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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 08 Jul 2015

Army man injured in Pak firing
Soldiers foil infiltration by three terrorists in Sunderbani sector
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Rajouri, July 7
A day after Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement on the international border in Arnia sector of Jammu district by targeting six BSF outposts, an Army jawan was injured in Pakistan firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector today.

The Army foiled an infiltration by three unidentified terrorists in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district after exchange of fire early this morning.

Sources said a soldier of the 12 Jat Regiment, who was manning the forward post at Bandi in Poonch district was injured today when Pakistani soldiers targeted him with sniper fire.

“The bullet hit Lance Naik Jatinder Kumar on his right thigh. He who was immediately taken to the nearby Army health centre. He was given first-aid and then shifted to the Army hospital in Poonch, where he was stated to be out of danger,” sources said. The sources said soldiers of the 801 Mujahideen battalion of the Pakistani army targeted Jatinder Kumar.

In an official handout, Lt Col Manish Mehta, PRO (Defence), Jammu, said, “Pakistan resorted to unprovoked firing from across the LoC in Poonch sector. At 9:45 am, Pakistani troops resorted to small arms fire. Troops on our side retaliated appropriately. One soldier suffered a grazed bullet injury. His condition was stable till reports last came in.”

Meanwhile, Lt Col Mehta said alert troops foiled infiltration along the LoC in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district this morning.

“Three unidentified terrorists were trying to sneak in through the LoC in the Sukhtao Nala area in Sunderbani sector. Around 6:30 am, three unidentified terrorists clad in Pathani suits were challenged by our men about 30 metres inside the LoC,” the PRO (Defence) said.

“The terrorists responded with fire and started running back towards the LoC. Our soldiers fired upon them and foiled the infiltration,” he said. He adding that no casualty was reported in the exchange of fire.

On July 3, Lt Gen KH Singh, GOC, 16 Corps, expressed apprehensions of firing on Indian soldiers and action by the border action team of the Pakistan army. He was speaking on the sidelines of Jhangar Day in Rajouri district.

On the night of July 5, the Pakistan Rangers targeted six BSF outposts and some villages along the Indo-Pak border in Arnia sector in Jammu district, triggering panic among residents. The same night, a BSF jawan was killed in Pakistani firing along the LoC in Nowgam sector in the Kashmir valley.
Membership for India, Pak likely in 2016: Russia
Ufa (Russia), July 7
India and Pakistan will have to wait till next year to get full membership of the security and economic grouping the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a top Russian official today said, ahead of the six-nation bloc’s leaders’ summit here this week.

“India and Pakistan are not joining the SCO tomorrow. The process of engaging them is beginning,” Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said today.

He said their admission demands the coordination of a working memorandum and the two countries also need to join 28 key documents of the group.

“After that, as we hope, the membership of these two countries in the SCO will be finalised and we will be able to talk about our Group of Eight participants,” he told Rossiya 24 TV channel.

As of now, India along with Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan has the observer status in the organisation which mainly focused on the anti-terrorism cooperation among the member states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive here tomorrow to attend the SCO summit. This is the first time India will be represented at the Prime Ministerial level at the SCO summit. — PTI
Anna Hazare to Join Cause With Ex-Servicemen for One Rank One Pension
Mumbai, Maharashtra:  Social activist Anna Hazare will launch a countrywide agitation on the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and the Land Acquisition Bill soon.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the activist wrote, "We have to take care of our soldiers and farmers. Making hollow announcements for their welfare and actually implementing them are different things."
An ex-serviceman himself, Mr Hazare had joined the Indian Army in 1963 and served for 15 years as a soldier. He was posted to several key states including Jammu-Kashmir, Assam, Sikkim, Bhutan and Mizoram and even served in the India Pakistan war of 1965.

Retired Army personnel are holding protests in 55 spots across India, demanding that the central government to set a date for the implementation of the scheme.

The government has earlier said it was committed to OROP and has set aside Rs. 8300 crore for its implementation, but has refused to specify a timeline.

OROP has been one of Prime Minister's main poll promises in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.

The scheme seeks to ensure that defence personnel who retire at the same rank and with the same length of service, will get equal pension, irrespective of when they retired.

About 25 lakh veterans - among them over 6 lakh war widows -- who retired before 2006, stand to benefit from the scheme.

