INDIA DEFENCE NEWS -- MARCH 2007
08 April 2007
(Wherever individual credits are not mentioned, the news has been compiled from MOD press releases and news stories which appeared in the Indian/foreign media.)
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Several interesting happenings during the last few weeks and we review them for posterity! All other stories posted are of happenings in the recent past.
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major took over as the New Chief of Indian Air Force from Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi today, who retires after 43 years of illustrious service.
In his message to the IAF, Air Chief Marshal FH Major said “it must be remembered that in our march of progress, we must remain in line with National goals & in concert with the other Services”. He also urged the air warriors that “we must work towards transforming the IAF into an aerospace force, for its is only through the employment of space based applications that we can be more effective beyond our shores”.
Air Chief Marshal Major further said “hardware gives us the capabilities, but it is the people that can give us the ‘winning edge’. I urge all, to do their duty, pursue excellence………….”
Born on May 29, 1947, Air Chief Marshal Major was commissioned into the Air Force on December 31, 1967 as a helicopter pilot. During his long and distinguished service spanning little over 39 years, he has worked in a variety of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. He has the distinction of having 7765 hours of flying experience to his credit. He commanded a helicopter unit, which took part in operations in Siachen (world's highest battlefield) and commanded a Mi-17 squadron during the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, for which he was decorated with the Vayu Sena Medal(Gallantry).
Air Chief Marshal Major was awarded Shaurya Chakra for undertaking a very dangerous and exacting rescue mission on October 14, 1992 at Timber Trail in Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh, where he along with his crew, winched eleven stranded tourists out from a cable car, by hovering precariously close to the set of cables that ran above it.
Besides being a Fellow of the National Defence College, New Delhi, and the Army War College, Mhow, he attended a variety of courses like Junior Commanders' Course, Jungle and Snow Survival Course and Higher Command Courses. He had the distinction of overseeing tri-Service operations including the Tsunami operations, during his tenure as Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations) at HQ IDS. He was appointed as AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command in September 2005, where the Indo-US Joint Air Exercises at Kalaikunda in 2005 were successfully conducted under his leadership.
He was awarded Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) in January 2006 and Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) in January 2002. He is one of the Honorary ADCs of the Supreme Commander.
Air Chief Marshal Major is married to Zareen and has a son and a daughter.
02 Apr 2007
The Vice, Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS), Lieutenant General Deepak Kapoor, will be proceeding on an official visit to Ghana from 02 Apr to 04 Apr 2007. This will be the first ever visit of a high-ranking Indian Army official to Ghana. The visit also assumes special significance in the light of Ghana celebrating Golden Jubilee of its independence in 2007.
Indo-Ghanaian relations have traditionally been warm and friendly. Similarities in colonial struggle, ethnic diversity and geo-political situations have created affinity and mutual goodwill between the two countries. Both the countries have worked together on issues of common interest such as restructuring of UN, fight against apartheid, decolonization, disarmament, human rights, refugee problems, international peace, environment and multilateral economic issues affecting developing countries. Both countries are actively contributing in United Nations Peace Keeping missions. A large number of Ghanaian Armed Forces personnel have been trained in our training establishments.
During the visit, the VCOAS will be meeting the President, Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of the Army Staff and other important dignitaries of Ghana. He would also be visiting the Kofi Anan International Peace Keeping Training Centre, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College and other important establishments of Ghana Defence Forces.
The VCOAS would also be discussing issues of mutual concerns to include cooperation in field of training, share and gain from Peace Keeping experiences and cooperation in the field of other areas of mutual interest.
Indian Naval ships, which are on an overseas deployment to Southeast and Fareast Asia, received distress call from Shipping Corporation of India Ship 'MV Maharashtra' while on transit from Singapore to Japan. The beleaguered ship, in position 270 nautical miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh city, was on passage from Tianjin, China to Bander Imam Khomeini in Iran and was without any power supply due to failure of her Main Diesel Alternators. Attempts by the crew of the merchant vessel to restore the power supply were unsuccessful.
On receipt on distress message, INS Rana was promptly despatched to provide necessary assistance to the vessel at 0700 h (Indian Standard Time) today morning.
The ship reached the area at 0830 h (Indian Standard Time) and a technical team comprising 10 naval personnel were transferred by helicopter and boat to the merchant vessel for rendering assistance. The Naval team quickly rectified the diesel alternators enabling restoration of power supply on board the merchant ship. During the defect rectification, it was also observed that the fuel tanks supplying the diesel fuel to the alternators were contaminated. Supply of fresh fuel was essential to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
In an unprecedented operation at sea for which the warships are not designed, INS Rana went along side the stricken merchant ship and supplied 10 tons of fuel to enable 'MV Maharashtra' to continue on her passage.
