Sanjha Morcha

Indian Air Force Tests Capability To Handle Nuke Warfare During Mega Exercise

Indian Air Force Tests Capability To Handle Nuke Warfare During Mega Exercise

A major focus of the exercise was to check combat capability of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft or LCA Tejas and their performance was satisfactory.

The primary aim of the exercise was to sharpen India’s war waging capability. (File photo)

NEW DELHI:  The Indian Air Force or IAF tested its capability in dealing with a possible scenario of nuclear and biological warfare during a 13-day-long mega military exercise whose aim was to sharpen its war waging capability in the wake of fast evolving regional security situation.

Official sources said the focus of the Gagan Shakti exercise from April 8 to 20 was to check the viability of IAF’s operational plans to deal with any kind of challenge including nuclear warfare and a possible situation of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

A major focus of the exercise was to check combat capability of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft or LCA Tejas and their performance was satisfactory, IAF sources said.

They said eight Tejas were deployed during the exercise and some of these had reported minor technical issues, adding each of the six Tejas had flown six sorties daily like any other platforms including Sukhoi, Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 jets.

The sources said aim of the exercise was to test IAF’s combat readiness in a real time scenario, adding it had never carried out an exercise of this scale earlier.

A key focus of the exercise was to check IAF’s readiness to deal with a biological, chemical and nuclear war and we were satisfied with our capability to deal with such situations, they said.

They also said all types of aerial weapons, including standoff and precision weapons were deployed to validate their use in the air operations matrix.

As part of the massive drill, the IAF deployed its entire assets for the pan-India exercise with fighter jets, equipped with strategic weapons like Brahmos and Harpoon anti ship missiles, carrying out deep penetration strikes to revalidate its strategic reach.

During the exercise, the sources said over 11,000 sorties were flown which included nearly 9,000 sorties by fighter aircraft.

The combat drill was carried out at a time when China was increasing its assertiveness along the borders with India and while Pakistan has been continuing its skirmishes along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

The exercise covered all terrains including desert, high altitude areas like Ladakh and maritime sphere.

During combat drills near Sino-India border, the IAF significantly focused on inter valley transfer of troops considering various possible situations of conflict and taking a lesson from the Doklam standoff.

Ensuring serviceability of fighter aircraft and various missile systems were a priority area and the IAF succeeded in its endeavour, officials said.

The serviceability of surface-to-air missiles were around 97 per cent while serviceability of fighter jets were close to 80 per cent, they said.

Serviceability refers to availability of an aircraft or a weapon system for deployment. The IAF has been struggling to maintain high serviceability levels of its platforms due to difficulty in getting required spares.


Similarly, the IAF could ensure high levels of dispatch reliability which refers to ability to make the serviceable flying platforms airborne as and when required, the officials said.



Chhattisgarh: 2 jawans killed, 5 hurt as Naxals target bus with IED

Raipur, April 9

Naxals targeted a bus ferrying nearly 30 jawans with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur, leaving two of them dead and five injured, the second attack on Monday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the district on Saturday.Earlier this morning, Naxals had triggered twin IED blasts and opened fire on a patrolling team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Bijapur-Bhopalpatnam road in the district that led to a gun-battle. However, no casualty was reported on either side in that incident.The explosion targeting the bus occurred near Godma village, around 450 km from the state capital, when the jawans were out on an anti-Maoist operation, police said.“Two jawans belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG) were killed and five others sustained injuries in the explosion,” a senior police official told PTI.The IED blast damaged the front portion of the bus, which was carrying a squad of at least 30 jawans.The personnel sitting in the front side bore the brunt of the explosion, he said.Additional personnel were rushed to the spot soon after the incident and the injured jawans were taken to a hospital in Bijapur, he said.

Further details are awaited.

Notably, the security forces have intensified search operations in the forest in view of the prime minister’s visit to Bijapur scheduled on April 14. — PTI

A first: India, Pak to be part of SCO military drill in Russia

A first: India, Pak to be part of SCO military drill in Russia

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s meeting in Beijing on Tuesday. PTI

