Sunday October 22, 2017
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Glass ceiling is broken in year that gave boost to defence manufacturing

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New Delhi: The Make in India initiative got a huge push with Russia agreeing to manufacture upwards of 200 light helicopters in India, a move that once again made it India’s top supplier of military hardware while purchases worth over Rs.2 lakh crore ($30 billion) were also approved.

The year saw a glass ceiling being broken with the Indian Air Force’s decision to allow women into the fighter stream while the Indian Navy submitted a proposal for inducting women as surveillance pilots.

At the same time, going ahead with its new “offensive-defensive” policy, India launched a first-of-its kind surgical operation, attacking terror camps along the India-Myanmar border.

The year also witnessed diversification in India’s defence partners, with the US entering the field prominently in the beginning of the year. France was also in the limelight due to the still-to-be-concluded deal for 36 Rafale combat jets. Russia, however, reemerged as the key partner at the fag end of the year following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. Russia, accounting for 70 percent of India’s arms imports in the 2010-14 period, will build the Kamov Ka-226 helicopters in India and will also fabricate 12 new nuclear reactors at two sites.

The year began with US President Barack Obama being the chief guest at the Republic Day parade and this was followed by a new Defence Framework Agreement being signed in June.

The two sides also agreed to pursue projects that will offer tangible opportunities for American defence industries to build a partnership with the Indian industries including manufacturing under the Make in India initiative.

On the acquisition front, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was cleared for six more Scorpene submarines under the P75 Project for around Rs.80,000 crore. This will add to the six that are currently being built at Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Ltd.

The Indian Army got clearance to buy 145 BaE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers for Rs. 2,900 crore through the Foreign Military Sales route.

This apart, a new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) gives priority to indigenous products.

The defence ministry has said it has got a “positive response” from both within the country and globally – from countries like Israel, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US – to the Make in India initiative. Since its launch some 18 months ago, 61 companies have obtained 81 Industrial Licences (ILs) for manufacturing of various defence equipment.

On his part, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar set an ambitious target of achieving 50 percent indigenisation by 2017, and up to 60-70 percent in next five years.

In Parrikar’s words, the mission in expediting defence procurement is also about changing a “mindset of mistrust” that he said developed over the last ten years.

And, in an important step targeting speedy indigenisation, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit was raised from 26 percent to 49 percent through approval route. Proposals above this would be considered on a case-to-case basis.

Also, the defence products list for the purpose of industrial licencing was substantively shortened and notified, as was a defence exports strategy for faster clearances.

Interaction with industry was identified as a key area for pushing the domestic defence sector, and a Make in India website was launched for it, promising replies to queries in three days.

The private sector figured significantly in big-ticket deals.

The fag end of the year saw Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems announcing a joint venture to manufacture aerostructures for aircraft and collaborate on integrated systems while the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group signed an agreement with Russia’s AlmazAntey to work jointly on a range of air defence missile and radar systems for the Indian defence forces.

As for the western border, 2015 saw a decline in infiltrations to 92 (till September 30) from 264 in 2012 and 221 in 2014.

A number of joint exercises were witnessed. The Indian Army engaged in counter-terrorism and humanitarian aid exercise ‘Hand in Hand’ with China, Indra with Russia, and Yudh Abhyas with the US.

The Indian Air Force participated in Indradhanush-IV with the Royal Air Force and in a drill with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The Indian Navy engaged with France in exercise Varuna off Goa, SIMBEX with Singapore, Ausindex with Australia and Malabar with the US and Japan.

Indian Navy vessels also visited several countries for port calls and other engagements with Egypt, Iran, Israel, Japan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Spain, the UAE and Vietnam.

The defence ministry announced a long-awaited One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, which takes 2013 as the base year and takes the average of the upper and lower pensions of a rank to fix new pensions, also protecting those who are above the average. Revisions will take place every five years. The veterans, however, continued their agitation, stating that the government scheme is not true to the definition of OROP. (IANS, Anjali Ojha), (image courtesy: upload.wikimedia.org)

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7 killed, after Mi-17 V5 an IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal

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IAF chopper Mi-17 v5
IAF chopper Mi-17 V5, at Yelhanka, Air Force Station. Wikimedia

Tawang, October 6:  Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed after a Mi-17 V5, IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Tawang district Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Meena said the IAF Chopper Crashed around 6.30 a.m. killing all the seven people on board.

The chopper was on a routine Air Maintenance Mission, Meena quoted a Defence officer as saying.

The crash site is located at some four-to-five hours drive from Tawang. “It is a forested area,” Meena said adding that the bodies are being brought to the helipad near Tawang.

“We are told that there were no civilians and all were defence personnel,” he said.

Earlier in July an Indian Air Force chopper engaged in a flood rescue mission crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel.

The frequently changing weather condition in Arunachal Pradesh makes flying of choppers difficult in the area and there have been several incidents of crashes in the hill state in the past.

The then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, and four others also died in an IAF Chopper Crashed in the hill state in 2011. (IANS)

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India has ‘Plan B’, ready for any challenge from China, says Indian Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa

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ACM Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

New Delhi, Oct 5: Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said India is prepared to counter any threat from China and was also ready to face a two-front war.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, the Indian Air Force Chief said they have a ‘Plan B’ to cater for the shortage of strength if there is a situation of war on two fronts.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario. There is a Plan B,” he said when asked about being prepared for a two-front war.

He also said the possibility of a two-front war in the current geopolitical scenario is low.

He said “our capability is adequate” to counter any threat from the Eastern side — China.

The Indian Air Force Chief also said more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

He also said that Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley, of which Doklam is a part, and hoped that they return soon.

Dhanoa said: “We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed.”

“Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over,” the IAF chief said.

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70 days long standoff and there were no air violations.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies,” he added.(IANS)

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IAF trainer aircraft crashes in Telangana

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HAL Intermediate jet trainer
IAF kiran. wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 28: IAF’s intermediate trainer aircraft- Kiran, crashed in Telangana on Thursday morning, but the pilot and another person on board ejected out safely.

The aircraft got airborne from Hakimpet Air Force base on Thursday morning for a routine training sortie and crashed around 11.45 a.m.

The aircraft was being flown by a trainee pilot.

IAF sources added that a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to look into the cause of the accident.

According to police, the aircraft caught fire and was gutted after the crash near Ankireddypalli village in Keesara ‘mandal’ (block) of Medchal district.

Minutes after taking off from Hakimpet Air Force Station, the aircraft developed some technical snag and crashed in the fields.

Eye-witnesses said they heard a huge thud and soon flames engulfed the aircraft.

The pilot and another person accompanying him ejected out with parachutes before the crash, police said.(IANS)