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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul 2012
Army orders probe into Bandipora man’s killing
SRINAGAR: The Army on Monday ordered a probe into the killing of a man in Bandipora in north Kashmir, which had triggered protests in the Valley.

Hilal Ahmad Dar (24) was allegedly killed in an encounter with the 27 Rashtriya Rifles soldiers on July 24. The army claimed he was a terrorist but the residents maintained that Dar was an innocent civilian, who worked for a cement factory in Srinagar.

After the arrest of two people in connection with the Dhar's murder on Sunday, the J&K police said it was a planned murder. Cops said they have arrested an army informer, Muhammad Ramzan Bhat, who got Dar killed allegedly for monetary benefits and his aide Nazir Ahmed Bhat.

In the wake of the two arrests, the army on Monday ordered a probe by a senior officer into the killing, defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said.
Antony writes to PM over wages and pension of services men
New Delhi: Stating that there was "growing discontent" among armed forces personnel over anomalies in pay-related matters, Defence Minister A K Antony has written a letter to the Prime Minister saying if "corrective action" is not taken, the issue might take a "bad turn".

After the letter was sent, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted a high level-committee under the Cabinet Secretary to address issues such as One Rank One Pension (OROP) and elevation of all Lieutenant General-rank officers into a higher pay scale. In the letter written on June 25, sources said the Defence Minister has written that "there is growing discontentment among the services personnel due to the anomalies in fixation of payment and salaries."

Pushing the case for accepting the demands of serving and retired soldiers, Antony pointed out that the service personnel, ex-servicemen and family pensioners are "equally agitated" over the anomalies in their salaries.
He told the Prime Minister that "unless we take corrective action, things may take a bad turn."

On July 13, the Prime Minister formed a six-member committee under Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, which has been asked by the government to finalise its recommendations and submit its report to Manmohan Singh by August 8.

For serving defence personnel, the committee will look into the issues of having a common pay scale for serving Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), placing all Lieutenant General-rank officers under the higher pay scale grade of Higher Administrative Group Plus (HAG+).

For the large community of ex-servicemen, the government has tasked the committee to consider the issue of One-Rank-One-Pension which has been the main demand of the services personnel and has seen a lot of them returning their service and gallantry medals to the President in the last few years as a mark of protest.
Assam violence: Was the Army deployed too late? Home ministry to take up the issue with the Prime Minister
New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has taken a very serious view of the fact that the Indian Army took five days to deploy force in Assam, as the riots spread despite repeated pleas and reminders from the state government. The issue is likely to be taken up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also represents Assam in the Parliament.

The law clearly states that the highest ranking executive magistrate, who is present at the site of violence, can requisition the Army to deal with a riot-like situation and disperse mobs. The Army, however, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), devised a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that requires it to take a prior clearance from the MoD before deployment. It is not clear yet when, why or who had cleared this SOP. "This procedure is flawed and is against the law of the land and needs to scrapped immediately," a senior official told NDTV. The MHA wants this SOP to be scrapped and wants the Prime Minister to take up the issue with Defence Minister AK Antony.

Sources told NDTV that the first request from the state government to the Army for help was sent by the District Magistrate of Kokrajhar on July 20. The local Army units, however, informed the state government that it was unable to deploy till a clearance from the MoD and the Army Headquarters. The next day, the state home department wrote a letter to the Ministry of Defence. Unfortunately, even then the letter wasn't acted upon. On July 23 the Deputy Commissioner of Dhubri also requisitioned the Army as the violence started spreading from Kokrajhar. The following day, on the July 24, the state administration sent another reminder to the MoD, and also informed the MHA, that its repeated pleas for deployment of the Army hadn't been either acknowledged or acted upon.
Shocked at the lack of urgency, even as violence spread to other part of the state, the MHA wrote letters that very day. The Union Home Secretary RK Singh also wrote a strongly-worded letter to his counterpart - Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma - reminding him of the legal obligations of the armed forces to act in aid to the civil authority. Late on July 24 night the Army deployments were cleared. The Army was finally deployed on July 25 at about 8 am in the morning.

