Sunday, October 28, 2007

DRDO develops Micro-UAV

Here's a report from the Khaleej Times that caught my eye (Link1, Link2) about DRDO developing a new Micro-UAV:

DRDO develops tiny spy gadget
(IANS)
28 October 2007


AGRA — Indian scientists have developed a tiny gadget that can keep an eye on enemy territory and help in traffic management.

The details of the device were disclosed at the first national flying competition of Micro Aerial Vehicles (MICAV) at the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) of DRDO here.

Lt. Gen. V.J. Sundaram and Balraj Gupta of the DRDO, on Friday said the tiny unmanned device can remain in air for 15 to 20 minutes and send photographic data to computer networks. Soldiers on the borders can also use it to observe movements across enemy lines. Only 30 cm wide, the device looks like a bird to untrained eyes. It can survey an area of roughly one square kilometre from a height of 500 metres. It weighs about 400 gm and is powered by a rechargeable battery.

Sources said the actual production of the device could take as long as three years after a series of field trials and improvements from feedback were made available.

Agra will host an international MICAV competition in March 2008 in which teams from Japan, the US, France, Britain, Israel and some other countries are expected to participate. (Source)
One wonders why the Indian media haven't heard about this yet. Guess we'll be waiting for more information from DRDO.

Chemical Imbalance

The electronic media is at it again. This time, its India's chemical weapons arsenal. One general statement from Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, and Vishal Thapar has created a story out of thin air. This is pure sensationalism, or worse. Not only is the story full of holes and mistakes, but the basic premise itself is a fallacy. Here's why.

This is the report on CNN-IBN. (Story link). The video is embedded below:



To say that the report is full of holes would be an understatement of monumental proportions. What Thapar has done is to take a single sentence of Gen. Kapoor, remove the context, add unreferenced information, add his own conclusions, all cooked with a good bit of mirch masala to create a news story thats frivolous at best.

Firstly, India's Treaty obligations that was referred to is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Its administered by an independent body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (homepage). Its heartening to note that unlike other treaties, this is almost universally accepted, and has been ratified by 182 states (see list), and signed by another six.

Now, lets be clear. India's cache of Chemical weapons is no secret, contrary to Thapar's assertion. After ratifying the CWC in 1997, India has diligently fulfilled all its treaty obligations, dismantled over 80% of its weapons, and is on course to complete disarmament by 2009. The 2006 Annual report of the OPCW states much the same thing. And it should be an indicator of the sagacity of our administrators that the Armed Forces were kept out of the loop, thus reducing the risk of a WMD escalation in the subcontinent. It was a wise decision and not a blot on India's strategic culture.

This is what the OPCW says about India's commitments:

India has received an extension to 28 April 2009 of the deadline by which it must destroy all of its Category 1 chemical weapons stockpiles India has already destroyed 80% of its category 1 CW stockpile as well as 100% of its declared Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons.
Under the treaty (Part VI, Verification Annex), states are allowed to produce upto 10 kg of Schedule I chemicals annually. Any production over 100 gms must be declared. It would be laughable to call this production an "arsenal". Such production serves the purpose of improving Chemical Weapon protection and understanding of the Physiological effects of these chemicals. If dear Mr. Thapar wishes that we cease even this critical production in an effort to better protect our soldiers and people, there is nothing to be said.

Another allegation that Thapar immaturely makes (without offering any substantiation) is that the Army continues to be doctrinally committed to Chemical Weapons. That is a very serious claim, but no further explanation is offered. Why is that? Is it because it is too embarrassing, is the source confidential, was there a lack of time, or was it simple because there wasn't any proof?

The only bit of the article (which is as flimsy as a bamboo hut in a hurricane) that Thapar didn't make up, misquote or fib was the single sentence of the CAS that he used as a keystone to build around. Analyzing what Gen. Kapoor said,
“The chemical weapons aspect is still in the domain of discussions going on at an international level,” Kapoor said.
This is vague, but its hard to see how its even close to the conclusion that Vishal Thapar has drawn. And it certainly wasn't forced out of the Chief's mouth, like Thapar claims. Most likely, the Army Chief was referring to the CWC treaty and the disarmament process. Either way, its hard to know the context of his reply unless the whole quote was included. Unfortunately, the reporter has deigned that objectivity unimportant compared to his expert "findings".

