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Monday, 23 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 23 Feb 2015

Sub hit by boat, periscope damaged

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22
In a  minor naval accident, the periscope of submarine INS Sindhughosh was damaged when a fishing vessel hit it during a naval exercise being held off the coast of Mumbai.

The periscope, in a raised position,  enables sailors inside the submerged submarine to look at activity on the surface of water. The incident took place on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said: "In a minor incident off the west coast of India, a fishing vessel hit the periscope of the submarine which was involved in an exercise. The exercise was being conducted in pitch dark conditions as required."
Going slow on defence
Gurmeet Kanwal
Military modernisation necessary to meet emerging threats and challenges
While inaugurating the biennial air show Aero-India 2015 at Bengaluru on February 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he did not like the fact that India is the world's largest importer of weapon systems. With the NDA government's second budget approaching, the Prime Minister said in the era of shrinking defence budgets India could become a global manufacturing and export hub for arms and defence equipment.

The Prime Minister invited defence MNCs to join hands with Indian public and private sector companies to "make in India" and reiterated the government's willingness to allow FDI in defence beyond the stipulated 49 per cent for projects involving the transfer of cutting-edge technologies. He pointed out that the reduction in dependence on defence imports from 70 to 40 per cent in five years would create 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs, boost investment, reduce costs and upgrade India's manufacturing and system integration skills. In short, a gradual shift in the defence acquisition policy to manufacturing in India will provide huge economic benefits.

In the budget for 2014-15 presented in July 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had increased the allocation for defence by 12.5 per cent over the amount allotted for 2013-14. The minister had hiked the defence outlay from Rs 2,03,672 crore (Revised Estimates - RE) in 2013-14 to Rs 2,29,000 crore (Budgetary Estimates - BE) for 2014-15. The defence budget now stands at a low 1.74 per cent of India's projected GDP for 2014-15 and accounts for 12.75 per cent of the country's total government expenditure.

While presenting the budget, the Finance Minister had said, "Modernisation of the armed forces is critical to enable them to play their role effectively in the defence of India's strategic interests." However, the increase of Rs 25,328 crore in the allocation - partially neutralised by the high annual inflation rate that still hovers between 6 and 7 per cent, the steep fall in the value of the rupee against the US dollar vis-à-vis the traditional rise in the global prices of arms - was insufficient to give a major boost to the military modernisation that is necessary to meet the emerging threats and challenges.

The total revenue expenditure planned for 2014-15 was Rs 1,34,412 crore (approximately 60 per cent of the budget). This goes towards paying salaries and allowances and expenditure on ration, ammunition and transportation. The remaining amount of Rs 94,588 crore (40 per cent of the budget) was allotted on the capital account for the acquisition of modern weapon systems and equipment. Various consultancy firms have estimated that India will spend approximately US$ 100 billion over the 12th (2012-17) and 13th (2017-22) five-year defence plans on military modernisation.

The Army has begun the raising of 17 Corps, designated as a mountain strike corps, which is expected to cost Rs 64,000 crore over seven years. Major acquisitions of weapon platforms that have been pending for long include initial payments for 126 multi-mission, medium-range combat aircraft (MMRCA), 197 light helicopters, 145 Ultra-light Howitzers, 15 Apache attack helicopters and 22 CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters, C-17 heavy-lift aircraft and frigates and submarines. The armed forces must also upgrade their command and control systems and substantially improve their intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities if they are to become proficient in launching effect-based operations in a network-centric environment riddled with threats to cyber security.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March 2012, Gen V K Singh, now MoS, External Affairs, had pointed out the 'critical hollowness' of defence preparedness. Ever since the Kargil conflict in 1999, when 50,000 rounds of Bofors medium artillery ammunition had to be imported in a hurry from South Africa, the ammunition holdings of the Army have been reported to be too low to fight and win a sustained war. Many other deficiencies in the holdings of important weapons and equipment need to be made up.

