Sources within the Indian Navy (IN) informed the media that the joint naval operation, conducted by both the Indian and South Korean navies will start from tomorrow onward, in the Korean port city ofBusan. An official with the Indian Embassy inSouth Koreasaid that the Indian naval fleet had reached Busan on May 29. The fleet is composed of two warships, the Soviet built Kashin class guided missile destroyer INS Rana, and the Shivalik class frigate INS Shivalik.
On May 29, a small South Korean delegation, including naval officers, seamen and schoolchildren greeted the Indian contingent in Busan. A number of senior officials from the ROKN, including Rear Admiral Kim Dong Sik, visited the vessels on May 30. The Indian diplomatic staff present during the ceremony termed the naval visit a major diplomatic move and claimed that measures like this will help to solidify and expand the military co-operation between the armed forces of bothIndiaandSouth Korea.
Rear Admiral P Ajith Kumar, who is leading the Indian delegation also held meetings with several high ranking Korean officials, including Hur Nam-sik, the incumbent mayor of Busan. Rear Admiral Kumar is the current commander of the IN’s Eastern Fleet. Vishnu Prakash, the Indian ambassador toSouth Koreaalso took part in many of the ceremonies and meetings held this week by the naval staff.
As a part of the diplomatic initiative, visits were arranged for the Korean public inside the Indian vessels. A large number of Korean civilians, including many children made use of the opportunity to get familiarized with the Indian naval vessel.
The Indian fleet is currently undertaking an extended journey across the South-east Asian and East Asian regions. The fleet has already visited ports inSingaporeandVietnam. After visitingSouth Korea, the vessels will be undertaking a journey toJapan, to take part in another joint naval operation there. Visits toChinaandMalaysiaare also scheduled after the Japanese program.
BEML TARGETS 23% GROWTH IN TURNOVER AT RS 5,000 CRORE IN FY13
CHENNAI/BANGALORE: Defence PSU BEML Limited is eyeing a growth of 23 per cent in its turnover, at Rs 5,000 crore during the present financial year (2012-13). The company achieved a turnover of Rs 4,077 crore during year-ended March 31, 2012.
V R S Natarajan, chairman and managing director, BEML, said the growth in turnover would come from mining and construction, rail and metro, defence and new areas like aerospace and dredging businesses.
“We will meet the Rs 5,000 crore turnover target two years ahead of target. As per our Corporate Plan-1, we had targeted a business of Rs 5,000 crore in 2014-15. Presently, we have an order book of Rs 7,066 crore, of which the executable orders are worth Rs 3,767 crore. The balance orders will be executed over the next year,” he told reporters.
He said the company has approved the Corporate Plan-2 prepared by the Indian Institute of Management,Bangalorerecently. As per the plan, the company aims to achieve a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore over the next six years by 2018-19.
“The business prospects of mining and construction, and rail and metro depicts a great promising future and even in defence, large proj-ects including wheeled guns, tracked guns, BMP-II among others in addition to aeros-pace will help us cross Rs 1,000 crore billing in the current year. We expect to reach around Rs 2,000 crore or more during the Corporate Plan-2 ending 2018-19,” Natarajan said.
In an effort to meet the future demand from aerospace and, rail and metro sectors, the company has expanded its manufacturing capacities at all its plants. It has set up a new hangar facility at Palakkad in Kerala at an investment of Rs 160 crore in a record five and a half months. It is presently in the process of setting up a new aerospace manufacturing plant at Devanahalli nearBangaloreInternationalAirportat an investment of Rs 455 crore, which will be completed in the next 3-4 months.
The second unit of rail coach in Kolar Gold Fields has started production with a target to produce 280 to 300 coaches per annum. In the next two to three years, the rail and metro business will be about Rs 3,000 crore, he said.
For the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2012, BEML reported a net loss of Rs 14 crore as compared to a net profit of Rs 70 crore for the corresponding quarter last year. The net sales of the company during the quarter declined by 17 per cent to Rs 774 crore as against Rs 933 crore reported in the same period last year.
