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Friday, 6 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 06 Mar 2015

AF Jaguar crashes near Ambala, pilot unhurt
Manish Sirhindi

Tribune News Service
Landhi (Ambala), March 5

An Indian Air Force Jaguar fighter jet crashed into fields at Landhi village, 18 km from Ambala, today. The pilot escaped unhurt. The jet developed some technical snag soon after taking off from the Ambala Air Force Station.

Flight Lieutenant Vivek Chaudhary steered the aircraft away from the populated area before ejecting as the jet crashed into the fields surrounded by villages. The pilot landed at Landha village, 500 metres from the crash site.

Sources said the Jaguar took off from the Ambala Air Force Station at 1 pm and reported some technical difficultly at 1.04 pm. As the Flight Lieutenant could not recover the plane mid-air, he decided to eject and the jet crashed at 1.07 pm.

Two Air Force helicopters and a team of IAF officials reached the scene and cordoned off the area.

The IAF officials used handheld fire extinguishers to douse the flames. Six fire tenders were dispatched from Ambala and Kurukshetra districts but the area remained inaccessible. The pilot had recently been transferred from the Jaisalmer air base, where he used to train fresh recruits.

The pilot was admitted to the military hospital for general check-up. No injuries were reported. Parminder Singh, son of Ajaib Singh, said the plane swirled before crashing into their field. The crash scene is barely 500 m from IOC’s Panipat-Jalandhar underground pipeline.

Air Force officials and policemen had a tough time handling a large number of curious villagers who descended on the crash scene. Ambala Deputy Commissioner MS Brar said senior officials of the district administration were present at the scene to assist the IAF officials.
Confusion delays construction of Sainik School in Rudraprayag
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, March 5
The proposal to open the second Sainik School in Rudraprayag is yet to be approved owing to differences between the Departments of Education and Soldier Welfare.

BJP MP from Pauri BC Khanduri had last year informed the media about the approval given by the Union Ministry of Defence for the construction of the school. However, a memorandum of understanding is yet to be signed between the state government and the Sainik School society.

According to information, the Department of Soldier Welfare wants to take up the construction of the school. However, according to the rules, the Department of Education should be entrusted with the task. Due to this confusion, no one is sure as to who should sign the MoU to get the project going.

As Harak Singh Rawat is heading the Department of Soldier Welfare, the issue has got embroiled in politics. The minister does not want to lose an opportunity to take credit for the construction of the school. “It is a matter of prestige for him. Apart from being a minister (soldier welfare), he is an MLA from Rudraprayag. He is claiming that the process to get sanction for the school was started in 2009 by him. A total of 52 acres has been sanctioned,” said a senior government official.

Earlier, the Department of School Education had refused to divulge information about receiving a letter of approval for setting up the school in Rudraprayag. The matter came to light after Khanduri informed the media that the approval has been given for the school.
Indian Army Air Defence to Get Akash Missiles, Modernize Older SAMs

The army’s air defence (AAD) wing is undergoing a long awaited modernisation by acquiring six batterys of Aakash surface to air missiles (SAM) and modernizing older Russian origin SAMs.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely handed over the Akash missiles at a ceremony later this month.

Though Aakash is a sophisticated surface-to-air (SAM) missile system, meant largely for what is called “area defence”, like defending Delhi’s air space – the primary work-horses of the AAD are anti-aircraft guns, which are for ‘point defence’ that can move with a armoured brigade, let’s say.

Nobody is willing to put a figure on the modernisation process of the AAD. A source, “The figure cannot computed like that as it is an aggregation of approvals coming from the top.

The AAD at the moment has three types of anti-aircraft (AA) guns, which are all of 1980s vintage. These are L-70, ZU-23 and Schilka. The last delivery that the AAD has got is that of the Tangushka 30 mm AA guns from Russia in 1998. Tangushka guns were meant by the Russians to replace the Schilka, but since Indian army did not purchase the guns in enough numbers the Schilka’s continued to remain operational.

Now, all three L-70, ZU-23 and Schilka are being upgraded with new radars. And the guns are going to be refurbished by the Ordnance Factory Board workshops.

Then there is the very short range, Igla missiles, which reach up to five kilometres.
Is India's Defense Budget Adequate?
India is modestly increasing its defense spending by 11 percent to around 2.47 trillion rupees ($40 billion) for the fiscal year 2015-2016 starting on April 1, according to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s federal budget speech last Saturday. The allocation for defense in the current fiscal year is 2.2 trillion rupees ($35 billion).

The core message in the Indian Finance Minister’s statement was the push to become less dependent on foreign military know-how and imports and to revive the Indian defense industry.

