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Sunday, 12 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 12 Apr 2015

Rafale deal like oxygen to IAF, says Parrikar
Panaji, April 11
The deal struck with France for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets will bring some relief to the Indian Air Force into which they will be inducted within two years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today.

He described as “great” India’s decision to buy these fighters after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande in Paris yesterday, saying it will go a long way in strengthening the IAF.

“The Indian Air Force will get minimum oxygen (relief) it required with this deal... In fact we have not purchased any major new generation aircraft in (last) 17 years.

“It’s a great decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on better terms and conditions. Procuring 36 planes for two squadrons is an extremely positive decision which was needed,” said Parrikar.

Modi had yesterday said in Paris that India will buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in flyaway condition from France at the earliest by “keeping in view the critical operational necessity of fighter aircraft in India”.

“The RFP (Request for Proposal) procedure for procuring these aircraft had been dragging on for several years. This was started in 2000 and still it was not getting completed because of a lot of confusion so I am very happy that the PM has taken the initiative,” Parrikar said. — PTI
It’s a great step: Ex-IAF Chief
Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, April 11
The decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighters in a flyaway condition – a climb down from the original plan of purchasing 18 fighters in ready condition and producing the remaining 108 in India – has been welcomed by former IAF Chief FH Major.

“This is a great step”, Major said. It was during Major’s tenure as IAF Chief the MMRCA (Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft) tender for 126 planes was first floated in 2007 and various contenders checked out.

The IAF had evaluated and test-flown Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16IN Super Viper, Saab's Gripen NG, the Russian MiG-35, Eurofighter GmbH's Typhoon and Dassault's Rafale. In 2012, IAF announced that it had chosen Rafale for the multibillion dollar contract. But since then the deal got stuck primarily over financial nitty-gritties.

“This is MMRCA only. Rafale was chosen for the MMRCA contract”, Major said about the latest deal. He said the step to acquire 36 planes in flyaway condition would provide the IAF two squadrons of fighter jets quickly which it needed badly. “This will also give the Indian industry some time to set up the infrastructure locally to produce these jets in India”, he said.

On the issue of less number of jets to be produced in India as a result of the decision (to purchase 36 jets in a flyaway condition instead of the original 18), the former IAF chief said the number of MMRCAs required could exceed 126 in which case more such planes would be manufactured in India than what was being estimated now.

For MMRCA, the government had increased offset obligation to 50 per cent to benefit the Indian industry. The contract fitted well in the Modi government’s Make in India slogan. But the latest deal can be seen as going against the interest of HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), the Indian partner chosen for license manufacturing the French fighters in India. However, no one at the Bengaluru-based public sector aeronautics major is grudging the decision announced yesterday.

“We did not initiate any concrete step at the HAL for manufacturing the planes here”, a HAL official said. “After all there was never much clarity on whether the deal with Rafale would be finally signed”, the official pointed out.

Dismissing media reports that land had been acquired near Bengaluru by HAL for setting up an MMRCA (Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft) manufacturing unit, the official said that land in question was meant for manufacturing of helicopters. “There was never any question of acquiring land or bring together a team for MMRCA”, he said.
Three BSF men hurt in firing by Pak smugglers
PK Jaiswar

Tribune News Service

Khasa (Amritsar), April 11
Three BSF jawans were injured in cross-border firing by Pakistan-based smugglers here late last night. The incident occurred near Daoke border outpost at the Indo-Pak border.

The injured jawans of the 163 battalion headquartered at Bhikhiwind were admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital where their condition was stated to be stable and out of danger. According to BSF officials, the troops sustained minor injuries caused by splinters of AK-47 rifle burst fired by the unidentified Pakistani smugglers.

This is the first time that BSF jawans were injured during a smuggling bid and firing by Pakistani smugglers at the Punjab frontier.

Inder Parkash Bhatia, officiating DIG, Amritsar sector, said that the firing took place between 12.30 am and 1 am when a duty vehicle was carrying the jawans to their designated places of duty at the border fence during the change of duty. The armed Pakistani smugglers, who had come near the barbed fence for sneaking contraband inside Indian territory, fired on seeing the duty vehicle.

They fired at the vehicle with an AK-47 which injured three jawans including the driver of the vehicle, Bhatia said.

“The BSF team retaliated immediately. But the smugglers, around four in number, managed to escape to _their side in the darkness,” said Bhatia.

During a search, the BSF found as many as 16 empty shells from the spot.

The three injured jawans are Mahendra Boro, a resident of Kamrup district, Assam, who was driving the vehicle and constables Nagendera Kumar and Rakesh Kumar, residents of Jhunjhune and Alwar districts, respectively, of Rajasthan.

