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Friday, August 01, 2003

 
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India’s Defense Minister Flies in Crash-Prone MiG-21
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, AMBALA, India Defense News downloads 01 Aug 03
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes Aug. 1 flew a short sortie in a MiG-21 fighter jet in a bid to rid the aging Russian planes of their reputation as “flying coffins.”
The flight near the north Indian town of Ambala lasted around 25 minutes, with 73-year-old Fernandes sitting in the co-pilot’s seat.
The Air Force says 52 Indian MiG-21s have crashed in the past three years and has blamed 24 of the accidents on pilot error, 20 on technical defects and three on bird-hits.
“When I was sitting, I was very comfortable,” Fernandes said after touchdown.
Answering the questions of hordes of journalists who had come to see him fly, Fernandes said that despite the frequent crashes, MiGs were the “mainstay” of the Indian Air Force.
He insisted MiGs were as modern as any other aircraft after midlife upgrades, but said older ones would be “gradually phased out.”
Wing Comdr. N. Harish, who flew the minister, said he took the aircraft to a maximum speed of 750 kilometers per hour and also did a “few maneuvers.”
“It felt like I was flying with one of the pilots of my squadron,” Harish said. “He was totally at home. We did a few maneuvers. When I decided to head back, he said, ‘Can’t we stay in the air a little longer?’ So we stayed a bit longer.”
The flight came after a former junior foreign minister last week taunted Fernandes about the frequent MiG crashes and dared him to ride in the aircraft.
Fernandes immediately accepted the challenge, saying he had already asked Air Chief Marshal S.K. Krishnaswamy, head of the Air Force, for a MiG ride, but his job as defense minister had kept him chained to his desk.
Last month, Fernandes took a ride in a Suhkoi-30 MK fighter jet, almost a year after spending a night inside a submarine.
Parents of several pilots killed in MiG crashes plan to appeal to President Abdul Kalam to ground India’s MiG-21 fleet, which includes planes up to 30 years old.
Experts have blamed the MiG crashes on the delay in finalizing a 20-year-old plan to buy 66 advanced jet trainers worth $1.63 billion, allowing rookie pilots to gain more experience before flying supersonic jets such as the MiG-21

