SOURCE: Ajai Shukla/ Business Standard

Demonstrating the versatility of its most rugged and reliable workhorse, an Indian Air Force (IAF) Antonov-32 (AN-32) transport aircraft made a first-ever landing at the challenging, 1,650 metre-long Pakyong airfield near Gangtok, in Sikkim on Wednesday.

With Pakyong now usable by AN-32s, the army can quickly move soldiers, weapons and supplies to this highly sensitive sector, which includes flashpoints like Doklam, Nathu La and the Siliguri Corridor that connects the eight north-eastern states with the rest of India.Business Standard learns there is even better news for the IAF’s ageing fleet of 105 AN-32 transporters, which were bought from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Their $400 million upgrade, which was contracted in 2009 with Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov, is about to resume. Continue reading


The People’s Liberation Army has constructed an underground facility (UGF) barely 50 km from the India-China border, and just 60 km from the Indian forward posts at Demchok in Ladakh. So far, there was just one UGF in Tibet, with another one which could possibly target India being a fair way away in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. But now, thanks to satellite imagery, ThePrint has identified a deeply buried hardened target (DBHT) under construction near the town of Ngari, also known as Shiquanhe in Mandarin, which could of worry to India.

Construction of this UGF began in December 2016, about six months before the Doklam standoff near the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in the east. The slow speed of construction indicates that special personnel are being used instead of locals, clearly in order to maintain secrecy and security of the facility. Continue reading


Gujarat should develop testing facilities and firing range for the defence sector, said Baba Kalyani, Chairman, CII National Committee on Defence.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Opportunities for Industry in Defence and aerospace’, Kalyani called upon the industries to help create testing facilities and firingranges in Gujarat. “The biggest problem in India is the testing capability which needs to be developed. While we have some, we need more such ranges and facilities. Gujarat has a lot of lands, desert lying around a coast. I do not see any reason why we cannot have a firing range here to test missiles, guns and other equipment. It should be based on a user charge basis so that it does not become a burden on anyone”, he said. Continue reading


On August 15 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort that India would put its own astronauts in space for the first time. The ambitious project, called Gaganyaan, has gathered speed to meet its December 2021 deadline and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is working on war footing. The Union Cabinet in December approved a Rs 10,000 crore budget for the proposed human spaceflight mission. Below is a peep into what all is Isro doing to accomplish this historic feat:

Dry runs
Isro has kick-started the process of selecting experiments that could be performed in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), where it will send Indian astronauts who will be called Gaganauts. From testing medical equipment in space to micro-biological experiments such as biological air filters and biosensors, and from life support and biomedical waste management to monitoring toxic gases, Isro is looking at a pool of at least 10 experiments. Isro is building three sets of rockets, crew and service module. Continue reading


The astronauts on the human space mission ‘Gaganyaan’ will mostly be pilots, hinted Indian Space Research Organisation scientists Friday.”We are looking for people with sufficient flying experience,” said an ISRO scientist requesting anonymity. ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the Indian Air Force and other agencies will play a major role during the selection of astronauts for the human space mission project.Another scientist said the Defence Research and Development Organisation too will play a major role in this endeavour.

Addressing a press conference here, Sivan said the first unmanned mission for ‘Gaganyaan’ has been planned for December 2020, the second unmanned mission for July 2021 and the final manned mission by December 2021.He said the selection process will also start this year.The ISRO has already established a Human Space Flight Centre for Gaganyaan project. Continue reading


India on Friday reacted sharply to Pakistan’s assertion that  the country had no role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal said in Islamabad on Friday that “India had no role in the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan”, while Islamabad would continue to support and facilitate Afghan peace process in good faith and as part of a shared responsibility.

“It is not for Pakistan to decide as to what role another country has in regional or global affairs,” responded MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. “Pakistan also cannot decide on behalf of an independent and sovereign country Afghanistan and dictate them as to how to conduct their foreign policy. Pakistan should first and foremost introspect on its own role and responsibility in the precarious situation in Afghanistan; put an end to all kinds of support to cross-border terrorism from territories under its control; and join international efforts to bring inclusive peace to Afghanistan.” Continue reading


The Pakistan Army has instructed its troops posted along the Line of Control to remain together in larger numbers and not to move during daytime. “On January 16, 3 PoK Brigade located at Kotli instructed all the units under its command that there should be no move before 10:00 hours and all the moves have to be coordinated by the brigade headquarters. It also said that no post or listening post (temporary post used for observation and listening) will have less than 10 individuals,” said a source.

Explaining the possible reason for such directions, Lt-Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd), former director general, Military Operations, said, “The cost (of ceasefire violation) on Pakistan has been raised; that’s why it’s trying to limit the exposure time of its soldiers to effective retaliation by the Indian Army. It shows that we have the upper hand.”

Continue reading

SOURCE: The Telegraph

India’s space agency will introduce this year a launch-on-demand service for small satellites through a new rocket that could be prepared for flight within 72 hours, senior space officials said on Friday. The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is intended to ferry small satellites, including student-built space science payloads, weighing up to 500kg, senior Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) officials said.

