defence and security news


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

US Nuclear Policy May Trigger Tests by Pakistan, India China
By MR Srinivasan
US PRESIDENT George W. Bush had included North Korea and Iran along with Iraq in the 'Axis of Evil'. The Saddam Hussein regime has been overthrown in Iraq by the US-UK military strike but despite thorough searches, no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been found. The US leadership, of course, assures the world that they will eventually be found in Iraq.
In the meantime, North Korea has asserted it has some nuclear weapons and has warned the US against threatening its sovereignty. North Korea is technically still at war with the US, although hostilities ceased some 50 years ago. No peace treaty was ever negotiated between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) many years ago. The former Soviet Union supplied North Korea with a research reactor and a small capacity nuclear power unit. The latter can produce plutonium in the spent fuel.
In the 1990s, the US in cooperation with South Korea and Japan agreed to supply two large capacity nuclear power units on the condition that North Korea desisted from making nuclear weapons. The US also agreed to arrange supply of petroleum to meet the energy needs of North Korea; however, relations between Washington and Pyongyang have lurched from one misunderstanding to another over the years. Dissatisfied with the situation, some years ago North Korea notified that it was withdrawing from the NPT. However just a day before the notice period expired it announced that it would suspend the withdrawal notice.
As of now is it unclear if North Korea is bound by the NPT or not. North Korea has claimed that it has reprocessed spent fuel from its reactor and if this were so, it will be in possession of plutonium. North Korea has been cooperating with Pakistan for many years. Islamabad has received missiles from Pyongyang and this has greatly increased the reach of Pakistani nuclear weapons vis-à-vis Indian targets.
Missile technology has also been transferred from North Korea to Pakistan. It is widely believed that North Korea in return received from Pakistan technology for enriching uranium and for making nuclear weapons. US intelligence agencies are fully aware of this two-way exchange. Pakistan's nuclear expert, Dr. A. Qadir Khan, has visited North Korea frequently. If North Korea does have a nuclear weapon, it is quite likely to be derived from a Pakistani design. As is well known, Pakistan itself received substantial help from China on nuclear weapons, including certain items of hardware.
In a strange irony of events, China has now assumed the role of a champion of non-proliferation in North East Asia. China has taken the initiative to arrange a six-nation meeting with the US, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas attending it. Both China, Pyongyang's longstanding friend, and South Korea are in favor of finding a diplomatic solution that does not humiliate North Korea. If North Korea were to conduct a nuclear test and go overtly nuclear, then pressure will build up in Japan to launch a full-scale nuclear weapons program.
It may be recalled that the NPT was devised by the US, the USSR and the UK to prevent Japan and Germany from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. North Korea's economy is in desperate condition and it is too small a state to withstand sanctions if it were to declare itself a nuclear weapon state. The calibrated steps to build the bridges between the two Koreas, in progress in recent years, would also suffer a serious setback in consequence.
Besides, the earlier hostility between the two Koreas would return thus perpetuating the isolation and suffering of North Korea's population. The US must end the state of war, which Pyongyang believes it is continuing, and facilitate North Korea's return to the international community. However, it is clear that North Korea must dismantle all its activities related to nuclear weapons. It has to restrict nuclear activities solely to civilian applications as it undertook to when it joined the NPT.
Iran embarked on a wide-ranging nuclear program. in the days of the last Shah. Many wondered why Iran wanted nuclear power given the large oil and natural gas available to it. As it turned out, by the time the Islamic revolutionaries came to power, some research facilities had been set up and a nuclear power station with two units was under construction at Busher. When Iraq attacked Iran, it also fired missiles at the power station under construction.
Work was suspended for many years and eventually Germany, which was building the project, withdrew. Iran persuaded Russia to take up work on the partly built reactors and one unit is now in an advanced stage of completion. Through the 1990s, the US spread stories that Iran was working on building nuclear weapons. Iran signed the NPT many years ago, when the Shah was in power. It maintains that its programs are entirely for peaceful purposes and that it has abided by the provisions of the NPT.
The US applied pressure on Russia over a long period of time to stop extending assistance to Iran, but Russia argued it was only for civilian power production. Lately a new element has surfaced; Iran is reported to be building a uranium enrichment plant. There are no reliable reports as to who may be assisting Iran in this venture. There is speculation that Pakistan may be providing the technology, which Qadir Khan stole from Holland many years ago. Usually enrichment plants are uneconomic unless they are built with substantial capacity. With Iran building just one or two power units using enriched uranium to fuel its reactors, it could quite easily get the fuel from Russia which is supplying the reactors.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding discussions with Iran on the scope of safeguards. The earlier practice was that when nuclear technology was supplied from another country, IAEA safeguards would operate to ensure that no diversion from peaceful to non-peaceful applications took place. After the Iraq episode of the 1990s a more intrusive safeguards regime applied to all nuclear activities of a state party to the NPT has been the norm. The IAEA is discussing with Iran such a regime, which could involve surprise inspections. Since Iran has signed the NPT and reiterates its adherence to the treaty, it cannot develop nuclear weapons or technologies leading to them. However, Iran has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
We are now in a period when the chief sponsor of the NPT has itself jettisoned many of the basic premises of a fragile nuclear equilibrium existing for the past five decades. The US now claims its right to mount pre-emptive strikes on any person or state who in its opinion may pose a threat to it. It has proclaimed it could deploy nuclear weapons even against states that do not possess nuclear weapons.
Specifically it has warned that a chemical or biological threat could be countered by nuclear retaliation. It is seriously considering placing nuclear weapons on space platforms; the justification is that in the Iraq episode it did not get prompt cooperation from Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the use of bases. In future engagements, the US would like to be able to launch attacks from space platforms avoiding the need for bases around the world.
The US is developing a new range of deep penetration nuclear weapons to destroy bunkers, control centers and silos of potential enemies. The US weapon designers are urging resumption of nuclear tests even as early as next year. This could trigger tests by China, India and Pakistan. Given the policies the US is pursuing unilaterally ,whatever equilibrium obtains in nuclear matters will be seriously disturbed and the world will have to prepare itself to face a highly unstable nuclear future.
The writer is a former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission of India. - Courtesy The Hindu
South Asia Tribune 02 Sep 03
A Clarion Call For Pakistan's Military Leadership
By Anwaar Hussain SouthAsia Tribune 02 Sep 03