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Defense Minister Says India Will Phase Out MiG-21s
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes told the parliament here July 30 that the Air Force’s controversial MiG-21 aircraft gradually will be phased out.
The government last year decided to eliminate the MiG-23 and MiG-25 from the Indian military’s fleet, but Fernandes’ announcement was the first official acknowledgment that the MiG-21 also will go. The parliament’s standing defense committee in 2002 recommended that the entire MiG fleet should be replaced.
Without specifying the time frame, Fernandes said the older versions of the Russian-built MiG-21 would be phased out first. A senior Defence Ministry official said the Air Force’s 70 MiG-21 MFs and FLs would be phased out beginning in 2004.
The Air Force flies 200 MiG-21s of 14 varieties. The Air Force has lost more than 220 aircraft in the last 10 years, most of them MiGs.
The senior Defence Ministry official also revealed that the ministry has begun to short-list the combat aircraft that could replace the MiG-21. The official indicated that the Indian government would accept the offer from Dassault Aviation, St. Cloud, France, to produce Mirage 2000-5 aircraft under license in India, a deal which could make the French plane the likely choice for the replacement.
The Indian government also is considering a $7 billion offer from Dassault, made in September 2002, for licensed production in India of 100 Mirage 2000-5 multirole aircraft for export to a third country.
The Ministry of Defence said the ongoing upgrades of 125 MiG-21 bis in India will proceed.
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New Panel Aims To Speed India’s Jet Trainer Purchase
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News 01 Aug 03
The government here has created a special committee, led by Defence Minister George Fernandes, to accelerate procurement of advanced jet trainers for the Indian Air Force.
The latest report on recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense, tabled in parliament July 29, said the purchase of trainer aircraft has been delayed due to an impasse in price negotiations.
Pradipto Bandyopadhyay, Ministry of Defence spokesman, told DefenseNews.com on July 29 that a committee, comprising ministry bureaucrats and headed by Fernandes, was established last month. The panel’s purpose is to speed up India’s long-delayed acquisition of trainer aircraft by meeting regularly to thrash out issues related to the jet trainer procurement process, including consideration of new bids.
Such a process at the highest level of the Defence Ministry will enable officials to make speedier decisions about the program, a senior ministry official said July 30.
The committee will evaluate options that have landed on the desk of the Ministry of Defence in the past year. This will help save the government time if the Cabinet Committee on Security{CCS), which must clear all major defense acquisition programs, rejects the BAE deal, the ministry official said.
Fernandes announced earlier that the CCS has two options — to go ahead with final negotiations with BAE SYSTEMS or to examine the whole jet trainer issue afresh.
A Defence Ministry official said the Indian government has asked the British government if the British Royal Air Force has rejected the Hawk 100 advanced jet trainer made by BAE SYSTEMS, London, and is awaiting an answer.
Though the proposal to purchase BAE’s Hawk 100 was cleared last year by the Indian Ministry of Defence, the procurement after seven years of negotiations with the company remains stuck in the CCS.
Meanwhile, the Czech company Aero Vodochody has offered India a deal to buy its L-159B advanced jet trainer at nearly half the price of the Hawk 100. The proposal has made it difficult for the Indian Cabinet to take an early decision ahead of next year’s general elections.
The action-taken report said the Indian Air Force also is in the process of procuring simulators, as an added safety measure, for all its major fighter and trainer aircraft and helicopters. These will include simulators for the MiG-21 Bisons, MiG-27s, MiG-29s, Sukhoi-30s, Jaguars and transport aircraft like Il-76 and Mi-17 helicopters.
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India Spends $16 Million on Missile Tests in First Half of 2003
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW DELHI Defnese News downloads 01 Aug 03
India conducted 20 tests of seven missiles in the first half of 2003 at a cost of more than $16 million, Defence Minister George Fernandes told parliament July 30.
“All the 20 flight tests have met the mission objectives set for them,” the minister said in a written reply to a question.
Fernandes said the 20 tests, conducted between Jan. 1 and June 30, cost about 750 million rupees ($16.3 million), including the costs of the launched missiles.
He said two variants of the nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni, which means “fire” in Hindi, were in the “induction phase.” The Agni I has a range of 700 kilometers and the Agni II has a range of 2,000 kilometers.
Of the Prithvi (“earth”) missile, which has a range of 200 kilometers, Fernandes said the Army’s already is in the service, while the version for the Air Force was being inducted.
India’s missile tests, generally conducted at a testing range in the eastern state of Orissa, have drawn more international attention than usual since last year as they came amid a military standoff with Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have begun to mend ties since April, when Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee offered the neighboring country a “hand of friendship.”
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Indian, U.S. Officials Launch Defense Discussions
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News down loads 01 aug 03
India and the United States have begun talks on improving defense ties between the two countries, and topics likely will include the dispatch of Indian troops to Iraq as part of the U.S.-led stabilization force.
Led by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. delegation arrived here July 28 and met with Indian Navy chief Adm. Madhvendra Singh, chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and Air Chief Marshall Sriniwaspuram Krishnaswamy, leader of the Air Force.
Myers also will meet with Army leader Gen. Nirmal Vij, Defence Secretary Ajai Prasad and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.
“There is no fixed agenda for his meetings, and discussions in the next two days will be freewheeling ones where both sides could raise issues of importance,” an Indian Ministry of Defence official said July 28.
Myers’ visit also will set the tone for a defense policy group meeting between the two nations to be held Aug. 6-7 in Washington.
India’s purchase of defense equipment from the United States and the dispatch of Indian troops to Iraq will top the agenda for Myers’ visit and the discussions in Washington, another Ministry of Defence official said. The official added that New Delhi will seek Washington’s nod to allow Israel to sell missile systems like the Patriot and the Arrow-2 to India.
The United States already has approved Israel’s sale of Phalcon radar to be mounted on Indian Air Force Il-76 transport planes that will be used as airborne warning and control system aircraft. The United States also has approved India’s purchase of $190 million in U.S.-made Firefinder weapon-locating radar under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
“We are hopeful that the purchase of P-3 Orion [aircraft] will be cleared during the Gen. Myers visit,” an Indian Navy official said July 28.
The two countries also will plan more military exercises and evolve an institutional mechanism to interact with the U.S. Central Command, the Navy official said.
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New Delhi Lawmakers Say No U.S. Bases in India
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News downloads 01 Aug 03
The parliament here voted July 24 not to give the United States permanent military bases in India.
Vinod Khanna, the minister of state for external affairs, told the parliament’s upper house July 24 that “recently there have been speculative and misleading commentaries on a report prepared by a private agency for the U.S. Department for Defense”.
A Ministry of External Affairs official told DefenseNews.com July 24 that Khanna’s reaction was to a report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense, that indicated the United States wants Indian bases and military infrastructure.
The April report, “The Future of Indo-U.S. Military Relations,” was prepared by consulting group Booz Allen Hamilton.
Khanna said the report does not represent the official position of the U.S. government.
The report had stated that America would eventually seek access to Indian bases and military structure, adding that India’s strategic location in the center of Asia, astride the frequently traveled sea lanes linking the Middle East and East Asia, makes India particularly attractive to the U.S. military, revealed the External Affairs Ministry official said.
A diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi said July 25 that the report was prepared by an independent consultancy group and there is no official move by U.S. to set up military bases in India.
New Delhi’s denial to military bases comes ahead of the visit of Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the end of the month and the next round of meetings of the U.S.-India defense policy group, which sources say has been advanced to the first week of August.

