Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New book captures untold stories of courage and resilience at highest battlefield on earth

Lt Col Rajesh Mehta with his artificial limbs . Photo: Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: "At an altitude of 5000 meters in the Siachen Glacier, the levels of oxygen in the blood of a healthy solider would be similar to that of a patient with severe lung disorder at seal level. Prolonged stay at these high altitudes presents a completely different set of medical challenges. For doctors, nothing that's learned in medical school applies here."
These are some of the interesting aspects captured in the just-released book -- Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga -- written by television journalist Nitin A Gokhale. The book captures some of the untold stories from the glaciers ever since the Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984 to thwart Pakistan's attempts to gain supremacy over the region. 
Tough call of duty: Terming Siachen as the toughest call of duty for Indian soldiers, the book says that survival on the glacier involves much more than battling the grueling environmental conditions. "In addition to the constant threat of enemy action, life in the glacier is all about combating long periods of isolation, making do with tinned and preserved food, struggling to obtain clean drinking water, living in cramped inhospitable temporary shelters without electricity and the absence of a host of things considered essential and taken for granted by civilised society," says one of the chapters in the book that touches upon 'Medicine and Men' in Siachen.
The story of Lt Col Rajesh Mehta, who developed clots in the veins of his brains, hands and legs while posted to the glaciers, is an apt pointer to the hardships soldiers in Siachen undergo. The doctors had to amputate the officer's right leg from his hip, the left leg from the knee and the left arm from the elbow. Rajesh, a former commando, still works with the Indian Army and is now posted in Pune.
The book goes deep into the sustained efforts of Army Medical Corps in keeping the Saichen bravehearts in good shape. "Doctors on Siachen are indeed a rare breed of professionals and no medical school in the world prepares them to serve in such conditions. Nothing that a doctor learnt in medical school would apply in such conditions. No blood tests, X-rays, ECGs or fancy investigations are possible," the book states.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is one of the commonest high-altitude illnesses encountered by 20-30 per cent of soldiers arriving at Siachen. "AMS is extremely distressing and often demoralising for the soldiers. A healthy and physically fit soldier suddenly finds himself experiencing headache, nausea and loss of appetite for no apparent reason which spooks him, often causing him to wonder what other terrible things lie ahead," the author writes.
Height of maladies: A soldier posted in Siachen has to battle multiple health issues. According to the book, a soldier could have impaired absorption of food from the intestine, dulling of taste sensation and severe loss of appetite. "This could be combined with low oxygen levels, impaired nutrition, raised haemoglobin levels, lack of mobility and dehydration -- further making the solider susceptible to host of medical ailments. These could range from raised blood pressure, increased susceptibility ton infections and weight loss, to life-threatening events like blood clots in the lungs, brain, intestines, spleen and heart. Many soldiers also report sleep disturbances, impaired memory and loss of libido," says the book.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
(The above report is based on one chapter in the book -- Medicine Men: Siachen Saviors.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

17 Rajput turns 72

Veterans of Barhe Chalo during Golden Jubilee reunion at Dhana in 1992. (Below) Barhe Chalo personnel during Siachen tenure.
Field Marshal KM Cariappa, OBE in the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive the Field Marshal Baton from President Giani Zail Singh on April 28, 1986. (Below) Members of new raising of 17 Rajput (April 15, 1942).
Raising ceremony of 17 Rajput on April 15, 1942.

17 Rajput, the 'Barhe Chalo' battalion raised by late
Field Marshal KM Cariappa raised turns 72

By Gp Capt Tarun Kumar Singha VSM & Bar, CPRO (Def), Kolkata
Photo courtesy:
17 Rajput Archives

(A feature to commemorate the 72nd Raising Day of a valiant infantry unit of the Indian Army, 17th Battalion of the Rajput Regiment.)