While China has been engaged in rapidly implementing new rail, road and airfield projects in Tibet so as to reduce the deployment timings of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and enhance operational logistics, India's development of infrastructure along the border with China has made relatively little progress. As many as 14 strategic rail projects have been pending due to resource constraints. These shortcomings need to be made up quickly to avoid military embarrassment in a future conflict.

The announcement made in the budget speech to raise the ceiling for FDI in joint ventures (JVs) for the manufacture of weapons and defence equipment from 26 to 49 per cent had fallen far short of the expectations of the defence MNCs. They would have preferred to have a majority stake of at least 51 per cent. That would have made investment in defence manufacture in India worthwhile for them.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion had proposed an increase in the FDI limit in the defence sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent without the transfer of technology (ToT), up to 74 per cent with ToT, both with FIPB approval, and up to 100 per cent in the case of the transfer of state-of-the-art technologies with prior approval of the Union Cabinet. However, the Ministry of Defence, the defence PSUs and the CII and FICCI, the two powerful of chambers of commerce, had expressed their reservations on giving controlling interest to MNCs.

The Finance Minister had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the one rank, one pension scheme. The veterans' associations were not convinced that the allocation of a token amount like Rs 1,000 crore over the full financial year was indicative of good intentions when the actual expenditure was likely to be almost Rs 10,000 crore. As for the government's intention to build a national war memorial at the Prince's Park near India Gate in New Delhi, the three Services have for long sought a war memorial at India Gate and not near it and are disappointed with the decision.
DRDO sets up world’s highest research station in Ladakh
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has established the world’s highest research station in Ladakh.

Situated at an altitude of 17,500 feet at Chang La, about 80 km east of Leh, the research station will be used to develop and validate cold weather technologies.

The earlier record for being the highest research station was held by Pyramid Laboratory which is situated at an altitude of 16,500 feet at the base of the Everest in Nepal.

The building of the research station at Chang La, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, is complete. It is expected to be formally inaugurated soon.

The foundation stone for the station was laid in 2010 and it will function under the Leh-based Defence Institute of High-Altitude Research (DIHAR) that is engaed in high-altitude agro-animal research.

DRDO scientists said that the station would be used for extreme altitude bio-medical research, material research, agro-animal research and green house technology and conservation of endangered species of plants.

Besides DIHAR projects, the station will serve to evaluate and validate high-altitude technologies like mountaineering equipment and structures, clothes, protective equipment, food, health supplements and fuel developed by other DRDO labs.

The facility can also be used by other research and development organisations in the country and there is a proposal to open the station for foreign researchers to conduct their own experiments relating to high-altitude physiology and materials.

The station will be able to accommodate up to 10 scientists along with a support staff of 10 and has fully equipped state-of-the-art laboratories. Solar power will be the primary source of energy with back-up by diesel generators.
French Defence Minister to push for Rafale deal
New Delhi, February 22
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive here tomorrow to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in what is seen as a fresh attempt to firm up the faltering multi-billion dollar Rafale deal. Defence sources said Drian will be in India as part of an official visit to a few other countries, including UAE.

He will hold a fresh round of talks with Parrikar just two months after they met and decided to “fast-track” the contract negotiations for the nearly USD 10-billion deal for Rafale fighter jets.

Sources said the French Minister will focus on firming up the deal ahead of an expected visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France a couple of months from now.

Parrikar had recently said he would not comment on the Rafale deal as the Contract Negotiations Committee was discussing it. But he has asked the CNC to fasten the process. The Indian Air Force Chief has stressed the need to have a medium multi-role combat aircraft, for which Rafale was shortlisted.

Confident of signing the much delayed contract with India “soon”, French defence major Dassault had last week said its pricing remains the same from day one and it has not wavered from the request for proposal (RPF).

It had also said an empowered team has already arrived in India and carried forward the talks as decided by the Defence Ministers of the two countries in December.

“The pricing issue is very clear. Our pricing remains the same from day one of LI (lowest bidder). So there has been no change on that front,” Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier had said.

Asked about claims that Dassault was not willing to stand guarantee for the 108 jets to be made by state-run HAL here, Trappier denied there was any deviation from what the RFP said.

