Rajnath Singh takes hard line on LAC row, says it has eroded India-China ties
NEW DELHI, April 27: India has sent a strong message to China during the first meeting of defence ministers of the two nations since the Galwan incident. Underscoring the need for peace and tranquility at the border, New Delhi said "violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations".
A communique released after Union minister Rajnath Singh's meet with Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu -- held on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) meeting -- read: "The Raksha Mantri categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders".
"He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation," the statement read.
The 18 rounds of talks between the military commanders of India and China have led to disengagement in certain areas of Ladakh including Hot Springs, Galwan, and north bank of Pangong Lake. But there has been little headway in resolving the situation in strategically important Demchok and Depsang, where the Chinese occupy large swathes of Indian territory.
After the meet earlier this week, both sides agreed to "speed up" the settlement of "relevant issues" and safeguard peace in border areas.
Repeated Chinese transgressions in Ladakh has led to face-offs with Indian soldiers, the worst of which took place in Galwan, where 20 Indian soldiers died in action in 2020.
Since then, there have been reports of China paring off Indian territory in various spots of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, and building up infrastructure in terms of roads and air bases.
2 Pilots Killed As Army Helicopter Crashes In Arunachal, Wreckage Found
GUWAHATI, March 16: An Indian Army chopper crashed near Mandala in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday morning, killing the pilot and the co-pilot of the helicopter. The two pilots -- Lieutenant Colonel VVB Reddy and Major Jayanth A -- were earlier reported to be missing. The aircraft lost contact with the Air Traffic Controller at 9:15 am, the army said.
Five search parties of Indian Army, Sashastra Seema Bal and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were immediately launched, and the wreckage of the aircraft was found near Village Banglajaap East of Mandala, the army said, adding that a Court of Inquiry is being ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
The chopper had taken off from Sange village in the district at 9 am and was headed for Missamari in Assam's Sonitpur district.
"Army Aviation Cheetah helicopter flying an operational sortie near Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh was reported to have lost contact with the ATC at around 09:15 AM on 16 March 23.
#LtGenRPKalita#ArmyCdrEC & All Ranks offer tribute to the supreme sacrifice of Lt Col VVB Reddy & Maj Jayanth A, in the line of duty at Mandala, #ArunachalPradesh while carrying out operational flying of Cheetah Helicopter. #IndianArmy stands firm with the bereaved families pic.twitter.com/XimeZQ0pan
— EasternCommand_IA (@easterncomd) March 16, 2023
It is reported to have crashed near Mandala, west of Bomdila. Search parties have been launched," the army had said.
Rohit Rajbir Singh, the Superintendent of Police, Special Investigation Cell (SIC), explained that villagers had found the crashed chopper ablaze in Dirang, and informed district officials.
"Villagers from Bangjalep at Dirang located the chopper around 12.30 pm. It is still burning," Singh said.
The area has no mobile connectivity and the weather is extremely foggy with visibility as low as five meters, he added.
Sukhoi, Mirage Fighter Jets Crash Near Gwalior, 1 Pilot Dead
BHOPAL, Jan 28: Two Indian Air Force fighter jets - a Sukhoi Su-30 and a Mirage 2000 - crashed during a training exercise earlier today, officials said on Saturday, resulting in the death of one pilot. While one aircraft crashed in Morena in Madhya Pradesh, the other is believed to have gone down 100 km away in Rajasthan's Bharatpur.
The Sukhoi had two pilots, while the Mirage had one pilot, defence sources said. Both aircraft are used on the frontlines by the Indian Air Force. The two pilots on the Sukhoi managed to eject and were taken to the hospital in a helicopter.
Both the fighter jets had taken off from the Gwalior Air Force base which has squadrons of both the Russian-designed Sukhoi and the French Mirage 2000.
Videos from the scene, shot by locals in Morena, showed smouldering debris of the aircraft strewn on the ground.
The Air Force has launched a probe to examine if a mid-air collision led to the crash.
