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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

From Today's Papers - 05 Feb 2013
Student hit by bullet during NCC camp; critical
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 4
A student participating in a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp at Pune was critically injured after being shot in the head during rifle practice on Friday, the police said.

The student, 13-year-old Parag Ingale from Loyola English School at Pashan in Pune, was among the 45 students chosen to participate in the camp organised at the NCC's headquarters at SB road in the city. On the fateful day, a group of students were taken to an open ground where firing practice was scheduled.

While the instructor, Amod Ghanekar, prepared to fire from a 0.22 rifle as part of the demonstration, the students were asked to crouch on the ground. However, Parag suddenly stood up and turned toward the instructor even as he fired his gun. The bullet hit the boy on the forehead from close range, the police said.

The child has been admitted to the Army's Southern Command hospital in Pune where he has been on ventilator support, the police said. The instructor has been taken into custody by the Army. The case is being investigated by the Deccan Gymkhana police.
Armed forces building deadly drone arsenal, also want combat UAVs
NEW DELHI: With an eye on both the western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China, the Indian armed forces are slowly but steadily building a formidable arsenal of spy, target acquisition and "killer'' drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Even as the Navy sets up spy drone bases along the coastline and IAF inducts "killer'' drones, the Army has inked yet another contract to acquire two more "troops'' (eight drones each) of Israeli `Heron' medium-altitude, long endurance UAVs.

"Under the Rs 1,200 crore contract with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Army will begin inducting these new Heron drones from January 2014,'' said a senior defence official.

The drones, to be inducted into the new SATA (surveillance and target acquisition) regiments being raised, form a part of the overall modernization plan for the 1.13-million force being pushed by Army chief General Bikram Singh.

"The force wants speedy induction of various UAVs, from man-portable micro and mini spy ones to `killer' ones that act like missiles to hit targets. It will bolster capabilities for surveillance, weapon delivery and direction of artillery fire,'' said an officer.

In keeping with the plan to progressively induct drones right down to the battalion-level by the end of this decade, the Army is already establishing new UAV bases from Nagrota and Manasbal in J&K to Kumbhigram and Lilabari in the north-east.

The Navy, in turn, is looking to raise new UAV squadrons after establishing three at Kochi (Kerala), Porbandar (Gujarat) and Uchipuli (Tamil Nadu) to detect threats emanating from the sea.

Similarly, IAF is inducting additional Harop ``killer'' drones equipped with electro-optical sensors to loiter over high-value military targets before exploding into them. The force has also experimented with "add-ons or attachments'' to its existing fleet of Israeli Heron and Searcher-II surveillance drones to add a killer role to them.

The armed forces eventually want full-fledged UCAVs (combat UAVs) - akin to the American Predators and Reapers being used in the Af-Pak region - which return to their bases like fighter jets to replenish their missiles for fresh missions.

They have inducted over 100 UAVs, mainly from Israel, as "major force-multipliers'' since the 1999 Kargil conflict. DRDO, too, has got into the act by stepping up its drone programmes, from the already inducted Nishant to the under-development Rustom-I and II drones.

As earlier reported by TOI, DRDO has also launched the secretive AURA (autonomous unmanned research aircraft) programme to develop stealth UCAVs capable of firing missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions.

Similarly, another ambitious project on the drawing board focuses on designing solar-powered high-altitude, long endurance UAVs that can cruise in the sky for several days at a time for round-the-clock ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) missions.
70 Lashkar informers tailing Indian army
The recent killing of two Indian army jawans exposed the manner in which the ISI, Pakistan army and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba worked in tandem against India. While the Intelligence Bureau and also the military intelligence have proof of this modus operandi the bigger worry continues to be the growing number of facilitators that have infiltrated into the Kashmir valley.

Currently according to a report by the Intelligence Bureau, there are at least 70 persons working on the border areas who facilitate infiltrations into India. Not only do these persons help Lashkar operatives cross over into India, but also provide with crucial logistics about the Indian army. These persons provide crucial details about the movement of the Indian forces which not only helps the Lashkar but also the Pakistan army make its moves.

For the recent operation, the Lashkar had hired a person by the name Ismail Langda to carry out this operation and he was paid a sum of Rs 5 lakh for the same. An intelligence bureau report states that these persons who are hired for the job are locals and their job is to provide information on the security agencies in India. They are hired on a salary of Rs 40000 per month and a special amount is paid on successful completion of an operation.

