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FINMECCANICA OUT, US’S SIKORSKY JOINS NAVY COPTER ACQUISITION RACE

defDelhi: The infamous VVIP helicopter scandal has claimed another victim. The defence ministry has ejected the European NH-90 chopper, linked to Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, out of the race to supply 16 multi-role helicopters to the Navy .

 

The commercial bid of the other contender in fray , American Sikorsky-70B choppers, will now be opened this month after a long delay. “Both NH-90 and Sikorsky-70B choppers had cleared the technical trials held a couple of years ago,“ said a MoD source.

 

“But their commercial bids were not opened due to various controversies. Now, the Sikorsky bid will undergo evaluation and final price negotiations will follow. The defence procurement policy permits single-vendor situation if the bids were earlier submitted in a competitive manner,“ he added.

 

The long-pending acquisition of the 16 helicopters is critical for the Navy since it is fast running out of choppers that can detect, track and kill enemy submarines at a time when the Chinese navy has stepped up its forays in the Indian Ocean region.

 

The Navy is also keen to kick-start a much bigger pro ject for manufacturing 124 multi-role helicopters, armed with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and earlywarning capabilities as well as customized for amphibious commando operations, in an indigenous project worth around $3 billion.

 

The procurement process for the 16 new helicopters, which was initiated several years ago, had been kept on hold since the CBI began investigating the nowscrapped 556 million euro contract for the 12 VVIP AW-101 helicopters of AgustaWestland, the UK-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

 

With the Modi government implementing “a partial ban“ on Finmeccanica, under which ongoing contracts will continue but there will be no fresh deals, the European NH-90 chopper has now been eliminated from the naval chopper procurement case.

(Source: Times of India November 5, 2014)

 

AKSH OPTIFIBRE WINS RS. 102-CR DEFENCE CONTRACT

 

Mumbai: Aksh Optifibre has won an order worth Rs. 102 crore for supply of optical fibre cables (OFC) for the country’s Defence Network For Spectrum (NFS) project. The company is the lowest bidder, along with the state-run ITI, for ‘Package F’ of the project, which mainly covers West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Sikkim.

 

The defence telecom project is crucial as the armed forces will migrate all their communication needs to this alternative OFC network and free more bandwidth for commercial telephony.

 

The companies will be involved in supplying and handling end-to-end deployment of an optical fibre cable backbone network for India’s armed forces, Aksh Optifibre said in a statement.

 

“…Aksh has developed a custom cable design to suit the robust needs to the network without compromising on the strength of the cables, making them highly durable and maintenance free,” said Chetan Choudhari, Managing Director.

 

The Defence NFS project consists of OFC routes totalling 57,015 km, which is divided into seven packages and is planned to be completed in 18 months.

 

The project will be handled on a turnkey basis, intended for roll-out of a nationwide OFC network and will be owned and operated by the Defence Services under the Project Implementation Core Group of the Ministry of Defence.

 

The armed forces had vacated some 3G airwaves in August 2010 after it was assured that the Department of Telecommunications would keep its side of the deal in rolling out an alternative communications network.

 

This had enabled the telecom department to auction 3G airwaves four years ago.

(Source: Business Line November 5, 2014)

 

KELTRON BAGS ORDER

 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Public Sector Unit Keltron has bagged an order worth Rs 2.57 crore from Defence shipyard in Kolkata. The order was received from Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) at Kolkata for supply of navigational equipment for new ships under construction for Indian Navy.

 

The company will supply Electromagnetic Log systems, Re-transmission units and Echo sounders under the contract, which would be executed by the Special Products Group (SPG) at Karakulam in Thiruvananthapuram in six months. Keltron indigenously manufactures these products and has been supplying to the defence sector, an official release said.

(Source: New Indian Express November 5, 2014)

 

KOLKATA PORT ON HIGH ALERT AFTER AL-QAEDA THREAT, NAVY MOVES OUT 2 WARSHIPS

 

Central Intelligence Agencies have alerted Kolkata police about the possibility of a terror attack in the city, especially in the port area, a senior official of Kolkata police said on Tuesday.

 

“We have received inputs from central intelligence agencies that there might be a terror attack in Kolkata, especially in port area. We have increased security in the port area and have put the entire city under security blanket,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity. Times Now reported, quoting sources, that al-Qaeda may be the terror group behind these attacks.

 

According to the input, terrorists might carry out an attack in the port area and may use small boats to carry out the strike, he added.

 

Meanwhile, two Navy warships, which were scheduled to be berthed at Khidderpore dock in Kolkata till 7 November for public visits, were on Tuesday withdrawn to the sea for undisclosed ‘operational reasons,’ a defence ministry official said. A report in the Hindustan Times however says the ships were moved out to due to the terror alert.

