Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kingdom of Worms

Rajasthan, Gujjar Protests, Naxalites stronger than ever, North-Eastern Militancy on the rise, Nandigram, and now, Protests in Kolkata against Taslima Nasreen. Welcome to the new, unsafe India.

The Financial Times has reported that Shivraj Patil, our bumbling, invisible Home Minister, has finally woken up to the devastation that is Nandigram. He came out with the following reply:

“We have given directives to the state government that no one should be forced to leave his or her home. Everybody should be brought back and given full protection,” Patil said. He added that the Centre had information that “some outsiders had instigated people from behind to take to violence. They also brought sophisticated weapons into the area”.
The CRPF has debunked the last statement. In a CNN-IBN report, CRPF DIG, Alok Raj has stated that there was no evidence of Maoist weapons or the presence of Armed Maoist Cadres. Perhaps Shivraj Patil got his names mixed up- it was the CPI(M)'s goonda's and armed terrorist militia who, armed with Bolt action rifles, country made pistols, machetes and even SLRs, marched into Nandigram, easily scattering the lathi-wielding locals, and embarked on their pillage of the area. Maoists were the scapegoats for the CPM leaders in Kolkata- easy targets, much like the Communists when the Reichstag burned.

The Home Minister's post has been been an extremely powerful and important post; but under Shivraj Patil's ineffective sleepover at the helm, it seems almost an honorary post. Patil, who, like Pratibha Patil and most other Congressmen, got his post due to his loyalty to "The Family" and to Madam Maino. He has seen the rise of the Naxal menace, which is now a threat of gargantuan proportions. Law and order in several areas has literally crumbled, and the weak government at the centre has meant that even small groups with political leverage have been able to hold the authorities to ransom.

The result- Internal security is worse than any other time in the past. As the government is more worried about its own survival and the Political fortunes of Crown Prince Rahul Gandhi, the conditions of poor people or the state of Police Forces is the least of their concerns. The main problem is the weak-kneed Congress Government. Even a bad decision is better than no decision. Unfortunately, thats something the UPA has forgotten, seeing how they are being pulled by all sides, each of which, however small, has the power to bring the government to a crashing fall. And that's something that Sonia Gandhi cannot stomach.

Then, there is the man at the helm. Much like the other seat-warmers in other posts, including Manmohan Singh, Patil is a true Sonia loyalist. Thats something thats rewarded, irrespective of how ill-fitting the man is to the post- just look at the other senile dinosaurs in the cabinet- Natwar Singh (who's thankfully gone), Arjun Singh (who, unfortunately, isn't off the 'reservation'
yet), Ambika Soni and Renuka Chaudhary. Patil hasn't been given any power by 10, Janpath, and unfortunately, he seems content with remaining a titular figurehead. The Home Minister must be strong-willed, and willing to make hard decisions that could cost them their careers. No one in the present government has the spine to do that. Look at our previous Home ministers- Sardar Patel, Rajaji, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Morarji Desai, and Lal Krishna Advani. And then, look at Shivraj Patil.

Till the next elections, theres little else to do but wait and pray that the country isn't destroyed by then. 'Coz at the way we're going, we'll probably get there pretty fast.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blood Red Victory (Part 2)

The CPI(M) must be justifiably proud, at least for now. As its massive state-sponsored pogrom in Nandigram ended, the bratchnies in Kolkata and Delhi would have heaved a temporary sigh of relief as the media that played such havoc in Gujarat was kept completely out of this situation. This organized media blackout seems to be something that Communists around the world have learnt well- and CPI(M) even better, considering the expertise of their tutors in Beijing.

Another lesson they've learnt is to direct the blame at their attackers, which Buddhadev Bhattacharya tried to do, blaming the Trinamool Congress and Naxalites. But it does little to explain why well-armed gangs of motorcycle-borne CPI cadres overran Nandigram, planting red flags and shooting, looting and raping villagers. Perhaps Brinda Karat will blame the Trinamool for that as well.

Its a sad state of affairs when the government of the country is too scared to speak the truth and take action against these hoodlums, even when the Governor has lambasted the government in no uncertain terms. The UPA government has proved itself to be nothing more than a yellow-bellied, lily livered bunch of old, lecherous men fighting for power with no care about the state of the nation. Their silence is a criminal quid-pro-quo of giving away Nandigram in exchange for the Nuclear deal.