They are first chosen by head hunters of these terrorist groups and later sent to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan where they undergo training. For the first couple of months of being sent into the operation, they just settle into the place and get themselves acclimatised with the areas and also the operations of the Indian forces. They are strictly informed not to use telephones or emails to communicate information. All the information that is passed on is through word of mouth for which they have a fixed set of moles, the report states.

The report further states that among the 70 odd persons hired for the job, there are some who gather information while others just help with the infiltration. However for the Lashkar and the ISI, the more crucial role is played by the informers based on which they decide on sending in their forces.

The report further explains the manner in which these persons work. It states that the entire operation commences in Pakistan with the ISI directing the Lashkar to commence the infiltration process. There are camps in Pakistan which are frequented by Lashkar and ISI operatives who then draw out the plan. The decision to infiltrate is taken only once the informer provides all details regarding the situation, the movement of the Indian security forces.

Following this there are porters who are brought into the picture to help these infiltrators carry arms and these persons are aided by the ISI guides who help a safe cross over. Prior to the cross over a motivational speech is delivered by the head of the Lashkar, the intelligence report also states.

The report further states that most of these persons who aide the Lashkar often act as double agents and even the military intelligence would suggest that a thorough check ought to be kept on the same. It becomes extremely difficult for the agencies to ascertain the credentials of each and every persons since most of the persons who have been appointed for the role are locals of India.
Syria defence minister: Army will beat rebels
Syria's defence minister said on Monday that the army would succeed against rebels trying to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad, and hinted that Syria would not respond to an Israeli airstrike near Damascus last week.

"This heroic Syrian Arab army proved to the world that it is a strong army, a trained army, an army that cannot be broken," Fahed al-Freij told state television.

He portrayed the air raid as a response to the failure of the rebels, who he described as "tools" of Israel.

Diplomats and security sources have said the strike targeted a convoy of weapons destined for Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon. But Syria has said Israeli planes struck a military research centre at Jamraya, northwest of Damascus.

"Why does Syria not respond? It's the Israeli enemy which responded ... When the Israeli enemy saw that its tools were being pursued, and they did not achieve their results, it intervened," Freij said.

"It is a response to our military work against the armed gangs," he added, referring to the rebels.

'Gaps in radar coverage'

Syria protested last week to the United Nations over the Israeli raid, saying it considered the strike a violation of a military disengagement accord following their last major war in 1973.

Syria's ambassador to Lebanon also warned that Syria could decide on a "surprise" response to the attack.

Freij admitted that rebels have targeted Syrian air defences over the past few months, and said that the army leadership has positioned them all in one safe place, leading to "gaps in radar coverage."

"These gaps became known to the armed gangs and the Israelis who undoubtedly coordinated together to target the research centre," he said.

He suggested that the army was overstretched and having difficulty retaining control over several positions across the country, adding they had to abandon some areas in order to minimise casualties.

Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak implied that his country was behind the raid but officials have otherwise maintained silence, just as they did when Israel bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site in 2007.

That attack did not prompt military retaliation.
Marching orders: Fears for army recruitment drive as 83 careers offices axed
lans to sign up 30,000 Army reservists have been thrown into doubt after it was revealed HALF its careers offices have been cut.

Since May 2010, 83 of the 156 careers offices have been shut: 62 in England, seven of the 12 centres in Wales and 14 of the 19 offices in Scotland.

The service was outsourced in 2012 to private firm Capita in a £440million deal which has overseen 70 of the closures.

The cuts come despite a Ministry of Defence drive to double the number in the Territorial Army to plug the gap left after 20,000 regular troops were axed.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, who uncovered the figures, said: “These closures must cast questions about the Army’s future capacity to recruit from across all parts of our country and all parts of our society.”

But Minister for Defence Personnel Mark Francois said the Army was ­introducing more “modern and ­convenient” ways of recruiting people.

An Army spokeswoman said: “Online applications are rising so the need for recruitment offices is declining, but we will maintain our high street presence.”
Cadet dies during army training in NDA
Pune, Feb 4 (IANS) A second year army cadet at the National Defence Academy (NDA) died during routine training, an official said Monday.

The cadet, from Kashipur in Uttarakhand, was a fourth-term trainee and was identified as Ajitesh Anuj Goel, 19.

The NDA has ordered an internal inquiry into the incident.

