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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 03 Oct 2012
Pro-Khalistan elements tried to kill me: Lt Gen Brar
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, October 2
Even as Lt Gen KS Brar (retd), who was attacked in London on Sunday, termed it as an attempt to kill him, Indian security agencies are searching for answers to know how the attackers got to know of the travel plans of the General, who is under ‘Z category’ security.

Gen Brar, who was divisional commander of the 9 Division of the Army that was tasked with flushing out militants holed up in the Golden Temple in 1984 under ‘Operation Bluestar’, has been on the ‘hit-list’ of Sikh radical groups.

Gen Brar told reporters in London, “It was an assassination attempt by pro-Khalistan elements. They straight went for my neck with a sharp blade.” He said there have been several threats to his life and those had been brought to the notice of the police and army authorities in India.

For security agencies, the attack on means that the General, usually reclusive, was possibly being observed and also that someone inimical to him knew his location in London. It could also mean he was being tracked in India and London, said sources, adding that the Ministry of Home Affairs was waiting for a factual report from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Gen Brar said the Punjab Government was sympathetic to terrorists as it was supporting construction of a memorial inside the Golden Temple and slammed it for taking the situation back to the 1980’s.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has appealed for information from members of the public and described the four assailants as wearing dark clothing and long black jackets and sporting long beards.

Looking for ANSWERS

    How did the attackers get to know the travel plans of Lt Gen KS Brar (pic)?
    It seems that he was being observed and someone knew his exact location in London. Was he being tracked in India and London?
India, Pak back to verbal duel over Kashmir at UN

United Nations, October 2
India and Pakistan were back to sparring on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today rejecting the contention that Jammu and Kashmir is not an integral part of India.

The war of words triggered by President Asif Ali Zardari continued after the claim of Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, Raza Bashir Tarar, that Jammu and Kashmir has never been an integral part of India.

Exercising Pakistan's 'Right of Reply', Tarar also maintained that Zardari's reference to Kashmir in his speech last week seeking settlement of the issue in accordance with UN resolutions, which India had always rejected as outdated, was "not unwarranted".

Last year, Pakistan did not make any provocative reference to Kashmir with its Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar merely stating that Islamabad looked forward to resolving all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India.

"I did not expect that President Zardari would make a reference to Kashmir but once a reference from Pakistan at the highest level in the UN is made, then it is certainly the responsibility of India to state its stated position," Krishna said here.

Krishna, in his address to the 193-member General Assembly yesterday, said that "an unwarranted" reference to Jammu and Kashmir was made from the UN podium. "We wish to make it abundantly clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India."

Krishna today said his remark on Kashmir at the UNGA should be read in the right sequence. "Read this (reference to Kashmir) in the sequence in which it emerges," he said, adding he had to respond to Zardari's speech.

Krishna added that he had not said anything new regarding Kashmir in his UNGA address. "This is the position which India has taken over decades. So I reiterated that position so that it would be some kind of response to what the President of Pakistan told this General Assembly." He added that "nothing more" needs to be read into the statements on the issue either from him or Zardari.

When asked whether the issue of Kashmir being raked up at international fora like the UN could be an irritant to efforts being made by the two nations to normalise their ties, Krishna said, "We will continue our dialogue with Pakistan and the road map has been drawn. We will try to stick to the road map and let us see how it goes." — PTI

26/11: India to deal with Pak patiently

India will show patience and perseverance in dealing with the 26/11 case with Pakistan with which it has a "difficult relationship", External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said when he was asked whether there was growing frustration with the slow pace at which the Mumbai attacks trial was moving in Pakistan.

Krishna, Clinton discuss gurdwara shooting

New York: India's concerns over the US visa fee hike, steps taken to improve trade ties with Pakistan and the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting were among the host of issues discussed between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during their 45-minute "positive" bilateral meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
IAF working to phase out MiG-27 by 2017

New Delhi, October 2
Concerned over recurring problems in MiG-27 combat aircraft engines, Indian Air Force is planning to phase out these Russian-origin planes by 2017.

The IAF operates about 80 (four squadrons) of these aircraft in its fleet and due to the recurring problems in their engines, it had to ground all of them after a crash about two years ago. "We are planning to phase out the MiG-27s, of which around 80 are still in service, by the year 2017," senior IAF officials told PTI here.

