Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Russia to float out frigate for Indian Navy Nov 27

Nov 18 (RIA Novosti) A Russian shipyard will float out the first of three frigates for the Indian Navy Nov 27, a company spokesman said.

The Yantar shipyard in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad is building three modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for the Indian Navy under a $1.6 billion contract signed in July 2006.

'The frigate is due to be floated out Nov 27,' Sergei Mikhailov said Tuesday.

He said sea trials would not start right away because 'post-construction work' was still to be carried out. The trials should start in 2010, he added.

The shipyard is to deliver the last warship to India in 2011-2012.

He did not indicate exactly when the first frigate would be complete and handed over to India.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, Yantar's director Igor Orlov said the shipyard was currently in talks with Russia's Vnesheconombank on 'a $60 million loan to complete the construction of the three frigates for the Indian Navy'.

The Talwar-class frigate has deadweight capacity of 4,000 metric tonnes and a speed of 30 knots, and is capable of accomplishing a wide range of naval missions, primarily hunting down and destroying large surface ships and submarines.

Russia has previously built three Talwar class frigates for India - the INS Talwar, the INS Trishul, and the INS Tabar.

Indian President Pratibha Patil has named the new ships the Teg, the Tarkash, and the Trikand.

All the new frigates will be armed with eight BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles rather than 3M-54E Klub-N anti-ship missiles that were installed on previous frigates.

They will be also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defence gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter. 

India eyes 'Patriot missile'

India could be poised to sign a multi billion dollar arms deal with the United States to purchase patriot missiles. Before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with US President Barack Obama, the Indian Army has requested the Americans for a briefing of the Patriot-3 Anti-Missile System.

The briefings are likely early next year after which demonstrations could follow. The Patriot 3 anti-missile system is a guided missile system designed to detect, target and hit incoming missiles. It was initially used in the first gulf war and has subsequently been fine tuned.

The Patriot missile system has been used extensively in the past in the Gulf war in 1991 as well as in the Iraqi war.

The sytem includes the missiles themselves, the missile launcher, which holds, transports, aims and launches the missiles and a radar antenna to detect incoming missiles.

Meanwhile the Indian Air Force has already informed the Defence Ministry that it wants ten C-17 military transport aircraft. The aircraft was on show during the India-US training exercises in Agra last month. 

Retiring Sri Lankan Gen. Contends Gov. Politicians Planted Coup Rumors


Sri Lanka's outgoing military chief General Sarath Fonseka (file photo)
General Sarath Fonseka (file photo)
Sri Lanka's president Friday gave the country's top military figure permission to leave his post immediately, a day after the army general submitted retirement papers to his commander-in-chief.

In his 2,200-word retirement request submitted Thursday General Sarath Fonseka says he was misled about his promotion this year to chief of defense staff, finding that he had "basically no authority."

There is intense speculation that Fonseka, who is saying he will continue to serve his country, will soon challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an election.

The general, credited with leading his troops to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels, in his letter to Mr. Rajapaksa, accuses senior government politicians of spreading rumors about him being a "traitor." He is referring to reports that the Army was planning a coup following the end of the 25-year-long civil war.

General Fonseka, in the letter, says Sri Lanka asked India on October 15 to place troops on alert in case they would be needed to intervene to foil a coup on the island.

A veteran Indian army intelligence officer, retired Colonel Ramani Hariharan, in Chennai tells VOA News there has been anxiety in India about what he calls Sri Lanka's "unwieldy" military.

"That had been a matter of concern for not only Sri Lanka's government but all the areas around - 300,000 armed men in such a small island after the war," he said. "It would be a potential threat to sort of a democratic government. So the government of India is capable of responding.

Indian peacekeeping forces were invited to the Tamil north of the Sinhalese-dominated island nation by Colombo in 1987. India's soldiers withdrew in humiliation three years later after failing to neutralize the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Retired Indian army Major General Dipankar Banerjee, dismisses worries of a potential coup and Indian re-intervention, but says Fonseka may desire to use the latter possibility for political currency.

