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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Mar 2013
IAF tests drug to keep pilots alert for 48 hours
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, March 11
A new pill being tested by the IAF may revolutionise flying norms for pilots. Not only will be able to stay awake and remain alert for two days at a stretch, but also be able to undertake multiple sorties and fly for longer durations.

Disclosing this here today, Director General Medical Services (Air), Air Marshal AK Behl, said the IAF is now in the process of starting field trials of this pill, known as Modafinil. “The Institute of Aerospace Medicine is conducting the study in four phases and we are now onto the final operations stage,” he said. “Our trials so far have shown that a pilot can remain awake and alert for 36 hours,” he added. The study aims to keep a pilot alert for up to 48 hours.

Under the study, pilots were administered specified doses at certain intervals. “A pilot given a dose 12 hours after he awoke remained alert for another 24 hours,” Air Marshal Behl said. “Modafinil is a certified drug and the best part is that its use has not shown and side effects,” he added.

The drug works by targeting and changing the levels of certain natural substances in the brain that control the process of sleep and wakefulness.

With the induction of air-to-air refueling capability in the IAF, the duration of fighter flying has been enhanced considerably and a pilot can remain in air for up to 8-10 hours. Remaining confined to a cramped cockpit for long durations causes enormous fatigue and psychological stress and also has other problems like the need to pass urine. To deal with these issues, the IAF began experimenting on the use of medicines as well as introduced diapers for long duration missions.

“It is not that a pilot will remain airborne continuously for such a long duration, but he can undertake a mission and go up again several times with short up in between,” the IAF’s medical chief said. As of now, pilots are advised proper rest and sound sleep for at least hours before a sortie and not to consume alcohol 24 hours prior to flying.
Copter deal: Italy sends papers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 11
The Italian Government has shared a crucial piece of evidence with India on the Rs 350 crore illegal pay-off in the VVIP helicopter deal, paving the way for the CBI to register a formal case.

The government has received the first set of official documents from Italy in connection with the VVIP copter scam, including the warrants issued against former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi by authorities there.

The set of papers have been handed over to the CBI which is probing allegations of illegal pay-offs in the Rs 3,300 crore deal to purchase 12 AW-101 copters, government sources confirmed today.

The search warrant against Orsi has been shared with India. This is understood to have details about the alleged payment of money to middlemen engaged by him to tweak the tender in favour of his firm. Orsi was arrested in Italy on February 12.

So far, Indian investigations into the case have been stuck in absence of official documents as the Italian court in Busto Arsizio refused to share it with India citing Italian secrecy laws. The government hoping to officially receive the preliminary investigation report filed by the Italian prosecutors in the court of Busto Arsizio.

Orsi had allegedly hired middle-men Guido Haschke, Cralo Gerosa and Christian Michel for bagging the deal. The trio was allegedly in touch with the three cousins of former IAF chief S P Tyagi, all of them have been named by the CBI in it preliminary inquiry.
VVIP chopper scam: India gets first set of documents from Finmeccanica
The government has received the first set of official documents from Italy in connection with the VVIP chopper scam including the warrants issued against former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi by authorities there.

The documents are expected to fast-track the Indian investigations into the bribery allegations in the Rs. 3,600 crore deal for 12 AW-101 choppers, highly-placed government sources said.

The receipt of these documents is expected to boost efforts to go to the root of the alleged scam amid Defence Minister AK Antony's keenness to ensure that the truth is brought out expeditiously.
So far, Indian investigations into the case have been stuck in absence of official documents as the Italian court had refused to share it with India citing Italian laws. However, the government is yet to officially receive the preliminary investigation report filed by the Italian prosecutors in the court of Busto Arsizio, they said.

The search warrant against Mr Orsi is understood to have details about the alleged payment of kickbacks to middlemen engaged by him to swing the deal in favour of his firm.

Mr Orsi had allegedly hired Guido Heschke and Christian Michel for bagging the deal. The two were allegedly in touch with the three cousins of former air force chief SP Tyagi and they all have already been interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Mr Antony had told the Rajya Sabha that the truth in the case would come out soon with the two parallel investigations going on in Italy and India.

The minister and his team including Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma are working in this direction and are offering full cooperation to the CBI in its probe.

Soon after the arrest of Mr Orsi on February 18 in Italy, Mr Antony had ordered a CBI inquiry into the case and the Ministry had dispatched a one-member team including Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager Arun Kumar Bal to Milan to get "as much evidence as possible".
Merc owner to pay Rs 1.41 L for damaging Army Ambassador
The owner of a Mercedes-Benz car has been asked by a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) here to pay over Rs 1.4 lakh as compensation to Defence Ministry for the damage caused to an Army vehicle by his rashly driven car eight years ago.

The tribunal directed Delhi resident Bhupinder Patel to pay Rs 1,41,479 to the Centre through Ministry of Defence (MoD), Army Headquarters here for damaging its Ambassador car in an accident at Rao Tula Ram Marg here in South Delhi.

The offending car owner did not appear before the court to contest the case and was later on proceeded ex-parte.

"...In this case, after the accident an FIR was registered with police station R K Puram against driver of offending car under the relevant provisions indicating rashness and this fact alone would lead credence to the assumption that the driver drove the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner which resulted in the accident.

