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Friday, 29 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 29 Mar 2013
US flies stealth bombers over South Korea

Seoul, March 28
The United States said two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew "deterrence" missions over South Korea on Thursday, defying apocalyptic threats of retribution from North Korea against ongoing war games.

The deployment of the stealth bombers was clearly meant to deliver a potent message to Pyongyang about the US commitment to defending South Korea against any aggression as military tensions on the Korean peninsula soar.

It came shortly after the North severed its last-remaining military hotline with South Korea and put its rocket units on combat status with a threat to target US bases in the Pacific region.

The two B-2s, from Whitman Air Force base in Missouri, flew the 20,800 km round-trip in a "single continuous mission", dropping dummy ordnance on a target range in the South, the US military said in a statement.

"This demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will," the statement said.

The bombers were participating in the South Korean-US military exercises that have incensed North Korea, which has threatened to unleash a second Korean War and launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes on South Korea and the US mainland.

"The B-2 bomber is an important element of America's enduring and robust extended deterrence capability," the US statement said. — AFP

Counter threat

* The deployment of the B-2 stealth bombers is meant to deliver a potent message to Pyongyang about the US commitment to defending South Korea

* It came shortly after the North severed its last-remaining military hotline with South Korea and put its rocket units on combat status with a threat to target US bases in the Pacific region
Deficiencies in defence
Time to get serious about self-reliance

Defence Minister Arackaparmbil Kurien Antony recently exhorted the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to increase the country's self-reliance for weapon systems and platforms. Observing that although efforts were on to increase indigenisation, India continued to be over-dependent on imports to meet defence requirements and that there was no substitute to self-reliance.

Antony's statement to scientists of the DRDO is relevant keeping in view that it is the premier organisation entrusted with developing new weapon systems and platforms that are critical for modernising India's armed forces and keeping its defence preparedness contemporary. The DRDO's record, however, has been hardly exemplary. Other than doing fairly well in developing a series of missile systems, the DRDO's record of developing defence technology and weapon systems has mostly been dismal. For the last two and a half decades India has remained stuck at the 30-35 per cent mark when it comes to indigenous defence capability. Even this figure is suspect, considering that India mostly either assembles imported defence equipment or licence manufactures it. Successive parliamentary standing reports on defence have with monotonous regularity pointed to serious shortcomings in the DRDO's structure, functioning and capability. These shortcomings similarly extend to the eight defence public sector units and the state-owned 39 ordnance factories. As a result, most of India's defence equipment is imported, making India subsequently dependent on spares and servicing and, therefore, vulnerable to political and economic pressures from other countries.

Antony is not the first Defence Minister to exhort the DRDO; neither is he expected to be the last. The need for stepping up indigenous capability has been repeated by successive defence ministers cutting across political dispensations that have ruled the country in the last two and a half decades. A hundred percent self-reliance is not possible. The DRDO and all allied organisations should, therefore, focus on key technologies and weapon systems. For this India's military-industrial complex needs quality manpower, an efficient management system and better synergy with the private sector to develop high-end defence technology that is currently severely lacking.
Bangladesh army chief to visit India next week
NEW DELHI: India will roll out the red carpet for Bangladesh army chief General Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan when he comes visiting next week, as part of the stepped up defence ties between the two countries. Gen Bhuiyan, who will lead a delegation to India from April 1 to 4, is slated to hold talks with defence minister A K Antony, national security advisor Shivshankar Menon, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Army chief General Bikram Singh and Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi.

Both ACM Browne, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, and Gen Singh had visited Dhaka last year as part of the overall policy to boost military ties with Bangladesh, a country where China has been making strategic inroads like many others in India's neighbourhood. India, of course, is also keen to work together with Bangladesh on the terrorism front.

The Indian armed forces are working towards "building capacity'' of the Bangladesh military, ranging from training and exercises to military supplies and technology. The Army also has been holding direct staff-to-staff talks with its Bangladeshi counterpart since 2009.
India, China should deepen military ties: Xi Jinping
China’s new leader Xi Jinping has made a pitch for India and China to boost military contact and deepen trust, State media quoted him as saying during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Durban late on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Xi, who took over as the head of the Communist Party and military last November, told Mr. Singh during their talks on the sidelines of the just concluded BRICS Summit that both countries needed to broaden exchanges between their armed forces.

