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Monday, 9 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 09 Feb 2015

MoD clears fiscal benefits for SSC officers
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
To make Short Service Commission (SSC) jobs more lucrative for the youth and retain the existing officers in the three armed forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved one-time payout and full-paid leave plans for SSC officers. Besides, it is considering two more additional benefits for them.

The move is aimed at reducing the existing ratio of permanent commissioned officers vis-a-vis the SSC. SSC officers retire after 14 years of service and leave the forces when they are about 35-37 years of age. Lieutenant Colonel, Commander and Wing Commander are the highest ranks in the Army, Navy and the IAF, respectively, for SSC officers. The MoD has approved the two plans and sent them to the Ministry of Finance, top sources told the Tribune.

The first is a one-time payout. This will be worked out in two stages, one for those who leave after 10 years of service and second for those who leave after 14 years of service.

The MoD has suggested that 3-4 months of wage be paid for each year of service in the forces. That would mean some 42-56 months of salary being paid as one-time payment at retirement. It could work out be something between Rs 22 lakh and Rs 26 lakh for each officer on existing pay scales.

Those who opt to leave the forces after 10 years of service will get lower scale of payment – two months per year of service will be counted for one-time payment.

The second benefit approved by the MoD is to allow full-paid leave to study further on professional courses and seek jobs as SSC officers retire very early. The leave can be for a year or two and will be counted towards the period of 14 years of service. This study leave will allowed to only those who opt to serve after 10 years.

Besides, the Manohar Parrikar-led MoD is considering two more things. The first is ‘ex-servicemen’ status to SSC officers – meaning access to post-retirement facilities, like health and canteen, run by the forces, including children education and hostels for children appearing in competitive exams and living in metros.

The second is re-employment to SSC officers after they retire. A system for re-employment exists for select ranks among officers if they are permanent commissioned. A Colonel retires at 54 years, Brigadier at 56, Maj Gen at 58, Lieutenant General at 60 and Chief at 62 years.

The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee on Defence in its recommendations had suggested to increase the ratio of the SSC officers and make it 60:40 favouring the SSC. The report was accepted in December 2004 by then Defecne Minister Pranab Mukerjee.

The MoD while replying to question in Parliament, last December, said shortages in the armed forces were in the ranks of Lt-Colonel, Commander in Navy and Wing Commander in IAF. There is a shortage of 7,989 officers in the Army, 1,499 in the Navy, and 357 in the ranks of Wing Commanders and below in the IAF.
War-like stores of arms found in Assam forest

Guwahati, February 8
Army troops today recovered a huge cache of war-like stores in Mana Reserve Forest in lower Assam's Chirang district and averted a major mishap.

According to a statement from the Army, troops of the Red Horns division found an improvised explosive device (IED) weighing approximately six kg, documents with details of extortions being carried out by NDFB(S) and details of important overground workers and link men working at the behest of the outlawed militant outfit.

The recoveries are a setback for the NDFB(S), it said adding that now the Army will be able to track their activities, impose a caution in the minds of the extremists and hamper their plans to carry out subversive activities, it said. — PTI
Pak should heed Indian advice on Kashmir

Arun Joshi
India is “obsessed” with Kashmir. Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam made this observation to counter her Indian counterpart Syed Akbaruddin’s genuine advice to Pakistan: “Let the country not covet what is not theirs and never will be.

Akbaruddin had responded to the events in Pakistan in the name of the so-called Kashmir solidarity day on February 5. A gracious and articulate lady that Aslam is, she was terribly irked by the truth stated by the handsome and statesman-like Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson who had told Pakistan quite coolly that India was aware of the “activities undertaken by its leaders and unsavoury elements”.

Before we talk of what Aslam said in Islamabad on February 6, 2015, in what appeared to be a reflection of Pakistan’s inherent irritation over India’s progressive steps towards Kashmir, it would be advisable for her to look at the pages of history and Pakistan’s role in rolling out a culture of guns in peaceful Kashmir. She reminded India of the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s commitment towards ascertaining the wishes of the people in 1947. Well, times have changed.

