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Sunday, 19 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2015

2 J-K cops arrested as teenager killed in firing, probe ordered
Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 18
Two policemen, including an officer, were arrested today after a 17-year-old boy was killed in police firing in Budgam district of central Kashmir, triggering violent clashes and prompting the state government to order a magisterial probe.

The police admitted its forces “acted in violation of the laid down standard operating procedure (SOP)” while dealing with the protesters at the Narbal locality in Budgam during a shutdown called by Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

A police spokesman said Constable Javaid Ahmad had fired at the youth, Suhail Ahmad Sofi, with his service rifle on the directions of ASI Manzoor Ahmad. “Both have been arrested and further investigation is underway,” he said. Magam police station SHO Khursheed-ur-Rehman has also been attached for “lack of supervision”.

The police have registered a case under five sections of the Ranbir Penal Code, including murder, rioting and unlawful assembly. “The ADC has been asked to probe the incident and submit a report within 15 days,” said Budgam DM Mir Altaf Ahmad. Sofi, a Class-IX student, was hit by a bullet, according to doctors, and was brought dead at a hospital in Srinagar. Sofi’s family alleged he was shot after being detained by the police.
The shock and awe in Rafale deal
UPA did dither in the deal with French company Dassault, but it was more to ensure transparency. Thus, Modi’s decision to buy 36 fighters off the shelf is surprising. What becomes of his Make-in-India pitch, what’s the untold content of the deal?
ON a tolerable day in Paris when the temperature was a balmy 21 degrees, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have appeared to have flunked his first test for a man who claimed defence manufacturing was at the heart of his Make-in-India programme to create more jobs.
Emerging from talks with French President Francoise Hollande, Modi junked a decade-long selection process for fighter planes by announcing the immediate purchase of 36 Rafale fighters from the stable of the politically well-connected Dassault family.
This effectively buried the previous government’s grand plans of transparency in the selection process and leveraging the huge tender (initially Rs 42,000 crore, but now in the region of Rs 1.2 lakh crore) to create a hub of high tech in India by asking the winning company to source half the tender amount from India.
For the first time since he took power, Modi was also exposed to murmurs of having jettisoned transparency. The recent auctions for telecom spectrum and coal blocks were smooth affairs and netted the government much beyond what it had bargained for. But the bolt-from-the-blue approach to consummating the deal for fighters with France was not helped by a flurry of Tweets by Subramanian Swamy, an inveterate Modi backer, or the explanation that it had now become a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal.
The Indian armed forces have long been used to purchases of defence equipment taking a long slow route that lasts decades. The British advanced jet trainer was finally bought 20 years after talks first opened and several trainee pilots along with experienced teachers had died while cutting their teeth on the unforgiving MiG-21, whose high take-off and landing speeds spell trouble in case of a slight miscalculation. The hunt for a replacement to Bofors artillery guns has run through the tenures of the Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh governments, and there is no end in sight yet.
On cusp of a Bofors moment?
As was the case with Bofors guns, Rafale is an excellent plane. No arguments about that though Subramanian Swamy thought otherwise up to the moment Modi signed the pact with France. As was the case with Bofors, the Indian Air Force desperately needs planes that can perform several functions — fly low and long to bomb targets and get up in the air quickly to have enough maneuverability to take on enemy planes trying to bomb an airfield, bridge or an oil refinery. So, did he do the right thing by short-circuiting the elaborate toothcombing by the Defence Ministry by placing an order for 36 ready-made planes?
Apart from the bare cupboard of the Army when Rajiv Gandhi opted for Bofors and of the IAF when Modi inked the pact for 36 Rafale fighters, there is little in common between the two decisions.
 The tender for 126 medium fighter planes was supposed to be different. With Sonia Gandhi as Chairperson, the United Progressive Alliance knew better than any regime the political fallout of a defence bribery scandal. Bofors made Rajiv Gandhi’s 400-plus seat cushion in Lok Sabha a bitter memory and the purchase of coffins during George Fernandes’ tenure at the Defence Ministry contributed to the erosion of goodwill earned by the Vajpayee government for astutely managing the Kargil conflict.
 So, taking a lesson from both, the UPA installed AK Antony as Defence Minister and made nearly all mega purchases of defence equipment into a competitive affair in which all bidders were invited for pre and post-bid conferences. What must have been on top of Modi’s mind was that neither of the two approaches worked and some crucial sectors in defence seemed to be slipping back to the pre-Kargil state of neglect. Antony was prone to referring every single complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation, even if it was an innocuous Defence Ministry letter with nil security implications. And the competitive tender approach activated the dirty tricks department of almost every company in the fray, causing Antony to defer a decision on multi role helicopters, artillery guns and, of course, the 126 fighter plane tender.
 In the 126 plane tender, Dassault, a veteran of the Indian defence market since 1957, was unwilling to guarantee the delivery schedules of planes to be made in India, nor was it ready to lower the price — which had ballooned to Rs 1.8 lakh crore by January this year.
 India was also caught in a diplomatic tangle with France. Its company Areva was unable to set up six nuclear plants in Maharashtra despite a written assurance by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and despite Paris  having been among the most enthusiastic in urging some recalcitrant Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) countries to vote to end India’s exclusion from the global commerce mainstream. Also, it was unable to act on assurances of an early order to Rafale given to previous French President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose party is backed by the Dassault family) as well as the incumbent, who too would like to remain on the right side of the Dassault clan.
 So far the 36 plane order might not be a fit case for approaching the courts. This is because technically Modi has simply expressed his intention to buy the planes and nothing more. It is also untrue that no country is interested in Rafale. Egypt has an order for 24 and Qatar and UAE are reported to be interested as well.
More Rafale purchases
Since the announcement was made by the top executive authority of India, it cannot be cancelled. So it can be argued that India will now be forced to purchase more and more of Rafale planes to make up for the shortfall of MiGs, that are gradually being pulled out from active services. But the urge to somehow meet IAF’s requirement — if it was really that — has also undoubtedly weakened India’s negotiating position for better terms for maintenance.
Modi’s real test will come when negotiators sit down to pencil the fineprint. India will seek technology transfer while France is bound to seek a firm commitment for more planes. India must also get the software source code so that it can refigure the weapon systems and onboard equipment. A competitive approach was always going to be difficult. Most of India’s defence acquisitions have been through the direct negotiations route, be they the three aircraft carriers so far, the Sukhois, the T-90 tanks, frigates and destroyers, the AN-32, Il-76, C-17 and C-130 transport planes or even the Bofors guns. Technology transfer was also not negotiated in advance in many of the cases.
What Modi has to watch out for is better terms and conditions when his negotiators sit down to map the delivery schedules of the 36 planes and future orders. No one would be more competent to detect the chinks in the deal than the present Comproller and Auditor General of India, who was the Director General (Acquisitions) and then the Defence Secretary when the tender route was being pursued.