Among all battalions of the Rajput Regiment, 17 Rajput has a unique place in present day history of the Indian Army. It was raised during the period of Quit India Movement in 1942. It was also among 10 other Rajput Battalions that were raised following outbreak of World War-II between 1940 to 1943.
In so far as its historical significance is concerned, 17/7 Rajput as it was then known, was the only 'War Raising' battalion by any Indian Officer who was none other than Lt Col KM Cariappa, OBE, popularly called 'Kipper' who went on to become the first Indian Commander-in-Chief and later the Chief of Army Staff. He was also conferred the highest rank of Field Marshal on April 28, 1986.
Popular in the army as the Barhe Chalo battalion, a motto coined by the first commanding officer to spur his troops, it was meant to convey 'get cracking on'. The battalion continues to crack on regardless in pursuit of glory as one of Indian Army's proudest and finest fighting outfits in recent times.
17/7 Rajput was raised at Fatehgarh on April 15, 1942 as the Machine Gun Battalion of the erstwhile 7th Rajput Regiment. A distinctive colour of maroon and blue was adopted for the new outfit. On August 1, 1942, the battalion was converted into a Regiment of Indian Armoured Corps (IAC) and designated 52nd Rajput Regiment IAC (Bawanja Risala) and moved to Lahore.
On September 15, 1942, the battalion was converted into a 'Lorried Battalion' and moved to Secunderabad to form part of 268th Lorried Brigade. On March 16, 1943, Kipper was transferred and succeeded by Lt Col G.B. Macnamara. In May 1944, 17/7 Rajput moved to Kohima and later deployed at Imphal.
Informed readers may know that Rajput Regiment is one among the senior most regiments of our country. It must therefore, logically, rank higher in the hierarchy of the nomenclatures. Then why the seventh standing?
Evidently, Maj Gen Parr, who had commanded the 7th Rajput in Mesopotamia during World War-I desired that the Regiment to which his battalion belonged be named 7th Rajput Regiment. The suffix '7' was adopted and remained so for all battalions of the Rajput Regiment between 1920 till Independence, whereafter it was dropped altogether.
In the redesignations that followed, Barhe Chalo became 17th Battalion of the Rajput Regiment on May 1, 1948. Later when its founding father, Lt Gen KM Cariappa became Army Chief on January 15, 1950 (commemorated as Army Day), an honour was bestowed on the battalion. The distinct maroon and royal blue hackle of the unit was now adopted by all Rajput Regiment battalions.
In 1965, Barhe Chalo participated in Op Riddle as part of 7th Infantry Division, where it successfully executed its task of capturing Bedian bridge. The unit also participated in Op Cactus Lily in 1971 as part of 86 Infantry Brigade in Dera Baba Nanak sector, where it captured Khokherke and Sadhuwan posts of enemy and provided a firm base for Op Akal. The unit was also successful in capturing a crucial enemy post for which Capt Nawal Singh Rajawat and Late Sep Satyawan Singh were awarded VrC.
In 1982, the battalion underwent a change in class composition and reorganised to include Rajputs, Gujjars, Brahmins, Bengalis, Jats, Ahirs and Muslims in equal percentage composition. If ever anyone needs to see the secular credentials of an Indian Army's fighting unit, one need not go beyond Barhe Chalo whose war cry - Bol Bajrang Bali ki Jay! Hanuman ki Hunkare! - yelled by one and all can easily curl any enemy's guts.
The battalion was also the first unit of Rajput Regiment to be inducted in Siachen Glacier in 1991. The unit had a successful tenure without having a single fatal casualty, which indeed is an unique achievement.
Among the wars and major operations that Barhe Chalo participated include World War-II, between May to August 1944, Indo-Pak War of 1965 between September 1965 to February 1966 and Indo-Pak War 1971, between October to December 1971. Among the various military operations include Operatons Orchid, Rhino, Vijay, Rakshak and Parakram.
Glory to the Barhe Chalo has been brought through its gallant officers and soldiers through 2 Military Cross, an OBE and PVSM each, 7 Kirti Chakras, an AVSM, 4 Shaurya Chakras, 3 Vir Chakras, 12 Sena Medals, 3 VSM, 6 Mention-in-Despatches, 38 COAS, 7 VCOAS and 33 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards including several other gallantry certificates.
The battalion is presently serving at an undisclosed high altitude location standing vigil under Eastern Command. The Barhe Chalo battalion is presently being commanded by Colonel Balbir Singh Siwach, a second-generation army officer, commissioned in December 1990.

Admiral R K Dhowan appointed as Navy Chief

(Press Release | Unedited)
The Government has appointed Admiral RK Dhowan PVSM AVSM YSM ADC as the Chief of the Naval Staff.
Admiral RK Dhowan was commissioned in the Navy on 01 Jan 1975. He is a Navigation and Direction specialist who has served with distinction in an array of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments through his exemplary career spanning 40 years. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
He has commanded frontline warships INS Khukri, INS Ranjit, INS Delhi and served as Chief Staff Officer (Operations) Headquarters Western Naval Command. He has also served as Indian Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India, London. He has commanded the Eastern Fleet as Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet and served as Chief of Staff at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. He also has the distinction of commanding the prestigious ‘National Defence Academy’, his alma mater as the Commandant.
The important staff appointments held by the Admiral at Naval Headquarters are Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Policy and plans), Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and Vice Chief of Naval Staff.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

4 years of Tarmak007!

Tarmak007 (http://tarmak007.blogspot.in) will officially turn 4 years tomorrow (April 6). According to Google Stats, it has close to 33 Lakh visitors now. Tarmak007@FB is 1 year and months old, now. It has been a very satisfying journey in your company. 

Thank You for your inspiring participation! 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Live FB chat tomorrow @ 6 pm | Test chat today @ 3.30 pm

Hello everyone!

The second in the series of live chat session will be held tomorrow (Saturday, April 5, 2014) from 6 pm to 8 pm (IST). Our guest this time is Dr K Tamilmani, Director General (Aero), DRDO -- one of the top aerospace brains in India. All your valid queries pertaining to Indian aeronautics and defence R&D will be answered by Dr Mani. The maiden chat session was with Grp Capt (retd) Suneet Krishna, a seasoned Test Pilot with the Tejas programme.

The idea behind this Live Chat session is to bring some of India's shining aerospace and defence stars closer to you so as to enhance your knowledge levels. I hope these chat sessions will enhance our GK levels.

Here are some general guidelines you all must keep in mind while posting a question.

* Keep your questions short and one at a time.
* Limit your queries to military aeronautics and defence R&D.
* Do not ask irrelevant questions.
* Keep your queries crisp and to the point.
* The decision whether to answer a question or not is purely left to Dr Mani and I have no role to play here.
* All questions will be monitored by the blogger.
* A team of tech experts from DRDO will be doing the back-end operations ensuring the smooth functioning of the chat session.
* The chat session will be live at sharp at 6 pm with a photo of Dr Mani appearing with the comment: "Let's start."