By the time the Army was deployed, over 50 people had been killed. The maximum number of killings took place between July 21 and 23. What has perhaps annoyed the Centre is that the Army is present in adequate numbers in Assam for counter-insurgency duties and the turn around to law and order mode should have been easy. The 11 Brigade of the Indian Army is positioned in Kokrajhar looks after lower Assam. In contrast, para-military units of the CRPF, BSF and ITBP had to be moved from across the country.
Security threat at an all time high: Pallam Raju
BANGALORE: The increasing perceived threat to the national security as the international forces withdraw from Afghanistan - coupled with challenges faced in resolving the border disputes with China and constant needling by Pakistan -is keeping the Indian army on its feet, as the security threat to the country is at an all-time high, said Pallam Raju, minister of state, ministry of defence, recently at an aerospace event in Bangalore.

"We surely need to shore up our defensive and offensive capabilities," he said.

Speaking at the sidelines of an aerospace and defence summit, Raju said that the defense budget is pegged at Rs 1, 93,000 crores in the current financial year.

The defense budget has been growing at an average of 12 percent, as the military keeps itself updated with latest technology to counter external threats.

"The capital expenditure which mostly caters to modernization equipments of our defense forces accounted for Rs 69,199 crores in 2011-12 and is budgeted at Rs 79,579 crores in 2012-13. The overall need to modernize defence capabilities of our armed forces is expected to lead to increased purchases of new equipments and technology during the 12th plan and thereafter," he said.

In March 2012, China announced an 11 percent rise in its defense budget, to 670.274 billion Yuan, over the expenditures in 2011.
Raju said that the defence electronics sector is set to see a high growth during the 12th plan period. "While the navy and IAF are likely to contribute about 15 percent each, 70 percent of the demand will come from army," he said. "The total defence capital budget allocation during the 12th plan is likely to be Rs 4,45,500 crore while the defense electronic purchases in the next 10 years is estimated to be Rs 6,00,000 crores," he added.

The MOS for Defence said that there is a great deal of emphasis given to increase the country's self reliance on defence technology and research and development in this field. "Defense research units, companies on field and private sector need to contribute together under the facilitation of the government," Raju said.

He said that the government is working towards a proposed center for defence electronics - a center for excellence to run on PPP-model or public-private partnership - to facilitate the electronic technology.

In the wake of the recent scams that have tarred the image of defense PSUs, Raju said that the ministry of defense has given strict instructions to defense PSUs to be transparent in their dealings especially while identifying their vendors and doing joint ventures.

"We don't want any scope for irregularities, especially since the recent incidents have made people point fingers at the ministry of defence," he said.

He added that the internal security situation is one of the biggest hurdles to the progress of the nation. "We also have to prepare ourselves against hacking and malware by building up domestic industrial base in the hardware sector to ensure that there is no breach in security anywhere," he added.

Speaking on the acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft ( MMRCA), with the defence ministry giving the green signal to the evaluation process that led to selection of the French Rafale fighter, Raju said, "The proposal has to pass through ministry of finance and cabinet committee though it is still with the ministry of defence currently. Though, we want to finish the whole procedure as soon as possible, we are just following the procedures which are taking time. We want to be very sure to avoid cases of irregularities as it will affect us adversely."
In signs of PLA shift, Chinese Defence Minister proposes India visit
 China’s Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie has expressed his keenness to visit New Delhi this year to cement defence ties with India before the once-in-decade leadership transition gets under way in Beijing, Chinese sources have told The Hindu.

General Liang will likely visit New Delhi in September, shortly before the 18th Party Congress — scheduled for October or November — opens in Beijing to finalise the leadership transition when the 71-year-old Minister is set to step aside.

His trip will mark the highest-level visit to India from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) since 2005, when he last visited the Indian capital as the PLA’s Chief of General Staff.

The sources said the Indian government responded positively to his proposal and was firming up dates.

The PLA’s eagerness to schedule a high-level visit has been seen as a shift in how it handles ties with India. Indian officials have been struck by the recent moves to reach out to India following several years of strained military-to-military relations that even saw defence exchanges suspended in 2010 for more than one year.

