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Thursday, January 23, 2003

 
Hawk flies miles ahead of Czech in the AJT race
New Delhi, January 21: British ‘Hawk’ aircraft is emerging as a clear front-runner for the advanced jet trainer mega deal as its contender, Czech-American manufacturer of L-159B aircraft, has not been able to secure guarantees from Washington that it will not disrupt transfer of technology in the eventuality of sanctions on India. The IAF has plans to buy 66 AJTs and the deal is worth Rs 3,600 crore.
Defence Minister George Fernandes said he had met British Defence Secretary Geoffery Hoon in London last week and raised the Hawk issue with him. Fernandes, who stopped over in Britain after his official visit to Russia, said that he gave no assurances to Hoon but told him that the final decision will be taken only in New Delhi. But he was not the only one to visit London.
IAF’s Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Plans) Air Marshal Raghu Rajan, who was part of Fernandes’ official delegation to Russia, also stopped over in London. The Deputy Chief looks after procurement.
It is understood that the Defence Ministry submitted the note favouring ‘Hawk’ for the AJT deal to the Cabinet Committee on Security last year. However, the government decided to consider the Czech aircraft as it is more technologically advanced and cheaper than the Hawk.
The L-159B aircraft is manufactured by Aero Vodochy in collaboration with American Boeing company that has 25-per cent equity in the Czech company.
In October, 2002, Czech Industries and Trade Minister Jiri Rusnok travelled to India and met External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, Air Chief S. Krishnaswamy and Defence Secretary Subir Datta to ensure that L-159B was still in the race.
However, New Delhi made it clear to Prague that it will have to get a letter from Boeing stating clearly that US will not disrupt the transfer of technology in the event of Washington deciding to impose sanctions on India. But the chances of the Czech procuring such a letter appear remote as the Americans have clearly told India that the executive cannot give any guarantees on behalf of their legislature.
Jiri Rusnok, accompanied by Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Trvdik, is again coming on a four-day trip to India in February ostensibly to attend the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore.
The Czech aircraft will be on display at the exhibition from February 5-9. It is understood that Prague has already put in a request with the South Block for their Ministers to meet Fernandes.
It is learnt that the Americans have also been lobbying with the government to purchase the Czech aircraft but they have no written assurances to give to New Delhi. Apparently, Fernandes told the visiting US Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley last month that India was keen to acquire military hardware from America but was wary of sanctions.
Indian Express 22 Jan03