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Indian and Russian Firms Join Forces To Make, Sell Avionics
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News downloads 01 Aug 03
India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Bangalore, and Moscow-based Aerospace Equipment Corp. have agreed to jointly produce and market new-generation avionics.
HAL Chairman Nalini Ranjan Mohanty told DefenseNews.com on July 23 the two companies have signed an agreement, which includes production of spare parts for MiG-21 aircraft. He declined, however, to give details of products to be made jointly at HAL facilities in India.
HAL has been maintaining and upgrading the Indian Air Force’s MiG fleet alone. HAL is upgrading 125 MiG-21 bis aircraft at its facilities in Nasik.
The new-generation avionics will be incorporated in the MiG-21 bis, as well as India’s Russian-built Su-30 MKI aircraft. HAL has begun licensed production of 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft in Nasik.
Mohanty added that spare parts and kits for the MiG-21 also will be jointly manufactured. In the last year, the MiG-21 has become subject to scrutiny following a series of crashes.
A senior executive of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK MiG) in New Delhi said July 23 that Indian air crashes, especially of the MiG-21 aircraft, can be attributed mainly to the use of inferior spare parts from Commonwealth of Independent States and East European countries, a charge HAL has always denied.
The RSK MiG executive said the joint development and production of avionics and aviation equipment by HAL and Aerospace Equipment Corp. will be based on cutting-edge technologies. The products will be exported to other countries, he said.
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Defense Minister: 52 Indian MiG Jets Crashed in Past Three Years
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW DELHI Defense News dosnloads 01 Aug 03
A total of 52 Indian Air Force MiG aircraft have crashed over the past three years, Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said.
Twenty-four of the accidents were caused by human error, 20 were due to technical defects, and three of the aircraft struck birds, he said.
“A continuous and multifaceted effort is always afoot in [the] Indian Air Force to enhance and upgrade flight safety,” Fernandes said in a written reply to a question in the upper house of parliament.
A majority of the accidents involved the MiG-21 fighter aircraft.
In the most recent accident, a pilot and co-pilot of a MiG-21 died after their plane crashed at a military airport in Indian Kashmir on July 15.
The Indian Air Force, the world’s fourth largest, has been plagued by accidents that have left about 100 pilots dead since the early 1990s.
A meeting chaired by Fernandes in November decided to phase out the aging Russian-made MiG-21s.
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India’s Homemade SAM Not a Dud, Defense Minister Says
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW DELHI Defense news downlaods 01 aug 03
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes on July 23 came to the defense of a jinxed surface-to-air (SAM) missile, saying it was not a dud and that the indigenous program was being revived.
Fernandes told parliament’s upper house that Indian scientists were working on the glitch-ridden Trishul to turn it into the country’s first anti-missile system.
“The program has been currently delinked from user service [mass production] in view of delays due to technological problems,” he said, adding that four flight-tests of the Trishul between June 22 and 25 were successful.
“All the four tests of the missile had achieved all mission objectives, like proving guidance system and operation,” Fernandes said, in a written reply to queries from members of parliament on the missile’s uncertain future.
Fernandes said the Army, Navy and Air Force have been permitted to import similar missiles “to meet their urgent requirements” while scientists work to get Trishul off its launch pad.
The homegrown Trishul, India’s ambitious version of the U.S.-made Patriot, was one of five developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) since 1983.
The missile is powered by a solid-fuel engine and configured to deliver a 15-kilogram warhead up to nine kilometers away.
But V.K. Aatre, scientific advisor to the defense minister and head of the DRDO, earlier this month said the 3 billion rupee ($62.5 million) project was being scrapped.
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U.S. Company Offers India Stratospheric Airships, Eyes Partners
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BANGALORE, India Defense News downloads 01 Aug 03
A U.S.-based firm, headed by the former director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative’s 1980s “Star Wars” program, offered India its stratospheric airships July 17 and said it was seeking partners.
James Abrahamson, chairman of Florida-based StratCom International LLC, said Indian state-run and private companies could collaborate for specific research and development programs to apply to the new airships.
“India is potentially a terrific market,” said Abrahamson. “And we are looking for partnerships which can be for building specific applications and also on the technical side.”
Stratospheric airships are unmanned, autonomous solar-powered airships designed to fly at approximately 19,700 meters and to carry payloads ranging from 909 to 1,180 kilograms.
The airships, measuring 150 to 180 meters long and about 55 meters in diameter can be used for both civil and military applications.
“These airships will offer reliable transmission and help in disaster management, mobile data communication in remote and rural areas, and telemedicine,” Abrahamson told reporters in the southern information technology hub of Bangalore.
“Stratospheric airships are extremely cost-effective and offer a range of benefits compared to any other satellite, either for civil or defense applications,” he said.
He said the airships, at a cost of about $20 million each, were well suited for a large country like India.
Civil applications include wireless communications and interactive television and radio broadcasts, while military payloads may carry very high resolution multispectral cameras for observing ground, airborne or space targets.
The U.S. Defense Department has already pumped about $100 million into the project, and the first prototype will be ready by late 2005 or early 2006.
The airship will be designed to hover over a single point on the surface of the earth, autonomously navigating to counter winds, and will be able to navigate over long distances or on a combat patrol.
StratCom was formed to investigate and develop the benefits of stratospheric airships for military purposes and civil telecommunication applications.
The firm has an exclusive arrangement with Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems, under which the high-altitude airship program for defense has been in development since 1998.
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India Seeks Used P-3s
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News Downloads 01 aug 03
The Indian government has told the U.S. government it wants to buy eight used P-3 Orion maritime surveillance planes under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, according to the U.S. Navy.
Defence Ministry officials here said India wants to buy the P-3C version of the aircraft at a cost of about $10 million each.
But the C variant is not available through FMS because of its advanced surveillance equipment, so the U.S. Navy would consider selling B variants to India, U.S. service and industry sources said.
U.S. Navy officials plan to visit India in late summer or early fall to begin more formal talks with the government there about the potential deal, Bob Coble, a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., said. In storage since they were removed from the U.S. fleet, the P-3Bs will require refurbishing. If the deal is approved, the U.S. Navy would ask American defense firms to bid for the work, Coble added.
Lockheed Martin, which builds the P-3, has told the Defence Ministry here the company could upgrade the B variants to the Cs, said Jaggi Malhotra, a Lockheed representative in India. Lockheed officials in the United States say the two variants have similar range and payload capabilities.
Gail Kaufman contributed to this report from Washington. See full story in the July 14, 2003, issue of Defense News.
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Indian, U.S. Navies Meet for Search-and-Rescue Exercise
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News downloads
The navies of India and the United States on July 10 began day-and-night exercises expected to last two to three days off the southern Indian coast near Chennai. The joint exercise is the third for the two navies since the United States lifted military sanctions against India in September 2001.
Cmdr. Vinay Gerg, spokesman for the Indian Navy, told DefenseNews.com on July 10 that more than 150 Indian sailors and more than 100 U.S. sailors are participating in the exercises.
India has sent two Indian offshore patrol vessels, two Sea King helicopters and four Chetak helicopters for the search-and-rescue exercise, while the United States has sent one P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and the destroyer USS Curts.
“The current joint exercises are symbolic of the resurgence of Indo-U.S. defense ties,” Gerg said, adding that cooperation between the navies is vital because the strategic lanes from the Arabian Gulf and the Straits of Malacca are important to both countries.
India and the United States held the largest-ever naval exercise in the Indian Ocean in September 2002. The U.S. seventh fleet fielded its Ticonderoga and Spruance destroyers for the two-week exercises. The Indian Navy deployed a Delhi-class destroyer, a Godavari-class frigate, a Shishumar-class submarine and Russian-made Tu-124 maritime surveillance aircraft.