Exchanges were suspended in July 2010 after the PLA refused to host the then head of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal, on the grounds that he was serving in the “sensitive” region of Jammu and Kashmir. The refusal was seen as reflecting an increasingly hard-line approach at a time when Chinese officials appeared uninterested in taking forward defence ties with India.

In a reflection of how ties have markedly changed since, the PLA this month hosted an Indian military delegation on a rare visit to Tibet for the first time in many years. The delegation was hosted by the Chengdu Military Region, responsible for guarding the disputed border with India. In the past, the PLA has been wary of opening up bases in Tibet to visits from India, given China’s sensitivities over the region and the border dispute.

And, last month, four Indian naval ships visited Shanghai in the biggest-ever such exchange with China. Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, flew in from New Delhi to hold talks with the PLA Navy’s highest ranked official in charge of its East Sea fleet, Vice-Admiral Su Zhiqian, marking the highest-level naval exchange in many years.

In recent talks, the Chinese side has also impressed upon their Indian counterpart the need to broaden military contact. The PLA has proposed the permanent stationing of Indian Air Force and Navy attachés in the Embassy in Beijing and expressed its desire to post Air Force and Naval attachés in New Delhi. At present, only one defence attaché of Colonel rank is stationed by both countries in each other’s capitals. China has also suggested posting officers of a higher Brigadier rank.

While India has agreed in principle to a proposal to station two additional officers, the moves were understood to have been held up on account of budgetary constraints cited by India’s Defence Ministry.

Why the PLA has stepped up efforts to engage with India in recent months remains unclear. The moves come at a time of rising strains in defence ties between China and several of its neighbours. Disputes with Japan over islands in the East China Sea have resurfaced, while Chinese vessels have had run-ins with ships from Vietnam and Philippines in the South China Sea.

General Liang’s visit, when confirmed, will likely be the only high-level bilateral visit from China to India this year, the sources said, with Beijing increasingly preoccupied with its leadership transition.
BSF to seek GSI, Army expertise for uncovering Indo-Pak tunnel

Jammu: Having failed to make any headway in uncovering the 400-mt-long tunnel from Pakistan into India in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba sector, BSF has sought help from Army, Geological Survey of India and geo-physics and seismology experts for the task.

"We have requested experts of Army, GSI, geo-physics and seismology besides geology and mining to conduct digging and excavation work to find out the extension and opening of the tunnel," IG BSF (Headquarters, New Delhi) S K Mishra told reporters at Chillary border fencing area on International Border (IB), over 60 km from here today.

Help would be also sought from satellite imagery from ISRO, he said before the border guarding force took necessary action.
The BSF suspended excavation work on Monday to uncover the tunnel after 48-hour-long operation in Chachwal village due to rains that filled the trench dug by the para-military force.

"Tunnel portions are filled with rain water ... work was stopped," he said. "We have been digging the tunnel further ... we do not know where the tunnel is going, where is its opening point .... we have not found out so far," he said.

"The alignment (of the tunnel) is straight to border fencing ... it is going across. So far we have got to the middle of the tunnel .... we do not know beyond," the IG said.

He said, "We have requested experts from Army to excavate it further so that we can know where is its opening and where is it going .... that we have to do urgently."

"One tunnel has been detected. We do not know whether there are more tunnels. So we have sent requests to for GSI, geology and mining experts to find details of the tunnel," he said.

"We will definitely inform ISRO for satellite imagery," he said, adding that a seismic survey could be carried out as well.
Army Chief Bikram Singh to Visit Jaipur
Army Chief General Bikram Singh would be visiting Army's South-Western Command here tomorrow, his first visit to the command after his appointment as Chief of Army staff.

"This will be his first visit to the command after taking over as the Chief of Army staff. He will stay here till August 1," defence spokesperson S D Goswami said.

"The Army Chief would address all officers of Jaipur station to apprise them of his vision and key thrust areas of the Indian Army, as also the external and internal security, challenges that are likely to emerge in the short and long term perspective," the spokesperson said.

The Army Chief will be accompanied by his wife Bubbles Singh, the president of Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA), Goswami said.

General Bikram Singh also plans to interact with Veterans at Jaipur, apprising them of various measures undertaken towards enhancement of welfare of ex-servicemen, he said.

