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US OKs sale of P-3C logistics support to India

WASHINGTON, Nov 15: The day Lockheed Martin opened its office in New Delhi, the US Defense Department has told Congress it approved the sale to India of logistics support worth $133 million for two Lockheed's P-3C reconnaissance aircraft it plans to lease.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the logistics support includes training devices, operations and maintenance training, as well as spare parts.

Bethesda, Maryland-basedLockheed would be the prime contractor, which DSCA said would help improve India's security, while at the same time strengthening the US-India strategic partnership. Congress has 30 days to block the proposed sale, although such action is rare.

DSCA spokesman Jose Ibarra said the notification did not include the leasing of the actual Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft and had no immediate details on that part of the deal. The Pentagon said the two leased P-3Cs would replace two existing Indian Navy patrol aircraft, Soviet-built IL-38 Mays, which were quickly reaching the end of their operational life.

"To maintain security, it is necessary that India replace these fixed-wing aircraft with an airborne operational capability for land-based maritime patrol and reconnaissance," DSCA said in a statement.

Lockheed officials in February first announced the company was in talks to sell up to 12 P-3Cs to the Indian navy. The company had no immediate comment on Monday's news. India's rival, Pakistan, announced in August it had acquired eight P-3Cs from the United States, which would help boost its naval capabilities.

US, IAF take next step in growing relationship

By Capt. John Redfield
Cope India Public Affairs

KALAIKUNDA AIR STATION (INDIA), Nov 9: The U.S. and Indian air forces opened the next chapter in their growing relationship as the Cope India 2006 exercise began here Monday.

"The reason we have come together for this exercise is so that we can work together," said Indian Air Force Group Captain Hari Kumar, exercise director.

About 250 U.S. Airmen from Pacific Air Forces join several hundred of their Indian counterparts for the two-week, dissimilar air combat training exercise in which simulated combat flying takes place among different types of aircraft.

F-16s from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and an E-3 AWACS from Kadena Air Base, Japan, are the U.S. air assets, while the IAF will fly several MiG model aircraft as well as the Su-30. In addition to Kadena and Misawa, U.S. Airmen are also participating from Yokota Air Base, Japan, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Andersen AFB, Guam.

"This exercise is a great opportunity for a number of reasons," said Col. Rusty Cabot, deployed U.S. forces commander here. "It increases the interoperability between ourselves and our fellow airmen from India, enhancing our collective ability to help maintain peace and stability in the region. And we can cultivate our shared bonds as we train together side-by-side."

Even before the exercise kicked off, the sharing of knowledge began in earnest Saturday when about 75 Indian airmen toured the AWACS, learning more about the aircraft's mission. Pilots, air traffic controllers and IAF leadership were impressed with what they saw, said Lt. Col. Pete Bastien, AWACS detachment commander. "In the same way that we Americans are excited to see the MiGs up close, so too were our Indian counterparts excited to see our aircraft." In fact, one of the Indian pilots even returned early from his mission "because he heard we were giving tours of the aircraft, and he wanted to be sure to see it,"Colonel Bastien said.

This exercise is the third Cope India in three years. In 2002 the focus was on airlift operations. In 2004 F-15s from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, deployed to India for an air combat exercise.

To prepare specifically for the current exercise, Airmen from the two countries had a pair of exchange visits in the summer. Six IAF members visited Misawa, and two Misawa Airmen came here.

Indo-US joint military air exercise begin

KALAIKUNDA (West Bengal), Nov 7: The 13-day Indo-US joint military air exercise, Cope India '06, began on Monday morning at the Kalaikunda airforce station in West Midnapore district amidst protest demonstrations by Left Front activists.

Tight security measures have been taken in view of the exercise with the police putting up barricades on roads leading to the airforce station. The joint exercises mark 2002-2005 as the most active years of military-to-military exchange between the two countries in over 40 years.

The Pacific Air Forces sponsored event is the third Cope India exercise, but the first one featuring an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and
control system aircraft in Cope India's second Bilateral Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics Field Training Exercise.

The E-3, from Kadena Air Base, Japan, is capable of providing all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by
commanders of U.S. and other allied air defense forces. It's joined by F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and a variety of IAF
aircraft, including the Mirage 2000, MIG-21, MIG-29, SU-30 and Jaguar aircraft.

Cope India '06 will provide valuable training for aircrew and maintenance personnel, and enhance military-to-military relationships between
the U.S. and Indian Air Forces. By conducting fighter operations together, the USAF and IAF are promoting cooperation and regional stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lockheed Martin reinforces commitment to India

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Sept 9: Lockheed Martin, which is in race to sell 126 multi-role fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force, has announced a new team to give a new thrust to business in India.

Lockheed Martin, the largest US defense contractor, has offered its F-16s to New Delhi. In the efforts to boost its marketing efforts here, both the Corporation and the Aeronautics Company have named senior executives.

Mr. Royce Caplinger will be moving to New Delhi to assume responsibility for all corporate-led initiatives in India. Presently based in Washington DC area, Caplinger has been with Lockheed Martin for over 18 years and most recently was responsible for coordinating the Corporation's international fighter sales with the US Air Force and other elements in the Department of Defense. He expects to be working from the long-established Lockheed Martin Liaison Office in New Delhi with effect from September 20.

"Lockheed Martin has been present in the Indian market for a long time and with the evolving relationship between the two governments I am excited to be leading our corporate effort to cement those relationships and carry them forward," Caplinger was quoted as saying when his assignment was announced.

The Aeronautics Company, a business unit of Lockheed Martin, also announced their new team. Mr. Orville Prins was assigned to lead a senior level team based both in New Delhi and Fort Worth, Texas. Prins, a long-time Lockheed Martin employee has enjoyed a distinguished career including the leadership of many of the significant programs for the company.

"We at Lockheed Martin view India as a country with considerable technological, manufacturing and business capabilities which will provide us with the opportunity to establish many long-term partnership relationships," said Prins.

Besides, senior support staff based in Fort Worth, Mr Mike Kelley, a 22-year veteran of Lockheed Martin, will support Prins. Kelley, a frequent visitor to India during the past several years, has now be assigned to New Delhi. He has been housed in the new Lockheed Martin Corporate Offices. His responsibilities will include day-to-day liaison between Mr. Prins' organization and Government of India customers.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., a business area of Lockheed Martin, is a leader in the design, research and development, systems integration, production and support of advanced military aircraft and related technologies. Its customers include the military services of the United States and allied countries throughout the world. Products include the F-16, F/A-22, F-35 JSF, F-117, C-5, C-130, C-130J, P-3, S-3 and U-2.

