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Monday, 30 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 30 Apr 2012
Missiles may be placed on flats

London, April 29
Britain is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential flats close to the Olympic Park as part of the multi-layered air security plan to protect the skies over London during the high-profile Games in the city from July.

An east London estate, where 700 people live, has received leaflets saying a "Higher Velocity Missile system" could be placed on a water tower, the BBC reported.

A spokesman said the Ministry of Defence had not yet decided whether to deploy ground based air defence systems during the July 27 to August 12 London Olympics.

A resident Brian Whelan said he has seen soldiers carrying a crate into the building. He also said his property management company put up posters and gave out the leaflets yesterday.

The leaflet states that the armed forces will be at the location for a military exercise between May 2 and May 7.

It goes on to say there will be a "major national exercise" from May 2 to May 10 to test the Armed Forces' capabilities for providing security during the Olympics.

The document added that if the government decides to use the missiles during the Games, the soldiers could be "operationally deployed for a period of up to two months this summer". The weapon being considered is a High Velocity Missile (HVM) system, which would be based on the Lexington Building Water Tower. The tower contains residential flats. The MoD says that the missiles will not pose a hazard to residents and "will only be authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat". — PTI

No decision on deployment

    No decision on whether to deploy ground based air defence systems during the event
    Leaflets distributed saying a "Higher Velocity Missile system" could be placed on a water tower at east London
    A "major national exercise" to test the forces' capabilities to be conducted in May
    The MoD says that the missiles will not pose a hazard to residents
25 years on, no gun to replace Bofors
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 29
Even as the Congress-led UPA and the Opposition squabble over the controversial Bofors deal, the Army suffers from a critical shortfall of artillery guns.

In 1987, Swedish firm AB Bofors supplied the 155 mm guns to the Army. Twenty-five years later, not a single gun has been added to the arsenal to replace the artillery guns supplied by the firm.

Rather five attempts in the past decade to buy new guns that will replace the 155 mm Howitzer supplied by the Bofors have been scuttled due to one reason or the other. The last one being in July 2010 when one of the two contenders was ‘blacklisted” following a CBI case. The Ministry of Defence does not allow a purchase in ‘single vendor’ situation.

The AB Bofors supplied a 155 mm 39 calibre gun that can fire at targets 30 km away. Guns batteries of the Army are stationed in the deserts, the plains and mountains.

The Bofors company has long changed hands and is now owned by BaE systems that has a tie-up with Indian major Mahindra and Mahindra. The gun is no more called the Bofors. BaE Systems owns the licence to produce the gun that is code named ‘FH77 B05 towed howitzer’. This is a 52 calibre gun that is an upgraded version of the earlier 39 calibre, 155 mm gun purchased by India 25 years ago.

When the July 2010 trial was held up, this BaE gun was in the race along with the Singapore Technologies product ‘IFH2000’ 155mm 52 calibre gun. The Singapore Technologies faced flak from the CBI and the trial was stalled. Today, the Army needs some 1,580 pieces of artillery and almost as a baby step the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has been tasked to produce some 114 guns of the 155 mm. These will be in 39 calibre and 45 calibre rifled bore, format, said officials. The rifled bore, like the one Bofors has, provides the necessary accuracy. Defence Ministry officials have expressed confidence that the OFB will be able to produce a gun as it has the maps and design of the original Bofors.

The key issue is the metallurgy of the barrel of the gun and for this specialised defence undertakings have been roped in. Officers in the Indian Army vouch for the accuracy of the Bofors supplied howitzer which proved its mettle during the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Ammunition from these guns ‘softened’ enemy positions before the infantry launched an assault. Pakistani Army’s Northern Light Infantry had set up bunkers on peaks and ridge lines on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) in the Drass Batalik and Turtuk areas of Ladakh.

When the last trial was stooped in July 2010, the Army just threw up its hands in despair. Since 2002 five attempts to procure an artillery gun have failed seriously impinging upon the Army’s capability to fire at the enemy. At present an evaluation trial is on to test the ultra light howitzer (ULH) which can be slung under a chopper and placed anywhere at short notice. In July 2010, Army asked the Ministry of Defence to find a way out as the artillery guns are needed immediately. The OFB order was placed and the ULH trials started after that.

Playing with fire

    Critical shortfall of artillery in Army
    Ordnance Factory told to produce 114 Bofors-like guns
Did my duty on graft, up to govt now: Army Chief
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, April 29
The tent was packed to capacity with everyone jostling to catch a glimpse of Army Chief General VK Singh, who arrived to a hero’s welcome from ex-servicemen for raking up the issue of corruption in the force.

“I have done my duty by raising the issue (of corruption). Now it is up to the government to act,” said the General, here today to address a gathering of ex-servicemen organised by the Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) at the Baddowal Sports Stadium.

On the increasing Chinese dominance on both land and sea, General VK Singh said, “The decision to upgrade Army equipment has to be taken quickly.” On his first and perhaps last visit to the industrial town as Chief of Army Staff, he slammed allegations of the out-of-turn appointment of his successor Lt General Bikram Singh. “The Army is a secular unit,” he said.

Addressing a gathering, the General said the Ministry of Defence was in agreement with the principle of one rank-one pension for ex-servicemen. He said the scheme’s implementation involved an expenditure of Rs 1,300 crore and its implementation could not be time-bound. Such decisions have to pass through several levels of the government before becoming a reality, he explained.

General VK Singh said he had introduced several plans to bridge the gap between veterans and serving Army officials such as the Veteran Cell set up two years ago. It is the duty of the Army to ensure that the rights of ex-servicemen are taken care off, he said.

The Army Chief said each Army Headquarters had been asked to maintain a database of ex-servicemen and war widows in the area so that issues concerning them could be dealt with properly.
Tackling IEDs: CRPF to sack 24 ex-Army experts

New Delhi, April 29
The CRPF has decided to terminate the services of over two dozen ex-Armymen it had recently hired for carrying out special counter-landmine operations in Naxal hotbeds, after their performance was found to be "below standard" in neutralising the explosive devices.