President of Central AWWA is scheduled to interact with families in the Command where she would personally meet them and inform them of the implementation of welfare and growth-oriented schemes under the initiatives of AWWA, he said.

Monday, 30 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 30 Jul 2012
India test-fires BrahMos missile with new systems

Balasore (Odisha), July 29
In a bid to enhance indigenous missile manufacturing capabilities, India today successfully test-fired the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the integrated test range at Chandipur off Odisha coast.

The 32nd test-firing was part of the development trials of the missile which has already been inducted into the Army and the Navy.

The objective of the mission was to evaluate some of the newer subsystems which are produced by the Indian industry as part of production stabilisation, BrahMos officials said, adding more than 25 such systems were incorporated in the development missile.

The launch was primarily aimed at testing the new power systems, materials for airframe components, guidance scheme and various electric systems, they said.

The data obtained from the test-firing is being analysed for large-scale production by Indian industries, they said.

"It was an experimental flight and the missile was tested successfully," ITR Director MVKV Prasad said. — PTI
Indigenous artillery guns meet parameters; Army orders 100
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 29
Trials of indigenously produced new artillery guns, meant to replace the Army's inventory of 155 mm Howitzers supplied by AB Bofors around 25 years ago, have been promising. In its assessment of the trials carried out this summer in Rajasthan, the Army has said the guns have met the "stipulated parameters'.

Produced by the Ordnance Factory Board, these guns are 155 mm, 45 calibre howitzers. These look like Bofors and have the capacity to fire up to a distance of 32 km. These guns were tested near Pokhran in Rajasthan during May this year.

Around 100 such guns have been ordered by the Army and are based more or less on the existing Bofors design for which the OFB holds the Transfer of Technology (ToT) licence from the Bofors. Research for the manufacture of a number of variants of the howitzer is underway and is nearing completion.

The Army has expressed keenness to have 155 mm 52 calibre guns which the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will produce. The original AB Bofors-inducted in 1987-is 39 calibre. The "calibre" of a gun is primarily the length of its barrel that helps the ammunition in travelling farther. A 52 calibre gun will fire around 4-5 km more than other variants.

The recently ordered 100 guns of 45 calibre, coupled with 145 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) and the upcoming 52 calibre gun being produced by the DRDO are expected to end the shortage of artillery guns in the Indian Inventory. As part of its artillery modernisation plan, the Army plans to purchase a total of 400 howitzers that can be towed away, along with 180 self-propelled ones and 145 ULH.

Apart from the order placed to the OFB, the Ministry of Defence has okayed the purchase of 145 ULH under a $700-million deal through the foreign military sales (FMS) route between the US and India. Named the M777, these guns weigh just 3,200 kg each and can be slung under a helicopter to be dropped in mountain areas that are inaccessible by road. These guns will be stationed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh - both facing China.


    Produced by the Ordnance Factory Board, new artillery guns are 155 mm, 45 calibre howitzers
    Can fire up to a distance of 32 km
    These will replace Army's inventory of 155 mm Howitzers supplied by AB Bofors around 25 yrs ago
India successfully tests supersonic cruise missile BrahMos
India Sunday successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a defence base in Odisha, an official said. It has a range of 290 km and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg.

The missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur in Balasore district, about 230 km from here. "It was an experimental repeat of a previous version," M.V.K.V. Prasad, director of the test range, told IANS.

The missile has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. This makes BrahMos one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world.

The missile can be launched from submarines, ships and aircraft. Sea and ground launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the army and navy.

It was the 32nd flight test of the BrahMos. The latest test was carried out at about 10.30 a.m.

"The objective of the mission was to evaluate some of the newer subsystems which are produced from the Indian industry as part of production stabilisation. More than 25 such systems were incorporated in the development missile", BrahMos Aerospace spokesperson Praveen Pathak told IANS.

The latest launch was primarily aimed at testing the new power systems, materials for airframe components, guidance scheme and various electric systems. The data obtained from multiple telemetry stations of ITR are being analysed for large scale production by the Indian industries, he added.