The company produces major components for the F-2 fighter, and is co-developer of the C-27J tactical transport and T-50 advanced jet trainer.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 130,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2004 sales of $35.5 billion.

Boeing offers Super Hornet to IAF

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, July 22: Hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, returned home after a successful meeting with President George Bush, the bonhomie between India and the US was visible here when an American firm, Boeing, offered its latest Super Hornet aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Lauding the decision of President Bush and Prime Minister Singh to strengthen cooperation in nuclear, defence and security issues, Boeing Vice President Chris Chadwick said the offer was in tune with this decision. Chris said "the premier aircraft will help guarantee the security of India and its people."

He informed that the Boeing received the Request for Information (RFI) document in November last and hoped to receive the Request for Proposals (RFP) in the next couple of months for IAF's combat planes. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is in competition with Mirage 2000 of France and Mig-29 of Russia, Grippen of Sweden and F-16 of Lockheed Martin (USA) for the multi-role combat aircraft requirement of the IAF.

Chris said that Boeing was in talks with the IAF and Navy for the Super Hornet aircraft and he also offered co-production of aircraft in India. He said the IAF would initially need to buy 18 aircraft before India could transit into co-production. "We have co-production (of the earlier version of Hornets) with a number of countries apart from country support," he informed.

He said the Super Hornets were now being operated only by the US Navy and provided "the latest in advanced technology available anywhere in the world". The Super Hornet is the second (Block-2) phase of the Hornet which is flown by eight countries -- the US, Kuwait, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and Spain.

The fighter is fitted with electronic beaming capabilities, ray radars, day-night strike with precision- guided weapons, besides integrated and networked systems providing enhanced interoperability, situational awareness and support which allows direct communication with the troops on ground or ships at sea.

Asked about which of the aero-support systems would Boeing be ready to provide to India, Chris said it would depend on the recently concluded Indo-US Defence Framework and the issue was "premature" at this stage. "We will enter into discussions with all those who seek this aircraft across the board," he added.

He said if Boeing succeeded in getting the Indian deal, the Indian industry could build parts of the fighter jet and "we could look at marketing" to third countries as well. But no discussions have taken place as yet on these issues. Asked about supply of spares for the aircraft, Chris said that was "totally subject to US government's releaseability". He informed that Boeing was in discussions with Japan, Malaysia and Switzerland, which were looking at acquiring the Super Hornets.

Anil Shrikhande, Managing Director, Boeing India, said "the Super Hornet provides the latest technology available anywhere in the world today and for the foreseeable future. And just as importantly, the Super Hornet was designed for continued growth. It provides for tomorrow's capabilities and technology and it is available today."

Manmohan: Let's make Siachen a 'peace mountain'

SIACHEN, June 12: In a bold idea in the midst of peace process with Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today favoured conversion of Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, into a "peace mountain". However, Singh ruled out any changes in the "established" boundaries of the country, saying it related to the nation's "honour" and "security".

The first Prime Minister to visit the Siachen sector in Jammu and Kashmir situated at over 12,000 ft altitude, he said efforts should be made to create such an atmosphere of peace here wherein "nobody fears any threat, there is no scope for any conflict and this place becomes an example of peaceful environment."

Singh, who was briefed by top army officers about the prevailing situation, noted in an address to troops here that "Siachen is called the highest battlefield" where living is very difficult.

"How long shall we allow such conditions to prevail (in Siachen)," he asked. "Now the time has come for us to make efforts to convert this battlefield into a peace mountain." He added talks were going on with Pakistan in this regard.

Emphasising that India wanted peaceful relations with Pakistan, the Prime Minister, however, asserted that in pursuit of this, "we are not ready to accept any changes in the drawn and established boundaries of the country. "We feel, these boundaries are important not only for our security but it relates to the country's honour also. For this prestige, Indian soldiers are happily bearing difficulties here (in Siachen)."

Hailing the contributions of the soldiers towards unity and integrity of the country, Singh assured soldiers in this inhospitable sector that all their needs would be met.

Besides a CT Scan facility which would be made available here, the Prime Minister said that two home theatres would also be provided to the soldiers here for entertainment. Singh said he was "very happy" to meet the troops deployed here and proud of the determination and patriotism displayed by the soldiers. Noting that the Government was continuously concerned about the well-being of the forces, he said he had decided on visiting Siachen to see for himself the conditions in which the troops were living here.

"I wanted to see for myself as to what your living conditions and arrangements are and what are your problems and what the Government can do to address those," the Prime Minister told the soldiers. Singh said the path of the future may be ridden with challenges and difficulties but with everyone's contribution these will be overcome.

Pak made no major move to check terror: India

NEW DELHI, May 3: India has said there had been no end to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir despite the growing thaw with Pakistan. It also said that Islamabad had made no "significant" effort to dismantle the infrastructure supporting terrorists sneaking into the country, according to the Defence Ministry's report for 2004-05 released on Monday.

The report also noted steps taken by India and China to improve their ties but said New Delhi would continue to keep a close eye on Beijing's military modernisation programme, particularly in areas like Tibet that border India.

Noting that 2004-05 had "ended on a hopeful note" for India-Pakistan relations, the report said, "there was an end to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. "While there was some decline in the level of infiltration, this was more on account of measures on the part of the Indian armed forces than any discernible change of heart or action by Pakistani authorities," said a Defence Ministry statement.

"There was no evidence of any significant Pakistani effort to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism such as communications, launching pads and training camps on its eastern borders with India, comparable to its western borders with Afghanistan." The report said despite the operations against the Al Qaeda and Taliban elements on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the principal threats to peace and stability in the region remained "the combination of fundamentalism and terrorism nurtured in madrassas and training camps in the area and the danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and access to them by fundamentalists and terrorists".

Referring to China, the report said both the countries were maintaining peace and tranquillity in their border areas and had stepped up efforts to resolve their boundary dispute. "However, the report has observed that China's close defence relationship with and military assistance to Pakistan continued," the statement said.

It said, "India will continue to monitor development of military infrastructure by China in the border areas and its military modernisation including the maritime sector".

The annual report is a formal document that outlines the defence ministry's policy and contains an assessment of threats to national security. It said "effective diplomacy" backed by "credible military power" would be India's answer to challenges like terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which were among the country's primary security concerns.