"IAF court of inquiry has been launched to establish whether there was a mid-air collision or not. The Su-30 had two pilots while Mirage 2000 had one pilot during the crash. Initial reports suggest two pilots are safe while an IAF chopper reaching the location of the third pilot soon," sources said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been briefed by the Indian Air Force chief on the crash of two aircraft.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a tweet, "The news of the crash of Sukhoi-30 and Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Air Force near Kolaras in Morena is very sad. I have instructed the local administration to cooperate with the Air Force in quick rescue and relief work. I pray to God that the pilots of the planes are safe."
BrahMos Missile, With 400 km Range, Test Fired From Sukhoi Fighter
NEW DELHI, Dec 29: The Indian Air Force today successfully tested the extended range version of the BrahMos Air Launched missile against a ship target from Su-30 MKI fighter jet.
The extended range of the BrahMos missile is believed to have the ability to take out targets in sea 400 km away.
The supersonic cruise missile "achieved the desired mission objectives in the Bay of Bengal region and with the successful test, the Indian Air Force achieved a capability boost to carry out precision strikes from Su-30 fighter aircraft against land/ sea targets over long ranges," the defence ministry said in a statement.
"The extended range capability of the missile coupled with the high performance of the SU-30MKI aircraft gives the Indian Air Force a strategic reach and allows it to dominate the future battle fields," the statement added.
The successful test firing was a joint effort by the Air Force, Indian Navy, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and the BrahMos Aerospace (BAPL).
In May this year, the extended-range version of the supersonic missile was successfully tested from the Sukhoi fighter. The extended range was reported to have increased to 350 km from 290 km.
The successful test conducted in May was the first instance in which the missile was test fired from the Su-30MKI fighter jet.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has a two-stage solid propellant booster engine as its first stage which takes it to supersonic speed. The second stage is the liquid ramjet engine which takes it closer to Mach 3 (3 times the speed of sound) speed in the cruise phase.
The BrahMos missile is universal for multiple platforms and can be launched from air, land, and sea platforms. The missile works on the 'Fire and Forget principle' and maintains a high supersonic throughout the flight. The missile is said to have a low radar signature.
16 Armymen Killed After Truck Falls Into Gorge In Sikkim
GANGTOK, Dec 23: Sixteen soldiers, including three officers, were killed Friday after the army truck they were travelling in fell into a gorge in Sikkim, the army said in a statement.
The truck was part of a 3-vehicle convoy, said the army, that had moved from Chatten in the morning towards Thangu.
"Enroute at Zema, the vehicle skidded down a steep slope while negotiating a sharp turn. A rescue mission was immediately launched, and four injured soldiers have been air evacuated," the Army said.
The Army added that it stands with the bereaved families in this hour of loss.
President Murmu, PM Modi and Home Ministr Amit Shah have condoled deaths of Army personnel in Sikkim accident.
"Deeply pained by the loss of lives of the Indian Army personnel due to a road accident in North Sikkim. The nation is deeply grateful for their service and commitment. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of those who are injured," tweeted Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Days After China Clash, Agni V Successfully Tested, It Can Reach Beijing
NEW DELHI, Dec 15: India has successfully carried out night trials of the Agni V nuclear-capable ballistic missile which can hit targets beyond 5,400 km, sources in the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, amid heightened tensions with China over clashes along the de facto border in Arunachal Pradesh last week.
The test was carried out to validate new technologies and equipment on the missile and has proved that the missile can now hit targets further away than before, they added.
The nuclear-capable ballistic missile was fired from Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha. This is the ninth flight of the Agni V - a missile first tested in 2012 - and was a routine test, Defence Ministry sources said.
While the test was carried out days after the clashes, it had been planned earlier. India had announced its intention to test a long-range missile and issued a NOTAM or Notice to Airmen well before the incident in Arunachal's Tawang.
With the incursion in Arunachal, China had tried to "unilaterally change the status quo" on the de facto border known as Line of Actual Control last week, triggering clashes that left troops on both sides injured, the government had said, adding that the attempt had been successfully repulsed.
The incident is thought to be the most serious on the nuclear-armed Asian giants' disputed frontier since 2020 when 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers died in brawling in Ladakh's Galwan Valley.
China and India fought a full-scale war in 1962 over control of Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims in its entirety and considers part of Tibet.
