Saturday, 30 April 2011

DRDO on Course to Integrate Barak-8 on the First Vessel in 2012

DRDO will be test firing Barak 8 missile this year.

“Testing will be conducted in India and is part of the responsibilities of our strategic partner in this program, India’s Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO)” IAI(Israel Aerospace Industries) officials informed us. The missile is on schedule to complete development and be integrated on board the first combat vessels by 2012.

After being inducted into service, the system will continue development and phased improvement, toward its full operational capability phase. Barak 8 is designed to be fielded on both Israel and Indian Navy vessels.

In 2006 Israel and India embarked on a strategic cooperation in developing a new naval air defense system that will address the specific, common requirements of both Israel and Indian navies. The system, known as Barak-8 introduces a revolutionary concept of ‘network-centric air defense’, incorporating the best technologies India and Israel could offer.

Such technologies include superior missile interceptors, the latest technology phased array radars, state-of-the-art command, control and communications, integrated with missionized land-based and airborne command and control, coupled with unmanned aerial sensors.

Three years ago the program expanded this concept, adding another dimension to the Indo-Israeli cooperation, embarking on the Medium-Range Surface-to-Air missile (MRSAM) system, protecting strategic targets on land. Both programs are progressing well as IAI’s partners in India are actively involved and taking part in every phase of the development.

IAI has kept the missile specs under wrap but somethings that I have been able to glean from their publication is given below
Barak 8 is a multi-tasking missile it intends to provide a solution for all kind of threats which include choppers, UAV's, fighters and missiles. Barak 8 batteries have integrated very advanced radars thus giving them the nickname of smart interceptors. Each battery has its own mobile command and control van. The Radar itself works on 360 degree angle thus providing a shield in all directions.

The fun part of this system is its inbuilt intelligence. As mentioned above it believes in network centric defense thus the Command and Control of each battery can communicate with other batteries, other air defense radar's thus accumulating as much information as it can to decide how best to react to the threat. So if One battery has detected the threat then it will not be surprising that some other battery responds based on the optimized result scenario calculated by the system.It should be noted that the advanced, digital, phased-array radar was specifically developed by IAI Elta Systems, Ltd.Building on the network centric approach the missile once launched is fed continuously data about the target and it decides itself as the best way to intercept the target.

The unique missile propulsion system allows the missile to maintain energy, even after it has been airborne for an extended time, and reserve sufficient energy for the end-game or the target’s final engagement and hit. It must be remembered that the enemy missile is also trying to maneuver and evade the Barak-8.

As we all know a single battery or individual batteries cannot take on 10-20 missiles fired simultaneously at you but due to this network centric approach of the system it creates a web of batteries thus making it possible to engage multiple targets by dividing the work among these batteries in the web. Let us imagine a scenario of a big wave fighter aircrafts moving towards you and one of your mobile radars in this system detects them, on its own it will be impossible for the battery to stop these planes but the data is immediately fed to all the other systems. the communication is through secured data link. Once this is done the system allocates different targets to different batteries in the network within the range

Similarly, land-based versions of the Barak-8 system can be easily and quickly deployed across tens of kilometers between the individually deployed batteries, and provide 360° coverage over the widest possible protected area against cruise missiles, airborne munitions launched from planes or ships, and other threats.

It’s in its final stages of development, to be completed in 2011-2012.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Naxals Training To Counter IAF

The People’s Liberation Guerilla Army of the Maoists is training its cadres to counter aerial attacks in the event of air strikes by the Indian Air Force. Sources said that the Maoists are also planning to carry out strikes on airports. The Special Intelligence Branch of the anti-Naxal agency of AP police had recently seized key documents and sketches with details of how Maoists will defend air attacks and capture airports.

Though the defence ministry didn’t agree to conduct air strikes on Naxal bastions, the Maoists are preparing their cadres for a counter offensive, anticipating aerial strikes. The syllabus for military training of Maoist cadres is being revamped. A manual, titled Guerrilla Air Defence written by the central military commissioner and senior Maoist Tipparthi Tirupati, alias ‘Devji’ of AP, has been introduced into the Maoist syllabus. This syllabus includes instructions on how to kill air force commandos while they climb down during air drops from choppers.Sources in the state police headquarters say that the Maoists are a step ahead in combat strategies.

“At present, choppers are used to drop the troops near jungles where there is specific information about Maoist movements. Greyhound forces are often airlifted and dropped at the Andhra-Orissa border. The Maoists now are being trained in how to attack the forces while they are dropping. This is extremely dangerous, particularly when we shift injured personnel using choppers. There were earlier instances when the Maoists used LMGs to fire at and kill co-pilots. They have huge man-made rocket launchers to attack choppers,” said a senior police official.