India's response to these threats and challenges had always been "restrained, measured and moderate, consistent with its peaceful outlook and reputation as a peace-loving country".

Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, which had a direct bearing on peace and security in the region, the report said threats posed by remnants of the Taliban and other fundamentalists groups continued to challenge the Afghan government and were a cause of concern.

On Bangladesh, the report said it had been "insensitive and unresponsive to India's concerns regarding the presence and activities of Indian insurgent groups from the northeast and (Pakistan's) ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) on Bangladesh soil, large-scale illegal immigration and the criminalisation of the border".

Referring to developments in Nepal, the report said the Maoist insurgency there could be "addressed effectively only through a national consensus between constitutional forces. India is of the view that there can be no purely military solution to the Maoist insurgency". The report also expressed serious concern over links between Nepal's Maoist rebels and left-wing extremist outfits in parts of India and the "possible expansion of their influence".

About the situation in Sri Lanka, the report said India remained committed to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and to a "comprehensive negotiated settlement acceptable to all communities of the island nation" and reflecting the pluralistic nature of Sri Lankan society within the framework of the united Sri Lanka.

Aero India: DGR showcases talent

By Deepak Arora

YELAHANKA (Bangalore), Feb 15: It was a stall with a difference and a special mission at the Aero India 2005. Although other Indian stalls, be it those of HAL, DRDO and IAF, had a mission to showcase India's might and strides in the aviation sector, this one cared for and worked for the welfare of our ex-servicemen who have been valiantly defending the nation. Yes, we are talking of the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) that helps servicemen find new livelihood after they retire from the Armed Forces.

Not many know that about 60,000 men (mostly at young age) retire from the Forces every year, informs Mr A N Srivastava, Director (Publicity), DGR, Ministry of Defence. "We help train these men find new jobs and reorient them towards second career," he adds proudly.

The theme of DGR stall was "Access to excellence in human resource potential in ex-defence personnel". Going by the number of visitors, one can say that the DGR succeeded in its mission by putting up a stall at the five-day Aero India, which has been billed as the biggest air show in Asia. The seriousness of the present United Progress Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre on the job front could be gauged from the fact that the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, found time to visit the DGR stall and reviewed its activities.The Director General Resettlement, Maj Gen K S Sindhu, was at the stall to receive the Defence Minister.

Besides Mr Mukherjee, a large number of high-ranking officials, including the Deputy Army Chief, Lt Gen J B S Yadav; the Deputy Chief (Operations) to Integrated Defence Staff, Air Marshal F H Major; the Secretary (Finance), Ministry of Defence, Ms Somi Tandon; and Gen Shankar Roychoudhary, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) paid a visit to the stall.

Then there were senior officials from the private industry including Microsoft, Larson & Toubro, Transworld (UAE), Titan, Indian Airlines, Crescent Air Cargo Services, Mahindra & Mahindra, Kirloskar, Amtrak, MEL Systems and Dakshin Udhyog who showed keen interest in hiring the readily available human resource.

Explaining the USP of ex-defence personnel, Mr Srivastava said "they are disciplined, devoted, hard working, matured, educated, work under stress and adaptable in meeting deadlines." He said opening up of the defence sector to the private industry has made our task easier to help our men switch over to another career. "Of course, we need to create more awareness in corporate world about the huge availability of talent. The private industry needs to understand the benefits of hiring a well-trained talent as compared to spending huge amount on training new staff."

Mr Srivastava said "we have people trained in managerial skill, technical officers, engineers, lawyers and HRD personnel. The presence at Aero India helps us reach the corporate world. Needless to say that aviation and tourism, which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, has huge potential to hire our men."

He informed that in the past the DGR has been holding seminars in conjunction with the CII and PHDCCI at different metros and towns to create awareness in the private sector of the availability of diverse talent of ex-servicemen. "We are not approaching the industry with a begging bowl. The benefits are mutual," he added. Mr Srivastava informed that Reliance was one of the companies that have been imparting transitional training to the ex-servicemen.

India's eye-in-the-sky project
on Embraer aircraft

By Deepak Arora

Banglore, Feb 11: India’s Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) programme has got a boost with the Brazilian aviation major Embraer signing up an MOU with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to support its development in India.

The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, had expressed desire for India to develop its own AEW&C programme on Wednesday while opening the five-day Aero India 2005, billed as the biggest air show of Asia.

Mr Mukherjee’s announcement and signing of this MOU with Embraer marks the revival of the indigenous AEW programme, which was suspended after the crash of a test platform near Arakkonam in Chennai on January 11, 1999. The DRDO had then mounted rotodome radar on an Avro aircraft in an unsuccessful attempt to configure an “eye in the sky”.

Under this agreement, an indigenously developed airborne early warning radar will be mounted on the Embraer 145 aircraft. India is expected to initially buy three of these aircraft for the development phase. Based on the progress of the development programme, more aircraft of this type could be ordered.

The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved an investment of Rs 1,800 crore for this project. It is the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), the Bangalore-based DRDO unit, which has revived the airborne early warning (AEW) system programme.

Indian government analysts and Embraer engineers are collecting necessary technical data on the aircraft for the study. At the request of the Indian government, an Embraer team recently visited DRDO and held in-depth discussions to support DRDO personnel in their task.

“The analysis is expected to result in an initial contract for three EMB 145 AEW&C aircraft and technical support during the development effort," said Mr Romualdo Barros, Embraer’s Executive Vice-President for Defence Market.

It may be recalled that India has already signed a tripartite contract with Israel and Russia for the acquisition of three Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems. Under this agreement, Israeli Phalcon radars will be mounted on Russian-designed Il-76 aircraft.

This force multiplier will give the Indian Air Force considerable strategic advantage in the region. Restarting of the programme for indigenous development of the eye in the sky reflects India’s emphasis on the acquisition of more such assets.

The Embraer 145 has a successful record as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, and is one of the world’s bestsellers in its category. Short response times allow it to reach high operational altitudes quickly and to cover a broad area.

The Embraer 145 aircraft is able to be operational for more than seven hours without refueling from its base and can be deployed on a wide range of all-weather mission. It is learnt that US-based Gulfstream is also in touch with the DRDO for selling its platform for the programme.

Earlier, Embraer sealed a contract with India for the supply of its “Legacy” variant for VIP travel. India is buying five of these aircraft. "The company considers this partnership a significant milestone with the Indian DRDO, an institution renowned to be one of the leading high technology developers in Asia," said Mr Romualdo Barros.