See you all at 6 pm tomorrow. And, let's hope for an inspiring and glitch-free session. For the benefit of first-timers, we shall have a test chat today at 3.30 pm. To take part in the chat, visit https://www.facebook.com/Tarmak007.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

HAL crosses Rs 15,000 crore milestone | We are preparing the company beyond 2020: Tyagi

HAL Chairman R K Tyagi completed two years in office and his close aides say that he has injected fresh ideas to inspire the workforce. His critics, however, say that a lot more needs to be done on the HR front, which is still the weak link. Photo: MoD
(Press Release | Unedited)

HAL has notched-up the highest ever turnover of Rs. 15,180 crores for the FY 2013-14 surpassing the previous year's figure of Rs. 14,324 crores. "We crossed the psychological barrier of Rs. 15,000 crores and the production has been pretty good as we produced 60 aircraft and helicopters, achieved the initial operational clearance (II) of LCA and filed record 209 patents during the year", said Dr. R.K. Tyagi, Chairman, HAL. "We are preparing the company for 2020 and beyond", he added. HAL’s Value of Production (VOP) for FY 2013-14, stood at Rs. 15,296 crores as against the figure of Rs. 14,202 crores of the previous year. The operating profit went up to Rs. 1,651 crores in the FY 2013-14 as against Rs. 1,194 crores in 2012-13.
In the meantime, HAL received the “Most Efficient Navratna 2013” award at the fifth Dalal Street Investment Journal Awards night held in New Delhi yesterday. HAL Chairman, Dr. R.K. Tyagi received the award from the jury. The awards were presented to the various PSUs in different categories in recognition of their performance and contribution to the Indian economy.
Some of the HAL highlights for the FY 2013-14 included Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) received for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), sea level, night level and high altitude trials successfully done for IJT, induction of first completely Indian manufactured Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer by INS Dega, Visakhapatnam, dedication of ALH-Dhruv, Garuda Vasudha to the nation for exploration of mineral wealth, contribution of structures for Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and Crew Module structure assembly for the Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP) to ISRO.
Besides the prudent financial management, the company took several initiatives on R&D front, indigenisation, quality, customer support, IT, HR and CSR. HAL played a vital role during the Uttarakhand flood relief operation during July 2013 as its ALH-Dhruv performed effectively in a massive rescue and relief operation, clocking more than 600 hrs of flying.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sam Bahadur, the indefatigable Field Marshal and his tryst with death

(A feature on the eve of his birth centenary on April 3, 2014)
By Group Captain Tarun Kumar Singha VSM & Bar
Chief Public Relations Officer (Def), Kolkata
Photos courtesy: Maj Gen BNBM Prasad & DPR Photo Division (B&W archives)