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India Abandons Troubled Trishul Missile Program
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News downloads 01 Aug 03
Continued technical problems have prompted the Indian Defence Forces to scrap the Trishul surface-to-air missile now in development, a move seen by officials here as a serious setback to the nation’s Integrated Guided Missile Development (IGMD) program.
“The decision followed technical snags in the guidance system, leading to the missing of targets,” said a scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which began the design and development of the Trishul missile in 1983 for the Navy, Air Force and Army.
“The Trishul missile has been delinked from induction to the defense forces and will only remain as an experimental missile,” a senior Indian Defence Ministry official said June 30. The official said the ministry already is searching international markets for a short-range missile, noting, “defense companies overseas will be invited in the next month to offer their missiles.”
The contract to equip all three services with short-range missiles within the next two years is expected to be worth $100 million.

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HAL, Eurocopter To Team
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense news downloads 01 Aug 03
Eurocopter S.A. and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) plan to create a joint venture firm for system development, equipment production, helicopter assembly and eventually, helicopter production.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget June 17 by HAL Chairman Nalini Ranjan Mohanty and Eurocopter President Fabrice Bregier.
Guillaume Gasparri, India managing director here for Eurocopter’s parent company, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., Amsterdam, said July 1, “The proposed MoU between the two countries will lay the foundation for creating a large helicopter production base in India, which would not only cater to India’s defense and civil helicopter requirements, but will also be aimed at export markets.”
Gasparri added that the joint-venture relationship would lead to co-production of a particular class of helicopters in India, for which the two companies are currently preparing business plan.
See full story in the July 7

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Chinese Air Force Delegation Visits Indian Airbase
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, JODHPUR, India Defense News Downloads 01 aug 03
A 58-member high-level Chinese Air Force delegation July 2 visited the Jodhpur air base in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, a defense spokesman here said.
The delegation, including eight Air Force major generals, was on a goodwill mission, he said. They toured the ground facilities and held meetings with their Indian counterparts.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited China last month, giving an impetus to cooperation between the two countries, which fought a brief but bloody war in 1962
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British Warships To Visit India’s Crucial Naval Command Next Week
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW DELHI Defense News Downloads 01 aug 03
Two British warships will visit India’s key naval command in Port Blair next week to “extend the growing professional interaction” between the two navies, the British high commission in New Delhi said July 2.
Britain’s guided missile destroyer HMS Liverpool and replenishment ship RFA Grey Rover will visit Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands from July 7-9.
“The visit of these two warships represent the largest Royal Navy visit to an Indian port in 10 years,” the high commission said in a statement. “The visit is intended to extend the growing professional interaction between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, as well as renewing historical and goodwill ties between the two navies.”
HMS Liverpool and RFA Grey Rover are returning to Britain after joining Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore in the Five Powers Defence Agreement Exercise — Flying Fish — in the South China Sea.
India and Britain enjoy close political, diplomatic and military ties