The best indicator of Vishal Thapar's intentions is this statement, inserted at the bottom of the report, and not included in the Video.
For the record, Pakistan has declared a zero stockpile.
Well, for the Record, India ratified the CWC seven months before Pakistan did (India ratified on 29th Apr 1997, while Pakistan ratified on 27th Nov 1997).

Its not unlike Vishal Thapar, who never misses an opportunity to cock a snook at the Defence Establishment, whether it be this report, or his previous one about the Missile tests. The smear campaign is not worth responding to, but the serious and fraudulent claims that he has made are. Hopefully the Army or MoD will come forward to rubbish this slander campaign.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Newsflash: LCA Fires Missile

This is a newsflash from Chacko Joseph of Frontier India, who has confirmed that the LCA PV-1 has successfully fired a Vympel R-73 Air to Air Missile during Missile Trials in Dabolim, Goa.

This is a HUGE step forward for Indian Aerospace, and marks a turning point in the Operational Clearance process for the Tejas, and marks the first milestone of the weaponization process. Many more trials will have to be conducted, but this is a first step.

I saw a picture of the first LCA test flight. The whole team was up in the air, like little schoolboys cheering in a cricket match, without thought of the VIPs and VVIPs around (many of whom were also jumping up and down in glee). Today would have been the second of such cheerfully tearful days. Congratulations to the LCA team, and all those who poured their heart and soul into the program, which is finally bearing fruit. And Congrats to Chacko Joseph who first reported this news. Keep it up all.

Heres the report from Frontier India (link):

LCA firing the R-73 (Pictures courtesy DRDO, taken from Frontier India)

Tejas fires its first missile

Written on October 25, 2007 – 6:53 pm | by FIDSNS |

The Light Combat Aircraft ‘TEJAS’ program achieved the most significant milestone yet when it successfully test fired the Close Combat Missile R-73 today at the air to air range off Goa coast. The historic event marks the beginning of weaponisation, which is the focus of the current initial operational clearance (IOC) phase of the program. Air to Air missile integration and testing especially on a fly by wire aircraft is a very complex task involving interfaces with aerodynamics, engine air intake, control laws, flight control system, avionics system, electrical and other general system of aircraft. Today’s successful test firing is the culmination of preparatory work under the guidance of Mr. JJ Jadhav, DPD (Weapon Systems) and Mr. Balasubramanyam, AGM (HAL). Accordingly the main objectives of test firing were to validate:

•Safe separation of the missile from the parent aircraft.
•Effect of missile plume on engine air-intake
•Functionality of store management system (SMS) including safety interlocks
•Effect of missile plume on composites structures
•Handling quality assessment during missile launch

The historic flight was done on Tejas prototype vehicle PV-1, piloted by the Chief Test Pilot of the National Flight Test Centre ADA, Gp Capt. N. Harish. The test firing was done at 7 km altitude and 0.6 Mach.... (read more)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Praise the Double-tongued Snake

Continuing in the Congress' tradition of duplicity and double-speak, PM-ji Singh's comments that Gujarat was a 'Holocaust'. Fine, Dr Singh. But what about the Sikh Riots? A Government-sponsored pogrom (much like the Holocaust itself), that killed more than Gujarat. A genocide that ironically, led Khushwant Singh to say that he "felt like a Jew in Nazi Germany".

Swapan Dasgupta elaborates in this his piece for the Pioneer, reproduced below.


False eloquence does PM in

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered himself for direct election only once: In 1999, when he was the Congress candidate for South Delhi.

In normal circumstances, Manmohan should have won. South Delhi had a significant number of middle and upper-middle class voters who were direct beneficiaries of the economic liberalisation he initiated in 1991. Many of them, particularly the beautiful people, came out openly in his support. The jhuggi clusters were, in any case, Congress strongholds. Additionally, the constituency had a generous proportion of Sikh voters who should have been glad to see one of their own in the Lok Sabha.