"The Indian aerospace industry has reached remarkable achievements and Embraer is proud and thrilled to participate in this initiative. Besides the upcoming contract to supply our EMB 145 ISR Platform, we could be involved in some engineering work," he added.

Barros added, “Embraer is working hard to build a strong relationship with India, which started in 2003 when five Legacy aircraft for Authorities Transport were contracted by the Government, and we are always willing to cooperate with new programs such as the new AEW&C System.”

The Government selected the Legacy to replace the aircraft used by country’s authorities and high-ranking officials. Out of the five, four would be in transport configuration for the India Air Force (IAF) and one would be configured for the Border Security Force under the Home Ministry. These jets will feature a self-defense system, including chaff and flare dispensers. Embraer will begin deliveries to India in mid-2005.

The Legacy was developed from the ERJ 135/145 regional jet platform. The highly successful ERJ 145 jet family is composed of the ERJ 135 (37 seats), the ERJ 140 (44 seats) and the ERJ 145 (50 seats) and has accumulated over six million hours flown.

The Legacy jet has been highly appropriate for the transport of government authorities and business leaders around the world. Its interior is built using only the finest quality hardwoods, fabrics and finishes and can comfortably seat up to 20 passengers.

At altitude, the Legacy can efficiently cruise 3,250 nm. This range, in combination with a large 1,410 cubic-foot cabin, optimizes working conditions providing comfortable trips.

With the most spacious cabin in its class and priced at about a third less than comparable aircraft, the Legacy offers an unprecedented balance between capability, safety and value.

India to develop lead-in jet trainer,
a trimmed version of LCA

By Deepak Arora

Banglore, Feb 11: India has begun concept studies to build a lead-in fighter trainer, a fighter-class aircraft for training pilots as a sequel to the homegrown Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft, according to Mr M Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to the Derfence Minister.

Explaining the concept here at the Aero India air show, Mr Natarajan said "we are working on a lead-in jet fighter that will be a trimmed version of the LCA."

He, however, said the project was not connected with the twin-engine Combat Attack Trainer (CAT), a modern version of the Advanced Jet Trainer that state-run aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has initiated. He said the lead-in fighter would have the same range of 800 kms like the Tejas.

Mr Natarajan, who is also the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said "the concept and the requirements for the new aircraft are being worked out."

DRDO's Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), is the lead agency to build the tailless, delta-winged, fly-by-wire, single-engine, multi-role supersonic fighter (Tejas), which, he said is also working on the Medium Combat Aircraft, a medium-range twin-engine combat fighter.

The MCA is a single seat twin-engine aircraft, to be powered by a homegrown thrust vector Kaveri engine and will use smart structures and antenna, integrated modular avionics, tail-less technology for stealth features and will have an active lomar flow control, designed for long range offensive operations, officials said.

The ADA Programme Director, Mr M B Verma, said the technologies developed for the LCA is being used in other aircraft programmes in the country.

"The experience gained by India in avionics, control fluid dynamics, composites in developing the combat aircraft has caught attention of other countries. I reckon now that India has all the capabilities in designing a modern fighter aircraft," said Mr Natarajan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. aerospace major, Lockheed Martin, has said that it had secured the export licence from the American Government for the sale of P-3C Orion, the maritime surveillance aircraft, and the C-130 J `Hercules,' to India.

The Lockheed Martin regional vice-president, Dennys Plessas, said that it was his "understanding" that India was looking to buy eight to 12 P-3C Orions and six to eight C-130 Js. "That will be their initial requirement."

He said a team of U.S. naval officials would visit India next week to hold talks with Indian Navy officials over the sale of P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft. "Specifications will be decided at the meeting." Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. on Wednesday for refurbishment and maintenance of the P-3C.

Mr Plessas said the US Government was considering India's request of information on the F-16 class of fighter jets and he hoped that Lockheed Martin would get the clearance at the earliest.

"It is a long drawn out process but we hope to add India to the list of countries we work with."

Besides the United States, India had sent a request to France, Sweden and Russia for 126 multi-role combat aircraft of 20 tonne class. The deal would be an inter-governmental one.

Colourful start to Aero India 2005

By Deepak Arora

Yelahanka (Banglore), Feb 9: The five-day Aero India 2005, billed as the biggest air show of Asia, commenced to a colorful display here on Wednesday. Soon after the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, opened the show, the flying display by the Sukhois, Mirages, Jaguars, Hawk, Surya Kirans, the Advanced Light Aircraft (LCA) and the Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) mesmerized the audience with their sheer power
and maneuver capabilities.

The indigenous Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) made its first public display. Similarly, India's latest acquisition, the Russian-made IL-78 air-to-air refueller, tugged two Mirage 2000 fighters taking fuel over the skies. Again this was the first public display of air-to-air refueling.

A formation of three Indian Air Force Mi-8 helicopters in the national tricolour and ensigns of the IAF and the aero show marked the start of the event at the Yelahanka airbase, 25 km from Bangalore.

A low-speed formation of three aircraft -- the homegrown Advanced Light Aircraft, the Kiran trainer and the Sukhoi-30 MKI -- flying at a low altitude, gave the audience a taste of things to come.

When the Tu-142 took to the skies, the dignitaries were reminded that it was the 'albatross of the Indian Navy', which could fly non-stop for over 18 hours.An arrowhead formation of three Jaguar aircraft was tailed by three prototypes of Tejas, the homegrown Light Combat Aircraft in the Indian tricolour.

Tejas, the tailless, delta-winged, fly-by-wire, single-engine supersonic fighter, being developed by Department of Research and Development Organisation's Aeronautical Development Agency, made its maiden fight on January 4, 2001 and is expected to replace the IAF's MiG fleet from the next decade.

Dozens of global military and civil aircraft-makers are showcasing their products at the show.

Inaugurating the show, Mr Pranab Mukherjee said India's state-run aerospace industry aims to take a page out of the IT sector's book by promoting itself as a potential offshoring base for foreign companies. Joint ventures that take advantage of India's low-cost engineering and science skills can cut development and marketing costs, he added.

The Defence Minister said "there is tremendous scope for outsourcing from India in areas where the companies are competitive. We are keen to welcome international collaborations that are in conformity with our national goals."

Before India's aerospace industry opened up to foreign companies as part of broader economic reforms in 1991, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and other state agencies had focused for five decades on national defence.

