NEW DELHI: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a missile defence shield which can be put in place at short notice to protect at least two cities.United States,RussiaandIsraelare the only other nations who have such a missile defence shield.
The shield has been tested successfully and an incoming ballistic missile with the range of up to 2,000 km can be destroyed. The system is to be upgraded to the range of 5,000 km by 2016. “The ballistic missile defence shield is now mature… We are ready to put phase-I in place and it can be put in very short time,” DRDO chief VK Saraswat told PTI inNew Delhiin an interview.
He said the shield, as part of phase one of the programme, can be put in place at two places in the country, where the infrastructure is available. However, the two places have not yet been identified and the selection will be made by the government.
The DRDO used variants of Prithvi missiles as simulated targets and successfully intercepted missiles in test-firings. “We have carried out six successful launches and demonstrated the capability for 2,000 km targets… We have demonstrated it in two layers that is endo-atmospheric (inside the Earth’s atmosphere) and exo-atmospheric (outside the Earth’s atmosphere),” Saraswat said. He said all the elements such as long-range radars and tracking devices, real-time data-link and mission control system required for the missile system have been realised successfully.
Under the phase-II of the project, DRDO would upgrade the system to handle ballistic missiles with range of 5,000 km. This phase is expected to be ready by 2016. The system required for phase-II of the project is being developed, he said, adding that for this purpose, ships are being built from where the target missiles would be launched. The DRDO chief said the phase two of the project is expected to be completed by 2016.
Talking about the advancement of the system, Saraswat said the missile defence shield has been automated to an extent where human intervention would be required only if the mission has to be aborted. The DRDO chief said the Indian missile defence system is comparable with the US Patriot 3 system, which was successfully used during the 1990 Gulf War againstIraq.
DRDO is thinking of intercepting the missiles at higher altitudes as it would give it more response time in case the first attempt is a miss and the second layer of the system can be put into action. The system was first test-fired in November 2006 elevatingIndiainto the elite club of countries to have successfully developed an anti-ballistic missile system.
INDIAN ARMY RESTING READINESS IN PUNJAB
The Indian Army has launched a massive summer war game in the plains ofPunjabto test it’s operational readiness, a defence ministry official said Friday.
Organised under the army’s Chandimandir-based Western Command, the participating formations include the Yol Cantonment-based 9 Corps and the Jalandhar-based 11 Corps.
During the month-long exercise, more than 20,000 troopers, 200 tanks and infantry combat vehicles will test their skills to repel enemy attack and to carry out a short, effective offensive to weaken the adversary.
The exercise is being held close to the borders withPakistan. It will validate the army’s battle concepts, apart from absorbing new military technologies acquired by it in recent years, a defence ministry spokesperson based in Jalandhar,Punjab, said.
‘This exercise is part of the army’s systematic approach to training, which aims at transforming it into a modern, lean, agile and a well-equipped force, capable of accomplishing assigned tasks,’ the spokesperson told IANS over phone.
Apart from the troops and the mechanised vehicles, the army will also get assistance in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles, attack helicopters and combat planes of the Indian Air Force during the exercise.
The army troops will also test their ability to work with advanced communication technologies.
‘Such technologies will help the army achieve battlefield transparency, providing real time information input that will help in decision making during warfare,’ the spokesperson said.
INDIA GRANTS 55 BUSES TO AFGHAN ARMY IN HERAT PROVINCE
According to local authorities in westernHeratprovince, the government ofIndiain a bid to assist the Afghan national security forces on Friday granted 55 passenger buses for 207 Zafar Afghan National Army commandment in this province.
A spokesman for the for 207 Zafar Afghan National Army commandment Najeebullah Najeebi said the government of India granted 55 TATA passenger buses and each of the vehicle has the capability of transporting 26 officers.
He also said the buses will be used to transport Afghan army officers and will help to resolve the transportation issues of the Afghan soldiers in this province.
Indiais the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid toAfghanistan. Indians are working in various construction projects, as part ofIndia’s rebuilding efforts inAfghanistan.
