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Thursday, 18 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 18 Apr 2013
MiG-21 completes 50 years in India
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 17
It was 50 years ago that MiG-21, the first supersonic fighter jet in the Indian Air Force fleet, flew over Indian skies. The plane, which went on to serve as a frontline fighter in 1971 war with Pakistan, had then put New Delhi firmly in the Soviet Union-led Bloc during the Cold War era.

It was only 45 years later, in 2008, that India and the US started warming up to each other. In the intervening period, the Soviet Union collapsed and India emerged as a fledgling global power.

Fifty years later, there have been subdued functions to mark the arrival of the first MiG 21 and 50 years of the Indo-Russian defence partnership. Besides the MiG-21, these 50 years have seen subsequent variants like the MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-27 and MiG-29 in India. On April 15, General Director of JSC "Russian Aircraft Corporation" MiG, Sergei Korotkov, presented a memento to the Indian Ambassador at Moscow, Ajay Malhotra. On April 20, a book on MiGs in India will be released by Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne.

The first lot of MiG-21s had arrived in Mumbai in January 1963 and was assembled to be handed over to the 28 Squadron, known as the 'first supersonics' in IAF terminology. The squadron was based at Chandigarh, then no more than a fledging small-town of bureaucrats and the ruling political class. It was in April 1963 that the MiG-21s started flying in a routine more than the speed of sound sending a noisy sound of the 'boom' across the plains of Punjab. Wg Cdr Dilbagh Singh (later Chief of Air Staff) was commanding the squadron at that time.

The 1962 agreement for the supply of MiG-21 to India was signed around the time India and China were just weeks away from bloody war. The IAF shortlist had the French Mirage III, the US-produced F-104 Starfighter and USSR-produced MiG-21. The Mirage III lost out due to high cost while the US reluctance to allow licensed production meant India opted for MiG-21.

Fifty years later, Russia and India have a defence partnership going and are now co-developing the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). New Delhi's dependence on Moscow may not be the same as Cold War era, however, Defence Minister AK Antony always acknowledges Russia as a 'key ally'.

First licensed production of MiG-21 started in India in 1964. It was in 1980 that MiG-23 arrived and two years later MiG-25 termed as 'foxbat' arrived. This was primarily a spying plane of era when satellite imagery was not well developed and was based out Sarsawa, Saharanpur.

In 1985, the India-USSR relations were on the upswing. The newly developed MiG-29, the twin-engined fighter, was purchased by India. The western world was reportedly awestruck when it was first shown in Finland in 1986. The developments of those times have to be juxtaposed with the intense USA-USSR rivalry and the fact that Pakistan was a key ally of the US.

Today, after the Cold War has ended, the Indian Navy had ordered the MiG 29-K, the sea-variant of the MiG-29, and deliveries have commenced.

First Supersonic fighter jet

    The first lot of MiG-21s arrived in Mumbai in January 1963 and was assembled to be handed over to the 28 Squadron, known as the ‘first supersonics’ in IAF terminology
    The 1962 agreement for the supply of MiG-21 to India was signed around the time India and China were just weeks away from a bloody war
    The first licensed production of MiG-21 started in India in 1964. It was in 1980 that MiG-23s arrived and two years later MiG-25, termed as ‘foxbat’, had arrived
IAF battles to free its bombing range from encroachers
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 17
Even as the armed forces face a dearth of firing ranges for training and maintaining operational preparedness, the IAF is embroiled in a legal battle to regain control over large parts of its Tilpat range in Haryana.

The air force contends that a large area of its Tilpat firing and bombing range along the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh border near Faridabad has been encroached upon by locals who claim ownership of the said land.

After the Additional District Judge (ADJ), Faridabad, ruled in favour of the IAF’s contentions, overturning an order by a lower court that had allowed the claims of the locals, the issue has now landed up before the Punjab and Haryana High Court where it is scheduled to come up for hearing later this month.

The Tilpat range, which was acquired by the Central government in 1950, measures about 4,500 acres. The IAF states that over 351 bighas has been encroached upon, with farming activity and some constructions coming up.

The earlier court proceedings also brought up curious details that not only the name of the village, Chak Salarpur, that the locals claim to be from does not exist in revenue records, but documents were fabricated by the UP authorities to show that the said land was under the jurisdiction of Uttar Pradesh.

In her order recently, ADJ Ritu YK Behl had ruled that the locals concerned had failed to discharge the onus on them to show the exact location of the property to which they claim ownership making only vague statements without any specific allegations.

The locals had contended that they purchased the said land from the Uttar Pradesh government in 1977 out of surplus evacuee land and later, with the Yamuna changing its course, Chak Salarpur was ceded to Haryana under the Dixit Award. The ADJ ruled that there was no document or record to show that any village by the name Chak Salarpur has ever been transferred to Haryana.

Observing that the khasra numbers given by the locals and the location given by them does not tally with any document, the ADJ ruled that a local commission set on the orders of the then ADJ and the Faridabad Tehsildar had reported in 1997 that the records pertaining to Chak Salarpur were fabricated. The report stated that possession of the said land was taken over the Central government in 1950 and it was formally registered in its name in 1969.
Manpower crunch: Indian Army short of 9,590 officers
New Delhi: The Indian Army is short of 9,590 officers. Sources told CNN-IBN on Wednesday that the current intake of officers at various academies will ensure that the deficit will be cut by two per cent every year.

Intake of officer cadets at the National Defence Academy rose from 1,800 to 2,100 since the last two years.