 

The recall of warships INS Khukri and INS Sumitra came in the backdrop of the alert by central intelligence agencies to the Kolkata police about the possibility of a terror attack in the city, especially in the port area.

 

Asked whether the recall of ships is due to the terror alert by central intelligence agencies, Defence CPRO Group Captain TK Singha said “no, it has nothing to do with any terror alert. The recall of ships is strictly due to operational reasons.”

 

A Defence press statement issued here said “the alacrity by which Indian warships are ready for operation at a short notice was demonstrated by the quick turnaround of the two visiting warships — INS Khukri and INS Sumitra — which had just berthed at Kidderpore on Monday, amply showcasing Indian Navy’s prompt readiness as the two warships are set to sail out within hours of a recall to the sea for undisclosed ‘operational reasons’ on orders by Eastern Naval Command HQ, today.”

 

According to the statement, the warships were scheduled to berth in Kolkata till Friday, enabling the public to visit the ships on Wednesday and Thursday.

(Source: Defence News November 5, 2014)

 

INDIA-RUSSIA AIR EXERCISE TO BEGIN ON NOVEMBER 17

 

The Air Warriors from India and Russia are set to hone their fighting skills in a 10-day long exercise in Punjab later this month.

 

Exercise Avia-Indra between the Indian Air Force and the Russian Federation Air Force will take place at Halwara air station between November 17 and 27, sources said.

 

The Russians will not bring any of their assets and will fly Indian Air Force platforms, which include Su-30MKI fighter aircraft and Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters. This is the second part of the maiden bilateral air exercise in 2014.

 

The first part was held between August 25 and September 5 in the Astrakhan region of Russia near the Caspian Sea. The bilateral exercise will take place ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to India next month. While Putin is likely to be present in India in the second week of December, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin will be arriving in India on Tuesday for the preparatory meetings with Indian officials.

 

While the Indra series of exercises between the two armies and navies are taking place for many years, the war-drill between the two air forces is relatively new.

 

The air exercise is little different because the forces do not carry their own platforms and use the aircraft of the host country. In the Astrakhan phase, IAF pilots flew Su-30SM fighter aircraft as well as Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters along with Russian pilots. The missile combat crew from India interacted with their counterparts from the Russian Air Force and participated in air defence exercises.

 

The Exercise Avia Indra-2014 was seen as a major milestone as it involves participation of fighter pilots, helicopter pilots, missile combat crew and engineers from the IAF and RFAF. Besides the air exercises, three more war games involving the Navy and Army are coming up in November.

 

These include Indian Army’s Hand-in-Hand exercise with China in Pune and another exercise with the Maldives in the island nation.

(Source: Deccan Herald November 5, 2014)

 

INDIA, PAKISTAN SPAR OVER KASHMIR AT UNGA

 

Sparring over Kashmir at the UN general assembly, India and Pakistan have again exchanged verbal volleys over the issue with the Indian delegate dubbing the remarks of his Pakistani counterpart as ‘unsolicited comments’ that were ‘factually incorrect’.

 

According to a summary on the UN website of a meeting in the general assembly’s Third Committee that deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, Pakistani delegate Diyar Khan raised the issue of Kashmir by saying that he regretted that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had been “deprived of their right to self-determination.”

 

Participating in the session on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and right to self-determination, Khan said the right to self-determination must be exercised in an environment free from coercion or duress, as electoral processes held in situations of foreign occupation or alien domination did not reflect people’s true wishes.

 

He said self-determination did not lapse with the passage of time and neither could it be “set aside” by charges of terrorism.

 

Indian delegate Mayank Joshi stressed that Pakistan’s “unsolicited comments” pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir were “factually incorrect”, according to the meeting’s summary.

 

He said free, fair and open elections were regularly held in that territory at all levels.

 

Joshi said India was a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society, fully committed to the goal of eliminating all forms of discrimination.

 

Exercising the Right of Reply, the Pakistani representative said that the Indian delegation had “alleged” that Jammu and Kashmir was part of India.

 

He refuted this assertion made by India saying that the UN Security Council had adopted several resolutions declaring Jammu and Kashmir as a “disputed territory”.

 

Khan claimed that the elections in Jammu and Kashmir had been rejected by the United Nations and the Kashmiri people.

 

Resolutions had clarified that no electoral exercise conducted by the Indian authorities could be a substitute for a free plebiscite held by the United Nations, he said.

 

Speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, the Indian representative said the elections in Jammu and Kashmir had been held under the scrutiny of international media which had not faulted those elections.

 

Taking the floor for a second time, the representative of Pakistan said the elections held under foreign occupation could not be a substitute to impartial elections.