The clash in Tawang followed joint military exercises that irked Beijing last month between India and the United States in Uttarakhand, which borders China.
India Successfully Test-Fires Agni-3 Ballistic Missile
BHUBANESWAR, Nov 23: India on Wednesday successfully carried out the training launch of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, Agni-3, from APJ Abdul Kalam Island, off the Odisha coast, DRDO sources said.
The successful test was part of routine user training launches carried out under the aegis of the Strategic Forces Command, an official statement said, adding that the launch was carried out for a predetermined range and validated all operational parameters of the system.
India Shows Off First Home-Made Attack Helicopters
NEW DELHI, Oct 3: In a big boost to its combat prowess, the Indian Air Force on Monday inducted the first batch of indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters, named Prachand, that are capable of firing a range of missiles and other weapons.
"It is a momentous occasion reflecting India's capability in defence production," Rajnath Singh said at the event.
The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), developed by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), has been primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions. It was inducted into the IAF at a ceremony in Jodhpur in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari.
The Defence Minister revealed that the helicopter has been named "Prachand".
The light combat helicopter over the next several years will be the bedrock of attack helicopter formations in the Indian Army and in the Indian Air Force. The 5.8-tonne twin-engine helicopter has already completed various weapons firing tests, the officials said.
While we have the American Apache chopper as well, which is larger than this and perhaps more capable, this fulfils a specific role, particularly in very high altitude operations where it can carry a significant payload. The design of the chopper is entirely Indian. The integration is Indian, and it fulfils an Indian requirement.
The chopper has been tested over Ladakh. It can take out Chinese drones with air-to-air missiles. It can also take out tanks on the ground using air to surface anti tank munitions.
95 of these choppers will go to the Indian Army. A handful has already entered the service. Approximately 65 will go to the Indian Air Force as well. A very expensive project, the initial allotment for the Indian Air Force was upwards of ₹ 3,500 crore.
The price will be progressively revised as sanction is received. That sanction will be given over a period of time as newer avatars of this helicopter are produced.
The LCH has similarities with Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. It has a number of stealth features, armoured-protection systems, night attack capability and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability, the officials said. It is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and all-weather combat capability to perform a range of roles including combat search and rescue (CSAR), destruction of enemy air defence (DEAD) and counter-insurgency (CI) operations.
The helicopter can also be deployed in high-altitude bunker-busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungles and urban environments, as well as for supporting ground forces.
The helicopter can also be used against slow-moving aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) of adversaries. Officials said it would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the IAF and the Indian Army. They said state-of-the-art technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and IR signatures and crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into the LCH for deployment in combat roles.
India, China Complete Disengagement In Ladakh's Hot Springs Region: Sources
NEW DELHI, Sept 13: Indian and Chinese troops have completed disengagement from a key standoff point in Ladakh, according to government sources. The process started on September 8 after the discussions between the two sides during the 16th round of corps commander level.
India and China last week announced the disengagement of their troops from the Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot springs area of eastern Ladakh in a "coordinated and planned way".
Both armies had agreed to move back from their positions towards their respective sides of the LAC and verify each others' positions after that.
The two sides have now resolved all the friction points that came up after the May 2020 aggression by the Chinese army in the Pangong Lake areas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will both be in Uzbekistan on September 15 and 16 to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
The first in-person SCO summit since 2019 will be watched closely for the possibility of bilateral meetings on the sidelines between Xi and other leaders, including Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
It will be the first time Modi and Xi Jinping will come face to face after their meeting at Brasília on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in 2019.
India, China Troops Begin Disengagement From Key Standoff Point In Ladakh
NEW DELHI, Sept 8: Indian and Chinese troops have started withdrawing from Gogra-Hot Springs in Ladakh after reaching a consensus in the 16th round of military talks, the two sides said in a joint statement this evening.
The Chinese forces in this area are likely to return to pre-2020 positions, sources have said.
India and China have been able to disengage so far from the Galwan region where fierce clashes between soldiers of both sides took place in June 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers laid down their lives for the country. Over 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured.
There have also been breakthroughs on both banks of Pangong Lake further south in Ladakh.