India'a military designs, regional peace
India has decided to go for fast track to reach to the level of regional superpower. When Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is now President of India, met Indian Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh in February 2012 but refused to disclose the details of his discussions many analysts got the hint what is cooking up with regard to Indo-US-Israeli partnership.
The new Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh who assumed charge on 31st May 2012 is said to have links with Pakistan. Indian media reports claimed that General Bikram Singh's eldest daughter-in-law is a Pakistani citizen. However, Indian Military Intelligence officials have disclosed Singh's daughter-in-law, who has converted to Sikhism after marriage, is a US citizen, having an Afghan father and a Central Asian mother. There are reports that family of daughter-in-law of General Bikram Singh and her relatives had been living in Pakistan and applied for US citizenship after spending a good period of time in Pakistan. The very aspect will always keep the new Army chief under the scanner of Intelligence agencies. General Bikram Singh family originally belongs to Kler village, near Rayya in Amritsar but is permanently living in Indian Jammu and Kashmir state for last two decades.
In the latest development, a high level meeting was held at New Delhi, which was attended by Indian Defence Minister, A K Antony, National Security Advisor, Shivshanhar Memon, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and the three Service chiefs. Operational situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC) were discussed in detail, in which dissatisfaction over state of alertness was expressed and new strategy regarding winter vacated posts was discussed. General Bikram Singh recommended a complete overall of mutation of wars due to its aging. It was pointed out that Indian Army's entire armour fleet is lacking necessary ammunition to check the enemy while whole of the Air Defence is obsolete and requires major changes. Indian Air Force has already concentrated on its bases at Jodhpur and Halwara, etc. by deploying additional squadrons of Sukhois but during the conference concern was expressed over balance of air power with regard to Pakistan Air Force deployment of F-16s and Chinese JF-17 'Thunder' jets to counter Indian threats. It is pertinent to mention here that on ground, Indian Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) has miserably failed and Indian Mountain Strike Corps to counter Pakistan and China proved to be white elephant for time being. Air Marshal Arup Raha, Air Chief Western Air Command and Lieutenant General Sanjeev Chachra, Commander Western Army Command, expressed limitation on sharing real-time information due to obsolete communication equipment. The message was quite clear that all is not OK.
There is no doubt on the wisdom of new Army Chief General Bikram Singh who proposed "Time Gain Strategy" to build power at par with China and Pakistan. But one wonders, if he would be trusted in New Delhi and Washington after his Kashmiri, Pakistani and Afghan links.
On assuming the charge, General Bikram Singh has expressed plans to ease tension with Pakistan and China. Under the prevailing situation, since bulk of Pakistani forces are engaged in Western theater to counter potential threat to western countries, New Delhi feels much relaxed. General Bikram Singh is quite comfortable with Washington and Tel Aviv and attempt may be made to use him as pawn in the "Great Game". During his tenure in Congo, he served the western interests to an extent where he openly violated United Nations directives. During his course at US Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania he developed good friendship with American top services officers and was considered as pro-America officer. Washington is provoking New Delhi to launch a small operation inside northern parts of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir in the name of cross-border terrorism but such misadventure under the command General Bikram Singh seems remote. In such a case Washington may take other steps such as attack by third party that may lead further deterioration of Pakistan-India relations.
There are reports that General Bikram Singh has opposed the revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act from some parts of the state in such a situation. However, same could not be confirmed as he was quoted by a Kashmiri journalist that he promised revocation. If we recall, India's new President Pranab Mukherjee, in his first presidential speech while highlighting terrorism said, "I am proud of the valour and conviction and steely determination of the armed forces as they have fought this menace on our borders; of our brave police forces as they have met the enemy within; and of our people, who have defeated the terrorist trap by remaining calm in the face of extraordinary provocation". While describing the war against terrorism as the fourth world war, he said, "We are in the midst of a fourth world war; the third was the Cold War, but it was very warm in Asia, Africa and Latin America till it ended in the early 1990s. The war against terrorism is the fourth; and it is a world war because it can raise its evil head anywhere in the world." Pointing indirectly finger on Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Mukherjee suspected cross-border terrorism from its neighbourhood. However, at the same time, Mukherjee was honest enough to accept home grown terrorism when he linked terrorism to enemy within and indirectly expressed his concern over Maoists, Bodos, Tamils, Bangalis, Sikhs, Kashmiris, Indian Muslims and others.
India has plans to spend over US $100 billion in acquiring weapon systems and platforms over the next decade to counter external enemies. India has already purchased defence items worth over $8 billion over the last few years while New Delhi acquired the position of second largest FMS (Foreign Military Sales) customer of US in 2011 with imports worth $4.5 billion. In a nut shell New Delhi has joined the western conspiracy against the East, especially Muslims. As regard to internal threats, despite the fact that General Bikram Singh is regarded as pro-west general in Indian Army, there are high hopes that he would verify the self-engineered Intelligence Inputs and fake encounters against the marginalized people in Indian states before dubbing them as terrorists.
New Delhi still has time to open her eyes and stabilize its economy and pave way for a new era of mutual trust and confidence between the neighbouring countries, in order to workout a joint defence of Indian Ocean.
Boeing eyes India as US cuts defence spending
Inside a spotless hangar here, technicians work on three gleaming new Boeing 737s, painted in the drab grey favoured by the world’s navies. While two of these are marked with the US Navy logo, the third bears markings unusual for this hangar: the Indian Navy’s Devanagari logo: ‘Nau Sena’ (Navy).

