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Saturday, 4 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 04 Jul 2015

80 Rafale-type jets needed: IAF
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Facing a crisis of a dwindling fleet of fighter jets, the Indian Air Force (IAF), has formally told the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that it needs at least 80 Rafale-type multi-role combat fighter jets to be battle-ready in the next few years.

This is the first time the IAF has put a minimum number to its needs since the government, in April this year, announced a decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a “fly-away” condition. Initially, the IAF had projected the need for 126 such fighter jets and a global tender was floated, which is now in cold storage after the decision to buy Rafale was announced.

The Tribune, on June 2, had first reported that the IAF was reportedly uneasy with the number of jets ordered. It had prepared a blueprint for the MoD. Sources said the IAF has conveyed the need for five squadrons and estimated a squadron at 16 jets each, instead of the normal number of 18 jets, as the Rafale with its high-end technology is available to fly at short notice and has a shorter maintenance “turn-around”.

This works out to be 80 jets of Rafale or planes of such a type. The number is more in tune with creating minimum facilities for servicing and training of pilots and on ground technicians. “A decision on this has to be taken by the government,” a senior functionary said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had, in an interview to a news agency on May 31, said buying 126 jets, as proposed by the previous UPA government, was “economically unviable”.

Sources said the IAF has said “mere” 36 jets would not meet the shortfall due to the phasing out of fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 jets by 2022. There are some 260 obsolete MiG-21s and MiG-27s (Soviet Union-era single-engine fighter jets) in the fleet.

The force had projected an immediate requirement of 126 Rafale-type medium multi-role combat aircraft, and needs 400 jets over the next 10 years.

As of now, the IAF has 35 fighter jet squadrons (having 16-18 planes each) against its projected requirement of 42 squadrons to tackle any simultaneous war with China and Pakistan.

A mixed ancestry and level of technology marks the 640-odd fighter jet fleet, largely imported from Russia over the past 30 years. British and French companies have supplied around 150 planes.

In October last year, IAF Chief Air Marshall Arup Raha had said: “We are left with a few jets as a majority of our fleet is in a phase-out mode. The drawdown has to be tackled by quick induction of medium multi-role and light combat aircraft.”
Militants may disturb Amarnath yatra: Army
Shyam Sood

Jhangar (Rajouri), July 3
The GOC of White Knight Corps (16 Corps), Lt Gen KH Singh, today said the possibilities of Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT) attack on the Line of Control and disturbances during the ongoing Amarnath yatra by militants could not be ruled out.

He was speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the Jhangar Day celebrations.

“Credible inputs from across the border suggest that anti-national elements may attempt to disturb the Amarnath yatra and BAT attack on the LoC or firing at soldiers may take place,” he said.

He said terrorist infrastructure, training camps and launching pads were still operational on the other side of the LoC in PoK and militants had been placed in launching pads for pushing them into the Indian territory.

When asked about the presence of ISIS in PoK, Lt Gen KH Singh said, “Whatever inputs the Army has, the ISIS has not yet taken off in a major way on the other side in PoK. However, they are definitely trying to get a foothold there, but the Indian Army is fully prepared to give a befitting reply to any nefarious designs.”

On the present situation on the LoC, he said it was calm so far and the number of ceasefire violations this year as compared to last year was very less.

But intelligence inputs suggest that terrorists in nexus with their mentors were planning to infiltrate into the Indian territory to create trouble during the ongoing Amarnath yatra, he added.

“We are also aware that the terrorists in cooperation with certain elements on the other side of the border are trying to create tension here, like by carrying out certain operations by the Border Action Team (BAT) and resort to firing at our forces,” he said.

He assured the people of the state that the Army was fully prepared and would ensure that nefarious designs of the adversary and elements inimical to the country were defeated fair and square.

When asked about possible successful infiltration attempt by two groups of terrorists between Loonawali and Anita forward posts (in the Sabjian area in Poonch district) last month, he said, “The Multi Agency Centre has not confirmed any report about any such infiltration. I am confident that it would be very difficult for the terrorists to infiltrate. However, we will recheck this issue.”

On family members of about 200 youths (militants went to PoK for arms training from Mendhar in Poonch district), who have approached the Army units operating in the area for their safe return, he said the Army would not allow them to come via LoC for surrender.

“The government has formulated a rehabilitation policy. The Army’s role is limited only to LoC areas. We will suggest them to come via four officially identified routes (Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch, Salamabad in Baramulla, Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and Wagah-Attari in Punjab),” said Lt Gen KH Singh.
Centre committed to facilitating security forces: Jitendra Singh
Our Correspondent

Udhampur, July 3
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh today said the Central government was committed to facilitating all forces who defend our borders and protect 125 crore Indians in the highest peaks and deserts.

He was addressing pass-outs at an attestation-cum-passing out parade at the subsidiary training centre (STC) of the BSF in Udhampur today.

A total of 515 Railway Protection Special Force recruits of the three batches of the STC, BSF, participated in the parade. The parade was the culmination of 26 weeks of rigorous basic training, which will help the recruits to perform duties for protection of the railways.

The subsidiary training centre of the BSF, mandated to train BSF recruits, was given the additional responsibility by the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) to train its 515 recruits, keeping in view its excellent training infrastructure and the training team.

Jitendra Singh took the salute and congratulated JC Singla, Deputy Inspector General, STC, BSF, Udhampur, training staff and the recruits for putting up a commendable performance.

In his address, the Union MoS emphasised the importance of dedication, hard work and high degree of integrity while discharging their duty for the protection of the railways and other tasks assigned to them. He congratulated the recruits for successfully completing their training and becoming full members of the RPSF family. The parade was commanded by constable Satindra Kumar.