Rafale fighter aircraft
2 countries have it
Only France and Egypt have placed an order, while UAE and Qatar are interested in buying Rafale fighers. Some countries will wait for India to purchase, but Pakistan and China unlikely to get it.

Comfort factor
Indian Air Force has been using Dassault-made fighters since 1957, many parts in common with Mirage

Combat record
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom (2002-present)
Libya: Operation Unified Protector (2011)

Multi-role plane
According to Dassault Aviation, Rafale can carry out both air-to-ground strikes as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions

Delivery date
India will not receive its first Rafale fighter jet for up to two-and-a-half years and tricky issues, including pricing, still need to be worked out

One 30-mm cannon for dogfights and strafing

12 external hardpoints and two wingtip rails

Air-to-Air Missile
For dogfights: MICA

Air-to-Surface Missile
For ground attacks, Exocet and
nuclear-capable missiles

1,000-kg laser guided bombs

Other features
Rocket pods, Electronic Counter Measure pods

5 that lost out
Grippen (Swedish): Power plant not much better than Tejas, a light fighter being developed in India. Made for action in Europe that doesn’t require a big range

Eurofighter: Came second after Rafale. Big tail diminishes stealth capability. A product of consortium of four nations, some with predilection for sanctions

F-16: Pakistani pilots very well versed with this fighter; home country US prone to imposing sanctions

F-18: Work horse of US Air Force, not very good maneuverability; US prone to imposing sanctions

MiG-35: Issue of easy-going attitude by Russians leading to poor after-sales service, high smoke level.

New fighters for IAF: 5 yrs in the making

The loss of MiG-21s during the Kargil conflict and superior performance by the French Mirage in hitting Pakistani forces’ supply lines contributed to the enemy capitulation and made the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government taking up Indian Air Force’s request for new fighters in real earnest in 2000.

The government issues a request for information (RFI) but there was scepticism in some international capitals about India’s ability to afford such a large tender, then estimated at $10.2 billion.

Action hots up after the normalisation of bilateral relations with Washington following the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2006. Besides the F-16 (made by arms and space major Lockheed Martin), the US government asks India to also consider Boeing’s F 18\A Super Hornet. Government issues tenders asking six companies to test their fighters in India.

The competing companies — two American, three European and one Russian — submit voluminous bids, covering about 600 parameters. Planes start getting tested by Indian pilots at various locations from Leh at its coldest to restricted landing strips in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

French company Dassault’s Rafale comes out on top on various parameters with the four-nation consortium’s Eurofighter in second place. Bids by Russia, both American companies as well as a Swedish company are rejected.

Dassault is officially acknowledged as having passed all the tests and emerged as the lowest bidder for 18 planes to be delivered in readymade condition and 108 planes to be made in India. The deal by now is 50 per cent higher than the original estimates.