He also called for both countries to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the border dispute “as soon as possible”, the State-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

Wednesday’s remarks are the first detailed comments by China’s new leader, who took over as President on March 17, on how he plans to take ties with India forward. In an earlier letter to Mr. Singh in January and in remarks to a group of reporters from BRICS countries earlier this month, Mr. Xi had only appeared to stress continuity in ties from the previous government, reiterating a “five-point” proposal put forward last year by his predecessor Hu Jintao and not offering new ideas.

Mr. Xi’s particular emphasis on expanding mutual “military and security trust” underscore concerns in both countries on recently strained defence ties, which were suspended for a year in 2010, after China refused to host the then head of the Army’s Northern Command citing its sensitivities in Kashmir.

More recently, the Chinese side has appeared more eager to boost ties, Indian officials say, indicating its willingness by hosting Indian Army officers from Jammu and Kashmir in recent delegations and also taking a delegation to facilities in Tibet for the first time in many years.

China’s change in posture, analysts note, has coincided with increasing tensions faced by Beijing in the South China Sea and with Japan over East China Sea islands.

After taking over in November, Mr. Xi has rapidly consolidated his control over the influential People’s Liberation Army faster than his predecessor Hu Jintao, already making more than half a dozen visits to military bases. Mr. Xi also served as an aide to an influential general early on his career, and has a network of ties among fellow “princelings” in the army.

Wednesday’s meeting in Durban marked Mr. Xi’s first meeting with top Indian officials after he took over as President.

“China and India should broaden exchanges and cooperation between their armed forces and deepen mutual military and security trust,” he told Mr. Singh, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

On the border issue, he said “China and India should improve and make good use of the mechanism of special representatives to strive for a fair, rational solution framework acceptable to both sides as soon as possible,” Xinhua said.

He also called on both sides to “continue to safeguard peace in their border areas and prevent the issue from affecting bilateral relations.”

Mr. Xi described both countries as having “a similar historic mission to boost their social and economic development,” and said they were in “an important period of strategic opportunities.”

“China, which regards its ties with India as one of the most important bilateral relationship, commits itself to pushing forward the two countries' strategic cooperative partnership,” he said, adding that both sides needed “to maintain high-level reciprocal visits and contacts, make full use of political dialogues and consultations at various levels to strengthen strategic and political communication.”

Xinhua quoted Mr. Singh as saying he hoped India and China “would respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, deepen mutual strategic trust, strengthen coordination and cooperation on international affairs, and safeguard peace and stability in the region and the world at large.”

He also appeared to reassure China about its recent concerns over India’s possible role in the United States’ “pivot” or rebalancing to Asia and strengthening of military alliances in the region, seen by many in China as a move to contain its rise.

Mr. Singh said India “adheres to an independent foreign policy” and “will not be used as a tool to contain China.”

He also sought to assuage Chinese concerns on Tibet. He said India “recognises the Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of the Chinese territory and that India will not allow Tibetans to conduct political activities against China in India”, Xinhua quoted him as saying during Wednesday’s meeting.
All's not well between Army & Archaeological Survey of India
KOCHI: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Defence Security Corps (DSC), two central government institutions, are engaged in a legal battle at the Kerala high court over a well at St Angelo Fort at Kannur.

A petition was filed by ASI at the high court alleging that DSC is preventing access to a well at the fort, which is situated on the premises of a DSC unit there. ASI has made the secretary of ministry of defence the opposing party in the case.

DSC, which is a wing of Indian Army responsible for providing security to defence establishment against sabotage, responded by filing a police complaint against ASI officials alleging them of spying on the military unit.

In the complaint filed to circle inspector of Kannur city police, DSC highlighted that the photographs produced along with the petition at the high court showed DSC personnel's training and other details, which should not have been photographed as it is a military establishment.

