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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 11 Aug 2015

Indigenous Army purchase up, imports dip in past 2 yrs
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
India is slowly moving towards purchase of military equipment from local manufacturers. The import percentage of military equipment has dropped and the indigenous content has risen over the past two years, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) informed the Lok Sabha on August 7.

At the same time, the budgetary allocation for indigenous research has been reduced during the ongoing fiscal. The locally made equipment constituted Rs 49,531.55 crore or 62. 89 per cent of the total military procurement of Rs 78,753.85 crore made during 2014-15, ending March 31.

The indigenous content has steadily risen over the past two years. It was 53.97 per cent in 2012-2013 and 59.01 per cent in 2013-2014, ending March 31 or just two months before the Narendra Modi-led government took over in May 2014.

Globally, India is the largest buyer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for 15 per cent of all such international imports, said a report by Sweden-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in March.

Sources say indigenous products will see a further rise as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has accepted a report of a high-level expert committee tasked with suggesting changes in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). It has made recommendations to attract investment, build local confidence and allow “Make in India” and is under study at the MoD.

Headed by former Union Home Secretary Dhirendra Kumar, the committee wants the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to do pre-audit of deals rather than raise objections later. Its report submitted to the MoD also lays down the level of indigenisation and the method of calculating the local content in each defence equipment.

Valuable foreign exchange is needed for import and makes the forces dependent on foreign suppliers.

Modi has promised major changes in the policy allowing greater private participation while firmly saying “Make in India” will get preference. New Delhi’s main suppliers of military equipment such as the US, Russia, France, Israel and UK have responded with a positive intent. However, they now await changes in the DPP that will clarify the terms _and conditions of setting up units in India.
Ultras’ GPS coordinates misleading, says BSF
No clarity on route taken by them
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 10
Fourteen days after three militants created mayhem in Dinanagar, BSF officials are still unsure over the route taken by the ultras to reach the sleepy town in the district.

Relying on two global positioning sets (GPS) seized from the terrorists, BSF (Gurdaspur sector) officials made a group of their men travel from Makoda in Bamial sector to Dinanagar. They took six hours. It was concluded that the ultras could not have walked such a long distance on foot carrying so much of baggage with them comprising bombs, arms and ammunition and without being noticed by anyone.

Brig NK Mishra (retd), former DIG, Gurdaspur sector, refused to divulge any information but some officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the militants had not taken the route based on the GPS coordinates.

“These coordinates are misleading. The militants have been successful in deceiving the security forces. Our men took six hours from Tash border outpost just across the Ravi, near the border, to reach Dinanagar. We have not included the time taken by the militants to cross the river, which is no easy task, as these days it is swollen because of heavy rains,” said a top officer.

He said: “We can thus say with a fair degree of confidence that the militants did not use this route. They might have come from Jammu and Kashmir but even this is just an assumption. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is also working on various permutations and combinations but as of now, nothing concrete has emerged from its investigation.”

Another officer claimed that it was “highly improbable” that the militants did not leave traces of their movements while crossing the heavily guarded and floodlit Ravi. “It is impossible that they left not footmarks on the river banks or even while crawling through the ‘sarkanda’ (elephant) grass. The river has floodlights, 24-hour motorboat patrolling, night vision devices while the area just near it has cobra electrical wire fencing. It is impracticable to suggest that they had crossed the Ravi,” he claimed.
Ex-servicemen write letter in blood to Defence Minister
Ambala, August 10
The ex-servicemen sitting on an indefinite fast at the Polytechnic Chowk in Ambala City sent a letter to Defence Minister Manohar Parikar written in blood yesterday.

The president of Ex-servicemen Welfare Association Atar Singh Multani said they had been sitting on fast for the past two months, but the Union Government did not take any notice. He said they had fought on the border for the sovereignty of the country and they would fight for One Rank, One Pension till their last breath.

Senior leaders of the association JP Mehta said 150 ex-servicemen had gone to Rohtak today where social activist Anna Hazare participated in their dharna.

Nayab Subedar Kulwinder Singh, Nayab Subedar Prem Singh, Nayab Subedar Jaswant Singh, Jagir Singh, Sukhvinder Singh and Raj Kumar sat on fast today. _— OC
Pak fire prompts retaliation in Poonch
Post-to-post gunfight flares up in Balakote, Sabzian sectors in violation of truce
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 10
Pakistani troops again fired mortars and automatic weapons fire on Indian posts along the Line of Control in the Balakote and Sabzian sectors of Poonch district last night, prompting Indian troops to retaliate in equal measure.

