Friday, 18 April 2014

Indian Army commanders to meet to discuss Afghanistan

Outgoing army chief General Bikram Singh will take stock of impact drawdown of Allied forces from Afghanistan and possible measures to counter threat arising from that country with his top commanders during Army Commanders Conference, scheduled to begin from next Monday in New Delhi.

Defence minister AK Antony, who has the distinction of being the longest-serving defence minister of the country, will also address the top commanders for the last time in UPA-II government.
According to army, the security as well as intelligence agencies are keeping a close watch on the developments in trouble-torn fragile Afghanistan. And especially after pullout of US led allied forces from there by the end of 2014.

"Various operational and strategic issues will be discussed during the five-day-long conference. Developments in neighboring countries especially Afghanistan will also be part of the discussion,"said an officer.

Keeping in view of drawdown of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Indian Army is also providing training to Afghanistan National Army (ANA). According to to army, Army is targeting to train about 1100 Afghan troops by the end of 2014, as compared to 574 personnel training in last year. Though New Delhi has not decided on the request of Afghanistan government to provide them lethal weapons, but they are considering an option send first batch of Indian experts and officers to Afghanistan to give training to ANA in their backyard and their home conditions. Training in their locations and terrain would given them an edge as compared to training here in Indian conditions.

Five day Army Commanders Conference, beginning from April 21, will also discuss security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the issue of incursions by Chinese troops in Indian territory.

The issue of incursion by the Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control is expected to come up for discussion, Army officials said.

The Indian side will also discuss the issues to be raised by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) during the delegation-level parleys with his Chinese counterpart starting April 23.

The LAC has seen several incidents of face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops and the two sides have signed a border pact recently to avoid the possibility of a flare-up between their troops while carrying out patrolling.

Meanwhile, the meeting is also expected to take up the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the expected rise in infiltration and activities by terrorists in the coming months.

India to pay Russia for arms, ammo it sells to Afghanistan

Ahead of NATO troops downsizing their presence in Afghanistan, India has firmed up a far-reaching deal with Russia to supply arms to the troubled country under which New Delhi will pay for the military equipment that will be sourced from Moscow.
The deal, which had been under intense negotiations for the past few months, was clinched after a high-level Indian team made a quiet trip to Moscow in February and stitched up the loose ends even as Russia was bracing for the challenge in Ukraine.
The first order under this deal, sources said, is already being executed.
India, through the strategic partnership with Afghanistan, is committed to provide arms and ammunition to strengthen the Afghan National Army. The arrangement with Moscow allows New Delhi to fulfill this commitment, an issue on which Kabul has been sending reminders including detailed lists of its requirements.
The issue was debated at length on various occasions in the Cabinet Committee on Security, which eventually arrived at two conclusions — that India will have no troop presence in Afghanistan; and that India will not provide small arms even though some are manufactured domestically.
The logic behind the second decision was to avoid a situation where any India-marked small arms make their way into Kashmir or to the hinterland through terrorist outfits.
While Russia may separately supply its own range of Kalashnikovs, the Indian financing will largely focus on artillery guns, air support in the form of choppers and even armoured vehicles, including tanks.
A range of non-lethal items could also make it to the list depending on the nature of the requirement. Also part of the arrangement is an exercise to refit some old Russian-made equipment lying with Afghanistan for years, sources said, adding that a survey of such equipment has been carried out.
As of now, the ANA is a predominantly infantry force as the US, sources said, limited its access to long-range guns largely due to Pakistani concerns. But over the past of couple of years, Afghanistan has been pressuring countries such as India and Russia to properly equip the ANA if it has to repel Taliban offensives on its own.
On the training front, the Indian position remains the same. While trying to meet Afghan demands for more seats here, the government is still against setting up any facility in Afghanistan and posting instructors there. Sources pointed out that any such move may also invite strong Pakistani protests.
Besides, India has also held preliminary conversations with China on jointly improving the connectivity infrastructure in Afghanistan’s mining belt so that the resources can be better exploited. Both countries already have interests in specific mining projects and are looking to expand their presence, which would aid Afghanistan’s economy.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

India, Japan meeting on amphibious aircraft deal in Tokyo

India will discuss procurement of the Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft during the working-level meeting between the two sides in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The meeting comes soon after Japan removed its self-imposed ban on exporting defence equipment to other countries.

India and Japan have been discussing the sale of these aircraft for quite some time now but the talks were held up as Japan was expressing unwillingness to sell defence equipment along with the planes, defence officials said here.

The first meeting of the Joint Working Group was held in December in India on the proposed sale of the amphibious aircraft required by the Navy to look after its island territories in Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.

As per Japan's new policy on defence equipment sale, it will prohibit the export of weapons to countries involved in conflicts. 

Vikrant sold to ship-breaker for Rs. 63.2 crore

The Navy last week sold the iconic INS Vikrant to a ship-breaking company here for Rs. 63.2 crore. The decommissioned aircraft carrier, which played a major role in the 1971 war and was retired in 1997, is now the property of IB Commercial Private Ltd.

INS Vikrant (formerly HMS Hercules) was purchased by India from the United Kingdom in 1957. It was operated from 1961 to 1997. (The other INS Vikrant is an Indian-built aircraft carrier which was launched in 2013.)

“As soon as we learnt that the ship was being auctioned, we bid for it. It is a prominent ship and we will move it out of the Mumbai harbour in the next 15 days,” manager Teslim Pavaskar told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The company plans to scrap it at the Darukhana ship-breaking yard here. Under the sale contract, the company should tow the ship out of the harbour in a month’s time.
A Defence Ministry source said the deal was in the nation’s interest. “The option of converting Vikrantinto a museum was not economically viable as it would have cost us around Rs. 500 crore.”

Other sources also said it was not fit enough to be converted into a museum. “The fire-fighting system on the vessel was damaged. Also, it had got rusted and had sustained structural damage,” another source said.

“The berthing-space constraints at the harbour will ease a bit with Vikrant being moved out. Around 700 feet of space will be liberated and this will facilitate navigation of naval vessels in the channel.”

In December 2013, a public interest litigation petition was filed in the Bombay High Court to preserve the ship and convert it into a museum.

But the Defence Ministry replied it was not feasible to convert the ship into a maritime museum. The court then dismissed the petition, and the Ministry set up an advisory board to sell the ship to the highest bidder.

Keywords: INS Vikrant dismantling, HMS Hercules, 1971 war

Vikrant sold to ship-breaker for Rs. 63.2 crore - The Hindu