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Saturday, 25 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Jul 2015

Defence exports to 22 nations
Indian defence public sector and private companies have exported a whole range of defence equipment to as many as 22 foreign countries in the past one year.

This equipment includes Cheetal helicopters to Afghanistan, Dhruv helicopter spares and parts to Equador, avionics for Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft to Malaysia, a Multi-purpose support vessel to Singapore, “Sonar HMS-X” to Myanmar, bullet-proof vests and plates to Turkey, among others.

In reply to another question on Army operations after the ambush in Manipur that killed 18 Army soldiers, the government in Parliament echoed the Army’s statement, saying that “surgical intelligence-based operations” were conducted “along the Indo-Myan-mar border”.

A controversy had erupted after a Union minister had declared that the Indian Army had crossed the border into Myanmar and carried out strikes against militant camps on that country’s soil.
Army chief says India won’t allow another Kargil
Sixteen years after Pakistan sprang a surprise on the Indian Army and triggered a war in the mountains of Kargil, army chief General Dalbir Singh on Friday said India had reinforced its security architecture significantly to avert a repeat of 1999.

Speaking exclusively to HT, Singh said, “We have beefed up our capabilities and deployments in a big way over the years. A repeat of that episode is not possible.”

Pakistani aggressors had occupied strategic peaks in the Kargil, Dras and Batalik sectors in Kashmir, vacated by the Indian Army in the winter months. Driving them back cost India 527 lives.

“Several loose ends have been tied up since 1999. We are more than capable of handling challenges across the spectrum of conflict,” the army chief said. Intelligence collection and analysis is more effective now and major changes have been made in the army’s order of battle (deployment and distribution of its forces) to secure vulnerable frontiers.

Singh has deep knowledge of the treacherous heights where Indian soldiers were stretched to their limits during the war. He commanded the Kumbathang-based 8 Mountain Division in 2007-08, responsible for guarding the Line of Control from Zoji La to Leh.

The Kargil war lent urgency to the need to plug gaps in the army’s capabilities but the pace of modernisation has been sluggish.

“Modernisation is a work in progress and there are multiple aspects to it. Things are moving in the right direction. We are making progress in addressing our requirements in critical areas such as air defence, armoured combat capabilities, artillery and surveillance,” General Singh said.

The government has cleared several pending projects, including purchase of 420 air defence guns for Rs 16,900 crore, 814 artillery guns at a cost of Rs 15,750 crore and 118 Arjun Mk II tanks for Rs 6,600 crore.

Singh will travel to the Dras war memorial with defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday to pay homage to Kargil martyrs. On Sunday, he will lay a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate in Delhi as part of the Vijay Diwas celebrations to honour the valour and sacrifices of the heroes who led India to victory in the Kargil war.
Army Short of 10,000 Officers, Defence Minister Tells Parliamen
The Indian Army faces a shortage of nearly 10,000 officers, while the figure stands at 1,800 for the Navy, according to Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Mr Parrikar said, that there are 9,642 vacant posts of officers in the Army, and 1,779 posts in the Navy, excluding the medical and dental branch.

The major reasons for shortage in armed forces are increase in the authorised strength due to new accretions in force level from time to time, and availability of attractive alternate career avenues, said the minister. He also cited other reasons like stringent selection criteria and difficult service conditions, coupled with perceived high degree of risk as well.

The Defence minister reiterated that the current available strength of pilots in Air Force is sufficient to meet operational requirements. There are 45,000 personnel under training for the Army, 10,523 for Navy and 11,979 for the Air Force, and the government has spent a total of Rs. 2,409 crore on training since 2012.
Since 2012, 644 officers have taken premature retirement from the Army, while the figure in the Navy stood at 343, and 441 in the Air Force.
Controversy over EoIs for army’s combat vehicles
The army has sought EoIs from 10 Indian firms, including defence PSU Ordnance Factory Board as well as private firms
The Directorate of Mechanised Forces in the Indian Army sought expressions of interest (EoI) for the Rs 1,00,000-crore futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) from 10 Indian companies earlier this month. Oddly enough, the EoI has been sought under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2008, under the ‘make’ category, (Para 2 of the EoI document states clearly that the selection of the development agencies (DAs) will be done under the provisions of Chapter 2 DPP-2008.)

The selected companies will be designated as development agencies to prepare a prototype for trials before the award of contract. What is striking though, is the army has chosen to stick with DPP-2008 for the FICV programme, where the stipulated minimum indigenous content is 30%. The draft of new amendments to be made by the Dhirender Singh committee reviewing the DPP-2013 has recommended a minimum 40% indigenous content.

The committee, which has submitted its first draft of fresh amendments to be introduced in the DPP-13, has also recommended significant dilution in the eligibility criteria to facilitate greater competition and participation by more companies. Several rounds of amendments have been made in the DPP-2009, 2011 and 2013. The new amended DPP is expected soon.

For long, the industry has been reasoning through its various representations to the MoD that even for the ongoing proposals, where the contracts have not yet been inked, the latest edition of DPP should be applicable.

The Indian Army has sought EoI from 10 Indian companies with FICV concepts including the defence PSU Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and private sector companies Tata Power, Tata Motors, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra, Rolta, Pipavav, Bharat Forge, Punj Lloyd and Titagarh Wagons.

Sources familiar with the programme say that this is a deliberate attempt to favour certain a section of the industry.

“Para 22 of DPP-2008 is a clear giveaway to this. This para dictates that the Indian industries should meet the criteria as per the guidelines of Raksha Udyog Ratna (RURs) even though the RURs themselves did not qualify with the then proposed criteria, which did not see the light of day. Also, based on the restrictive conditions in the EoI citing DPP-2008, only OFB and a couple of older players in the defence sector are likely to qualify.”

In their responses to the EoI, the companies will spell out details of technology tie-ups, which will bid for the contract. These companies are free to select foreign partners for design, technology and funding. This futuristic armoured vehicle will cater to the needs of the contemporary battlefield. It will replace the Russian BMPs in service with the mechanized forces of the Indian Army. The army has to procure at least 2,500 such vehicles.

An earlier attempt at the FICV programme was aborted after allegations of irregularities during the tenure of the previous UPA government.

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