However, during the quarter, the company reduced its operating loss by 51 per cent to Rs 20 crore as against an operating loss of Rs 41 crore in the fourth quarter of last fiscal.
The Board of Directors of the company has recommended a dividend of Rs 5 per share (50 per cent) on the paid-up share capital of the company for the year 2011-12.
Natarajan attributed the loss to sluggish industrial growth and non-materialisation of some orders. Its export order of about Rs 100 crore did not materialise during the fourth quarter. Besides, orders of about Rs 200 crore in mining, Rs 150 crore in Metro and Rs 80 crore in Defence sectors were held back, he said.
US TO EXPAND MILITARY PRESENCE IN ASIA-PACIFIC: LEON PANETTA
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT: TheUnited Statesplans to bolster its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region through alliances instead of new permanent bases, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
A new strategy focused on Asia will bring more troops to the region over the next decade and high-tech weapons designed to project American power, Panetta told reporters late Thursday on his way to a security summit inSingapore.
But the Pentagon’s plan to expand theUSmilitary footprint inSoutheast Asiaand beyond will be carried out in collaboration with allies and partners without the construction of new permanent outposts, he said.
“We’re implementing a very new strategy in this region. We’re moving away from the Cold War strategy where you build permanent bases and, you know, just basically impose our power on the region,” Panetta said.
Instead of setting up large bases, US military forces — including naval ships, aircraft and troops – will deploy on temporary assignments for joint exercises, training and operations, with partner countries granting access to ports, air fields and other facilities, he said.
“We’re moving towards a very innovative and creative relationship in which we develop these rotational deployments.”
WithWashingtongrappling with budget pressures, the approach carries a lower price tag than permanent bases and generates less political opposition in partner countries.
Panetta held up as an example the planned deployment of up to 2,500 Marines in northernAustraliaunder a new agreement.
TheUSdefense chief said he discussed how to carry out the Asia strategy during a visit Thursday toHawaii, where he met with the head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, who oversees forces across the region.
“We are testing that approach inAustralia. We’re working on developing the same kind of approach in thePhilippinesand elsewhere,” he said.
The Pentagon chief spoke at the outset of a tour ofAsiain which he said he will seek “to define the new defense strategy for the region.”
“We have a strong presence now in the Pacific but we’ll continue to strengthen that presence over the next five to ten years,” he said.
“When you look at the proportion of forces that we have in the world, I think it’s fair to say a higher percentage, a higher proportion of those forces is going to wind up in the Pacific.”
Recognizing the economic importance of the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, President Barack Obama announced the shift towards Asia in January, a move seen as a counterweight toChina’s growing economic and military might.
PAKISTAN DEFENCE BUDGET GOES UP BY 10 PER CENT
ISLAMABAD:Pakistantoday hiked its defence budget for fiscal 2012-13 by nearly 10 per cent to Rs 545 billion.
Official budget documents presented in Parliament said a sum of Rs 545 billion (about USD 5.82) had been allocated for the defence services, compared with Rs 495 billion provided in the fiscal year ending on June 30.
Further details, including allocations for the three services and weapons acquisition programmes, were not immediately available.
The budget documents further stated that the actual expenditure on defence during fiscal 2011-12 was Rs 509.32 billion (about USD 5.45 billion), or Rs 14.32 billion more than the allocation of Rs 495 billion.
The allocation for defence amounted to 18.4 per cent of the federal budget of Rs 2,960 billion for fiscal 2012-13.
ThePakistangovernment has traditionally made defence allocations with the objective of maintaining conventional parity withIndia.
However, a crippling financial crunch has forced the government to balance military spending and expenditure on development and welfare programmes.
Expenses on the war on terrorism and cuts in defence aid by theUStoo have affectedPakistan’s defence budget.
However, experts have said that the government often allocates funds for the military’s special programmes and the nuclear weapons programme that are not reflected as part of the outlay for defence.
