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Indian Air Force's MiG-21 Fighter Jet Crashes In Rajasthan, Pilot Dies

NEW DELHI, Dec 24: A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed today evening near Rajasthan's Jaisalmer, killing the pilot Wing Commander Harshit Sinha.

Confirming the news, the official handle of the Air Force tweeted, "This evening, around 8:30 pm, a MiG-21 aircraft of IAF met with a flying accident in the western sector during a training sortie. An inquiry is being ordered."

The aircraft crashed in the Desert National Park area under the Sam police station, said Jaisalmer Superintendent of Police Ajay Singh. The SP said local police reached the spot and he is also on the way to the crash site.

The Air Force tweeted confirming the death of the pilot. "With deep sorrow, IAF conveys the sad demise of Wing Commander Harshit Sinha in the flying accident this evening and stands firmly with the family of the braveheart," the tweet said.

Several MiG-21 crashes have been reported this year alone. The aircraft has been dubbed "flying coffin" as it makes news regularly for crashes. From 1971 to April 2012, as many as 482 MiG aircraft have met with accidents, killing 171 pilots, 39 civilians, eight service personnel, and one aircrew, the government had told Parliament in May 2012.

"The causes of accidents were both human error and technical defects," the government had said.

India Successfully Tests 'Pralay' Missile. Has Ability To Change Path Midair

BALASORE (Odisha), Dec 22: India has successfully test fired the short-range, surface-to-surface guided ballistic missile 'Pralay' off the Odisha coast in Balasore.

The solid-fuel, battlefield missile developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation is based on the Prithvi Defence Vehicle from the Indian ballistic missile programme.

The missile, launched from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island around 10:30 am, met all the mission objectives

"Pralay is a quasi ballistic surface-to-surface missile. The advanced missile has been developed in a way to able to defeat interceptor missiles. It has the ability to change its path after covering a certain range midair."

A battery of tracking instruments monitored its trajectory along the coast line, they said.

'Pralay' missile is a 350-500 km short-range, surface-to-surface missile with a payload capacity of 500-1,000 kg.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter, "Congratulations to the DRDO and associated teams for the maiden development flight trial."

"My compliments to them for the fast-track development and successful launch of modern Surface-to-Surface Quasi Ballistic missile. It is a significant milestone achieved today," he added.

On India's Military Needs, Rajnath Singh's 'Clear Message' To US, Russia, Others

NEW DELHI, Dec 18: India has very clearly conveyed to the US, Russia, France and many of its partner countries that military platforms and equipment required by the Indian armed forces to deal with myriad security challenges have to be manufactured in the country, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today.

Referring to regional geopolitical developments, Singh said that God has given India some neighbours who do not feel good seeing its growth and that the one born out of the partition is becoming weak worrying about India's development.

In an address at the annual convention of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), he said most of the countries in the world are friends of India, including the US, Russia and France.

In this context, he said, India, at the same time, made it clear to them that the military hardware required by the Indian armed forces will have to be produced in the country.

"We have told every friendly country that we want to produce the military platforms, weapons and ammunition in India itself keeping in mind the security of the country," he said.

"We have conveyed this message to the US, Russia, France and others as well and we do not hesitate to communicate this message," he added.

The Defence Minister said the message to the countries producing military equipment has been that: "Come, Make In India, Come, Make for India and Come, Make for the world".

Citing an example, Singh said following his talks with French Defence Minister Florence Parly on Friday, it was agreed that a major French company will produce "an engine" in India by joining hands with an Indian company under the strategic partnership model. He, however, did not elaborate.

Singh said India will maintain friendship with these countries but at the same time will not hesitate to push for the production of key platforms on Indian soil.

"We will maintain the friendship but at the same time make it clear that whatever military equipment, weapons and ammunition are needed have to be produced in India," the Defence Minister said.

"I tell it very clearly and with confidence. And you will be happy to know that I get a positive response from them," Singh said.

The Defence Minister also referred to the government's decision to not import 209 military equipment under a staggered timeline to promote the domestic defence industry and indicated that the items under the list may touch 1,000.

"When I talk about 'India Beyond 75', I believe that this 'positive list' will be around 1000 items in this decade. I am very positive about this," he said.

The Defence Minister also talked about the need for "fair competition" between private and public sector companies and described the corporatisation of the over 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board as the biggest reform in the defence sector after Independence.

"At present, India's defence and aerospace manufacturing market is worth ₹ 85,000 crores. I believe it will increase to one lakh crore in 2022," he said.

