Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 20 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 20 Jul 2012
AGni V fires India into ICBM League
HISTORIC DAY: Nation’s most potent missile successfully launched
By Raj Chengappa
At Wheeler Island, Odisha

As Agni V, India’s most powerful strategic missile, lifted off in a blaze of brilliant orange plumes from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast, the scene inside the launch control room resembled a twenty-twenty cricket final. India’s top missile scientists, who were sitting glued to their computer terminals that displayed Agni’s progress, jumped up and clapped every time the missile crossed a major milestone in the firmament.

Just 20 minutes after launch, when the missile successfully completed its 5,000-km journey that took it way past the Equator and detonated its payload at the designated spot over the Indian Ocean, it was as if India had won the World Cup. Apart from hugs, thumbs-up and V signs, the missile team lifted Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Vijay Kumar Saraswat and DRDO’s Chief Controller of Strategic Missiles Avinash Chander and carried them on their shoulders as cricketers would do of winning captains.

Cries of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ rant the air as did ‘India and DRDO Zindabad’. Many retired senior scientists who were invited to witness the launch had tears in their eyes as they savoured the moment. Addressing the gathering from atop the shoulders of his team members, Saraswat said, “Today we have made history. India is now a major missile power. We have done India proud.”

India’s missile scientists had, indeed, made history. Not only had they got the whole nation riveted to TV sets early in the morning but had also fired a shot that was heard across the world. April 19, 2012, will long be remembered in the annals of India’s strategic weapons quest as the day on which India finally came of age in terms of missilery.

With the success of Agni V, Chander told his wildly cheering team, “India had joined the select club of nations with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities. Now we have the capability of developing and deploying missiles, anywhere, to any place in the world and at any time.”

In the moment of India’s triumph, Chander is not exaggerating. Simply put, Agni V does cover the gaping hole in India’s nuclear deterrent against current military threat scenarios that the country faces, especially from China. In the Agni class of missiles, Agni I with a range of 700 km and Agni II with 2,000 km reach, were meant to deter Pakistan against any nuclear adventure. While Agni III and IV were designed for China, their range limit of 3,000 km was insufficient to strike all key Chinese cities and strategic locations, if the need arose.

Enter Agni V with its now proven range of 5,000 km. Agni’s current configuration can be modified with relative ease to reach longer ranges putting it in the ICBM class of beyond 5,000-km range. Even in its current design, all of China’s strategic and tactical targets within the range of Agni V.

Congratulating the missile team soon after the launch, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Saraswat over the phone, “Today’s successful Agni V test launch is another milestone in our quest to add to the credibility of our security and preparedness and to continuously explore the frontiers of science. The entire nation stands together in honouring the achievements of our scientific community that has done the country proud.”

While there is every reason for DRDO’s missile team to feel euphoric, their job on Agni is far from done. The first launch essentially tested the missile configuration.

But to make it weapon worthy Agni V will have to undergo at least two more successful flights.

As VG Sekharan, Director, DRDO’s Advanced Systems Laboratory, which puts together Agni, says, “We still have to get it to a user deliverable configuration including an ability to do a launch from a canister.”

The DRDO may have demonstrated mastery over a range of missilery but the scientists still have plenty of work to do. Chander acknowledges this and says, “Agni 5 will be the stepping stone for the next round of capabilities. It could be anti-satellite capabilities, launch on demand capabilities, putting small satellites into orbit and multiple and manoeuvrable warheads.

“Most important the future will have intelligent warheads which are able to detect counter measures against them by the enemy and take evasive measures.”
‘No race; it’s counter-threat measure’

The Tribune Editor-in-Chief Raj Chengappa in conversation with Vijay Kumar Saraswat, DRDO chief, and Avinash Chander, DRDO’s chief controller, R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems) at the Agni V launch

Vijay Kumar Saraswat
Vijay Kumar Saraswat

What has Agni V demonstrated about India’s missile prowess?

India is now a missile power. It means we are completely self-reliant as far as this technology is concerned. In the eyes of the international community, India can design a missile system for any mission in this field. With this launch, whatever are the demands of our security forces in terms of various targets, geographical zones and other sensitive points, we can meet them all.

Vijay Kumar Saraswat (left) and Avinash Chander with Agni V a day before the launch.
Vijay Kumar Saraswat (left) and Avinash Chander with Agni V a day before the launch. Photo: Raj Chengappa

Will there be an Agni VI?