"Indian-Sri Lankan relations are very good," he said. "And [Sri Lankan] military expansion or capability poses no threat to India. But Sarath Fonseka would play onto the sentiments within Sri Lanka, trying to play up the Indian military threat to Sri Lanka, in order to gain popularity within his own country."

Both the president and the general are highly popular figures in wake of the victory over the Tamil rebels.

In his request to be relieved of duty, General Fonseka asked the president to allow him to keep a security detail, including trained combat soldiers, and a bullet proof vehicle, saying the defeated rebels are yet capable of trying to kill him.

Fonseka, in 2006, survived an assassination attempt when a suicide bomber attacked his motorcade.

Army pays tribute to Kargil hero

Shillong, Nov. 17: The army has dedicated a gallery at the Rhino heritage museum here to Kargil hero late Capt. Keishing Clifford Nongrum who was conferred with the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.

Maj. Gen. K.S. Sethi, the GOC of 101 Area, today inaugurated the Capt. Keishing Clifford Nongrum, MVC, gallery at the museum.

Capt. Nongrum’s notes, encouraging the youth to join the Indian Army, were made public today.

Capt. Nongrum had motivated the students of city schools to join the armed forces and dedicate themselves to serving the country even at the cost of their lives.

The copies of the handwritten scripts on How to join Indian Army as officer by Nongrum are indicators of his strong character, patriotism and writing skill.

Nongrum sacrificed his life for the country during Operation Vijay (Kargil War) on July 1, 1999.

When his body was brought to Shillong, thousands of citizens wept and praised him for his bravery.

The lecture note prepared by Nongrum and displayed at the museum indicates that the young officer was extremely motivated and conscious about encouraging boys and girls to join the army. He had delivered talks to students in a few schools here while on leave before joining Operation Vijay.

The citation of Maha Vir Chakra, photographs and a letter written by Nongrum’s father about his son have also been displayed at the gallery.

In recognition of his supreme sacrifice, the headquarters, 101 Area, has also named the Married Accommodation Project here Clifford Nongrum Enclave.

Gen. Sethi, who is scheduled to retire by the end of this month, also inaugurated the Captured Weapons of 1971 War Corner gallery at the museum.

The units under Command HQ 101 Area here had the privilege of reaching Dhaka first during Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971. Some arms and equipment captured during the conflict have been displayed at the museum.

Giving an impetus to the go-green drive in Shillong cantonment, Gen. Sethi also planted a tree on the lawns of the heritage museum.

The Rhino museum has many army photographs featuring significant occasions and items having a flavour of the local culture. 

Army docs perform bone marrow transplant

The Command Hospital of the Udhampur-based Northern Command of the Army has become the first institute of the state to successfully perform a bone marrow transplant on cancer patients.

As per Sub Major KS Rathi, officiating PRO of the Northern Command, the operation was performed on October 29 this year on a 50-year-old serving soldier, who was suffering from multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells.

Bone marrow transplantation consists of destroying the diseased bone marrow with chemotherapy and replacing it with normally functioning marrow cells.

It is a highly specialised procedure, performed in a handful of transplant centres in the country, which has now been made available in the state.

A Bone Marrow Transplant unit requires facilities for barrier nursing, storage and irradiation of various blood components, besides specially trained staff. Despite the lack of infrastructure, the team consisting of doctors and paramedical staff from various specialities was able to plan and execute this procedure successfully.

Lt-Col Tarun Verma, a clinical haematologist, performed the transplant procedure in collaboration with the Regional Cancer Centre and the Transfusion Medicine Department of the Government Medical College, Jammu.

The procedure was overseen by cardiologist Col Prashant Bharadwaj, head of the Medicine Department, while Commandant Major Gen Harinder Singh ensured that all necessary drugs and equipment were procured on priority to perform this life-saving procedure, the spokesman said.

The patient was now convalescing in the Command Hospital. More transplants, both autologous and allogenic, were planned in future, he added. The Command Hospital (Northern Command), Udhampur, is also the only tertiary care centre in the Northern Command primarily treating surgical and medical cases evacuated from front line areas.