DSC has informed police that 15 photographs were taken by ASI officials showing training areas, troops in action, and other installations at the facility.

Further, they complained that the action of the ASI officials has compromised the security of the military unit and could be made use of by insurgents.

Based on the complaint, police filed a case against ASI officials for spying under Section 3 of Official Secrets Act, 1923. As per this law, those who spy on work related to defence, arsenal, naval, military, or air force establishments would be punished with imprisonment up to 14 years.

However, on Wednesday, the state government informed the high court that police would abstain from arresting ASI officials based on the complaint of spying by DSC until further instructions are received from the court.

Recording the submission of the state government, Justice Antony Dominic has posted the case for further hearing.
India, China discuss irksome issues in fledgling defence cooperation
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
In a move that would be keenly watched among strategic circles, India and China today moved ahead to work on their fledgling defence cooperation, discussing issues in the Asia-Pacific region, resumption of joint-military exercises, an expansion of military-to-military exchanges and consolidation of measures to maintain peace along the frontiers.

The two-sides conducted defence delegation-level talks, the third high-level meet on military matters in the past 10 months, when US Defence Secretary Leon Pannetta visited India and China to announce the rebalance of the US forces towards Asia-Pacific region.

Both, India and China, had then separately, showed displeasure at the eastward swing of the US forces. Indian Defence minister AK Antony had then advised his US counterpart, Leon Pannetta "to move at a pace (in implementing the new military strategy) which is comfortable to all countries concerned".

Today China and India discussed "issues relating to the regional security situation", an Indian official statement said tonight. Sources said the Asia-Pacific region, that includes the South China Sea, was discussed at the meeting. In the past few months, New Delhi and Beijing have exchanged sharp words over navigation rights in that sea. India has oil exploration interests and wants free navigation under the UN-signed sea-navigation conventions while China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and often warns India over oil explorations. The matters of navigation did come up, however, the US and its east-ward swing into Asia was not discussed at this talks, sources said.

Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Lt Gen Qi Jianguo, led an eight-member delegation for talks with Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma at the South Block today. The two sides discussed issues for 90-minutes.

India and China, who had severed their bilateral defence relations in 2009 over non-issuance of visa to serving a Lt General of the Indian Army, slowly resumed defence ties December 2011 onwards. First in September 2012, Chinese Defence Liang Guanglie made a visit to India, the first in more than eight year, to discuss issues with AK Antony. The two sides laid down the framework. In January 2013, Lt Gen Jianguo and Shashi Kant Sharma had met in Beijing for the Annual Defence Dialogue.

An official Indian statement said: "Both sides agreed to finalise the plan of bilateral exchanges between the Armed Forces of India and China".

It has been decided that exchanges will be conducted between the Armies, Navies and Air Forces on both sides. Both sides also discussed preparations for the 3rd Joint Army exercise, which is scheduled to be conducted in China this year.

It was agreed that the strengthening of exchanges between the armed forces should be carried out to build mutual trust and confidence, said the Defence Ministry.

The too sides also discussed the implementation of measures agreed upon to ensure continued peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Today's decisions come just days ahead of the scheduled BRICS summit at Durban, South Africa, on March 26-27. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to meet the new Chinese Premier Xi Jingping.

On the table

    Issues concerning both countries and their ‘clash of interest’ in the Asia-Pacific region
    Resumption of joint-military exercises
    Expansion of military-to-military exchanges
    Consolidation of measures to maintain peace along the frontiers
BEML: From earth moving to aerospace

Being India’s leading defence equipment manufacturer, BEML keeps the Indian Army and other defence forces abreast with modern military equipments. The company has global ambitions and to become a globally recognised brand it plans to expand its market share in Asia.

Long before Bangalore was called the Silicon Valley of India, the city made its name as a hub to some of the largest public sector heavy industries.

Bangalore has been home to public sector units since the 60s. Companies such as Bharat Earth Movers Ltd known as BEML, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and others have grown their presence – both in terms of number of people employed and the kind of work undertaken over the last five decades.

