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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 11 Jul 2012
Wait for fighter jet gets longer; govt to relook at process
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
Wait of Indian Air Force for an early decision on finalising the contract to procure the much-awaited Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) just grew longer. The Government has decided to take a re-look at the entire process that declared French Dassault Aviation as the lowest bidder in the multi-billion dollar contract.
Barely weeks after independent monitors submitted a report that the IAF/Government followed the procedure in identifying French 'Rafale' as L1 (lowest bidder), the Ministry of Defence decided that the entire process would be looked afresh after the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) completes its task.

Sources in the Government told The Tribune that after perusing the report of the three independent monitors appointed by the Central Vigilance Commission, it was decided that once the CNC finalises its recommendation, the Defence Finance will have to go through the process once again with a fine comb before it moves ahead.

The development assumes significance since two officials associated with the CNC had differed with the procedure through which 'Rafale' was determined as the lowest bidder as against the offer by 'Eurofighter' manufactured by European consortium Cassidian.

Doubts over the process were also flagged by Telugu Desam Party MP MV Mysura Reddy. The MP wrote a letter to the Defence Minister who has also received anonymous letters pointing out to certain "loop-holes" in the various processes followed by the IAF and the Ministry.

Besides insisting that the deal should be fair and transparent, as a matter of extreme caution, Defence Minister Antony outlined an eight-stage mechanism through which the deal will have to go through, including vetting by the CVC, before it finally reaches the Cabinet Committee on Security for assent. This re-look is an additional layer.

The minister has made it known the top military brass and also foreign vendors that he would not hesitate to cancel any defence deal at any stage if the Government detects the process has been vitiated. Sources in the ministry said in case the L1 is found not to be in order, the entire deal would have to be scrapped.
the trigger

n Two officials associated with the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) had differed with the procedure through which 'Rafale' was determined as the lowest bidder as against the offer by 'Eurofighter' manufactured by European consortium Cassidian

n  Defence Minister has also received anonymous letters pointing out to certain "loop-holes" in the various processes followed by the IAF and the Ministry

The deal

n  The IAF hopes to acquire 126 aircraft, with the first 18 in 'fly-away' condition and the rest manufactured in India under Transfer of Technology
'LeT more dangerous than Al-Qaida'

Washington, July 10
With Al-Qaida on the backfoot, Hafeez Saeed founded LeT has emerged as the world's most dangerous terror group and has connections with the Pakistan's ISI and army, a former senior CIA officer has said.

The November 2008 attack by 10 LeT terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11, Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy at Brookings Institution, a Washington based think tank, wrote in The Daily Beast.

He, however, noted that more than three years after the attack, LeT has paid no serious price.

"It (Mumbai attacks) marked the maturation of LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of Al-Qaida: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India," he said.

He also referred to the arrest of LeT terrorist Abu Jundal and noted it was a major breakthrough. He said Saudi role in capturing Jundal is also "significant". — PTI
Indian Army Chief in Kathmandu
KATHMANDU: Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, General Bikram Singh has arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday on a five-day official visit, following an invitation from Chief of Army Staff General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung.

"General Bikram Singh, who took over the reins of the Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army on June 1, 2012, is visiting Nepal as his first foreign visit after taking over as COAS, said Indian Embassy in Nepal in a statement issued today.

General Singh is scheduled to meet Gurung at the Nepal Army headquarters this afternoon after laying a wreath at Bir Smarak at the Army pavilion in Tundikhel.

During his visit, General Singh will receive honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army from President Dr Ram Baran Yadav amid a special function at Sheetal Niwas on Wednesday in keeping with a tradition between the armies of the two countries.

The same day, General Singh will visit the Birendra Peacekeeping Operation Training Centre at Panchkhal, and make a courtesy call on Defence Minister. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai holds the defence portfolio as well.

General Singh will visit the Jomsom-based High Altitude Mountain Warfare School, Nepali Army Western Division Headquarters and the Indian Army's pension camp in Pokhara on Thursday.

He will make it to Lord Buddha's birthplace, Lumbini, on Friday and also visit the Army Command and Staff College at Shivapuri, where he will address army officers receiving training.

General Singh will wrap up his visit on Saturday afternoon.
Women officers of Indian Army scale Everest
NEW DELHI: It is a view that many would dream off. As 25-year old Captain Smitha, stood atop the Mount Everest, she could see some of the highest mountain peaks like Kanchenjunga below her. Better still she got a bird's eye view of Tibet and Nepal simultaneously. After a 7-day expedition up the highest mountain peak in the world Captain Smitha was exhilarated to complete her trek to the summit.

"It took me some time to realize I had reached the top of Mount Everest. And as I stood there I could see small mounds and also Tibet and Nepal sprawled across," she said. Even after coming down with a lung infection the young officer was one of the first to reach the summit.

Captain Smitha along with six other women officers of the Indian Army achieved this feat by not only challenging steep heights of the mountain but also its harsh weather conditions, strong winds, blinding blizzards and avalanches.

The youngest officer in the team, was speaking to TOI at the flag in of the Indian Army Women Everest Expedition 2012 that was attended by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. The entire expedition that was filmed by the Discovery Channel captures the arduous task undertaken by these seven women along with a team of ten other members comprising of male officers and a Sherpa.

Officers say that their entire journey had its moments of drama, disappointment, adventure, disturbing scenes and risks. Describing one particular incident which was the journey from the South Col, a camp at 8,200 meters above the sea level, to the summit that is at 8,848 meters above the sea level, the scene that awaited them made the back of their hair stand.