Let Aslam look at her own statement on December 11, 2006. “Pakistan doesn’t claim Kashmir”. That was after the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had spelt out his four-point formula on Kashmir. He had declared that “Pakistan will give up its old stand of seeking the Kashmir resolution through UN resolutions”. He proposed a formula, which later came to be known as an “out of the box solution”.

The formula spoke about: making borders irrelevant between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir; phased demilitarisation from both sides of the Line of Control; self-governance; and joint Indo-Pak mechanism to look after J&K affairs on both sides of the state. The architect of Kargil War after having learnt his lessons for a while had made this proposal. Pakistan had first denied any role in Kargil War, but when the body bags started reaching Pakistani homes, Pakistan knew that how it had been taken for a ride. Times have changed.

This time around Pakistan epitomises a failed state. Its strategic assets, terrorists, are killing schoolchildren, blasting mosques and targeting innocent people. The tragedies unleashed by terrorists in Pakistan are highly condemnable. But the Pakistan army, which helped rear the terrorists, is unable to get off the tiger which it rode to destroy Kashmir. The story begins from 1947 when tribesman invaded Kashmir. This is history.

None of Pakistan’s provinces such as Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or for that matter Punjab are free of terrorism. There is an outcry for peace there. A sense of insecurity has gripped the whole of Pakistan. The world has noticed that. Pakistan is in a panic mode. When US President Barack Obama was in India to attend the Republic Day parade in January, Pakistan’s channels and newspapers were angry about the visit, primarily because Pakistan was not on the itinerary of Obama. It was a rebuff that it could not tolerate.

The successful Assembly elections in the state in December last year have become an eyesore for Pakistan. The elections are not the substitute for the right to self-determination. It was an argument in 1947 but that time, too, Kashmiris had rejected it. They had sided with India and it was a conscious decision. Ms Aslam, that is the real and truthful history. If you claim that Pakistan has any love for Kashmiris, which they themselves doubt, don’t plunder their peace.
A look at the Indian Army's Main Battle Tank programs
In August 2014, the Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) finally gave the go ahead for 118 Arjun Mk-2 MBTs for an order value of about Rs 6600 crores.This signalled a return to production for the Arjun MBT line at Heavy Vehicles factory (HVF), Avadi that had been lying idle since 2010-11 when the last Arjun Mk-Is rolled out. Nevertheless the piecemeal order is indicative of the fact that the Indian Army (IA) continues to insist upon the demonstration of a potent missile firing capability from the Arjun Mk-2's gun before it places an indent for a much larger order. And a much larger order, as has been known to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is absolutely needed to make it viable to indigenize various sub-systems in the Arjun Mk-2. Meanwhile, the IA continues to face issues with its pool of T-90S MBTs and is increasingly turning to the Defence Research & Development Organization(DRDO) to upgrade these tanks with domestically developed technologies in a manner resembling DRDO's Combat Improved Ajeya (CIA) program for existing T-72s in the IA's inventory. Be that as it may the IA has to support economies of scale in the overall Arjun program as that will have a direct bearing on India's ability to productionize the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT) that is needed to replace the IA's ageing T-72 park heading into the 2020s.

The Arjun Mk-2 variant developed by DRDO's Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) essentially grew out of the IA's recommended upgrades post the Arjun Mk-I's comparative trials with the T-90S which included among other things the incorporation of an anti-tank missile firing capability, an increase in penetrating power of ammunition used and the mounting of explosive reactive armour (ERA) panels. In order to comply with these requests besides generally updating the Mk-I design and making its assemblies more production friendly, CVRDE has made some 89 upgrades to the baseline Mk-1, including 19 major improvements such as the incorporation of animproved commander's panoramic sight, a track width mine plough, automatic target tracking,power driven air defence gun, advanced running gear system, final drive with reduction ratio, an improved slip ring, capability to fire new thermobaric ammunition,ERA, a laser warning countermeasure system, and a new auxiliary power unit (APU) generating in excess of 8 KW of power i.e double that of the Mk-1's APU.

The Arjun Mk-2 also features the capability to fire the Israeli LAHAT missile in an anti-tank role through its 120 mm main gun. However the LAHAT has turned out to be a sticking point between the IA and DRDO since besides uneven accuracy, smoke regurgitation from the LAHAT missile into the fighting compartment as it is fired through the main gun has been deemed as too hazardous by the IA. As of now DRDO has dropped the LAHAT from its Arjun Mk-2 MBT plans and is instead pursuing the Canon Launched Guided Missile (CLGM) being developed indigenously at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).

