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Friday, 16 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 16 Aug 2013




Explosions sink sub off Mumbai; 18 dead

Ordnance fire engulfs INS Sindhurakshak in midnight tragedy

Inquiry report in 4 weeks

Shiv Kumar/TNS

Mumbai, August 14

Eighteen crew members, including three officers, on board submarine INS Sindhurakshak were feared dead after three explosions rocked the vessel causing it to sink off Mumbai harbour shortly after midnight today.


Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi said three explosions were heard from the submarine before it sank in the shallow waters. A small explosion was followed by two massive blasts that sparked a major fire.


The Admiral said the ordnance on board the submarine might have exploded, adding that the extent of damage could be ascertained only after the salvage operations were over.


The submarine had explosives, fuel, oxygen and batteries that could have played a part in the explosion, he said. The explosion caused the submarine to sink nose first where it was berthed at the Mumbai dockyard.


The Navy Chief said the possibility of sabotage would be among the points that would be investigated by a Board of Inquiry (BoI). “Indications so far do not support such a theory,” he said. The BoI will submit its report in four weeks.


Earlier in the day, Admiral Joshi who accompanied Defence Minister AK Antony said divers were trying to establish contact with the crew members trapped inside the stricken submarine.


“While we can hope for the best, we have to be prepared for the worst,” the Navy Chief said.


He said rescuers were hoping against hope that the crew members could be breathing air trapped in different pockets in the submarine.


Official sources later said all crew members seemed to have perished in the mishap.


Three crew members had a narrow escape as they jumped off the submarine when the explosions occurred. The naval authorities were waiting to question them. “They are in a state of shock and in no position to answer questions,” the Admiral said. Shortly after the explosions lit up the South Mumbai sky a little after midnight, fire tenders from the Navy and the Mumbai Fire Brigade arrived at the scene to put out the blaze. Fire officials said it took several hours to douse the fire.


Close shave for another sub

The tragedy could have been worse had it not been for the presence of mind of naval and fire brigade personnel who were at the naval dockyard. The explosions sparked off a major fire on another Kilo-Class submarine, INS Sindhuratna, stationed nearby. Fire-fighters were quick to check the spread of fire on the second submarine before moving it away.


most members were away

Most members of over 80 crew members on board were not present at the time of the tragedy, officials have said. While 18 crew members, including three officers, were feared dead, three jumped to safety. They have been admitted to naval hospital INS Ashwini. The submarine was set to leave for operational deployment shortly.

Sub’s safety was enhanced: Russian shipyard


Moscow, August 14

The Russian shipyard, which upgraded INS Sindhudarshak, today said it had installed advanced weaponry, both Indian and foreign systems, to enhance the submarine's “combat capability and safe operation”.


Zvyozdochka, part of the Unified Shipbuilding Corporation that specialises in repairs and recycling of nuclear submarines, said it had signed a contract with the Indian Defence Ministry in 2010 to carry out maintenance and upgrade of the submarine. The craft arrived there in August.


The submarine was upgraded and it sailed to Mumbai in January, 2013. The Severodvinsk-based shipyard said a modern Club-S missile system was installed on the submarine together with more than 10 Indian and foreign systems, including the Ushus hydro-acoustic system and the CCS-MK-2 communication system.


“The coolant system has been modernised; a Porpoise radar has been installed and other works have been carried out to enhance the submarine's combat capability and safe operation,” Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted a Zvyozdochka official as saying.


The Sindhurakshak was built by the Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard in St Petersburg in 1995. Meanwhile, seven Russian specialists, who had worked on the submarine earlier, were reported to be “safe and sound”.


In June last, the submarine was floated out after the staples phase of repairs. In November-December, the submarine successfully completed performance trials and the tests of torpedo and missile armaments at firing ranges in the White Sea. It has modernised five diesel electric submarines for the Indian Navy since 1997. — PTI

Don’t take India’s restraint for granted: Parliament tells Pak

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


The resolution

Entire J&K, including the territory forcibly and illegally occupied by Pakistan, was an integral part of India

Pakistan National Assembly had made absolutely baseless and unfounded allegations against the Indian Army and the people of India

It was the Pakistan Army that was involved in the unprovoked attack on an Indian Army patrol on the LoC on August 6

India was not a threat to Pakistan or the people of the neighbouring country


New Delhi, August 14

Strongly condemning the recent killing of five Indian soldiers by the Pakistan Army on the LoC, Parliament today warned Pakistan not to take India’s restraint for granted or the capacity of its armed forces to ensure the territorial integrity of the nation.