BEML Ltd, is a leading multi-technology and multi-location Mini Ratna Category-I company that falls under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, offering high-quality products for diverse sectors such as coal, mining, steel, cement, power, irrigation, construction, road building, aviation, defence, metro and railways.

It has emerged as the forerunner of heavy engineering industry with a track record of growth and revenues for over four decades.

For the kind of success that this company has achieved over the years, one needs to take a step back and look into the past.

BEML was incorporated in May 1964, and commenced operations on January 1, 1965. It was wholly-owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence until 1992, when the Government divested 25 per cent of its holdings in the company.

BEML is Asia’s second-largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment, and controls 70 per cent of the market in that sector.

BEML has manufacturing plants in Kolar Gold Fields, Bangalore, Palakkad and Mysore. It has numerous regional offices throughout the country. KGF unit is the main unit accounting for the manufacture and assembly of a wide array of earth-moving equipment such as bulldozers and excavators.

Rail coaches are made in the Bangalore complex and the Mysore facility makes dump trucks and engines of various capacities.

BEML manufactures rolling stock for Delhi Metro and Namma Metro in Bangalore. It works in consortium with Hyundai Rotem and has supplied more than 200 coaches to DMRC and has an order of 150 coaches from Bangalore Metro.

Jaipur Metro has also ordered to manufacture, supply, test and commission 10 train sets of four-car each, totalling 40 cars to Jaipur Metro Project. BEML has restructured its operations under three distinct business groups viz., Mining & construction, Defence and Rail & metro.

It has formed strategic business units and product groups following the concept of ‘Business within business.’

New business division includes technology, trading, aerospace and international business. The company has global ambitions and to become a globally recognised brand it plans to expand its market share in Asia.

In line with that, BEML has set up warehousing facilities at Malaysia. An overseas office has been established in China for outsourcing.

Besides, local company, PT BEML Indonesia has been established in Indonesia to capture the emerging market.

BEML Brasil Industrial Ltda was set up for sales of mining and construction equipment in Latin American countries with a phased local manufacturing programme.

Over the years, BEML has demonstrated its engineering strengths and technical prowess by harnessing sophisticated technologies and erecting giant equipment such as the multi-crore walking draglines and electric rope shovels for the coal sector.

With a commitment to market driven R&D, BEML has successfully rolled out over 30 value-added products.

BEML recently introduced road headers and slide discharge loaders for underground mining applications.

Railway products include integral rail coaches, electric multiple units, rail buses, track laying equipment and overhead equipment inspection cars. BEML also manufactures heavy duty trucks and trailers and hydraulic aggregates for transportation sector.

The company also manufactures high power diesel engines and heavy duty hydraulic aggregates to meet specific customer requirements. The company plans to diversify into varied activities including underground mining equipment, underground storage for petro-products, leasing and financial services and joint ventures abroad.

Its Rs 30-crore composite R&D Centre at KGF has laboratories that work in areas such as fluid power, material science, structural engineering and power line aggregates.

The company has modern manufacturing facilities at Kolar Gold Fields, Mysore and Bangalore and are certified under ISO 9001-2000 series. Apart from this, BEML has set up its fourth manufacturing complex at Palakkad, Kerala, as part of its expansion and diversification plan in a record time.

This complex is dedicated to the manufacture of defence equipment and rail coach components and spare parts. All these units have modern facilities such as CNC machines, hi-tech welding equipment and flexible manufacturing systems to turnout cutting edge technology products. Continuous modernisation of manufacturing facilities enables BEML to deliver world-class products.
Mining and construction

The boom in the mining industry has opened up new avenues for BEML in contract mining. BEML offers a diverse range of mining machinery for both opencast and underground mines. It produces machines such as electric rope shovels, hydraulic excavators, bulldozers, wheel-loaders, wheel dozers, dump trucks, motor graders, pipelayers, tyre handlers, water sprinklers and backhoe loaders. Besides, BEML manufactures mammoth walking draglines for cost-effective operations in the opencast mines. BEML has ventured into underground mining with products such as side discharge loader, load haul dumper, winch, winder, granby car, skip and others.