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 24

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday made it official that India will participate in a multi-nation military exercise to be conducted in Russia in September this year. Notably, the exercise will involve China and also Pakistan, India’s edgy and acrimonious western neighbour.The exercise in Russia is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). India, China, Russia and Pakistan, among several other countries, are part of the SCO — bloc of largely Asian countries.India is, for the first time, attending the Defence Ministers’ meeting at SCO being hosted in China. This will be first-ever exercise in which Indian and Pakistan militaries will fight together in mock operations to eliminate terrorists, neutralise terror networks and thwart possible attacks besides testing combat readiness.Indian and Pakistan soldiers have operated together in the past on foreign lands while providing security or in convoy protection deployment as peacekeepers under the United Nations.The exercise — “Peace Mission 2018” — is slated to be held in Russia’s Ural Mountains. It will begin in August-end and conclude in the first week of September.The SCO was formed in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Now the grouping has eight full members, including India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Another four nations have been accorded “observer” status, while six others are “dialogue” partners.Held once in two years, “Peace Mission 2018” will be the fifth edition of the multilateral exercise. However, this will be the first time for the two neighbours as they became SCO members in June last year. Sources said India will send a 200-strong contingent to Russia. In China, Sitharaman said: “India enjoys excellent bilateral defence cooperation with a large number of SCO countries, especially with Russia, as well as with all of India’s Central Asian partners represented in the SCO.”‘Differences should not become disputes’We are guided in our relations with China by the consensus reached between our leaders that at the time of global uncertainty, India-China relations could be a factor of stability and that we must not allow our differences to become disputes. — Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister

Why Pakistan is still disowning its finest by Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh

Some private schools even dishonoured Malala’s short trip by declaring Friday as “I am not Malala Day”, reflecting her polarising reality.

Malala Yousafzai (Photo: AP)

 Malala Yousafzai (Photo: AP)

Pakistan routinely blames the West, especially the US, for creating terrorism, double-dealing, economic deceit, societal morass and all other ills that befall the modern Pakistani narrative. This ostrich-like attitude has shades of simplistic truth in the Pakistani grouse. However, it belies the collective failure of the Pakistani leadership of all hues, parties and uniforms, post the convenient “dollar-rush” of the US-Gen. Zia dalliance of the 1980s. The deliberate inability to dismantle, recalibrate and replace the vestiges, infrastructure and outlook of the Cold War era has dangerously veered the operating instincts towards tactical survival that invariably haunts Pakistan and its polity in the long run. The democratic foundations are weakening with discredited political classes who lack the vision and gumption to make corrective amends in the face of an assertive military set-up, burgeoning religiosity and irreconcileable sectarianism. This environmental-societal slide has failed Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s hoary exhortation of: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan…”

The fact is, the predominant spirit of inclusivity and tolerance that was sought at Independence, has given way to a rejectionist, supremacist and intolerant strain that makes Pakistan a restive, angry and revivalist society that seeks to undo the future potentialities and possibilities.

Besides its neighbours, Pakistan is at war with itself — from the looming portents of Pashtunistan, insurgencies in Balochistan, religious implosions with the phenomenon of Talibanisation and the increasing ghettoisation and disenfranchisement of minorities. The concept of “minority” extends its contours beyond the religious denominations like Christians, Hindus and Parsis to even include Shias and their multiple offshoots like the Ahmediyas and Ismailis. The regression and hatred is so strong that it manifests in crippling sit-ins that can coerce the governments (latest one in Faizabad by a fringe group called Tehreek-e-Labaik), dilute the protection of the blasphemy laws and encourage active exclusivism of the various “non-complying” elements, for example, minorities, polio drive, education activists, women’s right activists, music, entertainment industry, etc. This self-institutionalised hatred has debarred Pakistan from acknowledging and celebrating its very own who have earned international plaudits for their domain excellence, amidst such trying situations and unhelpful societal trajectory. Amongst the prominent unsung domestic heroes are the two Pakistani Nobel laureates, physicist Dr Mohammad Abdus Salam and the precocious genius and education activist Malala Yousafzai. Both were virtually shunned and disowned by a large populace that was driven by puritanical thinking; even the tags of the “first Muslim to win Nobel for science” and the “youngest Nobel laureate” respectively, were considered insignificant achievements. Unlike neighbouring India that takes pride in hosting Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama as virtually one of its own along with Rabindranath Tagore, C.V. Raman, Mother Teresa, Amartya Sen and Kailash Satyarthi, Pakistan affords no such moral appropriation or sentimentality to either Har Gobind Khorana or Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (both US citizens) who were born on the Pakistani side of the pre-Independence, British India.

It took Malala six years before she could touch-feet in Pakistan, albeit, under complete secrecy of her short visit and with a posse of heavy military cover to defend her physical security. The popular perception on her is still divided, especially in her native district of Swat, where as recently as February 18, a deadly attack by the Pakistan Taliban (the same organisation that had attacked a 14-year-old Malala in 2012), claimed the lives of 11 soldiers in a suicide attack. Even mainstream politicians like Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman (president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam) had ridiculed the attack on Malala as a “drama” and had gone on to state that there were no signs of injury on Malala after her bandages were removed — this from a leader whose party was a coalition partner of the Benazir Bhutto, Yousaf Raza Gillani and the Nawaz Sharif governments. Some private schools even dishonoured Malala’s short trip by declaring Friday as “I am not Malala Day”, reflecting her polarising reality.