As far as missile technology is concerned, it is like a “cat and mouse” game. When India started the ballistic missile defence (BMD) project, there were only three nations in the world that had such a capability. Today, there are more than six nations that have this capability and more than ten nations are actively involved in developing ballistic missile defence systems. It means if we want to stay in the lead, we will have to add additional features to our existing missiles. Our mission in future will be to make our existing and future missile equipped with additional features like a highly manoeuverable re-entry that will confuse enemy radars and BMDs.

How do our missile systems compare with that of Pakistan?

As far as Pakistan is concerned, they do have a good missile technology regime. Though I am not too confident how much is the indigenous content in that because the data available is very scanty. We know they have a variety of missiles that can go up to 2,000 km. We have not come to know if they have any missile with range beyond that. But with the existing missiles they can cover a fairly large part of India. We have a very high degree of self-reliance and understanding of the technology as compared to our neighbour.

What about China’s capabilities?

China has built missiles that are similar to those developed by erstwhile Soviets because of its close association then with them. The Chinese did a marvellous job of re-engineering many of them. As a result, China has a full range as far as missile capability is concerned. They have an excellent industrial base to support their programme because a large number of electronics and navigation companies are working to support it.

Are we in a race with China?

We have no reason to be in a race with China. Actually it is wrong to talk of a missile race. Everybody will like to have missiles to meet their threat requirements. Just because somebody has got an ICBM that can go up to 10,000 to 12,000 km does not mean that we should have one. India is not in a race with any nation as far as missiles are concerned. India develops missiles only to meet its threat requirements.
CBI books BEML chief on corruption charges
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 19
Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) chairman and managing director (CMD) VRS Natarajan, already under the CBI scanner for the Tatra truck controversy, got another blow today when the CBI raided his residence and office in Bangalore in connection with the implementation of an Enterprises Resource Planning (ERP) project in BEML and registered a case against him and the director of a Coimbatore-based private company under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The investigating agency later said in a statement that it “has registered a case against the CMD of M/s BEML, Bangalore and a private person who is a Director of a Coimbatore-based private Company and others U/s 120-B r/w 420 IPC and Sec.13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act”.

According to the CBI, the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy amongst themselves at Bangalore and other places during 2004-09 to cheat M/s BEML in the matter of award of different works relating to the implementation of Enterprises Resource Planning Project in M/s BEML “causing wrongful loss to M/s BEML and wrongful gain to others”.

The statement added that the raids were continuing in Bangalore and Coimbatore at the time of issuing of the communique. “Searches are being carried out today in the office and residential premises of the accused persons at Bangalore and Coimbatore”, it said and added that further investigation would continue.

A BEML official told this reporter that the Coimbatore-based private company mentioned in the CBI statement was Astral Consulting Ltd.

A six-member CBI team also interrogated Natarajan at his residence after seizing a number of incriminating documents from his office and residence.

CBI’s contention

The CBI says the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy during 2004-09 to cheat M/s BEML in the matter of award of different works relating to the implementation of Enterprises Resource Planning Project in M/s BEML “causing wrongful loss to M/s BEML and wrongful gain to others”
Demilitarising Siachen
Kayani holds out olive branch

Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaque Parvez Kayani has a point when he says that there is no logic in deploying troops at the Siachen glacier where soldiers lose their lives more because of the extremely harsh weather than in an exchange of fire between the two sides. Therefore, in his opinion, a way should be found for the demilitarisation of Siachen. He blames India for first sending troops to Siachen in 1984 but, at the same time, admits that the two countries were close to reaching an agreement on the glacier issue not long ago. During the composite dialogue process, which got snapped by the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the two countries had almost agreed to demilitarise Siachen, but Pakistan refused to accede to India’s demand for the demarcation of the point where the armies of the two countries were positioned at that stage. If Pakistan accepts India’s viewpoint, troop withdrawal need not be a problem, and this will lead to the saving of billions of rupees and prevention of loss of human lives due to the intolerable weather conditions there.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advice to his country that it should take the lead and unilaterally withdraw its forces from the glacier is worth the effort. This, Mr Sharif believes, may force India to follow suit. General Kayani should give serious thought to the idea when he realises that this may lead to a reduction in the defence budget, and that the security of a country has no meaning if development gets ignored.