LEADERSHIP IS a human necessity. From the very beginning men have required leaders to guide them through the complex maze of life. People have selected to follow the more gifted ones in the pursuit of various ideals in different walks of life. These leaders have been followed blindly, elevated, worshipped, sometimes humiliated and even murdered for the values they stood for and the systems they defied.
Military, more than any other sphere of human activity requires outstanding leaders. Because it is only in military that men will fight with whatever they have to achieve an aim or die trying for it. As life is the supreme sacrifice that a man can offer, this fighting for an aim cannot then be left to an unruly and chaotic bunch of men. Such groups of men turn out to be pitiable creatures known by numbers and letters, shepherded to the front like cattle and fed into the carnage like gun fodder.
It has been observed that men do not flee the battlefield because they are fighting for an unrighteous cause or attack because their cause is just. It is more often devotion to a single man who has inspired his followers to lay down their lives. Men fight best when they have good leaders. Leaders, who can light the fire in the hearts of their men and lift them to that exalted state of devotion where they will offer the extreme sacrifice without a qualm. Such is the pedestal on which rests the responsibility of military leaders.
Coming battles will be bewildering, complex, fluid and incredibly violent. The technology will be ultra-modern; the psychological stresses on men will be as dreadful and desperate as never before. Weapons have become more efficient and sophisticated, and as a result their lethality and firepower now have a devastating effect on combatants. Sustained operations, the fog of war, physical and psychological fatigue, threat to life and limb, loss of comrades, the sight of dying and wounded men, conflicts of values, isolation from near and dear ones and above all the fear of being killed or maimed will be hanging thick in the air.
Today’s battlefield, in short, will be a ferocious mix of lethality, devastation and complex leadership tasks. The men will be reliant on their leaders as never before. It will require superb military leadership capable of withstanding the heat of such a battle and delivering under fire. These are challenges of a kind which have to be addressed in great seriousness. But the battlefield is not a place for quiet contemplation. From experience and from literature we know that those who came out on top were the ones who maintained their focus on their profession in peace times and did not fritter away their skills in wasteful quests.
To prepare the troops to engage in combat is the fundamental purpose of a military leadership in peace times. Be it war or peace, at the heart of this leadership lies the fact that a good leader must be seen by his men leading from the front and, when the time comes, willing to accept the ultimate sacrifice himself. This, above all, is what differentiates the military leadership from all others. A British soldier in a 2nd World War European battlefield, when asked by war correspondents where his officers were? Replied, “Come time to die, they will be with us.”
War is an art of conflict and military leadership is an expression of that art. A military organization will choke on its superb staff work and staff reports if it is incapable of producing professional leaders able to deliver in the field. Military leadership, therefore, assumes an almost mystical place in the book of military values and most certainly occupies a central place in its code of conduct.
Military profession is unique in that not every one is fit to become a soldier. A man can be selfish, spineless, untrustworthy, false, and morally corrupt in a wide variety of other ways and still be outstandingly good in professions other than that of a fighting man. He can be a superbly creative artist, for example, or a scientist in the very top order, and still be a very bad man. What the bad man cannot be is a good sailor, or soldier, or an airman. Likewise, not every sailor, soldier or airman can be a good military leader. Military leadership of a nation, therefore, forms a rare storehouse of moral supply that should always be a source of strength within the state.
There are very few who are born with it. The rest have to be trained. The dilemma is that no training institute however careful and thorough can substitute for actual combat. No man can be an effective fighting leader before he hears an angry bullet whiz past his head. A fighting leader is always green till he and his men come under fire. Be that as it may, till the time such groups of men actually come under hot fire, the art of soldiery has to be continually honed within the constraints. Towards this end, no amount of time is ever enough. Battlefield is a place where one would be expected to deliver what one has learnt in the interlude. In the ensuing blame game at the end of conflicts, “not enough training” is the standard accusation of the head-hunters. The almost standard counter of the involved leaders has always been…“not enough time”.