Rejecting the anti-India resolutions passed by the Pakistan National Assembly yesterday and the Federal Assembly of Pakistan’s Punjab province earlier, the two Houses of Parliament unanimously passed a resolution, reiterating that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the territory forcibly and illegally occupied by Pakistan, was an integral part of India and would always remain so. “India upholds the sanctity of the LoC and calls upon the Government of Pakistan to abide by the ceasefire commitment of 2003 along the international border and the LoC both in letter and spirit,” said the resolution, read out by Speaker Meira Kumar in the Lok Sabha and Chairman Hamid Ansari in the Rajya Sabha.


Asserting that the Pakistan National Assembly had made absolutely baseless and unfounded allegations against the Indian Army and the people of India, the resolution said there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind, including members of the Pakistani


Parliament, that it was the Pakistan Army that was involved in the unprovoked attack on an Indian Army patrol on the Indian side of the LoC on August 6. “It is unfortunate that Pakistan chose to indulge in such unprovoked attacks at a time when efforts were being made to establish a long lasting framework of peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties so that both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing task of advancing the welfare of their people,” the resolution said.


Emphasising that India was not a threat to Pakistan or the people of the neighbouring country, the resolution said, “It is the terrorist groups that have been nurtured by Pakistan to target India and (have now) become the biggest threat to peace in the region”.


The two Houses also paid tribute to the courage and valour of the Indian armed force personnel who laid down their lives while upholding the sanctity of the LoC.

India, China hold maiden dialogue on Central Asia

Ashok Tuteja

Tribune News Service


Issues discussed

The representatives of the two countries had a conversation on specific issues like regional security and counter-terrorism, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, energy security, development partnerships and people-to-people contacts with the countries of the region


New Delhi, August 14

India and China today held their first-ever dialogue on Central Asia, discussing the similarity of their respective interests in the resource-rich region.


They had a conversation on specific issues like regional security and counter-terrorism, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), energy security, development partnerships and people-to-people contacts with the countries of the region.


The Indian side at the dialogue held in Beijing was led by Ajay Bisaria, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) in the External Affairs Ministry while the Chinese delegation was headed by Zhang Hanhui, Director General of the Department of European-Central Asian Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Prabhat Kumar, Joint Secretary, Energy Security in the MEA, also joined the Indian side to discuss energy security related issues related to Central Asia, an official statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Beijing said.


The two sides discussed the situation in Central Asia, focusing on the very similar India and Chinese approaches and economic relationships with the countries of the region.


The Chinese side briefed the Indian delegation on China’s vision of its relations with Central Asia while the Indian side explained the details of New Delhi’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy. Both India and China are in the neighbourhood of Central Asia and have established close political and economic ties with the countries of the region. Both the delegations stated that strong relations with the countries of the Central Asian region were an important priority in their foreign policy.


The dialogue reflected the growing engagement between the Foreign Offices of India and China and comes after similar comprehensive dialogues on Africa, West Asia, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism issues.

HAL basic trainer project on despite IAF scepticism

Vijay Mohan/TNS


Kochi, August 14

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will go ahead with the design and development of the HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft despite the IAF not being keen for the indigenous trainer, preferring instead to opt for further numbers of the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 trainer.


Defence Minister AK Antony said that as far as the Ministry of Defence was concerned, HAL’s basic trainer aircraft project is still on. “The issue about the IAF seeking to procure additional Pilatus trainers from Switzerland has not come before the Defence Acquisition Council so far,” he said. “When it comes to the council, we will discuss it and take appropriate decision at that time,” he added.


HAL’s HTT-40 project is still on the drawing boards and is proposed to be a replacement for the HTP-32 basic trainer, the entire fleet of which had to be grounded, and subsequently retired, a few years ago due to technical problems. Last year, HAL had proposed to build 106 of these tandem-seat turbo-props.


Last year itself the IAF ordered 75 Swiss PC-7 Mark-II trainers, the first of which began arrived in India in May this year. Under the terms of the agreement signed with the Swiss supplier, the IAF has an option for procuring another 38 trainers. According to reports, the IAF is in favour of procuring the foreign aircraft over indigenously manufactured ones.


The IAF has a requirement of 180 trainer aircraft. The IAF had been looking for a basic trainer since 2009 after the HTP 32 was grounded. The IAF has lost about 200 pilots in 500 crashes since 1970 - raising issues of training and flight safety.