The force, which recently created a new institute in Pune to train its men in identifying, neutralising and combating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines under the tutelage of the experts from the Army-run College of Military Training (CME), found that these hired personnel, in various operations, were not able to provide the kind of results that they were expected to.

A number of CRPF commanders who are undertaking anti-Naxal operations in various states have reported to the force leadership that these personnel should be taken off and replaced by those young force troopers who are being trained at the Institute of IED Management in Pune.

"Around 200 ex-Army men were recently hired on contract in the force after an advertisement was circulated in this regard. The CRPF did not possess hands-on expertise to counter IEDs in Naxal areas which are cleverly hidden beneath roads, sometimes at a depth of even 15 feet. "The ex-Armymen were being hired for the job but the results were not found to be satisfactory and are below standard. Hence, it has been decided to terminate the services of over two dozen hired personnel," a senior official said. The CRPF, thick in action in Naxal affected zones of the country had last year called for a total of 2,012 retired Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and others on hire to enhance its capabilities to undertake counter-IED operations in Maoist-hit areas of the country where it has deployed more than 70,000 troops.

The paramilitary force has lost more than 130 personnel in the last five years due to IED explosions alone while many have been maimed or handicapped. On March 27, 13 men were killed in Gadchiroli when an IED explosion ripped apart a force vehicle. — PTI

‘Failed’ to deliver

    The CRPF had hired nearly 200 ex-Armymen to carry out special counter-landmine operations in Naxal areas
    The performance of these ‘experts’ is reportedly below standard and they have failed to deliver desired results
    A number of CRPF commanders who are undertaking anti-Naxal operations in various states have reported to its top brass that these personnel should be taken off or replaced
Tejas to be inducted this year: DRDO chief

Hyderabad, April 29
Indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' will be inducted into the Indian Air Force this year, DRDO chief V K Saraswat has said.

"With 'Tejas' completing almost 1,855 flying hours (flight tests) and all problems it encountered during the initial operational clearance having been solved, it is ready to enter into the final operational clearance phase. With production also having taken off at HAL... we are now at the verge of writing history as far as aeronautics is concerned," he said here.

"LCA will be inducted this year in the armed forces where our own squadrons of Air Force will be flying this aircraft," he said.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) director general was speaking after inaugurating the 'Aerospace Luminary Lecture Series' organised by Hyderabad chapter of Aeronautical Society of India last night.

Referring to the recent successful maiden flight of the Naval variant of LCA, Saraswat said, "The first flight trial of LCA Navy achieved capability, particularly on take off and landing, from an aircraft carrier. The Naval variant will certainly be a force multiplier for Indian Navy." The LCA has been conceived and designed by DRDO's Aeronautical Development Agency and manufactured at Bangalore- based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

He said April 2012 will go down in the history as a historic month as it saw successful launches of Agni-V, RISAT-I and first flight trial of LCA Navy. — PTI
Ground surveillance radars to guard IAF airbases
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 29
As part of its efforts to revamp security of its airbases, Indian Air Force is procuring ground surveillance radars to monitor movement of people and vehicles in and around the airfield.

“These surveillance radars will be utilised for security purposes to monitor the complete airfield area, perimeter security, surface movement and all activities in and around the airfield area to prevent sabotage,” a request of information issued by the Air Force states.

According to sources, the surveillance radars being sought would be functionally similar to battlefield surveillance radars (BSR) being used by the Army and the Border Security Force along the international border and the Line of Control to check infiltration as well as for other operational requirements.

About 1,400 BSR have been produced for the Army and the BSF by Bharat Electronics Limited. Over a hundred of these radars have also been exported to Indonesia, Sudan and Mozambique. An upgraded version of the BSR is under development.

The IAF wants a radar that has a range of at least 5 km and the capability to complete a 360° scan in under five seconds. In addition, the radar should also be equipped with a high-resolution infra-red and electro-optical camera and be integrated with the necessary software to pre-determine the surveillance area in terms of range, segment and direction of movement.

To cater to the heightened security situation in the northern sector and some other disturbed areas, the IAF had recently gone in for electrified perimeter fences at some select airbases. A few years ago, the tall double-barbed wire fences that marked the perimeter of IAF bases were replaced with 12-feet-high concrete walls topped with coils of razor wire.

As part of its security upgrade, the IAF is also installing electrically and hydraulically operated barricades to prevent heavy vehicles from crashing through the gates. These barricades would have the ability to stop vehicles having a weight of up to 30 tonnes.
President Patil on Army Chief-Govt standoff: Should have been handled in disciplined way
President Pratibha Patil, the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces, feels the perceived stand-off between Army Chief General V K Singh and the government “should not have happened”. Admitting “concern” over the issue, she told The Sunday Express in an exclusive interview: “I thought this was something that should not have happened. It should have been handled in a disciplined manner.”

While Patil refused to elaborate on the discussions she may have had on the matter with either the Centre or defence officials, the President talked at length about what it meant to be the first woman in India’s highest office, what she felt her achievements had been, her passions and concerns, as well as about her possible successors. The interview was conducted hours before the President’s announcement that she was giving up the Pune house allotted to her to stay in post-retirement, following the controversy over it.

According to Patil, the one quality her successor must possess is “mental poise and presence of mind” in the numerous “trying circumstances” that she or he would have to face.

While reserving comment on calls for an “apolitical” president, Patil pointed out during the interview that it was actually her vast experience in politics and administration, at various levels, that groomed and equipped her for the job. It was exactly five decades ago that Patil was first elected as an MLA from Maharashtra, at the age of 27.