The IAF has deployed two squadrons each of the aircraft in Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Kalaikunda in West Bengal at present. About two years, a study was conducted to check the problems in the engines of the aircraft and it was found that the R-29s engines have developed some defect which was very difficult to be corrected, they said.

After the report, IAF took a considered decision about retiring these aircraft from operational service in a phased manner, the officials said.

"The first to be phased out would be the two squadrons based in Kalaikunda and then by 2017, the remaining two deployed in Jodhpur would also be on their way out of the force," they said.

The squadrons based in Jodhpur had undergone upgrades at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited recently and that is why they have more life left in them, the officials said.

The IAF is also planning to phase out the crash-prone MiG-21 combat aircraft around the same timeframe. The MiG-23 fighter and bomber aircraft that were inducted in the 1980s have already been phased out. — PTI

On its way out

The IAF operates about 80 (four squadrons) of MiG-27 aircraft in its fleet

Due to recurring problems in its engines, it had to ground all MiG-27 after a crash about two years ago

It was found that the planes' R-29s engines had developed a defect that was very difficult to be corrected
DRDO develops hybrid cows, goats for high-altitude areas

New Delhi, October 2
Aiming to meet requirements of fresh meat and dairy products for soldiers deployed in high altitude areas, a DRDO lab has developed hybrid varieties of animals that can sustain the low temperatures of Ladakh and similar locations in the Himalayan region.

The animals — cows, goats and mules — have been developed by Leh-based Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR). "Earlier soldiers were using packaged milk and meat. But the hybrid cow- crossbreed of Ladakhi yak and high-yielding Sahiwal cows found in the plains- is able to give 25 litres of milk everyday," DRDO Chief Controller Research and Development W Selvamurthy said.

"With these new varieties in place, over 25 per cent of milk and meat requirements of the armed forces can be met locally," he said here.

Similarly, the high altitude resistant goats can withstand minus 50 degree Celsius to meet the daily requirement of meat for the soldiers posted there, he added.

The defence scientists have also developed hybrid mules — termed as 'Zanskar ponies' — that can carry loads to heights, earlier considered out of range for these animals.

"The development of these mules allows us to ensure regular supply of fresh food and other essentials to posts located in higher mountains," Selvamurthy said.

Development of these animals has also provided the local people an additional livelihood opportunity as increasing number of people are showing their interest in rearing these animals. — PTI
IAF to upgrade UAV fleet
under `5,000 cr project

New Delhi, October 2
The IAF is planning to join hands with an Israeli firm to upgrade the UAVs of the three services under a project worth over Rs 5,000 crore to enhance its snooping capabilities.

The three services operate a fleet of more than 150 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) procured from the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) over the decades.

"Under the Rs 5,000 crore project, we will upgrade the capabilities of the UAVs in all the three services with the help of the original equipment manufacturer, IAI," a senior IAF official said here.

The IAF flies the Israeli-made Searcher II and Heron UAVs for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and about 100 Searchers are in operation on Indian borders in western, northern and eastern regions.

After the upgrades, the IAF would be capable of operating these aircraft from far-off distances and control them through satellite communication system, he said.

The IAF has been saying in the recent past that it wants to increase the number of UAVs in the force and a team has also been formed at the Air Headquarters which is looking at the requirement of these machines in the force, the official said. The Army also operates a sizeable number of UAVs and has deployed them in borders along the western and eastern fronts. — PTI
Army to acquire home-made howitzers
New Delhi, Oct 2, 2012, DHNS:

The defence ministry has sanctioned acquisition of 144 home-made 155 mm howitzer guns which will undergo trials with the Army later this year.

The guns have been developed by ordnance factory in Jabalpur based on the techno­logy transferred from Bofors that originally sold the gu­ns to Indian Army in a contro­versial deal signed in the 1980s.

Because of the controversy associated with Bofors guns, officials at the defence ministry and ordnance factories did not look at the technology transfer agreement for years, though there is no word on why the technology transfer agreement was not studied for years.

The document was finally scrutinised only when the Army acutely felt the need to have new howitzer following several failed attempts to buy new guns in the last decade.
Defence Minister A K Anto­ny said the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared a proposal for production of 144 indigenous 155mm guns for the Army based on Bofors technology.
The winter trials are likely to take place in December, while summer trials are scheduled for June.

The minister hoped that these trials would be successful so that after 30 years, India could have upgraded 155mm guns. A defence ministry official stated that the guns performed well so far when fired in ordnance factory testing ranges but only user trials with the Army would ultim­a­tely prove its induction readiness.

