the dry season at the Australian Defence Force's Bradshaw and Mount Bundy training areas in the Northern Territory.  By 2016-17, the taskforce will be built up to its full strength of about 2500 personnel.
It is designed to fight at short notice as a powerful, self-contained force with its own protective air power, able to land on a hostile shore or carry out non-combat operations such as disaster relief.  It will give Washington the ability to intervene in the region very quickly in the event of a crisis.  The marines will bring considerable equipment with them, including amphibious assault ships similar to the two giant landing helicopter docks being built for the Royal Australian Navy along with Harrier jump jets and troop-carrying helicopters.  The marines will be backed by artillery, engineers and light armoured vehicles.  They will be entitled to carry out their own training separate from the ADF.  There will also be many more visits to RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal, 330km south of Darwin, by US aircraft including giant B-52 bombers, a noisy echo of the Cold War.  The B-52s will increase their use of the Delamere Air Weapons Range, which lies about 140km southwest of Tindal.  Both governments have been at pains to stress that there will be no US bases on Australian soil, just continued access to joint facilities such as the intelligence-gathering base at Pine Gap and increased access to Australian facilities.  The military expansion takes place under the existing 1963 Status of Forces Agreement between Australia and the US and teams of officials from both countries have been working for more than a year on legal agreements governing US access to Australian facilities.  Still under consideration is the increased use by US warships and possibly nuclear submarines of HMAS Stirling naval base, south of Rockingham, in Western Australia.  Influential American commentators have been arguing strongly that the US navy needs to prevail on Canberra for greater access to Australian bases for US warships and submarines.  In a recent paper for the Lowy Institute, Toshi Yoshihara from the US Naval War College said that, with the rise of China and India, basing US surface warships and submarines at HMAS Stirling would give them the benefit of direct access to the Indian Ocean.  Mr Yoshihara said a big advantage of bases in Australia was that they lay between the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific "theatres" and well outside Chinese missile range.  "Warships and submarines based in Western Australia would benefit from direct access to the Indian Ocean, freeing them from the risks of passing through chokepoints and narrow seas," he said.  That's an idea that appeals to former defence minister Peter Reith, who recently reignited the nuclear submarine debate.  Mr Reith said that instead of building 12 conventional submarines, Australia should buy or lease a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines from the US and operate them from a joint naval base in Australia.  Greens leader Bob Brown said the plan for a greater US military presence in Australia should be debated by parliament.  Senator Brown said the Greens welcomed Mr Obama but Australia's mistake of following the US into Iraq and not bringing the troops home from Afghanistan, as Canada had done, showed the costs of not having an independent foreign policy.

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