The government has initiated a series of measures in the last couple of years to encourage the domestic defence industry.

In August last year, Mr Singh announced that India will stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems by 2024.

A second list, putting import restrictions on 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars, was issued a few months later.

In May last year, the government announced increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route in the defence sector.

India successfully test-fires supersonic missile assisted torpedo in Odisha

BALASORE, Dec 13: The country has successfully test-fired a long-range Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo (SMART) off the coast of Balasore in Odisha. The SMART system will help India enhance its anti-submarine warfare capability.

"The system has been designed to enhance anti-submarine warfare capability far beyond the conventional range of the torpedo," the DRDO said.

On December 11, the DRDO and the Indian Air Force (IAF) had flight-tested the indigenously made helicopter-launched SANT (Stand-off Anti-tank) missile from Pokhran ranges. The missile is equipped with a state-of-the-art MMW seeker, which provides high precision strike capability from a safe distance. The weapon can neutralise targets in a range up to 10 km.

The premier research organisation on October 22 had flight-tested various systems of Abhyas, its high-speed expendable aerial target (HEAT), in Chandipur, off the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Odisha. The vehicle can be used as an aerial target for the evaluation of various missile systems.

India successfully flight tests helicopter-launched SANT missile

NEW DELHI, Dec 11: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday successfully flight-tested the stand-off anti-tank (SANT) missile from Pokhran range.

The indigenously designed and developed helicopter-launched missile has the ability to neutralise targets in a range of up to 10 kilometres. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art millimetre wave (MMW) seeker which provides high precision strike capability from a safe distance.

The ministry of defence said in a statement that the flight test achieved all of its mission objectives. It added that the “release mechanism, advanced guidance and tracking algorithms, all avionics with integrated software, performed satisfactorily and tracking systems monitored all mission events.”

Defence minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the team associated with the mission.

The slow-motion video released by the DRDO shows the SANT missile getting launched from a helicopter and precisely striking the target.

The SANT missile’s flight test is the third in the series of indigenous stand-off weapons to be tested in recent times after the Long-Range Bomb and Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), further strengthening the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. The ministry said that the indigenous developments with advanced technologies are a “firm march towards ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence.”

Dr G Satheesh Reddy, secretary, department of defence R&D and Chairman DRDO, said the successful flight test of the SANT missile would further bolster the indigenous defence capabilities. The SANT missile has been designed and developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad in coordination with other DRDO labs and participation from industries.

Defence Chief Gen Rawat, wife and 11 others killed in IAF chopper crash

NEW DELHI, Dec 8: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others who were onboard a military chopper which crashed near Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on December 8, have "died in the unfortunate accident", the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed in a statement.

"With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident," the IAF tweeted.

Rawat had boarded the Mi17 V5 helicopter as he was scheduled to visit the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers today, the IAF said.

Around noon, the chopper met with a tragic accident, the air force said. Those on board the helicopter included four crew members and nine passengers including Rawat, his wife and security officials.

The lone survivor in the accident is Group Captain Varun Singh, who is currently undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington, the IAF noted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in mourning the death of Rawat. "I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said.

"As India’s first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service," Modi tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind also issued a statement to condole the demise. "I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to his family," he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while marking his anguish over the fatal chopper crash, said, "General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for jointness of our armed forces."

The mortal remains of General Rawat and his wife, along with other armed forces personnel killed in the chopper crash, shall be brought to Delhi on Thursday and cremation would take place on Friday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the death of Rawat marks a "sad day" for the nation. "He was one of the bravest soldiers, who has served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions and commitment cannot be put into words. I am deeply pained," he said.

"I also express my deepest condolences on the sad demise of Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other Armed Forces personnel. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this tragic loss. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh," Shah further tweeted.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also described Rawat's demise as a "huge loss to the nation".

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi extended his condolences to the bereaved family. "I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife. This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives. India stands united in this grief," he tweeted.

Rawat, 63, had served the country's defence sector for more than four decades. He had joined the army in 1978 as a second lieutenant. During his military career Rawat commanded the forces in the crucial area of Jammu & Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) bordering China.

He was credited with reducing insurgency in the northeastern and supervised a cross-border counter-insurgency operation into neighbouring Myanmar. In 2017, Rawat was elevated as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff, and following his retirement, he was appointed as the first-ever Chief of Defence Staff to oversee the three services. The charge was assumed by him on December 31, 2019.