Sindhurakshak fire: Navy will take a hit

Ajay Banerjee/TNS


New Delhi, August 14

Indian Navy's crippling submarine shortage was already hindering country's projection as a major global maritime power and the accident today means one of the front line vessels has been rendered out of service, if not destroyed completely. Today's accident puts additional pressure on the existing undersea assets, which are at level much lower than desired or planned by the Ministry of Defence.


The INS Sindhurakshak, a 16-year-old vessel that sank off the coast of Mumbai at the naval dockyard today was among the few submarines that can fire at targets on land while being submerged in water. Fitted with Russian Klub-class subsonic cruise missiles having a range of 160 nautical miles (about 300 km), these used an active radar-seeker and Glonass satellite for guidance towards the target.


The INS Sindurakshak and other such Kilo-class submarines were purchased from Russia in batches over the past 27 years. The one that got damaged today was purchased in 1997 at a cost of $100 million. The Navy has nine more such submarines. Some of these carry the Klub-class missiles, while others are being re-fitted by Russians.


A missile fired from undersea is a potent weapon as it is very hard to detect by enemy radars and satellites since the location of the firing submarine is not known.


After today's accident, India now has 13 conventional diesel-electric submarines, besides nuclear-powered INS Chakra, which has been leased from Russia for 10 years. Not all are available for sailing. The crew and machine need rest and rotation, hence no more than 7-8 are available at any given point in time.


India's slow pace in submarine development is glaring. In 1999, the Cabinet approved a 30-year submarine construction plan, for constructing 24 conventional submarines. Till now, none has been produced. The first of the lot of six being built at Mumbai by French company DCNS will be out in 2016.


The INS Sindhurakshak and the other Kilo-class of submarines are tasked with operational deployments on either side of the Indian coast. New Delhi has a stated area of interest that lies between the straits of Malacca to the east and the Straits of Hormuz to the west. These many submarines are not enough for such vast areas that have been witnessing piracy and expeditionary expansion of the Chinese.


Submarine power


    INS Sindhurakshak is a Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine. It enjoys a reputation of being 'extremely quiet', an undersea advantage.

    The submarine had come back to India in April 2013 after a major upgrade at Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard at a cost of $80 million (approx Rs 480 crore)

    This is the worst peacetime Indian Naval accident. The last big accident before this was a midair collision of two IL-38 Naval planes at Goa in 2002 when 16 persons, including four civilians, were killed

Gallantry awards okayed for 43

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, August 14

President Pranab Mukerjee has approved 43 gallantry awards for members of paramilitary and armed forces. The awards include one Ashoka Chakra, three Kirti Chakras, 10 Shaurya Chakras, two Bar to Sena Medals (Gallantry), 21 Sena Medals (Gallantry), one Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) and five Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry).


The nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, has been awarded posthumously to a Sub-Inspector of Andhra Pradesh Police. Sub Inspector KLVSSHNV Prasad Babu was leading an assault unit of Greyhounds in an anti-Maoist operation near Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border.


“He exhibited extreme courage and conviction and was instrumental in killing nine top-cadre Maoists before attaining martyrdom,” a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.


The Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award, goes to Major Mahesh Kumar of the Punjab Regiment. The officer is already a gallantry awardee having been decorated with the Sena Medal earlier. Lt Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Navy who circumnavigated the earth alone is also on the list. Inspector Lohit Sonowal of the Assam Police completes the list.


The list of Shaurya Chakra awardees includes: Major Sanjeev Kumar of the Armoured Corps, Major Swagat Kumar Das of the 9th Sikh Light Infantry, Major Amarjeet Singh of the Mechanised Infantry, Major Mohan Chandra, 4th Kumaon, Captain Rampreet Singh of the 3rd J&K Rifles, Naik Balwinder Singh Punjab Regiment, Seaman Aadesh Kumar of the Navy, Air Craftsman Murali Kannan of the IAF (posthumous), Junior Engineer Manish of the Border Road Organisation and PR Mishra Deputy Commandant, CRPF.

Army not involved in Indian soldiers killing: Pak

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, August 14

Pakistan today denied the involvement of its Army in the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control (LoC) recently even as it announced the cancellation of the visit of its pilgrims to India from August 22 for the annual gathering of Hazrat Amir Khusro due to ‘security reasons’.


“It is very difficult to say how this incident (killing of Indian soldiers) happened but we are very confident that there is no involvement of the Pakistan Army in the incident. And there is a need to see it with an open mind,” Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir said while at a brief media interaction after a function to mark Pakistan’s Independence Day at the High Commission here.


