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Saturday, 21 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 21 Dec 2013

LCA Tejas gets initial clearance
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 20
In a significant achievement, the indigenously developed supersonic light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas today got an initial operational clearance (IOC) from the authorities paving the way for the multirole plane to join the fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

An elated Defence Minister A K Antony, who was the chief guest at the IOC awarding function held at the tarmac of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport here, said, “It is a great day for the entire nation”.

Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said, “This day marks a historic milestone and signifies India’s entry into a select group of nations capable of designing their own state-of-the art fighter aircraft”.
R K Tyagi, chief of HAL, the contractor, said, “It was a dream come true for India”.

The IOC came in the form of an oversized certificate containing the reference number of the “Release to Service Document” of the plane and giving the IAF the go-ahead for flying the jet. The certificate was handed over to Antony by CEMILAC (Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification) chief K Tamilmani. Antony gave it to the IAF chief who accepted it.

LCAs in use right now are various kinds of prototypes which are being flown by test pilots of the National Flight Test Centre here.

While the test pilots are originally from the IAF, the methodology followed by them is different from pilots deployed with IAF’s regular squadrons.
2 Army men killed in Sudan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Two Indian Army soldiers have been killed and another one has been injured after an attack by armed militia on a UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) camp late last night. The Indian soldiers were on UN duty.

Both the deceased belong to Haryana. Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan of 12 Rajputana Rifles and Subedar Kumar Pal Singh from the Army Medical Corps have died while Naik Sahabul Mandal of the EME Corps has been injured.

Attackers from the ‘Lou Neur’ ethnic group had targeted 36 civilians of the ‘Dinka’ ethnicity who had sought refuge at the UN temporary operating base at Akobo.

Sangwan, 33 years of age, is from Charki Dadri in Bhiwani while Kumar Pal Singh, (46), is from Sohna, Gurgaon. Mandal is from West Bengal.

The bodies will be flown to India on December 22 on a UN plane, sources in the Indian Army said here.

The bodies have been taken to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The two had been attached with the 8th Rajputana Rifles and had been posted to South Sudan in May. At the time of the attack, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six UN police advisers and two UN civilian employees were present at the base.
 Kaveri could power next LCA series: Antony
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 20
Defence Minister A K Antony today said the government had not yet given up its plan of powering the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas with the indigenously made Kaveri engine.

In a press conference here, which followed a function where LCA powered by American GE 404 engine was given the initial operational clearance (IOC) making it compliant with the requirements of the IAF for a battle ready aircraft, Antony said, “We have not abandoned the Kaveri engine project yet.”

The Defence Minister said while the LCA Mk 1 and Mk 2 varieties would be powered by the American GE 404 and GE 414 engines, respectively, Kaveri engine could be used to power the next LCA series.

He said the IAF would have two squadrons and four squadrons each of LCA Mk 1 and Mk 2, respectively. There would still be requirement of more planes as the IAF would eventually require about 200 planes to replace the entire MiG 21 fleet.

Kaveri engine, being developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab in Bangalore, was supposed to power the LCA initially. However, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), also a DRDO lab handling the LCA project, opted for the American GE engine as wait for Kaveri engine continued.

Antony, who spoke at length on the necessity of indigenisation in his speech in the IOC function, emphasised it once again. He talked about the aircraft carrier being built at Kochi, the next edition of the Arjun Battle Tank and Astra missiles being developed locally.

The success of the LCA project had shown the world that India was capable of making a modern aircraft, Antony said and added that the success would also give a big boost to the indigenisation efforts in the country.
 First pilot of LCA says he feels absolutely great
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 20
Captain Rajiv Kothiyal, now a commercial pilot based in Sri Lanka, had flown the LCA on its very first flight on January 4, 2001. He was then Wing Commander Rajiv Kothiyal, an ace IAF test pilot. Through an email, Kothiyal answered some questions put to him by The Tribune to describe his feelings on the occasion of LCA becoming a part of IAF fleet.

What is your feeling now that the LCA has got IOC paving the way for its induction in the IAF?

I feel absolutely great! I am extremely humbled to note that our pioneering efforts have resulted into a key national product - one that we can all be proud of.

Can you describe the mood of the people, including yourself, when the first flight-test of the LCA was successful. I believe Lockheed Martin had warned against the flight-testing of the plane saying there could be a serious accident.

Frankly, very few outside the original Team LCA believed in our capability to successfully make the LCA and test fly it. It was indeed a big surprise that we did it and, that too, in style with absolutely incident-free First Phase of Flight Testing involved LCA TD1. I was accorded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly the first flight. After all how many test pilots the world over get to fly the first flight of a prototype? The feelings associated with such an occasion are beyond any words.

Were you nervous when you flew the LCA for the first time?

