NEW DELHI: India has finally cast away the “ghost” of Bofors. It has okayed the first purchase of artillery guns for its Army in 27 years.
The Ministry of Defence today cleared the purchase of 145 specialised 155 MM artillery guns, the first artillery gun purchase since the Bofors deal was inked during the Rajiv Gandhi government in the 1980s.
The decision will finally be ratified by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The clearance of the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) comes just two days after Defence Minister AK Antony, speaking in Parliament, expressed fears of a growing Pakistan-China proximity.
The 155 MM guns are of 39 calibre and named the M777 ultra light Howitzer (ULH). These weigh just 3,200 kg each and can be slung under a helicopter to be dropped in mountain areas which are inaccessible by road.
Sources confirmed these guns would be stationed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh – both facingChina. Road connectivity in these areas is poor.
The gun can be split into two pieces and can be carried by a Mi17-V5 helicopter which the IAF has in its fleet.
To carry the gun in one piece, a heavy lift helicopter — Mi 26 of Russia or Chinook of the Boeing — is needed.
India has couple of Mi 26 which are in a precarious condition. Sources confirmed that the IAF will opt to use the Mi 17-V5. The gun can also be carried in a transport plane.
These guns will be purchased under a $700 million deal through the foreign military sales (FMS) route between the US and India.
BaE systems produces the guns. These are being used in Afghanistan which has terrain and altitude like Ladakh. These guns have almost the same specifications as the Bofors (155 MM 39 calibre), but are lighter in weight due to advancement in technology and metallurgy.
Actually, the M777 owes it parentage to Bofors. BaE purchased the company and has upgraded the technology.
The ULH has a normal firing range of 30 km and with specialised ammunition, it can hit targets 40 km away. However, officials said that it can not be considered a replacement for traditional field guns like the Bofors.
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) recently tested a 155 MM 45 calibre weapon and this will form the bulwark of the Indian Army’s artillery pieces. The Army has a requirement of some 1,590 such guns.
INDIA TO SUPPLY COPTERS TO KABUL
NEW DELHI:Indiahas decided to supply three helicopters toAfghanistanas part of the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries.
The decision is understood to have been taken at a meeting between External Affairs SM Krishna and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul here earlier this month.
The Afghan minister had soughtIndia’s assistance for not only training its forces, but also equipping them so that they could defend their country after the pullout of allied forces by the end of 2014.
Indications are thatIndiawill give ‘Dhruv’ Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to the Afghan forces.
New Delhihas also taken a decision to increase the number of Afghan personnel coming toIndiafor training at police academies here.
The training being given to Afghan army officers in premier Indian defence establishments will also be stepped up. The armies of the two countries will discuss the matter further.
Kabul’s request for refurbishing its old defence equipment is also being considered byIndia.
New Delhibelieves that the Afghan national forces had demonstrated in no uncertain terms their capability to defeat terrorist forces when they repulsed orchestrated attacks by the Taliban on foreign missions inAfghanistanon April 15.
However, the intelligence sharing between the Afghan forces and the allied forces did fail on that occasion.
Meanwhile,Indiaproposes to host a regional investors’ conference onAfghanistanhere in June-end or early July. This will be some days before the Donors’ Conference onAfghanistanto be hosted byJapanon July 8.
DEFENCE MINISTRY CLEARS PROCUREMENT PROJECTS OF OVER RS. 7,000 CRORE
NEW DELHI: Speeding up the military modernisation process, the defence ministry today cleared procurement projects worth over Rs. 7,000 crore including the long-pending acquisition of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers from theUSunder a Rs. 3,000-crore deal. The decision to go ahead with the procurement of 145 M777 howitzers from the US under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and several other items was taken at a meeting of the defence acquisition council (DAC) headed by defence minister AK Antony.
The DAC also cleared a proposal to procure over 65 radars for the L-70 air defence guns which will be worth over Rs. 3,000 crore, defence ministry sources told PTI here.
The projects approved by the DAC will now be put up before the finance ministry for clearance before they are taken up by the cabinet committee on Security (CCS) for final approval.
The Ultra Light Howitzers of 155 mm (39 caliber) were being acquired for deployment in high altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, the sources said, adding that this would be the first acquisition of howitzers by the Army in the last 26 years.
After the Bofors controversy in 1986, no new gun has been procured by the Army for its artillery.
The M777 guns, manufactured by the BAE Systems of theUS, can be airlifted easily and be used for quick deployment of assets in mountainous regions.
The go-ahead for procurement of these guns had been cleared by a high-level committee headed by DRDO chief VK Saraswat.
The other projects of the Army cleared by the DAC included procurement of simulators for T-90 tanks worth over Rs. 300 crore and 300 water tankers worth Rs. 90 crore.
The list of items cleared today by the defence ministry includes hardware for the artillery, armoured and the air defence arms of the Army.
