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Saturday, 15 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 15 Sep 2012

Indian AF Seeks 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers

NEW DELHI — BAE Systems of the United Kingdom has been asked by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to supply 20 more Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs) at a cost of about $500 million.


“BAE Systems has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft,” said the BAE Systems statement.


Earlier, BAE contracted the sale of 66 Hawk trainers in 2004 and 57 additional Hawk trainers in 2010. If the latest order is contracted, the total numbers of Hawk trainers supplied to India would be 143. The order for the purchase of 57 Hawk aircraft was signed during the 2010 visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron to New Delhi.


The 20 Hawk AJTs will replace the Kiran MkII aircraft with the Indian Air Force, which were grounded last year.


“Upon successful conclusion, this would be the third contract placed on BAE Systems for supply of materials and equipment for the Hawk Mk132, building upon previous orders of 66 aircraft in 2004, comprising supply of 24 Hawk aircraft in fly-away condition and 42 aircraft built under license by HAL, and a further 57 aircraft in 2010,” says the BAE release.


India is expecting the delivery of all the 123 contracted Hawks to be completed by 2016, said a Defence Ministry official.


BAE says the potential order of 20 Hawk trainers would boost the total worldwide order of the aircraft to 1,000.


Meanwhile, the Indian Army has also decided to buy 140 ultra-light howitzers from the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems through the Foreign Military Sales route.


BAE has a tie-up with India’s private sector automobile major Mahindra and Mahindra to design and develop specialized military vehicles and artillery products.


BAE and HAL already have a joint venture in software named BAeHAL Software, founded in 1993. The company, located in Bangalore, is providing software services to Indian and global customers on BAE aircraft.

Pension office in offing for city ex-servicemen

 Chief Minister Arjun Munda applauded the Indian Army and assured opening of Defence Pension Disbursement Office (DPDO), canteen and assistance in other required arenas on the occasion of inaugural ceremony of “know your army” exhibition at the Morhabadi ground on Thursday.


“Indian army is the most powerful armed force in the world and no amount of appreciation about its chivalry is enough. It has never let us down, even in the toughest battles of the nation and am proud of the fact that our army is far ahead of all the technically ahead and strong nations,” said Munda while addressing the ex-servicemen rally.


Calling the army as an inspiration for youth, Munda assured that he would endeavor to resolve all issues being faced by this integral part of the services. “A DPDO would soon be opened at Ranchi and Hazaribagh to solve the issues cropping in the payment of pensions. Likewise, we are also active on the matter of VAT in canteens. The foundation of Shaheed Memorial near Booti More was laid to honor the martyrs. The Government would also provide an amount of Rupees three crore in coming days for the betterment and enhancement of the place,” said the Chief Minister.


The Chief Minister also informed about the ECHS centers for ex servicemen running at Ranchi and Jamshedpur and the Government’s plans related to opening of ECHS Polo clinics in the five district headquarters. Munda asserted that the government would be giving priority to the establishment of such centers in Chaibasa, Gumla, Daltonganj, Deoghar and Hazaribagh so that better services can be provided to these men of the nation. Accommodation facility for war widows and children of former servicemen was also discussed, for which funds were assured by the Chief Minister.


“The selflessness of the army men is matchless. It would never be enough no matter whatever we do for them. We are safe till the time they are there risking their lives,” said Munda. The Chief Minister also asked the army men to give in their views and advice to the authorities if they want any sort of addition or reform. He also told the army men to give in their best for the development of the state. Munda also congratulated Lieutenant General Gyan Bhushan, General Officer Commanding-in-chief for his credible contribution.

Chinese army holds military drill in East China Sea

Amid its raging dispute with Japan [ Images ] over the sovereignty of islands in East China Sea, the Chinese military has conducted exercises with amphibious tanks practising stealth landing on the territory.


The Nanjing Military Area Command conducted a live ammunition drill on cross-sea combat, state-run CCTV reported on Thursday.


The exercises included participation of jet fighters and three ships carrying amphibious armoured forces, which landed near the shores and released dozens of amphibian tanks.


The formation underwent a simulation attack by gunfire at a distance of about three km from the shores. They employed a smoke device to conceal their movements and used remote artillery fire to make their assault, the report said.


The drill was aimed at examining and improving the joint operation capabilities of ground troops and the navy. The troops' maritime traffic crossing speed has increased by 50 per cent and their amphibious combat capability has also improved significantly, it said.


The exercises occurred as China raised vociferous objections to Japan purchasing the Daioyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea from a private party.