“Yesterday around 7.30 pm, Pakistani troops opened unprovoked fire in the Balakote sector under Hamirpur Battalion. They fired mortars and automatic weapons fire on the Indian posts. A heavy exchange of fire between the two sides lasted till 9.30 pm,” said a defence source.

Both sides traded fire from post to post, the source added.

Pakistani troops also opened small arms and automatic weapons fire on Indian posts in the Sabzian sector. The gun duel between the two sides lasted till 11.30 pm.

Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta said Pakistani troops targeted the Balakote sector with 60 mm mortars and automatic weapons. The Indian side responded effectively to the firing. “There were no reports of any loss on our side,” he added.

The Balakote and Sabzian sectors in Poonch have been targeted by Pakistani troops for the past three days, possibly to facilitate infiltration from across the border.

With this ceasefire violation, there have been 17 such incidents in the past nine days.

On August 7, a jawan was injured as Pakistani troops opened fire at villages and forward posts in Poonch district along the LoC for the third consecutive day today.

Pakistani troops had on August 6 resorted to intermittent firing with automatic weapons, rocket projectile grenades and mortar bombs along the LoC in Poonch district.

On August 5, Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire twice and targeted forward posts and hamlets, injuring three civilians.

A youth was killed and two others, including a BSF jawan, were injured when Pakistani troops had targeted border outposts and hamlets along the international border in four sectors of Kanachak, Pargwal, Tawi and RS Pura in Jammu district on August 4.

On August 2 and 3, Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire four times by resorting to small arms firing in forward posts along the LoC in the Krishnagati, Mandi, Balakote and Pallanwala sectors of Poonch and Jammu districts. There were two ceasefire violations on August 1.

There were 18 ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak border in July in which four persons, including three jawans, were killed and 14 others injured.

Gunfight in Pulwama

Anantnag: A gunfight erupted between security forces and militants on Monday evening in Pulwama district.The encounter has been reported from Rakh-e-Lajurah village of the district. Two militants are believed to be trapped in the encounter. “The militants are holed up in a house,” a police officer said. The militants were asked to lay down arms but they opened fired instead, he added. The encounter was on till reports last came in. — OC

Militants escape security ring in Anantnag

Anantnag: Militants had a brief exchange of fire with security forces in the Srigufwara area of Anantnag district south Kashmir district on Sunday evening. Police reports said Mahend village in Srigufwara area was cordoned off following receipt of intelligence inputs regarding the presence of militants in the area. “The house where the militants were hiding was identified. As soon as police personnel neared the house, they came under heavy fire from militants,” said a police official. He said the militants, believed to be two or three in number, fired from automatic weapons and hurled a couple of hand grenades at the police party as well. The police retaliated, resulting in an hour-long encounter. “The militants managed to sneak out due to darkness and continuous firing,” said the police official. — OC
Top Chinese general gets death for graft
Beijing, August 10
A top Chinese military general, who led an opulent lifestyle, was today given a suspended death sentence, the first conviction of about 40 high-level army officials currently under investigation as part of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile campaign against graft.

Gu Junshan, former deputy head of the General Logistics Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was found guilty of embezzlement, accepting bribes, misuse of state funds, bribery and abuse of power, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

He has been deprived of his political rights for life and had all his personal assets confiscated, according to a statement from the court.

Gu was also stripped of his rank of lieutenant general, and all the illicit funds and materials involved will be confiscated, the statement said, adding that the military procuratorate had added the charge of bribery during the trial, it said.

Besides owning a vast properties, his home in Henan province modelled on China’s former imperial palace Forbidden City with several gold art pieces or statues. — PTI
IAF halves its demand for Russian fighter jets
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Looking to cut costs and prune military imports, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has halved its demand for Russian-built fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).

It now wants just three squadrons of the fighter jets which are to be _inducted into the Russian Air Force in 2016.

Sources say the IAF has scaled down its needs and now indicated that just three squadrons (around 18 planes in each), besides a few more for training of the pilots, will be enough for now. This works out to be 65 planes, almost half from the earlier projection of 127 FGFAs to be jointly designed and produced by India and Russia.

The T-50 has been built for the Russians under the PAK-FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation) programme for the fifth generation fighter aircraft.