Similar fate awaited the other Nobel laureate Abdus Salam who had spoken in Urdu and quoted from the Quran during his acceptance speech: “Thou seest not, in the creation of the all-merciful any imperfection, return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, comes back to thee dazzled, aweary.” This in effect is, the faith of all physicists. His mute official recognition and honours notwithstanding, Salam faced the ignominy of having the his epitaph on the tomb reading “First Muslim Nobel Laureate”, obscured by the Pakistani government who removed the word “Muslim”, to read just as “First Nobel Laureate” in an ode to the sectarian fault lines and societal regressions in the Pakistani narrative. The same incongruity befell Pakistani military heroes like Maj. Gen. Iftikhar Janjua, Lt. Gen. Abdul Ali Malik and Lt. Gen. Akhtar Hussain Malik, who like Salam were fellow Qadianis or Ahmediyas.

Institutionally, the Pakistani establishment is perpetuating intolerance — from the military deliberately kowtowing with militant terror groups, the judiciary condoning acts of minority-hatred, foundational educational system breeding supremacist instincts, to the civilian politicians collaborating with the revivalist organisations. The public spectre of the former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, who had to seek physical sanctuary in the official house of the then Pakistani Prime Minister because he felt, “If I leave my house, I fear I will be killed” was telling of the curse of getting branded as a “traitor”. Today, citing continued threats to his life, the intellectual critic who swears by the original ideas of Pakistan, has been disowned by his country and lives in exile. The systematic quashing of contrarian, progressive and independent thinking in preference for encouraging a false narrative of history and facts, has led to a nation state which impulsively and unfortunately disowns its finest, in exchange for the tactical promotion of retrograde ideas and individuals.

IAF copter crashes near Kedarnath, all safe

IAF copter crashes near Kedarnath, all safe

An IAF MI-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand on Tuesday morning. All those on board the helicopter, including the pilot and the co-pilot, were safe. The helicopter was carrying heavy construction equipment from Guptkashi to Kedarnath when the accident occurred.“The incident occurred around 8.10 am. The helicopter crashed 60 metres from the helipad. Only the IAF can ascertain the exact cause,” said the Rudraprayag DM. The state government had requisitioned MI-17 V5 as the Irrigation Department needed heavy machinery for reconstruction work. PTI

Now, private industry to improve Army weapons

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 31

The Indian Army has formalised a procedure that will allow Indian private companies to work on existing weapons and equipment to suggest modifications and improvements.These companies will be allowed to work on ‘in-service’ equipment. The Vice-Chief of the Army will be approving the authorisation for handing over the service equipment. An advisory support committee will assist him.The equipment can be handed over for a year, extendable by six months, said the new protocol.The companies can modify, upgrade and even provide substitution of whole equipment or its sub-assemblies.The idea is to see that private industry and the academia gets access to military equipment to help in innovating the design, integrating additional systems and developing new variants.

Security forces arrest militant in Manipur

Imphal, April 25

Security forces have arrested a militant of proscribed outfit United National Liberation Front (UNLF) in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, a government press release said.A combined team of Manipur police commandos and Gurkha Regiment arrested the militant from Ninghthoukhong town in Bishnupur district on Sunday, the release said.A case has been registered at Bishnupur police station and further investigation was on. PTI

CM announces Rs25 lakh for Sikh Regiment Centre

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday announced a special grant of Rs 25 lakh for the development and upgrade of the Sikh Regiment Centre at Chandimandir.The CM attended the ‘Baisakhi Lunch 2018’, hosted by the regiment in the Khetarpal Officers’ Institute at the Chandimandir Military Station.Recalling his association with the Army, Capt Amarinder reiterated his commitment to the welfare of the soldiers and ex-servicemen. He said the grant would help in the development of sports infrastructure and other related facilities at the centre. He reaffirmed his government’s commitment to extend all possible assistance to the defence personnel and their families.Earlier, the Colonel of the regiment, Lt Gen SK Jha, thanked the CM for efforts to ensure a second career for JCOs and Other Ranks (ORs) after their superannuation from the defence services. General Jha lauded Capt Amarinder’s regimental spirit and acknowledged his concern for the well-being of soldiers.