HAL now makes aircraft doors for Airbus, part of Europe's EADS, and is set to produce 44 of the 66 Hawk trainer jets New Delhi is buying from Britain's BAE Systems Plc under a joint programme. BAE also has a software joint venture with HAL.

The Minister said India had the capability to make advanced alloys, process technologies and aircraft equipment, and the industry was considering diversifying into making civil aircraft.

While Bangalore is the centre for India's $16 billion IT and business services outsourcing industry, it is also the main centre for aerospace.

At a press conference after the show, Mr Mukherjee said India was open to long-term defence cooperation with the United States including purchases of hi-tech weapon systems. However, he made it clear that issues like dependability of supplies and technology transfers would have to be first sorted out.

"We are glad the United States is showing interest in defence supplies to India," he said in response to a question and added that New Delhi was open to discussions to sort out mutual apprehensions.

On whether US laws compelling the administration to impose sanctions in case of differing positions on nuclear weaponisation would come in the way of purchases of American weapon systems by India, Mr Mukerjee said, "no position is irreconcilable as the US administration amended the Pressler's law to supply arms to some nations. So such issues can be sorted out".

He said that India was interested in long-term and uninterrupted supplies of weapon systems, their spares and transfer of technology before concluding any deals.

The Minister's remarks come in the wake of heightened bidding by the French, Russians, the American and the Swedish to bag the lucrative Indian contract for 126 multi-role fighters for the Indian Air Force.

He indicated that some of the major armament purchases like the multi-billion dollar deal for acquisition of French Scorpene submarines and unmanned aerial vehicles for the Army would go through soon.

On the sensitive issue of India's bid to acquire two Russian-made Akula nuclear powered submarines, he said, that there was no firm commitment from either side yet and the deal would depend on the situation.

Mid-air refueling to steal the Aero India show

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Feb 8: India's recently acquired mid-air refueling is expected to steal the flying display at India's premier air show at Bangalore from Wednesday. Dubbed as Aero India 2005, the Navy's Sea Harriers, capable of vertical take-offs and landings, would be showing their skills for the first time at the air show.

Of course, the evergreen multi-role aircraft Sukhois, the MiG 29s and MiG 21s, Jaguars, Mirage 2000s and the Surya Kirans would be displaying their incredible flying skills. Besides military aircraft, our very own 14-seater Saras would regale the audience on all the days. Another civilian aircraft, Falcon-2000 is also expected to show its prowess.

Over 20 foreign military and civil aircraft and 15 Indian planes would be displaying their flying skills during the show, which can now match its rivals at Dubai or Singapore.

The three variants of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), different variants of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), Intermediate Jet Trainers (IJTs), and the recently modified Chetak helicopter called Chetan would also enthrall the audience. Two private Indian aviation companies, Bangalore-based Indus Aviation and Coonoor based Zephyr, will display small aircrafts.

The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, would inaugurate the air show on Wednesday. While the US is showcasing five aircraft -- KC 135, two F15-Es, Herculus C-130 and maritime surveillance aircraft P3 Orion, the United Kingdom is bringing the Advanced Jet Trainer Hawks, the Brazilian Learjet-60, the Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the French ATR-42, the Russian MiG-29 and the Americans would display Bell 407 helicopter.

Northrop Grumman Corporation will be demonstrating the capabilities of its Hawkeye 2000 airborne early warning aircraft at the Aero India. The company designed, developed and produces the Hawkeye 2000 for the US Navy. It is currently offering the aircraft to the Indian navy as the solution to its requirements for an airborne early-warning and battle-management command-and-control system. India is one of a growing number of countries looking at the Hawkeye 2000 to help satisfy the demand for integrated defense capabilities.

Some of the participating countries include Belgium, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Thailand and Ukraine.

The aircraft giants like Airbus, ATR, Eurocopter, EADS and Boeing will also participate. Several known companies from across the globe including Sibat from Israel; Avia Export, Irkut Corporation, Rosboronexports from Russia; Dassault, Thales, GIFAS from France; Raytheon and Bell Helicopters from US would also be present to capture the growing Indian market.

On the opening day, two Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft will fly over the Yelahanka Air Force base, the venue of the air show, plugged into the IL-76 tanker -- the mid-air refueling aircraft of the Indian Air Force. This will be the first public display of India's mid-air refueling capacity, acquired following the purchase of the IL-76 tankers last year. This prowess will, however, be on display only on the first day.

The success of the Aero India, even before its take off, can be gauged from the fact that as many as 210 foreign and 140 Indian companies are participating in the five-day show. Their number was 176 and 74 respectively in 2003. According to Aero India 2005 joint director of exhibitions, Squadron Leader R K Dhingra, "all available exhibition space in Aero India 2005 is sold out. This year we have provided 30 per cent more space than the last year. In the year 2003, we had booked 8,500 square metres of space. The show has exceeded our expectations."

Sq Ldr Dhingra said the new features of this year Aero India include a new hangar with annexes that include additional 4,200 sq m of indoor display area; a state-of-the-art media centre with media lounge and briefing rooms for presentations; space for additional chalets; and more outdoor display area with additional 20,000 sqm dispersal area.

Air Officer Commanding of Yelahanka Air Force Station Air Commodore S.P.Singh informed that elaborate arrangements for maintenance and security had been organised for the show.

The Defence Exhibition Organisation under Department of Defence Production and Supplies, Ministry of Defence, are the organizers of the fifth edition of the show. The first air show was held in 1996. The show has grown both in stature and size with each successive edition.

A three-day international seminar, organised by Defence Research and Development Organisation, also commenced on Monday at Bangalore on the topic of "Aerospace Technologies - Developments and Strategies". For the first time, a National Conference on India Aviation is scheduled as a part of Aero India.

Russia to lease nuclear submarine to India

MOSCOW, Oct 21: India will take a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia on lease, according to news reports. "Moscow and New Delhi have signed a contract under which the Indian Navy will get a Project 971 multi-role submarine on a 10-year lease," the Interfax news agency said, quoting a military industry source. The submarine, said to be 85 per cent ready, will be handed over to India in 2007. Earlier reports said that Russia was to lease two nuclear submarines to India.

A Russian media report last week said that the construction of two unfinished Project 971 nuclear submarines, suspended due to the lack of funds, had resumed at the Amur Shipyards in Komsomolsk-on-the-Amur in the Far East after India made an advance payment of $100 million towards the lease contract.