posted by promila 7:06 AM


Tuesday, January 21, 2003

 
What General Vij plans to do

January 21, 2003

General Nirmal Chand Vij took over on January 1 as the 22nd Chief of Army Staff to lead the fourth largest army in the world and one that nearly went to war last year. It has the kind of operational experience in wars, low intensity conflict and counterterrorism that no other army in the world has. Vij has a rich and varied command and staff experience during a 40 year-career.
He is now the last soldier to witness the trauma of the 1962 humiliation as he joined his battalion in Wallong soon after the unilateral ceasefire by the Chinese. He made a mark in counterinsurgency operations in the North East. It was during his command in 1996-97 that ULFA started surrendering in big numbers which rendered their movement ineffective. During Kargil, he was the key planner of operations (Director General, Military Operations) and was responsible for coordinating the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Kargil after July 12, 1999. He was also instrumental in planning the breaking of the siege of the Indian peacekeeping contingent in Sierra Leone in 2000.
His last operational duty was coordinating the deployment and partial withdrawal of the Indian Army during Operation Parakram which was called off on October 16 last year. Vij is married to Rita and they both belong to Jammu and Kashmir. They have a son and a daughter. He has a tenure of two years and one month, one of the shortest for any Chief. Along with him there is also a change in the person of the Vice Chief as well as the Chief of Military Operations. So India has a brand new trio of military leaders at the helm.
After assuming charge as COAS in an exclusive conversation with this columnist, General Vij outlined his concerns and priorities for the army. His agenda is fourfold:
· Operational preparedness
· Modernisation of the army
· Welfare of soldiers and ex-servicemen
· Better understanding between the military and the media.
Vij is quite clear that despite the partial withdrawal of troops the army can be called up any time at short notice in the future as the score with Pakistan has not been settled as yet. He recalled General Musharraf's chilling disclosure on December 30 about his readiness to use nuclear weapons in the event Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Control or the International Border. Vij recounted Musharraf's statement not too long ago that only a madman could think of using a nuclear weapon. While deployed for Operational Parakram Vij says the troops have had the best and optimum training for war in the last 12 months. No one can now say, he asserted, that there is no time for training.
Contrary to media reports of deployment fatigue, the general said troop morale is very high; in fact, they have benefited by receiving nearly Rs 20,000 each as field service allowance while posted in the trenches. Vij is conscious of the need for consolidating the gains of Parakram as well as restabilising the army after the year-long dislocation caused by the deployment. He confided he would soon order a study to examine the lessons from Parakram, restructuring of the forces and enhancing their operational capability. He also wants to relocate forces so that there is minimum turbulence during mobilisation. Operational readiness is therefore his number one priority.
The continuing modernisation of the army -- especially the infantry, which is the cutting edge of counterterrorism -- is in full swing. Vij was recently in Israel to look at the methods adopted by the Israelis to foil suicide attacks and terrorism. He said no efforts and resources would be spared to ensure the jawans get the best equipment needed to raise the cost for Pakistan waging cross border terrorism. The infantry package of modernisation is remedying the deficiencies of Kargil and neglect of infantry capability in the past.
The welfare and morale of soldiers is another key priority. His idea is it must be more than lip service. These are the men who serve from Sikkim to Siachen. The welfare of ex-servicemen is also very close to Vij's heart and he is keen to see the pilot project on medical facilities being launched late this year.
Last, but not least, the Chief is keen to further build on the growing media-military relations so that both sides understand each other better.
One area where Vij will have to invent a strategy is to ensure the healing touch policy of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir does not embolden terrorists to target innocent civilians as they did for four consecutive days last month. The counterterrorism strategy must ensure that security forces kill more number of terrorists than those that can get in through infiltration. Another of his concerns must be to draw lessons from the most recent operational deployment, Operation Parakram, and to ensure that mobilisation is carried out even more swiftly and with fewer accidents than the last one.
Vij realises his plans can only fructify with good civil-military relations. He is a firm believer that the military and its political leadership are in touch and in tune for the cost-effective utilisation of military force. He needs and deserves all the goodwill and resources to meet the challenges ahead.
Rediff.com 21 Jan03
Major General (retd) Ashok K Mehta
BrahMos missile under trial: President

Press Trust of India

Kolkata, January 21: India has begun flight trials for its supersonic missile system BrahMos, President and pioneer of India's missile programme A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said on Tuesday.
"In the current decade, India will see its own combat aircraft and advanced missiles, space launchers, satellites and aeronautical systems in air and space... flight trials for BrahMos have already commenced," Kalam told the 54th AGM of the Aeronautical Society of India.
Kalam, a former president of the society, said five engines of KAVERI, the indigenously developed power plant for light combat aircraft (LCA), were under evaluation and were accumulating test hours in test beds.
The president said, in continuation with the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), LCA and certain types of missiles, newer missions would be born in future.
"A twin engine Medium range Combat Aircraft (MCA) for military applications is in the design phase. In military aviation, significant funDing has been made for such systems," he said.
India, he said, was also working on the design of a hyperplane, a reusable and cost effective hypersonic space vehicle with 15 per cent payload factor instead of the present three per cent.
"While reusable missile configuration and technology has not yet emerged in the world, Indian technologists have started working on reusable hypersonic cruise missile system, an integrated design of multiple technologies derived from UAV, aircraft and missile systems," he said.


posted by promila 7:01 AM


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