According to the NDA official, the incident happened Saturday night when the cadets were undergoing practical exposure in night navigation, map reading and field craft within the campus.

Goel was part of one of two groups of 180 fourth term trainees who took part in the night training. He collapsed before the finishing point around 9.25 p.m.

He was administered primary medical help and rushed to the military hospital but doctors could not revive him.

The distraught family was handed over Goel’s body Monday. Goel had joined the NDA in June 2011.
Navy’s Next-Gen Binoculars Will Recognize Your Face
Take a close look, because the next generation of military binoculars could be doing more than just letting sailors and soldiers see from far away. The Navy now wants binoculars that can scan and recognize your face from 650 feet away.

That’s according to a Jan. 16 contract announcement from the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which is seeking a “Wireless 3D Binocular Face Recognition System.” During a testing period of 15 months, the plan is to improve “stand-off identification of uncooperative subjects” during daylight, using binoculars equipped with scanners that can read your mug from “100 to 200 meters” away, or about 328 to 650 feet. After scanning your mug, the binoculars then transmit the data to a database over a wireless network, where the data is then analyzed to determine a person’s identity. The no-bid contract, for an unspecified amount of money, went to California biometrics firm StereoVision Imaging.

“High level, it’s a surveillance and identification system,” Greg Steinthal, StereoVision’s president, tells Danger Room. “It’s using the ubiquitous binocular for real-time identification. The data point here is that this is to be used to add objectivity to an operation that’s highly subjective. So this is not intended for kinetic action to go arrest or detain someone. It’s more a tool to put other eyes on him or her.”

It helps that the technology — at least in a more limited form — already exists. StereoVision has developed a face-recognizing binocular system called 3DMobileID, with a maximum distance of around 328 feet, or 100 meters. “You have an unfair advantage,” the company touts in one promotional video, showing images of a human face being scanned at a distance, before the background is stripped out for a blue screen and then matched up to a database.

Depending on how well the binoculars work — and there’s reason to be cautious — it could give the Navy the ability to take advanced facial recognition into a much more portable and long-distance version than many current systems. Facebook uses the technology to match faces when users upload new photos. Google has its own version as well for its its Picasa photo service, and Apple has been researching face recognition as a way to unlock smartphones. (There are apps for iOS that do this, too.)

But the ranges on most systems also tend to max out at a few feet. For the military, that can be dangerous. Close-range biometric scanners (iris scanners are currently used by soldiers in Afghanistan) can pose a danger to the operator, as a person walking up to have their features scanned from a few inches away could be preparing to detonate an explosive vest. And what if a person happens to be on the move, or is bobbing and weaving through a crowd? That can render the scanners ineffective. Once upon a time, many face scanners also depended on the relatively crude practice of scanning 2-D images of the human face, which are an imprecise method when there are varying lighting conditions.

But the key to solving many of these problems could be a simple upgrade: StereoVision’s system scans in 3-D. When the system first scans you, it creates a 3-D model of your face instead of a 2-D image. That allows the system to isolate your face from a crowd, sharpen the image — which boosts the range — and then compares the image to a database. A filter also adjusts for varying degrees of light by smoothing out light across the face into a uniform pattern.

Now for the flaws in the system. The binoculars are not intended to work at night, and have difficulty scanning faces in twilight. When the binoculars can’t draw an image, it gives off a an audible beep to the operator, which is helpful. Otherwise, the process takes “about five to 10 seconds,” says Steinthal.

It’s also less effective when a subject is on the move. “[It] depends on how fast the target is walking,” Steinthal says. “We’re at walking, one-and-half meters per second. Somebody running? We’re not going to be able to do that right now.”

The concept of binoculars that scan and identify is also — perhaps unnervingly — not limited to the military. For one, StereoVision’s binoculars were developed in part with a $409,226 contract from the National Institute of Justice, and face scanners are a popular research topic for the FBI more broadly.

The FBI is spending $1 billion on a program called Next Generation Identification based around developing face scanners and combining the technology with other biometrics like the iris, voice, and fingerprints. A static face recognition system has also been installed at Toucumen International Airport in Panama City that can scan travelers’ faces and match them to criminal databases maintained by the FBI and Interpol. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department have also tested out the binoculars, according to Steinthal, and are intended there for gang enforcement units and even to track “celebrity stalkers” in the L.A. area. Maybe if the FBI wants its special agents to also have some pretty far-out binoculars too, it should take a peek.
Big-ticket defence deals face life-cycle costing scrutiny
NEW DELHI: Several political leaders and other influential people are showing a sudden interest in 'life-cycle costing' — the new methodology adopted by the government for finalizing defence purchases. This vigorous interest of the powerful people has rattled many in the establishment, who suspect that the concept of life-cycle costing could be used to attack some of the major defence contracts being currently negotiated.