Mr Hazare has clarified that his agitation is not political. In 2011, he had led an agitation against the previous UPA government for the creation of an anti-corruption independent body.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar launches new automation software ARPAN 3.0 for India

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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Indian Army foils infiltration bid in Jammu and Kashmir
The Indian Army on Tuesday foiled an infiltration attempt by three armed militants from across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Sunderbani sector in the Jammu region a Defence spokesman said.

"Three unidentified militants were trying to sneak in through Line of Control in the general area Sukhtao Nala in Sunderbani Sector, of Rajouri district", Jammu based officiating spokesman of Ministry of Defence SN Acharya told PTI.

He said that at around 6:30 am this morning three militants clad in Pathani Suits were spotted 30 meters inside the Line of control and were challenged by the army personnel manning the LoC.

"Our alert soldiers guarding the Line of Control challenged the terrorists who in turn started firing on our soldiers and started running back towards the line of control" Acharya said. He said that the army troops returned the fire on the militants and foiled the infiltration bid. No causality was reported, he said.

The infiltration bid comes a day after the Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh had said that the Pakistani side was desperate to carry out infiltration into the Indian side so as to disrupt the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

"The Pakistan side is desperate to attack Amarnath Yatra and Vishno Devio Yatra, in the wake of the tightened security in the state and the tough stand of the Central government," he had told reporters on the sidelines of a function on Monday.
Army plans request for information for single calibre assault rifle
New Delhi: The Indian Army is likely to soon issue a 'Request for Information' for a new single calibre assault rifle to replace its INSAS rifles after it scrapped a four-year-old tender for purchasing 1.8 lakh multi-calibre weapons.

Defence sources also ruled out that the army has shortlisted any particular gun to replace the INSAS, which had entered service in the late 1990s.

"A Request for Information is likely to be issued soon for single calibre guns. This will be open to all," sources said, adding that the project would finally be taken up as part of the 'Make in India' initiative.

Army had initially wanted a rifle with interchangeable barrels firing different calibres -- the 5.56-mm INSAS round and the 7.62-mm AK-47 round.

That was because troops use AK-47s in counter-insurgency operations while the INSAS rifles are issued for peace stations.

However, none of the firms which had pitched for the contract could satisfy the army with sources saying that the General Staff Qualitative Requirements "could well have been too ambitious".

"There was no point on working on something that cannot be worked out," the sources added.

Army had on June 15 informed the four short-listed international firms that it was retracting the multi-crore contract.

Good enough for China, but India spurns Arjun

For some inexplicable reason, the army prefers to use Russian armour; Arjun is deployed in only two of its 63 armoured regiments

Chinese experts have given a thumbs up to the Arjun main battle tank (MBT), even as India's own army continues to sideline it, inexplicably preferring to continue a four-decade-long dependence on Russian armoured vehicles.

Last week, a senior People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer at its premier tank design institution, the Academy of Armoured Forces Engineering in Beijing, told visiting Indian journalists that the Arjun tank is "very good", and well suited for Indian conditions.

This could hardly have been pro forma politeness, as PLA is not given to praising India's military capabilities. It would appear that PLA officers, who work closely with China's defence industry in developing their new Main Battle Tank 3000 (MBT3000, also called VT-4), seem more aware than their Indian counterparts of the challenges and benefits of developing an indigenous MBT.

In contrast, India's military has stood aloof, criticising and even undermining the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as it struggled to design the Arjun tank.

To this day, the army has ordered only 122 Arjuns, the defence ministry told Parliament on April 24. The Arjun equips just two of the army's 63 armoured regiments -the 43rd and 75th Armoured Regiments.

In comparison, the army has almost 2,500 T-72 tanks, many of which are night-blind and nearing the end of their 32-year service lives. The army will also have 1,657 of the more modern T-90S tanks, being built under licence from Russia by the Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi, near Chennai.

While the army's vehement opposition to the Arjun was often valid in initial years, the Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment eventually overcame a series of glitches that dogged early versions of the tank.

In March 2010, the Arjun outperformed the Russian T-90S, the army's premier tank, in comparative trials near Bikaner. The trials, attended by the army chief and top generals, sent shock waves through the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces, the nodal office for armoured and mechanised regiments and their tanks and infantry combat vehicles.