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Indian Air Force Campaign Defends Image of MiG-21
By PRATAP CHAKRAVARTY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW DELHI Defense News Downloads 01 aug 03
The Indian Air Force (IAF) June 25 came out in defense of its MiG-21s, rejecting the nickname of “flying coffins” that some have bestowed on the Russian warplanes.
The IAF, which is the world’s fourth largest air force with 1,200 aircraft, relies mainly on nine variants of the single-engine MiG-21s, some of which date back to 1966.
Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy in a news conference rested his case for the Russian-designed interceptors, arguing the hours flown by the MiGs compared with the number of crashes did not merit the uncharitable tag the planes now have.
“Have a heart! The marriage market of our MiG pilots is coming down and we are angered by this,” he said referring to charts and statistics which boasted the aging jets were even safer than some wide-bodied commercial aircraft.
The reaction came just over a month after an IAF MiG-21 crashed and killed five people on the ground in the northern state of Haryana. The accident was India’s second MiG crash in four days and the eighth in the province in the past year.
“In the past 10 years, MiGs have flown 553,000 sorties and there had been only 98 crashes involving 43 fatalities,” Krishnaswamy said, adding that some 120 of his newest fleet of 200 MiGs have been upgraded to improve flight safety.
“Technical flaws caused no fatalities in the past five years except for in two cases,” he said, adding the period saw 25 crashes due to human error and 18 more from faults in the supersonic jets which have fought in India’s wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.
The comments stressed the IAF’s utter desperation for new trainer jets for its graduate rookie fliers, who now pilot under-performing planes with landing speeds of about 86 miles an hour to the MiG’s touchdown velocity of 211 miles an hour.
India has been dragging its feet since 1982 to buy 66 trainer jets worth $1.63 billion and has short-listed the Hawk Advance Jet Trainer built by Britain’s BAE SYSTEMS and the Alphajet trainer of France’s Dassault Aviation, but has not finalized any deal.
The government, plagued by one major defense scandal after another since 1984, is wary of getting bogged down by more such allegations with provincial elections later this year and make-or-break national polls looming in 2004.
But the air chief marshal rejected suggestions of friction over advanced jet trainers between the IAF and the coalition government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Krishnaswamy said his MiG-21s would continue to fly because the jets were the mainstay of the Indian military, which was “very close to war with Pakistan last year.”
“Retiring aircraft is not simple, and we are not convinced with arguments that resources are the only criteria,” he said, adding the IAF warhorses have a life of up to 40 years, while their engines had a shorter flying life.
“And in their lifetime each of these planes will consume two engines,” Krishnaswamy said of the MiG-21s, which two Indian aeronautical companies now are upgrading and manufacturing under license from Russia.
Besides the MiGs, the IAF’s frontline aircraft includes Russian Sukhoi Su-30s, MiG-29s and French-built Mirage 2000s. India also is locally making British-designed Jaguar bomber jets.
The former Soviet Union accounted for 70 percent of India’s military hardware, but since its breakup, New Delhi has been

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U.S. Relaxes Export Rules for India, Pakistan
By AMY SVITAK Defense News down Loads 01 Aug 03
The U.S. State Department has eased export restrictions on defense goods going to India and Pakistan, a move that some industry observers say will be a boon to American defense and aerospace firms.
“This opens up those two huge markets once again for U.S. aerospace and defense contractors,” said Fred Shaheen, a government contracts attorney with Greenberg Traurig in Washington. “U.S. companies are now going to look at all the major combat systems in Pakistan and ask where they are going to be in five years, and shouldn’t they be thinking about refurbishment or replacement now.”
The regulatory change, published June 20 in the Federal Register, came on the eve of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s June 24 visit to the United States.
After meeting with Musharraf at Camp David, U.S. President George W. Bush announced an aid package for Pakistan that includes $1.5 billion in security assistance over the next five years. The change reflects, in part, an effort to reward Pakistan for its assistance in the war on terrorism. But some industry analysts say the change will do much more than merely normalize U.S. relations with the two countries.
See the full story in the June 30, 2003, issue of Defense News