In any case, it is interesting that for the first time the Pakistan Army Chief has come out publicly with the view that the defence budget of his country needs to be reduced to save money for economic growth. This is not a tall order when India and Pakistan have intensified their efforts to develop great stakes in commerce and industry by providing as much concessions as possible for the cause of peace and growth. Actually, this is the best alternative available when wars have failed to provide solutions to the issues coming in the way of normalisation of relations between the two neighbours.
India tests Agni-V, capable of reaching China
The launch was put off on Wednesday due to bad weather
Reuters / New Delhi Apr 19, 2012, 09:23 IST

India test-fired a long range missile capable of reaching deep into China and Europe on Thursday, thrusting the emerging Asian power into an elite club of nations with intercontinental nuclear weapons capabilities.

A scientist at the launch site said the launch was successful, minutes after television images showed the rocket with a range of more than 5,000 km (3,100 miles) blasting through clouds from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.
"It has met all the mission objectives," S.P.Dash, director of the test range, told Reuters. "It hit the target with very good accuracy."

The Indian-made Agni V is the crowning achievement of a now-mothballed missile programme developed primarily with a possible threat from neighbouring China in mind.

Only the U.N. Security Council permanent members - China, France, Russia the United States and Britain - along with Israel, are believed to have such long-range weapons.

Fast emerging as a world economic power, India is keen to play a larger role on the global stage and has long angled for a permanent seat on the Security Council. In recent years it has emerged as the world's top arms importer as it rushes to upgrade equipment for a large but outdated military.

"It is one of the ways of signalling India's arrival on the global stage, that India deserves to be sitting at the high table," said Harsh Pant, a defence expert at King's College, London, describing the launch as a "confidence boost".

The launch, which was flagged well in advance, has attracted none of the criticism from the West faced by hermit state North Korea for a failed bid to send up a similar rocket last week.

But China noted the launch with disapproval.

"The West chooses to overlook India's disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties," China's Global Times newspaper said in an editorial published before the launch, which was delayed by a day because of bad weather.

"India should not overestimate its strength," said the paper, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party's main mouthpiece the People's Daily.

India has not signed the non-proliferation treaty for nuclear nations, but enjoys a de facto legitimacy for its arsenal, boosted by a landmark 2008 deal with the United States.

On Wednesday, NATO said it did not consider India a threat. The US State Department said India's non-proliferation record was "solid," while urging restraint.

Inside China

India says its nuclear weapons programme is for deterrence only. It is close to completing a nuclear submarine that will increase its ability to launch a counter strike if it were attacked.

India lost a brief Himalayan border war with its larger neighbour, China, in 1962 and has ever since strived to improve its defences. In recent years the government has fretted over China's enhanced military presence near the border.

Thursday's launch may prompt a renewed push from within India's defence establishment to build a fully fledged intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme capable of reaching the Americas, though some of India's allies may bridle at such an ambition.

"Policy-wise it becomes more complicated from now on, until Agni V, India really has been able to make a case about its strategic objectives, but as it moves into the ICBM frontier there'll be more questions asked," said Pant.

The Agni V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of a programme that started in the 1960s. Earlier versions could reach old rival Pakistan and Western China.

"India can now deter China, it can impose maximum possible punishment if China crosses the red line," Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University told Reuters.

The rocket is powered by easier-to-use solid rocket propellants and can be transported by road
Kayani’s call on Siachen evokes guarded response from India
NEW DELHI: Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's call for a resolution to the Siachen dispute evoked a guarded response in the India establishment, as a breakthrough is seen as elusive unless Islamabad agrees to authenticate the ground level position on the glacier.

A day after Gen Kayani's comments, the Indian response was cool despite minister of state for defence Pallam Raju seeing a positive note in the Pakistani army chief's comments.

"I am glad that our neighboring country, Pakistan is also realizing the challenges and the economic problems of maintaining troops on the Siachen glacier," Raju told journalists. "They have their concerns and we have our concerns but it does take an economic toll. This money can be better spent on development of both countries," the minister said.

The two countries are looking for dates for the next meeting of defence secretaries, which is likely to happen in the next month, as the calendar of talks has to conclude by June when foreign minister S M Krishna is scheduled to travel to Pakistan.

Gen Kayani, while visiting Skardu region on Wednesday after the recent avalanche that killed over 130 military personnel, hoped the Siachen issue would be "resolved so that both countries don't have to pay the cost". He said he hoped "there will be a resolution and we want that there should be a resolution (of the Siachen issue). There should be a resolution of Siachen and other issues." This was seen as a significant statement by the Pakistani army chief.