The Maoists’ aerial syllabus included concealment from helicopter movements, dispersion techniques, aiming at aircraft using LMGs, small weapons, making fir walls against choppers, using anti- aircraft mounts, reference point fire. It also describes how choppers and aircraft work. The key document seized by the SIB is one in which Maoists say, “We have to increase recruitment into PLGA on a large scale. We have to give training to PLGA, militia and others on a wide scale by preparing a higher-level training syllabus to face air attacks of the Indian Air Force.”

Operation Sachet Simulated Homeland Naval Exercise

Dispersal of enemy resources through pinching movement marked one of the few military tactics drilled here in a simulated homeland security exercise, by the Kodiakkarai Naval detachment here in Kodiakarai in Vedaranyam on Wednesday. The exercise, as part of ‘Operation Sachet', the three-day coastal security exercise under way under the Eastern Naval Command for the entire Eastern coast and its units, sought to simulate challenges to homeland security through a ‘terror attack' along with the security reinforcement on the high seas.

A mock drill for combating a rear-end terror strike on a building was staged by the Kodiakkarai Naval detachment here in a bid to simulate a land-oriented strike.

The combat exercise involved dispersal of an attacking team in a pincer movement along extreme flanks with no direct frontal attack in order to engage with the enemy. The pincer attack, a predominant cavalry tactic, envelops the enemy by engaging along the extreme flanks, with the intent to disperse and drain the enemy's resources. Maximum use of natural cover, efficient use of buddy teams and a quick study of the ground realities of the combat were few of the postulates reiterated through the drill.

The exercise involved a simulation of off-shore interception and checking of fishing boats and security in the high seas, including checking for the structural soundness of fishing boats by the Navy.

According to an official, every battle was unique, throwing up its own challenges, and there was no perfect simulation of a combat front. A de-brief from the frontline units on the ‘tangible, achievable and possible' interventions to the existing operations and logistics would be prepared at the conclusion of the exercise on Thursday.

Indian Laser Defense

Indian scientists are on the path to develop an airborne missile-intercept system that employs high-powered lasers to destroy missiles during their boost phase.

The Laser Science & Technology Center (Lastec) at India’s secretive Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has been building up technologies that can intercept missiles early in their flight.

The weapons will also be utilized for crucial exercises by the country’s armed forces that will involve space security, cybersecurity and hypersonic technology. These futuristic technologies will be incorporated in the Ballistic Missile Defense system being pursued by India.

DRDO And Laser Weapons

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a laser-based weapon that will impair vision temporarily to control unruly crowds such as Kashmir’s stone-throwing mobs. The non-lethal military gadget would be supplied to para-military forces in Jammu and Kashmir within three months, a senior DRDO official said.

When turned on, the gadget, called laser dazzler, sends out radiation to immobilise individuals or crowds without causing permanent injury. The green rays can throw a wave of agony nearly 250 metres away.

AK Maini, who heads the DRDO’s Laser Science and Technology Centre, told HT hand-held laser dazzlers with a range of 50 metres would be supplied to paramilitary forces by October for feedback on performance.

He said a vehicle-mounted weapon system for engaging mobs at nearly 250 metres would be ready by the end of next year. What makes the laser effective is that it doesn’t have to be aimed and shot, it moves like a large circle with a spread of almost 20 metres. It will allow security forces to disperse crowds without inflicting life-threatening injury. Maini said the system was different from Western gadgets that employed millimetre wave technology to repel crowds by targeting different parts of the body.

He explained, “It’s not a stun gun. The laser dazzler targets only the eyes. It could be the perfect solution to de-escalate aggression such as the kind caused by Kashmir’s stone-throwing mobs.”

The DRDO is also working on a laser-based ordnance disposal system to detonate explosives from a safe standoff distance. Also in the pipeline are vehicle and airborne laser systems to engage hostile targets such as aircraft and missiles. These technologies may take up to two years to mature. (From hindustantimes)

Move aside Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, India's DRDO is trying to develop its own set of Star Wars-like weapons. From laser dazzlers to control rioting crowds to high-powered lasers to destroy incoming missiles, DRDO is working on a slew of directed energy weapons (DEWs).

"Lasers are weapons of the future. We can, for instance, use laser beams to shoot down an enemy missile in its boost or terminal phase,'' said DRDO's Laser Science & Technology Centre (LASTEC) director Anil Kumar Maini, talking to TOI on Monday.