With the row over her post-retirement home, the latest controversy to dog her tenure, Patil said she was “worried, disturbed and pained” by people not “verifying facts” before jumping to conclusions. She embarked on the last foreign tour of her tenure to Seychelles and South Africa on Saturday, and reacting to allegations of record spending on her trips, she said people did not realise that these visits were not undertaken of the President’s own accord but were part of the Indian government’s “foreign policy initiative” and decided by the government.
Arjun Mk.2 to be tested by DRDO from May 10
Come May and DRDO will be rolling out new and improved Arjun Mk.2 into the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan for a week of firing trials.The heavier Arjun Mk.2 incorporates some 93 improvements on the Mk.1 tank, 124 of which are already in operational service in two tank regiments in the Army.

User Trials will also be conducted by Indian army in June , after which production of 124 tanks will be start , as per sources close sources to , Indian army after successful trails is also seriously considering to place order for another 124 tanks taking the tally to 372 , which compared to current T-90s MBT order is small relatively . Russians on other side have been Pushing T90 AM a  improved version of the T-90 tank, which was displayed  at Defexpo 2012.

Russians seems to be threaten by improved version of the Arjun Mk.2 over T-90s which had lost to Arjun Mk-1 in comparative trials conducted between Russian built T-90s against Indian built Arjun MK-1 last year which forced even Indian army officials to accept superiority of Locally built tanks over Russian import .

Russians fear that Indian order of T-90s might shrink in future due to availability of better tanks and change of heart in Indian army officials over Arjun have already rung alarm bells in Russia ,due to possible loss of biggest Russian Tank importer in the world .\04\30\story_30-4-2012_pg3_2
IEW: India: a likely coup or a false alarm? —A R Siddiqi

The Singh affair must lead to a revaluation and reorientation of civil-military relations to determine whether the government should minimise the professional role of the military by subjecting it to dire civil control and media trials

The sensational disclosure of an impending army coup sent alarm signals ringing throughout the Indian capital earlier in April. That was despite the fact that the coup, intended or imagined, traced back to January last, had been something quite dead and gone, yet the Indian parliament and the media magnified it beyond its existential reality.

Deeply seated in the psyche of the subcontinent remains the popular image of the man on horseback, ‘the booted and spurred Jehovah’ in the language of Albert Camus (The Rebel) to come and rescue them from their trials and tribulations — past and present.

The coup canard acquired the cutting edge of what was generally reported to be ‘strained relations’ between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the highly controversial Army chief, General V K Singh, set to retire by the end of May this year on completion of his tenure.

Without reflecting on General Singh’s integrity as a soldier, he was noted as a bitter critic of the government in matters concerning national defence. His shocking revelations about critical deficiencies in combat hardware incriminated the ministerial defence establishment as much as the prime minister himself.

As for the coup scare, it was caused by a corps/army level field exercise in December-January last near the national capital. The phantom coup featuring some infantry units of the 33rd Armoured Division, deployed some 150 kilometres from Delhi, together with a unit of the Agra-based 50 Para Brigade (airborne or air mobile), hit the outskirts of Delhi to create the scare. It happened to be a dense, foggy morning, typical of the Delhi winter. This was said to be part of a controlled exercise to test the performance of the men and machines in dark inclement weather conditions. However, there appeared to be a huge communication gap between the civil and military authorities.

The sudden influx of armour, mechanised vehicles and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) along unmarked routes in the immediate vicinity of the capital was no ordinary matter. Heavy fog had reduced visibility to endanger safety all over the area.

On that very day marking the end of the exercise, General Singh moved the Supreme Court for a correction of his date of birth to give him another year in his term as the army chief.

On that day, Singh’s entire attention should normally have been focused on the coordination of the final phase of the exercise. It was all the more important for the maneouvres being staged so close to the national capital. That was not to be, however.

The whistle blower happened to be The Indian Express, claiming that the “unnotified nocturnal deployments” had “sparked” concern about a “possible coup” at a time when civil-military relations had been “strained”.

The army chief and the prime minister stood eyeing each other in an adversarial mode. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rushed to the defence of the army ‘outside’ parliament. He warned that no one was to do anything to “lower the dignity of the army chief”.

Something rare and no less ironic for the chief executive to defend the ‘dignity’ of the army chief, downgraded in the official warrant of precedence to a grade-22 status.

Dismissing the Express report as “absolutely baseless”, Defence Minister A K Antony said, “They (the army) will not do anything against democracy.” “They are true patriots.” The defence minister’s statement sounded more like a prayer and a wish than something quite unthinkable and beyond any doubt in respect of a reputedly apolitical army.

The incident was important because it underlined the ‘distrust’ between the army and the government; civil-military relations are reported to be at an ‘all time low’. The Bharatya Janata Party stressed correcting the imbalance between the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and the army chief.

Undue civilian interference with the autonomy of military command might adversely impact the institutional cohesiveness of the army more than augmenting civilian control.

A coup-free army like India’s is likely to be tempted to taste the forbidden fruit of a coup d’├ętat, unaware of its bitter aftertaste like our own. Many times bitten by the smelly bug of absolute power, the Pakistan army remains shy of civilian involvement except when called in aid of civil power.

However, the alarming coup scare caused by a training exercise with troops was no ordinary episode. It looked like a sudden upsurge of deep-seated fears to bring the civilian establishment at the highest level to its feet in the backdrop of the standoff between the chief executive and the army chief. Nevertheless, should General Singh not have been made to answer for the gross lapse of security together with his own failure, deliberate or otherwise, to keep the government abreast with gaping holes in war materials? (For a detailed account see “General Singh: sad endgame or sorry confessional?” Daily Times, April 23, 2012.)

Already the world’s biggest importer of arms, India is projected to spend $ 15 billion in the next 15 years or so. This alone would call for maximum security and safety of the expensive hardware, trials in actual field conditions, and vital knowhow about its shelf life before obsolescence reduces it to junk.