Tarun Kumar Singha
Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw remains one of the most enigmatic personas of our times. Popularly known as Sam Bahadur -- a name purportedly uttered by a Gorkha soldier after failing to recall his tongue-twister Parsi name, literally means - Sam, the fearless; and remains his most easily remembered name till date.
Sam cheated death on a few occasions, both in a battlefield and away from it. He, however, lived on to be nonagenarian. Sam wanted to be a doctor much like his military-doctor father but ended being a Field Marshal.
As a young Captain, while posted in Burma and fighting a war with the Japanese in 1942, he was critically wounded with as many as nine bullets lodged in his body. While battling for life, his valiant Sikh orderly Sepoy Sher Singh came to his rescue and saved him from certain death.
The valiant Sikh soldiers of his platoon had proclaimed: “Captain Manekshaw is the crown of our head and has to be rescued at any cost”. Sam's orderly, Sher Singh, carried him on his back a good distance to the medical aid post where the army doctors were forced to treat him on priority.
Sam Manekshaw was decorated with a Military Cross (MC) for his exemplary courage during this period as it was feared he might die. MC, it may be known, was not awarded posthumously until 1979. Sam not only survived the ordeal but lived on to be 94.
Sam would eventually leave all his admirers on June 27, 2008, peacefully in his sleep in his Conoor home - Stavka - in the Nilgiris hills, surrounded by family members and well-wishers.
Towards the latter years of his life, Sam Manekshaw, who otherwise enjoyed robust health despite his grave injuries early in life, needed medical help to overcome some respiratory problems that began surfacing.
That was when an army doctor, Colonel BNBM Prasad, a pulmonary specialist, who is now a senior General himself, was assigned to attend to the Field Marshal.
The two would eventually share a bond beyond the usual doctor-patient relationship that lasted till the end, and curiously enough even beyond his death.
Gen Prasad who was until recently Commandant, Eastern Command Hospital at Kolkata was with the Field Marshal until his passing away. He offers rare insight of the gritty Sam, the fearless, even moments before passing away.
Sam Manekshaw would often relate many tales from his life to his doctor as they spent considerable time together during recuperation. He often spoke fondly of his darling wife Silloo, who preceded him on February 13, 2001, after a brief illness.
He would also speak of his doting daughters Sherry and Maja, son-in-laws Dinky Batliwala and Dhun Daruwalla, and grandchildren who also called him 'Sam' lovingly.
Above all, the Field Marshal's favourite talk would invariably revolve around his dear Gorkha soldiers who were more than just a family to him. Such was his endearment with them that the household and the pristine elegance at Stavka are preserved as Sam would have loved it by the trusted Gorkha families residing at his quarters.
Dr. Prasad easily reminisces 1971, the year when he was a student at Mysore Medical College as a period charged with patriotic fervor. India had defeated Pakistan decisively and a new country Bangladesh was created. Gen SHFJ Manekshaw, then Army Chief, was the toast of the nation.
"Many like me were motivated during our formative years to join the armed forces instead of seeking a lucrative career elsewhere," alluding to the enigmatic Sam Bahadur aura.
"Though I joined army as a doctor in 1977, I got the first opportunity to see him in person and listen to him in early nineties during the passing out parade at Indian Military Academy in Dehradun when he was invited to address the young officers," states Prasad.
He would eventually be appointed personal physician to the Field Marshal.
It would, however, take Col Prasad a whole decade more before meeting up his all-time hero. The year was 2003, when the Field Marshal first visited Army Hospital (Research and Referral) in New Delhi for his respiratory ailment.
"What impressed me the most on my first personal meeting with him was his magnetic charm. He was a star attraction as he slowly walked in the corridors of the hospital. People in the vicinity used to look at him with bated breath and admire silently despite his age and ill health," recalls Gen Prasad.
"As a doctor serving in the Indian Armed forces for past three decades, I have come across all types of patients. Some of them are very demanding while some are very humble who readily follow my advice without any murmur. The Field Marshal was an exception."
A gritty fighter till the end: A year later while staying in a Mumbai hotel, the Field Marshal developed acute chest infection due to exposure to chill from the air conditioner. He was air dashed to Delhi and was brought to Army Hospital (R&R).
"When I examined him on his arrival, I found him quite sick and weak, barely able to walk.”
Despite his illness he politely declined to sit on a wheel chair and walked all the way to the radiology department for a chest x-ray. He was found to be suffering from a severe chest infection and required immediate hospitalization.
"As he was not inclined for an immediate hospitalization, I took the risk of treating him at his younger daughter’s residence in Delhi after convincing hospital authorities to permit domiciliary care" recalls Gen Prasad.
To his doctor, Sam Manekshaw would recount his father Dr. Hormusji Manekshaw's concern for his health and of the letter his father wrote asking him to give up smoking and drinking with a stern warning “Son, if you drink and smoke any more you will be dead soon.”
Sam joked: “Doctor, had I listened to my father and stopped drinking and smoking as I did initially while I was in the hospital, I would have died long time back.” He would never let his illness come in the way of humouring all those who looked after him.
Both advancing age and weak lungs by now began to progressively decline his health. He wished to spend last part of his life in his favorite house - Stavka - in Connoor.
He was relatively at ease in his own surroundings amidst Gorkha orderlies, pets, garden and local people.
Final days with his doctor:
"The last time I saw him was on an emergency visit from Delhi at Military Hospital Wellington, Nilgiris following sudden deterioration of his condition on June 22, 2008."
This time I found a pale self of the ageing Field Marshal. He was gasping for breath and was bedridden and was barely able to open his eye lids.
"My long experience of dealing such cases, who have chronic lung disease complicated by a deadly broncho-pneumonia which the frail and 94-years old Field Marshal was suffering from, made me sound alarm bells and alert all concerned expecting an inevitable in next few hours," recalls Gen Prasad.
Given his condition, Dr. Prasad feared that their most illustrious patient would not possibly survive the next 24 hours. Killer pneumonia was getting the better of the gritty warrior.
Grandson Jehan and son-in-law Dhun Daruwala had lost hopes and were praying at his bedside for a miracle. His daughters, Sherry and Maja were on their way from Chennai and Delhi.
All were fervently praying and hoping he held on till their arrival. Defying odds as he did in the past, the wily Field Marshal held his own against the deadly infection for the next few days till his affectionate daughters were at his side before end came.
When his daughters came, he recognized them and spoke to them for the last time. He timed his death like his famous military operations at his will, and emerged triumphant in both - his life and in death.
Moments before the end, those present around him would witness an amazing happening.
Sam Manekshaw's younger daughter, Maja Daruwala, while trying to control her emotions, spoke about the life and times of her illustrious father to her near comatose father, acknowledging her love for him.
The moment she mentioned the name of her mother Silloo, he responded despite his state. The monitor which showed his oxygen saturation precipitously low and falling, suddenly shot up briefly while his breathing and pulse remained stable.
He passed away during wee hours peacefully on June 27, 2008, while his daughters held his hand and prayed.
He perhaps had the premonition of his death. He told an attending doctor few days before his death pointing at a skin rash on his forearm that he will be dead once the rash disappears. Sure enough the rash disappeared, and so did the iconic legend.
Despite debilitating illness, the Field Marshal had once asked: “Doctor, why can’t you have a scotch in my name? My sincere apologies that I just can’t give you company for the reasons better known to you.”
A week after he passed away, Col Prasad would have a surprise visitor. The Field Marshal's grandson, Jehan, dropped by his office in Delhi to deliver a small gift - a bottle of scotch under instructions from his grandfather with the following note: "Col Prasad, FM sent his apologies that he could not drink this with you..."