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India’s Military Seeks $1.5 Billion in Radar Gear
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI Defense News down Loads 01 Aug03
India’s defense forces have submitted to the Ministry of Defence a draft proposal to buy $1.5 billion worth of radar systems. This proposal, along with others submitted by the Navy, Army and Air Force in the last two months, are being favorably considered, a senior ministry official said June 16.
The requirements submitted by the defense forces include battlefield surveillance systems, air defense radar systems, anti-aircraft weapon control systems, low-flying-detection radar systems, land- and ship-based 3-D radar surveillance systems, and multimode fire control radar for military aircraft.
The radar program is expected to officially launch in July, with equipment being purchased in batches during the next three years.
“The demands of the defense forces will be met, as finances for radar over the next three years will not be a problem,” a second senior Defence Ministry official said June 17. He revealed that in anticipation of the $1.5 billion in radar procurements being approved by the Indian government, a number of foreign vendors have offered their radar systems, which are being evaluated
“Once the draft plan is accepted formally and cleared by the government, which is expected any time this year, then formal letters of offer will be sent to select overseas and domestic companies to offer their products,” added the ministry official.
While state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), Bangalore, has offered its radar systems to meet the demands of the defense forces, a senior Army official said June 17 that these radar are obsolete and of inferior quality compared with the products of overseas defense manufacturers.
A senior BEL official, however, rejected the Army official’s statement, claiming instead that the company can meet all the military’s radar requirements. “BEL is also offering the Indian Navy its latest-developed, low-probability intercept radar that cannot be detected by incoming aircraft and can escape anti-radiation missiles,” the BEL official said.
The second ministry official said overseas vendors that have made offers of airborne radar systems for combat and maritime surveillance aircraft, in anticipation of being invited by the Indian government to bid on the program, include Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Lod, Israel; Elbit Systems Ltd., Haifa, Israel; Beltechexport ZAO, Minsk, Belarus; Russia’s state-owned arms export agency Rosoboronexport, Moscow; and Scientific Production Enterprise Polyot, Nizhni Novgorod, Russia.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md.; Omnipol, Prague, Czech Republic; and Rosoboronexport are eyeing the 3-D radar systems competition for warships and Navy and Air Force bases. Elop Electro-Optics Industries Ltd., Rehovot, Israel, has offered to supply transportable radar systems.
Other companies that have shown interest in the Indian radar market are IAI subsidiary Elta Electronics Industries Ltd., Ashdod, Israel; EADS Deutschland GmbH, Munich; and Thales Nederland BV, Hengelo, the Netherlands.
The demand for radar systems submitted by the Indian defense forces is separate from the requirement for anti-ballistic missile radar systems like the Arrow-2 missile system, the Phalcon radar and the Green Pine radar, all of which India is negotiating to buy from Israel.
India also is negotiating to buy the Patriot air defense system from the United States and an improved version of the S-300 V air defense system from Russia.
“The need to modernize India’s radar system came to be appreciated by the Indian government only in the Kargil battle of 1999, when the Indian Army felt a dire need for weapon-locating radar. … [These] were finally procured from the United States in early 2002,” Nitin Mehta, an independent defense analyst here, said June 17.
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Indian Buy of 22 MiGs for Carrier Moves Forward
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, NEW DELHI “Defense News dowlaod 01 Aug 0-3
The Indian Ministry of Defence’s Technical Evaluation Committee has approved a technical proposal submitted by Russian Aircraft-building Corporation MiG for the procurement of 22 MiG-29K fighters to equip the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.
While the formal letter of approval has yet to be sent, a ministry official June 10 confirmed the committee’s decision. The letter is expected within the month.
Several problems still must be resolved, not the least of which is the fact the Indian Navy has no carrier for these planes.
Russia offered to give the Kiev-class aircraft carrier to India, but only if India paid for the ship’s refit in Russia, bought MiG-29K aircraft and leased other Russian weaponry. The cost of the package would be more than $1 billion, which India has said is too high. Negotiations for the carrier began in 1994.
See full story in the June 16, 2003, issue of Defense News.

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Arunachal Pradesh not part of India, says Beijing the Hindu 26 Jul 03
Beijing July 25. Saying that it had ``not recognised'' Arunachal Pradesh as part of India, China today alleged that ``Indian people'' crossed the eastern sector of the Line of Actual Control in the north-eastern State and not its forces as claimed by New Delhi.
Denying a report published in a Delhi newspaper that Chinese forces had ``transgressed'' into Indian territory near the LAC when the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, was visiting Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kong Quan, said China did not recognise that Arunachal Pradesh was part of India.
``We have noted the relevant report. China does not recognise the so-called Arunachal Pradesh mentioned by the Indian newspaper report,'' Mr. Kong said. The External Affairs Ministry spokesman had said yesterday that the Indian Government was aware of the ``transgression'' of the LAC by a Chinese patrol on June 26 in the Asaphila area of the upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
This was an area where there were differences in perception of the LAC between the two sides. Mr. Kong said, ``as far as the incident mentioned, after investigations, we have found that the Indian side crossed the eastern sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
At the request of the Chinese side, the Indian people who crossed the LAC, returned to the Indian side of the LAC.'' China lays claim to 90,000 sq km of land in Arunachal Pradesh.

