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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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