Of course I was nervous. After all one does not test an unknown modern flying prototype regularly. On top of it, it was the fact that the last aeroplane we had manufactured and test flown was the HF-24 Marut way back in the 1960s. However, once I sat in the cockpit of the LCA TD1 and commenced preparation, my entire attention was devoted to carrying out the defined tasks to ensure success of the first flight.

Do you think the time taken by the LCA to get the IOC - almost 13 years since its first flight - is too long?

Yes, I definitely think so. However, one has to also factor in the fledgling nature of our aviation industry. Hopefully, the next fighter aircraft programme will be much shorter.
 Army’s field exercise concludes
Our Correspondent

Sriganganagar/Abohar, December 20
“Shahbaaz Ajay”, exercise of the 36 Reorganised Army Plains Division (RAPID), concluded in the western deserts of Rajasthan on Friday.

36 RAPID, a cutting edge formation of the Bhopal-based Strike Corps, validated new concepts and refined existing battle procedures as prevalent in the 21st century battlefield milieu.

As many as 15,000 troops of the division participated in the exercise, which included more than 100 armoured class vehicles among other advanced artillery and air defence equipment.

A high degree of integration was achieved with the Indian Air Force while undertaking specialised operations, which included an air-borne assault and a special helicopter-borne operation.

Lt General Amit Sharma, Strike Corps Commander, reviewed the tactical drills and manoeuvre of the division as per the theatre plans. The concluding phase of the exercise was witnessed by Lt General Ashok Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (Army Commander), Southern Command, praised the troops for achieving a high degree of operational efficiency in executing the stated mission.
Tejas, India's indigenously designed fighter aircraft, a step closer to induction
The idea of an indigenously designed and built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was first mooted back in 1983. 30 years on, the fighter is still not part of the Indian Air Force - but Tejas, as the aircraft is called, took a step closer on Friday with the second Initial Operational Clearance certificate being handed over in Bangalore. This, after a flight witnessed by Defence Minister AK Antony and Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne. (See Pictures)

Tejas has had 2450 sorties - including almost 500 this year alone. But this one was special. As the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas took off from the HAL airport in Bangalore city, it was making a point - that the aircraft was ready for its second Initial Operation Clearance. But the delays in the project could not be ignored.

Mr Antony said, "During these years, there was many occasions of frustration, setbacks, all around criticism - 'Why this wasteful project should continue? It won't succeed. Abandon it - don't waste national money' - Last seven years, I also had my share of criticism. Now we can declare, we are nearing success. Not 100 per cent, some more."

The Air Chief who had expressed clear reservations about Tejas at its first operational clearance flight back in 2011, said he was satisfied now that the aircraft would soon be ready for induction into the Indian Air Force.

Chief Air Marshal NAK Browne said, "In 2011 there were a few things we had to do to correct certain design changes. All that has been done now. Now we are fully satisfied with the Initial Operation Clearance."

The supersonic fighter has been described as pilot-friendly. One of the men who had tested the aircraft during its development, Air Commodore KA Muthana told NDTV, "I am thrilled. So far we have been the only organisation to fly this lovely machine and today we are going to dedicate it to the rest of the air warriors in this country. It's a pleasure to fly."

The final operational clearance is expected by the end of 2014 and Tejas should be part of the Air Force by 2015.
UN to evacuate Indian Army peacekeepers from South Sudan
 The United Nations will mount an operation to evacuate a besieged Indian Army peacekeeping contingent manning a remote base after two of them were killed and another seriously injured in trying to protect civilians from a rival tribe in a South Sudan oil-producing area.

The Indian Army contingent at the temporary operating base remains under threat and the UN will try to evacuate them by flying in additional troops even as the United Nations Security Council will take up the issue of deteriorating security situation in at least three of the country’s provinces on Friday.

At the time of the attack, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six UN police advisers and two civilian UN personnel were at the base, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement.

“UNMISS is doing everything possible to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the assault on its base in Akobo and secure the safety of its personnel who remain there. The mission will dispatch its aircraft to evacuate UN personnel,’’ added the statement.

The deaths took place in a UN peacekeeping camp in a state no longer completely controlled by South Sudan’s military.

The Akobo post manned by 8 Raj Rifles, around which clashes have been taking place for the last four days, had given shelter to 10 Dinka tribesmen. Over 200 armed persons from the rival Luo Nuer tribe attacked the post leading to the deaths of the two Indian Army JCOs in crossfire.

The camp is located in Jonglei, whose capital Bor may have fallen to the rebels, suggested government sources, adding that communication was so difficult that even the authorities in the national capital of Juba were not sure about the prevailing political equation.

The sources in Delhi suggested that the Akobo post had been under threat for the past four days and initial reports had mentioned the killing of the UN peacekeepers but there was no mention of their country affiliation.

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