The Singh affair must lead to a revaluation and reorientation of civil-military relations to determine whether the government should minimise the professional role of the military by subjecting it to dire civil control and media trials, or whether its war potential should be maximised by arming it to the teeth and letting it be on its own under the command of its chief as far as possible. In simple language, whether to let the military alone, if not exactly above, the supreme civilian policies control and command. Such had been the case in Pakistan. Incompetent and weak civilian governments allowed the army to have a say in all matters of state, in particular foreign affairs, including getting in or out of such defence pacts as SEATO, CENTO, and risking such misadventures as Musharraf’s Kargil fiasco.

General V K Singh’s tenure has manifestly been a bizarre mix of military clout and scant regard for competent civilian authority. Without jumping to any definite conclusion about qualitative change in the traditional pattern of civilian control of the military, General Singh’s shadow would continue to chase and affect civil-military relations for a long time to come.
Army most secular, says Chief
Ex-servicemen rally in Ludhiana Says Centre in agreement with principle of ‘One Rank One Pension’

Army Chief General V K Singh, who was in Ludhiana on Sunday to participate at an ex-servicemen rally, said that the Army was the most secular institution when asked about the controversy over the appointment of his successor Lt Gen Bikram Singh.

“I cannot comment on this issue at all. But all I can say is that Army is most secular,” said Singh, who retires at the end of May. Asked about the issue of corruption in armed forces, he said: “I have done all I could do. Now, the ball is in the court of the government and it is the government that needs and should take action.”

Refusing to comment on the inquiry by Italian prosecutors on allegation of corruption against state-backed defence major Finmeccanica that had cast a cloud over the multi-million dollar deal that the company signed with India for 12 VVIP helicopters, Singh said: “For this issue, you must ask the ministry. I have nothing to say.”

Speaking at the ex-servicemen rally organsed by the Indian Ex-Servicemen League, the Army Chief announced that Defence Minister A K Antony “is in agreement with the principle of ‘One Rank One Pension’ demand of the ex - servicemen and that the same should be implemented soon”. “For implementing this, we need just Rs 1,300 crore. One section of the government and the Defence Minister agree with our demands. He has assured us all support but then decisions have to pass through various layers of the government and take time to be implemented, “ said Singh.

Saying that the Army had announced that year 2012 will be the year of veterans, he added: “My main aim is to bridge the gap between the in-service officers and the ex-servicemen. It is the duty of each in-service officer to help solve the problems faced by the ex-servicemen. To a large extent, we have been successful in doing this through our Veteran Cell that was set up in the Army headquarters two years ago. It has a toll free number where our ex-servicemen can register their problems.”

“We had also identified some 46 anomalies related to pensions and other benefits being given to the ex-servicemen and after the efforts put in by us, only 39 remain. But I have full faith that these too will soon be removed for the Minister of Defence has in-principle agreed to all the issues that we have raised with him,” he further said.

On the ex-servicemen facing problems in CSD canteens, the Army Chief said: “There are some problems for CSD canteens and its purchases are no longer with the Army headquarters. The Government of India makes budgetary provisions for the purchases. While we have been able to get an increase in this budget but still, a part of this budget gets used in paying the previous year’s debts that we have incurred due to some wrong decisions.”

“We have suggested to the government that in case they are finding it difficult to run these canteens, they can hand these back to us for the Army is capable of running these. While we are ensuring that all basic items are available in these canteens, bar on items like cars will stay at least for the next four to six months,” he added.

Speaking about the contributory health scheme for ex-servicemen, the Army Chief said: “We have identified problems like shortage of medicines and doctors. Hence, we are trying to tie up with the state approved medicine shops that will provide best medicines to ex-servicemen in good prices. We will also set up 20 more centres in Punjab for their benefit. Moreover, we are trying to set up CSD canteens and pension offices next to these centres so that the ex-servicemen do not have to run from one office to another to get their work done.”

‘Media putting own concoction
to everything’

While commenting on President Pratibha Patil’s comment made to The Indian Express in an interview where she said that the perceived stand off between the Army Chief and the government “should not have happened...It should have been handled in a disciplined manner”, Singh said: “What the president said is known to only two persons — the president and the person who conducted this interview. A section of media is putting its own concoction to everything.”
India steps up effort to improve border roads
With China rapidly modernising its military infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India has also stepped up efforts to improve road, rail and air network in border States and long term perspective plan lays stress on this aspect.

This apart, the Defence Ministry will be able to utilise the entire capital outlay of Rs 66, 143.81 crore in acquiring weapon systems and ongoing upgrade of various platforms like Mirage-2000 and meeting contractual obligations for aircraft carrier Gorshkov renamed INS Vikramaditya.

The Government has identified strategically important border roads for development along the Indo-China border and as per the long term perspective plan approved by the Defence Acquisition Council earlier this month, other roads and strategic railway lines have been identified for development along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, Defence Minister AK Antony informed the Rajya Sabha last week.

There are 14 strategic railway lines in Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Rajasthan besides more than 70 strategically important roads in the States bordering China.

Antony said that the Government is closely watching all activities along the border areas and reviews the threat perception regularly. Required measures were initiated for strengthening, optimising and modernising force structure, including military bases as well as infrastructural development in consonance with the threat perception to secure borders, he said.

As regards the capital outlay, Antony said that budget estimate for 2011-12 was Rs 69,198.81 crore and this was revised to Rs 66,143.81 crore by the Finance Ministry at a revised estimate state in 2011-12, adding that the total allocation was expected to be fully utilised.

In an apparent reference to Army chief General VK Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March regarding paucity of weapons for maintaining operational readiness, Antony said the artillery equipment procured or upgraded in the past two decades includes Pinaka and Smerch rocket system, BrahMos missiles and upgrade of 130mm gun to 155mm/45 calibre.

He said procurement of new generation artillery is in consonance with Artillery Profile 2027. This profile has a mix of 155mm/39 calibre, 155mm/45 calibre and 155mm/52 calibre gun system.

The Army has not procured a single long-range artillery gun in the last 25 years after the Bofors gun controversy in mid-1980s. The Army needs more than 1,500 long, medium and short range artillery guns and howitzers and the proposed budget is about Rs 20,000 crore.