Mahendra and Nagendra were hurt on their backs while Rakesh sustained injuries on his left thigh and wrist. There were around 10 jawans in the vehicle at that time, said RPS Jaswal, DIG BSF. IG, BSF, Punjab frontier, Anil Paliwal and RPS Jaswal also visited the spot and met the wounded jawans at the hospital.

Jaswal said that a commandant-level flag meeting was held in which the BSF has lodged a strong protest. He said another meeting -- of the wing-commander level -- is likely to take place after the Retreat Ceremony.
Defence minister Parrikar: Took 3 months to figure out armed forces' ranks
PANAJI: Former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who was handpicked as defence minister by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday said taking over the key portfolio was nothing less than an adventure for him and it took him three months to get familiar with ranks in the armed forces.

"My adventure was to be the Indian defence minister. From being a chief minister to becoming the defence minister, is like an adventure only," Parrikar told a gathering here at the launch of 'Adventure', a tri-monthly magazine.

Parrikar, who was inducted into the Modi cabinet in November last year, said "I did not know the ranks of the army. Actually for me, understanding the hierarchy itself was a problem. I took three months to understand which officer is on which level."

"I had no background about the defence forces though I had technical knowledge...I know what are the types of armaments and the latest technology used by the Army," he said.

Parrikar said he gave up "unwanted" protocols, which were offered to him as the defence minister.

"After becoming the defence minister, whenever I used to come to Goa, the officials of Army, Indian Navy and others were standing at the airport to receive me. It is a protocol. I had to issue a formal order to them asking them not to receive me in Goa and Mumbai," he said.

The senior BJP leader further said that although discipline was an issue with the Goans, it did not mean they are indisciplined.

"We (Goans) don't brag about discipline...In the army, discipline is a must," the minister said.
Over 1,400 acres defence land encroached in MP, Chhattisgarh: IDES
Bhopal: Over 1,400 acres of defence land has been encroached upon in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, allegedly by farmers and common people, according to officials of the Indian Defence Estate Services (IDES).

A survey of defence land is being conducted and is nearing completion, an official said.

Squatters, including farmers and others, have encroached upon over 1,100 acres of land under jurisdiction of the Bhopal Defence Estate Officer (DEO) in Sagar district and 371 acres under the limits of Jabalpur DEO.

Besides, seven acres of defence land was encroached upon under the limits of DEO of Mhow, which was earlier known as Military Headquarters of War in Indore.

"There has been encroachment of around 165 acres of defence land in Chhattisgarh coming under Jabalpur DEO's office," an official said on Thursday.

The Jabalpur DEO office looks after defence land in 22 districts of Madhya Pradesh as well.

"The encroachment is mainly on the Army's camping grounds which were used during the British period primarily for soldiers to break their journey and take rest while moving," an official said.

In some tracts of Army land, government offices have allegedly come up, a DEO said on the condition of anonymity, adding that some encroachments are 50 to 60 years old.

Jabalpur DEO Rajiv Shrivastava said they recently removed around 407 encroachments from defence land in Pachmarhi - a hill station in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh.

Bhopal DEO Neha Gupta said some people have encroached upon 1,100 acres of defence land in Sagar district as they have failed to vacate the land even after the expiry of their lease deed term a long time ago.

According to an IDES officer, the Defence has around 1.69 lakh acres of land-- the second highest owned by any ministry in the country after Indian Railways.
Army Wives Meet Defence Minister for a Cause

NEW DELHI: Concerned at the spate of crashes involving the Army’s ageing  chopper fleet, a delegation comprising wives of Army officers on Wednesday met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at his office in the South Block and urged him to stop the use of “outdated” Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which had  claimed the lives of several Armymen. Meenal Wagh-Bhosale, wife of a serving Army officer, who was part of the 28-member group, handed over to Parrikar a petition which had received about 23,000 signatures online. Meenal also said that she was satisfied with her meeting with Parrikar.According to her, the group asked for new and modern helicopters to avoid crashes and help save the precious lives of the pilots and other personnel. At present there are about 175 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters in the Army, which are also considered as lifeline for the soldiers, deployed in the high-altitude posts, which are inaccessible by roads.

The Army has been battling for long to get replacements for its 40-year-old Cheetah helicopters but has failed because of corruption scandals and bureaucratic redtape.

The vintage helicopters fleet of Cheetah/ Chetak have remained in service beyond the threshold by more than 12-15 years. Orgiginally, they were purchased from France and inducted into the Indian armed forces in 1971.

The airframe life of the light-utility helicopter is about 4,500 hours, but most of the Cheetahs have logged over 6,000 flying hours.

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