These are no ordinary 737s but new P-8 multi-mission aircraft (MMA) that watch over enormous tracts of sea, detecting hostile ships and submarines with electronic sensors, and quickly destroying these with the weaponry on board.
Unprecedentedly, these state-of-the-art platforms will join service almost simultaneously with the US and Indian navies, giving the latter world-class capabilities for dominating the waters and vital shipping lanes off its 7,500 kilometre coastline, deep into the Indian Ocean.

Since independence, India has remained content with older weaponry that richer and more technologically advanced countries had already deployed for years. The Indian Air Force (IAF) bought the Jaguar and Mirage 2000 fighters long after they entered frontline service with the French and British air forces, while the Sukhoi-30 MKI and the T-90 tank were systems that the Russians did not induct.

But the navy’s purchase in 2009 of eight P-8 aircraft for a whopping US $2.1 billion, and Washington’s decision to supply these to India alongside the first deliveries to the US Navy, highlight two major changes.

First, Washington’s readiness to sell New Delhi cutting-edge weaponry without tiresome quibbling over “changing the regional arms balance.” Second, the P-8 buy demonstrated New Delhi’s willingness to spend its top dollar to back regional ambitions with top-flight military capabilities.

New Delhi again demonstrated that buying power last year by shucking up $4.1 billion for 10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. These giant airlifters, which can land and take off from short, high-altitude, mud airstrips along the Himalayan Sino-Indian border, will let the Indian Army quickly reinforce threatened sectors.

For Boeing Defence, Space and Security (BDS), the company’s military division which stares at US defence cuts of a trillion dollars over the coming decade, New Delhi is an increasingly important customer.

Boeing’s international defence sales, which currently account for 22-24 per cent of BDS’s turnover, must reach 25-30 per cent, says Mark Kronenberg, Boeing’s international business development head. The Asia-Pacific region, with India as the largest buyer, is expected to account for 45-50 per cent of foreign sales, with West Asia buying another 25-30 per cent. These plans were jolted last year, when New Delhi rejected Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter in a $17 billion purchase of 126 medium fighters, choosing instead the French Rafale. But Boeing remains optimistic about four potential revenue streams. Besides the P-8 and the C-17 Globemaster III contracts already won, the IAF is also evaluating the purchase of Boeing’s Apache AH-64 attack helicopter; and Chinook CH-47F heavy lift helicopter.

The P-8 being completed here is Seattle has been designated the P8-I (I for India), which distinguishes it from the US version, the P8-A. Two Indian aircraft have already flown, the last one on July 17. Boeing executives say that, by end-2013, three P-8Is will be in operational service in India.