 

Joshi noted that the references of Pakistani delegation were out of context.

(Source: Hindustan Times November 5, 2014)

 

KOLKATA PORT UNDER TERROR THREAT

 

Kolkata: Patrolling has been intensified at the Kolkata Port Trust following inputs of threat perception at the port and its installations, reports suggested on Tuesday.

 

The terror alert was reportedly received on Monday night after a couple of intercepts suggested that Kolkata Port was under threat of terror attack.

 

After a meeting with all stakeholders yesterday, West Bengal government, Coast Guard, CISF, Navy and Army, it was decided to sanitise the port.

 

Also, INS Khukri and INS Sumitra have been sent to undisclosed location after intelligence intercepts said that there were threats of attack on Navy warships as well.

 

The Indian Navy warships had docked at Kolkata for Navy week celebrations but now have gone back to sea.

 

They were scheduled to be anchored in Kolkata till Friday. They were to be opened to the public on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

 

The Coast Guard has reportedly been told to intensify sea patrolling and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has been asked to enhance patrolling at the various installations and sensitive points at the port.

 

Also the local police have been asked to be vigilant at Kolkata and Haldia.

 

Kolkata Port Trust is India’s only riverine port and was set up in 1870.

 

Kolkata Port Trust has two systems — the Kolkata Dock System and the Haldia Dock Complex.

(Source: Zee News November 5, 2014)

 

DRONES SHARPEN FOCUS ON TROUBLE SPOTS

 

New Delhi: For Chhath Puja and Muharram, Delhi Police sent out several “eyes in the sky” this year scouting for troublemakers, against the backdrop of communal tensions.

 

Small, low-flying drones fitted with cameras and sweeping over crowds in hard-to-access localities of the capital are the new-age machines catching the fancy of police forces, as they grapple with law and order situations.

 

Ahead of the Chhath puja, the Delhi police used mini drones fitted with cameras for surveillance. They then deployed them in riot-hit Trilokpuri in East Delhi.

 

“We used one drone every day in Trilokpuri area, both during the day and night. For the Muharram procession on Tuesday, we used four or five in the entire city to keep a vigil,” Joint Commissioner of Police, Eastern Range, Sanjay Beniwal told TheHindu.

 

Drones that are less than two metres long and one metre wide and weigh less than two kilos are preferred, to cover an area of about 1000 sq. metres. Their real time videos are relayed to the police control room. “This helps in taking decisions on movement of police personnel, to scan trouble spots and monitor crowds,” a police officer said.

 

Recent footage from the localities that witnessed violence or communal tension now forms part of the Delhi police archive.

 

While there is great interest in using the new technology, Delhi Police does not have its own drones yet. For security arrangements in Trilokpuri and Bawana areas, the flying machines with night and day vision were hired from a private agency.

 

“We are soon going to buy our own. The cost will depend on what kind of drones we choose. There are some with night vision cameras, and some with weapons. We are working on what will serve us best,” Mr. Beniwal added.

 

Disaster management and rescue is another area where drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, can be put to good use. The Armed Forces operate Israeli drones named Heron and Searcher for surveillance, as well as the indigenous Lakshya and Nishant models. DRDO is developing Rustom I & II medium and long endurance drones for military use. A combat UAV (UCAV) is also on DRDO’s drawing board.

 

UAVs of the IAF have been used to track movement of Maoists in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and DRDO has offered Nishant customised for the role.

 

“We are planning to demonstrate the use of Nishant from Jagdalpur in March and April. Some 16 are required to start with, according to present estimates,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander said. But these flying machines have had limited success due to the dense tropical forests.

 

Recently, drones were also used to track tigers and spot poachers.

(Source: Hindu November 5, 2014)

 

INDIA CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTION TO STRENGTHEN NUCLEAR SECURITY

 

Recognising the threat of nuclear terrorism, India has called for effective international cooperation and responsible action by governments to strengthen nuclear security and prevent non-state actors from acquiring vulnerable atomic material.

 

“There is widespread recognition that the threat of nuclear terrorism is one of the pressing challenges facing the international community. Responsible national action and effective international cooperation are therefore required for strengthening nuclear security to prevent vulnerable nuclear material falling into hands of non-state actors,” First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Abhishek Singh said.

 

Singh, in a statement on the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the UN General Assembly here yesterday, said India has consistently supported IAEA’s important role in facilitating national efforts to strengthen nuclear security and in fostering effective international cooperation.

 

He said as part of implementation of the arrangement with the IAEA concerning India’s voluntary contribution to the Nuclear Security Fund, the services of Indian cost-free expert in information security are being provided to the Division of Nuclear Security of the IAEA.