The Army chief had mentioned in his letter about obsolete air defence system, shortage of artillery guns and slow pace of acquisition of weapons and other systems for the elite Special Forces.

In this background, Antony informed the Upper House that the Army follows a philosophy of having a mix of legacy equipment, equipment with matured technology and state-of-art equipment. The guns presently held with Air Defence are not of World War II vintage and ammunition levels are not low as reported in media, he said adding some deficiencies do exist in some categories of ammunition.

The minister maintained that operational preparedness of the Armed Forces continues to remain at the desired level and in a state of readiness to meet any eventualities and shortage of any weapons and ammunition, as and when reported, is adequately addressed through indigenous production and import.

Modernisation of Army is going on a continuous basis and a number of proposals for upgradation of the existing air defence guns and procurement of ammunition are at various stages of implementation or procurement, he said.

Elaborating on the long term perspective plan, he said it is for a 15-year span till 2027 besides five-year Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) and Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP) adding these plans also cater for the Northern and Chinese borders.
Defence ministry had looked into Tatra truck issue 7 years ago
NEW DELHI: Seven years before the issue rocked the country, the defence ministry had gone into the procurement of Tatra trucks through an intermediary company and not original manufacturers and had closed the matter.

With Army Chief Gen V K Singh raking up the issue of alleged bribes in procurement of Tatra trucks, the CBI is probing alleged irregularities in the procurement of trucks.

It is probing into alleged irregularities in assigning of supply from Czech Republic-based Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to the Tatra Sipox UK owned by Ravi Rishi in 1997, showing it as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and the fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company.

There were allegations in 2005 that Tatra family of trucks were being procured from an agent and not not directly from OEM and that BEML was at best an assembler of such vehicles without absorbing technology.

In the wake of these allegations, the Defence Ministry had gone into the matter and apparently found that there was nothing wrong in procuring components from the intermediary company.

Before coming to this conclusion, the Ministry got a letter from the Indian ambassador in Slovakia about the ownership of the Tatra Sipox UK company.

According to official documents accessed by PTI after a recent review of the issue, the Ambassador had reported in 2005 that Tatra Sipox company was set up to resolve coordination issues arising out of division of the country Czechoslovakia into Czech and Slovak republics resulting in the division of the company producing these trucks.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 28 Apr 2012
Tejas’ naval version takes maiden flight
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, April 27
A day after the launch of the first indigenously developed radar imaging satellite, the Indian scientists scripted yet another success story: The naval version of the light combat aircraft(LCA) Tejas made its maiden flight today.

The LCA Naval Prototype 1 (NP1), which took off from the HAL Airport at about 12 noon, flew for 21 minutes and returned amid applause from high-profile gathering that included IAF chief NAK Browne and DRDO chief VK Saraswat. The Navy was represented by Vice-Admiral Satish Soni and Rear Admiral D Madhusudan.

NP1 was flown by Commodore JA Maolankar of the National Flight Testing Centre (NFTC), while Wing Commander M Prabhu, flight engineer with the NFTC, sat in the rear portion of the tandem-seating fighter jet.

Commodore CD Balaji, project director of LCA-Navy, PS Subramanya, Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), and others associated with the design and development of the fighter jet were gripped by emotion and had tears in their eyes as Maolankar and Prabhu emerged from the cockpit after the aircraft successfully landed.

Both pilot and co-pilot went to the terminal building on the shoulders of their jubilant colleagues.

Maolankar later said they flew at a speed of 450 km per hour and carried out a series of tests mostly related to the handling of the aircraft.

“We stuck to a 30 km area around the base and flew in a fairly aggressive formation,” he said. “The first flight was primarily to validate the landing of the aircraft and this has been successfully accomplished,” he said.

The undercarriage (landing gear) of the plane was not retracted during the flight, he said.

Another LCA (Air Force) flew with the naval version as a chase aircraft while a British Hawk flew alongside the two LCAs as a stand-by aircraft.

“We still have a long way to go. Today was the first flight. This will have to be followed up by ramp take-off and the last step will be arrested landing. This is not easy technology,” Maolankar said.

Vice-Admiral Soni said the Indian Navy was in tremendous need of indigenously developed carrier-compatible fighter jets.
Seniors cannot work under juniors: AFT
Tells Army to ensure that 945 jawans get their due on repatriation to MES
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 27
Hundreds of Army personnel posted at the Military Engineer Services (MES), who were put in a situation where they had to work under their juniors on repatriation to the Corps of Engineers, have been granted relief by the Armed Forces Tribunal.

“When persons working in the MES go back to their unit, they should get their due place in that unit without affecting their seniority or promotion. It is seen that when persons working in MES go back to their parent unit, they are sometimes placed below their juniors who are elevated while working in the parent unit. This is discriminatory and violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the Tribunal’s bench comprising Justice AK Mathur and Lt Gen SS Dhillon observed.

Consequent to a study undertaken on the rationalisation of trades in the Army, a policy was formulated to reduce the number of trades for personnel below officer rank and merge some of them to do away with superfluous and outdated practices. As a fall out of this, troops from the militarised cadre of the MES were being repatriated.

“The repatriation would have created a lot of disturbance in the existing status of the parent unit due to the seniority imbalance and seniors being placed under juniors. This would have also seriously affected their further right of promotion and created hardships for them,” Maj K Ramesh (retd), counsel for some of the petitioners said.

“As many as 945 MES personnel, some of whom had been working with the MES for 15 years, were being sent back,” he added.

