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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 06 Nov 2012
Tatra impasse to hit projects: DRDO
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has cautioned the Indian Army and Ministry of Defence (MoD) that a lack of decision on procurement of Tatra trucks could delay several critical modernisation projects.

In a letter to the Army Chief and senior officers of both the Army and MoD dated October 10, DRDO Chief Controller, Research and Development (Armament and Combat Engineering), S Sundaresh cautioned that finding a replacement for the Tatra platform could delay ongoing projects.

In an annexure to his two-page letter, Sundaresh gave a detailed break-up of the projects and ongoing trials that use the Tatra platform and the estimated delay in case the latter has to be replaced. He put the requirement of trucks at approximately 1,300 for the completed projects and for those in an advanced stage of research. If a new vehicle has to be tested and inducted, there would be a “considerable lack” in timely delivery, the Chief Controller has said.

Among the projects Sundaresh listed as dependent on a Tatra vehicle were mobile bridges — ‘Sarvatra’ — as well as Pinaka, Brahmos and Akash missiles (for their launch platforms).

The DRDO estimates a delay of three-four years in case of ongoing projects and of one-two years in the case of trial projects. A DRDO spokesperson said: “The DRDO’s decision to use Tatra was purely based on the reason that it was an in-service vehicle.”

A delay in resolving the impasse could also have an adverse financial impact on Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, the lead integrator for the missile projects.

The procurement of Tatra vehicles was put in abeyance after then Army chief V K Singh alleged that he was offered Rs 14 crore to clear 1,676 of the trucks. Incidentally, highly placed Army sources said that in a file noting, Gen (retd) Singh had written that despite the controversy, “the ongoing projects should continue”.

The MoD is understood to have sought the views of its chief vigilance officer.
India, Afghanistan to sign four MoUs during Karzai’s visit
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, November 5
India and Afghanistan will discuss the possibility of enhancing New Delhi’s role in training Afghan forces after the withdrawal of Western troops from the embattled nation in 2014 and sign four MoUs in various fields during President Hamid Karzai’s visit here later this week.

Addressing a press conference here, Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali said the two countries would sign MoUs in areas like mines, youth affairs, small development projects and fertilisers after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the visiting leader on November 12.

Karzai begins his four-day visit from Mumbai on November 9 where he will interact with top Indian businessmen and seek greater Indian investments in the war-torn country. Karzai, who will also deliver the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad memorial lecture in the national capital, would be visiting India at a ‘critical time’ as US-led coalition forces prepare to withdraw from his country by 2014, the Afghan envoy noted.

Asked about the issues likely to come up during talks between Prime Minister Singh and President Karzai, Abdali said the two leaders were expected to discuss the pace of various ongoing India-assisted development projects in Afghanistan apart from security and strategic issues.

He stressed that the visit would seek to intensify strategic dialogue between India and Afghanistan on bilateral and regional issues. On whether there was any possibility of India assisting the Afghan forces after the pullout by foreign forces, he pointed out that the two countries had last year signed a strategic partnership agreement. “India has committed itself to strengthening security of Afghanistan and we will discuss all possibilities during the visit,” he said.

Boosting ties

The two countries would sign MoUs in areas like mines, youth affairs, small development projects and fertilisers

Karzai begins his four-day visit from Mumbai on November 9 where he will interact with top Indian businessmen and seek greater investments in the war-torn country

The visit would seek to intensify strategic dialogue between India and Afghanistan on bilateral and regional issues|head
Boeing Chinook Wins Indian Helicopter Competition

NEW DELHI — Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter has beaten out Russia’s Mi-26 in India’s $1.4 billion heavy lift helicopter competition.

The Indian Defence Ministry opened commercial bids last week; according to MoD sources, the Russian bid was set aside after officials failed to provide details on how they would execute their offset liabilities.

The Russian officials have not been officially notified about the results and declined to comment.

The Chinook and advanced version of the Mi-26 helicopter were put to flight trials last year in desert and high-altitude terrain.

The Indian Air Force will use the 15 heavy lift helicopters, with delivery to be completed within 54 months of the contract signing, which is expected to occur by March. The Chinooks will replace India’s existing Mi-26 fleet, more than two dozen helicopters purchased in the 1980s and the majority of which have been grounded for lack of spares. Capable of carrying more than 45 fully equipped troops, the Chinooks will be able to cruise at 230 kilometers per hour, an Indian Air Force official said.

The selection is one of several recent wins for U.S. firms in India. In October, the MoD finalized the selection of 22 Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters over Russia’s Mi-28s in its $1.3 billion heavy duty attack helicopter program. The U.S. has contracted weapons and equipment sales of more than $8 billion in the past four years, including a $4.1 billion contract to sell 10 C-17 transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

“The Americans are emerging as one of the top suppliers of weapons and equipment to India, and in the years ahead, U.S. and western sources will become even more predominant in supply of weapons for India,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta. “It is a welcome trend that India is slowly loosening its dependency on Russia for meeting its weapons needs.”

A Russian diplomat here said Russia will ensure that it continues to be a long-term supplier of weapons and equipment and would not say whether Moscow is concerned over India’s decisions favoring the U.S. and the West.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed an early November visit to India, in what analysts said is a show of displeasure over New Delhi’s arms decisions.

“The Russians have offered India several weapons programs with transfer of technology and even joint production of high-tech equipment. In cases when Washington facilitates greater cooperation with India on joint development basis, then the Russians will have to compete harder to find their [share of] India’s weapons market, estimated at over $100 billion,” said Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army brigadier general.