“We are exactly in line with our answer to the request for proposal (RFP). This answer led the government of India to select L1 which was Rafale. And we have stuck to the same commitment which is totally in line and compliant with the RFP,” he had said. — PTI
BSF wants special pay for being 1st line of defence at borders

Country’s largest border guarding force BSF has made a strong pitch for a special ‘border service’ pay for its men stating the troops are deployed well ahead of the Army along international borders and they face the “first brunt” of an enemy attack. The 2.5-lakh strong Border Security Force (BSF) has sought the special allowance on the lines of what is being granted to Army troops under Military Service Pay (MSP) when deployed in hard and harsh border areas, like on the Indo-Pakistan border.

The BSF, in a report presented to the Union Home Ministry and the 7th Pay Commission, said it meets the criteria for qualifying under this category like the Army and other defence forces, as it is the “first line of defence on borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh and it faces the first brunt of enemy and has been defending the borders of India from the last 49 years”.

The force has said it is “ironical” and “demoralising” for its men in border combat that they do not get special allowances like their colleagues in the Army as they are deployed in very much the same area and conditions. “Ironically, the army personnel on Line of Control and elsewhere are placed in similar situations, similar area, facing similar enemy and similar threat, deployed in the similar hardships and similar climate are entitled for MSP, (but) the co-located BSF personnel gets none.

“The life of a BSF personnel is much harder, difficult, risky and committed than that of the Army personnel. Thus, it is very demoralising that while the Army personnel get the MSP, the BSF personnel are deprived of it despite similar kind of commitments, risks and hardships,” the report accessed by PTI said.

The force, raised in 1965 and celebrating its 50 years in 2015, demanded that the BSP should be given to its troops at the rate of 30 per cent of their existing basic pay. BSF draws some parallels and exceptions vis-a-vis some of its characteristics when compared with the Army.

“Like army, the BSF recruitment is conducted under tough physical/medical guidelines and as a border man they are expected to maintain the highest standard of physical fitness and discipline throughout their service to be able to serve under toughest conditions. “Unlike army, there being no concept of peace station in the BSF, the majority of BSF personnel are compelled to live separately away from their families due to adverse service conditions. This invariably results in an inevitable long separation from family life and alienation from the same society from where he joined BSF at the tender age of 18 plus,” the report said.
2 Pak LeT militants killed in Kashmir

Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 21
Two Pakistani militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed in an encounter with the security forces in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district today.

Abu Saad and Abu Noman were killed in a gunfight at Thagund Chatloora village, near Sopore town, 60 km from Srinagar, this morning when the security forces started searching a cluster of houses on a tip-off about their presence in a residential house, an Army spokesman said. The cordon around the village was laid by a joint team of the Special Operations Group of the J&K Police, Army and the CRPF around 3am.

While the cordon was being readjusted around the suspected house, the hiding militants opened fire on the soldiers that was retaliated, triggering a gunfight. Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir, Garib Das said the two slain militants were Pakistani nationals.
PM’s Arunachal visit: China summons Indian envoy

Beijing, February 21
China today summoned Indian Ambassador here and lodged a protest over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying it "undermined China's territorial sovereignty, right and interests".

In the second Chinese protest in as many days, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin “called in” Indian envoy Ashok Kantha to lodge the protest on Modi’s visit yesterday to the “disputed border region,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

“Liu expressed strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition to the Indian side’s insistence on arranging the visit by its leader to the disputed area on the China-India border,” the report said.

The Chinese embassy in India had lodged representation with the Indian authorities on the visit last night, the Xinhua report said.

During the meeting with Kantha, Liu said Modi’s visit “undermined China’s territorial sovereignty, right and interests”.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Southern Tibet. This has been contested by India which has maintained that the north-eastern state is its integral part.

Liu said, “Such act by the Indian side artificially amplified differences between the two countries on the border issue and thus went against the principles and consensus that the two sides reached on properly addressing the issue,” the report said.

He reiterated that China which had consistent and clear-cut stance on the border issue “never recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ unilaterally set up by the Indian side”.

