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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 26 Nov 2014

 Sindhuratna fire: 7 Navy officers guilty
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25
The Indian Navy has found seven officers culpable of various acts of omissions and commissions that led to the mid-sea fire on board submarine INS Sindhuratna. Two officers had died in the accident on February 26 and the then Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi had quit owning moral responsibility.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament in his written reply in the Rajya Sabha: “The investigation reports related to the accidents have been submitted to Naval Headquarters. The Board of Inquiry (BOI) report in case of INS Sindhuratna has found seven officers culpable of various acts of omissions and commissions.”

Disciplinary action against these officers has been initiated at the Western Naval Command headquarters, the Defence Minister said. Sources said Commodore-rank — equal to Brigadier of the Indian Army — is among those seven facing action. All of these officers need not be posted on the vessel but were in one way or the other involved in its re-fit and maintenance.

The accident had occurred mid-sea off Mumbai coast. On the other submarine accident, the INS Sindhurakshak, which exploded at the Mumbai navy docks on August 14, 2013, the Defence Minister said the BOI has been completed.

Eighteen crewmen on board had died in the accident. Parrikar said a Board of Inquiry report into that tragedy has also been submitted, but its examination was yet to be completed.

Sources said the cause of the accident was still being ascertained since it took almost 10 months to salvage the sunken vessel.

Action initiated

    Two officers had died when a fire broke out mid-sea on board INS Sindhuratna on February 26
    The then Navy Chief, Admiral DK Joshi, had quit owning moral responsibility
    The Board of Inquiry has held seven officers culpable and disciplinary action has been initiated at the Western Naval Command headquarters
 Su-30MKI gets flying again during Indo-Russian exercise
Tribune News Service

Halwara, November 25
As part of the phase-II of the Indo-Russian bilateral exercise, Avia Indra I, Russian air force team participated in the ‘air-to-ground’ firing by aircraft and helicopters of the IAF at Sidhwan Khas Range near Halwara today.

During the exercise, Su-30MKI, the fighter aircraft, was flown for the first time after being grounded following its crash in October. The operations of the aircraft had been suspended since October because of crashes due to technical snag of sudden activation of seat ejection.

Air Commodore PK Vohra said “Su-30MKIs have been flying for the past one week and are part of the operations here”. An 18-member Russian team has been participating in the bilateral exercise at the Halwara Air Force Station since November 17. The Russian delegation, headed by Major General Lyapkin Alexander N, consists of fighter and helicopter aircrew among other members. The Russian crew has flown IAF Su-30MKI, Mi-35 and Mi-17 along with their Indian counterpart. Earlier, members of the Russian delegation visited Bengaluru, where they were exposed to indigenous projects such as Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas), Light Combat Helicopter and Advance Light Helicopter (Dhruv).

The joint exercise will further strengthen the relations between the two Air Forces taking forward the Indo-Russian strategic partnership. The Russian team will be in India till November 28.
India paid over Rs one lakh crore for defence acquisition in last five years: Manohar Parrikar
India has directly paid over Rs one lakh crore to foreign firms for acquisition of equipment for the armed forces during the last five years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Tuesday.

The government, he said, constantly reviews the security scenario and accordingly decides to induct appropriate defence equipment. This is a continuous process undertaken through procurement from various indigenous as well as foreign vendors to keep the armed forces in a state of readiness, he said, adding that procurement from indigenous vendors accounts for a significant share in capital acquisition.

"The total expenditure on direct payments to foreign vendors for capital acquisitions for the army, navy and air force during the last five years was Rs 103535.52 crore," he said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. Parrikar said that defence production policy focuses on greater self-reliance in defence production. "Government has also raised the FDI limit in defence production from 26% to 49% and liberalised the licensing regime," he said.
The Defence Procurement Procedure 2013 lays emphasis on providing the desired boost to indigenous defence industry by mandating a higher preference to the 'Buy (Indian)', 'Buy & Make (Indian)' and 'Make' categorisation in capital procurement, the Minister said.