The chief diplomats ofIndiaandAfghanistanlast week inaugurated a new council aimed at deepening their strategic ties.Indiaplays a key role in supportingAfghanistan’s development and reconstruction, and is also hoping to help support the country’s long-term stability.
Afghanistanduring the India-Afghanistan Partnership Council also soughtIndia’s assistance in equipping its security forces, indicating increased security cooperation between the two countries in the run-up to the withdrawal of international forces from the violence-torn country.
INDIAN ARMY KICK STARTS WAR GAME EXERCISES IN THE STATE OF PUNJAB
The Indian army will conduct another major military exercise in the state ofPunjab, which will go on for one month, starting from the first week of this month.
The Haryana based Western Command of the army will be participating in the exercises. The IX Corps, headquartered at Yol, Himachal Pradesh and the XI Corps, headquartered at Jalandhar,Punjabwill be taking part in the exercises, which will be attended by a total of 20,000 soldiers along with heavy military equipment like tanks and artillery pieces.
The Indian Army is simultaneously conducting Operation Shoorveer, which will be conducted from May 02 to May 05. Shoorveer is termed as the biggest military exercise ever undertaken by the Indian Armed Forces since independence. 60,000 troops, along with a large number of aircrafts and battle tanks are taking part in the exercise, which is ongoing in the neighboring state of Rajasthan.
According to the defense sources, on top of the Indian army units, a number of troops and aircrafts from the Indian Air Force (IAF) will also be taking part in the operations. From the army, a number of main battle tanks and mechanized vehicles will be taking part, while from the IAF side Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Attack Helicopters and fighter jets will participate.
The military drills will test the army’s ability to incorporate the state of the art technology and assimilating them to the operating cycle. The operations will also test the readiness of the armed forces to undertake various manoeuvres and successfully carrying out various tasks assigned to the respective units. On top of these, the army will be practicing the use of very high resolution satellite images, aerial surveillance and will be monitoring the performance of various local and foreign developed radar systems for different scenarios.
The army will also be checking its ability to repel the enemy military units in case of any territorial incursion and will also test its capacity to carry out brief, but sudden offensives to weaken the enemy. The timing and location of the military drills are significant, as the operations will be held very close to the Indo-Pak border.
Army spokesman Colonel RK Sharma announced that the most important set of military maneuvers will be held on May 12. Indian army sources said that the operations like the one to be conducted inPunjabwill help to hasten the transformation of the Indian armed forces to a well trained, modernized and agile fighting force, able to handle the most delicate and complex of the issues.
INDIAN WARSHIPS UNDERTAKE EASTWARDS JOURNEY
Four warships belonging to the Indian Navy will travel to the South China Sea, in an attempt to diffuse the recent tensions betweenIndiaandChinaover the former’s attempt to indulge in oil and natural gas exploration in the disputed region. According to the Indian sources, the four warships will make a friendly voyage from the Indian port city ofVisakhapatnamto the Southern ChineseportofShanghai. The ships will pass through a number of friendly nations such as thePhilippines,Malaysia, andSingaporebefore reachingShanghai.
According to the defense sources the Indian warships will grant the Chinese coastal city ofShanghaithe honor of their “port of call”. This will reciprocate the favor shown by the Chinese warship Zheng He, which will be reaching the South West Indian port city ofCochinby May 9 and granting the port its port-of-call status. The Chinese vessel is on its way to a global voyage, and has already covered theportofSaigon(Vietnam) and Port Klang (Malaysia). Besides the Asian nations such asMalaysiaandIndia, the Chinese vessel will also be visiting nations such asItaly,EcuadorandSpain.
In a press statement, the Indian Navy stated that the fleet consists of one Rajput-class destroyer, a Shivalik-class frigate, a Kora class missile corvet and a fleet tanker. After docking atShanghai, the vessels will move towardsJapan. The navy sources hinted that the deployment is likely to last somewhere around two months.