"The said accident has directly inflicted damage on the property of the petitioner (Army) which can be admitted for claim of compensation under provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act," MACT Presiding Officer Vineeta Goyal said.

The MoD approached the tribunal seeking compensation for the damage caused to its Ambassador car in the accident caused by the driver of Mercedes-Benz car.

It said the accident took place on May 15, 2004 when the Army's car being driven by Sunil Kumar was coming back to unit after dropping some officers at Greater Kailash area here.

When he was entering Rao Tula Ram Marg, there was no traffic signal at the crossing and when he was about to take a turn, the Mercedes being rashly driven by its driver came at a speed and hit the Ambassador car causing the damage.

The Ministry had sought a compensation of Rs 1,86,049 but the tribunal awarded it Rs 1.41 lakh saying it was entitled for the actual damage to the property.

"As the offending vehicle was a Mercedes-Benz registered in the name of Bhupinder Patel, therefore, he becomes vicariously liable to compensate the petitioner (Army)," the

tribunal said.
Imported arsenal hampers defence secretary's 'made-in-India' dream
The taint of corruption in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal has highlighted the need to shed over-dependence on foreign vendors for military hardware, but the status of indigenous defence programmes tells a story of cost overruns and delays.

Confronted with allegations of large-scale corruption in defence deals, defence minister A K Antony has asked the armed forces to change the mindset of rushing to foreign vendors for military equipment and hinted at home-grown procurement as a solution to check graft.

Mail Today assessed the research and development costs of some of the major programmes and their status.

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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is making light combat helicopter, which took part in Indian Air Force's latest exercise 'Iron Fist' in Pokhran.

The state-owned aeronautical company has spent about Rs 900 crore to develop the helicopter whose induction has already been delayed by four years.

Armed forces have a severe shortage of light utility helicopters. But the effort to develop them at home will cost about Rs 400 crore and the project is already behind schedule by 30 months.

HAL is looking to supply Cheetal light helicopters meant for operations in high altitude areas. The 10 helicopters to be supplied to the air force will cost Rs 100 crore.

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The development of intermediate jet trainers has hit a roadblock despite the programme costing Rs 600 crore.

The jet trainers, needed badly by the IAF, have been under development for a decade. The IAF is hoping that the issues regarding the aircraft's design would be sorted out but its induction seems unlikely anytime soon.

The advanced light helicopter Mk-IV, a version which comes with guns, rockets and missiles,has been delayed by four years.

The R and D cost analysis of light combat aircraft Tejas shows that the project's cost is now Rs 13,000 crore with completion deadline of December, 2018.

The project was started about 35 years ago with a budget of Rs 560 crore. India, the biggest arms importer in the world, buys 70 per cent of its military equipment from foreign vendors.

The lack of private defence industry and failure of public sector undertakings to deliver have contributed to the situation.

Officials say it would take at least three decades for the home-grown projects to make any impact.

The defence-science establishment blames armed forces for preferring foreign military hardware and not supporting the local efforts.

It was reflected in tussle between the army and DRDO over Arjun tanks. The army accepted the locally made tanks and ordered 124 (Mk-I) of them only after extensive comparative trials with Russian T- 90s and removal of defects.In the renewed effort to develop the domestic industry, emphasis is on private participation which has been nonexistent.

But situation is gradually changing with big industrial houses like Tatas, Reliance, Mahindra and L and T making inroads in defence manufacturing.

The IAF is looking to get its first aircraft from the private sector as replacement for the existing fleet of 56 Avros. The Rs 12000 crore project is aimed at encouraging private aircraft manufacturing.

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ndia plans ‘mountain strike’ to counter China

Wary of China’s defence modernisation and infrastructure building in the Tibet Autonomous region, India will be raising a new formidable corps-sized formation of 30,000 infantry in the 13th Five-year Plan period that ends in 2022.

This new infantry force will be over and above the new Mountain Strike Corps with nearly 40,000 soldiers that India will raise, to act as a counter to China, in the northeastern region.

Defence Minister A K Antony revealed the raising of the force when he told Parliament this week that “30 infantry battalions are proposed to be raised in the 13th five-year plan towards enhancing combat capacity” of the 11.3-lakh-strong Indian Army.

This novel proposal is part of the Indian Army’s Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan that was given an “in principle” approval by the Antony-headed Defence Acquisition Council in April 2012.

Along with the raising of the 30 infantry battalions, the government also proposes to provide for enhancing their mobility by introducing superior vehicles with better cross country mobility.

The Army’s mountain strike corps proposal for the 12th plan period, which awaits the Cabinet Committee on Security approval, is apart from the two independent infantry brigades and armoured brigades that are being raised to plug the operational gaps along the 4,057-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) and for building offensive capabilities against the giant neighbouring nation’s powerful military.

While creating the new Mountain Strike Corps is likely to cost the government close to ` 62,000 crore spread over the 2012-17 12th five-year period, the expenditure could spill over into the 2017-22 13th five-year period too, when an additional ` 19,000 crore could be provided.

The raising of the 30 infantry battalions in the 13th five-year period could cost an equal amount, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Mountain Strike corps proposal has already been tweaked and approved by the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), which is at present headed by Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne and has Army chief General Bikram Singh and Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi as members.

The CoSC had been tasked to take a fresh look at the proposal  which now has to pass muster at the Defence Ministry and the Finance Ministry.

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