Its this cycle of violence, appeasement and corruption that leads people to the Maoists. Even worse is the CPI's attempt to keep this issue out of the discussion in Parliament, terming it as a state matter. Well sirs, it ceased to be a state matter the moment the CRPF had to fight their way through your ranks of thugs, armed with AKs and SLR rifles.

If Gujarat was a situation that was caused by government apathy, Nandigram is a clear case of enthusiastic government violence, just like the 1984 riots which were sanctioned by Rajiv Gandhi himself. So if Modi fiddled while Gujarat burned (ironically, Nero did all he could to stop the fire), these Commie Droogs were organizing the massacres, modern day Hitlers. If only our Almost-honourable PM-ji would admit it, and call a genocide a genocide, and not simply a "Cause for Concern".

Shhhh... No Nandigram talk in House, say Left

New Delhi: The Left parties are hell-bent on having a detailed debate on the nuclear deal in Parliament, but when it comes to Nandigram, they seem to have other standards.

As the Winter Session of Parliament opened on Thursday with clear indications that the Opposition BJP will disrupt proceedings over the Nandigram issue, the Left have put their foot down, saying it is a state issue and they will not allow any Parliament debate on the same.

After a meeting of four Left parties, the leaders maintained on Thursday that Nandigram issue was a 'state law and order subject" which could not be discussed in Parliament as rules did not permit such matters to be raised.

"Parliament functions according to rules. Whatever the rules permit, can be discussed. Nandigram can be discussed in the West Bengal Assembly, but not in Parliament," CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta told a joint press conference with other Left leaders, including.... (read more)

Nandigram makes CPM face political isolation

New Delhi: The CPI(M) has been completely isolated on Nandigram and is finding it tough to counter the fall-out.

While the CPM General Secretary blamed the violence on the Trinamool-Naxal link, UPA allies have preferred to be subdued in their reaction.

Meanwhile, Left intellectuals are out in protest on the streets of the Capital, convinced that the atrocities in Nandigram are only comparable to Gujarat.

This view is held by historian Sumit Sarkar, who says, "What they have been doing merely amounts to a kind of repetition of Gujarat."

CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat has risen to the West Bengal government's defence by falling back on the man he has been critcising the most, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Prime Minister says the Maoists are the single biggest threat to national security today," he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has had a successful bandh in West Bengal and for once, the fiery politician is on a strong wicket. "Where are the human rights? Where are the civil rights? Where is the civilized society?" she demanded....... (read more)
'They pulled her, raped her mercilessly'

New Delhi: Many refugees of Nandigram have confirmed that they had been brutally raped. Fear looms large in her eyes, the fear of CPI-M cadres. Forty-year-old Akreja Biwi doesn't want to go back home anymore.

Last Sunday, as the CPI-M recaptured Nandigram, nearly 100 of the party cadres allegedly looted her house, raped her and her daughters. All her daughters have gone missing.

Akreja says, “They pulled her and raped her mercilessly, I have lost my daughters.”

It's an unparalled tragedy that is now unfolding in hospital wards in Nandigram and Kolkata. Those who managed to flee their homes speak of the torture ...... (read more)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

All in the name of God!

From the other end of the spectrum, heres a sensible and correct decision

Times of India Report

Taking oath in Allah's name is okay: SC

NEW DELHI: God has many names and an MP or MLA can take oath in the name of 'Allah', 'Ishwar' or 'Deva', said the Supreme Court on Monday rejecting a plea to disqualify a few MLAs who had taken oath in the name of 'Allah' instead of 'God' as mentioned in the Constitution.

But no human being, howsoever venerated he may be, could be elevated to the position of God for the purpose of taking oath, the court clarified.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran said this while dismissing a petition filed by Madhu Parumala, Kerala unit vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, seeking disqualification of 11 Kerala MLAs on the ground that they had taken their oath in the name of Allah last year.

He said Article 188 of the Constitution and its 3rd Schedule provides for the members of the legislature and constitutional functionaries to take oath in the name of God or, in the case of atheists, the Constitution.

The petitioner contended that the Constitution mentioned only 'God' and therefore the 11 MLAs had veered from the 3rd Schedule when they took the oath swearing by Allah.

