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Sunday, 23 November 2014

From Today's Papers 23 Nov 2014

Parrikar clears Rs 15,750 cr plan for 814 artillery guns
Defers Avro replacement, purchase of basic trainer aircraft
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
The Defence Ministry today revived its plan to procure additional artillery guns for the Army but deferred two critical purchases of the Indian Air Force — additional basic trainers for trainee pilots and replacement for the 50-year-old Avro transporters.

The decisions were taken after new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar chaired his maiden meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) this morning.

The DAC cleared the proposal to acquire 814 truck-mounted 155mm/52 calibre artillery guns for Rs 15,750 crore. In the past 25 years, the ministry cancelled tenders for such artillery guns six times due to blacklisting, allegations of corruption and single vendor scenario. Purchase in single vendor situation was not allowed till the defence procurement procedure (DPP) was amended in May 2013.

Today, the ministry decided to revive the artillery gun programme and said it will send out a fresh request for proposal which would be open to public as well as private companies.

The chances of the tender getting through are better as Indian companies are already working in tandem with their partners. L&T has a tie-up with Nexter of France, TATA with Denel of South Africa while Pune-based Kalyani group has a tie-up with Elbit of Israel. The Russians are already working with the Ordnance Factory Board.

The artillery guns would be procured as per the “buy and make” procedure introduced last year under which 100 such guns would be bought off the shelf while 714 would be made in India. It will be the second major artillery programme since the 1987 Bofors deal.

The first in this programme would be Dhanush or indigenous Bofors, which is in its final stages. The Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA) is carrying out final metallurgy tests before the gun is inducted. The Ordnance Factory Board, a unit of the Ministry of Defence, has produced the gun and the Army has ordered 144 of these with the provision to get another 400.

The decision today is a part of the Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) formulated in 1999 that aims to have around 3,000 guns of assorted capabilities to equip around 200 artillery regiments. The DAC, meanwhile, deferred the decision on Tata Sons and Airbus to replace IAF's fleet of 56 Avro transport planes and also procurement of additional 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft. In case of Avro, a request for proposal was sent out to eight global companies. Except one, all companies have expressing their inability to participate in bidding, making it single vendor situation.

The proposal to acquire additional 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF at an estimated cost of Rs 8,200 crore has also been deferred. The IAF is already flying the Swiss plane and has argued that it cannot have two sets of trainers.

714 to be made in India

    The artillery guns will be procured as per the “buy and make” procedure
    100 such guns will be bought off the shelf while 714 would be made in India
    The Army has not acquired artillery guns after the Bofors scam in 1987
    Ministry to issue a fresh request for proposal which will be open to public as well as private companies

First purchase in 25 yrs

In the past 25 years, the Defence Ministry has cancelled tenders for the purchase of artillery guns six times because of blacklisting, allegations of corruption and single vendor scenario. Purchase in single vendor situation was not allowed till the defence procurement procedure was amended by the government in May 2013.
Pak sheltering Dawood: Rajnath
New Delhi, November 22
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in India saying it was sheltering Dawood Ibrahim, who was currently staying along the Pak-Afghan border.

He said though India wanted to maintain cordial relations with Pakistan, Islamabad seemed not keen on establishing friendly relations with New Delhi.

In his address at an event, he said terrorism in India was “not home grown but is externally aided... It is from Pakistan”.

“Terrorism in India is fully Pakistan sponsored. Pakistan says non-state actors are involved. But is the ISI a non-state actor? ISI is aiding terrorism,” he said. Singh said Pakistan was not taking initiative to punish those involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as the case in that country was moving at a very slow pace.

“Pakistan is not helping in the judicial process. In fact it is trying to scuttle it,” he said.

The Home Minister claimed Dawood had been living in Pakistan and despite many requests, the neighboring country had not handed over him to India.

“When the Pakistan Premier came to India, our Prime Minister told him to hand over Dawood. We are pursuing it. We are trying to build diplomatic pressure... As he is the most wanted criminal... Right now he is along (Pakistan-) Afghanistan border,” he said.

Asked whether India would carry out a “hot pursuit” to nab Dawood, Singh said: “Give us time. Please wait. Strategy cannot be divulged. There is no time frame. But we are trying so that Pakistan hands over Dawood as early as possible. Diplomatic pressure is building up.”

On whether India would make efforts to have dialogue with Pakistan, the Home Minister said New Delhi wanted friendly relations with not only Pakistan but all neighbouring countries as well as others nations across the world.

“There should be efforts from Pakistan side too to maintain cordial relations. We always want friendly relations. But from their side, there should be at least talk of friendship…. But I believe, sometime sooner some breakthrough will come,” he said. — PTI
 Govt must watch out for activities in PoK: Doval

New Delhi, November 22
The government needs to take strategic view and congnisance of the ongoing activities by China and Pakistan in the PoK and be prepared for possible consequences, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said today.

There were reports of construction activity, including roads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, he said. “We have got to see its consequences particularly if it is passing through areas which are in PoK, which is close to our border and actually that is our own territory. We should take it up and I think we have taken it up from time to time with China and Pakistan.