The Tribunal, while upholding the Army’s rationalisation policy, directed that all the personnel who are repatriated to their parent unit would be restored back to their original seniority and they would be given their due. In case, if anyone is required to pass certain eligibility test for the promotion then he would be given that opportunity and the whole exercise would be undertaken and completed within a period of six months. The Tribunal also directed that these orders would apply to all MES personnel placed in this situation regardless of whether they have sought judicial redressal or not.
Navy gets first of three stealth frigates
Tribune News Service

INS Teg New Delhi, April 27
India today inducted first of the three ‘Teg class’ warships built by a Russian shipyard. These are classified as stealth frigates due to their ability to avoid detection from enemy radars and sensors. These are armed with supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, developed jointly by India and Russia.

India has indigenously built two stealth frigates of its own called the Shivalik class. These are 6000 tonne vessels. Another one is expected to join the fleet by the end of this year.

For the first time, India has opted to have the deadly BrahMos missile on one of its stealth frigates -- the Teg class. The first of the ships is named INS Teg. “BrahMos will be the preferred mode of ammunition on future warships,” officials said. So far five Indian Navy warships of the Ranvir class have been fitted with the BrahMos.

This missile is among the best in the world and being a local product its production or supplies cannot be hit by strategic mood swings of international politics, said officials.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy today said the INS Teg, a 4000 tonne vessel was inducted at the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad, Russia. It will sail for some 45 days to reach India.

Key features

n Classified as stealth frigates due to their ability to avoid detection from enemy radars

n The INS Teg will have a coordinated function to launch surface, air and underwater missions

n Besides the BrahMos, the warship is equipped with a surface-to-air missile system, anti-submarine torpedoes, etc

n A chopper with anti-submarine capabilities will be on board the ship
President forgoes Pune bungalow
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, April 27
President Pratibha Patil has expressed anguish over media reports that she was going to occupy an accommodation allotted to her by the Defence Ministry reserved for war widows after her retirement. She has not only denied the reports, but also announced that she has decided to forgo the facility of life-long government accommodation available to all former Presidents.

A statement was issued by the Rashtrapati Bhawan today stating that President Patil has been “reading and watching the unfolding of some fallacious observations regarding the accommodation in Pune which she was to occupy after relinquishing the office of the President.”

The statement regretted that “despite clarifications given by the President’s secretariat, it is unfortunate that misgivings continue to persist,” and added that “she is now being portrayed by some people as one who, by agreeing to accept a defence accommodation for her post-retirement home, is insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen.”

Insisting that facts are to the contrary, the statement said, “The accommodation proposed to be allocated to her by the Ministry of Defence was never indicated as one earmarked for war widows,” and also that “It was to be allotted to her only during her lifetime with no rights of ownership, transfer lease etc.

“However considering the fact that the issue had got linked with the issue of war widows accommodation by some people, the President has chosen to forgo the aforesaid allotment of accommodation proposed to be made to her as her post-retirement home in Pune.”

On April 13, media reports appeared quoting three individuals Suresh Patil, Ravindra Pathak and some RTI activist Anup Awasthi that more than 260,000 sq ft of defence land, after pulling down two British-era bungalows in Pune, had been  earmarked to build a  retirement home for  Pratibha Patil.

The trio claimed to be founders of some organisation called Justice for Jawans associated with an NGO called GreenThumb.

The triumvirate claimed that the President is entitled to stay after retirement only in a house not measuring more than 4,498 sq ft though the rules are silent on the area of the land.
India's new frigate INS Teg inducted into Indian Navy
New Delhi:  The Indian Navy on Friday added teeth to its warship fleet by formally inducting a newly-built frigate at the Yantar shipyard in Russia's Kaliningrad.

The warship, christened INS Teg, was commissioned by the Southern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil at a ceremony in Kaliningrad, an Indian Navy spokesperson in New Delhi said.

INS Teg is likely to reach Indian shores by the end of June 2012.
"INS Teg is a modern and contemporary warship with advanced technologies incorporated in every facet of design to make her stable, stealthy, fast and formidable," the spokesperson said in a press release.

The Teg class of ships, an advanced version of the Talwar class guided missile frigates in service with the Indian Navy, have been built to meet the specific command and control needs of the Indian Navy for co-ordinated surface, air and underwater missions.

The weapons suite of the 125-metre, 4,000-tonne frigate includes the BrahMos surface-to-surface cruise missile system, a surface-to-air missile system, 100mm medium range gun, close-in weapon system, torpedo tubes and anti-submarine rockets.

With its advanced weapons suite and sensors fully integrated with its combat management system, the warship is equipped to augment the Indian Navy's net-centric capability, and is well suited to undertake a broad spectrum of maritime missions.

The ship also embarks and operates an anti-submarine or an airborne early warning helicopter - a dominant force multiplier, the spokesperson added.

"Teg incorporates innovative stealth technologies to reduce her radar cross section, infrared and magnetic signatures, as well as radiated underwater noise," he added.

The ship is powered by an advanced gas turbine propulsion plant with state-of-the-art controls, to attain speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The ship has been equipped with complex automated systems for nuclear, biological and chemical defence, damage control and fire fighting that can be operated centrally from sheltered posts to minimise casualties and achieve rapid restoration of combat effectiveness.

The ship's crest embodies two crossed swords against the blue sky and ocean waves which symbolise strength, responsibility and commitment to a righteous cause.

Commanded by Captain Rakesh Kumar Dahiya, a communications and electronic warfare specialist, Teg is manned by a crew of about 250 men, including 25 officers.

"It is interesting to note that the individual crew members speak 15 different languages as their mother tongue and follow six different religious faiths - a true microcosm of the diversity, and unity of India," the spokesperson noted.

The other two ships of the Teg class - Tarkash and Trikand - are likely to be delivered by September 2012 and mid-2013 respectively.
‘Tatra sold obsolete trucks’
NEW DELHI: The Tatra trucks being supplied to the Indian Army are obsolete, running on fuel-guzzling old engines with mechanical transmissions that are years behind the rest of the world, Army sources said. The details are believed to be part of Army chief General V K Singh's inputs to the CBI.