Meanwhile, a report on Wednesday claimed that the Army is looking to induct 200 more women officers with permanent commission (PC), but has ruled out any combat role for them.
CRPF to purchase high-end defence gear to take on Naxals
 The CRPF is purchasing more than a dozen defence manufactured UAVs and a number of mine protected troop carriers to aid and guide ground patrols of the force conducting anti-Naxal operations.

The country's largest paramilitary, thick in action against the Maoists, has decided to make these big ticket purchases from indigenous defence establishments like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

The decision to purchase from indigenous defence establishments has been made with a view to fast-track the purchases and get an early delivery of these sophisticated machines as compared to the timeline of foreign vendors and global purchases.

Sources said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will get almost 15 'Nishant' Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and more than three dozen OFB Kolkata made counter-landmine vehicles which protect troops from hidden mines.

"Both the machines coming from the defence stable are aimed to get the troops a better operational preparedness in the Naxal terrain and also save our men from the deadly landmines planted clandestinely beneath the tracks in Naxal-hit areas," a senior official said.

The CRPF, which has deployed close to 85,000 personnel for anti-Naxal operations, at present is flying UAVs in Maoist zones in order to give its foot soldiers an advanced view of the jungle terrain and indicate possible movement of armed Maoist cadres with the help of the 'Netra' mini-UAVs.

The force now will use the bigger UAV 'Nishant' developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO and used by the Indian Army.
China's military white paper plays down dispute with India
BEIJING: China's military has issued a white paper blaming the US for causing tension in the Asia-Pacific region and naming Japan as a troublemaker. But the paper plays down the country's troubled relationship with India over boundary claims. It also reveals details of China's enormous military structure, with some of the information being released for the first time.

The report issued by the People's Liberation Army on Tuesday complained about "neighbouring countries" complicating and exacerbating tensions. Especially targeted were China's sea neighbours, including Japan, which the report accused of "making trouble over the Diaoyu islands".

"China still faces multiple and complicated security threats and challenges," said the white paper on 'The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces'.

There is little discussion about India in the paper and even joint exercises conducted between the military of the two countries have not been discussed in any detail. Military exchanges with China's neighbours such as Vietnam, South Korea and Pakistan are specifically mentioned.

"Some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding military presence in the region, and frequently making the situation there tenser," the paper said without taking any names. The obvious reference was to the expansion of US presence in the seas near South Korea, Vietnam and Japan.

Replying to a question about the US presence in Asia-Pacific, defence ministry spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun told a press conference: "Certain efforts made to highlight a military agenda and enhance military deployment and also strengthen military alliances in the region are not in line with the common interest." Such actions "were not conducive to upholding peace and stability in the region", he said.

About China's military structure, the paper said the army had 850,000 officers, while the navy and air force had a strength of 235,000 and 398,000. The air force has 398,000 officers and an air command in seven military areas, while the navy commands three fleets: the Beihai, the Donghai and the Nanhai. China's defence budget rose by 11.2% in 2012, exceeding $100 billion.

The white paper mentioned the role of China's second artillery force, which contains its nuclear and conventional missile forces. The force is crucial to China's "strategic deterrence" and is "primarily responsible for deterring other countries from using nuclear weapons against China, and carrying out nuclear counterattacks and precision strikes with conventional missiles", the paper said.
Sudan frees army officers held for coup bid
Many gather in streets to celebrate for nine officers pardoned days after they were jailed for alleged coup attempt.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has pardoned nine army officers, days after they were jailed for their role in an alleged coup attempt, state news agency SUNA reported.

The brief report issued on Wednesday did not say why Bashir had ordered their release - and the pardon did not include other senior officials the government said were caught up in the plot, including the country's former head of intelligence.

The army officers had been sentenced on April 7 to prison terms of between two and five years. The trial of former spy chief Salah Gosh and other security officers has yet to start.

Bashir had ordered the release of all political prisoners at the beginning of the month as part of a general amnesty. It was not immediately clear if Wednesday's releases were part of that programme.

Hundreds of supporters of one of the released men - Wad Ibrahim, a senior army officer - gathered outside his Khartoum home to celebrate.

Ibrahim told the Reuters news agency at his house he had only been interested in pushing for reform. "We thank the Sudanese people and the armed forces ...(I hope) the country will reform and people will unite," he said.

President Bashir was a senior army officer when he came to power in his own coup in 1989 and built his power base on an alliance between Islamists and the country's powerful military.

During his near 24-year rule, he has weathered rebellions, US trade sanctions, the loss of most of the country's oil with the secession of the country's south in 2011 and an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court over his crackdown on a revolt in the western region of Darfur.

High food prices in Sudan caused by the loss of the oil - and with it the source of foreign currency used to import wheat and other staples - have triggered some protests against Bashir since the South seceded in July 2011.

Some members of the army and the ruling National Congress Party have also complained that Bashir and other senior leaders have abandoned the Muslim values of the 1989 bloodless coup that brought him to power.
Army jawan killed in encounter with NDFB in Assam
Guwahati: An Indian army soldier was killed in a gun battle with militants of the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in Assam's Sonitpur district Wednesday, officials said.

The incident took place at a remote area called Chariduar, along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, officials said.

An army spokesman based in Guwahati confirmed the incident, and said militants had fired upon a routine patrol of the army in the area, leading to a gun battle. "One of the bullets hit a jawan," the army spokesman said.

The forces, however, could manage to apprehend one of the militants while the rest of the group managed to escape, he said.

The deceased jawan was identified as Raju Kumar of 7 Bihar Regiment.

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