The Americans are also locked in competition for the Indian Navy’s multirole helicopter program, in which NH90 helicopters of NHIndustries are competing with Sikorsky’s S-70B.

Sources said the commercial bids for 16 helicopters are expected to be opened by the end of the year. The Indian Navy has also decided to float another global tender worth more than $4 billion to purchase an additional 75 multirole helicopters.

The multirole helicopters will be needed to replace the aging Sea King helicopters from the 1980s, the majority of which are grounded due to old age and shortage of spares.

The helicopters will be used in limited intelligence gathering, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and surveillance roles.
Suspected ISI agent tried to infiltrate Army
AHMEDABAD: Naushad Ali Saiyad, 23, who was arrested from Rajasthan by the crime branch on suspicion of being an ISI agent, was attempting to enlist in the Indian Army. Saiyad, who hails from Jodhpur, confessed his intention to crime branch officials.

Naushad, who is now in crime branch custody, told police that his ISI handler - Tahir Khan of Karachi - asked him to join the army and supply inside information to the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Thus far, three ISI agents other than Saiyad have also been arrested by crime branch - Sirajuddin Fakir from Ahmedabad along with his accomplice Mohammad Ayyub Shaikh and Idrish Pinjara of Jamnagar. Fakir, who works for a private contractor supplying poultry products to army cantonments in Gujarat and Shaikh were arrested for providing information of the Indian Army's movements and activities in Gujarat. Pinjara was nabbed for providing information about the Indian Air Force base in Jamnagar.

Of the three, Naushad is the most educated - a graduate. "This is why he was chosen for the Indian Army infiltration assignment. After being directed to by Tahir, Naushad visited a local office of the Army in Rajasthan and inquired about their next scheduled recruitment. Saiyed had also begun regular physical training and exercises for to prepare for recruitment," said crime branch officials.

"ISI officials used family ties of the three - Naushad, Fakir and Pinjara - to use them for espionage. All three told us that their sisters have married Pakistani nationals and now live in Karachi. All three's sisters say ISI agents visit them often and pressurize them to get relatives in India to work on subversive assignments. The three were recruited by Tahir during one of their visits to Pakistan," said crime branch officials. The trio told crime branch that they fell in line with the ISI officials' demands because they feared that their sisters would be tortured by Pakistani forces. All three women are yet to be granted Pakistani citizenship.

Crime branch officials said: "Whatever information the trio have passed on to the ISI till date, is not critical. However, we believe that these spies could have been used for more critical spying assignments in the future."
Army HQ dumps complaint by Lt Gen
Press Trust of India / New Delhi November 05, 2012, 20:45

The Army Headquarters has recommended the rejection of a plea filed by a senior Lt Gen to seek elevation as an Army Commander from June 1 which, if accepted, can create a possible succession row in the force.

Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt Gen Ravi Dastane had filed a statutory complaint in this regard with the Army Headquarters in August and the file has been forwarded to the Defence Ministry.

The Defence Ministry has already decided to send the plea to the Law Ministry for its advice on the matter.
The Army Headquarters has already recommended that the plea filed by Lt Gen Dastane should be rejected, Army sources told PTI here.

Lt Gen Dastane is also planning to move to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) with two main pleas to seek elevation to the rank of Army Commander from June 1 this year retrospectively when two vacancies were existing, his counsel Maj S S Pandey had said.

The posts of Western and Eastern Army Commander had fallen vacant on May 31 after the retirement of Gen VK Singh, who was succeeded by Lt Gen Bikram Singh, and the Western Army Commander Lt Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh. Lt Gen Bikram Singh had headed the Eastern Command.

The Government had kept the post of Eastern Army Commander vacant for two to three days before Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was appointed whereas Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachhra was appointed as the Western Army Commander on June 1.

The post was not filled as just before retirement, Gen VK Singh had put Lt Gen Suhag under a discipline and vigilance ban for a failed intelligence operation in Assam but it was lifted within 72 hours of Gen Bikram Singh's assuming office.

"On June 1, Lt Gen Dastane was also eligible to be elevated as an Army Commander and we will plead before the AFT to give us that appointment," Pandey said.

If the plea is accepted, then Lt Gen Dastane may become senior to Lt Gen Suhag who is expected to succeed Gen Bikram Singh in July 2014.
Indian Army chief due in Sri Lanka
Monday, 05 November 2012 13:35
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The Chief of Indian Army General Bikram Singh will visit Sri Lanka next month to hold discussions on further strengthening the bilateral defence ties.

Indian Army Commander is scheduled to visit Colombo in the third week of December and the dates are being finalized by the officials of the two sides, PTI reported.

The Army chief's visit amid the strong opposition from the Tamil Nadu political parties against any defence cooperation with Sri Lanka is aimed at finding ways to enhance cooperation between the two armies in training, military hardware and joint exercises.

The Sri Lankan and Indian armies are also expected to hold a joint Army exercise next year and details of cooperation have been discussed during the visit of Defense Secretary Gotabhaya to New Delhi last month.

Sri Lanka and India have also decided to hold joint naval exercises next year in Indian waters but given the sentiment of Tamil Nadu towards cooperating with Sri Lanka military the Indian defense ministry has advised its Navy to hold the exercises away from the coasts of four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka.

However, the Indian government said it will continue to provide training to Sri Lankan defense personnel at India's defense facilities despite the opposition from the Tamil parties in the state of Tamil Nadu.

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