Then something unexpected happened in the final days of the campaign. At one of those dreary Press conferences every candidate hosts, Manmohan was asked a routine question about the Congress involvement in the 1984 riots that led to the killing of more than 1,000 Sikhs in the four days after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. He calmly replied that the RSS was responsible for the riots. Surprised

According to local politicians, this was the turning point. On Election Day, I recall some BJP leaders saying there was a heavy Sikh turnout in South Delhi. It implied the Manmohan card was working for the Congress. The results contained many surprises but none greater than Manmohan's resounding defeat. On scrutiny, it was found that the Congress lost most heavily in Sikh-dominated areas. Manmohan's disingenuous bid to turn black into white and falsify the past rebounded on him.

The 1999 defeat should have driven home to the Prime Minister a simple fact: That it doesn't behove him to play with a cross bat. People have different expectations from politicians. Lalu Yadav can get away being perpetually non-serious; slippery ambiguity is associated with Atal Bihari Vajpayee; dynastic gaffes come naturally to Rahul Gandhi; and inanity and Jyoti Basu are inseparable. LK Advani and Prakash Karat are known for their measured pronouncements; they can't get away with loose talk. And Sonia Gandhi never makes an unscripted utterance since she proclaimed "We have 272" in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1999.

Manmohan is a prisoner of his own reputation. He is perceived as scholarly, serious, upright and kindly -- a cut above the average grasping politician. These attributes have conferred on him both respectability and acceptability. His limitations -- malleable, spineless and too wooden -- are known. But balanced against his strengths he has somehow passed muster in the cruel world of politics. The nation has defined its expectations of the Prime Ministers.

What they don't expect from him is falsiloquence -- a tongue-twister that means lying, deceitful speech. Yet, it was a harried Prime Minister who fell back on falsiloquence on the return flight from his uneventful African sojourn.

Responding to the BJP's call for his honourable resignation in the aftermath of his shamefaced surrender to the comrades and mullahs over the nuclear deal, he retorted that Advani had no moral right to pillory him. Had Advani, after all, not been Home Minister during the "Holocaust" in Gujarat?

The PM is sufficiently well read to know that holocaust is a term that cannot be used casually. In contemporary usage, it refers to the organised elimination of some six million Jews by Hitler's Nazis. It carries connotations of institutionalised evil on a grand scale.

According to a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on May 11, 2005 by the Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal, a total of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the post-Godhra riots of 2002 in Gujarat. Judged by casualties, the violence that gripped Gujarat after the arson attack on Hindu activists in a railway carriage outside the Godhra railway station is one of the most serious post-Independence. It ranks just a notch below the killing of more than 1,000 Sikhs in Delhi (there were another 400 killings in other parts of India) -- a tragedy that Rajiv Gandhi justified with a facile analogy to falling trees.

The murder of any Indian in sectarian violence is a blot. Yet, the incidents recur with monotonous regularity and the blame game goes on without interruption. It's bad enough for the Prime Minister to once again lower himself to what Nehru once disdainfully called "the level of the bazaar". His offence is compounded by his penchant for wilful exaggeration.

If the Gujarat riots were, indeed, another Holocaust, does it do the image of India any good in the eyes of the world? Or, is the Prime Minister so utterly contemptuous of the people of Gujarat that he would go to any extent to vilify them? The Holocaust utterance tells us more about the PM's insecurities and paranoia than it does about what happened in Gujarat five years ago.

Of course, Manmohan's Government has an intimate sense of what constitutes a Holocaust. In November 2005, Russia, Canada, Australia, Israel and the US moved a resolution in the UN General Assembly calling for January 27 to be observed each year as a memorial day for the six million Jews and other victims of the Nazi Holocaust. India voted against it. Exclamation

The suggestion was that it was an attempt by the UPA to cosy up to the anti-Semitic lobby that thrives in parts of West Asia. The real reason, I suspect, was that Manmohan felt that the actual Holocaust happened in Gujarat. Laughing

It would be interesting to know what the people of Gujarat have to say about the Prime Minister's sense of history.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Bitter pill to swallow


Most of the 200,000 who turned up on the streets of Karachi to welcome back Benazir Bhutto knew that there were credible threats. But they still came, believing in the humanity of those who made the threats, and the effectiveness of the government security. On both counts, they were wrong. Its unfortunate that innocent people who came to celebrate the return to democracy had to die for no fault of theirs. 130 dead, and counting. 130 Families devastated.