The core of the difference between the two sides is that India wants Pakistan to authenticate positions on the AGPL (Actual Ground Position Line) before any talk of demilitarization or withdrawal. Pakistan is pushing a four-point plan which includes demilitarization, withdrawal of troops, delineation and authentication. India is unwilling to do this.

"We have been consistent on the steps necessary before demilitarization of Siachen can be carried out. We won't give up the advantage we enjoy without a very credible, and verifiable, commitment from their side," a senior Army officer said here.

Another officer said India has repeatedly said any demilitarization should be preceded by delineation of the AGPL, authentication of the line and military positions on maps to be exchanged, an end to wrong projection of AGPL in each other's maps, and a framework for demilitarization as the final step for withdrawal of troops. "They are reluctant to agree to our suggestions," another senior military official said.

In Pakistan, a day after Gen Kayani's statement, the Pakistani foreign office too ruled out any basic change in the country's position. Official spokesperson Muazzam Khan said, "We are not thinking of any unilateral redeployment of troops. Pakistan has made several proposals to resolve the military standoff on Siachen, including a proposal for mutual re-deployment of troops."

Security analyst B Raman said Gen Kayani's remarks came in the wake of the avalanche and consequent local anger against the army. "His remarks have the tactical objective of responding to local anger and projecting India as responsible for lack of forward movement on the Siachen issue." Former envoy G Parthasarathy said Gen Kayani's comments were incorrectly interpreted as neither side has changed its position.

After Kargil, the Indian army remains even more wary of Pakistani intentions. "If they can violate the Line of Control, then I don't see any reason for them not to violate AGPL," an army officer argued.
The recent brouhaha over defence issues has brought welcome attention to the state of our armed services.

Just a couple of years ago, in 2010, India's National Security Annual Review unnecessarily averred that India was now the world's fifth most powerful country, outranking traditional powers such as the UK, France and Germany.

Citing the country's population, military capabilities and economic growth, the Review, issued by the MEA, placed India behind only the U.S., China, Japan and Russia in a ranking of global power.
reasons of state

For a country still excessively focused on problems in its own neighbourhood, distracted (if not obsessed) with Pakistan and kept off balance by China, this had even then seemed a somewhat farfetched claim. In the wake of the Army Chief's letter to the PM on defence preparedness, it bears re-examination. India's military capabilities are real and their quality has been demonstrated time and again both on the battlefield and in a large number of challenging United Nations peace-keeping operations.

But whether in terms of structure, equipment and training the Indian military establishment could yet measure up to the European powers the Review said it had supplanted, remains to be proven. Security in the most fundamental sense is one area where our military cannot be faulted: they have done all that we have asked of them to keep our nation safe.

But the Ministry of Defence also needs to be able to engage other countries on international security issues. As the Indian-American scholar Ashley Tellis has pointed out, 90 per cent of the MoD's personnel is focused on acquisition and there is only one Joint Secretary entrusted with the task of handling global security cooperation.

The resultant lack of capacity has been embarrassing: as Tellis tells it, a number of training exercises scheduled in recent years between the Indian and foreign militaries have had to be called off at the last moment since India simply could not get its act together.

This has, inevitably, led to a serious loss of credibility for the country. Few countries face quite the range and variety of security threats that India does - from the ever-present risk, however farfetched, of nuclear war with Pakistan or China, with both of whom we have unresolved territorial disputes, to Maoist movements in 165 of our 602 districts, secessionist insurgency in the north-east, and terrorist bombs set off by Islamist militants in metropolitan markets.

And yet we have not yet evolved a comprehensive national security strategy to cover this entire spectrum of threats. As a democracy, India needs to undertake a strategic defence review that brings in all elements of the security services, the public at large and elected representatives in parliament, to produce a national security strategy.

But such an exercise has not even been attempted. With the government not yet having formally approved the long-term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP 2007-22) formulated by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, there is little systematic effort to align India's defence expenditure and purchases with any systematic strategy to modernise and enhance India's combat capacity.

Instead, defence procurement - when it is not delayed by a political reluctance to make potentially controversial decisions involving large sums of money - is being undertaken through ad hoc annual procurement plans, in the absence of long-term policy.

Whereas China spends 3.5 per cent of its GDP on defence and Pakistan officially spends 4.5 per cent (not counting US military aid and vast sums allotted to intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, which would take the figure well above 6 per cent of GDP), India's defence budget clocks in at the very modest level of less than two per cent of GDP.