(Thursday, April 3, 2014 is the birth centenary of late Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw. The above feature is based on conversations with Maj Gen BNBM Prasad, during his stint as Commandant, Eastern Command Hospital, Kolkata with the author. He also has been Commandant of Military Hospital at Wellington. Maj Gen Prasad is presently Senior Consultant (Medicine) in the office of DGAFMS, MOD, New Delhi.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

C-130J crash | Very sad moment, says IAF Chief

(Statement by Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha)
It is very unfortunate that we have lost five of our brave warriors in a tragic accident today. It is a sad moment for all of us and we share the grief with the family members.
C-130J is a modern aircraft which was inducted into the IAF in 2010. In the last three years of its operations we have exploited capabilities of this aircraft during Uttarakhand floods and landing at DBO, which is the highest landing ground in the world. Needless to say, that the best pilots have been chosen to fly these aircraft. 
"Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave air warriors face in the execution of our daily mission.” While the IAF will conduct a thorough enquiry into the accident to ascertain exactly what led to this accident, the IAF remains committed to provide the best possible equipment and training to our personnel so that they can execute their assigned missions professionally.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tarmak007 Live FB Chat with DRDO DG (Aero)

Mark your calender for an inspiring session with Dr K Tamilmani, DG (Aero), DRDO, on April 5, 2014 (Saturday). All your valid queries pertaining to Indian aeronautics and defence R&D will be answered by Dr Mani, one of top brains in the country. Chat rules and final confirmation of the timings will be out in the coming week. You can participate in the FB chat by joining the link here: https://www.facebook.com/Tarmak007 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DRDO set to acquire DO-228 as the new Flight Test Bed | HAL set to roll out modified Dornier

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service

Bangalore: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to acquire a new flight test bed (FTB) in the form of a modified and custom-made Dornier (DO-228) aircraft. The DRDO hopes to reduce the dependency on foreign agencies to carry out the tests, once the desi FTB is rolled out. The platform, being manufactured by Kanpur-based Transport Aircraft Division (TAD) of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), will likely to be with the DRDO by the first week of April. With all modifications, the FTB is expected to cost over Rs 100 crore. 
DRDO sources tell Express that many industries and government firms were on the hunt for a suitable platform to undertake standalone tests of critical components and systems. With the increase in indigenous aeronautical activities within the country, the initial plan was to go for a foreign aircraft and later equip it with Indian systems. "Embraer was one of the candidates we looked at. Generally the test and design data of an imported aircraft are not shared owing to the proprietary clause. We couldn't have flown our own FTB without knowing these details either. So the plane to import was shelved and DO-228 was the automatic choice. HAL's TAD Kanpur have all the expertise available with them in manufacturing the Dorniers," an official said. 
With the arrival of a new FTB, DRDO hopes that the development time for various projects will come down. "The FTB will come handy for all airborne system evaluations. We hope to test all systems of Tejas, unmanned air vehicles on the FTB. In addition, radars, antennas, radio altimeters, data links and ATOL systems (automatic take-off and landing) will now take the FTB route. So far some limited Indian radars were tested with Israeli help," the official said. DRDO has put two consoles on the yet-to-be-named FTB, with the potential for adding two more. 
The new FTB is expected to serve the needs to DRDO for the next 20 years. Currently, the Centre for Airborne Systems, DRDO lab, operates an Avro for limited tests. The new FTB will be on the rolls of Electronics & Radar Development Establishment, another DRDO lab, and it will be flown by the Test Pilots from Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment of the Indian Air Force.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Online forums play brand ambassadors of Indian defence

A screen-shot of the Indian Army Fans' FB page. It has over 15 lakh followers.

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: It's raining pages on Indian defence. And, their numbers are rising every day on the virtual world. While all the three major wings of Services have their own websites for publicity, what seems to be overtaking these official online missions are the ones being promoted by individuals and groups, who romance the armed forces. Some pages engage the visitors in serious debates, while there are many purely jingoistic in nature.
The Indian Army has maximum number of FB pages followed by the Indian Air Force and the Navy. But, the IAF seems to be having an upper hand with many pages individually propagating its assets, including the Sukhois, the MiGs and even the Tejas. The recent spate of scams and accidents that hit Indian defence have turned some of these pages into fertile grounds to vent out their anger against the establishment. 
Responding to Express' email queries from Philadelphia, Jagan Pillarisetti one of the promoters of Bharat-Rakshak.com, a top-rated website that discusses India's defence programmes threadbare, says that the growing number of forums act as a meeting ground for the common-minded people. "They also help in people getting easy access to information and images. Some forums have evolved into highly specialised and research focused groups. A single question would bring up many supporting answers," says Jagan, who has authored many books on the IAF.
On the number of defence pages mushrooming on the FB, Jagan feels that it has added a new dimension to knowledge-sharing. "They are providing an instant fix to people and enable them to discuss the technicalities with fellow enthusiasts. The only issue with these FB pages are that, their formats doesn't allow space for a serious discussion. The posts tend to get lost and searching for them is a pain. Also, the noise and signal ratio is too high," says Jagan.
According to Krish Yadav, one of the admins of Indian Army Fans, a popular FB page with over 15 lakh 'Likes', it is an emotional mission running the page. "We depend on information from our friends in the Indian Army and media. Most visitors get emotionally connected with us and over the years we have become a one-stop window for curious followers of not just Indian Army, but other forces as well. We have taken up many initiatives to inspire youngsters to join the Indian Army, in addition to being an a vibrant voice of the forces in spearing various recruitment drives," says Yadav, who operates out of Delhi.
While the Services want their men to stay away from various online interactive forums sighting security reasons, the Indian Army has an official page on FB (Indianarmy.adgpi), which disseminates information periodically. "It has helped us to read the pulse of people, which wasn't the case before. Earlier, we had to depend on our internal mechanisms and also media reports for feedback. Our FB mission has been encouraging so far," says an official, attached to the media wing of the Indian Army.
Interestingly, there are some pages being operated discreetly by those serving in the armed forces. A Special Forces (SF) operative, currently posted in a sensitive area tells Express (via a FB message) that he started the page to inspire fellow soldiers. "We (SF) are the unsung heroes of the armed forces and the recently-launched page is purely to inspire fellow buddies. We don't let out any sensitive information and take absolute care while posting photographs, so that the no background details are given out," says the SF operative.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