The severe shortcomings would be a key part of the CBI's inquiry into Gen Singh's allegation that he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe to order a fresh batch of "sub-standard" Tatra trucks. One of the key focus of the CBI is to find out if bribes and other inducements were offered by Tatra Sipox (UK) owned by Ravi Rishi to ensure that Army continued to buy these obsolete trucks. The agency is also trying to ascertain whether it was the reason why Tatra enjoyed a monopoly for the past 25 years in truck supply to the Army.

With CBI investigations into the scandal picking pace, many new facts are emerging from the Army about how the entire contract for the all-terrain trucks were so biased in favour of the suppliers. As a result, there has been no major upgrade of its 1970s engine, except for it being made Euro II compliant in 2008.

Ever since Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) signed its first contract in 1986 for buying trucks, Tatra AS of Czech Republic has primarily supplied the T-815 family of trucks to India. T-815 was developed in the early 1980s. According to those in the know, the only noticeable change made to the T-815 trucks is the upgrade of its engines to Euro II compliance. The engines of T-815 trucks remain 'air cooled', which are bulky and protrudes into the cabin space, as against 'liquid cooled' engines that are more modern, compact and more efficient.

The 'air cooled' engines are low on power and have poor mileage. "Nobody seemed to have bothered about the technological transformations that have taken place in the automobile industry," an officer said about the fact that Army continues to use the same T-815 trucks even today. The T-815 trucks are fuel guzzlers. A truck that can carry 12 tonnes runs just 4 km on a liter of fuel. A source pointed out that Tatra's more advanced vehicles were far superior. "But we seem to have been a dumpyard for old vehicles," he said.

Those familiar with the Tatra trucks also pointed out that Tatra AS has been using more advanced engines made by Renault, Cummins, Deutz etc for vehicles it has been supplying to other militaries - the Czech and Russian armies among others. "As far as I know, the T-815 is being supplied only to the Indian Army," an official said.
India, US close in on defense deals worth $8 billion
NEW DELHI: US companies are poised to sign defense deals totaling $8 billion with India, US Ambassador Nancy Powell said on Friday at her first public speech since arriving in New Delhi this month.

Powell did not specify which companies she was talking about or when the deals would be signed, but embassy officials said she was referring to negotiations that include about a dozen Apache helicopters along with engines for Indian jets.

“We are poised to sign an additional $8 billion in direct commercial and foreign military sales,” Powell said. “As we share more common equipment, our bilateral defense ties will become stronger.”

India is the world’s largest arms importer and plans to spend close to about $100 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its largely Soviet-era equipment.

US companies including Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co are some of the contractors looking to grab a share of India’s planned military spending.

Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. is offering engines for the Indian Airforce’s Jaguar fighter aircraft.

Powell said improving bilateral trade and investment was her main objective as ambassador, mentioning US concerns about tariff and non-tariff barriers and a new retroactive tax law as obstacles in the relationship.
"India has all the building blocks for an anti-satellite capability"

Read more at:
Days after the milestone first test of India's strategic ballistic missile Agni-V, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat sat down for a detailed interview with Senior Editor Sandeep Unnithan. The DRDO chief explains why the missile is a technological breakthrough and how it gives India the capability to target satellites in space.

Why is the Agni-V different from the previous Agni missiles?

Dr. VK Saraswat
Dr. VK Saraswat during an interview with India Today. Photo by T. Narayan.
VKS: Agni-V is a completely new missile system. It is a 21st-century missile because of the technologies used and a game changer because of its strategic deterrence value. The missile went from drawing board to launch pad in just over three years. The government sanctioned the Agni-V project in December 2008. We began design work on it in April 2009. The missile was on the launch pad on March 14, 2012 and launched five days later.

What are the new technologies that the DRDO has developed for this missile?

VKS: Agni-V has taken us to a new level of technological maturity. This missile is entirely different from the Agni 3 and 4. The second and third stage booster of the missile are made entirely of composites. The third stage is a new booster that we developed. It is the lowest end of the tapered cone that ends with the warhead. That itself, in terms of composites, is a breakthrough. The navigation system is highly accurate. Don't forget that this missile travels at over Mach 20 in its terminal stage. Both the ring laser gyros (a device that measures the orientation of the missile and helps in inertial navigation) and the accelerometer (which measures the missile's rate of acceleration) are indigenously developed as part of the indigenous ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme. We also proved redundancies of our new onboard navigation system. A backup navigation system that was less accurate but more robust was put in place. This navigation system was supported by a unique fault tolerance software that we installed in the missile. The re-entry nose cone that contains the warhead had to be completely redesigned with new material and resins. This is because when the missile re-enters the atmosphere, it is hurtling towards the ground at over 20 times the speed of sound. Friction on the nose cone causes temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees centigrade. This system had to be proved on the ground and that was a major technological development for us.

We are also working on a canister-launched system for the Agni-V. We have designed a canister that can eject the 50-tonne missile 50 metres in the air and fire the first stage. The canister will allow us to store the missile for ten years with no maintenance. The missile will be carried on railcars and on a 12x12 road-mobile truck. Carrying the missile on a road-mobile launcher is better because it is more flexible, you just need some level ground to launch it. The first launch of the A5 was from a railcar, we hope it will subsequently be fired from road-mobile launchers.

Costs and production of the Agni-V? There is a concern that you will not be able to produce more than one or two missiles a year.

VKS: The A5 costs approximately Rs.50 crore per missile. We will need two more tests before starting serial production after two years. The DRDO is working with production agencies for this. All I can tell you is that we will produce more than just 1 or 2 missiles a year.

What were the challenges posed in tracking such a long-range missile?

VKS: The Agni-V required a different range deployment. The range of over 5,000 km meant the missile would land north of Antartica. That meant the ships tracking the launch would have to sail nearly a fortnight before the launch window. We had a slight difficulty in that all our tracking systems are ship and shore-based. We don't have airborne sensors. We needed three ships to track the launch: two near the splashdown and one to track the mid-course correction. The ships are due to return on April 30 or, 11 days after the missile test. We have a highly integrated tracking range comprising 15 sensors, seven radars and seven telemetry systems. They did an admirable job of tracking the missile flight in real time.