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The Hindu 26 Jull 03NEW DELHI JULY 25. The External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, today admitted in the Lok Sabha that there has been a latest incident of incursion across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
This and earlier such incursions could have been avoided if the two countries had a common perception of the LAC, he said.
The Minister told the House that the Government had taken up the issue of the latest incursion with China and a response was awaited. Mr. Sinha was responding to an adjournment motion moved by Ramjilal Suman and Chandranath Singh, both from the Samajwadi Party (SP), in the wake of a furore in the media during the past few days.
Mr. Sinha told the House that the Government was aware of the transgression of the LAC by a Chinese patrol on June 26 in the Asaphila area of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
This, he said, ``is an area where there are differences in perception of the LAC between the two countries''.
The Minister said the Chinese patrol had not observed the specific provision laid down in the 1996 agreement between the two countries that concern situations involving face to face contact between patrols of the two sides.
He said the process of clarification of the LAC is under way. According to him ``the Government regularly took up with the Chinese authorities the violations of the LAC, according to our perception, by the Chinese side through the established mechanism.''
Earlier, speaking on his amendment motion, Mr. Suman said that newspaper reports had mentioned that China did not even recognise Sikkim as being part of India. ``While the Prime Minister was in China, the Chinese were making incursions into Indian territory,'' he said.
Jagmeet Singh Brar (Congress) and Mr. Chandranath Singh referred to the fact that 10 Intelligence Bureau members were interrogated by the Chinese patrol. Both members said the matter was related to national security and urged the Government to take it seriously.
After listening to the Minister of External Affairs, the Speaker, Manohar Joshi, rejected the adjournment motion
India meanwhile responded in a restrained manner to comments made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman that Arunachal Pradesh was not a part of India and that it was the ``Indian side'' which had crossed the LAC in the eastern sector.
In response to questions on the issue, the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman said that India had made its position clear on the June 26 ``transgression'' of the LAC by the Chinese side. While the spokesman did not offer a detailed response to the Chinese Foreign Ministry's comments today, official sources said there was no exchange of fire during the June 26 incident. They added that the ``encounter'' in Arunachal Pradesh should not be blown out of proportion given the fact that the LAC is a lengthy one. This, again, pointed to the urgent need to clarify the LAC, the sources added.
They said that just because the Chinese had a certain view about the status of Arunachal Pradesh it did not mean that the State was not a part of the Indian Union.


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Differences exist with China on boundary demarcation: PM
By Our Special Correspondent the hindu 01 Aug 03
NEW DELHI JULY 31. While commending his Government's "look ahead" policy in foreign affairs, the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, today said that his recent visits to China, Russia, Germany and France showed India's growing importance in the international arena.
Replying to a 90-minute discussion in the Rajya Sabha on his last week's statement on his four-nation tour, he said India's importance in global affairs was being realised by everyone. "We have to look to the future, take inspiration from history but do not have to get lost in its labyrinthine structure," he cautioned.
Referring to his China visit and specifically to recent reports of a Chinese incursion in Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Vajpayee admitted that there were differences between the two countries on boundary demarcation. "The behaviour of Chinese authorities with the Indian patrol in Arunachal Pradesh was not dignified and in keeping with the agreements between us. Everyone is of the view that India and China should work together."
On Tibet, Mr. Vajpayee said India's known position was reiterated and took a dig at some members who sought to rake up a debate on it. "Tibet is a large region and there is an autonomous part within it but I do not want to go in a debate on it."
The Prime Minister was at his oratorial best while replying to references by senior Congress member, K. Natwar Singh, on what he had said on China as an Opposition leader and as Foreign Minister. "Mr. Natwar Singh had in fact sent me a congratulatory letter. I had visited China even before the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and had stressed on keeping peace and tranquility between the two countries. Rajiv Gandhi repeated it," he said.
"Times have changed. Earlier, as an Opposition leader, I used to give expression to public sentiments and colour them as well but now I keep them in mind and see them in nationalist colours," Mr. Vajpayee said.
Alluding to the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, Russia and India, Mr. Vajpayee said it was taken note of by the international community. "There was no conspiracy. There have been suggestions of a possible China-India-Russia axis."
Pointing out that the international situation was undergoing a change, he favoured a cautious approach in forging bonds of friendship with Pakistan. "We went to Lahore in a hurry and had to face Kargil," he quipped but added that friendship with Pakistan was necessary. But friendly ties with Pakistan would not mean that India should compromise with the menace of terrorism. "We will have to crush terrorism and stamp it out." Winding up his reply, Mr. Vajpayee said India and China were cooperating on several fronts, including support to the World Trade Organisation. "There is enormous potential for expanding trade relations with China."
Earlier, intervening in the discussion, the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, described Mr. Vajpayee as a man of peace who was respected in the international fora as the one who was genuinely interested in it. "Let us not indulge in credit-taking and blame game. The fact is that Prime Minister's China visit came after a decade and it produced results that can be described as landmark and path-breaking."
On the Arunachal Pradesh incident, he said such sporadic incidents did take place and it could not have been "pre-meditated". While stating that Sikkim and Tibet could not be linked, he said that the issue of Tibet was to be settled between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government.
Opening the discussion, Natwar Singh (Cong.) sought clarifications as to why Sikkim was not put in the joint declaration and raised the issue of Arunachal Pradesh.
Related

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2 pilots die in copter crash
By Our Staff Reporter The Hindu 01 aug 03
HYDERABAD JULY 31 . Two Indian Air Force pilots, who were on a training sortie in a Chetak helicopter, were killed when the chopper crashed at Mandaipally village of Shameerpet in the outskirts of the city.
The victims were identified as Narayanan, Flight Lieutenant, and Avinash Sharma, trainee pilot, of the Air Force station in Hakimpet.