China claims the islands were part of it from ancient times and Japan appropriated them after the Second World War.


China has also dispatched two maritime surveillance ships to the islands after announcing that the region formed part of the baseline of its maritime boundary.


The exercises were also reported to be a retaliation to recent Japan-United States military exercises which involved mock takeover of islands.


Separately, state run Xinhua news agency reported that China will conduct routine patrols near the Diaoyu Islands to assert the country's sovereignty and protect fishermen.


Data showed that over 1,000 Chinese fishing boats enter the waters of the Diaoyu Islands each year, with their total catch exceeding 150,000 tonnes, it quoted an official of the ministry of agriculture as saying.


However, increasing "harassment" from Japanese ships in recent years has severely affected China's fishing activities, triggering widespread protest and condemnation of Japan, the report said.


In order to safeguard the interests of China's oceanic fishing industry and ensure safety for its fishermen, the ministry has asked fishery authorities in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces to include areas surrounding the Diaoyu Islands in their regular patrol scopes, the official was quoted as saying.

India's pride on parade at OTA in Chennai

 When Neha Bharadwaj walks past the salute base of the colonial style Parameshwaran Drill Square in the Officers Training Academy in Chennai on Saturday, her father, mother and brother, watching from the VIP gallery, would be the cynosure of all eyes.


The family will be scoring a golden hat-trick with the commissioning of Neha as a lieutenant of the Indian Army. Both her father Col SK Sharma, and brother Lt Prasanth Bharadwaj, are officers in the Indian Army. The icing on the cake is the fact that both of them too graduated from the OTA. It is a moment of pride for Lt General SS Jog, the commandant and other faculty members as it is the Golden Jubilee Year for the elite institution.


Each passing out day is unique for the OTA since each and every cadet has got a lot to tell about their breathtaking training of 49 weeks. What makes Saturday’s passing out parade special is that a majority of the gentlemen cadets and lady cadets boast of degrees in engineering and technology, especially information technology. It is time for the IT giants to introspect if the batch of cadets passing out on Saturday is any indication. Many of them gave up their six-figure monthly packages for a life in the Army.


Ashish Gambani worked as a senior software engineer in a leading IT company before opting for a life in the Army. “I know I’ll be taking home a much lighter pay packet than what I was drawing in my last job. But salary and foreign junkets are not the criteria for a safe and challenging job,” said Gambani. Anubha from Lucknow and Ramakrishnan from Vellore (both with IT degrees) represent the changing faces of Indian youth. “When I met some of my schoolmates who had joined the Army, I felt it was time to come out of the life in the IT company,” said Anubha. She said it offered her the chance to prove to the world that women can be as enduring as men.


Colonel VC Ajith, General Staff Officer, who supervises the training said 192 cadets of the present batch are with engineering graduates. “It is an interesting development. Many of them have put in three to four years with IT giants,” said Col Ajith.


The 379 cadets (which include 20 foreign cadets and 71 lady cadets) drawn out from all parts of India will spread out to various regiments and brigades across the country ranging from the terrains of the north west border to the mighty Himalayas. Nearly 70 cadets hail from Army families, said Col Ajith. The last 12 weeks saw them gaining basic lessons in military science, history, map reading and intelligence.


A brief interaction with them threw out details about their dreams, hopes and aspirations. The GenNext, as they are called by the middle-aged and grey India, is entirely different in their thoughts, deeds and actions. They are disciplined to the last word and are out to keep the glorious traditions of the Indian Army. A senior faculty member said all of them would be playing crucial roles in various wings of the Army ranging from artillery, cavalry, espionage, infantry, intelligence, and engineering specialising in high-tech jobs like deployment of armored vehicles, chalking out strategies to safeguard the borders of the country and even disaster management.


Pradeep, from Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, made his decision to join the Army way back in the Nineties itself. “I used to see a tall, lean, handsome and young-looking old man moving through the Coonoor roads. Heads used to turn when he drove past the shopping arcade in the hill resort in a vintage car. One day my father introduced me to him. He was none other than the legendary Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. I made up my mind to join the Army when he patted me on the back,” he said.


Harvinder Singh from Baramullah in Kashmir has a dream. "To regain the lost glory and serenity of Kashmir. Yes, I'll do it and  Army is my only avenue," said Harvinder, who grew up watching the olive green uniforms of the Indian Army. There are cadets with Army background as well as those for whom the Force is a new experience.  


