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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Armed forces ‘should not be used for internal security’


Taking a U-turn from his earlier stance, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik today categorically stated that the armed forces should not be used for internal security matters of the country. 

Naik was one of the chiefs of the armed forces who had reportedly sought permission from the government to strike against the Maoists a few weeks ago, which was denied to him.

“I am of the firm opinion that armed forces should not be involved in the internal security matters,” said Air Chief Marshal Naik while interacting with mediapersons here today after concluding his two-day visit to this forward military air base.

“Services, including Army, Air Force and Navy, are trained for lethal damage to cause maximum damage, and hence should not be involved in internal security matters. We should be allowed to play a supportive role for the paramilitary forces and should not be used for direct attacks,” pointed out the chief of the IAF.

Naik said China was not a cause of worry for India. While refusing to draw a comparison between the worthiness and capabilities of the IAF and the Chinese air force, especially when news in connection with border activities of China armed forces has been pouring in, he said, “ chinta ki koi baat nahi hai”.

He, however, said that there was a strong and immediate need for expanding and upgrading the air force gadgets, weaponry and other related things so it was able to meet the aspirations of the country.

The induction of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and Russian air-to-air refueller IL-78s and plan to acquire c-103 and c-17 aircraft would add edge to the already well-equipped air force, he claimed. On his comments over the acquisition of fighter aircraft of latest versions from the US by Pakistan, Naik said Pakistan was a sovereign country and, hence, India was not supposed to interfere in its matter.

“We are going to develop the fifth-generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft with Russia and acquire helicopters, including VVIP helicopters, medium lift and light helicopters,” he said.

Super Hornet favourite in Indian and Brazilian tenders

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is well placed to fulfil both the Indian and Brazilian fighter requirements, the company and its industry partners said on 28 October.
Boeing and its Team Super Hornet partners – Raytheon and General Electric (GE) – presented a broad-ranging review of the F/A-18E/F's position in both the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme for 163 aircraft plus 63 options and the Brazilian Air Force's F-X2 tender for the first 36 of what is projected to be a total of 120 fighters.
Boeing stated that two major factors make the Super Hornet competitive in both markets: the first one being that the economies of scale that result from both the aircraft and its major subsystems are still hot (active) production lines and hence have steadily reduced the unit cost of the aircraft; the other is that the modular nature of the aircraft's sensors and propulsion system permit technology insertion that dramatically increases performance at minimal expense.
"The history of the F/A-18E/F's development has now seen a negative slope in terms of cost and a positive slope in terms of capability. For this reason we feel for the first time we are competing on even terms with the [Lockheed Martin] F-16 in terms of price," stated Boeing Military Aircraft IDS President Chris Chadwick.
Raytheon representatives, who also briefed during the New Delhi conference, emphasised that "Raytheon provided the first AESA [active electronically scanned array] radar sets to both the USAF [US Air Force] and USN [US Navy]", and that the company continues to leverage technological improvements across its product lines in improving the Super Hornet's AN/APG-79 radar

None should undermine IAF's capabilities: Naik

Pathankot(Punjab), Oct 30 (PTI) Unfazed by China or Pakistan inducting more aircraft, nukes or missiles in their existing fleet, Indian Air Force today said that none should undermine its capabilities.

"If our neighbours are purchasing new aircraft from the US, India is also inducting fifth generation aircraft in IAF shortly with Russian collaboration. One should not undermine the IAF's capabilities," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said here, allaying fears about China or Pakistan replenishing their fleet.

The IAF is constantly updating and evolving new techniques and training well, he told reporters on the concluding day of his two-day visit to the Air Force Station here.

"We should be well prepared to meet any external threat," he said and pointed out at IAF's special training exercises with the US and Oman Air forces recently.

It serves an admirable purpose

The thought of the diminutive president Pratibha Patil strapping herself into the Indian Air Force's Sukhoi MKI fighter jet capable of shattering the sound barrier and hitting speeds of Mach 2.35 is admittedly a touch strange. But in the larger scheme of things, it is also entirely fitting. If Patil does go ahead with it, she will be following in former president A P J Abdul Kalam's well-publicised footsteps. And like him, she will be demonstrating both a deep appreciation for the armed forces' service to the nation and an understanding of her role within the constitutional framework. 

The president's post may be a largely ceremonial one in the Indian context, but whoever holds the office is nevertheless head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces. In a perennial state of readiness due to border conflicts, dealing with decades-old internal security situations that ideally should not be their responsibility, the least the military can expect is a public show of support from its titular head. That Patil should think of doing so by climbing into a fighter jet is particularly apt. 

The Air Force has been plagued by bureaucratic and financial constraints; these have seen its squadron strength dip and old, outdated aircraft retained in service. Not surprisingly, there have been a number of accidents and crashes over the years. By choosing to entrust her safety to the Air Force, Patil is providing a testament to both the men and the machines of the service. And if it also serves another purpose pushing the case for women fighter pilots so much the better. 

That her position is a ceremonial one, in fact, makes Patil the perfect person for boosting the morale of the armed forces. Tradition and ceremony are inextricably woven into the fabric of the armed forces. They are present in every aspect of their functioning. There are sound reasons for this; a sense of history and continuity are indispensable in a service that has nationalism as its raison d'etre and asks millions of men and women to risk their lives daily. Who better, then, to show that the nation appreciates their service and has faith in them than the highest citizen of the land whose office places a similar emphasis on tradition and history?