The missile firing capability requirement grew out of the fact that though the Arjun Mk-I with a score of 25.77 beat the T-90S with a score of 24.50 in the firepower criteria during the 2010 comparative trials if the T-90S's missile firing capability were to be kept aside, the T-90 fared marginally better in the overall final score primarily on account of its Invar missile firing capability. The comparative trials were on four parameters viz. fire power, survivability, reliability and miscellaneous issues of the tank with weightages of 40, 35, 15 and 10 respectively. As per the trial report, MBT Arjun performed better than the T-90 tank in accuracy and consistency of firepower. However, the T-90S seems to have performed better in lethality and missile firing capability. Importantly, the IA concluded (April 2010) that "Arjun had performed creditably and it could be employed both for offensive and defensive tasks with same efficacy of T-90 tank'.

Now if the Mk-I itself could do that, then the Mk-2 given its technology, will certainly do far better. In fact in terms of both firepower and survivability the Mk-I will easily surpass Eastern Bloc tanks with or without taking into account a missile firing capability. As such the Arjun Mk-2 is clearly something that the IA should be using to overmatch Pakistani tanks, especially in the desert sector where the T-90S's electronics and sights have been known to function erratically. This is now sought to be remedied, by retrofitting existing T-90Ss with an air-conditioning unit being developed by DRDO. In fact other sub-systems developed by DRDO for the Arjun Mk-2 program are also expected to be featured in the T-90S including CVRDE's ERA Mk-II.    A DRDO developed commander's non panoramic thermal imaging sight for the T-90S has also entered production with Bharat Electronics Limited and the Ordnance Factory Board. The T-90S will also use indigenous high accuracy fibre optic gyros developed by DRDO's Research Center Imarat (RCI) and feature fire control systems originally developed for the Arjun Mk-2.

So, the T-90S upgrade path is similar to that followed for modifying T-72M1s to the CIA standard which includes indigenous ERA, navigation aids, an uprated 1000 HP power pack, fire suppression system, new displays and sights. Almost a 1000 CIA's have been delivered to the IA, which now probably feels that the time is ripe for upgrading older T-90S lots besides building new ones with the improved features, since production seems to have finally stabilized at around 90-100 units a year.

The T-90S's domestic production at HVF after all has been a difficult process with the Russian OEM refusing to transfer technology for vital assemblies such as the gun system (including the barrel) and turret armour plates. For the first 175 T-90s produced at Avadi, the gun system had to be imported off the shelf from Russia. However starting 2012, an indigenous 125 mm smooth bore gun developed by DRDO with a 'modified chemistry barrel' of the existing T-72 gun has gone into production having completed trials in 2010.This modified chemistry barrel has also successfully completed a life cycle test conducted at Armoured Corps Centre & School Ahmednagar. The last two years have also seen the indigenization of the T-90S's commander hatch control unit, indigenous production of 50 types of critical optical components of the T-90Sand indigenously developed cable harnesses for the same. Overall the latest batches of T-90Ss will be between 80-90 percent indigenous by value. At the moment HVF is racing to fulfil the old indent of 300 tanks (of which 80 percent may have been delivered) and is looking to commence production for some 236 more tanks as per the December 2013 indent given to it by the IA. Overall the number of T-90Ss in the IA's inventory today is just over 900 units.

Even as the domestic production of the T-90S stabilizes there may be a move underway to procure some 354 T-90MS tanks from Russia directly to counter the Chinese at some points on the LAC. Proposals for any more direct import from Russia however is a little strange given that the focus instead should be on producing sizeable numbers of Arjun Mk-2s and deploying them in the Punjab and Jammu sectors as well which would free up enough domestically built T-90Ss to be deployed against China. With a power /weight ratio of 21.0, and the nominal ground pressure (NGP) of 0.95 kg/cm2 the Arjun Mk-2 is more than capable of being deployed in these areas. Moreover the .feasibility report by the railways has confirmed that the movement of Arjun loaded wagon anywhere is not a problem. The Arjun Mk-2 is strategically mobile enough to be deployed to Punjab especially given that enough bridging equipment of maximum load class 70 is available anyway.