How is the Pakistani military leadership doing today? Are they utilizing this “not enough time” to prepare themselves and their troops’ to a pitch that strikes terror in the hearts of our potential enemies? Or is our military busy instead in wasting this precious resource in managing national politics, housing estates, large corporations, financial institutions, factories, huge commercial enterprises, dairy farms, and similar state concerns?
Business, management and politics make a witch’s brew for any fighting force in general and prove a dangerous liaison for its leadership in particular. A military leader cannot be identified with the corporate executive to the point where the functions of leadership are perceived as identical to the functions of departmental management. If the two are confused, the traditional aspects of the military approach will collapse under the impact of new managerial skills, staff-solutions, power-point presentations and computer models of decision making. The next war will then be fought by executives in uniform equipped with the tools of corporate administration held vital to “management” yet bereft of skills necessary to winning a conflict. The “way of the soldier” then will finally be laid to rest.
To be sure, the concept of military leadership does embody in itself a notion of management. But taking it even an iota beyond that is an inherently misleading and ultimately perilous proposition. Yes good management is good leadership. Yet good management does not necessarily provide good military leadership, for a combat leader cannot “manage” his men to death. The management of the business world is best left to those whose job it is. For a military leader’s concern are the enemy forces and not the market forces.
Military leaders are made in peace and tested in war. Such men will give to the selfless performance of their duty and mission the best that effort, thought and dedication can provide. A military leader is not merely a manager of men as would happen in a commercial enterprise. This equation is bogus, deceptive and ultimately dangerous. For it does not recognize that at some point a military leader may be called upon to do his duty and be “faithful unto death”.
Furthermore, for military to indulge in national politics poses gravest of dangers. Inevitably it ends up absorbing the politician’s language, style and eventually their ethics. Whenever that happens, however faintly and gradually, the military ceases to be a true military establishment on which the nation counts so deeply. It rather becomes an army of politicians reacting more to street sentiment than to aggression from across national frontiers.
Let it not be forgotten that the military is a profession of arms and has a long tradition, with a high and exacting standard and inherent nobility derived from the nature of war and the conditions of service. Traditionally, soldiers are expected to possess military virtues in all facets of their lives. This is inherent in the idea that the military is not a job but a way of life. For the military, performance expectations are believed to be higher than for civilians and include the notion that individual soldiers should serve as a symbol of all that is best in the national character.
In true democratic societies, the moral justification for the use of military force for tasks other than that for which it was intrinsically oriented is almost always an issue of profound concern. Not only that, the application of military assets for almost any reason is always a cause for serious debate at the highest strata of national society.
The fact that military force is often used disreputably does not negate the truth that the military is indeed an honorable profession with an ethical purpose. There is a wholly legitimate and honorable purpose for military force - to protect the lives of the citizens of the nation from outside aggression. Nothing less, nothing more. A military leadership indulging in non-professional pursuits, unsure of itself and its standard of conduct, unable to maintain its focus during peacetime and over-managed with briefcase-toting staff is a recipe for disaster. Therein lurks the danger of prostituting the legitimate purpose of military force. In such situations the military force, more often than not, is misused in unscrupulous and non-professional pursuits. More than this, one would not want to pen.
Millions of soldiers have perished in countless conflicts because of fundamental inferiority in strength, tactics and weaponry, poor organization, failed strategies, treachery and adverse weather. If one were to sum up all the factors into one whole, it is none other than repeatedly poor and dismal military leadership. This one aspect is enough to unhinge all the sacrifices of an otherwise first rate fighting force. All factors associated with military decay focus on leadership.
When the dust of war settles we start looking for causatives in the debris that are left behind. Who, what, when, how, where, why are sought in the charred remains. The answers to these questions should be sought now and not then.
The writer is a former Pakistan Air Force officer, now residing in UAE. E-Mail:

posted by promila 10:00 AM

CCS to clear AJT this fortnight

Bangalore, August 20: Defence Minister George Fernandes on Wednesday indicated that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is likely to clear the much-awaited Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) deal within a fortnight.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) plant in the city, Fernandes said the Defence Ministry had sent necessary papers to the CCS, which will take a final decision at its next meeting.
Left wont relent, to continue Fernandes boycott
NEW DELHI: Consequent to the Government’s ‘‘failure to answer’’ questions on the contentious Defence deals, the CPI(M) feels that the entire Opposition should continue the boycott of Defence Minister George Fernandes. Somnath Chatterjee, leader of the CPM in Lok Sabha, said on Wednesday he hoped the presence of the Congress and other non-Left Opposition parties during Fernandes’ speech on Monday was ‘‘only for the non-confidence motion’’. Describing as ‘‘successful’’ the purpose of the motion which was lost in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday night, Chatterjee said the performance of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Fernandes had exposed the Government’s ‘‘total inability to answer what the country’s people wanted to know’’. ‘‘Going by the performance of the Defence Minister, who could say nothing to disprove charges except proclaiming himself honest, the Left parties will continue to boycott his speeches in the coming days as well’’, he said. —ENS
He did not reply to queries on which manufacturer will clinch the deal and the number of AJTs that will be ordered. That is all part of the Cabinet papers and it is a secret, he said. The Minister was not sure about the delivery schedule.
The top contenders for the AJT are the British Hawk and L159 B of the Czech Republic. The two aircraft were part of the demonstration at Aero India 2003 held in February in Bangalore, during which Fernandes had said the deal was likely to be cleared shortly. When reminded of his earlier statements, he admitted he was not aware of all the manoeuvres. Questioned about the Phalcon radars from Israel, Fernandes said no decision had been taken in the matter.
On cross-border terrorism, he said infiltration continues. It has ups and downs, but it continues. Firing was high in areas like Kargil and an equal amount of fire has been returned, he said. He said several confidence building measures need to be taken to improve Indo-Pak relations.
Fernandes also said the no-confidence motion moved against the Vajpayee Government has exposed chinks in the Opposition. The Congress lacks the kind of resilience needed to put a platform together and it is trying to assemble a coalition which is not sticking together, he said.
Asked if the Congress boycott had given him confidence, Fernandes said he never loses confidence. I am an eternal fighter. I will remain one.
When asked if the defeat of the motion was a setback to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Fernandes said: You may say so if you wish, adding The debate made it clear that the NDA stands firm and there are no hiccups which were found in the early phases.
He said he did try to speak to Jayalalithaa before the trust vote, but she was not available. However, he said he had not called her for any specific issue.