Incidentally, DRDO chief V K Saraswat himself has identified DEWs, along with space security, cyber-security and hypersonic vehicles, as focus areas in the years ahead. "LASTEC has the mandate to develop DEWs for armed forces,'' said DRDO's chief controller (electronics & computer sciences) R Sreehari Rao.

While conventional weapons use kinetic or chemical energy of missiles or other projectiles to destroy targets, DEWs decimate them by bombarding with subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves at the speed of sound. Apart from the speed-of-light delivery, laser DEWs cause minimal collateral damage.

DRDO, of course, often promises much more than it can deliver. But even the defence ministry's recent "technology perspective and capability roadmap'' identifies DEWs and ASAT (anti-satellite) weapons as thrust areas over the next 15 years, as was first reported by TOI.

The aim is to develop laser-based weapons, deployed on airborne as well as seaborne platforms, which can intercept missiles soon after they are launched towards India in the boost phase itself. These will be part of the fledgling ballistic missile defence system being currently developed by DRDO.

The US, incidentally, is already conducting tests of high-powered laser weapons on a modified 747 jumbo jet, the ALTB (airborne laser testbed), which direct lethal amounts of directed energy to destroy ballistic missiles during their boost phase.

It will, of course, take India several years to even conduct such tests. For now, LASTEC is developing "a 25-kilowatt'' laser system to hit a missile during its terminal phase at a distance of 5-7 km. "All you need is to heat the missile skin to 200-300 degree and the warhead inside will detonate,'' said Maini.

LASTEC is also working on a vehicle-mounted "gas dynamic laser-based DEW system'', under project Aditya, which should be ready in three years. "But Aditya is just a technology demonstrator to prove beam control technology. Ultimately, we have to develop solid-state lasers,'' said Maini. (From Times of India)

According to some military experts, the overall level of India's laser weapons is still at the early stage. The laser-based weapon "laser dazzler" emerged in the 1980s, which were used to spot snipers and impair their vision. China also displayed its T-99 tanks with a laser-based system in its 50th anniversary military parade in 1999, which is said to be capable of impairing tank aimers' vision over one thousand meters away and causing possible damage to tanks' aiming system.

Military experts also point out US and former Soviet Union conducted experiments of the laser anti-ballistic missile technology during the Cold-War era.The current laser anti-ballistic technology of US ranks the leading position in the world. Meanwhile, US and Russia have shifted their focus to solid-state directed energy weapons with higher effectiveness, smaller size and lighter weight.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Will the Europeans Beat The Yanks To the Post

With European fighters surging ahead of the American jets in the hotly-contested race to bag the gigantic $10.4 billion project to supply 126 medium multi-role fighter aircraft (MMRCA), India has now virtually shortlisted or "down-selected" two out of the six contenders in the fray.
Eurofighter Typhoon

Sources said Eurofighter Typhoon (backed by UK, Germany, Spain and Italy) and French Rafale are the ones most likely to figure in the shortlist of the jets which have met the technical requirements, even though US has been hard-selling its F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and F-16 'Falcon' jets. The other two are the Swedish Gripen and Russian MiG-35.

Though there was no official word from the defence ministry on Wednesday, sources said the sealed commercial bids of the shortlisted aviation majors will now be opened for the final negotiations to select the eventual winner in this "mother of all defence deals".

Under the project, 18 jets will be bought off-the-shelf, while 108 will be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd after transfer of technology.

IAF, on its part, had submitted its flight evaluation trials and staff evaluation reports to MoD a year ago after evaluating the six fighters on as many as 643 technical attributes during the gruelling field trials.

This will be the first time that India will take into account "life-cycle costs" -- the cost of operating the fighters over a 40-year period, with 6,000 hours of flying -- rather than just pitching for the lowest bidder in a defence contract.

The contract also specifies 50% offsets, under which the selected foreign vendor will be required to plough half of the contract forex value back into India.

IAF is keen to induct the first lot of these 126 fighters by 2014 to retain its combat edge. It is left with just 32 fighter squadrons (each has 12 to 18 jets) at present, down from the "sanctioned" strength of 39.5 squadrons. This when Pakistan is getting new American F-16s and Chinese fighters, while China assiduously builds new airbases in Tibet and south China.