The bench did not agree. "If an elected representative cannot read English and the oath has to be translated into his mother tongue, the word 'God' has also to be translated and it could be 'Ishwar' or 'Deva'. 'Allah' in Arabic means the same. So what is the problem if the MLAs took the oath in the name of Allah?" it asked.

.......... (read more)
This is a correct decision and one that should shut a lot of idle minds and big mouths. Its a pity they didn't fine or charge the petitioner. Too bad.

Blood Red Victory

Shiv Aroor spent the last few days in Nandigram, and filed this report from there.

Its amazing that the CPI(M) can talk about Gujarat when it has willingly committed its own personal holocaust in Nandigram. Its shameful, and hopefully, the people of Bengal have been shocked awake from their slumber. Whats more disgusting is the Congress' silence on this issue.

There is only one word I can think of to describe these politicians- Vultures. Scavengers. Maggots.

Keep watching Shiv's blog for more updates.

Friday, November 16, 2007

ISRO - Singin' in the Rain

ISRO has taken giant steps in the past year or so. The successful launch of the AGILE, recovery of the SRE-1, the opening of the IIST and the successful GSLV-F04 rocket carrying the 2 ton INSAT-4CR. Day before yesterday, India and Russia signed a agreement to jointly launch a lunar mission. We've taken Russian help in the past, but this time, we work as equals.

Yesterday brought even more good news- The Full duration test of the indigenous Cryogenic Engine, and ISRO's plans for a Mars mission in the near future. This flurry of activity and announcement of ambitious plans is a pleasant surprise from ISRO, and demonstrates its newfound confidence in its abilities.

Here are the reports:

Indian indigenous Cryogenic engine successfully qualified

Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) has achieved a significant milestone through the successful test of indigenously developed Cryogenic Stage, to be employed as the upper stage of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The test was conducted for its full flight duration of 720 seconds on November 15, 200, at Liquid Propulsion test facility at Mahendragiri, in Tamil Nadu. With this test, the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has been fully qualified on the ground. The flight stage is getting ready for use in the next mission of GSLV (GSLV-D3) in 2008.

on August 4, 2007, a ground test for 480 seconds of the complete stage was conducted .

The indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) is powered by a regeneratively cooled cryogenic engine, which works on staged combustion cycle developing a thrust of 69.5 kN in vacuum. The other stage systems include insulated propellant tanks, booster pumps, inter-stage structures, fill and drain systems, pressurisation systems, gas bottles, command block, igniters, pyro valves and cold gas orientation and stabilisation system. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) from the respective tanks are fed by individual booster pumps to the main turbo-pump, which rotates at 39,000 rpm to ensure a high flow rate of 16.5 kg/sec of propellants into the combustion chamber. The main turbine is driven by the hot gas produced in a pre-burner. Thrust control and mixture ratio control are achieved by two independent regulators. LOX and Gaseous Hydrogen (GH2) are ignited by pyrogen type igniters in the pre-burner as well as in the main and steering engines.

..... (read more)
And today's report:
ISRO plans mars adventure, comet flyby
November 16, 2007 15:30 IST

India has drawn up plans to send a spacecraft to Mars and have flyby missions to comets and asteroids over the next five years.

The Indian Space Research Organisation will also ramp up the number of transponders on its communication satellites to 500 from the current 175 to meet the growing demand in the various sectors.

Government has also proposed to more than double the plan outlay ISRO to Rs 27,305 crore to enable it achieve its ambitious programmes, including facilitating tele-medicine and tele-education services.

The Eleventh Plan has identified building capabilities in space communications and navigation, developing navigational satellite systems, research in satellite communications and self sustenance of INSAT/GSAT systems as major areas of focus.

ISRO is expected to operationalise the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III capable of putting four ton satellites in orbit and develop technologies to recover spacecraft after completion of missions.

India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-I will take to the skies on April nine and ISRO has already begun finalising details for a second lunar mission with a possible launch in the next three years.

While Chandrayaan-I will orbit the moon, following mission would be an advanced one with lander and rover for collection and analysis of lunar samples.

The draft plan document also lists advanced space endeavours like mission to Mars, and flyby missions to comets and asteroids as thrust areas for the next five years.