Indian Express 21 Aug 03
Navy boosted by US offer of direct sales of aircraft parts

New Delhi, August 22: In a sign of growing Indo-US ties on Defence-related issues, Washington has offered direct sales of key spare parts of the Sea Harrier aircraft and Sea King helicopters. The US offer is a boost for the Navy as both aircrafts serve as the backbone of the maritime air strike arm. Both were almost grounded when the US-imposed sanctions in the aftermath of the Pokhran tests.
At the recent meetings between US and Indian military officers, the US has offered online sales of these spares to New Delhi, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice-Admiral John Desilva said.
However, New Delhi has expressed concern at the US offer to Pakistan to sell them six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. So long as Pakistan continues its policy of confrontation with India and so long as it continues to sponsor cross-border terrorism, any accretion to Pakistans military strength, irrespective of the source, would be a matter of concern, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the US offer of direct sales means that New Delhi will not have to wait for routine supplies from the British who would seek clearance from Washington for supplying these spares

Indian Express 23 Aug 03
HAuLed up Saikat Dutta

New Delhi, August 23: On September 9 last year, two MiG-21s crashed, one in Rajasthan, the other in Ambala. The Indian Air Force, as is the norm, ordered an inquiry but this inquiry is turning out to be far from routine.
Official records accessed by The Sunday Express show that it has led to a severe, unprecedented indictment of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited which maintains the IAFs fighter fleet and is the Governments showpiece for the manufacture of training and combat aircraft.
So strong is the indictment that HAL chairman N R Mohanty has agreed, for the first time ever, to post Russian expert audit teams at HAL sites (Lucknow, Koraput, Nashik) to ensure better quality control in engine repair and overhaul. The first team is expected this month.
Since the IAF probe began, it has lost six more aircraft due to technical defects, all maintained and overhauled by HAL. In fact, of the 315 MiG-21s lost over the last 30 years, 118 were due to technical defects.
When contacted, the IAF spokesperson declined to comment on the exchanges with HAL. But its conclusion that HALs quality control shook our confidence, is based not only on its own probe but also investigation done by a team of experts specially flown in from RAC-MiG in Russia, the original manufacturers.
Consider the sequence of events:
On November 25, 2002, Air Headquarters wrote to Mohanty saying its findings shook our confidence in the quality control at HAL.
Both the September 9 crashes, the letter said, were due to flame-out (sudden seizure) in the engine because of faults found in the Rotary Slide Valve (RSV), the critical component that regulates how much fuel reaches the MiGs engine.
Traces of silica, sodium, calcium, aluminium had jammed the valve causing the accidentmetals not from the valves material. In other words, these impurities sneaked in during cleaning or installation.
Air Headquarters then sent a team of two officers to HAL divisions in Koraput and Lucknow where the MiG engines are assembled. Based on the teams feedback, HAL was told that a lot needs to be done to improve (its) environment and technical practices.
And that actions was required on a war footing to improve deficiency areas...improve the level of awareness at the shop-floor level personnel. On February 25, 2003, Air Headquarters sent a second letter suggesting that a dedicated team of specialists from all HAL divisionsLucknow, Koraput, Nashikcarry out a study to resolve the issue of the (valve) RSV seizure.
In April, Air Headquarters got a team of Russian specialists from RAC-MiG, the original manufacturers, to fly down and visit the HAL division in Koraput as well as the Air Force station in Ambala to investigate the causes of engine seizure.
• Problem of seizure viewed with serious concern
• Several initiatives taken in overhaul, testing and fuel management
• Rearrangement of assembly and repair section, daily check of cleanliness
• Russian expert audit teams expected soon
Based on the Russians findings, another letter, dated June 18, 2003, was sent to HAL. In this the indictment was sweeping: 70% of the cases of engine seizure were barely within hours of overhaul; fuel system was contaminated, specified design and technology parameters were being violated. (see box)
It was this that prompted Air Headquarters to suggest to HAL that a Russian audit team (be posted) at the work sites to improve the quality control process.
And on July 10, 2003, HAL chief Mohanty wrote back to Air Headquarters acknowledging that the problem of valve seizure had been viewed with serious concern and a number of initiatives taken in areas of over haul and testing and better fuel management.
According to his letterMohanty was unavailable for commentHAL took several other steps: training of technical personnel, proper flushing of the engines, daily check of fuel cleanliness and internal audits of the respective divisions.
He also agreed with Air Headquarters suggestions to post a Russian team of specialists from RAC-MiG and INKAR, the original manufacturers of the engines fuel pump, in India.
On the problem of lack of cleanliness in the engines, which had proved fatal for the aircraft would be addressed, as suggested in the (Russian) report and units in the assembly line will be checked for cleanliness again after the engines were flushed.