A special Sainik Sammelan was held at Delhi Cantt today, prior to the departure of the Indian Army Contingents for deployment on United Nations Missions.
The Indian Logistics Company of 182 personnel comprising of 17 HORSE and personnel of the Corps of Engineers, Signals, Electronics and Mechanical Engineer’s, Army Medical Corps, Corps of Military Police and Army Postal Service are proceeding to Golan Heights for deployment as a Logistics Company of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
67 Personnel of INDBATT-IX are also proceeding on a United Nations Mission to Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The Special Sainik Sammelan was addressed by Col Vijay Singh, SM, Dir SD-3, Integrated HQ of MOD (Army) today.
After all the hoopla about an insipid and non growth oriented Budget 2007-2008 presented by the FM, a hard look at the Defence Budget was called for. Most of the media including the foreign press made much of a Rs10,000 crores increase for fiscal 2007–08 over the revised estimates for 2006–07 which were Rs 86,000 crores. But a cold hard look revealed that allowing for inflation at 6.5% plus, there was hardly a substantial increase in the defence budget for the coming year.
In fact the comparative HT graphics of India’s defence spending between last year and the present budget actually showed that we would use less of the rupee for defence in 2007-08 as compared to last year!
Of the above allocation Army will get Rs. 34086, Airforce Rs. 10193, Navy Rs. 6968 and Defence Research Development Organization will receive Rs. 3186.
India’s defence spending is constant at approx 2.5% of GDP whereas both China and Pakistan spend 5% or more. India’s armed forces and defence analysts would like to see an increase in the defence expenditure to 3% of GDP at least, to counter the mounting threats in the neighbourhood especially from Pakistan which is merrily acquiring F16s and JF17s & J10 fighter aircraft from USA and China respectively as also going ahead with its nuclear weapons programme.
Although the figures show an increase of Rs 10,000 crores, (approx 6% after allowing for inflation) most of it would have to go towards payments to already committed projects which the FM had inherited from his predecessor. These include stage or down payments for aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (being refitted in Russia at a cost of $670m), at least 20 MiG 29K fighters for the carrier ($1 billion?); 66 Hawk jet trainers from UK; six Scorpene submarines from France ($700m) Phalcon EW System from Israel ($1 billion?) and funding for the ATV and LCA lines.
Interestingly the ratio between Revenue and Capital expenditure whch was 60:40 in the revised estimates has changed to 56.33:43.66. The armed forces especially the Army will not be very happy at the reduced percentage for Revenue expenses as upgradation is required across the board and not just for acquiring new weapons. The Army also required a massive upgradation of its Artillery might and proposals from Israel, South Africa and Sweden were under consideration. The cost of providing approx 1500 state of art artillery pieces may be upward of $3 billion.
India-watchers in the Chinese government and industry aren't worried about the 8% hike in defence outlay.
But what disappoints them is the lack of specific policy measures to encourage foreign investment in different sectors, including infrastructure.
"India is a vast country. It has a right to spend sufficient amount of money on defence," said Ma Jiali of the government-funded think-tank, the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
But he would have been happy to see a policy statement on foreign investment. This is in line with Beijing's push to increase trade and play down security.
But that's not how some of the cold warriors in the Delhi establishment see it, raising the security bogey every time there's a demand for opening trade (border or otherwise) with China.
"Foreign investors should get incentives as we have done in China. I also hope obstacles facing Chinese investment are sorted out. The so-called security issues should not come in the way of genuine investments from China,"Ma said referring to the government's decision to block a Chinese investment in ports.
Chinese industry representatives said they expected some lowering of import duties and a policy statement on the vexed issue of visas.
They argued that lowering of duties on certain parts would not hurt Indian industry. But it would help foreign companies set up assembling plants in India.
"We would not threaten India's economic security as we are in the television and home appliances business. We expect to be treated with par with any Indian company on different fronts. A policy statement on this issue would reassure us and also benefit India,"said Perry Hon, a director with TCL, China's largest TV maker.
"Chinese companies find it difficult to set up units in India as there is total uncertainty on whether they will
get visas to sent their own staff,"a source with the China Enterprise Directors' Association said.
However, there was good news for Chinese suppliers. FM's announcement of tax holidays to new two-, three- and five-star hotels would give a boost to the hotel equipment supply business in China, industry sources said.
"A lot of hotel equipment is sourced by Indian companies out of China. Tax holidays would create a boom in investment in hotel industry," said Mehernosh Pastakia, a Beijing hotelier who supplies equipment to India.
Indian businessmen living in Hong Kong are peeved about lack of proposals for attracting investment from non-resident Indians.
"The finance minister did not touch capital gains tax on market investments made from Mauritius. The uncertainty of this front will continue and this does not help business. We also expected incentives for property acquisition by NRIs," said M Arunachalam, ex-president of Hong Kong's Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Indian Government News | Feb 28, 2007
Utilising some of its newly inducted assets like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), airborne early warning helicopters and cutting edge missiles, the Indian Navy has validated its new warfare doctrine during an exercise conducted off the country's west coast.