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MiG victims mother confronts Fernandes Express News Service 28 Jul 03

Mumbai, July 27: The controversy over the airworthiness of MiGs clouded George Fernandes visit to Mumbai on Kargil Diwas yesterday when Kavita Gadgil, who lost her son in a MiG-21 crash, confronted the Defence Minister at a public function.
Gadgil, whose son Flight Lieutenant Abhijit died in a MiG-21 crash two years ago, presented Fernandes with a letter regarding the MiGs upgradation when he reached the venue yesterday evening.
Gadgil, who introduced herself as a representative of all the families who have lost relatives in MiG crashes, told the minister: The MiG is a dangerous aircraft and you should not fly it.
Fernandes responded by saying, Yes, I saw you and I read about you today. Gadgil had called a press conference on Friday immediately after Fernandes announced his intention to fly a MiG-21 in Parliament.
Gadgil then waited on the sidelines when the function organised by the Karnataka-based Jaya Shreekrishna Parisara Premi Samiti began. After several speeches including Fernandess, which was in Kannada, when mediapersons insisted on a break for an interview with the Defence Minister, Gadgil walked up to the stage. Security personnel, however, prevented her from meeting Fernandes.
Gadgil, who started the Abhijit Air Safety Foundation (ASSF) to highlight issues concerning the MiGs airworthiness, later said she wanted to meet the minister to dissuade him from flying the MiG. I wanted to tell him that he is very precious for the nation and he should not fly the MiG which is a dangerous aircraft. He can sit in Delhi and make flying safer for the pilots instead.
Gadgil said on Friday that she had written to the President asking for an appointment on August 5. Thats the day when Flt Lt S.C. Shukla, who had the maximum number of sorties in Kargil to his credit, died after his aircraft crashed near Palam airport, Delhi, in 2000.
A delegation of the victims family is expected to place their demands before the President. Since we now have a President who is also a great scientist, we are sure the matter will get due consideration, she said. The AASF will recommend trainer aircraft/flight simulators and better maintenance of these aircraft, Gadgil said.
Young fighter pilots in old MiGs have been dying without a war, without a cause. But everything appears normal to people who have not lost their flesh and blood, said Gadgil, alluding to what she described as the callous attitude of the authorities concerned.
Gadgil said the minister was treating the matter as if it were a joyride. Can he walk impromptu into one of the airbases and pick a MiG-21 at random and then fly in it? she asked.
Gadgil said the flight data recorders (FDR) of the MiGs, which constitute 50 per cent of the fighting strength of the air force, are so primitive that a realistic assessment of cases of fatal crashes becomes difficult

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On Army run, Jet flies to forward airfield today Pranab Dal Samanta, Indian Express 30 Jul 03

New Delhi, July 29: The Governments open skies policy may still be a dream but on the home front, its time for private airlines to wing to areas hitherto reserved for the national carrier. On Wednesday morning, there will be a new first when Jet Airways operates for the Army a probing flight to Ladakhs Thoise airfield, the crucial link to the Siachen glacier.
Jet has been chartered by the Army its the first time the armed forces are turning to a private airline to ferry troops and material from sensitive locations in Ladakh.
Official sources said a Jet Airways Boeing 737-900 will take off from Delhi at 5.30 am, weather conditions permitting. The start of the main operations will hinge on the success of this trial run.
Located at a height of 10,059 feet, Thoise airfield is a crucial junction for military personnel stationed in Siachen and nearby areas. Only the IAF flies to Thoise. Leh too only allows Indian Airlines and Alliance Air.
Official sources said the first attempt to charter a commercial airliner for Thoise was made by the Army during the Kargil War to pull out wounded troops. Alliance Air was to have operated on the route. Despite a successful trial run, efforts to start regular operations failed to materialise. In case the Jet flights a success, it will operate once every week between Thoise and Delhi. The start of this service, sources said, would provide an alternative to Leh which has been the sole hub for troops deployed on the higher reaches along the Line of Control.
The Army has so far chartered only Indian Airlines aircraft operated these days largely by its sister concern Alliance Air for ferrying its personnel. While Defence officials maintain that services to Leh will carry on unhindered, questions have been raised over the performance of the Alliance Air after two of its aircraft on the Delhi-Leh circuit suffered tyre damage.
The success of Wednesdays trial run, sources said, will also open up the possibility of adding Leh as a stop-over for this flight. It is learnt that the Army top brass has been grappling with ways to improve connectivity to Thoise airfield. With a runway length of 10,000 feet its longer than the Leh runway Thoise apparently meets all operational specifications for a Boeing 737.
But like any high altitude airport, Thoise too has its limitations. Only one direction of the runway, for instance, is available for aircraft to take off. This is because theres no escape for a plane taking off in the opposite direction if one of its engines were to fail.



posted by promila 10:05 AM


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