Later, all constables were awarded medals by the chief guest for their outstanding performance.
US drone kills ‘emir of suicide bombers'
Washington, July 3
A coalition airstrike in Syria has killed a senior Islamic State leader, who has been responsible for moving fighters and weapons from Libya to Syria, the Pentagon has said.

A senior US official said yesterday that Tariq bin Tahar al-’Awni al-Harzi, a Tunisian and known as the ‘emir of suicide bombers’, and another fighter with him were killed by a US drone strike and that there were no reports of any civilian casualties in the operation. The official was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to Capt Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, al-Harzi was killed on June 16 in Shaddadi. He said that al-Harzi coordinated the use of suicide bombing attacks in Iraq, and helped with the movement of foreign fighters back and force across the Syria-Iraq border.

Davis said al-Harzi’s death will hurt the Islamic State’s ability to move foreign fighters in and out of the region.

According to the military joint task force coordinating the operations in Iraq and Syria, there were airstrikes at four locations in Syria that day, including two near Al Hasakah, which is near Shaddadi. The strikes near al Hasakah hit an Islamic State tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle and two antenna arrays. — PTI
INS Viraat to turn into a museum
Suresh Dharur

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 3
INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier in the world, will soon be converted into a museum.

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) authorities have received an in-principle approval from the Ministry of Defence to convert the Centaur-class aircraft carrier into a museum.

“The Centre has agreed to hand over INS Viraat to the state on the request of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu,” the APTDC executive director Amarendar said.

The warship will be docked at the shores of Kakinada port in coastal Andhra to serve as a tourist attraction. It is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016.

The state government is planning to invest over Rs 20 crore to convert it into a museum without tinkering with is main structure. The museum will be entirely developed and maintained by the government without involving any private player.

Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hermes and was transferred to India in 1987. In April 1986, India had signed an agreement with Britain to acquired HMS Hermes. It was part of the action during the Falklands war in 1982. After refits and new equipment being fitted on Hermes, it was commissioned as INS Viraat on May 12, 1987.

Originally, the aircraft carrier was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2009, but with the INS Vikramaditya’s induction being delayed, Viraat underwent a series of refits and continued its service.
Cmde Balaji takes over as ADA director
Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, July 3
Commodore CD Balaji (retd) today took over as the Director of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Programme Director, LCA (light combat aircraft).

While the Union Government has earned itself some notoriety for keeping scientific and defence research institutions headless for long durations, it acted with alacrity in choosing a chief for the ADA. PS Subramanyam, who got three extensions to prolong his service with the ADA, finally superannuated on June 30 and Balaji was appointed in his place soon thereafter.

Balaji, who did his Master’s in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, was commissioned into the Navy in 1978. He is a specialist in naval aviation. He served as the Air Engineer Officer of the INAS 310 (Alize aircraft) for about 3 years on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

He joined the ADA on deputation in 2002 for development of a naval variant of the LCA. As the project director LCA (Navy), he was responsible for the maiden flight of the naval variant of LCA (NP1) in 2012 and the maiden ski jump launch of a naval variant prototype in December 2014.

He was also instrumental in building the shore-based test facility, replicating an aircraft carrier with ski-jump for take-off and arresting gear for recovery of the aircraft, at the Goa naval air station.

Besides the LCA and the naval variant of the fighter jet, Balaji, as the ADA chief, will have to take care of two more ambitious projects critical for IAF’s future. These are, the Tejas Mark II (with a powerful new engine and advanced avionics) and the advanced medium combat aircraft (a fifth-generation fighter that is slated to enter IAF’s service around 2025).
Mahindra Group-Airbus to make choppers for Indian Army
Airbus Helicopters, a part of the Airbus group, on Friday said it will join hands with Mahindra Defence to produce helicopters in India.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The move is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature Make in India campaign, which aims to encourage domestic manufacturing by cutting red tape and bureaucratic hurdles. India is currently among the world’s largest arms importer.

“The tie-up is in line with our intent to develop an indigenous industrial ecosystem for helicopters. The joint venture will be dedicated to supplying the Indian Armed Forces with made-in-India, state-of-the-art helicopters of high reliability, quality and safety standard based on combat-proven platforms,” said Guillaume Faury, president and CEO, Airbus Helicopters.

The two firms will now engage in discussions to finalise the formation of the joint venture, which will act as the prime contractor for India’s military helicopter tenders, including the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter, the naval utility helicopter and the naval multirole helicopter procurement programmes.

“We have made substantial investments in aero components manufacturing, while Airbus Helicopters offers best-in-class rotocraft platforms,” said SP Shukla, group president of aerospace and defence sector, and chairman, Mahindra Defence Systems.

According to a report by industry chamber FICCI and financial services company Centrum Capital, India’s total defence budget allocation is at $620 billion from 2014 to 2022, of which 50% will be on capital expenditure. Companies can look at a $41-billion market by 2022, the report released in February said .

Mahindra Group currently produces the Airvan 8, and is also developing a 10-seater turboprop plane in Australia. The company was last month awarded a multi-million dollar aero-components production contract by Airbus Group company Premium AEROTEC.

Under current rules, foreign ownership in joint ventures in defence is limited to 49%.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar launches new automation software ARPAN 3.0 for Indian Army

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today launched a new automataion software, ARPAN 3.0 for the over 12 lakh soldiers of the Indian Army which would provide them easy access to their service records including pay and leave details and transfer and postings among others.

The roll out of ARPAN 3.0 (Army Record Office Process Automation 3.0), which coincides with the National Digital India week, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, is aimed at digitisation of  ..

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