He said both India and Pakistan should work towards creating conditions conducive for a meeting between their two PMs in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Indian Army retaliates strongly after Pakistani attack at LoC


Jammu: Using heavy calibre guns, Indian Army retaliated strongly after Pakistani troops on Thursday resorted to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing with rocket and mortar shell attacks on Line of Control (LoC) posts in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch sector that injured three Army jawans and a civilian.


This is the 11th ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the past five days, Army officials said.


Defence Spokesman (Jammu) SN Acharya said in a official release that Pakistan Army started unprovoked firing at Indian forward posts in Mendhar sector from 06:30 am. "Own troops retaliated immediately with heavy calibre weapons," he said. The exchange of fire was still going on Thursday night.

Pakistani troops opened fire along the LoC on several Indian forward posts in Balakote belt of Poonch district, Army officials said. They fired automatic weapons, rockets and mortar shells in which three jawans received minor injuries. The jawans have been shifted to hospital, the officials said.


A shell of 82-mm mortar fired by Pakistan troops fell in Sanjote forward area of Mendhar tehsil resulting in injury to Parvaiz, a civilian, who was shifted to GMC hospital in Jammu.


A rocket fired by Pakistani troops fell and exploded on a cowshed in Basonia village of Mendhar this afternoon resulting in death of a dozen cattle.


Under attack from opposition parties over Government's response on the killing of five Indian soldiers, Defence Minister A K Antony had said the Armed Forces have the freedom to respond appropriately to a developing situation along the LoC.


"The Armed Forces have the freedom to respond to a developing situation there (along the LoC) appropriately," he said, replying to questions after the launch of 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi on August 12.

India To Buy Milans; Army Wants Better Capability



NEW DELHI — While the Indian Defence Ministry has decided to buy 4,500 Milan 2T anti-tank guided missiles for $200 million, Army sources said they would prefer acquiring a third-generation missile from the international market.


Indian Army sources said the Milan, being produced at state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) under license from MBDA, does not provide adequate range. The range of the Milan 2T is specified as 2,000 meters but typically hits at about 1,800 meters during test firings, an Army source added.


The Defence Acquisition Council, the highest MoD decision-making body, recently approved the purchase of 4,500 Milan 2T missiles.


“The additional order for Milan 2T is only to sustain the production facility of BDL,” the source said, until other programs mature.


Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst, said the Milan 2T buy was intended to help BDL use its stocks.


“The decision to procure with Milan 2T is possibly related to the expiry of shelf life of existing stocks of the ATGM. Instead of going in for repeat orders, one would have thought that the Indian Army would be looking at the Milan ER [extended range], which has a range of 3,000 meters. As per my understanding, Milan 2T, despite the tandem warhead, may not be able to defeat the T85 reactive armor [the tank used by the Pakistan Army] which has multiple layers,” said Bhonsle.


Despite repeated efforts, BDL executives refused to comments on the on the subject.


MBDA also refused to discuss the topic. One executive said, “We cannot disclose the industrial work share between BDL and us on this [Milan 2T] program.”


The Army’s ATGM inventory has been falling, however, the Army source said the service needs greater capability.


“Yes, Milan 2T meets the operational requirement when it was planned for induction in the early ’80s as it was intended for infantry only as a man-portable version with day firing capabilities as even tanks did not have night vision capabilities at that time,” said another Army source.


Today, the Army needs an ATGM that is man-portable, can lock onto a target before launch, has night-firing capability, a range of more than three kilometers and has a remote-firing capability.


MoD has been negotiating the purchase of Javelin from the United States on a government-to-government basis, but technology transfer has not been guaranteed, said an MoD official, adding that the Israeli Spike has also been considered.


“The Army has had a problem of low inventory of ATGMs for years, which is as much due to poor procurement management and pressure from the Ministry of Defence to keep the BDL assembly line going. Maybe to avoid criticality in inventory the easy option of [buying more] 2Ts was exercised,” Bhonsle said.


The tandem-warhead Milan 2T is used against tank’s equipped with reactive armor.


India’s ATGM inventory also includes Konkurs being manufactured by BDL under license from France and Russia.


The Army also has ordered 443 homegrown Nag ATGMs and 13 Namicas (Nag missile tracked carriers), but the date of delivery is uncertain.


Nag is a third generation fire-and-forget ATGM and has both ground and helicopter versions.



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