The P8-Is will operate from INS Rajali, a naval base at Arakonam, near Chennai, flying eight-hour missions over the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the northern Indian Ocean. These could involve seeking out pirates, suspicious cargo vessels, or hostile warships and submarines. During such missions, the P-8I’s enhanced internal fuel tanks will allow it to fly 1,100 kilometres to a patrol area, remain on station for up to six hours, and then fly back 1,100 kilometres to Arakonam. Using aerial refuelling, this endurance can be doubled.

On patrol, naval operators scour the area from banks of consoles inside the aircraft. A multi-mode radar in the P-8I’s nose cone looks forward and sideways, picking up aircraft, surface ships and submarines.

Meanwhile, a belly-mounted radar looks backwards, like an electronic rear-view-mirror. Suspicious objects can be investigated further: a suspected enemy submarine is pinpointed by dropping sonobuoys, floating sonar detectors that radio back telltale audio signals. A magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) on the P-8I’s tail distinguishes between an enemy submarine and, say, a blue whale.

These sensors are backed up with armament. The P-8I, basically a Boeing 737-800, has the enhanced wings of a 737-900 onto which weaponry can be mounted. This includes potent anti-ship Harpoon missiles, and the Mark 82 depth charge that the US Navy uses.

Another compartment in the aircraft’s belly will house five Mark 54 torpedoes, the primary submarine-killing armament. These must be warm when they are launched, and so cannot be exposed to the icy temperatures of wing mounting.

The US Navy intends to buy at least 117 P-8A aircraft, as the US version is called, while Boeing expects another 75 aircraft to be snapped up by international customers, especially those who want to upgrade from the P-3C Orion, built by rival company, Lockheed Martin.

Pakistan operates four P-3C Orions, but US government insiders say that a sale of the P-8 to Pakistan would not be cleared.

India, remains a potentially big customer. Robert Schoeffling, the P-8 programme’s Business Development head, anticipates Indian orders for 25-35 P8-Is. “With 7500 kilometres of coastline, 60 per cent of the world’s shipping traffic (passing close by), tremendous need for MDA (maritime domain awareness), including anti-submarine, and with three aircraft carriers in the 2020s, (the Indian Navy is) going to have a tremendous need for such aircraft,” he says.

Chilli used by Indian army in weaponry is hot property for poor farmers

Military's demand for bhut jolokia, once the world's hottest chilli, is offering thousands of Assam farmers a way out of poverty

"Look at this," said Dr Anuj Baruah, holding up a vial containing a few drops of rusty red liquid. "With this I could make you senseless." His nose started twitching; his eyes watered. "Oh dear. I think I may have got some on my fingers," he said, looking remarkably unconcerned that his skin had touched something the Indian government has developed into a biological weapon.

"I know what happens. Your brain starts to not work properly, you become restless … " He scurried off, returning a few minutes later after washing a particularly pungent strain of bhut jolokia chilli concentrate off his hands on his farm-cum-chilli research lab in the north-east Indian state of Assam.

When Assam's bhut jolokia was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as being the world's hottest chilli in 2007, it was a source of intense pride in the deprived state. Five years on, its title may have been challenged, but the subcontinent's celebrated super chilli is offering thousands of farmers a possible route out of poverty – and being supplied for potential use in controlling crowds and quelling riots.

When word got around about its Guinness entry, masochists the world over started offering ridiculous sums to get their hands on the spiciest chilli on the planet – once used by farmers to repel marauding elephants. One woman made it into the record books herself after eating 51 in one sitting under the horrified gaze of Gordon Ramsay.

The Assamese government wanted in. Farmers were offered subsidies to cultivate the plant, with some famous tea gardens in upper Assam even getting in on the act.

Trinity, an NGO, has selected another 2,000 Assamese farmers to grow the crop, said Nagen Talukdar, Trinity's secretary, last week. There is serious money to be made for anyone with the wherewithal to preserve their crops – a kilo of dried bhut jolokia sells for about 1,800 rupees (£21), a fortune for the average farmer, who generally survives on a subsistence level, taking home 150 rupees (£1.72) a day.

While there is a strong international market from so-called chilli-heads looking to blow their mouths off, the real demand is likely to come from India's ministry of defence, said Baruah, who sells bhut jolokia seeds and powder on the global market as well as acting as a consultant to farmers wanting to start growing the crop.