Indian Express 24 Aug 03
Another question stares at AJT deal HAWK: Defence Ministry all set to put proposal on CCS agenda this week Shishir Gupta

New Delhi, August 24: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) faces a Rs 300-crore question when it takes up the Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJT) proposal for clearance. There is a Rs 300-crore difference between the British Aerospaces final price for 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) and the purchase offer of the Defence Ministry on the Rs 6,000 crore deal.
While the Ministry is all set to put the proposal on the CCS agenda this week, it is keeping its fingers crossed. The British company has indicated that it has no intentions of lowering the price. It is a take-it-or-leave-it situation, said a senior government official.
Defence Minister George Fernandes indicated the predicament when he announced at Bangalore last week that the deal is before the CCS but refused to comment on whether the decision will be favourable or not.
It is understood that British Aerospace has offered the Hawk jet trainer at around Rs 60 crore per aircraft. The Hawk proposal was approved by the Finance Ministry in June after British Prime Minister Tony Blair raised the issue with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in St Petersburg on May 31. Besides the purchase of 66 aircraft, the deal involves purchase of spares and other ancillary equipment to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore.
Giving a go-ahead to the deal means that either the political leadership will have to take the aircraft at the manufacturers "best and final offer" or adjust the Rs 300 crore through some concessions.
However, given the fact that Fernandes is targeted by the Opposition, there is a view in the government that the CCS should postpone the decision as it is the fag end of the NDAs five-year term. Wary of the fact that the Opposition will make defence scams an issue in the forthcoming general elections, there are chances that the CCS may defer the proposal. The AJT has been hanging fire for 16 years, it will not make any difference if the acquisition is held up for some more months, said the official.
Even the IAF, which is keen that the deal is approved, knows that it will have to be a political decision due to the substantial price difference. It is for this reason that the AJT price negotiating committee, headed by then Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal S.G. Inamdar, left the decision to the Government