The situation remains tense in and around theSouth China Sea, especially due to the China-Philippines border dispute. Both the nations are claiming the small rocky islet group ofScarboroughshoal. Meanwhile,Chinahas warned other nations to stay out of what it calls its “internal matters”. Recently, INS Airavat, the Indian Navy’s Shardul class warship was warned by the Chinese authorities to stay out of theSouth China Sea, after it roamed around the disputed region.
Although China is not that much comfortable with India’s attempt to indulge itself in the South China Sea, both the nations are working hard to avoid any future conflict over the region. Just a few weeks ago, both the sides signed an agreement meant for greater co-operation, to weaken the piracy in and around theGulf of Aden.
DRDO TO TAP GEOTHERMAL ENERGY TO POWER LADAKH
CHANDIGARH: As part of its efforts to tap non-conventional resources in its pursuit of energy security, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is exploring the feasibility of tapping geothermal energy in Ladakh for generating electricity.
Geothermal energy is the natural heat of the earth generating from the original formation of the planet and subsequently from radioactive decay of minerals over thousands of years. It is continually regenerated by the decay of radioactive elements that occur in all rocks.
“Two valleys in Ladakh have significant geothermal energy reservoirs that can be exploited,” Dr RB Srivastava, Director of DRDO’s Leh-based Defence Institute of High Altitude Research told The Tribune. “There are 36 potential sites in Ladakh that can be tapped and we would soon begin research to assess the power generation potential of these reservoirs,” he added.
The DRDO would also be collaborating with other agencies involved with exploring geothermal resources, including the Geological Survey of India (GSI). According to scientists, it makes sense to tap non-conventional resources in that region not only becauseJammu and Kashmiris a severely electricity-deficient state but also keeping in view long-term economic and environmental issues.
Geothermal power is considered to be sustainable because the heat extraction by generating stations is small compared with the Earth’s total assessed heat content. It is also cost effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly. According to available information, the emission intensity of existing geothermal electric plants is about 122 kg of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity, which is about one-eighth of a conventional coal-fired plant.
DEFENCE MINISTRY PURSUED STAKE PURCHASE IN TATRA EVEN AFTER ARMY CHIEF GENERAL VK SINGH BRIBE CHARGE
NEW DELHI: A year before the defence ministry asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe BEML’s role in the supply of Tatra trucks to the armed forces, it had directed the state-run company to acquire a strategic stake in the truck maker.
According to BEML, about a year ago in 2010-11, a secretary in the defence ministry had advised the company to consider picking up stake in Tatra to have control over its technology and to maximise local production. The company had subsequently appointed Dun & Bradstreet to study Tatra’s operations in theCzechRepublicandSlovakia.
“…the management of BEML had appointed Dun & Bradstreet to study the Tatra company of both Czech and Slovakia and come out with a report, including possible valuation, to enable us decide on picking up a stake as directed by the government,” said a company spokesman. An email to the defence ministry spokesman on the issue did not elicit any comment.
If BEML’s account is correct, it would appear that the defence ministry was pursuing a stake purchase in Tatra even after Army Chief General VK Singh had complained to Defence Minister AK Antony in 2010, that he had been offered a bribe for clearing the supply of substandard trucks.
Antonyhas publicly confirmed the Army chief had come to him with this charge in September 2010. But it is not clear whether General Singh had specifically mentioned Tatra or whetherAntonyhad shared the contents of this conversation with the mandarins in his ministry. General Singh went public with his accusation in March.
The defence ministry has asked the CBI to probe the alleged bribe offer to the Army chief, for which the agency registered a preliminary enquiry on April 11. The CBI also registered an FIR on March 30 against the truck maker’s owner and Vectra Group Chairman Ravinder Kumar Rishi along with unnamed officials from BEML, the Army, the defence ministry and Tatra Sipox (UK) for alleged irregularities in the supply of trucks to the Army by BEML.