Its the worst terrorist attack that Pakistan has faced. John Howard has blamed the Al-Queda for for this, Asif Zardari has blamed the ISI, and others have just blamed 'Extremists'. This itself shows the monumental misunderstanding that most countries have of Terrorism in general.



The Horrific aftermath of the blasts. (sourced from The Liberal Blogger)

But this incident will come as no surprise to those who have observed Pakistan for the past few years- smaller incidents have been frequent, mostly killing a few dozen people. This is the big one that will wake up the rest. And those who till now were called naysayers, sensationalists, and other names are hollering we-told-you-so. Not with glee though. Unfortunately, it seems that those who're speaking the truth are afflicted with the "Cassandra complex", and its only now that most leaders are realizing what could have been prevented if only they'd listened.

'Blowback'. Thats the only way to describe the present happenings in Pakistan. What goes around, comes around. This bomb blast, the Lal masjid problem, and the growing power of Radical Clerics is all a blast from the past (no pun intended), a fallout of the policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, and ironically, the support of Madam Benazir. After all, it was her channeling of these terrorists into Kashmir that kept them alive. After tearing apart Kashmir, and being beaten back by the Army, they tried (with liberal ISI support) to tear apart our cities with bomb blasts. With the US forces in Afghanistan, they were boxed in. with nowhere else to go, no weak enemies to destroy, the terrorists did the only thing they could- they're tearing Pakistan
apart.

Somewhere in South Block today, there's probably been a meeting to discuss the response to these events. Both Shivraj Patil and MMS should realize that the events in Pakistan can, and will spill over. The only way to stop that is to be alert and strong against terror. Unfortunately, that seems a little far-fetched, given our government's pussyfooting, and the fact that we dont even have an anti-terror law.

For long, we've faced these blasts. India has lost 60,000 people to these monsters. It was a matter of time before our neighbours faced the same. Undoubtedly, there's a certain schadenfreude among certain sections in seeing Pakistan eating its own medicine. There was an indication of that when the Samjhauta Express was firebombed. But we must remember that in any incident like these, its not the terrorists or leaders who suffer; its the common people. Hopefully these event will spur the Pakistan's leaders to clean up, and our leaders to be on their toes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just so Stories- How Pakistan got its bomb

Here's a Guardian Report about how the US turned a blind eye to Pakistan's Nuclear activities, and even helped it along:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/Story/0%2C%2C2188777%2C00.html

The man who knew too much

He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report

Saturday October 13, 2007
The Guardian


Rich Barlow idles outside his silver trailer on a remote campsite in Montana - itinerant and unemployed, with only his hunting dogs and a borrowed computer for company. He dips into a pouch of American Spirit tobacco to roll another cigarette. It is hard to imagine that he was once a covert operative at the CIA, the recognised, much lauded expert in the trade in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

He prepared briefs for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was at the Pentagon, for the upper echelons of the CIA and even for the Oval Office. But when he uncovered a political scandal - a conspiracy to enable a rogue nation to get the nuclear bomb - he found himself a marked man.

In the late 80s, in the course of tracking down smugglers of WMD components, Barlow uncovered reams of material that related to Pakistan. It was known the Islamic Republic had been covertly striving to acquire nuclear weapons since India's explosion of a device in 1974 and the prospect terrified the west - especially given the instability of a nation that had had three military coups in less than 30 years . Straddling deep ethnic, religious and political fault-lines, it was also a country regularly rocked by inter-communal violence. "Pakistan was the kind of place where technology could slip out of control," Barlow says.

He soon discovered, however, that senior officials in government were taking quite the opposite view: they were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan's ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology. In the closing years of the cold war, Pakistan was considered to have great strategic importance. It provided Washington with a springboard into neighbouring Afghanistan - a route for passing US weapons and cash to the mujahideen, who were battling to oust the Soviet army that had invaded in 1979. Barlow says, "We had to buddy-up to regimes we didn't see eye-to-eye with, but I could not believe we would actually give Pakistan the bomb.

How could any US administration set such short-term gains against the long-term safety of the world?" Next he discovered that the Pentagon was preparing to sell Pakistan jet fighters that could be used to drop a nuclear bomb.