IndianExpress 25 Aug 03
MiGs not to be part of airshow Indian Express 27 Aug 03

Chennai, August 26: MIG-21, much described as the flying coffin, will not figure in the list of aircraft participating in the air show on September 6.
Safety concerns of a large number of the public who will gather to witness the event from the sands of the Marina are said to be the reason for this.
IAFs Training Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal B.K. Pandey said MiG-21s wont be part of the show considering the flight safety implications. He said the aircraft in the air show were twin-engine machines whereas single-engine machines were slow training aircraft
Indian express 02 Sep 03
India and Israel need each other The multiplier effects of mutual help in terms of security Bharat Karnad
It was only in the mid-1990s that New Delhi, realising how injurious it was proving to national interest, jettisoned its hoary, unbalanced, West Asia policy and brought its close, covert and longstanding ties with Tel Aviv, including in the military sphere, out of the closet. Today India and Israel are frontline fighters against international terrorism and provide the much needed democratic ballast in the extended region Bosphorus to the North China Sea otherwise bereft of human rights and representative government.
In an anarchic world of sovereign states plagued by violence, the glue that binds like-minded countries together is shared threat perceptions and mutual help in the security field. In return for Indias moderating its political stance on the Palestinian issue, Israel shares Intelligence, trains special operations commando and, most importantly, sells top-of-the-line military equipment. As a producer of critical high technology military hardware and electronics, Israel is something of a godsend to the Indian Armed Forces who can now readily acquire tested cutting edge equipment. Inside of a decade, India has supplanted China as the largest buyer of military goods, with the average annual purchases worth $1-2 billion being something of a lifeline to the Israeli defence industry.
As a means of cantilevering the bilateral relationship to a higher plane, Tel Aviv has suggested jointly financing and developing, among other things, a full coverage anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system able to intercept all enemy missiles fired from any quarter. An adviser to the former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, estimated that were the two countries to invest just one per cent of their gross domestic product in the development of a comprehensive ABM system over $12 billion will be available for the project yearly. Tel Avivs interest in partnering India in such projects is straight forward enough. It will spread the financial burden and risk and free it from the shackles the US veto on exports that accepting American money entails.
However, the trouble with a relationship with Israel predicated on Indias off-taking a whole host of military goods and services and engaging in ambitious joint ventures is that, unfortunately, it is all one way with India doing little else but forking out the funds. Over time there is not only the danger of the Indian defence budget reverting to an austerity line thereby drying up arms sales and the relationship, but of India-Israel ties being reduced to a buyer-seller relationship. As a recipe for warm and enduring relations, it falls short.
It is a danger that Tel Aviv seems to be mindful of the reason why it has tried very hard to accommodate the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bangalore, for instance, by promising to offtake its Lakshya remotely piloted vehicle for use as target drones by the IDF and the Israeli Air Force. Alas, there are not many things the 39-odd Indian ordnance factories with antiquated tools and low productivity norms and the myriad R&D laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which promise more than they deliver, produce of international quality that Israel would want to buy. Is there a way around out? There is.
India has the territorial space Israel lacks and can provide the Indian landmass, air space and the naval facilities for training the lead fighting elements of the IDF, Israeli air force and navy. More meaningfully, India and Israel can mesh their defence industrial capacities to maximise mutual benefit. This will call for schemes of cross-investments and of coupling the defence science and technology research, design and development centres as also the manufacturing organisations in the two countries.
Israel could contemplate transferring the more basic product lines comprising low to medium technology, like small arms and ammunition, armoured personnel carriers and short range artillery, to India to meet the needs of both the countries and for the international market. Long range guns, self-propelled artillery, etc, could be added to this list. The idea is to wed Indian weapons platforms, perhaps upgraded with Israeli assistance, to high-technology Israeli avionics, fire-control systems, and sophisticated missiles and other weapons in order to obtain high quality armaments and military-use systems. The Indian Light Combat Aircraft, for example, is a natural fit for Israeli aviation technologies.