Does DRDO have the capability of destroying satellites in space?

VKS: Today, India has all the building blocks for an anti-satellite system in place.

We don't want to weaponise space but the building blocks should be in place. Because you may come to a time when you may need it. Today, I can say that all the building blocks (for an ASAT weapon) are in place. A little fine tuning may be required but we will do that electronically. We will not do a physical test (actual destruction of a satellite) because of the risk of space debris affecting other satellites.

How did you develop these ASAT capabilities?

VKS: There are a few essential parameters in intercepting satellites. You should have the ability to track an orbiting satellite in space, launch a missile towards it and finally have a kill vehicle that actually homes in to physically destroy it.

We have a Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) used in the Ballistic Missile Defence Programme that has a range of over 600 km. We will increase the range to 1,400 km allowing us to track satellites in orbit.

It is far more difficult to intercept ballistic missiles than it is to intercept satellites. Satellites follow a predictive path. Once you track a satellite, you will know its path.

In the BMD project, we track and intercept a 0.1 square meter target over 1,000 km away. A satellite is ten times larger-over 1 meter wide.

We have the communication systems in place, again developed for the BMD project. The first-stage booster developed for the Agni-V can inject a warhead 600 km into space. We also have a kill vehicle developed for the BMD project. The kill vehicle actually homes in onto an incoming missile. We have the Infra-Red and Radar frequency seekers on the kill vehicle that accurately guide it to its target.

At what phase of development is the BMD programme?

VKS: Phase-1 of the BMD programme will be completed by 2013. In this, we will intercept Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles with a range of 2,000 km. The second phase will be completed by 2016. In this, we will be able to intercept intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) with ranges over 5,000 km. Phase-1 has two missile interceptors called the PAD and the AAD. This year, we will be testing a new interceptor missile called the PDV. This missile will replace the PAD. Two missiles, the AD1 and the AD2 will be tested by the end of 2013 under Phase 2 of the BMD.

What about cruise missile defence?

VKS: That is a whole new ballgame because it calls for an entirely new set of missiles and radars. My team is presently studying CMD. We are looking at it as a possible next programme after finishing the BMD programme.

The DRDO has made breakthroughs in the K-series missiles for the nuclear submarine project. Why didn't you use a land-based variant of this missile?

VKS: The technologies involved in both missiles are different. An underwater missile has to deal with the pressure of a10 metre column of water above it. Hence the configuration of the missile is different. It is heavier, the structure is different. Unlike the Agni missile, this missile carries a lot of dead weight.

When will the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant be commissioned?

The submarine will test all its systems this year.

Field trials of the Arjun Mark 2 ?

VKS: We have the first test of the Arjun Mark 2 in June, this year. We have given the army 80 per cent of the changes in Mark 2. There are 126 more Arjuns being built, in addition to the 126 delivered to the army. We are confident of getting another order of 350 Arjun mark 2 tanks.

What stage is the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT) project at?

VKS: We are holding discussions with the army for this. We will finalise the specifications of the tank in six to eight months. We are looking at industrial partners for this. We want new technologies for weapons, mobility and signatures for the FMBT. We have to decide on the type of armour to use for it, whether active or passive. The FMBT will be a tank complimentary to the Arjun. It will not replace it. Each tank has its own theatre. The T-90 MBT (used by the Indian army) has its theatre, the Arjun has its own theatre.

When will the Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) be tested ?

VKS: The first successful trial of the LR-SAM was in 2010. After this we decided on a complete change of configuration. We will have another test of the modified missile in Israel in June 2012. The missile system has already been integrated into the first P15A warship (the INS Kolkata, being built at Mazagon Docks Ltd, Mumbai).

Read more at:
Team Anna invites army chief

New Delhi, April 26: Team Anna today invited army chief General V.K. Singh to join its anti-corruption platform.

Gen. V.K. Singh is set to retire as the army chief on May 31.

Activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan today released a set of documents allegedly showing commissions paid to a middleman in a helicopter deal.

The agent named in the documents and in a statement released by Kejriwal and Bhushan is Abhishek Verma who is an accused in the navy war room leak case, an event that goes back to 2006.

“These documents reveal that the allegations made by Gen. V.K. Singh are not just true but an underestimation of a much worse scenario,” they said in a statement.

Both the activists said they had received the documents from US citizen C. Edmonds Allen, who was a business partner of Verma before the two fell out. Kejriwal said the team “has never met” the army chief, neither has it been “in touch” with him. He said the team would “welcome” Gen. V.K. Singh if he wished to join theirs or any other platform after his retirement.

“We have never met V.K. Singh. As ordinary citizens, we do support him. We are proud of him. We would welcome him to this platform or any other platform. Post retirement we are sure he will continue his fight and show a ray of hope to the country.”

Bhushan said it was obvious that the army chief was being targeted for having raised inconvenient questions. “The army chief is an honest officer,” he said.

Bhushan said the army chief’s allegations of corruption and involvement of middlemen in defence deals were true and “at best an underestimation”.

The documents released by the activists allegedly show that Verma was paid commissions in a deal to supply helicopters to the Union home ministry for Delhi police.

The employment of an agent to procure Agusta Westland helicopters for the Delhi police is not illegal. Unlike the ministry of defence, the home ministry has not banned the use of agents in procurements.

However, since the Bofors case — that figured in Parliament even today — the use of agents is not politically palatable.

Yesterday, the defence ministry said it had asked for information on another deal with Agusta Westland to buy 12 VVIP helicopters for $750 million. The defence ministry’s announcement came after a former employee of the firm told investigators in Rome that commissions were paid to an agent to secure the Indian Air Force contract.

Verma’s father, Shrikant Verma, was a spokesperson and general secretary of the Congress. He died in 1986.


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