Mi-17V5 among the most technically advanced helicopters

NEW DELHI, Dec 8: An Mi-17V5 chopper of the Indian Air Force (IAF), carrying 14 persons on board including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his family members, crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on December 8.

The IAF, in a statement, said an inquiry has been ordered into the helicopter crash. While more details were yet to be officially shared, reports said at least five bodies were found at the crash site and four were rushed to the hospital with severe burn injuries.

Here's all you need to know about the Mi-17V5 chopper which crashed close to Coonoor:

The chopper is manufactured by the Kazan Helicopter Plant, part of the Moscow-based Russian Helicopters company.

India entered into an agreement with Rosoboroexport in 2008, the sole state intermediary agency for Russian defence supplies, to procure the Mi-17V5 choppers. The deal, as per defence analysts, was aimed at replacing the aging fleet of Soviet-era Mi-8s.

The initial contract signed with Rosoboronexport was for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V5 to India, which was completed between 2011 and 2013.

In 2012-2013, three additional supplies had been signed to supply a total of 71 Mi-17V5 for the needs of the IAF, Home Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.

By 2018, the delivery of all 151 choppers had been completed by Kazan Helicopter Plant.

The Mi-17V5 supplied to India were among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type. Each Indian Mi-17V5 has a complex navigation and electronic display KNEI-8.

In this complex display, the numerous indicators of various information systems of the helicopter were replaced with four multi-function displays, the presence of which unloads dashboards and greatly facilitates the work of the crew, as per a statement issued by Rostec State Corporation, the parent firm of Rosoboronexport, in 2018.

It also significantly simplifies pre-flight check of the helicopter with information from all sensors of conjugate systems on a single monitor screen, the statement added.

In addition, the provided helicopters were equipped with modern powerful engines, which significantly extends the capabilities for the transport of heavy and bulky loads, especially in the Indian highlands and mountains, the statement noted.

Days ahead of Putin’s visit, deal to jointly manufacture rifles in India gets DAC nod

NEW DELHI, Nov 23: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has finally cleared a long-pending proposal for a deal to manufacture six lakh AK-203 assault rifles for the Indian Army jointly with Russia, sources confirmed. The deal had been stuck over several points for nearly two years, including negotiations over technology transfer.

The DAC also cleared a proposal to acquire two satellites for the Air Force to help them communicate beyond the line of sight.

To be manufactured by the Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd based in Amethi, the deal is expected to be around Rs 5,000 crore and the final approval comes just weeks ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in the first week of December. The deal is likely to be signed in his presence.

The deal is a part of the Inter-Government Agreement with Russia, under which the first 70,000 rifles will be off-the-shelf, after which the transfer of technology for the guns to be made in India will start.

Russia had earlier demanded royalty over each gun to be manufactured in India, however, the clause was waived by them. There were a few other issues that had been stuck in negotiations, which have largely been sorted out.

The production of the guns will begin next year, and the first indigenously made rifles are likely to be delivered within 32 months once the production starts. The new assault rifles will replace the indigenously manufactured Indian Short Arms System (INSAS) rifles. Over the last two years, the government had to place an order for nearly 1.5 lakh American Sig Sauer rifles to meet the shortfall of guns available with the armed forces.

The joint venture was between Russia’s Kalashnikov and India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). But after OFB ceased to exist earlier this year, creating seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), the venture will now be with Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited.

However, the statement issued by the Defence Ministry regarding the meeting was quiet on the deal. It stated that the DAC chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for one Capital Acquisition proposal of Indian Air Force for its modernisation and operational needs amounting to Rs 2,236 crore for procurement of proposals for GSAT-7C Satellite and Ground Hubs for real-time connectivity of Software Defined Radios (SDRs).

“The project envisages complete design, development and launching of satellites in India,” the statement said. The deal will be for two satellites which along with the ground hubs and SDRs “will enhance the ability of our Armed Forces to communicate beyond Line of Sight (LoS) among one another in all circumstances in a secure mode”.

In Message To China, India Tests Agni-V Missile With 5,000 Km Range

NEW DELHI, Oct 27: India has successfully test-fired the Agni-5, a surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can accurately strike targets up to 5,000 km away, in what is being seen as a strong message to China.

Agni-5, which broadly falls into the category of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM, was launched from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha, at 7:50 pm.

The missile uses a three-stage solid fuelled engine and can strike targets with a very high degree of accuracy.

The successful test of Agni-5 is in line with India's stated policy to have "credible minimum deterrence" that underpins the commitment to "No First Use".