The just-concluded TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercises) 2007, the navy's largest annual exercise, commenced on 30th Jan and saw the participation of all the force's major combatants, as also significant elements from the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Coast Guard.
"The thrust of this year's edition was to validate the concept of 'Maritime Manoeuvre from the Sea' that is designed to ensure that in a short, swift and intense conflict, the navy is able to directly address and favourably influence the progress and outcome of the air-land battle," a navy spokesman said.
Toward this end, the recently acquired Israeli UAVs, Kamov-31 AEW helicopters, and state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile-systems like the Barak, Shtil, and Kashmir, as also land-attack missiles, "all of which represent major accretions in the navy's capabilities", were also deployed, he added.
Several new operational concepts that had earlier been "war gamed" as part of a series of tabletop exercises were played out at sea and valuable lessons learnt.
"These lessons will now be fed back into the navy's analysis organisations and will, thereafter, be utilised to refine operational doctrines," the spokesman said.
Principal among these concepts were those relating to "jointmanship" that seeks to enhance the efficacy of operations planned and executed jointly by operational commanders of the four services.
"Significantly higher levels of coordination were achieved during TROPEX-2007", which was also witnessed by senior representatives from the defence and shipping ministries, the spokesman said.
"Overall, the exercise provided tremendous training value through the testing of human and material endurance, the execution of organisational and logistics plans, and, finally, delivering the punch in a mock battle.
"Activities such as the activation of the country's coastal defence organisation, naval control of merchant shipping, and the chartering of merchant ships to augment the logistics train at sea were also comprehensively exercised to assess the effectiveness of the navy's plans," the spokesman said.
Urgent need to modernise IAF highlighted
New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) There is urgent need to modernise the Indian Air Force (IAF) to transform it into a trans-continental entity capable of safeguarding the economic and strategic interests of the nation, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said Monday.
In this context, he noted that the IAF's current practise of bilateral and multilateral air exercises with nations around the globe was meant to enhance its exposure, exhibit its capabilities and lead to a better understanding of coordinated effort in the world.
'There is urgent need to get interdependent to meet the scourge of terrorism and the rising demand of global security and peace-keeping efforts,' he said while delivering the Air Chief Marshall P.C. Lal Memorial lecture on 'Status and Strategy: Future of Aerospace in India' here.
According to Raju, the parallel utilisation of the private sector's capabilities for strengthening India's defence sector also needs sustained nurturing and encouragement.
The minister also agreed with the need for an Aerospace Command, mooted three years ago by the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi.
Noting that many defence operations relied on space-based sensors, he said an Aerospace Command would certainly help the forces in better surveillance, reconnaissance and tracking.
He also pointed out that India had been playing an active role in discussions on the cooperative use of outer space through deployment of space-based disaster management capabilities and said India could play a key role in collaborative structures to tackle threats to the well being of a nation.
The minister was of the opinion that with the nature of warfare changing more rapidly in the last 15 years than in the previous 150, aerospace power had come to occupy a dominant position.
Referring to India's aeronautical manufacturing capabilities, Raju said the need of the hour was for better and more focused efforts of project management to be able to deliver to the functional satisfaction of the defence forces.
'Strict discipline has to be maintained in adhering to deadlines with better coordination with the users, namely the armed forces,' he added.
Aerospace Command –– All Armed Forces Will Be Involved –– Air Chief
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 12 (ANI): Indian Air Force (IAF) chief S.P. Tyagi on Monday said all the three services of the armed force-air force, army and navy-- would be part of the proposed aerospace command. "You must understand that there will be several agencies which will exploit the medium of space for reconnaissance, for many other things. So, protection should be Air Force's responsibility but exploitation of space assets should be a combined responsibility," Tyagi told reporters here today. "And therefore, the three services have decided that as and when the Aero Space Command comes through, it will be tri-service Command, all three will be involved," he added. India early this year announced it would set up an aerospace defence command to shield itself against possible attacks from outer space. The IAF would try and replicate the North American Aerospace Defence Command set up by the United States and Canada, which detects and tracks threatening man-made objects in outer space. The Indian command's charter will also include ensuring air sovereignty and air defence. He went on to say that the IAF would induct 80 new helicopters into the force by 2008. "I think sometimes in 2008, we can start to expect induction of 80 new helicopters, along with some fighter aircraft this year. Also we are about to sign a contract for 40 additional Sukhoi-30 aircrafts. So they will start arriving this year," he said. IAF has issued a global tender for 126 new fighters to upgrade its combat fleet, which includes ageing Russian MiG-21s and British Jaguars. (ANI)
'Indian Air force (IAF) is playing a major role in protecting the country's interests outside its borders and the Southern Air Command would be in the forefront in achieving this task. The Sulur and Thanjavur bases (in Tamil Nadu) under Southern Air Command would be expanded soon and Sulur would be developed to make it as a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) base,' said the Chief of the Air Staff, who is on a farewell visit here before he retires from service.