Barlow was relentless in exposing what he saw as US complicity, and in the end he was sacked and smeared as disloyal, mad, a drunk and a philanderer. If he had been listened to, many believe Pakistan might never have got its nuclear bomb; south Asia might not have been pitched into three near-nuclear conflagrations; and the nuclear weapons programmes of Iran, Libya and North Korea - which British and American intelligence now acknowledge were all secretly enabled by Pakistan - would never have got off the ground. "None of this need have happened," Robert Gallucci, special adviser on WMD to both Clinton and George W Bush, told us. "The vanquishing of Barlow and the erasing of his case kicked off a chain of events that led to all the nuclear-tinged stand-offs we face today. Pakistan is the number one threat to the world, and if it all goes off - a nuclear bomb in a US or European city- I'm sure we will find ourselves looking in Pakistan's direction."

US aid to Pakistan tapered off when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. Dejected and impoverished, in 1987 Pakistan's ruling military responded by selling its nuclear hardware and know-how for cash, something that would have been obvious to all if the intelligence had been properly analysed. "But the George HW Bush administration was not looking at Pakistan," Barlow says. "It had new crises to deal with in the Persian Gulf where Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait."

As the first Gulf war came to an end with no regime change in Iraq, a group of neoconservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Donald Rumsfeld were already lobbying to finish what that campaign had started and dislodge Saddam. Even as the CIA amassed evidence showing that Pakistan, a state that sponsored Islamist terrorism and made its money by selling proscribed WMD technology, was the number one threat, they earmarked Iraq as the chief target.

When these neocons came to power in 2001, under President George W Bush, Pakistan was indemnified again, this time in return for signing up to the "war on terror". Condoleezza Rice backed the line, as did Rumsfeld, too. Pakistan, although suspected by all of them to be at the epicentre of global instability, was hailed as a friend. All energies were devoted to building up the case against Iraq.

It is only now, amid the recriminations about the war in Iraq and reassessments of where the real danger lies, that Barlow - the despised bringer of bad news about Pakistan - is finally to get a hearing. More than 20 years after this saga began, his case, filed on Capitol Hill, is coming to court later this month. His lawyers are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for Barlow as well as the reinstatement of his $80,000 a year government pension. Evidence will highlight what happened when ideologues took control of intelligence in three separate US administrations - those of Reagan, and of the two Bushes - and how a CIA analyst who would not give up his pursuit for the truth became a fall guy.

At first Barlow thought he was helping safeguard the world. "I just loved it," he says. His focus from the start was Pakistan, at the time suspected of clandestinely seeking nuclear weapons in a programme initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the father of Benazir. "Everywhere I looked I kept coming up against intelligence about Pakistan's WMD programme," Barlow says. "I thought I was telling them what they needed to hear, but the White House seemed oblivious." Immersed in the minutiae of his investigations, he didn't appreciate the bigger picture: that Pakistan had, within days of Reagan's inauguration in 1981, gone from being an outcast nation that had outraged the west by hanging Bhutto to a major US ally in the proxy war in Afghanistan.

Within months Barlow was out of a job. A small band of Republican hawks, including Paul Wolfowitz, had convinced the president that America needed a new strategy against potential nuclear threats, since long-term policies such as d├ętente and containment were not working. Reagan was urged to remilitarise, launch his Star Wars programme and neutralise ACDA. When the agency's staff was cut by one third, Barlow found himself out of Washington and stacking shelves in a food store in Connecticut, where he married his girlfriend, Cindy. He was not on hand in 1984 when intelligence reached the ACDA and the CIA that Pakistan had joined the nuclear club (the declared nuclear powers were Britain, France, the US, China and Russia) after China detonated a device on Pakistan's behalf.

Soon after, Barlow was re-employed to work as an analyst, specialising in Pakistan, at the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR). The CIA was pursuing the Pakistan programme vigorously even though Reagan was turning a blind eye - indeed, Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, claimed in 1985: "We have full faith in [Pakistan's] assurance that they will not make the bomb."