In a separate reply, Parrikar said acquisition of weapons and equipment for defence forces during the last 14 years was carried out as per the defence procurement procedure (DPP), as revised from time to time and as per long term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP), services capital acquisition plan and annual acquisition plan. Capital procurements for defence are currently being progressed as per the current LTIPP (2012-27), he said.
Curtains Come Down on Joint Military Exercise ‘Mithra Shakthi’ Between Special Forces of Indian Army & Sri Lanka Army

Elevating existing relations to new heights and marking the start of a new era of neighbourly understanding and close cooperation between both organizations, the contingent of 42 Indian Army Special Force troops (5 officers and 37 other ranks), successfully, completed the training ‘Exercise - Mithra Shakthi’ on Sunday (23), together with a corresponding Sri Lankan contingent of 300 Special Forces and Commandos, and a few Navy and Air Force personnel after formal briefings and a closing ceremony at Magampura International Convention Centre.

The ‘Exercise - Mithra Shakthi’, an initiative, designed largely by the Indian Army was the successful outcome of the ‘Annual Defence Dialogue’ (ADD) that was co-chaired in Colombo early October by both Mr R.K Mathur, Indian Defence Secretary and Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary to Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.

 Sunday's concluding ceremony saw both Major General Mano Perera, Commander, Security Force Headquarters-Central and the Head of the Indian contingent, Brigadier General G. Sudhakar, Deputy Director General Military Operation exchange goodwill plaques and warm greetings after all participants were awarded special certificates.

 Both Sri Lankan and Indian Military leaders addressed the gathering and evaluated the Exercise in retrospect, elaborating on the outcome and experience of both sides as is the practice in such de-briefing. Several invitees, including the Defence Adviser in the High Commission of India, Director Operations and acting Director Training at Army Headquarters, were present at Magampura, Hambantota for the ceremony on Sunday (23).

The Exercise, meant purely to share knowledge and experience between Special Operation Forces of both Sri Lanka and Indian Armies through enhancement of interoperability, joint efforts and mutual exchange of Special Operation tactics, saw its implementation on the directions of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake during three weeks.

168 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Army Special Forces and Commando Regiment, accompanied by 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Navy and 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Air Force, together with all 42 Indian Army Special Force troops, participated in the Exercise.

The modalities for the three-week long Exercise have been closely coordinated through the Directorate of Army Training at the Army Headquarters in consultation with the corresponding authorities.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect, was signed between Captain Prakash Gopalan, Defence Adviser, High Commission of India and Brigadier Jayantha Guneratne, Director Training, Sri Lanka Army on Thursday (30) at the Army Headquarters in the presence of Major General Sumedha Perera, Director General General Staff, representing the Commander of the Army.

In the aftermath of the ADD, held in January 2012, a Sri Lankan contingent of 48 service personnel, took part in a similar Exercise in New Delhi, India at the invitation of the Indian Army. (SL Army)
Twin threats of China and Pakistan: Decoding PM Modi’s $13 billion defence push
The Narendra Modi government has cleared new defence projects worth Rs 80,000 crore (a little over $13 billion). Who are these new defence projects aimed at?

The obvious answer is China and Pakistan. But will China risk another war with India, non-winnable this time, at a time it has greater strategic sweepstakes elsewhere like the South China Sea? Probably yes, and probably not!
“Probably yes” -- because China is the most potent threat to India and the Indians are nowhere at par with the Chinese in terms of military capabilities. If China has to wage a winnable war against India, the option for the Chinese is fast closing. Though in today’s scenario, a full-scale war is unthinkable, and that too between two nuclear armed powers, if China has any ambitions of seizing Indian territory through military means, it will have to move fast. The longer China waits, the lesser will be its chances of winning a war because of the counter military measures being taken by India, slowly but comprehensively.

“Probably not” – because China does not have to really a fight a war with India if it can extend its military umbrella to Pakistan and see the fireworks in the Indo-Pak battlefield without putting its own military boots on the ground. In other words, China can “manage” India by encouraging a situation where the familiar South Asian enemies get into a war, or a near-war, situation.

The Indian government has been well aware of this twin threat for decades and has been trying its best to get a shade better of this pincer military situation.

This is the perspective from which one must view the Modi government’s push to modernize its defence capabilities and preparedness. The Modi government’s decisions are aimed at beefing up the Indian navy and army in a big way, with a deep focus on bolstering the Indian Navy, particularly in the field of submarines.