A larger production run for the Arjun Mk-2 say of the order of about 500 units will allow its developers to indigenize about 70 percent of its systems, from the current 40 percent. This is important because having domestic suppliers for these systems with stabilized quality will make it easier to productionize the proposed FMBT at a future date which will use sub-systems of this variety that have been refined and improved. It must be noted that while CIA induction is well and good many of the IA's T-72s will run out of their designed service lives by the early 2020s which would mean that new tanks would have to replace them given the IA's authorized tank strength of some 3717 units.

Some of the replacements will be Arjun Mk-2s themselves, others however will be the FMBT that will have to be kept at around 50 tons by weight as far the IA's broad requirements go. The IA however has still not been able to narrow down precisely what it wants from the FMBT, but broadly speaking this tank will feature either a 125 mm or 120 mm smoothbore gun with missile firing capability, an active protection system, next generation hydro-pneumatic suspension that will be succeeded by fully active suspension and a power pack that generates either 1500 or 1800 HP. At the moment it seems that the 1500 HP Bharat Power Pack under development as a national mission mode project involving DRDO and industry will power the FMBT which the IA may want to be closer to 45-50 tons than not.
Army showcases skills, woos youth to join the forces
In a first, the Indian Army organised a live show of Army operations and combat skills at the Parbat Ali Brigade for young students in Gandhinagar on Saturday.

Around 60 to 80 students of four schools in Gandhinagar were introduced to the Indian Army as a career option and showed a journey of the Parbat Ali Brigade that was one of the key brigades that proved its mettle in the 1971 war.

The students were educated on the brigade’s operations, unique distinction of advancing inside the enemy territory in Barmer sector and capturing an important town of Parbat Ali.
The Army jawans carried out a terror combat mock operation at the brigade and showed how a combat operation is carried out in terror and hostage situations.

The live operation was shown on screen next to the terror target room while the jawans carried out operations on the adjacent premises.
It was followed by live operations of the Army where various skills of the jawans — from slithering to short-range firing and hideout operations and taking over of enemy territory — were shown to the students by the Gorkha Rifles Infantry.

Brigadier Anil Beniwal, Commander Gandhinagar Garrison, said, “The students and youth of the state need to know more about the Armed Forces and therefore they need to be exposed more to their operations. They saw the live operations of firing and combat which jawans carry out along the border. This will help them know what the Army is. Fewer youth from Gujarat show interest in joining the Armed Forces and this is just one of the stepping stones to inspire them.”

Several students, including girls, participated, impromptu, in the personnel operations and expressed their interest in joining the Army.
The students spoke to the gallantry award winners to know more about the operations in the Kargil war.

Defence PRO, Wing Commander Abhishek Matiman, said, “This is one of the initiatives planned by the Southern Command of the Army for inspiring youth to join the defence forces. The state chief minister Anandiben Patel had urged the force to organise drives for the youth and they decided to show live operations to them to give them an exact picture of the importance of the Armed Forces in the country’s security”.
What to expect at Aero India 2015

erobatic Aircraft from Sweden with women wing-walkers doing impossible things mid-air is the kind of eye candy that audiences at air shows love. And, happily enough, an ace Scandinavian aerobatic team is among four aerobatic display acts that will perform daily at Aero India 2015, being held at the Yelahanka air base in Bangalore from February 18-22, 2015. But loops and barrel-rolls notwithstanding, the longer-lasting action will take place on terra firma: Specifically in the high-end chalets where the who’s who of global aerospace will talk business.

India’s largest defence and aerospace event, now in its 10th edition, blazed onto the international air show circuit in 1996. It is organised by the ministry of defence, once in two years, as a networking platform for government and industry.

Over the years, the military-defence industry has edged out commercial aviation (airlines). Aerospace arms and equipment vendors dominate the air show, with minimal presence from airlines and business jets. Right from the first show, boosting defence production in India has been the underlying aim of the event. However, despite a steady growth in defence spend and new procurement procedures, ‘Make in India’ is still a very distant dream.

