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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 15 Oct 2014

UN snubs Pak on Kashmir issue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 14
As Pakistan’s efforts to seek the United Nations’ intervention on the Jammu & Kashmir issue came a cropper, India today rejected any third-party mediation even as senior military officers on either side discussed the state of affairs along the Line of Control and the International Border.

Reports from the UN said the issue failed to elicit any response from the world body, which reiterated that New Delhi and Islamabad resolve differences through dialogue and find a solution to the dispute.

Referring to the recent border flare-up and firing, Sartaj Aziz, National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister, wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking UN intervention. In response to a question on the issue, deputy spokesperson for Ban was quoted by PTI from the UN, telling correspondents that the Secretary General had in a statement last week encouraged India and Pakistan to resolve all differences through dialogue and engage constructively to find a long-term solution for peace and stability in Kashmir.

In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry made light of Islamabad’s attempt to reach out the UN underscoring that there was no place for a third-party intervention in bilateral relations. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India held the view that all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, would have to be addressed within the agreed framework of 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration.

“The road runs from Islamabad to New Delhi via Lahore…if you divert to New York [United Nations headquarters] or elsewhere [it] will not serve any purpose…there is no place for third party in India-Pakistan relations,” Akbaruddin said.

India said if Pakistan was serious about dialogue, any diversionary tactic would not help and it was for Islamabad to de-escalate the situation and restore peace and tranquility on the border and end sponsoring terrorism.

Today, Additional Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan discussed the ceasefire violations in the last fortnight from across the border in J&K. Every Tuesday, the DGMOs of the two countries take up the issues faced by the two sides.

India, Pak discuss ceasefire violations

    Top military officials of India and Pakistan discussed over the hotline the situation along the LoC and International Border
    The discussion was held by the Additional Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan
    India has alleged that Pakistan has been the aggressor in the recent spate of ceasefire violations
    Pakistani officials said they had conveyed their concerns to India over the "unprovoked firing" along the LoC and IB
 Sukhoi crashes near Pune, reignites engine failure issue
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 14
A Sukhoi-30 MKI, the IAF frontline fighter jet, crashed 20 km off Pune this evening. Both the pilots, a Wing Commander and a Flight Lt, bailed out safely. This is the fifth crash involving Sukhoi, which is facing trouble with its engines. The IAF has 200 such planes in its fleet since it was first inducted in 1997.

The first crash took place in April 2009 at Pokhran due a problem with its fly-by-wire system. Another crash occurred in November 2009 at Jaisalmer, killing two pilots. This was followed by another crash in December 2011 at Pune and one in February 2013 over Pokhran.

The IAF has been encountering mid-air engine failures in Sukhois for the past two years. India, in June this year officially flagged the matter to Russia, the planes manufacturer, seeking a correction. The Tribune was the first to report this on July 21 this year. One of the previous crashes is attributed to "engine trouble".

The IAF faced an unusually high number of mid-air engine failures between 2012 and 2013. The instances of single-engine Su-30MKI landings were very high during the period. This was lowering the operational ability of the fleet, besides raising questions about war readiness.

The Russians have agreed to modify the engine to fix the mid-air engine trouble in its fleet. Some engines - the AL-31FP - produced by NPO Saturn of Russia have been behaving inconsistently over the past two years. Since the engines powering the jet are still being produced, there is a scope for modification.

The modification will be carried out on 400 engines of the twin-engine aircraft, besides installation of some spares for emergencies.

The Russians will install modified engines on the next lot of 72 jets. They have assured India that the modifications will eliminate the problem of mid-air engine failure, sources said.

Russia assures India

Official sources say the Russians will install modified engines on the next lot of 72 jets. They have assured India that the modifications will eliminate the problem of mid-air engine failure
 Tender for 56 copters scrapped

New Delhi, October 14
A tender for procuring 56 naval helicopters from abroad at an estimated cost of Rs 9,000 crore was today scrapped by the Defence Ministry which decided to get them manufactured in India by local players with foreign collaboration.

This is the third helicopter tender in the recent months to have been scrapped by the government since the cancellation of ~3600 crore VVIP chopper deal with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland in the wake of bribery allegations on January 1 this year.

The tender to procure 56 Naval Utility Helicopters has been scrapped and a fresh acquisition process would be initiated where these choppers would be made in the country involving Indian manufacturers who will be allowed to partner with foreign vendors, Defence Ministry sources said.

Two contenders were in the race for this tender, including European Airbus Helicopters and AgustaWestland and they have been intimated about the decision, sources said.

The Navy had plans of using these choppers to replace its fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which have been in service for over 30-35 years.

The tender was issued two years ago to procure twin-engine choppers and was sent to major chopper makers, including US firm Sikorsky, Eurocopter, Kamov and Italy's Agusta Westland. The decision to get the helicopters built in India is in line with Narendra Modi government's plans to encourage and build the manufacturing capabilities of the Indian private sector. — PTI

VVIP deal: ED books own men, grills ex-IAF chief’s cousin

    Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered an FIR against some of its officials on suspicion of ‘internal sabotage’ of seized evidence in Rs 3,600-cr AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal

    Sources said the agency found that a hard disk, which was seized after searches on arrested businessman and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, had been tampered with and a forensic examination of the electronic evidence did not provide the desired results

    It also questioned Sanjeev Tyagi, cousin of former IAF chief SP Tyagi for about 3-4 hours. He was asked questions about his business associations and financial dealings
 Decision today on flights from Vizag naval base

New Delhi, October 14
With the Visakhapatnam airport in tatters, the government will take a decision tomorrow if civil flights can be allowed at INS Dega, the naval air base. Sources said the INS Dega had the building, but the routine baggage scanners, security check and announcement systems.