Pak fishermen nabbed, abandoned vessel seized off Koteshwar coast

BHUJ: In two separate incidents on Thursday, an abandoned Pakistani boat was found off the coast of Kutch near Sir Creek and five Pakistani fishermen nabbed from another area in the district. The Indian Navy was in the meantime conducting a mock drill off the Kutch coast, sources said. 

The boat, which has been registered in Pakistan, was found abandoned near Koteshwar in Lakhpat taluka of Kutch. It was spotted by jawans of BSF's 117 battalion who were patrolling the area. The seized boat has been brought to the coast. 

Later in the afternoon, five Pakistani fishermen were nabbed from another area in Kutch district. Security personnel were trying to find out how these fishermen landed in Indian territory and whether there was any connection between them and the abandoned boat, a BSF officer said. 

Meanwhile, the security forces are carrying out a search operation in the coastal areas of Kutch district, including the suspected spots on land and in deep waters.

Singapore and Indian Armies conduct Bilateral Artillery Exercise

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Indian Army are conducting a bilateral artillery exercise in Devlali, India. Code-named Agni Warrior, this year's exercise involves soldiers from the 23rd and 24th Battalion, Singapore Artillery, as well as the Indian Army's 283 Field Regiment.

As part of the exercise, the two armies carried out a combined live-firing with the SAF's FH-88 Howitzer guns and 155mm Battery guns from the Indian Army on 26 October 2009. Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Neo Kian Hong, who was on an official visit to India from 25 to 27 October 2009, witnessed the live-firing with Director-General Artillery Lieutenant-General K R Rao. MG Neo also met the SAF and Indian Army troops during the exercise. The exercise, which is the fifth in the Agni Warrior series, began on 9 October 2009 and will conclude tomorrow.

This series of annual exercises underscores the warm defence ties between Singapore and India. Apart from joint exercises, the SAF and the Indian Armed Forces interact regularly through visits, courses, seminars and other professional exchanges. 

Indian Army may turn to 1950s-vintage artillery

The Indian Army's artillery directorate is considering the acquisition of additional Soviet-designed 130 mm M-46 field guns, developed in the 1950s, from surplus stocks within the former Soviet republics to augment its severely depleted firepower.
Official sources said delays and constant postponement in acquiring new howitzers to replace and supplement the 410 Bofors 155 mm/39 cal guns procured in the late 1980s had promoted this possibility in a bid to plug the army's artillery shortfall.
India was the largest export customer for M-46 artillery pieces, with an estimated 800 purchased from the late 1960s onwards and employed during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
Thereafter, under the Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan finalised in the late 1980s, the army aimed by 2020-25 to acquire a mix of around 3,200 to 3,600 155 mm/52 cal and 155 mm/39 cal towed, wheeled, tracked and light howitzers for 180 of around 220 artillery regiments. The new guns were intended to replace the six different calibres the artillery currently deploys.

Revival of Khalistan? Reunion planned in Europe

October 31 will mark 25 years of the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. More than two decades later, the Khalistani movement may have died down in India, but there is now a renewed attempt of some Sikh militant groups based in Europe and the US to revive it, with ISI support. Sumon Chakrabarti's special report.

IAF Mi-17 helicopter crashes into Chenab, pilot killed

NEW DELHI: A senior IAF pilot was killed and three others were feared dead after their Mi-17 helicopter crashed into the Chenab river in the mountainous Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday afternoon. 

While the charred body of pilot, Wing Commander R Garg, had been fished out by late afternoon, search operations were still in progress for the other three victims -- co-pilot Flight Lieutenant S Tomar and technicians junior warrant officer Kundan Singh and sergeant P K Deepak. 

The ill-fated Mi-17-1V, in formation with another helicopter on a regular sortie, was flying quite low over the Chenab when it apparently got entangled in a cable of a bridge and crashed into the water reservoir of Baglihar hydro-electric power project at Tringel Assar, 150 km northeast of Jammu. 

The helicopters were returning from the mountain-locked Nawapachi area of Kishtawar district, where IAF undertakes regular sorties to supply rations, arms and ammunition for the troops stationed there. 

This is the 10th aircraft crash in IAF this year, already making it one of the worst years for the force in recent times. From 1971-72 to 2003-04, IAF's consolidated average rate stood at 1.09 accidents per 10,000 hours of flying, roughly translating into the loss of 23 aircraft and the death of 10-14 pilots every year. 

The crash rate did come down dramatically to around 0.27 accidents per 10,000 hours of flying, with an over 50% reduction in crashes after 2003-04. But the number of crashes has now gone up once again. 

The two main reasons for crashes are attributed to "human errors" and "technical defects". In other words, "inadequate" training to pilots, ageing machines and shoddy maintenance practices form a deadly mix for IAF. 

The sturdy Mi-17s have, however, proved to be one of the workhorses of IAF ever since 50 of them were inducted in the mid-1980s. Another 40 Mi-17-1Vs were later ordered in 2000. 

Incidentally, IAF is slated to induct another 80 of Mi-17's latest version from 2010 to 2014 under a $1.2 billion deal with Russia inked in December 2008. 

The choppers, which will also be weaponised for combat operations, are slated to replace the 50 old Mi-8s in the IAF fleet, which have already outlived their life span of 35 years, and boost operations in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Ladakh. 

Brushing aside criticism that Mi-17s were based on outdated technology and had high life-cycle costs, officers say the new choppers would be able to land at a height of 18,000-feet with their powerful engines, better avionics and night-flying ability.