The big question at the event, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is: Will the new government’s pro-business approach help turn the tide for Indian manufacturing?

“FDI (foreign direct investment) is the elephant in the room,” says Amber Dubey, partner and head of the aerospace and defence practice at KPMG. He is clear that there is unlikely to be much technology transfer at the (current) 49 percent composite cap. Unless the government allows 74 percent to foreign investors, nothing will happen, he says. “If we want really high-end technology transferred to Indian companies, this will have to start with ownership and control resting with the foreign partner. Otherwise, the danger is that Indian firms will continue to do work like making doors for aircraft,” he points out.

Dubey, like many others, is also concerned about the middling success of India’s offset policy. This policy states that for contracts above Rs 300 crore, foreign equipment sellers have to re-invest 30 percent of the value of the contract in high-end work in India. The trouble is that they get away without doing it. US defence giant Boeing, for instance, has won lucrative orders from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to supply transport planes. But among its investments is funding aircraft hangars (for Air India at Nagpur). Yet another criticism by private sector Indian companies like Bharat Forge and L&T, who are hungry for work, is that a majority of the offset contracts are bagged by DPSUs (defence public sector units).

Indications from Forbes India’s conversations point towards the hope that this will now change. About 600 companies, across defence production, software and services, are participating in Aero India 2015 with a renewed hope of generating business. While some want to leverage their low-cost base and showcase their capabilities to the global giants, most are looking to manufacture in India.
Larger business groups are present separately. The $100 billion Tata conglomerate is probably the most advanced in the private sector, in terms of contract work in progress. Fourteen of its group companies have partnerships/joint ventures that will be on display at the show. The biggest of these are Tata Advanced Systems (TAS) (components, aircraft sub-assemblies), Tata Motors (mobility platforms for the army) and Tata Power SED (electronics, missile systems). All the companies are looking for more high-end, high-margin work.

The Mahindra Group will showcase its abilities in aerospace, defence as well as engineering. “`We will roll out our eight-seater multi-utility aircraft, GA8, to Indian customers later this year. Right now, we are putting together a network for its sales and maintenance,’’ says Arvind Mehra, CEO Mahindra Aerospace.

Over the past five years, many global aerospace giants like the Airbus Group, Dassault Aviation, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies Corporation have been scouring the Indian markets, looking for companies they can forge partnerships with. They are building an ecosystem of Indian firms to whom they can outsource their global work at competitive rates and through whom they can serve the Indian market when orders from the Indian armed forces materialise. The show is usually a venue for the signing of such MoUs.

Christian Scherer, the Delhi-based EVP (marketing & sales) for Airbus Defence and Space, says, “Aero India is the most important show we will attend in the country this year.” Airbus Defence and Space has tied up with TAS to pitch for the IAF’s Avro (military transport) replacement contract. Scherer says, “We want to plug Indian suppliers into our global supply chain, and we need robust partners to enable us to invest in the ‘Make in India’ context. This is a fabulous opportunity for India’s private industry to build a market-leading aircraft at a realistic technology level.” On the last two days of the event, Airbus will have a recruitment fair to attract Indian aerospace engineers.

Global aerospace giants, who pitch for big contracts, are used to long lead times and delays that run into decades. Movement on stalled projects is slow and no big announcements are likely at the event. But back-room negotiations will certainly be in full swing.

A BAE Systems team led by CEO Ian King is pushing for a decision on the stalled sale of 144 Howitzers (light guns) to the Indian Army. The company has offered to shift the assembly line (used to make the guns) from the US to India. They have also appointed HDFC Group Chairman Deepak Parekh as non-executive director and chairman of BAE Systems India.

The French government and Dassault have been pushing to close the mega-deal for 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft). The Rafale was chosen as the aircraft of choice after trials, but the $20 billion-contract is yet to be signed. Disputes over Dassault’s liability for the aircraft that will be manufactured in India are yet to be resolved.

It is unlikely that a lot of roadblocks holding back ‘Make in India’ will be resolved at Aero India 2015. The Union budget is scheduled just 10 days after the show, and major policy changes, if any, will be announced by the finance minister in his speech. But with the military brass and the defence ministry rubbing shoulders with suppliers, the show will certainly be a catalyst for action in the future.

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