“And it is matter of which strategic view and strategic cognisance needs to be taken and I think the government should prepare itself for possible consequences,” he said at an event.

The top intelligence official said the country’s economic growth was key to security. “If India rises at the rate of nine per cent or eight per cent of economic growth, it is totally safe. A country which has got such a huge market, which has got such a vast economic capabilities provides an opportunity. You will have international clout and it will be in the vested interests of the world to see that India is protected,” he said. — PTI
 India to expand coastal security network
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Expanding its naval footprint and maritime awareness on dangers and threats at sea, India is now looking at a path-breaking grouping of 24 countries, including some neighbours of China, to share maritime shipping data to ensure that all vessels at sea are accounted for.

This comes some six years after the November 2008 (26/11) Mumbai terror attacks when a group of 10 terrorists armed with guns had sailed unnoticed on a boat from Karachi, Pakistan, to clandestinely reach Mumbai. The grouping is being worked out and will be the next step of coastal security network.

Apart from getting advance information on threats that could be approaching the coast, it also has strategic meaning. Rear Admiral KK Pandey from the Indian Navy’s operations directorate on being asked if any of the 24 countries in the possible grouping are located east of the Mallaca straits, he replied in the affirmative.

The Mallaca straits are a crucial shipping choke point east of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. India’s look east policy has resulted in increased military cooperation with Vietnam, Japan and Australia, besides the 10-member ASEAN countries. He refused to name the countries, saying it would be premature.

Sources said these countries would be in the Indian Ocean and also neighbours of China, some of whom have been running territorial disputes with Beijing.

India’s fear of China stems from the fact that China uses a large number of non-military vessels such as fishing boats to patrol in the contested waters of the South China Sea, and attempts to curb freedom of navigation which is crucial for India’s east going two-way trade – worth US $ 60 billion annually.

US-based think tank Center for Naval Analyses November 4 report “The South China Sea: Assessing US policy and options for the future” says: “Chinese approach is to carefully avoid the direct involvement of its Navy to the extent possible.”
Defence Acquisition Council clears mounted gun system for Indian Army
NEW DELHI: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) Saturday cleared the acquisition of the 155mm/52 caliber mounted gun system for India Army for Rs.15,700 crore, an official said here.

The proposal entails procuring 814 gun systems.

The decision was taken at the DAC meeting chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. It was the first DAC meeting chaired by Parrikar.
Parrikar clears expanded IACCS for Air Force
 The first Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar cleared a proposal for 814 mounted gun systems for the Army.

Request for Information (RFI) will be issued to Indian vendors within the next couple of months kicking off the tendering process. Indian private sector majors Bharat Forge, L&T and Tata have already tied up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers and are likely to participate in the tender.

Addressing the DAC, Mr. Parrikar reiterated that the priority of the government was fast and transparent acquisitions.

The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) formulated in 1999 envisages inducting around 3,000 guns of various types to equip its 220 artillery regiments. No new gun has been acquired since the 1980s, when 400 Bofors guns were bought from Sweden.

Another major deal cleared is for the Air Force to expand the Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS) for Rs.7,160 crore. The IACCS presently has 5 nodes and an additional 4 nodes will be set up to connect the Indian mainland with Island regions for seamless communication and connectivity.

As part of this, new command & control nodes will be set up and integrated with the existing ground & air sensors and air defence systems.
A Hurdle for 'Make in India' Push in Defence: Why Air Force Plane Deal Was Put on Hold
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to "Make in India", but the private sector doesn't appear to be quite ready for it. So while Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced another big push today - clearing a proposal to acquire 814 artillery guns at a cost of Rs. 15,750 crore - the decision on the joint bid by Tata Sons and Airbus to replace IAF's AVRO cargo planes was quietly deferred.

A similar fate met the proposal to acquire an additional 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF at an estimated cost of around Rs. 8,200 crore - for which the same companies had bid.

Officially, the reason is that the minister wants more time to study both proposals. But defence ministry sources said no other company had expressed interest in making the AVROs, which makes a single tender like situation for what is meant to be an open tender.

The $2 billion AVRO contract was announced last year, but didn't move thereafter.

After the Modi government began its "Make in India" push, it was revived with great hope. They were to be the first military aircraft built by an Indian private company on Indian soil.

The Prime Minister and his government had raised the foreign investment limit in defence after coming to power in May, saying companies which pledged to manufacture within India would get priority. The government is also moving to clear a backlog of military equipment orders and close the gap on strategic rival China.

The clearance of the long pending proposal to buy the artillery guns  confirms the government's intention to stay on track. Of the 814 guns, the government intends to have 714 guns in India.

The Indian Army has not acquired artillery guns in nearly 30 years. The last purchase was the guns from Swedish firm Bofors, which triggered the multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

The plans to acquire the artillery guns guns were first mooted under Army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 1999. The decisions were taken today at Mr Parrikar's maiden meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council.

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