The Project 971 third-generation submarine (NATO code name Akula-II) is the most advanced Russian nuclear attack submarine said to be equal or superior to the U.S. Sea Wolf and modernised Los Angeles-class submarines. The Russian Navy's Akula-II subs are equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 km. The Indian version is expected to be armed with the 300-km Club nuclear-capable missiles. During 1988-1991, India leased a second-generation Charlie-class nuclear submarine from Russia.

NDA exams on April 17

NEW DELHI, Oct 21: The National Defence Academy and the Naval Academy Examination, will be held on April 17 next year. The last date for receipt of application is November 16, according to a press release.

In respect of applications received by post from the candidates residing abroad or in certain remote localities, the last date is November 23.The candidates must apply in the common application form devised by the Union Public Service examination (UPSC) for its examinations which can be purchased from any one of the designated head post office or post offices throughout the country against cash payment of Rs 20.

In case of difficulty in obtaining application form and central recruitment fee stamp, the candidates should contact the postmaster concerned or UPSC 's Form Supply Monitoring Cell on telephone number: (0091-11) 23389366 or fax number (0091-11) 23387310.

Indo-US Navies to practice anti-submarine warfare

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Sept 29: For the second consecutive year the US is sending a nuclear-powered submarine for a major naval exercise with India to be conducted in the Arabian Sea. Exercise Malabar 2004, to be held off the Konkan coast from October 4, will see seven frontline warships and submarines of the Indian and US navies practicing advanced anti-submarine warfare and anti-terrorism operations.

This is the sixth in the Malabar series of manoeuvres since 1992 and the third such war game held by the two navies since India and the US resumed defence ties after the 1998 nuclear tests by New Delhi. Besides the USS Alexandria, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the US Pacific Fleet will field the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, the frigate USS Gary, Ticonderoga missile cruiser and Oliver Hazard Perry class guided-missile frigate.

For the first time, the US Navy will include long-range maritime and submarine hunter aircraft P3C Orions in the exercises. New Delhi and Washington are in an advanced stage of negotiations on the Navy acquiring ten of these aircraft on Government-to-Government sales to augment its depleted maritime capabilities.

For the weeklong exercises with its accent on anti-submarine warfare, the Indian Navy is fielding one Delhi class guided missile destroyer, one Brahmputra class guided missile frigate, German acquired HDW Shishukar Class Submarine, a replenishment tanker, TU-142 long-range patrol aircraft and Sea-Harrier jump jet fighters operating from Goa land bases.

Besides the anti-submarine warfare, the two navies would also undertake manoeuvres on sea-control missions, fleet air defence, surface firings, maritime interdiction operations and VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) operations.

The maritime interdiction and VBSS operations assumed significance in the context of the war against terrorism. These operations would allow the two navies to conduct mock drills in which personnel from warships board and search vessels at sea.

The Malabar series of exercises are regularly conducted as part of enhanced cooperation between the two navies. The India-US exercise is being held at a time when New Delhi is considering proposals from Malaysia and Singapore for joint patrolling of busy sea-lanes of communication.

27 pc hike in India's defence budget

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, July 8: The Finance Minister, Mr P Chaidambram, has proposed a hike in the defence spending for fiscal 2004-05 by a whopping 27 percent, allocating Rs.77,000 crore for the sector, largely with an eye on major arms deals currently in the pipeline.

In the Union Budget for the year 2004-05 presented in the Lok Sabha today, Mr Chidambaram proposed an increase of Rs.11,700 crore over the allocation of Rs.65,300 crore for defence in fiscal 2003-04. But actual expenditure on defence during 2003-04 was about Rs.60,300 crore, with the new allocation marking a 27 percent hike.

The Finance Minister stated that the increased allocation was largely for concluding several major defence deals to modernise the armed forces. He said the allocation for "capital expenditure", parlance for funds provided for arms purchases, would be hiked from Rs.20,953 crore to Rs.33,483 crore. "As promised in the national common minimum programme (NCMP), the Government is determined to eliminate all delays in the modernisation of the defence forces," he said.

Mr Chidambaram said "having regard to the trend of defence capital expenditure in recent years, it has become necessary to make a higher allocation this year."

The sharp hike in India's defence budget has come almost a month after Pakistan increased defence spending by 20 percent for fiscal 2004-05. Pakistan had increased the defence outlay to Rs.19,392 crore, Rs.3,300 crore more than the budget for fiscal 2003-04.

India has recently inked several major defence contracts, including a $1.5 billion deal with Russia to acquire the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and a 795-million pound deal with Britain's BAE Systems to purchase 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs). It has also clinched a deal with Israel for three Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems worth $1 billion.

With the doubling of capital outlay, it also appears that the Government would go ahead with pending proposals to acquire French killer class Scorpene submarines, 125 multi-purpose fighters for the Air Force to replace aging Mig-21's and with about Rs 4,000 crore project to increase the firepower of the infantry.

Despite a hefty hike, India's defence expenditure still forms only 2.5 per cent of the GDP, much lower than China which spends 6 per cent and Pakistan 5.5 per cent of their GDP on defence. Mr Chidambaram, however, gave no indication that the Congress-led UPA Government had plans to create a Rs.25,000 crore rolling fund to buy sophisticated military hardware as mooted by the previous BJParty-led NDA government in its interim budget in February.

The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, had last month said such a concept was not constitutionally or legally valid.

NSAB constituted

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, July 2: The National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), a body that assists the National Security Council (NSC), has been constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with India's former High Commissioner to Pakistan S K Lambah, as its Convenor.

There will be 15 members in NSAB which advises the NSC on security and defence matters. The NSAB is a multi-disciplinary body comprising persons of eminence from outside the Government. The tenure of the NSAB members has been extended to two years instead of one year in the past. Former DRDO scientist Amitav Mallik, has been retained from the previous NSAB.

Besides serving in Pakistan, Lambah was also posted as India's envoy in Russia and Germany. The other members of the NSAB include Mr Hamid Ansari, Mr Manoj Joshi, Dr C Raja Mohan, Lt Gen (Retd) S S Mehta, Air Marshal (Retd) P S Brar, Vice Admiral (Retd) P J Jacob, Mr D C Pathak, Mr N C Saxena, Mr B K R Rao, Mr Ram Mohan, Mr Ashok Khosla, Dr Meenakshi Gopinath, and Dr S K Sharma.