IAS officer Manivannan all set to become a Lieutenant

IAS officer from Karnataka cadre P Manivannan is all set to become a Lieutenant. Photo: Nagesh Polali

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Territorial Army (TA) hopes to bolster its image with the commissioning of P Manivannan, an IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre, into its fold. Currently posted as the Chief Project Officer with the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project, Manivannan will be soon commissioned into the rank and file of the Army as a Lieutenant. To be attached with the 106 Infantry Battalion (TA) Parachute Regiment, Bangalore, he is the first IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre to join the TA.
Manivannan has already completed a month-long training module with the Parachute Regiment. "I have come through the selection process like any other recruit. I have already undergone some basic weapon training. I was part of the NCC while in school and always wanted to join NDA. But my parents insisted that I join a professional course," Manivanna told Express. Hailing from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, he cleared the Civil Services exam in 1998 and has held various positions in Karnataka in the last 15 years. 
He said he was inspired to join the TA by Capt Pradeep Arya, an IRS officer from the Karnataka cadre, now working as the Joint Commissioner, Income Tax in Belgaum. "Captain Pradeep has helped me to know more about Indian Army. He gave me the insights into TA and I couldn't wait for long before taking the plunge," says Manivannan.
He first cleared the written test by the Preliminary Interview Board in Pune and later the Staff Selection Board formalities in Bhopal. He says he had to wait for sometime before the Karnataka government finally agreed to grant him the mandatory No-Objection Certificate (NoC). "The government wanted to confirm first whether I was serious. It was in the third interview I was given the NoC by I S N Prasad, former Principal Secretary to the chief minister," says the 42-year-old officer. 
Manivannan, post-commissioning, will head to Nasik for a three-month training and later to Agra for a one-month rigorous session in para-jumping. He is also likely to have a three-month tenure with the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. "This one month has been a trailer of sort and I am looking for more tactical training. Being in the Army is a very serious business than I thought. My alertness has increased and after wearing the uniform, the 'country-first' feeling has increased by many folds," says Manivannan. 
He said if more government officers joined the TA, then the Army-civil relationship will increase further. "I am aware that many IAS officers are preparing to join the TA in future," he adds.
Minister happy: Public Works Department Minister Dr H C Mahadevappa told Express that he is happy that an officer attached to his department is all set to join the ranks of Indian Army. "If any officer is willing to serve the nation, I am happy to extend all the support. It is the primary duty of every minister to back such initiatives. For me, it's a matter of great pride that Manivannan has taken an inspiring step," Mahadaeveppa said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Desi tyres on Sukhois a runway hit | Tejas, Dhruv, LCH, MiG-29 K line up to script a gripping story

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Serivce
Bangalore: Indian fighter jets have begun the process of changing over to desi tyres, probably signaling an end to escalating cost and non-availability concerns. Indian Air Force (IAF) sources confirm to Express that the India shining story is being scripted by MRF, which has been cleared by the military airworthiness officials to produce the main wheel tyres of frontline fighters Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI). The indigenous tyres, named as Aeromuscle, are 30 per cent cheaper than the imported ones.
The IAF stared looking within the country after facing difficulties in sourcing tyres from abroad. The IAF was even forced to use tyres from its war reserves for some aircraft, after supplies from Russia became an issue. The idea to approach Indian companies was taken up during P V Nayak's tenure as the IAF chief. "MRF agreed to do all design, development and quality tests at their own cost in the interest of nation," an IAF official said. The MRF took the tyres for dynamometer tests thrice to a facility in China, incurring a cost of around Rs 10 crore. (A dynamometer test simulates the entire sequence of taxi, takeoff, landing and braking loads on the tyre.)
"Later, the tyres were sent for trials at the IAF bases in Bareily, Jodhpur and Leh in 2011. They were finally cleared for getting on to IAF assets in 2012. The MRF has so far delivered 350 tyres and the remaining are being manufactured at their plant in Medak, near Hyderabad," the official said. A Sukhoi has two main wheel and two nose wheel tyres. 
Seeing the success of Aeromuscle tyres, MRF has now been given the mandate of designing the nose wheel tyres for Sukhois. "Currently, the fitment trials are over and they are being taken to China for the dynamometer tests. By June, these tyres will be sent to Bangalore for the clearance of the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification," the official added.
Speaking to Express from Hyderabad, Dr K Tamilmani, Director-General (Aero), DRDO, confirmed that even the Indian Navy wants Aeromuscle for the MiG-29Ks. "We are planning to even change the Tejas tyres very soon which will be followed by Dornier, Pilatus and Hawk. Currently, the Tejas runs on Dunlop, being imported from the UK," says Tamilmani. He said aircraft tyres normally undergo various tests like burst, air retention, bottoming-up (emptying the air/flat tyres), fitment and taxi.
"By 2015 end, all the military platforms will have a source for indigenous supply. The MRF is currently supplying Chetak helicopter tyres to HAL, Navy and IAF. The Advanced Light Helicopter tyres made by them have also been cleared for commercial production. The tyres for the Light Combat Helicopter have completed the tests and are awaiting flight trials," Tamilmani said. He said the MRF is planning to set up a separate Aero Tyre Division in Medak, with many countries showing interest in these tyres.
"The MRF is also setting up a dynamometer test facility in Medak at a cost of over Rs 20 crore and it should be ready by 2015. The lifespan of a tyre is taken into account with the number of landing, which is normally around 40 to 50 times. Runway conditions, brake applications, temperature difference can also contribute to the wear and tear of the tyre," he said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Friday, February 28, 2014

Admiral Joshi's firm support bailed out many desi defence projects

LCA Navy project would have been a different story, but for Admiral Joshi's support, says a DRDO official.