No respite
Yet, the army's opposition to the Arjun continued. Instead of the successful trials eliciting more orders, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces demanded from DRDO a long list of changes in the Arjun. DRDO was told to incorporate the modifications into a new variant, the Arjun Mark II. If that proved successful in trials, the army undertook to order another 118 Arjuns.

"DRDO is currently engaged in the development of MBT Arjun Mk-II with 73 improvements (including 15 major improvements) over MBT Arjun Mk-I. Out of these 73 improvements, 53 have been found successful based on User trials. No time line for induction into Army can be fixed at this stage (sic)", said the defence ministry in Parliament on April 24.

The Directorate General of Mechanised Forces has taken various positions on why it does not want the Arjun. For years, it argued that the 62-tonne Arjun was too heavy. It claimed the tank would get bogged down in desert sands, and that bridges and culverts on Indian border roads could not withstand such heavy load. The army also complained the tank was too wide to be transported by railway.

This notion was comprehensively disproved during the comparative trials, when the Arjun proved more mobile than the lighter, 42-tonne T-90S, even on soft desert sand. A "third-party evaluation" done by Israel Military Industries, which had developed the highly regarded Merkava tank, concluded the Arjun would outrun most tanks.

Then, even while continuing to argue that the Arjun was too heavy, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces' demand for 73 modifications to the Arjun quite predictably resulted in the tank becoming even heavier. The army's demand for Explosive Reactive Armour to protect the crew better added on one-and-a-half tonnes. Another one-and-a-half tonnes were added due to mine ploughs demanded by the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces which churn up the ground ahead of the tank's tracks, unearthing buried anti-tank mines. Numerous other modifications, including a commander's panoramic sight, slapped on another two tonnes. From 62 tonnes, the Arjun now weighs 67 tonnes.

Adding missile power
The Arjun Mark II is now held up by the army's insistence that it should fire an anti-tank guided missile through its main gun, which is actually designed to fire armour piercing and high explosive shells. DRDO approached Israel Aircraft Industry for its Lahat missile, which has not proved successful. Now, a Ukrainian design bureau has been approached for its Kombat missile.

Meanwhile, the modifications demanded by the army have doubled the Arjun's cost from its initial Rs 18 crore. On August 29, 2011, the defence ministry told Parliament, "The likely estimated cost of each MBT Arjun Mark-II with all major/minor improvements will be approximately Rs 37 crore."

Nor has the ill-fated Arjun project led to lessons being learnt on the need for cooperation between DRDO and the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces in designing and bringing to service a next-generation indigenous tank. For years, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces has been unable to specify the design requirements of the Future Main Battle Tank (FMBT), as the project was called. Each successive director general, traditionally a lieutenant general from the armoured corps, has brought his own ideas to the job, which have invariably diverged from those of his predecessor. In the circumstances, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces has not responded to repeated DRDO requests for clear specifications.

"There has been no discussion on the FMBT, or consensus building across the armoured corps. Each Directorate General of Mechanised Forces chief consults only with a narrow group of officers around him. Without corps-wide consensus, naturally there would be divergent views," says a senior officer serving in the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces.

Without any idea of what kind of FMBT it wants, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces has now abdicated that decision entirely. In a Request for Information last month that has sent shock waves through the defence industry, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces asked tank manufacturers across the world to propose the design for a "new generation, state-of-the-art combat vehicle platform" that it has dubbed the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV).

A retired senior tank officer points out: "An army that keeps abreast with tank design should not need to ask global vendors the specifications of its future tank. Vendors would, in any case, be guided by their commercial interests rather than by Indian operational requirements."

Another striking feature in the new FRCV proposal is DRDO's sidelining. With a foreign vendor leading the design process, and cobbling together a consortium to manufacture the tank, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces -and, in acquiescing, the defence ministry -has abandoned the option of translating DRDO's experience and expertise gained on the Arjun into a next-generation indigenous tank.

Going by past experience, the FRCV proposal too could end up in the trash can. If the government goes by the principle of seniority, the army chief after General Dalbir Singh will be an armoured corps officer, General Pravin Bakshi. Like other senior tank-men, he has been excluded from the FRCV proposal. Defence watchers believe a new decision will be taken, and DRDO is waiting in the wings to play its role.

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