The missile is the bedrock of India's nuclear deterrent along with submarine-based nuclear missiles, which had not yet been tested to anywhere close to this range.

Agni-1 to 5 missiles are designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). At present, apart from the Agni-5, other Agni missiles that India has in its armoury are: Agni-1 with a 700-km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.

In June, India test-fired the nuclear-capable Agni Prime ballistic missile - a more advanced version of the Agni class of missiles - from a location off the Odisha coast.

India, China hold 13th round of talks to ease LAC tensions

NEW DELHI, Oct 10: The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday held talks to resolve problems at frictions points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh where the countries have been locked in a border standoff for over 17 months, officials familiar with the developments said on Sunday.

The 13th round of talks between corps commander-ranked officers from the two armies began at 10.30 am at Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC and got over at 7.00 pm, the officials said. It came more than two months after the last round of talks that led to disengagement of forward deployed troops from Gogra or Patrol Point-17A, which was one of the flashpoints on LAC, in early August.

The focus of the ongoing talks is to cool tensions at Hot Springs and Depsang. Officials earlier said disengagement of rival frontline soldiers deployed at Hot Springs was on the agenda for the 13th round of talks.

The talks come at a time of massive military build-up and infrastructure development by PLA across LAC, with the Indian Army matching the Chinese moves.

In February, the two sides pulled back their troops and weaponry from the Pangong Tso sector. But despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points this year, the two sides still have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each and advanced weaponry in the Ladakh theatre.

Army chief General Naravane on Saturday said if PLA is there to stay in the Ladakh theatre, so is the Indian Army, flagging concern about the continuing Chinese build-up in the theatre.

The latest round of military dialogue follows a face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers along LAC in Arunachal Pradesh’s sensitive Tawang sector last week and another incursion by PLA in Uttarakhand on August 30.

Top Indian and Chinese commanders had agreed to a speedy resolution of outstanding issues on LAC at the 12th round of talks, with the dialogue focusing on disengagement of rival troops from the remaining flashpoints on the contested border.

A joint statement issued after the 12th round described the talks as “a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along LAC in the Western Sector of India-China border areas.”

Chinese Troops Increased in Eastern Ladakh: Army Chief Sounds Alert

LEH, Oct 2: Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said on Saturday said that the Chinese troops have been deployed in “considerable numbers" across all eastern Ladakh and northern front, right up to India’s eastern command. Calling it a “matter of concern", the Army chief added that there has been an increase in the PLA’s deployment.

“Chinese have deployed in considerable numbers all across Eastern Ladakh and Northern front right up to our Eastern command. Definitely, there has been an increase in their deployment in the forward areas which remains a matter of concern for us," he was quoted as saying.

Naravane was in Leh town where world’s largest Khadi national flag was installed on October 2, on the occasion of 152nd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Naravane on Friday visited several forward areas in eastern Ladakh and carried out a comprehensive review of India’s operational preparedness in the backdrop of its prolonged military standoff with China in the mountainous region. He was given a detailed briefing about the overall situation in the region at the headquarters of the 14 Corps, popularly known as the ‘Fire and Fury Corps’, that takes care of guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Ladakh region, officials said.

On the first day of his two-day tour of the region, Gen Naravane visited the strategically sensitive Rezang-La area and visited a war-memorial there to pay homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives in defending the country, they said. The Chief of Army Staff also called on Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Radha Krishna Mathur, and discussed the prevailing security scenario in the Union Territory.

Several reports had recently quoted sources as saying that China has put in place new modular container-based accommodations for its troops in several high-altitude forward areas on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in response to Indian deployment in the region. The shelters were installed in locations near Tashigong, Manza, Hot Springs and Churup among others, in reflection of simmering tensions between the two sides in the region, they said.

The people familiar with the developments cited above said China’s People Liberation Army has been feeling the heat of the Indian response to its “misadventure" in the region last year and that the Chinese military has been forced to go for long deployments and boost infrastructure in the region. They said the Indian response to the Chinese actions last year, particularly after the Galwan Valley clashes, surprised the neighbouring country and that it deployed troops in areas where it never used to earlier.

India hit out at China on Thursday for once again holding it responsible for the eastern Ladakh standoff, asserting that the “provocative" behaviour and “unilateral" attempts by the Chinese military to alter the status quo resulted in a serious disturbance of peace and tranquillity in the region. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said China continues to deploy a large number of troops and armaments in the border areas and it was in response to Chinese actions that the Indian armed forces had to make appropriate counter deployments.

 



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