Life-cycle cost refers to the price of operating a system during its entire lifetime, including its maintenance, replacement, overhaul etc. The method has been adopted by several countries, including the US, Australia etc.

The selection of Rafale fighter made by French manufacturer Dassault for around $20 billion MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal was done on the basis of life cycle costing. The same rule was applied to the selection of Airbus A330 MRTT as mid-air tanker for the Indian Air Force (IAF). In both the cases, the final negotiations with the selected vendors are currently underway.

When the ministry of defence (MoD) selected Rafale for MMRCA contract, the French fighter was the cheapest in both off-the-shelf purchase price and the life-cycle cost among the finalized vendors.

When the MoD selected the Airbus aircraft for mid-air tanker it was also on the basis of its low price point and life-cycle costing. However, the Russian competitor, IL-78 aircraft, was cheaper in off-the-shelf price. The contract is worth around $2 billion.

Over the recent weeks, sources said, the government is finding several important political leaders and other influential people showing undue interest in life-cycle costing. The heightened inquisitiveness, the MoD is worried, could be a sign of what is in store in coming weeks. The cost assessment process could be deployed to attack the selection in these contracts and others, they fear.

A senior opposition leader wrote seeking details of life-cycle costing from the MoD. A young MP took an appointment in the MoD to get a briefing from the officials on life-cycle costing, sources said. "We are seeing such curiosity from various quarters," an official said.

The concern is that the new costing could be used to attack the big- ticket purchases under process. Getting political leaders, influential analysts and others to write to the MoD is one of the standard practices of defence firms to mount pressure against a deal.

In this case, the MoD is expecting several arguments against life-cycle costing. How could the ministry make the selection when there is no contract under life-cycle costing for next 30 years? How could they compare the Russian mode of maintenance to the Western methods?

Until it adopted life-cycle costing, MoD was used to short list the winner based on cheapest off-the-shelf price. However, over the years the military realized that it was very expensive to often maintain the cheapest product. And, thus the government adopted the new concept.
Aero India: Top US firms eye Indian defence pie
A large industry delegation from the US will participate at Aero India 2013 in Bangalore showcasing advanced capabilities geared towards India's air, land, naval, and internal security systems needs.

Focused on enhancing industrial partnership and meeting India's defence modernisation requirements, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) has sent its largest industry delegation to Aero India 2013 in Bangalore.

The 12th executive defence mission from USIBC, comprising nearly 400 top American and Indian companies focused on enhancing the US-India commercial relationship, includes senior executives from America's premier aerospace and defence companies.
It's led by Lt. General Jeff Kohler (Ret.), vice president, Boeing military aircraft, and Vice Admiral (Ret.) Kevin J. Cosgriff, senior vice president, international business and government, Textron Systems.

Kohler and Cosgriff expressed optimism towards the growing defence partnership, and noted the maturing partnership between the two countries' defence industries.

In meeting many of India's defence modernisation requirements, "US industry leads the way in offering the most advanced technology with long-term support for the multitude systems offered", said Kohler in a statement.

"In addition to offering proven US platforms and systems and an end-to-end commitment to customer satisfaction, we are eager to initiate cooperative programmes with India's defence industry," Cosgriff said.

Top US defence companies represented at the show include ATK, BAE Systems Inc, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, DuPont, Exelis, FLIR, General Electric, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, Harris, Honeywell, L-3 Aviation Products, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Sikorsky, Textron Systems, Telephonics Corporation and Tyco.

On display will be a USAF variant of the recently acquired C-17 heavy-lift aircraft, C-130J Super Hercules, F-16, KC-135, and other best-in-class systems from US industry, such as armoured security and light combat vehicles, tactical communications equipment, integrated weapons systems, thermal imaging technologies and network munitions systems, USIBC said.

US defence sales to India have risen from just over $200 million in 2001 to over $14 billion today.

"This remarkable growth in defence sales translates to thousands of high-skill jobs being created both in India and the United States, making it a 'win-win' for both countries," USIBC president Ron Somers said.

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