 

Singh noted that the universal adherence to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and early entry into force of its 2005 Amendment would go a long way in strengthening global efforts in the area of nuclear security.

 

The amended Convention would make it legally binding for states parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage as well as transport.

 

Singh said India is party to the CPPNM and is amongst the countries which have ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention.

 

Singh emphasised that India’s commitment to harnessing the benefits of nuclear energy for electricity production while according the highest priority to nuclear safety and security.

 

“India will need to rapidly raise the energy production to meet its growing energy requirements to achieve its developmental goals. Nuclear energy is an essential component of our energy basket,” he said.

 

Underscoring India’s commitment to implementing the highest standards for safety of its nuclear power plants and associated fuel cycle facilities, Singh said India will continue to participate and assist the IAEA Secretariat in its endeavour to enhance nuclear safety through the cluster of measures it has formulated in the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety.

 

Singh said the agency has an important role in allaying misapprehensions in the public and member states about the safety of nuclear power plants taking into account the current advances in relevant design and technology areas.

 

As part of India’s commitment to implement the highest standards for the safety of Indian nuclear power plants, several steps have been taken to organise peer reviews at national and international level, Singh said adding that a “follow up mission” of the IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) to India for Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) units took place in February this year.

 

Singh stressed the crucial role nuclear energy plays in achieving the objectives of India’s sustainable economic growth.

 

He said the country is at the same time extensively engaged in development of nuclear technologies in diverse fields extending beyond nuclear power, including isotope applications for improved crop varieties, crop protection and post-harvest technologies, radio-isotope applications for diagnostic and therapeutic uses in health care and technologies for safe drinking water.

 

Singh noted the importance attached by India to IAEA’s work in the fields of nuclear science.

 

“We contribute to these activities through participation in the Technical Meetings and coordinated Research Projects and also support the IAEA’s programme in nuclear fusion,” he said.

 

Singh said the agency’s programme and achievements in relation to nuclear applications in food and agriculture, human health and nutrition, water resources management, protection of the environment and industry make a valuable contribution to meeting the needs of the developing countries.

“India is highly appreciative of the IAEA’s efforts in cancer management, and in particular the Programme on Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). India would continue to support agency activities in these areas, including by offering service of experts and training fellows in reputable institutions in the country,” he said.

 

Singh told the UN General Assembly that the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which achieved its first criticality in July last year, is now operating at close to its full rated power of 1000 MWe.

 

The second unit is in an advanced stage of commissioning and construction of the 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is nearing completion at Kalpakkam and is expected to achieve first criticality in the next six months, Singh said.

(Source: Defence News November 5, 2014)

 

NEED TIME TO RESOLVE BORDER DISPUTES: CHINA

New Delhi: Border disputes between India and China can be resolved through dialogue but it will require time and co-operation, Chinese ambassador to India Le Yucheng said on Tuesday.

 

Speaking to reporters here, Lee also mentioned China’s plan to invest USD 20 billion in various infrastructure and development projects in India in the coming five years, as per the talks Modi held with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, during his visit. On the raging border dispute, Lee said China was confident of finding a mutually acceptable solution to it.

 

“We will proceed to solve these issues through dialogues, though negotiations.We just need time to solve them. We are confident that we can find our way out with joint efforts from both the sides,“ he told reporters when asked about reports of the recent incursion by Chinese army in Pangong lake, in the higher reaches of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Emphasising the need to expand trade cooperation, he identified the power sector as an important field where the two countries can cooperate. “India can also enjoy 24×7 power supply with cooperation from Chinese enterprises,“ Lee said.

 

“While a Chinese IT company has already created 5000 more jobs in India, various sectors including agriculture will also find better access to the Chinese market. India can also expect an increase in revenue by receiving 5 million outbound Chinese tourists,“ he added.The Chinese ambassador said both the countries have the wisdom to reach and maintain strategic partnership. Lee was chairing a round table discussion on APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) as APEC 2014 Economic Leaders’ Week began in Beijing.

 

Arunachal road projects get `90-crore boost

 

The ministry of development of North-Eastern region (DONER) has cleared Rs 90 crore this fiscal for various road projects in Arunachal Pradesh. This would be part of the total Rs 120.41 crore for 17 road projects, for which the state shares were cleared and utilisation certificates submitted to the ministry.With hardly six working months left, delay in release of funds is likely to escalate the project costs and would require re-submission of the projects, state PWD minister Gojen Gadi said. Gadi had received assurance from Union MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju for release of central share for 17 NLCPR projects. On Gadi’s request, the officials of the DONER Ministry assured to find out the cause behind inordinate delay in sanctioning of the long pending 35-km Koyu-Ego road (Phase-II).

(Source: Times of India November 5, 2014)

 

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