A plane will cost $100 million (Rs 650 crore). Three squadrons are the projection of an off-the-shelf deal India is pressing its military ally for immediate delivery of the planes.

New Delhi has suggested to Moscow that the T-50 fighter jet can be supplied to the IAF, while the research to improve upon the aircraft can carry on simultaneously. The Tribune had first reported about India’s offer on February 24 this year.

Simultaneously, the IAF is also working on a $11 billion R&D contract for long-term development of the jet. It is pending ratification since 2013. In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on August 4, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the preliminary design stage of the fifth generation fighter aircraft programme completed in June 2013.

“The expenditure incurred so far is Rs 1,483.15 crore,” Parrikar said. The next stage of development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft will commence after signing of the R&D contract.

The problem is in case India opts for the R&D contract route, the deliveries are envisaged to commence 94 months – eight years. The next best option is to go for an immediate off-the-shelf purchase and in case the research-and-development contract works out, more jets can be produced here.

With a dwindling fleet of fighter jets, this wait is not an option for the IAF, said sources. By the end of this year, the IAF would be at its lowest combat strength in more than a decade. It will be down to 32 squadrons by the end of this year and in the middle of a predicted shortage.

In a nutshell, the IAF with 576 fighter jets will be well short of the 750-strong fighter jet fleet mandated by a government sanction to wage a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.

The pruning down of numbers has been done as the IAF is backing its own options of getting French-origin Rafale jets and the remaining batch of 72 Sukhoi-30 MKI jets from Russia, sources say.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in April this year announced the intent to get 36 Rafale jets. A cost negotiation committee is in talks with the French company and the numbers could go beyond the announced 36 as the IAF has projected a demand for 80 Rafale-type planes.
Patriotic fervor amongst students reached crescendo during performance by Indian Army Band
 New Delhi, Aug.10 (ANI): The "Pipes and Drums Band" from 27 Madras Regiment, 9 Garhwal Regiment and 3/5 Gorkha Rifles performed at the Amity University with an aim to connect the armed forces with the masses and to motivate the youth to join the forces

The occasion provided the students a unique opportunity to listen to Marshal Tunes and music of unique dimensions. The Band won wide acclaim for their musical virtuoso, well synchronized moves, swiftness and agility.

Director General of Amity Indian Military Education Society, Lieutenant General B. K. Bopanna, said the defence forces are reaching out to the youth and masses across the length and breadth of the country in public places and educational Institutions in the run up to the Independence Day.

He stressed that Infantry Arm of the Indian Army is not only known for its courage, valor and sacrifice but also providing peace and solace to the soldiers in war through their music.

Meanwhile, Major Pranav Upadhayay from 27 Madras Regiment said that the pipe band started from Scotland in 17th Century and the infantry soldiers that performed during the occasion are adept in music as well as providing medical assistance to the soldiers in the time of need.

He shared that the defence forces have been actively pursuing the outreach programme conceived by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to bring youth closer to the valour associated with forces, thereby encouraging them to join the forces.

Major Srijith Menon from 27 Madras Regiment, Group Vice Chancellor of Amity Universities Major General (Retd.) K J Singh and Director of Amity Institute of Military College Brigadier S K Bahl were also present on the occasion along with other senior Directors and Institutional Heads. (ANI)
Govt promotes yoga, meditation, buddy system in Army to curb stress related deaths
With nearly 100 stress related deaths yearly among the 13 lakh strong Indian Army, yoga, meditation, buddy system, relaxed leave policy are some of the remedies that a panel of Ministry of Defence (MoD) has suggested to introduce.

On the UPA government's order, a study into stress levels encountered by young officers of the Army was instituted in 2012. Conducted by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the study on "Factors causing distress among Young Officers of Indian Army" has been received by the government and accordingly it is implementing its suggestions, defence minister Manohar Parrikar informed Parliament.

The measures taken include introduction of yoga, meditation, regular interaction by seniors, buddy system, liberalised leave policy and wide spread dissemination of reading materials on management of stress in appropriate languages. Training in yoga is already being imparted to army personnel as a part of overall physical training, Parrikar said, and that includes an eight weeks yoga course conducted thrice a year at the Army Institute of Physical Training, Pune. The trained personnel are further utilised at places wherever posted to train the troops in yoga.

However, there have been serious implications on Officer-Japan communication due to shortage of officers. According to available data, between 2011 and 2014, army had 362 suicides in its force while it reported 10 cases of fratricide.

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