US OPEN TO DEFENCE TIES WITH MYANMAR: LEON PANETTA
SINGAPORE: TheUnited Stateswould be open to forging ties withMyanmar’s military if the country continues on a path of democratic reform,USdefense secretary Leon Panetta said Saturday.
“Obviously we encourage the reforms that they are hoping to put in place,” Panetta told delegates at an Asia security summit inSingapore, the Shangri-La Dialogue.
“As you know the state department has taken steps to relieve some of the sanctions that have been placed onMyanmarand try to encourage them again to move in the right direction,” he told representatives from 27 countries at the event, organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
“I think part and parcel of that, assuming that they are able to implement reforms and to continue the kind of political efforts at opening up their system, that a part and parcel of that would be discussions with regards to how we can improve our defence relationship with their country as well.”
AfterMyanmarcarried out political reforms and freed democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, international sanctions have been eased on the government.
InBangkok, Suu Kyi on Friday urged “healthy scepticism” overMyanmar’s dramatic reforms, saying only the rule of law could cement recent political progress.
INDIA TEST-FIRES AIR FORCE VERSION OF AKASH
Indiaon Friday successfully test fired its two indigenously-developed surface-to-air ‘Akash’ missiles of Air Force version with a strike range of 25 km from theIntegratedTestRangeat Chandipur.
“Two Air Force version Akash missiles were test-fired from the ITR in quick succession. Both the trials were successful and met all the mission objectives,” The Hindu quoted ITR Director M V K V Prasad as saying.
The anti-aircraft missiles, with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying warhead of 60 kgs, were test fired from a mobile launcher at launch complex-III of the ITR.
The trial, which formed part of the country’s routine air defence exercises, was conducted at around noon, said an official of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) associated with the Akash missile project.
To re-validate the technology and operational efficacy of the missile, defence forces conducted the trial with logistic support provided by the ITR, the official said. The Akash weapon system, which has its Army version too, was inducted into the armed forces in 2008.
India’s Friday test-fire came afterPakistan’s indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile, Hatf-VIII (Ra’ad) test on May 31.
BEML THREATENS TO SUE RETIRED ARMY CHIEF SINGH
BANGALORE: BEML Ltd will issue a legal notice to former Army chief General V K Singh, seeking an apology for the allegations he levelled against the city-based defence public sector unit.
“We have consulted legal experts and decided to issue a notice to Singh. If he fails to respond to our notice or submit a public apology, then we will file a defamation suit against him for making derogatory remarks about the quality of Tatra trucks we supplied to the Army and making false claims on their price,” BEML chairman and managing director V R S Natarajan told reporters. This came a day after Singh retired as the Army chief.
Refuting the charges levelled by Singh, Natarajan said BEML had no role in the alleged Rs 14-crore bribe offer made to Singh by ‘somebody’ for clearing the order to sell additional 600 Tatra trucks to the Army.
“We emphatically refute all the charges made by the ‘great’ General against the company and the Tatra trucks the company has been supplying to the Army since 1986. At no point of time, the Army had earlier complained about the quality of the trucks and their operational functions,” Natarajan told reporters.
Accusing Singh of making false, motivated and damaging statements against the company at the fag end of his long service, Natarajan said the supply of Tatra trucks to the Army was in conformity with the procedures laid down by the defence ministry.
“It is unfortunate that the great Singh, holding the position of the Chief of Army Staff of this great country, made a shocking and false statement on the price and quality of Tatra trucks we have been supplying to the Army since the nineties,” Natarajan said. Singh had recently claimed Tatra trucks sold to the Army were not only grossly overpriced, but also sub-standard in terms of quality and operation. He had said the Tatra truck was priced at Rs 28 lakh in Czech, but when brought and sold inIndia, its price trebled to Rs 73 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Natarajan said the entire deal was executed with due diligence through the defence ministry.
Natarajan defended the delay in initiating the process for defamation against Singh, saying the company had to go through the process of seeking legal advice and then placing it before the board for approval. He said BEML had not received a single letter that Tatra vehicles were sub-standard, obsolete or overpriced.