“We have been overdependent on imports, with its attendant unwelcome spin offs. We are thus pursuing the ‘Make in India policy’ to achieve greater self-sufficiency in the area of defense equipment,” Arun Jaitley stated during his speech.

India is already the world’s largest weapon’s importer (in 2013, New Delhi spent $6 billion on buying equipment), largely due to a moribund domestic defense industry. India is expected to spend $100 billion over the next decade on a defense upgrade program.

The Modi government, which made military modernization one of its top priorities, in August 2014 increased the stakes that foreign defense contractors were allowed to hold in joint defense ventures from 26 percent to 49 percent.

According to the Wall Street Journal, India only received $5 million in direct foreign investment in the defense industry over the last 14 years, in comparison to the $10 billion each that the telecommunications and automobile industries sectors were able to attract over the same period.

Whether Modi’s “Make in India” policy will be successful remains to be seen. One principal problem is that India’s arms procurement process requires offsets and technology transfers, which some Western defense contractors (notably from the United States) are not willing to do. However, there are already some encouraging signs.

In February 2015, India’s Kalyani group and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems entered into a joint venture, the first of its kind since India raised the ceiling on foreign investors’ stakes. Kalyani will own 51 percent and Rafael 49 percent of the enterprise. “This (JV) will include a wide range of technologies and systems, like Missile Technology, Remote Weapon Systems and Advanced Armour Solutions,” a press release said.

With 1.07 trillion rupees, the biggest share of the 2015/2016 defense budget  will be allocated to the army (up from 1.01 trillion in the current year). The Indian Air Force’s war chest will increase from 231 billion rupees to 243 billion rupees, whereas the navy’s budget will rise from 145 billion to 161 billion rupees. According to an analysis by the Indian Institute for Defense Analysis, around 1.05 trillion rupees will be allocated to capital and 1.45 trillion rupees to revenue expenditures. Remarkably, the Indian Defense Review notes that pensions alone will suck up 545 billion rupees — more than the Air Force’s and Navy’s budgets combined.

The magazine argues that the new defense budget is inadequate in the face of increasing geopolitical tensions:

    This defense budget falls critically short in the overall endeavor of capacity building of our armed forces to cater for envisioned threat perception. The limited rise in the military budget indicates that the shopping list of 126 fighter aircraft from Dassault, 197 light helicopters, 145 Ultra-light Howitzers, 15 Apache attack helicopters and 22 CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters is unlikely to materialize soon… [T]hree-fourth[s] of the total allotted budget is spent on maintaining the world’s third largest standing force. This clearly implies that only a few new weapons will be ordered this year.”

This will give China even less reason to fear Indian military modernization. This Thursday, Beijing will announce its new defense budget during the first day of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC). According to media reports, the PRC’s defense budget will likely be around $140 billion –  more than three and a half times India’s amount, an asymmetry which has many Indian defense analysts worried (and China does not include expenditures on arms imports in their military expenditure figures). Also, China has a sizeable indigenous defense industry, which India lacks.

The response from Pakistan to India’s modest defense budget hike was predictable. According to an editorial in The News International, a paper with close ties to Pakistan’s military, the increase in defense spending was “unfortunate” since “…in recent months New Delhi has been taking an increasingly belligerent stance as far as Pakistan goes, with skirmishes taking place along the Line of Control and hostile language used again and again. (…) Against this backdrop the increase in the military budget will create a new edge of tension between the two neighbors.”
India Army, IDBI Bank signs MoU
A MoU was signed between the Indian Army and IDBI Bank on the Defence Salary Package on Thursday.
The signing in ceremony was chaired by the Adjutant General, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma and was attended by top dignitaries of IDBI Bank headed by Melvyn Rego, Deputy Managing Director.

The first MoU between IDBI and the Indian Army was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years.

The revised MoU is tailor made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. Number of additional facilities have been incorporated in the revised MoU after concerted efforts.
MoU being exchanged by Mr Melvyn Rego, Deputy Managing Director, IDBI Bank and Lt Gen Lalit Kumar Pandey,DG (MP & PS)

"The basic features of the MoU are the same as before. It includes a number of free / concessional services including free drafts, free cheque books, free fund transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT, free ATM cards etc. Some of the additional features are the inclusion of Air Insurance and 'Off Duty Clause' in Personal Accident Insurance (PAI), Insurance for lost and counterfeit cards, purchase protection, Fire and burglary insurance for house hold goods and petrol surcharge waiver. Two major additions have been applicability of the PAI and overdraft facility to pensioners as well. The MoU also has a provision for yearly review of specific features and requests," the government said in a statement.

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