“It’s a universally recognised, un-evadable fact that significant disputes do exist on the eastern section of the China-India border,” Liu said.

While China routinely protests and criticises high-level Indian visits to Arunachal Pradesh, the twin protests over Modi's visit came in the midst of the two countries improving relations with a host of initiatives, including steps to improve relations between the troops patrolling the border.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Beijing early this month and held talks with President Xi Jinping and other officials, especially about Modi's planned visit to China in May this year.

Special Representatives for border negotiations on both sides, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi are expected to meet in the next few weeks to hold the 18th round of talks to resolve the vexed dispute. — PTI
IAF urgently needs force and punch for regional air superiority
Ajay Banerjee
Getting 400 new fighter jets over the next 10 years is a critical security requirement for the Indian Air Force, but looks highly unlikely given the sluggish decision-making at the political levelA fighter pilot and a man who measures his words, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha hit the proverbial nail on its head at the ongoing Aero India show in Bangalore, saying, “We urgently need planes, it may not necessarily be the Rafale.”

Cost negotiations with the Rafale makers, French major Dassault Aviation, have dragged on since January 2012. This was the second time in four months that the Indian Air Force chief publicly spelt out the urgency and his anguish at the languid pace of decision-making. In the run-up to IAF Day on October 8, he had warned: “We have quite a few fighter jet fleets which are on their last legs.”

Short of squadrons: India has 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against its own projected need of 42 to tackle a simultaneous two-front war scenario with China and Pakistan. A large number of these are slated for phasing out. A mixed ancestry and level of technology marks the fighter jet fleet of 640, largely imported from Russia over the past 30 years. British and French companies have supplied 150 fighter jets.

Two-pronged worry: One is to replace the obsolete MiG-21s and MiG-27s, the Soviet Union era single-engine fighter jets, some 260 in number. The second is the need to ramp up the numbers and add 145-150 jets to have a fleet that is 42-squadron strong.  In total, 400 jets are needed over the next 10 years and deliveries are years away. The MiG-21 and MiG-27 planes are slated for progressive phasing out till 2022.

Choices India HAS

Fifth generation fighter aircraft

The much-hyped and talked about indigenous Light Combat Aircraft was finally handed over to the Indian Air Force by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited this year, with 16 aircraft having been manufactured so far. Number 45 squadron will be the first to induct Tejas.

Overall empty weight: 10 tonnes

Maximum take-off weight: 24.5 tonnes

Weapons external load: 9.5 tonnes

Maximum speed: 1.8 Mach

Service ceiling: 50,000 feet
On-board computer that is 50 times faster than in previous generation of fighters

Easy-to-use “Hands-on Throttle and Stick” with touch screens in front

Pilot gets analysis of the tactical situation as a whole

MICA air-to-air “Beyond Visual Range” missiles

HAMMER rocket-boosted air-to-ground precision guided weapon series.

SCALP long-range stand-off missile.

AM39 EXOCET anti-ship missile,

Laser-guided bombs
(Source of Data: Dassault Aviation France)

The Indian Air Force has inducted over 200 SU-30 aircraft, with its squadron replacing the MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighters. IAF had ordered a total of 272 SU-30s, which are being licensed produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and would equip 17 squadrons by the turn of the decade — a fighter squadron comprises 16 to 18 aircraft, including conversion trainers. Some of the IAF squadrons which are operating the SU-30 include 2, 8, 15, 20, 21, 24, 30, 31, 102 and 220. The initial versions of SU-30, which began entering IAF service in the late 1990s, are being upgraded.

The India-Russia joint-production plan for the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) was to have a first prototype with the IAF in 2017. However, New Delhi and Moscow are still struggling to iron out differences to sign a joint US $11 billion “full design R&D contract”. IAF was looking for 200 of these swing-role stealth fighters from 2022 onwards, but now wants only 140, which will cost about US $35 billion.