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Admiral D K Joshi, who stepped down as the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) is sure to be missed by the R&D fraternity for the firm support he extended to some of the home-grown programmes. Terming him as a 'gentleman-officer, senior officials who spoke to Express, said that Joshi was always a huge supporter of India's research and development (R&D) efforts in the defence sector.
The naval variant of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) which had ran into long delays owing to multiple manufacturing flaws, including a bulky undercarriage, is one programme Joshi backed right from his tenure as the Deputy CNS. An official monitoring the current progress of naval LCA project says that Joshi never lost his confidence in the programme, even when the entire naval establishment vented its ire over unprecedented delays. "Today, if the naval LCA project is back on track, Admiral Joshi needs to be given the credit. He did an excellent job and moderated the progress at the right time, ensuring the right pace. Even when the senior-most naval officers minced no words over the delays, Joshi stood ground and saw through the issues. This brought in an attitudinal change from the the Navy towards project," says the official.
He said Joshi's calm approach had a positive impact on the project. "During all the review meetings, he told the naval LCA team that quality mattered and the delays were understandable. Considering that there were multiple agencies involved in the project, Joshi's backing came at a very crucial time," he said.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which often received flack from the Services for time and cost over-runs of various projects, saw a messiah in Joshi, who is said to have gone the extra mile, during various project reviews. "Not just Tejas, even for submarine and torpedo projects he was always on our side. He understood the R&D efforts and we always felt very comfortable to work with the Navy. He always wanted more prototypes for all projects and dealt very friendly when a serious issue came up. His participative nature was very heart-warming," says an official with the DRDO.
While the Indian Navy traditionally backed India's home-grown efforts in R&D, it was very critical of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). While HAL made many modifications on ALH to meet the additional requirements, it failed to impress the Navy for a long time. "In the 5.5. tonne weight category, ALH demonstrated everything what was demanded from us. But the Navy wasn't happy which delayed its induction. Only after Admiral Joshi took charge, the Navy finally raised its first ALH squadron (INAS-322) in Kochi. His role is known to everyone who pushed for the ALH's case," says an HAL official.
SBTF launch postponed: The dedication of Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) to nation, scheduled to be held at Naval Air Station INS Hansa in Goa on March 1, has been postponed. Sources said that the event is not cancelled, but postponed, owing to the developments following Joshi's resignation. 
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CNS Admiral DK Joshi resigns

Taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi today resigned from the post of CNS. The Government has accepted the resignation of Admiral Joshi with immediate effect, says a release issued from MoD. The Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral RK Dhowan will be discharging the duties of officiating CNS, pending appointment of regular CNS.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shore-Based Test Facility in Goa to be launched on March 1

A MiG-29 K takes off from the SBTF.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: India is all set to launch its first Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) for flight-testing various naval fighters that would mandatorily operate from aircraft carriers. Defence Minister A K Antony will lead a top-level delegation to Naval Air Station INS Hansa in Goa on March 1 for the inauguration the state-of-the-art facility. The Indian SBTF is being billed as the only third such facility in the world, after the United States and Ukraine, built at a cost of around Rs 400 crore. 
An official in the Ministry of Defence confirmed to Express on Monday that, the ski-jump part of the facility was fully ready and certified in 2013, after which the MiG-29K fighters have undertaken a number of take-off trials successfully. The aircraft takes off from a ramp built at 14 degrees angle, while it catches an arrester hook (that reduces the speed to zero, within 100 meters), after touchdown.
The SBTF replicates a static model of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), currently being built at the Cochin Shipyard. "The pilot is being assisted by an optical landing system, arrester hook system and TV monitoring system. All these features are being currently being used by the MiG-29Ks. The lighting system on SBTF for night operations is also ready," the official said.
He said the primary objective of the SBTF was for certification of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) naval variant for ship-borne operations. "It is mandatory for the LCA naval variant to prove the carrier compatibility test on SBTF. Today, the facility is aiding the MiG-29K pilots, before they commence operations on INS Vikramaditya in Karwar," he said.
The design consultancy and supply of specialized equipment for SBTF were done by the JSC Rosoboronexport, Russia. The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Indian Navy, Goa Shipyard Ltd, R&D Engineers (Pune) and Chief Construction Engineer (R&D West), Pune, executed various structural and installation works. "Once the LCA naval variants start flying at SBTF, then plans are afoot to have a telemetry ground station for flight operations, to be set up by Bangalore-based National Flight Test Centre," the official said.
ADA sources said that the naval prototype (NP-1) of LCA started flight trials regularly at HAL airport thrashing out most of the undercarriage issues. The NP-1 is expected to start trials from SBTF by May this year.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Friday, February 21, 2014