The Defence Minister had recently been to Jabalpur to review the progress in making the guns.  The Army has not been able to induct even a single new piece of artillery gun in the last 25 years despite several attempts.

Even a government-to-government deal to purchase ultra 155 mm (39 calibre) ultra light weight howitzer did not materialise after trial reports revealing the guns shortfall on several parameters were leaked.
'Private sector can ease Indian Army's maintenance burden'
New Delhi : MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) is a concept hitherto confined to the civilian aviation sector. Now, an industry lobby is promoting this as a means by which the Indian Army can cut down its maintenance costs and improve its operational preparedness.

"A modern army's equipment readiness has to be sustained at high levels to meet the demands of a complex and uncertain operating environment. This becomes crucial since the Indian Army is looking at capabilities for quick deployment, reducing repair cycle time, inventory overhang and repair costs," an official of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) explained.

"The Indian Army's modernisation strategy is focused on acquiring capabilities that will enable it to succeed in any operation today or in the future. Operational sustainment of weapon systems aims to retain these capabilities throughout its lifecycle.

"The proliferation of land weapon systems across the complete spectrum in the military necessitates effective implementation and integration of an MRO environment so as to keep the user in a state of mission readiness 24x7," the official said.

Toward this end, FICCI and the Indian Army's Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) Monday announced that the first international seminar on MRO in Land Systems would be held in New Delhi on Dec 3-4.

The seminar aims to institutionalise measures for the Indian Army adopting MRO for its land systems "through forging strong public private partnerships, so as to ensure military equipment meets operational requirements in a cost effective manner", the official said.

The seminar will bring together MRO domain experts, IT solution providers and stakeholders from industry, including policymakers, regulators and manufacturers, to deliberate on and help evolve the MRO policy systems for land systems that will achieve the stated objectives of mission readiness.
Building India’s defence base: Offsets vs. joint development
If India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had a pet project it was non-alignment. Yet on November 19, 1962, as waves of Chinese soldiers rolled across the Himalayas, Nehru, going against every grain of his non-aligned soul, sent out this SOS to US President John F. Kennedy: “The situation that has developed is….desperate. We have to have more comprehensive assistance if the Chinese are to be prevented from taking over the whole of Eastern India. Any delay in this assistance reaching us will result in nothing short of a catastrophe for our country.”

Nehru, in a state of panic, listed out what he needed – at least “12 squadrons of supersonic all-weather fighters” and “modern radar cover that we don’t have”. “US Air Force personnel will have to man these… while our personnel are being trained. US fighters and transport planes manned by US personnel will be used for the present to protect our cities and installations from Chinese air attacks….”

How did a rapidly industrialising India end up in a crunch situation where it had (as the American WWII limerick goes) “no pills, no planes, no artillery pieces, and nobody gives a damn?” What made one of the chief architects of non-alignment grovel before a country whose proposals he had repeatedly spurned?

Modern India’s cavalier attitude towards arms production and defence was partly to blame. Pacifist Indian politicians viewed the military as an embarrassment because it clashed with their peddling of peace – even if there were no takers for those peace overtures.

Here’s what noted Gandhian Acharya Kriplani said on the defence budget in Parliament in 1957: “The mounting expenses on the army must be cut down. The followers of Gandhi and adherents of universal peace should not increase military expenditure.” Five years later when the Chinese attack caught India napping, the same Kriplani was calling for heads to roll. It never occurred to him that he was one of the playmakers of the debacle.

Indians living in today’s militaristic times will find it difficult to believe that in the 1950s and ’60s India had acquired a reputation as a shirker of self-defence. A top secret US State Department document of 1961 declassified in 1995 reveals Nehru’s feral dislike of nuclear weapons despite China’s active atomic programme.


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The State Department seeing China’s advanced preparations for a nuclear test recommended that India be provided with technological help to develop a nuclear weapons capability. The reason was the US did not want the first Third World nuclear power to be a communist state. Since India had a highly advanced nuclear programme, it was seen as best capable of receiving American assistance.

The State Department asked Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith to propose the plan to Nehru. Galbraith shot down the idea, saying the chances of Nehru rejecting a US offer of assistance were “49 out of 50”.