For Col Ajith, Saturday's passing out parade is an important landmark in his life. "It is time for me to bid farewell to the OTA as I have completed my tenure here.  I'll be moving to a formation in one of the border areas. The last two years were a kind of advanced training for me too as well as the faculty members,' said Col Ajith. It is a gruelling experience for the faculty too as they have to be familiar with each of their wards. "We have to study and analyse the strength and weakness of each of the cadets since it is crucial for their future too," said one of the faculty members.


After theory and practical classes, which include weapon training, parades, formations and commando operations, the faculty assemble in the cabin of Col Ajith and analyse the strengths and shortcomings of all the cadets. Every year the OTA selects nearly 600 young graduates (male and female) of all disciplines for training them as the executives and future decision makers of the world's largest Army. And they pass out at the end of the 49 week training session to serve with honour and fight valiantly.

Army foils infiltration bid in Poonch

JAMMU: The Army early on Thursday foiled an attempt by a group of militants to infiltrate into the Indian side through the Line of Control (LOC) in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan, an official said.


An Army spokesman here said that troops noticed a group of about five armed militants trying to cross over into the Indian side through Banwat sector, about 250 km north of Jammu, in Poonch district around 1am.


"The troops challenged them but when they kept advancing, fire was opened to stop them," the spokesman said. The infiltrators returned to the Pakistani side.


The Army has thrown a strong cordon along the LOC to conduct extensive search operations to rule out possibility of any militant being able to sneak in.


The Army has stepped up vigil all a long the LOC to prevent infiltration bids which tend to increase ahead of the winter when snow renders the area inaccessible.

Army show-of-strength in Ranchi today

RANCHI: Indian Army's capabilities will be on display in a "know your army" exhibition beginning Thursday at Morhabadi grounds here.


The show to be inaugurated by governor Syed Ahmed will consist of activities like daredevil action by the corps of Military Police motorcycle riders, flying maneuvers of Chetak helicopter, display of the military bands and military equipment. Firsthand information on recruitment procedures will also be part of the event.


The exhibition is part of an army mela to be organized by the Cockerel division. The fair will comprise an 'ex-servicemen rally' which will be inaugurated by chief minister Arjun Munda.


"We are busy with the preparations and are done with almost all the arrangements. The rally has been organized to assist the armed forces veterans and 'veer naris' (brave women). This is also a platform where they will share their experiences regarding the welfare measures," said Lt Col Saurabh Chauhan.


Welfare initiatives for the ex-servicemen include presentation of special scooter and motorized wheel chairs for the disabled veterans and disbursement of financial assistance for improvement of dwelling units and education of their children.


Besides, there will be stalls on resettlement opportunities, pension adalat, medical and dental check-up for the people and various health schemes for ex-servicemen.

CBI registers case against officials of Defence Ministry, Army in Tatra deal

NEW DELHI: CBI has registered a case against the owners of a UK-based company and officials of Defence Ministry and army to inquire into alleged irregularities committed in procurement of Tatra trucks for the Indian Army, government told the Lok Sabha today.


"The matter is under investigation by CBI. It has also registered a regular case against one of the owners and unknown persons of a UK-based company, unknown officials of a DPSU and unknown officers of Defence Ministry and Indian Army," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a written reply.


Defence Ministry had purchased 6477 Tatra Trucks between 1987-1988 to 2010-2011.


In reply to a question on action against officials found guilty for corruption, he said, "Whenever a complaint is received from CBI, CVC, other departments and general public etc, it is examined in the Ministry and if necessary, advice of CVC is sought on initiation of disciplinary proceedings."


Replying to a question on import of defence equipment, the Minister said, "Defence equipments have been imported from various countries including Russia, USA, Israel, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Singapore etc. The imports cover various types of weapon system and platforms."


Antony also told the House that for 2012-13, Rs 67,672.24 crore has been allocated to the armed forces for capital acquisition.


Antony also denied any proposal to link the Army Hospitals with the private ones. Antony was asked "whether it is proposed to link Army hospitals with private hospitals to provide efficient service to defence personnel."


On demands of One Rank One Pension by the ex-servicemen, he said, "government has constituted a committee in July 2012, headed by Cabinet Secretary for looking into pay and pension related issues of relevance to Defence service personnel and ex-servicemen."


On lateral induction of defence personnel in para-military forces, Central Police Organisation and other organiations, he said, "The issue has been deliberated at various levels and by different committees. However, no common view could be evolved on the issue in view of complexities involved."


So far as induction of ex-servicemen in CPMF etc is concerned, provision already exists for the same, he said.


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