Being India’s leading Defence equipment manufacturer, BEML keeps the Indian Army and other Defence forces abreast with modern military equipment. The company is manufacturing variants of Tatra vehicle for all terrain operations including bridge layer, field artillery tractor, medium and heavy recovery vehicle, pontoon mainstream bridge systems, crash fire tenders, mobile mast vehicle.

BEML also supplies engineering mine ploughs, tank transportation trailers, weapon loading equipment, armoured recovery vehicle, Milrail coaches and wagons apart from aircraft weapon loading trolley, aircraft towing tractor and radar carrying vehicle.

The first indigenously designed and developed snow cutter for military and para military application is an import substitute product. Two new product variants developed by BEML’s strong technology development team include combat post vehicle and BEML Tatra driving simulator to cater for the growing needs of armed forces.

BEML plays a major role in the country’s integrated guided missile development project by supplying ground support vehicles. The company has also created world-class test track at its KGF Complex to test defence equipment and vehicles.
Metro, Railway business

BEML is the nation’s first rail coach manufacturing company and is the only company that forayed into high-tech metro trains deployed for intra-city commuting. BEML is expanding its infrastructure to meet the greater needs of metro projects coming up in the country.

Other products supplied for the Indian Railways include integral rail coaches, overhead inspection cars, postal vans, AC/DC electric multiple units, stainless steel EMUs, catenary maintenance vehicle, utility vehicles, track laying equipment, broad-gauge railbus, treasury vans, spoil disposal units etc. Its future plans include manufacturing of high-speed rail and metro bogies, affordable metro cars for tier II & III cities.
Technology Division

With India becoming engineering outsourcing hub, BEML aims to garner substantial business in the IT-enabled services. With the extensive use of CAD/CAE and CAM, this division is offering services encompassing product design, process engineering, plant automation, enterprise management services and implementation of collaborative product engineering.

BEML has launched aerospace manufacturing division at Mysore complex produce and supply ground handling equipments, ground support equipment, toolings and components for aerospace applications. The company has recently signed an MoU with the Karnataka Government to set up an exclusive aerospace manufacturing complex at the SEZ, near Bangalore International Airport.
Trading Division

With a view to maximise business through sale of components and engineering spares, BEML has launched a trading division. This will ensure supply of high-quality components for both in-house consumption as well as existing customers. Leveraging on BEML brand for non-company products, it plans to serve customers using its vast marketing network. An export house with trading house status, BEML has proven strengths in handling large-scale trading and counter-trade has pushed the export of engineering goods as well as other equipment.
International Business

BEML has an expanding international presence in more than 55 countries spread world-wide. In recognition of its outstanding performance, BEML has been awarded the best performance in exports for the year 2007-08.

Another PSU giant, which is based out of Bangalore is HAL traces its genesis back to 1940. Now, HAL is one of Asia’s largest aerospace companies. It comes under the management of the Ministry of Defence, this state-owned company is mainly involved in aerospace industry, which includes manufacturing and assembling aircraft, navigation and related communication equipment, as well as operating airports.

HAL is one of the largest aerospace companies in Asia with its annual turnover to be running above $2 billion. More than 40 per cent of HAL’s revenues come from international deals to manufacture aircraft engines, spare parts, and other aircraft materials.

HAL built the first military aircraft in South Asia and is currently involved in the design, fabrication and assembly of aircraft, jet engines, and helicopters, as well as their components and spares. Hindustan Aeronautics has a history of collaboration with several other international and domestic aerospace agencies such as Airbus, Boeing, Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, Elbit Systems, Israel Aircraft Industries, RSK MiG, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce plc, Dassault Aviation, Dornier Flugzeugwerke, the Indian Aeronautical Development Agency and the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Some if its marquee products include Tejas, a light combat aircraft; Su-30MKI - a derivative of Sukhoi Su-27 co-developed with Sukhoi Corporation; Dhruv - an advanced light helicopter, among others.

With over 9,500 employees, it is one of the largest public sector employers in Bangalore. Apart from HAL, the National Aerospace Laboratories is also headquartered in Bangalore and is dedicated to the development of civil aviation technologies.

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