Further, Indias requirement of some 3,000 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) will be only partially met by the import of the Russian T-90s and the upgrading of the older T-72s. Israel may be obliged by the terms of US military aid to opt for the American Abrams MBT. In this situation, it makes sense for Israel, instead of abandoning its proven Merkava MBT, to transfer its production designs and the manufacturing processes and wherewithal to the Indian complex in Avadi, as a means of providing the Merkava to both the Indian and Israeli armies to meet their replenishment/ replacement needs of their armoured forces and selling this MBT with an excellent operational reputation and track record to interested customers world-wide.
Such imaginative policies linking military, industrial and high technology sectors will firm up India-Israel friendship by creating hefty stakes in each others security. Logically, grand programmes like the Israeli proposal to jointly build an all-aspect ABM system or a matching invitation New Delhi can make to Israel to join in an equally high value project producing, say, nuclear-powered submarines, will be easier to realise if defence industrial collaboration at the lower levels of technology and political-military investment, is first established and momentum generated.
Links in the conventional military field could lead, moreover, to cooperating in the field of nuclear armaments a possibility that could be opened up by Indias offering its nuclear testing site to Israel to validate its weapons designs. The absence of its own test grounds reportedly led Tel Aviv to conduct a one-off fission test in South Africa in 1979.
Strong India-Israel ties could bookend an unstable region rife with Islamic discontent and turmoil and make for stability in Asia. The only obstacle may be the terminal self-doubt afflicting the Indian government and political class, which policy attribute translates into an absence of strategic foresight and vision.
(The writer is research professor, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi
Choppers sent DGCA rules into tailspin ONGC choppers key unit not overhauled, J&K pilot took off violating all norms Ritu Sarin Indian Express 02 Sep 03
New Delhi, September 1: Serious lapses of omission by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have been traced as investigation goes on into last months two helicopter crashes, one in Jammu and Kashmir that killed five on board and the other off the Mumbai coast which killed 27 on board, including several ONGC personnel.
The preliminary report in the August 5 Bell 407 helicopter crash in Ganderbal shows that DGCA looked the other way as its norms went out of the window. As for the ONGC crash on August 11, accident inspectors have found that the chopper was flying despite violating DGCA rules on maintenance.
DGCA inspectors have reported that the ONGC crash was, in all likelihood, caused by the failure of the tail rotor. Also, the copters servo unitwhich is responsible for maintaining the correct balance of weight in the chopperhad not been overhauled as per regulations. DGCA norms say it should be overhauled every 500 flying hours but this helicopter had clocked some 3,800 hours.
Says a senior official, This was a concession the DGCA gave to the operator (Mescos). The helicopter had been grounded for a year and a lot of rigging had been done to the tail rotor before they were granted the air worthiness certificate. DGCA should have been more vigilant before permitting them to fly.
While the failure of the tail rotor has been backed by the data retrived from the choppers Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder, the servo unit is now being sent to an Air Force for examination.
A team of Russian engineers will arrive within the next few days to take part in the investigations of the helicopters mechanical failure. The fact that only one of the twin inflatable floats of the helicopters opened up is also an important aspect of the on-going crash probe.
However, Mescos CEO Natasha Singh says she has no official word on what may have caused the crash. We are not privy to what the critical instruments have revealed and how the probe is progressing. We are sure all the parts of engine were in serviced condition.
In the case of the Bell 407 crash, the preliminary report shows several DGCA regulations were being violated by the operator, the Jammu and Kashmir Government. DGCA officials are now red-faced as they realise the helicopter had done several non-schedule sorties in hilly terrain without a valid permit.
On the ill-fated morning, the helicopter took off half an hour before permissible time when the visibility was just 25 m and DGCAs regulations stipulate a 5-kilometre visibility.
Most shocking is the flight record of the pilot, who investigations reveal, violated DGCAs rules of maximum permissible flying 11 times in the course of a month.
The pilot had been flying continuously without a rest for 43 days before the helicopter crashed (pilots are supposed to have a mandatory rest every sixth day) and had clocked 73 hours in a week instead of the maximum 60 hours.
No proper log books were being recorded or dispatched to the DGCA.
Sources say that since the Bell 407 was being used for VIP sorties, everyone turned a blind eye to the violations. On August 5, the helicopter was ferrying pilgrims in very poor light when it crash in Ganderbal, killing five persons on board

posted by promila 9:43 AM

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