So how well did Nehruvian pacifism serve the country? India’s obsession with keeping its nuclear virginity reached such absurd proportions that in 1987 when Pakistan’s rogue scientist A.Q. Khan brandished his newly acquired nukes at India, New Delhi did not have an operational nuclear bomb.

Better late than never

Belatedly, however, India’s political leadership and bureaucrats have woken up to the fact that the armaments industry needs to be revived. The chief reason is that India’s needs are not just a fighter here or a tank there; they extend to a wide range of weapons platforms. Many of these like nuclear powered subs, aircraft carriers and advanced stealth fighters are not available off the shelf.

Besides, there is a huge outgo of dollars in the bargain. Finally, even as China has graduated from knockoffs to genuine built-from-scratch weapons, including its latest stealth fighters, India cannot continue to import indiscriminately. Placing one’s security at the pleasure of another country is not good policy.

The world of offsets

Currently, the catchword at the Ministry of Defence is offsets – where at least 30 percent of the value of a military contract is sourced locally. Offsets, which have their origins in the detailed policy guidelines issued in May 2006 in the Defence Procurement Procedure, are supposed to be the magic mantra that will deliver world class defence technology to India’s doors.

How exactly is this progressing?

I asked Major General Mrinal Suman, India’s foremost expert in defence procurement and procedures, if the offset policy is helping the country build a defence manufacturing base.

According to Suman, who currently heads the Defence Technical Assessment and Adivsory Service of the Confederation of Indian Industry, “Nineteen, offset contracts worth Rs 16,000 crores (around $3 billion) have been signed since 2006 when offsets were introduced – 14 for air force purchases and 5 for naval hardware. No offset contract has been completed and audited as yet. As all contracts entailed export of low-tech components/sub-assemblies, Indian industry has not gained at all.”

The key problem with offsets is the enormity of the purchases. India is expected to import over $100 billion worth of equipment in the next five years, so the offsets are the region of $30 billion.

Currently, government companies not only monopolise India’s defence industry, but the private sector has been kept at a distance. Foreign vendors are, therefore, unsure if the Indian defence industry can absorb such huge offsets. These foreign vendors, with powerful lobbyists working for them, are leaning on India to widen the scope of offset activities to include fields that are unrelated to defence.

Or take the case of the Rafale, which has a 50 percent offset clause. Will France transfer the entire technology suite of the aircraft to India as they so exuberantly declared? Suman says, “The French are certainly more accommodative than others but it is doubtful if they would go the full distance. They will try and extract their pound of flesh during hard bargaining.”

Russia: The joint route

The alternate route being explored by India is joint development. This is best exemplified by the FGFA, where both India and Russia will build, buy and export large numbers of the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter.

According to Suman, “Rather than procuring Russian equipment, India is forging a partnership with Russia to develop newer equipment jointly.” He further says that while Russia may not offer its latest technologies readily, Moscow’s track record is far better than that of most other nations.

The $600 million Multirole Transport Aircraft that HAL is developing with Russian partners Rosoboronexport and UAC-Transport Aircraft is another prime example where the two counties will build, buy and export on a 50:50 cost sharing basis. And unlike the FGFA, where the design was largely finalised before India came in, the MTA will be designed from scratch.

Transport aircraft is one area where India did not even venture during the screwdriver technology phase. And with India’s defence and civilian sectors requiring such planes in their hundreds, the 20-tonne aircraft and its derivatives will be the missing link in India’s skies.

Seeing the pace of the FGFA and MTA, the US has invited India to the F-35 programme. Saudi Arabia too has shown interest in joint weapons development with India. If the joint route is getting increasingly crowded, there must be a very good reason for it.

Long haul

Suman says the reason why 65 years after independence India continues to import virtually every major item of defence is the preferential treatment of the public sector. “With assured orders and a captive customer base, the public sector never felt the need to exert and modernise,” he says.

But the bias in favour of public sector firms is less pronounced now. Mayank Bubna and Raj Shukla write in the World Politics Review that the government has recently tried to encourage a local military-industrial complex by offering financial support of up to 80 percent of the development cost incurred by Indian companies in the design of prototype defence equipment.

While a slew of private companies, including Mahindra and Tata, have jumped in, it will be a long time before we see an Indian Boeing, Sukhoi or Northrop.

As Bubna and Shukla conclude, “Yet the shift to self-reliance, while admirable, is a very time-consuming and financially and structurally intensive process, one that demands patience.”

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