Tyagi said the IAF was in touch with the civil authorities to acquire some land in Thiruvananthapuram so that it could utilise the airfield for its operational purposes.
Presently, 19 IAF airfields are being used by the civil authorities.
Talking about the proposed Aerospace Command, he said that it would be a tri-services command and several agencies related to space would be part of this command.
Regarding the location of the proposed command, he said it was still being debated.
With regard to the expansion of the IAF fleet, Tyagi said 66 new Hawk aircraft from Britain are expected shortly. Of these, 24 would be directly acquired from Britain while the rest would be manufactured in the country.
'Three Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) would be acquired by the end of this year or maybe by early next year as well as 80 new helicopters by the year 2008. The IAF is in the process of signing a contract for 40 additional Sukhoi aircraft. The indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) would also be inducted by the year 2009-2010,' said Tyagi.
Terming his experience in the IAF as the most satisfying, he said that he was proud of being part of one of the oldest air forces in the world. Tyagi retires this month after a career of more than 43 years.
Indian Aviation Contingent to Democratic Republic of Congo (Rotation III)
The IAF Aviation Contingent II to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled to depart on 18th Mar 07 from Air Force Station New Delhi. The IAF Contingent in IAC II is led by Gp Capt Alok Kumar and comprises 280 personnel. For the first time a lady Medical Officer has also been included in the team.
This Contingent will provide Air Logistic and Air Surveillance support to ongoing UN Operations, operating Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters which played a vital role in the recently concluded elections in DR Congo. Helicopter Operations in these territories place a high demand on the IAF personnel. The personnel proceeding for this mission have been given intensive training and briefing for the challenging task ahead.
The IAF’s long history of participation in UN Peace Keeping Operations began in 1962 when IAF sent a flight of Canberra bomber aircraft as part of the United Nations Operations in Congo. Thereafter IAF contributed helicopter element in Somalia in 1993 and at Sierra Leone in the year 2000.
In 2004 UN approached India to contribute an air element for its peace keeping operations in Democratic Republic of Congo. Consequently, the IAF operates two aviation contingents at Goma and Bukavu in Congo and an Indian Airfield Services Unit (IASU) at Kindu in the same country.
In the backdrop of internal ethnic strife in the DRC, the Eastern region of that country is volatile. The terrain and existing infrastructure in the region make logistics operations by air an imperative. It would be the endeavor of every member of the contingent to undertake the assigned task in a professional manner and to contribute whole heartedly in winning the goodwill of local populace through welfare activities.
Gp Capt Alok Kumar and his team embark upon the mission to reinforce the faith and commitment associated with India in UN Peace Keeping Operations.
A few cases of involvement of Armed Forces personnel in espionage activities have come to the notice of the Government. The number of such cases reported in the Armed Forces in 2005 is two, in 2006 is five and nil this year.
Pakistan's ISI is suspected to be involved in such espionage activities. 16 Armed Forces personnel have been arrested for involvement in these cases. Of these 14 have been awarded stringent punishment.
Comprehensive preventive measures based on modus operandi of hostile countries / organizations are being enforced and regular security review is carried out from time to time with a view to sensitize the environment for making security apparatus foolproof. In addition the existing Counter Intelligence setup in the Armed Forces is synergized on a regular basis to meet the new challenges. Stringent action is being undertaken against the accused persons and exemplary punishment is being awarded.
The Government has taken note of the reports on the performance of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) published in a section of the media. The Government does not agree to the assertions made in the reports. However, some of the data referred in the media reports relate to the data already given to Standing Committee on Defence and Parliament. Such media reports undermine the overall achievements of DRDO and also influence the public perception to some extent.
DRDO has taken the route of sharing more on technology front with the defence and science correspondents. The Secretary, Defence R&D, and Chief Controllers have addressed the DRDO scientists and media on significant achievements of DRDO. The scientists, in general have left behind the criticism and are working and achieving the objectives with remarkable vigour. In addition, Secretary, DRDO and Chief Controllers have appeared on TV channels to put forth the ground reality.
A Committee has been constituted on Feb 08, 2007, under the Chairmanship of Dr. P Rama Rao with seven members - four superannuated officers one each from the three Services and from Defence Finance, and one each from Industry, Public Sector Units (PSUs) and Academic Institutions.
The committee has just begun its work and is expected to complete its task by end of this year.
This information was given by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Harish Rawat and Shri Santosh Bagrodia in Rajya Sabha today.