French deal
Much awaited, the deal is to buy 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) from Dassault Aviation. The first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The French have told India that they cannot stand guarantee for planes made by HAL. The Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) for 2012-2027 lists the MMRCA project deliveries as the replacement of MiG-21. It would take 3-4 years for the first squadron of MMRCA to arrive and another 7-8 years for the rest. For now, the IAF Chief has ruled out any ‘Plan B’ if the French deal does not work out.

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas
India’s own produced Light Combat Aircraft is yet to get its final operational clearance. The first LCA has been handed to the IAF and the final operational has been pushed back by one year to December 2015. It could be 2017 by the time the first squadron is ready. The HAL has produced the jet powered by General Electric 404 engines. The IAF initially ordered two squadrons and a Mark-II version, with GE 414 engines, is under development.

Upgrades Delayed
The Indian Air Force launched separate programmes to extend the lifespans of 210 fighter jets of Russian, British and French parentage. All of these are running behind schedule. “The MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and Jaguar upgrades are running concurrently; some have lagged behind,” a senior functionary said.

MiG-29s fleet
The 62-strong Soviet-origin MiG-29s fleet is being upgraded at a cost of US $964 million. These will have the Zhuk-M2E radar, an infrared search-and-track system (IRST).

Jaguar fighter fleet
The 120 British-origin Jaguar fighter jets are also being upgraded to DARIN-III or Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation standards. The jets will have advanced missiles, engines, auto pilot and avionics like a head-up display and all-glass cockpit. The new F-125-IN engines from US major Honeywell, at a cost of US $700 million, will be fitted to replace the Rolls Royce Adour Mk 811 that powers the Jaguar currently. The first of the re-engined Jaguar strike fighters are scheduled to enter operational service by 2016.

Mirage 2000 fleet
The French origin fleet of 49 aircraft is being upgraded under a Rs 17,547-crore project okayed in 2011. This will extend the life of the planes by 10-15 years, besides the addition of a new radar with greater air-air and air-ground capability, a new night vision compatible all-digital cockpit, and improved electronic warfare systems.

fleet strength of iaf

MiG 21 and MiG-23
MiG-21s were commissioned in the 1960s and formed the mainstay of the IAF fighter fleet for a long time. The process of decommissioning started over a decade ago and only a few squadrons of MiG-21 Bis and the upgraded MiG-21 Bison remain in service. These would be replaced by the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft as and when it enters service.

The MiG-23, which was procured to counter the Pakistani F-16s, has been decommissioned with a few specially-modified aircraft for electronic warfare and tactical evaluation remaining in service.

MiG-27 Ground Attack Aircraft
On its last legs, a part of the MiG-27 fleet underwent a comprehensive upgrade to increase its service life and mission capability, with the remaining fleet being in the process of decommissioning at the end of its remaining technical life. With a total strength of 86 aircraft, the aircraft has seen service with, among other squadrons, the 10, 18, 22, 29 and 222.

MiG-29 Air Superiority Fighter
IAF operates 66 MiG-29 aircraft in three squadrons — the 28, 47 and 223. Inducted in 1980s, the MiG-29 fleet is undergoing a comprehensive upgrade with more advanced systems and weapons.

Jaguar Ground Attack Aircraft
IAF operates several squadrons of this Anglo-French strike fighter, many of them licensed produced by HAL, with fleet strength estimates varying from 110 to 140 aircraft, including a flight dedicated to maritime strike role. Jaguar units include 5, 6, 14, 16, 27 and 224 squadrons. This fleet is amidst a service life upgrade featuring advanced navigational and attack systems.

Mirage 2000 Multi-role Fighter
With a fleet strength of 54, the French-made fighter flies with the 1, 7 and 9 squadrons. IAF is upgrading its Mirage 2000 to the Mirage 2000-4 Mk II configuration, featuring better avionics suite.and life extension.
Defence staff to impart training in last year of service: Rajiv Pratap Rudy

NEW DELHI: Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy today said defence personnel in the last year of their service can impart skills training to people in logistics, artillery and medical.

Rudy, who is the Minister of State for Skill Development (Independent Charge), said railways infrastructure including space and logistics across the country can be used for the training purpose by the defence personnel.

Rudy added: "Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed (on the suggestion)  ..

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