Negotiations with Dassault continue and are nearly finalised but BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and then Rajya Sabha MP MV Mysoora Reddy consider it their “patriotic duty” to complain about loopholes in the deal. Then Defence Minister AK Antony orders officials to re-examine the deal.

As elections approach, Antony citing inadequate funds decides to put the deal on hold despite vigorous campaigning by French politicians.

Taking everyone by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces that India will buy 36 readymade Rafael planes from Dassault. On the fate of the 126-plane tender, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar says one car can’t drive in two directions at the same time, meaning Dassault will take the MMRCA cake. Parrikar attempts to gloss over the decision by saying this will be now a Government-to-Government (G2G) deal.


    Indian Air Force wants 45 fighter squadrons (18 in each squadron) for a two-front collusive threat. Many bombers and interceptors, all from the MiG stable, are to retire over the next five-six years.
    Government authorised strength is 42 squadrons
    IAF today has 25 active fighter squadrons, according to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. But IAF claims the number is 39.
    14 squadrons of MiG-21 (Vikram\Trishul, now Bison) and MiG-27 (Bahadur) aircraft to retire by 2024
    Canberras, used for bombing runs, have already retired
    Theoretically, the squadron strength will go down to 11 if there are no replacements.
    But that is the worst case scenario. At least 13 Sukhois planes are getting inducted every year, almost the entire remaining fleet is getting life extension/more potent engines and weapon suites

Action Plan to arrest depletion

    272 Su-30 MKI to form 13 squadrons by 2020
    11 more Sukhoi\Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) squadrons
    Development of Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ by HAL accelerated, at least six squadrons are projected
    3 Mirage (Vajra) squadrons being upgraded
    Therefore, Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (Rafale): 2 squadrons or 36 fighters to be with IAF by 2020, 4 to 5 more squadrons subsequently. Can perform both ground attack and interception functions. Lighter than Sukhoi.
    6 Jaguar (Shamsher) squadrons to be upgraded
    MiG-29 (Baaz) 68 being upgraded
    Plane mounted radars - AWACS - to boost potency

Voices for, against
One car cannot run on two roads... this is a much better deal... the cost per jet would now be cheaper. Buying 126 (fighters) would cost India about
Rs 1 lakh crore. Can we spend so much money on a high-end fighter? - Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister

When my PIL is ready on Rafale, I will send it in a sealed cover to the party president for sanction to prosecute...  Rafale is a less fuel efficient aircraft and lacks essential performance characteristics - Subramanian Swamy, Bjp leader

The life cycle maintenance calculations for the 126-plane tender are wrong. Favouritism has been shown to Rafale -  Yashwant Sinha, BJP leader, in a letter to then defence minister ak antony

There are irregularities in the evaluation process and the entire matter should be probed. Why has Rafale, not bought by any other country, been chosen for the Indian Air Force? Its performance in the recent air campaign in Libya was poor and the Rafale failed in precision bombing - MV Mysoora Reddy, then MP, in another letter to antony

Rafale are not poor quality, but India will have to pay an arm and a leg for it at over $200 million per unit cost. The more advanced Su-30, with full ordnance load, comes in at less than half the price - Bharat Karnad, centre for policy research
Faulty Defence Planning: Why should armed forces suffer because of incompetent policymakers?
Thanks to the Babus straddling the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and playing the game of General General without knowing anything about the matters of military and the Saint do nothing.
During the tenure of AK Antony as defence minister of the Congress, which ruled the country for last one decade, we bought from Russia the 45500 ton Aircraft Career which joined the service with Indian Navy in Nov 2013 at the cost of 2.23 Billion Dollars.

We then bought 45 MIG 29 K fighter aircrafts from Russia for 2 Billion Dollars to operate from its deck. Lo and behold this costliest weapon platform in service for last one year plus till date had no integral air defence protection despite the Navy crying hoarse. It is only now that Barrack 1 missiles are being mounted that also after cannibalising the same from Indian Navy Frigate INS Godavari.

This just gives an idea how the adhocism besets this country. The problem lies with the higher Indian defence management system where these Babus (bureaucrats) and Netas (political leaders) have kept the three service headquarters separate from MOD by feeding the fear to the leaders that if army is not kept under tight leash meaning Babu control they will do the coup. PMs like Nehru liked this tune of babus.

It is only now the Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said that within three months he will install the Chief of defence staff system sanctioned since 2003. It is not just Navy suffering, the Indian air force which has a sanctioned strength of 45 Squadrons are down to just 34 squadrons, just two more than Pakistan for lack of fighter aircrafts and Indian Army has not inducted any artillery gun since 1986.

The big question is why these Netas and babus who have brought the Indian armed forces to this dire straight be allowed to get away. Why no accountability is fixed in our democracy on these people? Why should armed forces suffer because of these incompetent people? Need of the hour is for the Indian public to get more concerned about the security of the country and not leave this important issue to these self serving Netas and Babus.

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