These add to the already overflowing cup of good news- the DRDO and ISRO projects for a hypersonic demonstrator vehicle, Chandrayaan, the Indian Regional Navigational System, the local GPS system that will come up soon, and GAGAN. More projects of equal importance and ambition are on the anvil.

So whats with ISRO's new dynamism? Well, for one, it has a lot to do with the maturing of projects being undertaken. The newfound enthusiasm in India's global role has led to an awareness of the importance and use of space missions. Then, there are obvious strategic uses for space that India has lagged behind in, till now. The armed forces have woken up to this and are working overtime to get us up to speed in these areas- spy satellites, an Indian GPS constellation, dedicated secure communications and navigation. These will aid not only missiles becoming more accurate, but will aid in tactical situations as well, as repeatedly demonstrated by the US armed forces. Then, there is the fear of being left behind in another space race- US has already successfully tested exo-atmospheric missile intercepts, and China's ASAT test woke up a lot of snoring people. Space is no longer another world- it has become another territory to be controlled and conquered, and if India is not preparing for it, we'll be overrun.

Global events are also shaping ISRO's vision. The two decades ahead represent a new space-age, a far more inclusive one that will carry the common people in its folds as it shoots forward. Unlike the previous missions where the only public interest was one of starry-eyed wonder and hope, space has now become another territory to be explored and used. Space vacations are already a viable option for the rich and famous and in the years ahead, will be accessible to more people. Then, there are the technologies- Satellite TV, GPS and Google Earth, which have directly benefited the common man. All these have made space attractive and romantic again, at least in developing nations like China, India and Brazil. If you don't believe me, just check out the enthusiasm among students to join ISRO's new College in Trivandrum.

The next good news to look forward to will be the launch of Chandrayaan and the integration of the indigenous Cryogenic engine. It would certainly be a good way to cock a snook at the countries that tried so hard to prevent us from getting this technology.

Some more News Reports about ISRO:

Watch out for ISRO’s eye in the sky - Manoj das, New India Press
Space launches and the cost factor - T.S. Subramanian, The Hindu
Indian study on manned moon mission in 2008 - Indrani Bagchi, Times of India
ISRO eyes Mars, flyby missions to comets in next five years - Daily News and Analysis (DNA) India.
To The Moon, For India & Russia - SatNews Daily.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Arjun Mk.2 Approved

Finally, there was official army confirmation of the news that most well-informed insiders knew -
the Arjun Mk.2 will be developed. This was confirmed by the Army Chief during the 3-day AFV meet that is being organized by the Army in New Delhi. The short report from Zee News is scant on details, but I'll try and fill you in.

Army okays development of Arjun Mark II tanks

New Delhi, Nov 13: The army on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for developing next generation indigenous battle tanks after a successful run of the original model Arjun.

Based on its experience in designing the Arjun MBTs, the DRDO was coming up with a lighter and more versatile version called Arjun MK-II which is expected to meet future needs, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor told an international seminar on Armoured Fighting Vehicles here.

Defence scientists are also working on the Tank X project comprising features of Arjun and Russian-supplied T-72 tanks.

The function organised by the CII was presided over by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, who asked Indian companies to invest and participate more in production of weapons systems.

Bureau Report
Some more details from report:

Indian Army seeks next generation battle tank

The Indian Army has sought a new generation main battle tank (MBT) even as it reluctantly prepares to receive the homegrown Arjun tank that has been over three decades in the making.

'What we have today is mid-level technology. What we need is a tank of international quality,' Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor said Tuesday.

'I have no doubt that the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) will be able to develop indigenous capabilities for coming up with a better answer and more versatile armoured fighting vehicle (than Arjun) in the future,' he added while speaking at the inaugural session of an international seminar on Armoured Fighting Vehicles, the first to be held here.

Kapoor also called for synergy between scientists, users and producers to ensure the delivery of a cutting-edge-technology tank.

'The scientists cannot work in isolation. The users (the army) should be with them. So also should the producers, be they the public sector undertakings or private players. Only then will we see an indigenous armoured fighting vehicle of international quality,' the army chief maintained.