Pak militant nabbed, another shot dead

The Army captured a Pakistani militant while killed another as it foiled an infiltration attempt in the Tangdhar sector in Kupwara in the wee hours today.

Tanveer Ahmad, alias Anas, a resident of Manshera in the PoK, was captured alive by the 12 Bihar Regiment. The 23-years-old militant told the authorities that he had undergone training in Muzaffarabad for four months between March and June this year.

An Army spokesperson said the militant remained in Lipa valley in the PoK for the last 15 days, where he was equipped with weapons and navigation material before he was taken to the LoC by a guide.

Another militant, who is likely a foreigner, was killed in the encounter. The Army later handed over the body and the arrested terrorist to the police. Two AK rifles, a large quantity of “war-like” stores, including a GPS and a Thuraya set, were seized.

The Army said the arrest of the militant clearly established Pakistan’s link to the unrest in the state. The capturing of the Pakistani militant was not common as most of them were hardened jehadis, who believed in either killing their adversaries or getting killed so that they could attain “martyrdom” and reach heaven.

The Army had achieved a similar success in April this year when they had produced a Pakistani militant, part of a 120-strong group of militants and porters, before the media. The militant had spoken about his training and how he was indoctrinated by jehadi ideologues, who told him that Muslims were tortured by the Indian Army for their religion and denied them practising Islam. Sources said the two militants were on a reconnaissance and a large group of infiltrators would follow them following their inputs.

DIG Tanwar’s vehicle had ‘passed over’ IED

Ramgarh (Zero Line), November 17

The death of DIG OP Tanwar of the BSF, who was killed in an IED blast planted by terrorists trying to sneak into the Indian side, has exposed lacunae in the functioning of the force.

Questions are being raised how the BSF could allow a senior officer of the rank of DIG to go to a place where a few hours ago a heavy exchange of fire had taken place after a few groups of heavily armed terrorists had been spotted.

Despite having sufficient gadgetry, including metal detectors, bomb disposal squads and other such equipment, the force did not bother to sanitise the area to check for any booby traps planted by militants, who might have come close to the border fencing.

Asked to comment on how a senior officer of the rank of DIG was allowed to go to the area where a few hours ago two to three groups of heavily armed terrorist were spotted and a heavy exchange of fire had taken place, DG, BSF, Raman Srivastava said, “Before the DIG went there, many senior officers had already checked the place. But earlier that day the officers on the combing operation were on foot and the DIG was on a vehicle,” he said, adding that it was the weight of the vehicle that triggered off the blast.

Earlier it was said the IED that claimed the life of Tanwar was a remote controlled device that the militants detonated from a safe distance from the Pakistani territory. However, the DG said it was found that the device was a pressure IED that detonated because of the pressure of the DIG’s vehicle.

“They should not have allowed such a senior officer to go to that area where an encounter had taken place. The area should have been sanitised and they should have known that militants, who managed to cross the Zero Line, could have put booby traps,” said a senior police officer.

The BSF sources said Tanwar had recently been posted to Jammu and he was keen to inspect the area himself after the failed infiltration bid. However, proper security measures were not taken before allowing such a high ranking officer to go to the area.

“The blast exactly took place between Mallu Chak and the Balad border outpost inside the Indian territory. Both posts are being monitored round-the-clock by the BSF,” said a senior BSF officer.

The DG along with other senior officers, including the special
DG, BSF, today went to see the spot on the border where the IED blast had taken place.“There was a slip up. The terrorists who planted the IED were expecting senior officers to visit the spot as the IED was planted on the track. But this incident would make them (BSF) more careful in future,” former DGP MM Khajooria told The Tribune.

19-year-old scales 18,000-foot peak

Parminder Kaur (19) of Ludhiana has brought laurels to the city by scaling an 18,000-foot-high peak in Sikkim. Oxygen levels at such a high altitude are very low, making breathing difficult sans any alternative mode of oxygen. The peak, which is yet to be named, is a part of the Kabru Range that stands next to the Kanchanjunga.