Civil flights anyway lands at the naval air base, but it has a separate terminal building for passengers to enter and exit. The ground-based downlink antenna of the Naval satellite, Rukmini, has been reactivated. The satellite has downlink capabilities at Kochi, Mumbai and Delhi also.

So far, 120 tonnes of supplies have been airlifted to Visakhapatnam from Vijayawada and Rajamundry. Additional engineer units of the Army are being flown to Visakhapatnam. Four medical teams have been deployed in the region. Naval Hospital at Visakhapatnam and Army Hospital at Gopalpur have been kept on standby. Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan reviewed the relief efforts and the damage to Navy infrastructure in the aftermath of cyclone Hudhud at its biannual commanders’ conference today. — TNS
Indo-Pak border skirmish: India needs to be firm & careful in its response

India's unusually tough response to Pakistan's border infractions appear to have silenced Islamabad. At least for now. Much to its own detriment, India has rarely considered military force as an element in its strategic tool kit. If India's response now signals a change in how it combines diplomacy and force, it can only be welcomed. But the harsh political rhetoric that accompanied this apparent change in strategy has its own pitfalls that New Delhi needs to consider with care. US President T ..
Indian Analysts Rap Plan To Buy Homemade 130mm Artillery Gun
NEW DELHI — Indian Army officers and defense analysts here criticized as irrational a Defence Ministry decision to spend nearly as much buying homemade 130mm Arjun Catapult artillery systems as it would have on advanced 155mm howitzers.

India is buying 40 of the Arjun Catapult systems, which is a hybrid of aging Russian-made 130mm guns mounted on indigenous Arjun tank chassis. It will cost nearly as much as purchasing 155mm light howitzers from the US subsidiary of BAE Systems — a deal the Army has been awaiting since 2010.

India’s Defense Acquisition Council, which is headed by the defense minister and responsible for weapon procurement decisions, on Aug. 29 cleared the purchase of 40 Arjun Catapult guns for $150 million from the Avadhi-based Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE). This is part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

A senior Indian Army officer said it would have been better if MoD had approved the purchase of 145 more capable M777 light howitzers for nearly the same per-unit cost.

“I fail to understand why MoD finds the light howitzer guns expensive,” the office said.

The M777 is lighter than the Arjun Catapult and has a firing range of up to 40 kilometers compared with 24 kilometers for Arjun Catapult. In addition, the M777 has advanced digital fire control systems that Army officers have said is far superior. The M777 also can be transported by helicopter.

MoD has been withholding a $650 million contract for the M777 since 2010 because of price considerations, the officer said.

One Arjun Catapult would cost $3.75 million compared with $4.48 million for an M777.

The price for the M777 includes training for Army personnel, spares, and the latest electronics instrumentation. The guns would be procured through the Foreign Military Sales route, Army officer added

“Ordering the homemade 130mm guns and holding back the purchase of the much-needed 155mm light howitzer guns is an economically irrational decision,” said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general. It would have cost $179 million compared to $150 million to buy 40 units of an advanced 155mm light howitzer in place of what he said was a “local makeshift arrangement.”

When asked why the MoD has cleared the purchase of the Arjun Catapult but not the howitzer, another Army officer said, “this is possibly a precursor to the mounting of the 155mm gun on Arjun chassis.”

No official of CVRDE would confirm if there are plans to mount a 155mm gun on the Arjun tank.

An MoD source said the Arjun Catapult buy is only temporary to meet the operational demands of the Indian Army.

“Ultimately, the Indian Army would be buying the 155mm howitzers,” the source added.

“The 130mm guns are old Russian guns and are no comparison to the capabilities of 155mm howitzers,” Singh said. “The DRDO is pushing for mounting 130mm guns on Arjun chassis, which are at present mounted on outdated Vijayanta tank chassis,” Singh added.

The Army has used the 130mm guns mounted on Vijayanta chassis since the 1980s but there are problems of maintenance and spares, the second Army officer said.

MoD has not been able to procure any 155mm howitzers in the last 10 years, and procuring the Arjun Catapult will take care of immediate operational needs, the second Army officer said.

The Army needs a variety of 155mm guns that eventually could cost more than $6 billion as it plans to replace all of its artillery.

The Army has said it urgently needs the howitzers to deploy on the mountainous terrain along the Chinese border.

Even as the Army struggles to buy howitzers on the international market, Pakistan has begun upgrading its 130mm M-46 towed howitzers to the 155mm/45-caliber configuration with the help of the Chinese, the first Indian Army officer said. Nearly 400 of the M-46 guns are being upgraded by China’s North Industries Corp. Pakistan has also acquired M-109 A5 155mm howitzers from the United States, the first Army officer said.

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