Army chief gen VK Singh had raised questions about the preparedness of his force in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and mentioned all the above three arms which were facing critical shortage of equipment.
The DAC also cleared a proposal of the Navy to build a new cadet training ship worth Rs. 480 crore and a joint Air Force and Army proposal for 300 aerial targets worth Rs. 350 crore, the sources said.
BEML OVERSTATED TATRA TRUCK REVENUE, SAYS CAG
Defence public sector company BEML was on Thursday indicted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for overstating its revenue and profits from the sale of Tatra trucks.
The trucks have now run into a controversy with Army chief General V.K. Singh’s alleging that he was offered bribe to clear the procurement of these vehicles. The Tatra truck deal is now being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Overstatement of revenue due to incorrect recognition of sales in the accounts for the year ended 31 March, 2010, was commented upon earlier by CAG. This is the second year in a row that BEML has inflated its revenue on Tatra trucks.
“The company continued the incorrect practice in the year 2010-11 also and recognised sales of Rs.246.52 crore in respect of 306 Tatra vehicles based on offer of vehicles for inspection…. This resulted in overstatement of sales by Rs.246.52 crore and profit by Rs.25.31 crore,” CAG said in its report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
The government auditor stated that the amount was shown as Rs.244.89 crore in the notes of the accounts instead of Rs.246.52 crore. It said that the non-compliance was not reported in the Auditor’s Report though the attention was drawn to the same.
Indian armed forces have been procuring the Tatra trucks through BEML, which assembles them in its facilities here.
The Tatra trucks deal landed in controversy after the Army chief’s allegations prompted the Defence Ministry to recommend a CBI inquiry into their acquisition. Between 1986 and 2012,Indiahas procured nearly 6,500 vehicles from Tatra, out of which 2,950 were procured between 1999 to 2002 by the Army under special circumstances after the Kargil War and Operation Parakram.
NAVAL COMMANDERS CONFERENCE – 2012 CONCLUDES
“Incorporating Quantum Enhancement in Technology, Ranging from Nuclear Propulsion to Advanced Weapon Platforms and Networked Systems”: Admiral Nirmal Verma
The Naval Commander’s Conference was conducted atNew Delhifrom 08-10 May 12. The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri inaugurated the conference and complimented the Indian Navy on its all round performance.
The Naval Commander’s discussed several important issues during the conference, including Operational Readiness, Coastal Security, Infrastructure Development, Information & Cyber Security as also Foreign Cooperation initiatives.
The necessity for the Indian Navy to incorporate quantum enhancement in technology, ranging from nuclear propulsion to advanced weapon platforms and networked systems, was highlighted by the CNS, especially in view of the recent induction of INS Chakra, the impending arrival of INS Vikramaditya and the P8-I Long Range Maritime Surveillance aircraft.
The CNS expressed satisfaction at the modernisation and capability enhancement of the Indian Navy, which was proceeding as per the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan. The CNS highlighted the fact, that 4-5 major warships and submarines were likely to be commissioned every year over the next five years and that Naval Aviation was poised for major growth in the years ahead.
Considering the ongoing expansion programme of the Indian Navy, a new ‘Safety Organisation’ to enhance safe operations of ships, submarines and aircraft was also discussed.
As 2012 is being observed as the ‘Year of the Ex-Serviceman’, several measures for enhancing the welfare of naval veterans and their widows were discussed for implementation. These include ‘Pension Adalats’ across the country, especially in rural areas and strengthening the delivery of the Ex-servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
The CNS concluded the conference by complimenting all personnel of the Indian Navy for their professionalism and patriotism, and exhorted them to continue to meet the maritime security challenges being faced by the nation.
INDIA‘S REPLY TO CHINA’S ANTI-SATELLITE WEAPON
The Agni-V ICBM is definitelyIndia’s answer toChina’s anti-satellite weapon which it had tested in January 2007. TheUSresponded to the Chinese test by downing an unused satellite in 2008. In June 2010, theUSindicated that they would consider a new treaty for restrictions on space-based weapons.
“Today, we have developed all the building blocks for an anti-satellite (ASAT) capability,” scientific adviser to the defence minister and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Vijay Saraswat told media persons. The Agni-V test opened a new flank of vulnerability inIndia’s $12 billion (Rs.60,000 crore) space infrastructure.
Indiahas 10 satellites including the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) latest Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) 1. The satellite was launched on April 26 and has the capability to spy and identify one-metre wide objects from space.China’s alarming test spurredIndia’s quest for a similar satellite-killing system and the Agni-V gave way to that technology.
The rocket engines and the guidance system on the Agni-V can be modified & used to make it a potent satellite killer. The Agni-V ICBM scaled a height of 600 km before re-entering the atmosphere during the first test.
DRDO will field a full-fledged ASAT weapon based on Agni and ad-2 ballistic missile interceptor by 2014. The ASAT weapon will although not be publicly tested.