Dun & Bradstreet submitted its report on the proposed stake purchase in June 2011, putting a value on the Tatra business entities and detailing their current management structures and shareholding patterns. A BEML executive said the PSU’s top management didn’t take the report to the board or pursue the Tatra stake purchase plan after an internal analysis of cost-benefit as well as return on investments in view of uncertain business prospects.
“The functional management of BEML discussed in depth the prevailing business situation, the order book position and the fact that expected future orders were very low as compared to the past,” said the company spokesman. The Indian Army’s relationship with Tatra trucks began in 1969 with the armed forces initially importing the trucks directly. Since 1986, BEML came into the picture and started assembling the heavy vehicles with 20% indigenisation. The company claims that currently about 62% of the trucks are locally made, including its engine, and says it has supplied over 7,000 Tatra trucks to the defence forces in the past 26 years.
BEML sources truck components for the Army from the UK-based Vectra Group, which owns a majority stake in Tatra Sipox (UK) and Czech truck maker Tatra with facilities in theCzech RepublicandSlovakia. Incidentally, this was not the first time the defence ministry had mooted the idea of BEML acquiring equity in Tatra. Soon after the then defence minister George Fernandes visited the Czech Republic in 2003, a proposal to acquire the stake of US firm Terex – the then majority shareholder in Tatra’s Czech factory – was discussed.
“The defence ministry told us that sanctions could be imposed onIndia’s use of the technology. So we were advised to pick up a minimum 26% stake (to safeguard future supplies),” a senior BEML executive said about the previous defence ministry proposal.
“A 26% stake would have ensured at least one BEML director a place on Tatra’s board and some control over the use of its truck technology forIndia’s armed forces. The BEML board had cleared the proposal and was waiting for government clearances when Terex sold its stake to UK-based Vectra Group, stalling the Indian company’s plans,” the spokesman said.
Tatra has undergone a series of ownership changes in the past two decades following the break-up of the erstwhileCzechoslovakia. As per the current structure, the Vectra Group is the sole owner of Tatra Sipox (UK) Ltd and the Tatra Slovakia factory (also known as Tanax). It is also the single largest shareholder with a 41% stake in Tatra a.s., the Czech arm of the company.Black River, a consortium of Czech and other investors, holds 51% stake in the Czech operations and its representative Ronald Adams is the CEO of Tatra a.s. The remaining 8% stake is held by small shareholders.
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE RAPPED FOR FAILING TO SERVICE BSF HELICOPTERS
NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary panel has pulled up the Defence Ministry for not honouring its commitment made to the BSF for providing technical support, including supply of spare parts, to the paramilitary force’s helicopter fleet.
The BSF’s Mi-17 IV helicopter fleet not only undertakes sorties to help in anti-Naxal operations, but is also used for transporting paramilitary forces.
The panel has also asked the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to plug “operational constraints” which are leading to this problem and ensure a solution so that the BSF is able to operate its fleet in full strength.
“The committee is constrained to note that helicopters are not functional due to scarcity of spares. Such a situation should not have been allowed,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs noted in its recent report tabled in Parliament.
“The committee takes serious view of the fact that despite an MoU having been signed between the MHA and the MoD, the Air Force is not able to extend the required support in terms of pilots, technical manpower, spares backup and repair facilities to the MHA due to its own operational constraints.
“When the MoU has been signed, the MoD should honour it without a fail. The MoD should plug these operational constraints,” the panel said when it was briefed that out of the six MI-17 IV BSF military helicopters, two were grounded for want of service.
While the BSF flies these helicopter under military registration, it has also contracted Pawan Hans and other helicopter service operators to cater to more than 70 battalions of the Central forces put on anti-Naxal duties and for other logistical sorties.
“At present, two Mi-17 IV helicopters, out of a fleet of six with the MHA, are in unservicable condition, due to non-availability of critical components, spares, including aero engines and main rotor blades,” the Home Ministry said in its reply to the House panel.
The panel also recommended that the MHA should “impress upon the MoD to supply adequate number of helicopters to it with a guarantee of spares”.