Now, the Arjun Mk.1 never really found many supporters in the Army, many of whom were angry at the long gestation period and the constant problems. While the Arjun was, in theory, an excellent tank, it used a mish-mash of indigenous and foreign components, many tailor-developed for the Arjun. Obviously, with such high technology and the inexperience of scientists in the field use of these systems (not helped by the Army, which kept pushing Trial dates), the systems performed exceptionally well in the labs, but tanked in the Field.

But in the past two years, especially after the 2005 trials where the Army gave a clear to-do list to DRDO, these problems were systematically solved, and DRDO commenced a war-footing overhaul and repair work on the systems. Most of the problems were ironed out, and a grueling internal testing of the Arjun, which performed well. These efforts finally turned a corner a few months before exercise Ashwamedh, which was held in April this year.

Truly confident of their product, the DRDO was ready for user trials, but the Army wasn't. In a coup of sorts, the DRDO bulldozed the MoD and Army into including fifteen Arjuns in the large scale war games. The games, held in the hot Thar summer, also gave the Arjun an opportunity to show its new self, and its performance in heat, something that had caused it problems aplenty in previous trials. Less than pleased, there was nothing else for the Army to do but obey the Raksha Mantri's diktat. The results were clear. Arjun outgunned the Ajeyas and T-90s. The T-90s were beset with problems, many of them the same problems that had afflicted the Arjuns not so long ago- Suspension issues, Fire Control System Failures, and frequent stoppages.

In light of this new look Arjun, both DRDO and MoD were agitating for comparative trials, something that even the Army had, till a few months before, had been insisting upon. Suddenly, as the T-90s looked shaky, the Army got cold feet- after many postponements and delays, the Army finally cancelled the trails altogether, instead replacing them with an AUCRT, which should theoretically bring the Arjun into full scale service. But considering the Army's reactions, that seems doubtful.

But the message that the Army was getting was clear- the Arjun is world-class material, and with a little tweaking, could do a world of good. Plus, it would be foolish to rely on the T-90, a series whose development is reaching a plateau. After all, a small, light tank can only do so much. Plus, the T-90 is far worse protected than the Arjun, something that gives it a weight advantage, but at the cost of certain death to the crew in any conflict involving even moderately successful ATGMs. The T-90 would be hard-pressed against the newer tanks that will enter service around the world in a few years- the M1A2, Korean XK-2 and Al-Khalid upgrades, which will outgun the T-90. This, along with a need to expand the Armored Corps, led the Army to the revelation that it will need a modern tank in the future. There is a requirement for almost 3000 tanks to replace the old T-72s and Vijayanta tanks.

The Army has formulated a requirement, GSQR 2020, which will spell out the needs for a modern tank to be in service by 2020. This will be released to DRDO soon, and its clear that the Modernized Arjun, a Mk.2 variant will be able to fit the requirement. This will give the Army a fleet of Arjun Mk.2s and T-90s, a stable that echoes the WW2 style of different tank classes- Infantry and Cruiser Tanks.

The only question is, what name will the new tank be given? I have a suggestion- Abhimanyu.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pakistan Army: A failing Force

Here's a piece I did for Frontier India (Wikipedia Page) today. I'm posting the first few paras. Check out the full story at

Pakistan Army: A Failing Force

Pakistan has always been on a razor’s edge, torn between its identity as a moderate Islamic democracy that Jinnah had envisioned, and an unstable state that has seen repeated Military rule. But politicians and soldiers have always stood together on one issue- the unquestioning policy of state-sponsored terrorism. This support hasn’t abated even when Pakistan’s very existence has been threatened. But now, that policy is boomeranging on its creators, proved by the events of the last one year.

Pakistani officers joke about how the million- strong Indian Army couldn’t even stop terrorists. As they get more hopelessly bogged down in the mess called Waziristan, it probably doesn’t sound so funny any more. Today, the Pakistani Army stands battered by the very terrorists it created. Over a hundred soldiers have been captured and many more have died fighting a menace that they created. Fifteen Brigades have been moved to these areas from the Indian border, including Skardu and Mangla, an action that speaks volumes about the seriousness of the situation and the ineffectiveness of Pakistani actions in the NWFP. Morale is low, desertions are rampant, and suicide attacks on Army installations have been devastatingly successful.