Back on a government salary, Barlow, aged 31, moved to Virginia with his wife Cindy, also a CIA agent. From day one, he was given access to the most highly classified material. He learned about the workings of the vast grey global market in dual-use components - the tools and equipment that could be put to use in a nuclear weapons programme but that could also be ascribed to other domestic purposes, making the trade in them hard to spot or regulate. "There was tonnes of it and most of it was ending up in Islamabad," he says. "Pakistan had a vast network of procurers, operating all over the world." A secret nuclear facility near Islamabad, known as the Khan Research Laboratories, was being fitted out with components imported from Europe and America "under the wire". But the CIA obtained photographs. Floor plans. Bomb designs. Sensors picked up evidence of high levels of enriched uranium in the air and in the dust clinging to the lorries plying the road to the laboratories. Barlow was in his element.

However, burrowing through cables and files, he began to realise that the State Department had intelligence it was not sharing - in particular the identities of key Pakistani procurement agents, who were active in the US. Without this information, the US Commerce Department (which approved export licences) and US Customs (which enforced them) were hamstrung.

Barlow came to the conclusion that a small group of senior officials was physically aiding the Pakistan programme. "They were issuing scores of approvals for the Pakistan embassy in Washington to export hi-tech equipment that was critical for their nuclear bomb programme and that the US Commerce Department had refused to license," he says. Dismayed, he approached his boss at the CIA, Richard Kerr, the deputy director for intelligence, who summoned senior State Department officials to a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley. Barlow recalls: "Kerr tried to do it as nicely as he could. He said he understood the State Department had to keep Pakistan on side - the State Department guaranteed it would stop working against us."

.....
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(read more)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

75 years: Soaring hopes and Ambitious plans

At the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the Indian Air Force at Hindon Air Base, the rows of VVIPs (Including the president, Vice-prez, PM and group) were enthralled by our hi-flying boys-in-blue. And what better occasion to trumpet the achievements and plans of the IAF. Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Major's address did just that; and in the process, helped clear up a lot of confusion, and provide a checklist (almost) of the Force's plans for the next few years.

You can check out the full address at Press Info. Bureau of GoI. (Link)

The Press releases for the MoD can be found here.


Some juicy tit-bits provided by the CAS are:

Aircraft Entering Service:

- Hawk AJTs- Will arrive next month.
- Phalcon AWACS- Will be here next year.
- LCA - 1st sqn operational by 2010 (IOC)

Contracts to be signed soon:

- 6 C-130J 'Super Hercules' Tactical Transport Aircraft for the Special Forces.
- 80 Mi-17 1Vs.
- 54 ALH Dhruvs.
- Aerostats for Air Defence and over-the-horizon Surveillance {{Obviously from Israel}}.

Upgrades:

- Jaguar & Mig-27 - Upgrades almost done
- Mirage-2000 & MIg-29 - Being Negotiated
- Il-76, An-32, Helos - Will start after that

Other:

- Integration of Civil Radars.
- 'Combat Communications Network' to be set up.
- Joint Design & Development of 5th Gen Fighter Aircraft and MTA (Medium Transport Aircraft) being negotiated. {{This is probably the clearest indicator that the FGFA project is not the PAK-FA being developed by Russia, since its design has been frozen.}}

Sunday, October 7, 2007

And yet, Terrorists don't rest

You'd have thought that after this week's mega-encounter at Tangmarg, the terrorists would rest for some time to allow the situation to cool-off. But they dont seem to have got the message. Yesterday, another infiltration attempt was foiled. Thats the fourth attempt this week. 19 Terrorists dead, 5 Armymen dead.

Result: 7 Terrorists killed, 2 Jawans dead. RIP to the soldiers.

The Hindu has the story (link):

Seven militants killed

Srinagar: Seven militants and two jawans were killed on Saturday when security forces foiled two infiltration bids near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

A defence spokesman said here that six militants were killed in Tangdhar sector near the LoC.

Two jawans lost their lives in the gun battle.

One militant was killed by troops along the LoC in Baramulla district.

With Saturday’s incidents, the Army has foiled four bids by militants to infiltrate into Kashmir in as many days. Nineteen militants and five Army personnel were killed in these incidents. — PTI

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tears & Pain

As the dust settles on the "Fiercest encounter in 5 years", the nation pays tribute to the two officers who lost their lives but took 9 terrorists with them. The Army has suffered a great loss with the heroic deaths of Maj. Vinay and Maj. Raghu Raman. One was to be married end of this month, the other was about to become a father.