However, Chinese soldiers are still believed to hold large swathes of Indian territory to the north in the Depsang plains.
"On 8th September 2022, according to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquillity in the border areas," the joint statement said today.
The 16th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China were held on July 17. Before that, the two sides met for talks in March.
Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant To Be Commissioned on Sept 2
KOCHI, Aug 25: Indian Navy will get INS Vikrant, the country's first indigenously built aircraft carrier, formally on September 2. The timing happens to be crucial, when China is building up its presence in the Indian Ocean region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest when the 45,000-tonne warship would be commissioned. Multiple phases of sea trials have been completed since August 21 last year. Aviation trials will be held after the navy has its command.
At present, India has only one aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is built on a Russian platform. Defence forces have been seeking three carriers in all — one in spare besides one each for the two main naval fronts, in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
INS Vikrant — the largest warship to have been built in India — is named after its predecessor, which played a key role during the 1971 war against Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh. "The induction and reincarnation of 'Vikrant' is... also our humble tribute to the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters for the independence of the nation and our brave soldiers during the 1971 war," the navy said.
Built at a cost of ₹ 20,000 crore, it's designed by the Navy's Warship Design Bureau and built by the public-sector manufacturer Cochin Shipyard Limited. With it, India joins a a select group of nations, such as the US, UK, Russia, China and France, that can design and build their own aircraft carriers.
The warship was in the works for over a decade. There were three stages of contract between the Defence Ministry and Cochin Shipyard Limited, starting from 2007. The ship's keel was laid in February 2009.
It will be able to have 30 aircraft on board, including MiG-29K fighter jets and helicopters, "in addition to indigenously manufactured advanced light helicopters (ALH) and light combat aircraft (LCA)", the Navy said. To start with, it'll have the MiG fighters and some helicopters. The Navy is in the process of procuring 26 deck-based aircraft, having narrowed down to some Boeing and Dassault aircraft.
At 262 metres long and 62 metres wide, it can house a crew of 1,600, and has around 2,200 compartments, including specialised cabins for woman officers and sailors. It has a medical complex with latest equipment, including several laboratories, CT scanner, X-ray machines, and isolation ward.
China has been aggressively expanding its strength at sea. Recent satellite images indicate that China's naval base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is now fully operational and supports warships deployed in the Indian Ocean region. India was also worried recently when a Chinese "spy" ship docked in Sri Lanka.
Indian Navy sees the new warship as a key addition to its arsenal. "[It] can be utilised for power projection and ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, and can provide for credible deterrence," said Vice Admiral MA Hampiholi, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command.
The officer who will command INS Vikrant is Commodore Vidhyadhar Harke.
3 Indian Officers Sacked for Missile Misfire Into Pak
NEW DELHI, Aug 23: Three Indian Air Force officers have been sacked for the accidental firing of a BrahMos missile into Pakistan earlier this year, the government said Tuesday.
"A BrahMos missile was accidentally fired on 9 March 2022. A Court of Inquiry (Col), set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile," the Air Force said in a statement.
"These three officers have primarily been held responsible for the incident. Their services have been terminated by the Central Govt with immediate effect. Termination orders have been served upon the officers on 23 Aug 22," it added.
The missile was fired accidentally from the Indian side into an area in Pakistan in March, in an incident the Defence Ministry had called "deeply regrettable" and blamed on "technical malfunction".
According to Pakistan, the missile flew more than 100 km inside their airspace, at an altitude of 40,000 feet and at three times the speed of sound, before it landed. There was no warhead on the missile, so it did not detonate.
The country's foreign office said it had summoned India's charge d'affaires in Islamabad to protest what it called an unprovoked violation of its airspace. Pakistan called for an investigation into the incident, which it said could have endangered passenger flights and civilian lives.
Pakistan warned India "to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of such violations in future".
Army boosts firepower along LAC, deploys new assault vessel in Pangong Lake
NEW DELHI, Aug 16: In a big boost to India’s military capabilities in Ladakh, the Indian Army has deployed a new assault vessel in Pangong Lake along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) will enhance operations along the LAC.