"After reaching South Call, we started our journey to the summit at 7:30PM. It was decided to travel by night as the winds are not that strong," said Major Neha Bhatnagar.

"In the night it is only the head lamp that provides us with the light we need. And while trekking up, we came across six dead bodies. A day before six people had died and four went missing on their trek up the mountain. We saluted them and carried on," added Bhatnagar.

The team that was trained in Siachen and Manali for a year, not only stumbled across an avalanche, but also had to turn back because of bad weather. Major N Linyu, who is the eldest in the team and has undertaken more than three treks to other mountain summits, says that there was a point when the entire team felt disappointed. This was on May 18, when the team had attempted to trek up the South Col to the summit, however, was asked to turn back.

"I remember the disappointment, when we were asked to return to the base camp. The weather was bad. It was a blinding blizzard. One could not even stand as the winds were so strong," said Linyu. "But we did make it to the top on May 25th and saw the sun in the horizon along with other mountain peaks and prayer flags that mark the summit," added Linyu.
DRDO, Army working on futuristic artillery gun
New Delhi: That the Indian Army's artillery regiments are in desperate need of a makeover is well known. But the process of modernisation and upgrade has moved at a glacial pace. The only new weapon in sight is the M777 light howitzer which has been cleared for procurement from BAE Systems in the US. The DRDO has now stepped in, reviving an old artillery project that had been shut down some years ago owing to the Army's lack of interest in an indigenous project.

Working this time with the Army's full backing, the DRDO has begun work on a new 155mm 45-calibre gun that could take a decade to develop and field. Dr S Sundaresh, head of the team for the new artillery project, said in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN that the gun would comprise certain high-end technologies that could require a foreign collaborator.
We are proposing to develop a futuristic gun in consultation with the Army. We are in dialogue with the Army for some of the new technologies we are proposing to introduce into this gun, for example a special coating for the barrel to enhance its life, the smart recoil system with rheological fluid or an electrical drive to elevate and traverse the gun. We are in dialogue with the Army to finalise the Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) hopefully in the next couple of months. We have already started design work and will modify the design to suit the PSQR.

Since these are new technologies, we expect in about four to five years time we should be ready with a prototype for user trials, followed by summer and winter trials. Production could commence in about nine to 10 years' time. So the development cycle is 5-7 years including evaluation by the Army.


We want to try new technology in the area of recoil. The standard recoil systems are hydro-pneumatic but we are looking at an electro rheological liquid which has adaptive viscosity characteristics. So it will have adaptive damping, you will get a smooth consistent recoil no matter what the weight of the shell and what range you are firing at. That makes for a more reliable recoil system. The PSQRs demand new technology such as barrel coating. So the plan is to first build the barrel using current technologies and then try coating. Once that barrel development technology has matured, we can add new technologies and improve its performance. A number of foreign firms are willing to offer the coating technology. We are in dialogue but nothing has been firmed up yet. In order to cut down on time, we may get the technology from abroad, especially about the barrel coating and the recoilless system.


Basically, both tanks and non-rocket artillery have rifled guns but when you look at the length of the barrel, the artillery gun barrels are much longer than tank barrels. The artillery shell is heavier, so the force of recoil is heavier. Accordingly, you require a proper recoil mechanism and a muzzle brake system.


Nobody else in the world is developing a new gun. BAE Systems Bofors, Denel and Singapore Technologies have developed technologies for the guns they built. Nexter of France has also done the same but no serious development is taking place in terms of new guns. All guns are being produced with existing technology, so we will be the only country taking up this development. We have a large requirement and even if we take up development today, we can meet our requirements 10 years from now for a state-of-the-art gun system.

The Ordnance Factory Board is working on a gun based on the ToT documents received from Bofors. So they will be building a 155mm 39-calibre gun as well as a 155mm 45-calibre one. DRDO is helping them with the 45-calibre barrel design and external ballistics.


Self propelled guns are now at the RFP stage and we have teamed up with BEML for the Army tender. BEML is taking the turret from the Czech firm Zusana and the same will be integrated on the Arjun tank chassis. Hopefully trials will commence within a year.
An Officer And A Lady?
So it was only in the 1990′s that the Indian army started accepting women officers into the regular army. Now being a civilian myself who comes from a civilian family, this was not something that I really dwelled upon. But then last week I came across this statement by an American Marine Captain Katie Petronio. She says that women should not be put in combat and also that integrating women into the Marine Corps will result in, "a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females."

You can read the whole article here. Now this got me thinking and also googling.

It was only last year in October that the Indian army recruited the first ever woman Jawan. However, this news was tempered by the postscript, which clearly stated that she would only be part of the Territorial Army for now and was a long way off from any sort of combat duties. A little more reading revealed that women officers are made to retire at 14 years, which cripples them professionally as officers are eligible for many ben only after 18 years. I am of course not talking about the medical corps where women have served ably in various posts for very long years.

My husband, an army brat himself says that he has friends, daughters of army officers who chose to join the army as well. However when you compare that to the sons of army officers who choose to do so the number is not much to talk about. So it looks like  the Indian Army is not always the first choice for a career for a woman, despite having grown up within its folds. (Would love to hear from female army kids on whether this is true or not and why.)

Today when a woman police officer is hardly a rarity, why is it that no one talks about women in combat? It's not like we don't have a history of women in combat.

As early as 1943, the Indian National army had an all women regiment named the Rani of Jhansi regiment led by a woman as well. And Indian history is littered with the names of women who stood side by side with the men on battlefields. So what made it change?

Or is it simply that there are not enough women out there who would like to join the army at all?

Which come to think of it is not a bad thing considering we have more than enough warmongers out there!

What do you think?

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