This was confirmed by Saraswat who says thatIndiawill not test this capability through the destruction of a satellite. Such a test risked showering lethal debris in space that could damage existing satellites. Instead,India’s ASAT capability would be fine-tuned through simulated electronic tests.
PLAN TO EQUIP AGNI-V WITH MULTIPLE WARHEADS
India’s most powerful missile which has a strike range of over 5,000 kms, is all set to get deadlier with plans from the DRDO to equip it with multiple warheads.
The organisation said that it will take time for them to develop multiple warheads for the missile but it will surely be done.
The technology is called ‘Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicle’ (MIRV) which means the missile would be capable of carrying multiple warheads to destroy several targets.
The MIVR will act as a ‘force multiplier’ on the Agni-V given the damage potential of such technology.
Such a capability exists only with a select few countries such as theUS,RussiaandChina.
The Agni-V is definitely a game changer missile. It has takenIndia’s missile technology to the highest level and matches with the best missile in the world.
MIRV missiles are equipped with small on-board rocket motors and computerised inertial guidance system which manoeuvres warheads to several different trajectories.
The government ofIndiahas not given the go ahead to develop missiles with 8000 km or even longer range, but if ordered to do so, the DRDO chief said that it can be done.
The successful test flight of Agni-V missile has givenIndiaall the necessary capability to design and develop missiles of longer ranges as well.
ARMY ANNOUNCES COURT OF ENQUIRY INTO OFFICERS-JAWANS SCUFFLE
SRINAGAR: The scuffle that broke out in 226-Fild Regiment deployed not far away from the Line of Actual Control (LoaC) in Nyoma (Ladakh) has led to minor injuries to at least four soldiers as three officers are reportedly missing. Army has already announced a court of inquiry into the incident and asserts the situation in under control.
Last night, reports said, a Major rank officer accused one of the sentry’s in a Nyoma garrison of misbehaving with his wife. He was allegedly beaten which infuriated soldiers. They rang up the regiment CO who reached the spot midnight.
The visit triggered another round of altercation, this time between the Major and his two other colleagues and CO. Finally it was a divide with the CO and soldiers on one side and the three officers on the other side. The three officers were reportedly beaten. Four soldiers were suffered injuries include CO Colonel Kadam. They were hospitalized.
The three officers were reported missing but the Northern Command spokesman Col Kalia said it is not correct. “Most of what is being printed with reference to this incident is not correct,” Colonel said from Udhampur. “Nobody is missing and an enquiry is gong on.”
Sources confirmed that though both the sides used sticks and rods, they did not use the service weapons in the entire episode. The soldiers were busy in firing practice and for a moment they did took over the control of the artillery, reports said.
“Had it happened, it would have been a catastrophe,” a civil administration officer who was apparently briefed by the police said from Leh. Nyoma remained busy for the whole day as convoys of cops and top army officers remained coming and going.
“It is not a case for us,” Syed Afadul Mujtaba, the DIG Police in whose jurisdiction Ladakh falls, told The ET. “Unless somebody comes with a complaint, we do not have a case.”
He said some details are out inDelhifrom the defence ministry but the state police are not privy to the happenings. Interestingly, his SSP Vivek Gupta was camping in the border area with a huge posse of his cops for the whole day. His visit to the area followed an OS from civil administration that the “soldier are protesting” and are “armed”.
Army has already announced a court of inquiry into the incident. The soldiers are being assured that the officers they have identified will be strictly dealt with.
DEFENCE LAND SCAM: CBI RAIDS OFFICES IN KASHMIR
SRINAGAR: The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) Friday sifted through vital records pertaining to the illegal sale of 200 acres of defence land nearSrinagarairport during its simultaneous raids on local Defence Estates office here and revenue office inCentral Kashmir’s Budgam district, CBI sources told Deccan Herald.
They said a six-member CBI team headed by DySP RP Sharma, who had landed inSrinagaron Wednesday, also raided residences of a few land brokers and defence estate personnel to gather evidence related to the scam.
The CBI sleuths have also laid hands on vital documents issued by the Defence Estates officials to clear ground for the sale of Rs 1500 crore land to private parties in the last four years, sources said and added that the land brokers were questioned for a few hours.
A senior police official said before raiding the residences of the land brokers and other offices, the CBI team had taken permission for search warrants from anti-corruption court inSrinagarand the raids were started from 11 am on Friday.
Ajay Chowdhary, a 1997-batch Defence Estates official who served inSrinagar, has been named by the CBI in the scam.
The army owned 2,700 acres of land, across Central Kashmir’s Budgam district andSouth Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The defence land is strategic with an airstrip. Most of the land has been bought by private owners, mainly influential locals.
Media reports quoted New Delhi-based CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra as saying, the raids were conducted to ‘collect evidence’’ after the agency registered a new case recently related to the defence land (inSrinagar) that was given “irregularly to private persons.”