The Landing Craft Assault is much more versatile and has overcome the limitations of launch, speed and capacity. The LCA has enhanced capability to operate across the water obstacles in Eastern Ladakh. LCA has been indigenously developed by Aquarius Ship Yard Limited, Goa, officials said.
2 Pilots Killed In Air Force's MiG-21 Jet Crash In Rajasthan's Barmer
JAIPUR, July 28: Two pilots were killed on Thursday evening when Air Force's MiG-21 jet crashed during a training sortie in Rajasthan's Barmer.
"A twin seater Mig-21 trainer aircraft of the IAF was airborne for a training sortie from Utarlai air base in Rajasthan this evening. Around 9:10 pm, the aircraft met with an accident near Barmer. Both pilots sustained fatal injuries," the Air Force said in a statement.
"IAF deeply regrets the loss of lives and stands firmly with the bereaved families," it further said.
A court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, it said.
According to the Air Force, the MiG-21 is a Soviet-era single-engine multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft that forms the backbone of its fleet.
It was first inducted into the IAF in the 1960s, soon after the Indo-China War and upgraded to the MiG-21 Bison version in 2006.
The upgrades included powerful multi-mode radars, better avionics and communication systems. Although these jets could initially only carry "dumb bombs", they are now capable of transporting a wide range of guided munitions.
India to deploy second S-400 squadron near China border amidst Ladakh Standoff
NEW DELHI, July 25: A new squadron of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems is set to become operational in the next two to three months along the northern borders with China.
The addition to the Indian Air Force (IAF) will give a boost to India's ability to detect and destroy hostile fighters, strategic bombers, missiles and drones at long ranges.
Sources noted that the delivery of the second operational S-400 squadron through ships and aircraft is underway from Russia. It would be the first military delivery ever since the Russia-Ukraine war erupted earlier this year in February.
Notably, the fresh delivery of the S-400 squadron comes in the backdrop of China increasing its air activity near Ladakh. Chinese fighters were often sighted flying close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) violating the 10 km no-fly zone between the two sides.
"Chinese fighter deployments and sorties have gone up along the 3,488-km LAC since mid-June, especially across Ladakh but also in other sectors like Arunachal Pradesh. There are often two-three Chinese fighter sorties near the LAC in a day," a source noted.
The first S-400 squadron, delivered in December last year, is deployed n Northwest India to tackle threats from both, Pakistan and China. The second S-400 squadron will be deployed on the China front.
Earlier this year in April, the IAF obtained 'simulators and other equipment for S-400 training squadron.'
India to have joint theatre command of tri-services: Rajnath Singh
JAMMU, July 24: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said a joint theatre commands of tri-services would be set up to enhance coordination among armed forces. He was speaking during a programme organised by the Jammu Kashmir People's Forum to pay tributes to the martyrs of the Indian Armed Forces.
"Keeping in view (joint operations as seen in Operation Vijay in Kargil), we have decided to set up joint theatre commands (in the country)," Singh said.
In June 2021, the government formed an eight-member panel to fine-tune the theaterisation plans and bring all stakeholders on board, especially the Indian Air Force, for speedy roll-out of the new joint structures.
The Indian military’s theaterisation model, a long-awaited reform, will have inbuilt flexibility to fall back on the current command and control structures to deal with any contingency during the transition phase, an official said. Stabilisation of theatre commands could take up to five years, and it is critical to ensure that there is a mechanism to swiftly return to the pre-theaterisation status quo if a crisis unfolds when the restructuring is underway.
Singh, paying homage to martyrs, also said the country cannot forget their supreme sacrifice to safeguard the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
"It is the duty of the society and the people to give their utmost respect to the martyrs and their families," he said.
"Whatever support you can offer, do to for their families. It is the responsibility of each citizen," he added.
The defence minister also said India is moving quickly from being the world's largest importer of defence equipment to an exporter.
"India was the world's largest importer (of defence products). Today, India is not the world's largest importer but is among the top 25 nations engaged in defence exports," he pointed out.
Singh said the country has started defence exports worth ₹13,000 crore and it has fixed a target to increase it to ₹35,000 to ₹40,000 crore by 2025-26.