The newly-cleared Indian defence projects are aimed at plugging the gaping loopholes in the submarine sector. These include acquisition of six conventional submarines for augmenting the aging and depleted submarine fleet and two midget submarines, used for special operations. The Indian focus is on “Make in India,” PM Modi’s pet scheme, and indigenization and self-reliance.

This is a major give-away of Indian tactics. Indian Navy gave a stellar performance in the 1971 War with Pakistan and proved to be a game-changer by blockading and throttling Pakistan’s main commercial artery – Karachi. The Indian Navy (IN) did not have to do much military combat and its mere presence around the enemy’s throat did the wonders.

Though the IN is presently not in a very healthy state, particularly because of its vastly depleted submarine strength, even in its current situation it is more than a match for Pakistan Navy.

Therefore, the IN is being bolstered with an eye on the bigger enemy China, rather than Pakistan.

If India continues with its defence push over the next decade or so, it is sure that China won’t be in a position to even think of embarking on another 1962-type military misadventure. Even now the Indian armed forces are no push over for the Chinese but by 2025, India’s defence capabilities would be several notches higher.

It is in this context that the new defence projects cleared by the Modi government on 25 October assume significance.

The Modi government’s next logical step should be to ensure that the China-specific mountain strike corps is made fully operational at the earliest.

In other words, if no India-China war takes place by 2025 the chances are that such a war will never take place as the Indians would have covered a lot of ground vis a vis the Chinese by then.

If India has to be most careful and vigilant about the China threat, it is now. Therefore, all new Indian defence projects must have minimum gestation period and the weapons promised in such projects must be delivered to the Indian armed forces in the shortest possible time span.

Last year on 8 July the state-owned Chinese daily Wenweipo had published an article with a sensational title “Six Wars China is Sure to Fight in the Next 50 Years”. According to this widely talked about article, China’s third war would be against India over Arunachal Pradesh (“Southern Tibet” for the Chinese) which will be fought sometime between 2035-40.

But that seems to be a midsummer night dream of the author as India would be completely at par with China, if not ahead, at that time.

It is now, not a decade or two later, that India has to fear China. The Modi government’s decisions on new $13 billion new defence projects must be welcomed in this context.
BEL delivers upgraded air defence system to army

Bengaluru, Nov 25 (IANS): State-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) Tuesday delivered the first upgraded Schilka air defence weapon system to the Indian army, three years after it signed the contract following evaluation of the prototype system in March 2011.

"Schilka is an all-weather, self-propelled, tracked, low-level air defence weapon system and its upgraded version has search-cum-track digital radar, with electro-optical fire control system," the company said in a statement.

Army's Director General, Air Defence, Lt.Gen. V.K. Saxena received the first Schilka from BEL chairman and managing director S.K. Sharma at a function here.

"The army has given clearance for bulk production of the enhanced weapon system, whose main engine, auxiliary engine, integrated fire detection, suppression system, nuclear, biological and chemical filter and communication system have also been upgraded," the company said but did not specify the number of the weapon system to be rolled out.

An air-conditioner has also been provided in the Schilka cabin for the comfort of its crew.
Poor Ammo at Air Defence units

NEW DELHI: The accident at the Army Air Defence College in Gopalpur on Sunday has put a question mark over the quality of ammunition and obsolete weaponry used by the air defence units.

Three officers and a gunner instructor had suffered serious injuries while ammunition was being loaded in an air defence gun. One of the officers, involved in the accident, was an Army officer from Myanmar, who was undergoing training at the centre in Odisha.

Though the Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry to establish the cause of the accident, initial reports indicated the poor quality of ammunition.  “The ammunition exploded while it was being loaded into the gun chamber. It appears that the safety mechanism designed to protect the ammunition  before its launch from the gun had failed,” said a source.

Meanwhile, the Army has segregated the particular lot of its ammunition and has ordered that should it not be used till probe ends. Army ammunition is made by the Ordnance Factory Board.

Sources further revealed that Sunday’s accident was not the first of its kind. On several previous occasions it had been reported that the ammunition had gone off prematurely. Last year, in a similar accident, a jawan died while loading the ammunition in an air defence gun in Mahajan field firing range in Bikaner.

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