But space technology and strategic affairs specialists said the SSLV could also enhance India’s capabilities for rapid surveillance if required for security or disaster management applications. The SSLV will be an addition to Isro’s stable of workhorse rockets — the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle that can carry of up to 4,000kg of payloads. The SSLV’s first flight is scheduled for July 2019, the officials said. Continue reading


No one has ever suggested that the USA is one of India’s neighbours but events ever since our independence and partition of India have conspired in a strange manner to make that superpower the dominating presence in South Asia. One slightly galling reminder of ground reality is the manner in which President Trump mocked Modi’s attempt to help Afghanistan by building libraries in that unfortunate war-torn, landlocked country.

To begin with, it was the cold war compulsions that rendered Pakistan particularly attractive to American establishment. This is not the place to go into details of how the military alliance that was forged to contain communism in Asia derailed Pakistan’s democracy and paved the way for the ruthless and corrupt military dictatorship in that land.  Continue reading


The mega mobile connectivity program across the critical China-bordering areas in Arunachal Pradesh in addition to two districts of Assam may soon kickoff if the department of telecom (DoT) gives a go ahead, a top official told ET. “We are waiting for an advice from the telecom department in this matter. We’ll immediately rollout mobile connectivity services as soon as we hear from the government,” Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) chairman Anupam Shrivastava said.

The official added that the Centre recognises the need in the region and is committed to providing mobile connectivity across the Northeast.In January 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the government and the state-run BSNL to provide mobile phone services in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam’s two districts— Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. Continue reading


Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday raised the Kashmir issue during his meeting with the visiting UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espionosa. Espionosa arrived in Islamabad on her first official trip to the Asia-Pacific region since assuming office in September last year. She met Qureshi in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the two sides also held talks on different issues. Qureshi said that he discussed the regional and international issues.

including Kashmir with the UNGA chief and “apprised her of Pakistan’s grave concern over the gross human rights violations” in Kashmir. He called for implementing the UN Security Council’s resolutions on Kashmir in letter and spirit to resolve this longstanding issue. Continue reading


Ceasefire violations along India’s border with Pakistan and the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir more than doubled in 2018 from the previous year to reach the highest this decade, according to data compiled by India’s security and military establishment. The ceasefire violations, with increased Pakistan sniper activity, touched 2,140 last year, increasing from 971 in 2017 and 449 in 2016, according to the data seen by HT. This led to a decadal high of 30 civilian casualties and 29 casualties among security personnel manning the border with Pakistan and the LoC.

Every Tuesday, for the past three Tuesdays, India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) has red-flagged a massive escalation of ceasefire violations along the international border and the LoC to his Pakistani counterpart. This isn’t new, but indicates no change in Islamabad’s approach under a new government, with Indian security officials saying all monitored parameters have touched all-time highs. The Pakistan DGMO, on his part, and as in the past, has flatly denied all charges. Continue reading


Work on the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistan side is in a full swing with the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which controls temples and gurdwaras in the neighbouring country, executing the project.

Heavy earthmoving machines are working round the clock to make the corridor a reality at the earliest, ETPB secretary Tariq Wazir told HT over telephone.“Nearly 35% work is already complete and the entire project will see the light of day by September. In the first phase, ETPB will refurbish Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, build a sarovar, a langar hall, quarters for granthis, four kilometre passage from the India border to the gurdwara, a terminal for check-in by pilgrims from the Indian side and parking on the India-Pak border,” Wazir said. Continue reading


To enhance the operational capability of Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), Naval Air Station (NAS) Shibpur will be commissioned as INS Kohassa, a Defence release said here Friday.Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff will commission NAS Shibpur which was established in 2010 as INS Kohassa on January 24, the release issued by the Headquarters ANC said.

INS Kohassa has been named after a White-Bellied Sea Eagle, which is a large bird of prey endemic to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it said.The NAS Shibpur was set up as a Forward Operating Air Base (FOAB) for surveillance in North Andaman. Located in the northern most part of the islands, the airfield holds strategic importance not only for the security of the islands but also for its overall development. Continue reading


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Friday termed The Hindu’s detailed story over steep price escalation in the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets as “factually inaccurate” and said that it does not adduce any new arguments. It reiterated that all issues have been answered in detail by the Government at various fora, and by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament. “The cost of the India Specific Enhancements (ISE) was on a fixed basis in the 2007 bid which was negotiated down in the 2016 deal. However, to compare the cost for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract which never materialized with the cost of the 36 aircrafts procured in 2016 is fallacious. The author while indicating the price of ISE as €1.4bn in 2007 has failed to include the in-built escalation factor that would have worked between 2007 and 2015,” the MoD spokesperson said in a statement.

On the issue of benchmarking, and the 20% discount by EADS on the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, the spokesperson said that the two issues are related. Observing that even the UPA Government had “rightly” rejected the EADS offer of 20% discount in 2012 after opening of bids as a violation of procedure, the statement said that consideration of this offer by the Government would have again made the Government subject “to charge of violating basic procedure.” Continue reading

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