US giants begun rebuilding links
with Indian defence firms

By Deepak Arora

WASHINGTON - With the Indo-US ties looking up, the American military aviation majors, including Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopters and Boeing have begun rebuilding links with the Indian defence establishments. The Indo-US ties have slumped to new low after India had undertaken nuclear tests in May 1998. However with the sanctions having been lifted by the US Administration, the American firms were seen rebuilding links with the Indian military at the recently concluded Aero India 2003 air show at Bangalore.

Aero India, which was held at Bangalore from February 5 to 9, had attracted some 175 firms from 22 countries. The show, one of Asia’s largest aerospace exhibitions, saw firms hawking a wide array of military aircraft they want to sell to India.

Senior executives of U.S. firms discussed with Indian companies and Defence Ministry officials on potential sales, including offers to provide aircraft that could replace India’s ageing fleet of Russian-designed fighters and transport aircraft.

Lockheed Martin, whose relations with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) were snapped by Washington’s sanctions following India’s nuclear tests in May 1998, has now offered P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft T-50 trainer jets, F-16 fighters and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft with Indian players.

"We lost time due to the sanctions but we have restarted dialogue (with HAL) and we are discussing certain classified areas in research and development," said Jagdish Malhotra, Lockheed Martin’s national executive for India and Sri Lanka.

Lockheed Martin had been collaborating with HAL to develop a digital flight control system for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), India’s home-grown fighter before the sanctions came into force.

Dennys Plessas, regional vice-president for Lockheed Martin, said his firm was willing to work with HAL to co-produce jet trainers and transport aircraft for the Indian military. "Lockheed Martin is seeking partnerships with (Indian) industry and military and Aero India is an excellent forum for that," he said. "The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a requirement for 20-tonne aircraft, and the Hercules can meet this."

The U.S. firm will also benefit if India goes ahead with plans to lease up to 12 P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft from the US Armed Forces. Lockheed Martin made the Orion but its production was stopped in 1995. It will, however, take care of maintenance of any Orions leased by India.

Almost 70 percent of the hardware used by India’s armed forces is of Russian origin, but New Delhi has begun looking in recent years to Israel, South Africa and France to diversify its sources of military equipment. Several aircraft of Russian origin used by the IAF, including MiG-21 fighters and An-32 transport aircraft, are nearing the end of their service life, and the US firms are hoping New Delhi will choose their products as replacements.

Bell, which showed off its Bell 407 helicopter at Aero India, is expected to make a bid for filling an Indian Army requirement for helicopters to be used at high altitudes, like the Siachen glacier in Jammu and Kashmir where soldiers are manning posts at heights of up to 21,000 feet. After the air show the Bell is using the helicopter for live demos with the Indian forces.

Despite growing military-to-military contacts between India and the U.S., American military sales have not taken off largely due to New Delhi’s fears of sanctions. The only major deal signed by the two sides in recent years was Raytheon’s $146 million contract last year for selling eight weapon-locating radars.

But US executives like Mike Kelley of Lockheed Martin believe these problems could be overcome if the deals are made under the "Foreign Military Sales" (FMS) programme, a government-to-government agreement whereby the U.S. government will guarantee the supply of military hardware. "We have advocated the FMS route for the proposals to supply the P-3 and the Hercules," he said.

India and the US have been quietly strengthening their strategic ties in a range of areas including military training and intelligence. Last year, the two countries held military exercises in each others country after a gap of four decades. The first of the exercise code-named "Balance Iroquois" and involving Indian para-commandos and US Special Forces, along with military aircraft from both countries, was held in the Indian city Agra. The exercise took place in the framework of our ongoing military-to-military relationship.

The next exercises were held in Alaska, where the Indian solders trained with the American Special Forces from the US Pacific Command. In October, joint naval manoeuvres took place in the Arabian Sea for the first time involving a cruiser-destroyer group of three or four warships and maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

Defence and intelligence links developed by Bill Clinton have received a further boost under the Bush administration, especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks in US. The US lifted the remaining sanctions on India over the nuclear tests and accelerated its intelligence sharing with the Indian military establishment, in particular over Islamic extremist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US "global war on terrorism" and its invasion of Afghanistan tied in with India’s branding of all Islamic fundamentalist groups, including those opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir, as "terrorists".

In the past one year, several high-level defence and state visits have taken place between the US and India, including by Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh and Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal. From the US side, the Secretary of State Collin Powell and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld among others have visited India.

HAL, Isreali firm to market ALH

By Deepak Arora

BANGALORE - Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has emerged as a leading aerospace company and is now eyeing the international market for new products such as Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

In this connection, the HAL recently signed MOU with Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) for joint marketing of the indigenously produced ALH, according to Mr N R Mohanty, Chairman of HAL. IAI’s avionics would be integrated into ALH platform.

The ALH called "Dhruv" has been developed as a multi role, multi-mission state-of-the-art helicopter in the four-five tonne categories for the military, Coast Guard as well as civil operations.

ALH fits well into the civil role both for passenger and cargo version. The wide body, spacious and quiet cabin, hinged doors, emergency exits, smooth and vibration free rides, guarantee passenger comfort. The seating capacity is 12 passengers and two crew in normal configuration and 14 passengers and two crew in high-density configuration. The first civil variant flew on March 6 last year and is undergoing test flights for certification which are planned to be completed by June this year.

Mr Mohanty informed that HAL has also inked a pact with Turbomeka, a subsidiary of French major Snecma, for co-designing and co-developing "Shakti" engine in India for ALH. Shakti engine would have 12 per cent more power than the existing one with better operational capability in high altitudes and carry more payload.

In addition, HAL would soon float a joint venture company with Snecma for producing small aero engines for civil aircraft and the products would be jointly marketed globally by the joint venture company, which would also manufacture turbo chargers for Indian Railways and target other railway overseas, he said.

The Chairman said HAL has bagged a US $ 9 million orders from Russian company Ikrut for supply of "sub-assemblies" for Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft.

The company has also bagged a US $ 5 million export order from British aerospace company Rolls Royce for supply of castings and forgings. Under the deal HAL will export to Rolls Royce forgings to a value of US $ 5 million over the next three years and this could potentially grow to US $ 10 million over the next five years.

Mr Mohanty said HAL has already manufactured and would export to Rolls Royce its first batch of ring forgings, which would be incorporated into Rolls Royce civil aero engines under manufacture in the UK for world-wide operations. HAL has met all the systems and process approvals of Rolls Royce and has become a member of the Rolls Royce global supply chain, he added.