Last Sikh Queen’s earrings fetch nearly 6 times auction estimate

Last Sikh Queen’s earrings fetch nearly 6 times auction estimate

The earrings belonged to the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Photo courtesy Twitter handle: @bonhams1793

London, April 25

A pair of gold pendant earrings from the collection of last Sikh Queen of Punjab Maharani Jind Kaur fetched 175,000 pounds, nearly six times the guide price, at an auction here.The earrings, the highlight of the Islamic and Indian sale at Bonhams yesterday, were estimated to attract bids between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds.The earrings belonged to the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who was the only wife of the Sikh ruler not to commit sati on his funeral pyre following his death in 1839.She went on to be appointed as the de facto ruler of Punjab before being captured by the British. It was only many years later when she arrived in England that her jewellery, including the earrings on sale, were handed back to her.“The impressive price paid for these beautiful pieces of jewellery conveys their significance,” said Oliver White, Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams.“These gold earrings are a powerful reminder of a courageous woman who endured the loss of her kingdom, and persecution and privation, with great dignity and fortitude,” he noted.When Kaur’s five-year-old son Duleep Singh was proclaimed Maharaja of Punjab in 1843, she was appointed Regent.The Punjab Empire at the time stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas and the court was fabled for its artistic and scientific achievements and opulence and riches.The East India Company invaded and annexed Punjab, despite armed opposition organised and led by Kaur. She was deposed in 1846, separated from her son and imprisoned.According to Bonhams’ historians, the Maharani’s personal wealth was confiscated and the state Treasury plundered by the British Army.The famous Koh-i-Noor diamond and the Timur Ruby were sent back to London as gifts for Queen Victoria. Mother and son were eventually reunited after 13-and-a-half-years in 1861 when Kaur moved to England to be with her son. She died in 1863.Besides her earrings, some of the other Indian highlights of the Bonhams auction this week included a painting by Gujarati artist Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh.His ‘Composition in green and black’ inscribed on the reverse with the artist’s name sold for 40,000 pounds, within the guide price estimate of 35,000 and 45,000 pounds.Another Indian painting, dating back to circa 1820-30, ‘Shiva and Parvati with Ganesh, Karttikeya and Nandi on Mount Kailasa’ went under the hammer for 16,250 pounds, beyond the estimated 8,000-12,000 pounds.A ‘Mother and Child’ portrait by Jamini Roy dating back to circa 1950 fetched 11,875 pounds, also beating the guide price estimate of 6,000-8,000 pounds. — PTI

Fearing ‘hot summer’ along LAC, India ups patrolling in Arunachal

Fearing ‘hot summer’ along LAC, India ups patrolling in Arunachal

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 31

India, it seems, is militarily preparing for a “hot summer” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the de facto 3,448-km boundary with China running all along the Himalayan ridge line.Post the 73-day (June 16 to August 28, 2017) Doklam stand-off, India has increased patrolling along the far-eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh. The remote mountainous terrain at Kibithu, Walong and the Lohit valley are in greater focus. Surveillance is not possible through UAVs due to dense tree foliage. Hence, patrolling has to be on foot in the valleys of Lohit, lower  Subhansiri, upper Subhansiri, Siang,  Dibang,  Delai and Dau.These are very narrow valleys in which the invader will have a military disadvantage, said a senior military officer.Walong, Kibithu and Lohit were the locations of pitched India-China battles in 1962, but things have changed. India has militarily tailored its response to stall any incursion.A rather candidly written ‘History of the conflict with China’ produced 30 years after the war by the Historical Division of the Ministry of Defence describes the battle of Walong: “A defensive battle against heavy odds, the troops fought bravely, but being out-numbered and out-weaponed in automatics and ammunition, suffered heavily.” But it was no walkover. “Indian troops offered stiff resistance, but they had to vacate their positions,” says the MoD’s book.After that, India has had a fully functional airstrip at Walong and a division (some 20,000 troops) located in the eastern-most corner of India. All key bases have road connectivity, a far cry from 1962 when a 14-day Tezu-Walong trek was the only option.India’s move has come after Beijing’s troops have taken to intensive patrolling in areas that are disputed all along the LAC and have been building military infrastructure. US confirms military build-up on both sides

  • On January 25,  US-based think tank Stratfor released a report ‘Preparing for a rematch at the top of the world’. It said India and China have continued with a build-up of military resources on either side
  • It released satellite images of airbases of both countries and said “the imagery confirms that both China and India are pursuing a wide-ranging strategic build-up that has only accelerated in the wake of the August agreement (to dis-engage)”