Parminder, an NCC cadet, managed the feat during a 28-day-long advanced mountaineering course organised by the Himalaya Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. Prior to this, she had undergone a basic course on mountaineering from Manali in June, scoring an alpha that made her eligible for the advanced course.

A student of BSc-III at SCD Government College, Ludhiana, she was part of a 61-member team that included senior Army and Air Force officers and NCC cadets among others. And she is the only girl from Punjab to have achieved the feat.

“The conditions were very hostile and difficult. Out of the total 61, six of our team members withdrew at the start itself due to physical problems. Rest 55 of us managed the climb in three days,” said Parminder said while talking to The Tribune.

“While most of the members were facing some physical problem or the other during the trek, I was quite comfortable. We stayed at an altitude of 15,000 foot for 13 days and throughout, I did not feel the need for oxygen,” added Parminder, who aspires to join the Indian Air Force after completion of her graduation.

Describing Discovery Channel as being her biggest source of inspiration, she says adventure gets her going. “I love to live on the edge,” said Parminder, who belongs to a lower middle class family.

India hands over 7th dossier to Pak

New Delhi: Days ahead of a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Trinidad on the margins of the CHOGM Summit, India handed over the seventh dossier to Pakistan containing additional evidence linking Pakistan-based terrorists to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The dossier was handed over by YK Sinha, Joint Secretary (Pakistan) in the External Affairs Ministry, to Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Riffat Masood, official sources said. — TNS

Navy chief to review coastal security

India’s sea-borne aircraft carrier INS Viraat has re-joined duties on the western sea front facing Pakistan. Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma will go onboard the Viraat as part of his visit to Mumbai to review the coastal security preparedness of the force.

As part of his three-day visit to the western naval command beginning tomorrow, Verma would sail on the flagship Viraat during a coastal security exercise that the western fleet of the Navy would carry out in the Arabian Sea to review the apparatus put in after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. “The Navy chief will witness fleet exercises, gun and missile firings by ships and aircraft operations onboard INS Viraat, which has rejoined the fleet after an extensive maintenance period, during the ship sortie off Mumbai,” Navy officials said here yesterday. — TNS

DRDO downplays UAV crash

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today played down the crash of Rustom-I technology demonstrator, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) during its first flight at a private airfield near Hosur in Karnataka yesterday.

The DRDO attributed the mishap to “misjudgement of the altitude of the flight”.

DRDO officials said due to wrong judgement of the altitude of the flight, the engine of the UAV was switched off by the ground command. This brought down the on-board thrust developed in the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV and it crashed. It, however, remained unclear whether the error was a manual one or lied with the gadgets being used by the ground command to control the UAV.

The ADE, part of the DRDO, is leading the Rs 1,000-crore Rustom programme.

The UAV is expected to have capabilities that will match contemporary UAVs such as the Israeli Heron currently in use by the armed forces. The ADE is using the technology demonstrator as a stepping stone to prove the technologies that will go into the Rustom UAV.

The technology demonstrator is smaller in size than the original but has the same configuration as that of a full-fledged Rustom UAV. It was to undertake around 10 flights to check out taxing, taking off and landing like a conventional airplane but devoid of a pilot. Being smaller than the full-fledged production standard, Rustom has endurance of only 12 to 15 hours, approximately half of what the Rustom is being designed for.

“The taxing and take-off of the UAV was exactly as planned. There are a lot of gains from the flight. The flight proved the functioning of number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight control, engine, redundant data link, etc which go a long way towards development of complex UAVs”, the DRDO said in a statement. It added that it was the first flight of the UAV using a 700-kg airframe and sophisticated controls and hence “prone to development hazards”.

Rustom is being developed by the DRDO for the Army, the Navy and the IAF. It is proposed to supplement the Israeli UAVs in service with the Indian armed forces.

Rustom is proposed to see the enemy territory up to a distance of 250 km and carry a variety of cameras and radar for surveillance.