Defence firms unveil gen-next EW tech toys

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The just-concluded three-day meet on electronics warfare (EW) at the Indian Institute of Science campus saw many Indian and foreign firms exhibiting some of the generation-next military toys. With EW systems being a force multiplier, these high-end gadgets generated great interest among the tech brains of Indian defence.
The portable direction finder, boasting of a full range of functions embedded in a handheld format, was the cynosure of all eyes at the meet. Developed by Rohde & Schwarz, a German company, the battery-operated device relies on high-precision direction-finding methods. An official said that the gadget, launched recently, is ideal for detecting bombs and discreet radio frequencies. With compact size and low weight, the device is claimed to be ideal for use in places that cannot be accessed with a vehicle. Radiall, another German company had the world's smallest fibre optic trans-receiver, weighing around 16 gms and with a maximum intake capacity of 50 Gbps. 
UK-based EWST presented a radio frequency (RF) test equipment for laboratory and open air range. The portable multispectral simulator for flight-line operations, is already being supplied to Bangalore-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), a DRDO lab. "We have combined the ultraviolet (UV) missile warning receiver and the laser warning receiver into one unit, making it compact and even rugged," says Steve Pillinge, a company official. 
Another UK-based firm, Selex ES, exhibited a one-meter-long equipment to detect and defeat infra red (IR) heat-seeking threats. The fully-automatic device can be fixed on the wings of an aircraft. "It can detect IR/UV threats and fires a laser with a jamming code. We are in talks with DARE and Bharat Electronics Ltd. It is a well-proven technology and uses very less power as well," says an official. Selex ES also came up with a RF decoy to defeat air and surface-lanched missile seekers and fire control radars. 
Leading the pack of Indian companies was Bangalore-based Alpha Design Technologies, which had a missile launch detection system and a self-protection jammer -- both being developed the Indian Air Force. "We exhibited around 32 EW modules which are being developed in partnership with DRDO. Many foreign companies have come forward with export requests for their EW programmes," says Col H S Shankar, CMD of the company. 
Another Indian company was Data Patterns, which exhibited an array of cockpit displays at the meet. Having delivered home-grown cockpit display systems for Tejas, Sitara and Kamov programmes, the firm has been shortlisted to supply the complete glass cockpit display systems for the Light Utility Helicopter currently being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. 
Speaking to Express, Dr U K Revankar, one of the top brains behind the EW meet, said that India is steadily making inroads in the area of electronic attack and electronic support equipment. "The market for EW systems in India for the next five years is to the tune of $100-150 million. We need these systems for our ships, fighters and UAVs and the EW meet was the perfect platform for sharing ideas," Revankar said. The meet was organsied by Association of Old Crows, a professional movement of EW professionals from across the globe.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IAF think-tank for separate R&D cadre; not a good idea: DRDO

Air Marshal M Matheswaran, Deputy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development).
 Photo: Sudhakar Jain
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: A top Indian Air Force (IAF) think-tank on Monday mooted a thought-provoking idea of setting up an independent cadre to undertake research and development (R&D) in critical technology areas. Air Marshal M Matheswaran, Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development), batted for a combined R&D cadre of IAF, Army and Navy to tide over the delays, especially in the area of electronic warfare (EW). His remarks come in the backdrop of an earlier IAF view of taking up the aircraft manufacturing at its own base repair depots. However, the DRDO has expressed its reservations.
Known for his firm views on contemporary military matters, Mathewswaran told Express that the Indian government should create a Scientific Advisory Board consisting of scientists, technocrats and armed forces personnel. "The DRDO has done its bit and its time for Indian private sector to call the shots. We cannot just depend on DRDO alone any more. We need new ideas to improve the eco system in India," he said. 
Taking a cue from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the United States, Matheswaran said that India could put the development of gen-next EW projects under this new cadre. "In the US, all major concepts emulate from the AFRL and they have dedicated senior officers working on multiple programmes. In India, we focus only on operational preparedness and very little thought is going on the technology upgradation and product support. The user must question the strengths of the industry. The MoU and JV path has taken long time to materialise and the Services need EW systems as of yesterday," Matheswaran said.
He said the private industry needs to be integrated with the defence sector, bailing them out of the barriers surrounding them. "These barriers are created by our gown agencies and the private industries should look beyond India and its armed forces. The idea is to join the global supply chain and compete with the market might," the IAF top official said. He said it's high time India took advantage of the IT sector and brought them to the defence sector. 
GREAT IDEA: MAJOR | Reacting to Matheswaran's thoughts, former IAF boss Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali Homi Major said that it's time that all high-end critical technologies are developed adopting the embedded philosophy. "The IAF has a huge bank of serving and retired officers with hands-on experience in dealing with EW systems. Creation of a separate corps for dedicated research is a great idea and I strongly feel that IAF brains should be part of some of the R&D labs running sensitive projects. The user should be the captain while developing all critical systems and our men should be embedded with the DRDO projects," Major said. He said Indian defence need to adopt out-of-the-box-ideas to outsmart the tech denials looming over many critical areas.
JUST NOT DONE: DRDO | Speaking to Express from Delhi, K Tamil Mani, Director General Aeronautical Systems, DRDO, opposed the idea of having independent agencies taking up research in critical areas. "The thought process should be to synergise our strengths and not to channel them in different directions. Independent R&D might not take India forward. Instead, the DRDO labs, users and the industries should come together. EW systems cannot be outsourced and we need to develop them within the country itself," he said. When asked whether he was rejecting the idea of a new R&D carde in India, as suggested by Matheswaran, the DRDO DG said: "I don't deny the requirements of the IAF. But joining hands is always a better idea, than going alone."
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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