At these levels, any meaningful modernisation that will substantially enhance India's combat capabilities remains a chimera, and the money at the disposal of the military remains inadequate even to replace the ageing and obsolete weapons systems with which the Indian defence services, armed police and para-military forces are replete.

As the eminent strategist K. Subrahmanyam observed, 'India has lacked an ability to formulate future-oriented defence policies, managing only because of short-term measures, blunders by its adversaries, and force superiority in its favour'.

The structure of the armed forces and the nature of defence policy-making, planning and training leave much to be desired; there is little co-ordination amongst the three services, and proposals to create either a Chief of Defence Staff or a US-style position of Chairman of a Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee have never been implemented. There are both a National Security Council and National Security Advisory Board, but neither can point to a stellar record in promoting policy coherence and strengthening strategic planning.

The services lack serious intelligence capacity and world-class area studies expertise; even issues of nuclear policy and strategy do not bear a significant military stamp, partly a reflection of the strong civilian desire to keep the armed forces out of the nuclear area.

The absence of a Chief of Defence Staff or a permanent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs - which means there is no single point of military advice to the government on defence strategy - is compounded by the lack of any tri-service integrated theatre commands in such vital areas as the management of air space and cyber-warfare.

Serious morale issues have also arisen over such issues as the welfare of ex-servicemen, whose campaign for 'one rank-one pension' has not met with a satisfactory response, the embarrassing absence of a National War Memorial to honour the sacrifices of India's military men and women, and the needless controversy over the date of birth of the Army Chief.

The role of the Indian armed forces is principally to constitute a credible deterrent in itself; in Subrahmanyam's words, 'preventing wars from breaking out through appropriate weapons acquisitions, force deployment patterns, the development of infrastructure, military exercises, and defence diplomacy'.

This is a far more demanding task than conducting routine peacetime operations would normally have been, because with unsettled borders on two sides, the security of the country lies in a credible conventional military capacity that can serve as a deterrent against any adventurism from a possible adversary across the borders.

We can be proud of our armed forces, which have distinguished themselves in a number of conflict situations, but we still have a long way to go before we can boast of the kind of integrated and well-resourced defence structure that warrants any claim of a higher standing in the ranks of global powers.

Read more:
Indian Army empowered to fast-track special equipment for commandos
New Delhi : Stung by Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over gaps in defence preparedness, the government Tuesday decided to fast-track army acquisition and projects and as a first step, empowered the army to buy equipment for special forces commandos.

The army will buy the specialist equipment on its own, as it at present does with regard to equipment for troops posted in Siachen Glacier, the world's highest and toughest battlefield.

This decision was taken at a two-hour meeting to review army's procurements and infrastructure development plans chaired by Defence Minister A.K. Antony here, attended by Gen. Singh and other senior officers from the force, defence ministry officials said here.

Antony also asked his ministry officials to immediately refer to the planning commission, the army's demand for laying of 14 strategically important railway lines to enable troop mobilisation close to the Indian borders with China in the northeast.

With regard to the road and infrastructure development in the northern borders with China and Pakistan, the defence minister also set up an empowered committee under Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma that will look at speeding up these projects in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, officials said.

"The army has been given authority to buy equipment for special forces and an empowered committee has been set up under army vice chief, Lt. Gen. Shri Krishna Singh," they said.

The army chief had flagged deficiencies in the the special forces equipment too in his letter to the prime minister of gaps in defence preparedness.

On army's demand for helicopter gunships, the review meeting decided to refer it to a joint committee of the army and the air force, which will submit a report after studying current practices being followed by modern armies.

At present, the Indian Air Force operates two squadrons of attack helicopters under the operational control of the army's Strike Corps.

But the army wants its own squadrons of attack helicopters in it aviation wing so that each of its corps could operate one unit that provide close air support to the troops and armoured vehicles during battle.

Tuesday's review was the third since Feb 28 and the second since Gen. Singh's letter to the prime minister.

The meeting also noted that the decks have been cleared for one more squadron of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for the army, which already operates two squadrons.

The army's plans to get additional Pinaka multi-barrel rockets too has been fast-tracked with price negotiations with the vendors completed recently.

The defence ministry, at the meeting, also recorded the fact that an army proposal for additional manpower for its Military Engineering Services, which handles civil constructions and projects for the services, has been sent to the finance ministry for approval.

Another demand for eight mule companies to assist in border road projects too has been sanctioned, officials added.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal