Fifteen new Russian-made MiG-29K fighter jets have been inducted for Indian Navy carrier-borne operations, Indian Defence Minister, A.K. Antony told the country’s Parliament. These aircraft will operate from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly called the Admiral Gorshkov when in Russian service, which is planned for induction in December.
Antonyalso said a contract has been concluded to acquire an additional 29 MiG-29Ks to strengthen the air combat capability of the Navy.
Indiaplaced an order for 16 MiG-29Ks for $650 million in 2004 to be used on the Russian-made Vikramaditya. A repeat order for $1.5 billion was placed in early 2010 to purchase the 29 additional MiG-29Ks. The Vikramaditya is undergoing a refit inRussia
A trainer version of the MiG-29K, which was part of the aircraft carrier deal, crashed June 23, 2011, in southern Russia, killing its two-member crew. Although no details are known of the probe into the crash. the finalization of the contract for additional MiG-29Ks suggests Indian officials are satisfied with the aircraft, said an Indian Defence Ministry official.
KEY INDO-US ARMS DEALS ON PANETTA MENU
NEW DELHI:Indiais ready to seal more arms agreements and further boost defence cooperation with theUSbut remains unwilling to ink the foundational military pacts which are being pushed byWashingtonfor years.
This, in essence, is the message US defence secretary Leon Panetta will get when he comes visiting here next month. Panetta, who will hold talks with PM Manmohan Singh, defence minister A K Antony and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon among others, is slated to be in New Delhi on June 6.
“China,PakistanandAfghanistanwill also figure in the discussions,” said a senior official. India has made it clear in the past that it’s not ready to ink the logistics support agreement, communication interoperability and security memorandum agreement and basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geo-spatial cooperation with the US.
There is, however, movement forward in two major defence deals. One, the defence ministry recently cleared the acquisition of 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers for the artillery from theUSin a direct government-to-government deal worth $647 million under the foreign military sales programme.
Two, Boeing is now on course to bag the $1.4 billion contract to supply 22 missilearmed helicopter gunships to the IAF after its AH-64 D Apache Longbow outperformed Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant’s Mi-28 N ‘Night Hunter’ in the field trials, as reported by TOI earlier.
Despite having lost out in the almost $20-billion project to provide 126 medium multirole combat aircraft to the air force, theUShas already notched up sales worth over $8 billion over the past decade.
These include big-ticket ones like $4.1 billion for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft, $2.1 billion for eight P-8 I maritime patrol aircraft and $962 million for six C-130 J ‘Super Hercules’ planes. Negotiations are now being finalized for acquiring six more C-130 J as well as four more P-8 I aircraft.
ARMY AVIATION WELL TRAINED TO FIGHT ODDS, SAYS LT GEN NATH
MUMBAI/NASHIK: Lt Gen K Surendra Nath of Combat Army Training Aviation School (CATS) on Friday said Army aviation is the lifeline of Army in difficult working conditions of border and North-East areas, but their training was outstanding and helped them combat all odds.
Congratulating the batch of 30 Army aviators of serial 17, who passed out from the school on Friday, Lt Gen Nath, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, GOC-in-C ARTRAC, told young aviators that their flying skills would always be tested in their career and they should discharge their duty with precision and sincerity.
He presented all the 30 officers with Army aviation wings. On the occasion, Army officers and pilots demonstrated their techniques of facing enemies in battle fields, carrying of gun and dropping of soldiers.
During the 17-week course at CATS, the officers are put through rigorous trainingand are tested progressively in flying and aviation subjects. At the end of training, the officers who stand out to are awarded trophies to acknowledge their achievements.
The ‘Cheetah’, ‘Chetak’ and ‘Dhruv’ helicopters took part in an air show carried out by the aviators of army aviation base at Nashik.
INDIA-MADE SECURITY SYSTEM FOR NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
HYDERABAD: In a technological development, public sector Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) has brought to the market anIndiamade, third generation, Programmable Logic Controller. It will help in ensuring security of national infrastructure and find applications across various industrial sectors.
Unveiling the product, Dr Anil Kakodkar, member, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), said “We need to build certain degree of protectionism for indigenous technology and products”. Several advanced countries do it for their national interest.
He made this remark in the context of the staggering import bill in electronics sector, that was close to surpassing the oil import bill. While oil imports are a concern on energy security, this huge import is a issue as far as security of Indian cyber space is concerned, Dr Kakodkar said.
Indianeeds to ponder seriously over the ICT needs of strategically important domains. It is a question of huge investments, human capability building and developing indigenous technology.
“We cannot have short-term myopic economic logic ignoring national security issues,” Dr Kakodkar said, while talking to newspersons.
The Chairman and Managing Director of ECIL, Mr Y.S. Mayya, said key differentiators of the PLC compared to imported ones where it is home-grown are lower power consumption, contemporary design, lot of safety features, built in obsolescence management and life time support guarantee.
“With safety and security as priority we have developed and launched the PLC. We will come up with micro versions soon. Even standard programming languages can be used and the nationwide network of servers of ECIL can deploy it,” he said.
The PLC market is dominated by international players. Most of these product are not amenable to Indian security systems. In the present network systems any security breach can be disastrous.
The indigenous, ECIL version assumes significance in this context. PLCs will be targeted for use in the strategic sectors to begin with. They also find application from dairies to nuclear reactors, roads to railways, process plants and across a wide range of industries that are automated.
JINXED NALANDA ORDNANCE FACTORY TO GET OPERATIONAL BY JULY END
Finally a big boost towards achieving self-reliance in artillery ammunition, the jinxed Nalanda Ordnance Factory that got delayed by 13 years owing to the blacklisting of two foreign vendors will be operational by July end without any foreign collaborator.
The 13 year delay has resulted in cost overrun of Rs. 628.87 crore. After two of successive foreign firms – South African Denel and Israeli Munitions Industries (IMI) – got banned following corruption charges, the Ordnance Factory Board decided to go ahead alone to set up the factory will five units to manufacture the ammunition for 155 mm Bofors artillery guns in service with the Indian Army.
“After IMI got blacklisted in 2009, the situation was precarious for us. We decided to set up the plant on the basis of the technology procured from Denel in 2002 to produce the Bi-modular charge system (BMCS),” sources said.
The present plant will be able to churn out right lakh rounds per year. However, the Army has also projected an increase in its requirements in the future to 16 lakh rounds per annum in view of a massive artillery modernization programme envisaged by the force. Keeping this in mind approval has come up for setting up another plant in the vicinity to double the capacity of the factory.
It was in 1999 when George Fernandes was the defence minister that the sanction was given for setting up the ammunition factory in Nalanda,Biharkeeping in mind the need of two lakh rounds of ammunition required by the Army annually to keep its 155mm artillery guns booming.
The Defence Ministry signed contract with Denel in 2002 to procure 4 lakh rounds of ammunition that envisaged transfer of technology for indigenous production of the propellant at a license fee of Rs.68.44 crore. By the time Denel was banned in 2005, the documents for transfer of technology were supplied and payment was made.
The Defence Ministry then concluded a contract for this BMCS plant with IMI in March 2009 at a total cost of Rs 1175 crore. It had also paid an advance of Rs. 174 crore. However, the company got under scanner for allegedly giving kickbacks to Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief and the project again got stalled.
CHINA DEVELOPING INTERNET FOR OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS: PENTAGON
WASHINGTON:Chinais improving its capacity for operations in cyberspace and developing capabilities to use Internet for offensive operations, the Pentagon said on Friday.
“Chinais investing in not only capabilities to better defend their networks but also they’re looking at ways to use cyber for offensive operations,” Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence forEast Asiaand Asia Pacific Security Affairs David Helvey told reporters.
Halvey saidChinais engaging in cyber activity focused on computer network exploitation.
“That continues to be a concern of ours, and we’ve raised it and we’ve talked to the Chinese about it, most recently during the Strategic Security Dialogue inBeijing,” he said.
Noting that this is being raised at the highest level, Halvey said this is something that theUScontinues to pay very careful attention to.
“It’s something that seems to be sustained, and I think their continued efforts in this area reflect the importance that they’re placing on developing capabilities for cyber warfare,” he said in response to a question.
“We continue to seeChinaexpressing interest in making investments to improve their capacity for operations in cyberspace, and that is something that we pay very, very careful attention to. There is the potential for these types of operations to be very disruptive, disruptive not only in a conflict, could be very disruptive to theUnited States, but other countries as well.
“I mean, that’s one of the things about military operations in cyberspace, that there can be cascading effects that are hard to predict,” Halvey said.
“We do have concerns about this, and this is why we’ve created joint military and civilian platforms, like the Strategic Security Dialogue, to be able to talk about issues that we view as having potential for friction in the US-China relationship. Cyber is one of those areas. We’d also be like to be able to talk toChinaabout space and nuclear and missile defense areas as well as part of the Strategic Security Dialogue,” he said.
The Pentagon official saidChinais investing in a range of layered capabilities that start with, undersea warfare, so investments in submarines and advanced surface combatants, advances in their capabilities for integrated air defense or to conduct precision conventional strikes at great distances fromChina.
“We have concerns because these types of capabilities could, if they’re employed, in ways affect the ability of our forces or other forces in the region to be able to operate in the Western Pacific. So we highlight that as something that we’re paying very, very careful attention to. And it was something that was raised in the context of a broader global concern that we have about anti-access/area denial capabilities in the January defense strategic guidance,” he said.
Halvey saidChinais interested in developing unmanned air systems, and they have in the past acquired a number of different types of UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, both from foreign sources — they have Israeli-made Harpy UAVs, and they also have some domestic variants of UAVs.
“We are paying very careful attention toChina’s military modernization. But we’ve been surprised in the past, and we may very well be surprised in terms of seeing new weapons and equipment in the future. Part of this report and part of what the many, many professionals in the intelligence community do is to try to minimize the extent to which we are surprised by that,” he said.
Halvey saidChinahas now greater capacity and capability to operate at distances fromChina, that it has a responsibility also to uphold international norms and rules and to support the international community’s interest in peace and stability.
“So we see opportunities to work with them there, and we’d like to continue doing those things that we have done, like counter piracy, for example, and expand those areas where we can cooperate,” he said.
ARMY CHIEF SINGH TO GET FAREWELL BY SOUTHERN COMMAND TODAY
The handing over of office by Gen V K Singh to Lt Gen Bikram Singh marks a generational shift in leadership.
Army Chief General V K Singh, Army Chief Designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh, along with Army Commanders of the Indian Army, visited the National Defence Academy (NDA) on Thursday. The chief and the chief-to-be posed together for a group photograph in front of the Sudan Block. Both the officers are alumni of the NDA.
The handing over of office by Gen V K Singh to Lt Gen Bikram Singh, currently the Army Commander of Kolkata- based Eastern Command, marks a generational shift in the leadership given that Gen V K Singh is the last chief to have been commissioned into the Army prior to the 1971 War of Liberation of Bangladesh. Lt Gen Bikram Singh on the other hand was commissioned in 1972.
It was a unique gathering where besides General Singh, nine serving Lt Generals – Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen S K Singh, Adjutant General Lt Gen JP Nehra besides Army Commanders- Lt Gen AK Singh, Southern Army Commander, Lt Gen K T Parnaik, Northern Army commander, Lt Gen K Surendranath, Army Commander, ARTRAC, Lt Gen Gyan Bhushan, South Western Army Commander, Lt Gen Anil Chait, Central Army Commander along with Army Chief designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh, Eastern Army Commander and Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, NDA Commandant – came together. It was a visit to the alma mater for five of the general officers. Western Army Commander Lt Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh, also an NDA alumnus, could not attend the conference.
The last time such a unique delegation from the forces visited the Academy was in November 2010 when Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma and Army Chief General V K Singh together visited the Hunter Squadron at the Academy.
The high-profile delegation arrived at the NDA at about 9.30 am. General V K Singh inaugurated the meeting of the 47th Investment Advisery Committee (IAC) of the Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF) at the NDA. The meeting was attended by distinguished personalities from the field of economics, industry, finance and management who provide expert advice in an honorary capacity on AGIF investments and fund management.
The Army Chief is on a two-day visit to the city and will attend a farewell by the Southern Command on Friday. He is also slated to review the Passing-out-Parade of the NDA on May 30 – a day prior to his relieving the office of the Chief of Army Staff. The NDA PoP which takes place on May 31 every year has reportedly been advanced by a day citing the same reason.
ANTONY LONGEST AT HELM OF DEFENCE MINISTER AT A STRETCH
NEW DELHI: AKAntony, earlier this week, became the longest serving Defence Minister of the country in a continuous stint. He assumed charge of the Defence Ministry in 2006 from Pranab Mukherjee, who helmed it for two years.
However, the longest-serving Defence Minister was Jagjiwan Ram who served a stint from 1970 to 1974 and then from 1977 to 1979. He was at the helm of affairs whenIndiadecisively won the war againstPakistanin 1971.
Other Defence Ministers, who served for five or more years, include Baldev Singh, the first Defence Minister after independence, who served from 1947 to 1952. The other long-serving Defence Minister was VK Krishna Menon who served from 1957 to 1962.
Antonyhad a smooth ride for five years but the last year was rather rough after Army chief General VK Singh went to Supreme Court regarding his date of birth issue. His letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March about shortage of critical weapons and systems thereby affecting operational preparedness created a storm in Parliament.
During the debate on the working of the Defence Ministry earlier this month in the Rajya Sabha, members praised the Minister for his clean image and integrity. However, he had become a prisoner of his own image and was not taking decisions to speed up procurement was the common refrain.
ARMY INDICATES DROP IN INFILTRATION IN J&K
General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based XV Corps, Lt General Syed Atta Hasnain, has said that security forces have been successful in foiling infiltration attempts by militants across the Line of Control (LOC).
“We have had only one contact, on operation on the line of control (LoC). Besides that I cannot guarantee you that infiltration is not taking place, possibly some infiltration has taken place. Our grid on the LoC it is always porous, it can never be hundred percent certain some infiltration must have taken place but I think we have been very successful in limiting it,” he General Hasnain told media here.
“I think inKashmirthe threat of infiltration actually increases around about mid- June to July and that is the time we should be looking for,” he added.
He also hailed the scheduled visit of Home Secretary R K Singh toPakistan.
“In my view bothIndiaandPakistanare now moving towards greater economic cooperation and the visit by Home Secretary (toPakistan) is a precursor to that development,” he said.
” Whenever he goes toPakistanto engage in bilateral talks, he would be in a better position to talk and carry forward the process of dialogue,” he added.
Asserting that the onus to end militancy lies with the people ofKashmir, Gen. Hasnain said: “I am a positive man, very positive mandate person. I am quite certain that in times to come it will not be Army, not the police who will end militancy; it is the people ofKashmirwho will end militancy.”