A biotechnologist, Baruah had been casually cultivating bhut jolokia for years at home; his mother used to preserve them in mustard oil and give her sons a few drops when they had an upset stomach. But he knew the chilli had potential outside the culinary and medicinal arenas.

He quit his job at a state-run petroleum research institute and started experimenting in a makeshift laboratory he set up on a patch of land rented from a local tribe in Khetri, 25 miles from Guwahati, Assam's main city. Soon, the defence ministry came calling: could he figure out a way of extracting the chemical pigment capsaicin from bhut jolokia? If so, could the Defence Research Laboratory in Tezpur, Assam, have 8kg for "research".

With a loan he bought an extraction machine and, with the help of two assistants, fulfilled the order in three months, refining the process to such a degree that he managed to produce 90% capsaicin. "I still don't know exactly what they were planning to do with it," he said, musing that you could, for example, "blast a container of capsaicin into a terrorist hideout and make them all drop their guns when they take just one breath." It was then he jovially warned he could make the Guardian "senseless" with a vial of oily red capcaisin he had extracted. "I could even decide for how long I wanted you to be unconscious by varying the dose," he said, smiling.

Last year it was reported that the Central Reserve Police Force – India's largest armed force, which specialises in counter-insurgency – had started using chilli grenades to blast at stone throwers in the perennially tense Kashmir region.

Then last month, police in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, reportedly asked the home affairs ministry to be allowed to buy chilli grenades for crowd control.

While business is booming, the latest edition of the Guinness Book of Records brought a cruel blow to Assam, when bhut jolokia was usurped as the hottest chilli by an Australian upstart, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. Then in February this year, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion took the Butch T's crown in tests run by experts at New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute.

Baruah insists it isn't curtains for bhut jolokia. "The others aren't really available to buy easily," he said. "We can still boast of growing the world's hottest commercially available chilli." Plus, he said, bhut jolokia has centuries of spicy heritage, unlike these johnny-come-latelies. "Only after a chilli has kept its heat for a few generations can you stake a claim to its real pungency."
Indian Army proud to possess captured 1971 Pakistani jeep
Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir), July 29 (ANI): Army officers based in Poonch district, Jammu and Kashmir, have said that it is a matter of pride for them to make use of a Pakistani jeep that was captured by them during the 1971 war.

The 3 Grenadier Regiment of the Indian Army captured the jeep, which was a part of their attack plan at Shakargarh border, in Jarpal area of Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters, Commanding Officer of 3 Grenadier, Colonel Lalit Sharma informed reporters about the events that took pace in 1971 and said that it was a great achievement for the Indian Army.

"Jarpal Queen (a vehicle) was captured in the (1971) war. It's an achievement for our unit and the sacrifices that have been made by the Indian army (is uncountable) and in this present situation, when the unit is deployed at the border, so, whenever we see this vehicle, it reminds us how our ancestors had fought bravely and became successful in winning the war and its achievements are still with us," said Sharma.

The Army attacked the Jarpal area on the night of December 15. They captured the Jeep, which is known as 'Jarpal Queen'.

The jeep is still running for patrolling on the border roads of the country.

At present, the unit is deployed in Nangi Tekri region of Poonch district.

Sharma said that the 3 Grenadier Regiment has always stood up for the services to the nation.

"I can assure you hundred percent that not only the '3 Grenadier' but each and every unit of the Indian army (is always ready for the service of the nation). Whatever task would be given to us by the Army or by the country, we are always ready to accomplish it with full enthusiasm and devotion." Said Sharma.

A full scale war broke out between India and Pakistan over East Pakistan. It ended with surrender of 90,000 Pakistani troops and led to creation of Bangladesh.

Kashmir lies at the heart of tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals and has been trigger of two of the three wars between them since their independence from British rule in 1947.

The row over Kashmir remains an emotionally charged issue for both India and Pakistan.

The restive region has witnessed numerous militant attacks, insurgency, and infiltration attempts from across the border in the last two decades.

Kashmir is one of the world's most militarised zones, with India deploying more than 1.3 million troops to quell separatists. (ANI)


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