Watch –– Midweek–14 Dec 2000
Combat Aircraft (LCA)
had reported earlier this week about the UK Defence Secretary Geoffrey
Hoon’s Delhi visit. He is now about to clinch the mouth-watering US$ 1
billion AJT deal for the 66 Hawks –– 115 with co-production at HAL.
This spells good business for India's aviation industry, especially around
Bangalore. UK has gone out of its way by pleading with USA and Bill
Clinton to waive off sanctions for the supply of 169 Seaking and Sea
Harrier spares, to make the deal go forward. IDC also learns that UK are
supplying selected spares to Pakistan.
it needs noting that a South African order for Hawks is already in BAE's
hands, hence our young trainee pilots will have to wait at least 2 years
for this ‘lead-in fighter’ to come to India.
IAF and George Fernandes have been in favour of the Hawk. The mind set of
the IAF top brass has always been for the best. Hence their preference for
the Hawk over the French twin engine Alpha Jets. The Alpha Jets are
immediately available off the shelf at half the cost and are in use by six
advanced countries including Thailand. Assembly in India, which could have
also helped in our LCA taking off the ground, was also offered. UK cannot
do that. The Alpha Jet will be in operation around the world for many
years to come.
is well known that the aircraft air-frames are a strong component in
fighter aircraft and there have been few accidents on their account. As
per La Fontaine and Abdul Kalam Committee reports, most accidents are
human failure (80%), bird hits and technical failure. The IAF Chief has
gone on record in saying that the 21-year old MIG-21s airframes are still
good for a mid life upgrade for 130 planes which has just begun. Yet the
12-year old technology of Alpha Jets is not good enough!
respect this judgement with only a small rider –– at what cost??
1991 when India's Air Chief was in Singapore and India signed a Defence
MOU with that city state, it was common knowledge that the US had offered
the F-5 fighter plant and planes to India for a song. But it was turned
down for the same reason that the plane was old and not good enough for
the IAF, and India would roll out the LCA in five years or would buy newer
Air Chief of Singapore, who later came to India and flew the MIG-29 at
Pune, commented that he had flown the F-5 for ten years and it was a great
air-frame with new avionics –– "India must be rich because even
we in Singapore cannot afford new fighters all the time".
Singapore with just 4 million people has a US$ 4 billion budget. India's
foreign exchange reserves were then down to US$1 billion and it had to
pledge its gold. On the other hand Singapore banks were lending Indian
banks at 6% overnight rates to meet the latter’s commitments.
to the LCA –– here is what the Project Director of the Aeronautical
Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore, Kota Harinarayana had to say on 24
Dec 1995. "India’s first-ever indigenously built light combat
aircraft (LCA) prototype will complete all tests by the end of next year.
The first two fly-by tests planned for mid-96 will use a General Electric
engine. From the third flight onwards, the native Kavery engine will be
fitted on to the aircraft".
the third and fourth test flights will carry radar and weapon systems
respectively", said the director. "An aircraft design software
package called ‘autolay’, a spin-off of the LCA programme, has been
handed over to Computer Vision, the largest US company specialising in
mechanical software services, for marketing worldwide".
also said that more than 300 industries, 50 research laboratories and 20
academic institutions across the country worked on a mission-mode approach
to accomplish the LCA project.
five years later, some Rs. 2500 crores have been spent on the project and we still have a
statement that the LCA will fly by the end of the year (2000).
we say the above because foreign defence companies keep close watch on the
capabilities and progress of DRDO and other Indian defence manufacturers.
The US, Italian, French and British aviation companies have helped our LCA
and ALH projects. With their reps visit HAL, they may come to know the true status
of every project. Now media reports indicate that the British have offered
the EURO FIGHTER and the French have offered the RAFALE. It does appear
that the British and French are bending over backwards to bag the
lucrative Indian contracts.
18 SU-30 (lets call them twin seat SU-27s for the time being) with the IAF
are not frontline and media has been reporting teething problems with
them. The version India needs is the SU-30 MK I, which will take some
years to materialise. The IAF has to plan long term if the smaller LCA
does not fructify, as its technology also will soon become out dated.
Fernanades is happy with the state of Ramazan cease-fire and said that
against some 50,000 arty shells which were being fired across the LOC
daily, the rate has come down to almost nil. IDC wonders if the figure is
correctly quoted in the media. PTI reports that 2 Army men including Major Maninder Singh were killed
when militants stormed an army camp in Baramulla district in north Kashmir
early on Tuesday 12 Dec.
feel for the Armed Forces who as guardians without a say are keen on the
impasse with Pakistan being resolved early. But our policy makers found no
time to even debate it in the Parliament because of the Babri Masjid issue
hogging the centre stage. IDC analysis reveals that the ARMY is not in the
policy loop, which has naturally to be political in laying down what India
wants as the bottom line, to move forward to resolve the matter.
Now comes a path breaking statement from the Pakistani Ambassador Ashraf Jehnagir Qazi who says that India should set modalities for talks, as Pakistan was willing to abide by all bilateral agreements with India including the Lahore declaration. IDC sees this as a challenge to our policy makers. The examples in Ireland, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Palestine where insurgency rages, indicate that talks move forward only when the two sides lay down their bottom lines, or at least one side states its demands. In most cases the larger party puts some of its leading cards on the table and involves a third powerful party whom they can trust.
our view logical ? How can we move forward unless at some stage Pakistan
this space and we await comments from our readers which have been flowing
and Analysis Wing (RAW)
was hoping for the RAW, which is deeply involved with India's foreign
policy, to get a non police officer/outsider as its head for the sake of
its rejuvenation. However, media just reported that Vikram Sood has been
nominated for the post. He is from the 1966
batch of the Postal Sevices and joined the Research Analysis Service (RAS
) and later he became a part of RAW. IDC wish him well. As in the past most of the
out-going RAW Chiefs have been made Governors, look out for Mr A S Dullat
for a similar sinecurial appointment.
- Hindujas and Defence Agents
legal wrangling, the three Hinduja brothers, SP, GP and PP have been
summoned by the Court in the Bofors case. The brothers have been told to
appear in the court of special judge Ajit Bharihoke on January 19, 2001.
CBI will have to prove that the money Hindujas received into McIntyre and
other accounts was for the Indian Bofors Guns. In the impending legal
battle, the brothers seem to have some cards up their sleeve, as they have
done arms deals in Iran and elsewhere too. Incidentally the Hindujas were
actually the agents for the HDW submarines meant for Iran, which finally
came to India when the Shah was dethroned. It is well known that the
commission was 7% for the Indian submarines, but it is still to be proved
who got it. It is an uphill if not impossible task in arms deals to pin
down the recipients, because all commissions are covered up if they are not legal.
In arms deals, lubrication is the name of the game and commissions are the
lubricant. Hindujas were Indian citizens at that time so the Rajiv
Gandhi–Bhatnagar edict that disallowed Agents from the defence deals will
be applicable. However, now they are UK citizens and so talk of
extradition in the media has begun. IDC can say with confidence that India
some times makes unique policy without regard to world experience, which
is destined to fail. The TELECOM refund of fees and the Power sector
escrows are examples, but the removal of agents to facilitate the
Bofors deal was a farce. Now agents are the travel facilitators and deals
with Russia are secret.
this space on 27th December.