In every major engagement that they’ve been involved in, the Pakistan Army has lost ground. As professional as it purports itself to be, there is not a single war that the Pakistani Army has won in its history of existence. Failure and defeat seem to come naturally. And yet, it seems almost dyslexic in its inability to learn from its mistakes. The wars with India never went their way. They were able to temporarily pacify the Baluch problem, but the brutality with which they accomplished it has ensured that the problem remains. It has faced defeat after defeat against the fiery Pashtun tribesmen in Waziristan, and it’s only a matter of time before the issue threatens the very existence of Pakistan.

The first war was soon after the formation of Pakistan. Breaking the standstill agreement, the Army launched an attack on the Independent State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. Even with the element of surprise and a head start, they were beaten back and Pakistan lost the prime real estate of Jammu and Kashmir Valleys to India. Pakistan’s second attempt at ‘liberation’, the 1965 war, fared no better. Not only did they receive no support from the local populace, but lost vital territory to the Indian Armed Forces, a force they had dismissed as weak and beaten after the 1962 loss. If not for the goodwill of Lal Bahadur Shastri, and the compulsions of International politics, India would have captured Lahore and destroyed much of the Pakistani Army.

The third war was an unmitigated disaster that even the most enthusiastic Pakistanis cannot deny. The beleaguered forces in the East had no chance against an army advancing from three sides upon it, but their collapse and the speed of the Indian advance surprised all. Boxed in, the Pakistani Army launched attacks on the western front, hoping to gain territory that they could barter later. But even that effort met its doom, beaten and destroyed by Indian forces far smaller than the Pakistani’s. Yet again, they were saved by American intervention and Indian magnanimity. 93,000 troops surrendered, shattering the morale of the Force and the nation, a disgrace that they’ve tried hard to whitewash.

By then, the cracks within were starting to show..... (read more)

India steps up production of Prithvi and BrahMos

This interesting report from Times of India caught my eye:

With Pakistan rapidly moving towards enlarging its missile arsenal with China’s help, India is slowly but steadily stepping up production of Prithvi surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, as well as BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. Sources said facilities were now in place to produce around 20 Prithvi missiles every year, while the annual production rate of BrahMos missiles is geared towards touching 50 in the near future.

In 2006-2007, for instance, Hyderabad-based defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Limited for the first time managed to produce 15 full-fledged Prithvi missiles and four training missiles, apart from 18 warheads, said sources. While different Prithvi variants have strike ranges varying from 150-km to 350-km, the BrahMos missile developed with Russia can hit targets over 290-km away.

"Similar plans to step up production of the strategic missiles (700-km Agni-I and 2,000-km-plus Agni-II ballistic missiles) are in the pipeline," said a source.

While Army has had its 150-km Prithvi-I missiles for some years now, IAF and Navy operationalised their longer-range variants of the same missile recently. Navy, for instance, is weaponising its Sukanya-class large patrol crafts with Prithvi’s ‘Dhanush’ variant, which has a strike range of 250-km to 350-km. IAF, in turn, has started moving its Prithvi-II missile squadrons from Hyderabad to some airbases closer to the western front.

As for the air-breathing BrahMos missiles, which fly at a speed of 2.8 Mach, Navy was the first service to equip its frontline warships like Rajput-class destroyers with their vertical launch systems. The Army, which already has missile groups to handle Prithvi, Agni-I and Agni-II, is now also operationalising BrahMos land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) as its "precision strike weapon."

Work on BrahMos’ air-launched version for Sukhoi-30MKI multi-role fighters, however, had been hit by delays. Consequently, this missile will be integrated with the naval IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft as the first step.

Incidentally, Pakistan tested a new air-launched 350-km range cruise missile, ‘Hatf-8’ or ‘Thunder’, a couple of months ago. Moreover, its ‘Babur’ cruise missile, said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads to 500 km, is already on course for large-scale induction. Indian defence scientists, too, are working on a wide array of missile programmes, which interestingly also include submarine-launched versions of both Prithvi (K-15) and BrahMos missiles.

The Agni-III missile, with a 3,500-km strike range meant for China, will be ready by 2010 after a few more tests. Then an advanced 5,000-km range Agni missile, with a third mini-stage being added to the two-stage Agni-III, is also on the anvil.

Similarly, work is also in progress to develop submarine-launched cruise and ballistic missiles under the ‘Sagarika’ project to complete India’s ‘nuclear triad’ — the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from the air, land and sea.