The loss of these two bright, highly qualified officers is a big blow to the army, especially since they are the officers on the field, leading the men. It comes close on the heels of the death of Col. Vasanth, who died in a similar encounter in August. They all died as they lived, leading from the front.

It will be hard for the men who fought with the two officers to come to terms with their deaths. They were bright, enthusiastic, honourable and Brave men who lived by the Army credo of putting the country and the men above all else. Maj. Raghu Raman, even as he was being evacuated, was still thinking of how to destroy the Terrorists, his last words being a plea to his commanding officer not to let any terrorist escape.

Their families, strong in their grief are justifiably proud of their sons, a trait common to all Army families. Veteran Sub Maj (Hony Capt) S Krishnamurty, Raghuram's father said that while he was proud to be the father of a martyr, despite having lost his son in the service of the nation he would still advise his grand child, who is yet to be born, to join the Army and serve the nation. “I am an ex-serviceman and very proud of my son, who laid down his life for the country. That is all I can say.”

May Maj. Raman and Vinay R.I.P, their families find the courage to face their loss. Above all, let not their sacrifice be in vain, forgotten by an ungrateful nation.

The sister & father of Maj. D.R. Raman pay their respects as his coffin is brought to the airport in New Delhi on Thursday.

Bodies of the militants killed

The Indian Army Website keeps a tally of Anti-terrorist Operations on both the Northern as well as North-Eastern Regions. Check out http://indianarmy.nic.in/arantimili.htm.

Shiv Aroor's Arjun Ride

Here is the half hour Headlines Today special about the Arjun MBT, filed by Shiv Aroor (Blog) from the Heavy Vehicles Factory and CVRDE testing range in Avadi, Chennai. The lucky fellow got to spend two full days with the Tank, and was even given a chance to take it for a spin and get a few bumps and scratches on the paint.

There isn't much new information about the Tank thats said in the report, which is understandable given that the focus is on the layman who doesn't know a T-72 from a Mig. The camera-work is patchy, and wastes a lot of time showing repeats of the road-rage antics of Shiv the Driver. Still, considering that its a 20 minute long report, there are still some great bits of info, most notably a look into the impressive state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for the Arjuns. In addition, there are lots of small bits of info that can be gleaned by careful observers and enthusiastic analysts.

Shiv has a post on his impressions at his blog:
http://livefist.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-now-arjun.html


Take a look:

Part 1:


Part 2:



This latest piece echos Ajai Shukla's report about the Arjun in May, where he too did not have any criticisms of the Tank.

At that time, there was a palpable sense of both hope and anxiety. Hope because the DRDO was confident that it had a world-class product that would come out on top in the comparative trials; anxiety because the Army is notoriously obstinate about having exactly what it wants (even with best-of-Brochuritis). In addition, Arjun's long development and a strong Russian Arms Lobby make it all the more disliked by the Brass.

With the cancellation of the Comparative Trials, a travesty of monumental proportions, the DRDO's fears came true, but they quickly salvaged it by planning the Accelerated User Trials. Lets hope this isn't another hogwash. One thing is clear though- the Arjun has arrived.

Its a great achievement on part of the DRDO PR apparatus that they have converted two people, who till recently were hacking at the Arjun and DRDO. Lets hope they can convince the Generals as well.

Tangmarg Encounter- A Sinister plot.

The terrorists killed in the Tangmarg encounter recently were on a mission- Destroy or disrupt the rail link being built to connect the Valley to the rest of India. Recovered from them were rifles, grenades, detailed diaries and instructions in bomb-making and laying explosives. Even more alarming is the recovery of Night Vision Devices and GPS receivers.

The recovery confirms the Army's reports that the militants were using GPS to cross the LoC, reducing their dependence on Gujjars. The NVGs and GPS are highly sophisticated equipment that would be difficult for an unsupported terrorist outfit to obtain, which indicates ISI assistance. That makes their planned operation no longer an act of terrorism, but an act of sabotage; an act of war.

The slaughter of the terrorists, many of whom were top commanders in their area of operation will surely be a big blow to their masters, and it will take time to fill their shoes. Kudos to the 34 Rashtriya Rifles who were involved in the operation.

Here's the CNN-IBN report (link). The video (link) is embedded below. (Follow the video link if you can't view it)