HAL and Rolls Royce have worked together for over 40 years. HAL manufactures under licence the Adour engine for the Indian Air Force Jaguar fleet and is also licenced to repair a number of Rolls Royce engines. The supply of forgings takes the HAL-Rolls Royce partnership to a new level of success and both companies believe this would lead to further manufacturing contracts.

The Chairman said "this is an important milestone in the long-standing cooperation between Rolls Royce and HAL. This would go a long way in strengthening our relationship further in the spirit of partnership." HAL looked forward for enhanced participation in the programmes of Rolls Royce for supply of parts, components assemblies, repair and overhaul and servicing aero engines and industrial gas turbines.

Rolls Royce India’s Managing Director Tim Jones said the HAL ring rolled forgings would be incorporated in engines including the Trent 800 which is now on offer to Air India for the Boeing 777.

Mr Mohanty informed that Airbus Industrie has requested HAL for quotation on "structural assembly order" relating to its Airbus A380 aircraft.

He stated that India and Russia would go ahead with a project to co-design and co-develop a multi-role cargo aircraft. He said HAL has also developed an Intermediate Jet Trainer in a record three and half years and the maiden flight would take place soon. Indian Air Force has announced to place orders for 16 numbers of IJT.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall S Krishnaswamy, has told HAL that Rs 300 crore would be sanctioned for designing and developing of Light Attack Helicopter which, Mr Mohanty expressed hope, would take to the skies in two years.

He said HAL has so far delivered 12 ALHs to services and has bagged an order from Mumbai-based offshore helicopter operator Azal Helicopters for purchase of civilian version of ALH.

The Chairman said the HAL would set up two dedicated hangers - Centre of Excellence for machining -- in Bangalore at a cost of Rs 70 crore in the next 12 to 18 months.

He said HAL’s sales and profit during the year 2001-02 were Rs 27,750 million and Rs 3,740 million respectively. HAL’s operational profit to sales ratio was approximately 11 per cent. The company also paid the highest ever dividend of 57 per cent of the paid up capital to the Government of India. The company’s debt equity ratio is a healthy 0.22.

Aero India salute to Columbia shuttle crew

From Deepak Arora

BANGALORE, Feb 5 -- Dazzling and breathtaking air display by the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), fighter aircraft Sukhoi and Surya Kiran jet trainers marked the inauguration of Aero India 2003 here today.

During the air show, the Indian Air Force (IAF) aerobatic team of nine Surya Kirans paid a moving tribute to the space shuttle crew by flying in a bowing formation. The seven astronauts, including India-born Kalpana Chawla, had perished in the Columbia space shuttle blast last week. The moving gesture to the departed souls made many eyes mist among the large audience who had come to attend the opening ceremony.

The Sukhoi-30 MK 1 displayedawesome power of the fighter aircraft, which was inducted into the IAF last year. The majestic flying display of the supersonic Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), designed and developed indigenously by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), signaled the entry of the Indian aerospace industry in the global aviation market.

Opening the fourth international exposition, the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, urged the international community to collaborate with India in the defence sector and serve the mutual interest.

"Having opened defence production to the private sector, with Foreign Direct Investment upto 26 per cent, we are looking forward to creating a defence industrial base capable of producing world class equipment, at highly competitive prices, in cooperative partnership with industry in the private sector," said Mr Fernandes.

He said the research and development work being done in some of our defence laboratories was being made available to this sector for productionisation.

In this context, the Defence Minister said, "we are keen to welcome international collaborations that are in conformity with our national goals and that serve the mutual interest of the collaborators."

The inaugural ceremony was attended among others by the Ministers of State for Defence, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and Mr O Rajagopal, the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr S M Krishna, the Defence Secretary (Supply and Procurement), Mr N S Sisodia, and the IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy. Several Ambassadors, including those from the US, the UK and France were also present at the opening ceremony. Besides India, over 176 reputed companies from 22 countries are participating in the exposition.

Mr Fernandes stated that India has grown in technology and industry base from the days when the country was only buying from other nations. "Our basic thrust has been for indigenous development, design and manufacture. In fact, over the years we have been engaged in manufacture of our own basic trainer aircraft, jet trainers, fighters and helicopters."

He said India along with Russia would be co-producing 50 and 100 seater civil aircraft in the next few years.

Later addressing a press conference, Mr Fernandes said the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) deal is likely to be finalized "soon". He said the papers for the deal have been placed with the Union Cabinet after considering all proposals in this regard. It is learnt that the British Hawk is the frontrunner for the multi-billion dollar deal for 66 aircraft.

After the inaugural speeches, the three ALHs flew over the VIP enclosure in a wing formation, displaying the copter's maneuvers with ease for several kinds of exercises, including main battlefield and rescue or relief operations.

The three variants of the ALH, which have been inducted in the IAF, army, and the navy last year, have also performed feats undertaken by the defence services in real-time battlefield and rescue or relief operations. The commandoes participated in these real time maneuvers.

In a rare display of aerial maneuvers, the IAF pilots took off in three different aircraft - two Mirage 2000, two Surya Kirans and ALH helicopter -- flew together in an arrow formation and demonstrated their skills in handling simultaneously fighter jets , jet trainers and helicopters.
Witnessed by a dozen high level defence delegations from various countries, including Italy, Czech republic, Namibia, and South Africa, and hundreds of delegates, the multiple aerobatics conducted by wing commander Nirmal Singh from the supersonic Sukhoi-30 MKI clearly stole the thunder of the aero show.

Taking off from a low range of 300 feet at 200km per hour speed to dizzy heights of 3.5km at a speed of 650km per hour, the fighter pilot demonstrated the super agility of SU-30 MK1. To the delight of over 5000 people, who gathered for the inaugural show, Singh performed spectacular feats such as box turn maneuvers and vertical Charlie, making skilful u-turns and semi- radius loops.

Border Roads to construct Rohtang tunnel

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI: THE Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been entrusted with the construction of nine km long Rohtang Tunnel which will be an alternate route to Leh. The work on the project will begin this year and is expected to be completed in ten years.

The organization has also been entrusted with the construction of an 18 km long four-lane expressway between Jammu and Pathankot on NH1A. This is part of the North-South corridor of the prestigious National Highway Development Project.

The Border Roads Organisation was conceptualized in March 1960; primarily to meet the defence infrastructure needs of the country especially in the Border States. Over the years, the Organisation has diversified into the construction of permanent RCC as well as steel bridges, airfields, townships, tunneling works and hydroelectric projects.



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