Dharasu Advance Landing Ground Activated

View Dharasu, Uttarakhand in a larger map
Wary of the build up of Chinese military infrastructure along its borders, India has silently activated an advanced landing ground (ALG) for its air force transport planes at Dharasu in Uttarakhand to aid in the swift movement of troops during conflicts.
The ALG, at an altitude of 2,950 feet in the Uttarkashi hills bordering China, was made operational in the second half of 2010 without much fanfare with the landing of an AN-32 medium lift transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This information is contained in the latest issue of 'The Blue Glory', an air headquarters' quarterly news bulletin.
Dharasu was a "professional challenge" for years for the IAF and the "trial landing" of the AN-32 aircraft there was effected by the 12 Squadron of the IAF.
"The ALG is situated in the bowl in hills with restricted approach from both sides. It is at an elevation of 2,950 feet and the usable length of the landing ground is 3,400 feet," the bulletin said.
The landing was achieved under the leadership of Central Air Command senior air staff officer Air Marshal VM Varthaman and 12 Squadron commanding officer, Group Captain SK Indoria, it added.
When Central Air Command spokesperson Group Captain Amit Mahajan was contacted over the phone on Wednesday for further details of the Dharasu ALG opening, he refused to discuss the matter, citing "military" reasons.
When it was pointed out that the information was now in the public domain through the IAF bulletin, Mahajan reacted angrily and said he would not give any more details.
Dharasu's opening for air operations comes two years after India consciously began upgrading and opening ALGs along the 4,057-km-long Sino-Indian line of actual control (LAC).
Apart from military mobilisation, the upgrade of the ALGs would also ensure that the movement of civilians and goods continues when road traffic gets affected during the harsh winter.
Daulat Beg Oldi at the tri-junction of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin, a 38,000 sq km of land in eastern Ladakh occupied by China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, was the first such ALG to be opened.
The ALG, at the northern-most part of Ladakh at an altitude of 16,200 feet and just nine km away from the LAC, was made operational for AN-32s on May 31, 2008.
Just six months later, the IAF opened Fukche ALG, an old airstrip abandoned after the 1962 war, at an altitude of 13,700 feet, only three km from LAC in the southeastern part of Ladakh on Nov 4, 2008, again with an AN-32 landing.
On Sep 18, 2009, the IAF again carried out a first time landing at Nyoma in southeastern Ladakh, 23 km from the LAC. Nyoma was used as an helicopter base by the IAF prior to the AN-32 landing there.
After reactivating the ALGs in the western and central sectors along the Sino-Indian border, the IAF is also working on upgrading the ALGs on the eastern sector such as Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar, as well as several helipads in Arunachal Pradesh.
Apart from controlling 38,000 sq km of Aksai Chin, China also administers another 5,180 sq km of northern Kashmir ceded by Pakistan under a 1963 pact. China also claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh state in northeastern India as its own territory.
In recent years, China has build up several air bases in the Tibet region, closer to its borders with India, apart from strengthening the road infrastructure and rail link to the region, to enable quick mobilisation of its troops.
India has responded to the Chinese military build up by strengthening its border roads and air force infrastructure, apart from deploying its front line fighter jets at bases closer to the borders and raising two new mountain divisions for the northeast.

Government Hand In Purulia Arms Drop Case

In explosive revelations in the Purulia arms drop case, prime accused Kim Davy, Thursday, claimed that the entire operation to smuggle in huge quantities of arms and ammunition was carried out with the implicit approval of the top most echelons of power in India.

Davy, who is known by many aliases, had played an active role in the infamous incident in which a large consignment of arms, including several hundred AK-47 rifles, and ammunition was dropped from a Latvian aircraft on the night of December 17, 1995 in West Bengal's Purulia district.

Before the aircraft could leave Indian airspace it was intercepted by the Indian Air Force and forced to land in Mumbai. However, Davy managed to escape from the airport under mysterious circumstances while the others in the aircraft - five Latvian citizens and Peter Bleach, an ex-Special Air Service operative and British intelligence officer - were arrested and tried in court.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment; all were, however, released subsequently.

The Indian government had been looking for Davy and after it came to light that he was in Denmark, a formal extradition request was forwarded to the Danish authorities.

Speaking to a Indian news channel, Davy said that he has decided to come out with his story now as he fears that he would be extradited to India and treated as a terrorist when the whole operation was planned by powerful people from within India.

He said that India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, knew everything about the operation and had worked in tandem with British agency MI5.

“There was communication between RAW and MI5. RAW knew everything. The cargo, the drop plan, the location,” Davy said.

“Who will fly to India from Pakistan without clearance? It is unthinkable,” he added, while also revealing that he was called to Karachi on December 16, a day prior to the arms drop, and told that he will have to finish the job within 48 hours otherwise the “window” would get closed.

To authenticate his claims, Davy said that the subsequent court case had proved that the military radar meant to keep track of the aircraft’s flight path was switched off that night on orders from RAW.

“What I am saying is just the logical explanation, don’t take my word,” he quipped.

Revealing more explosive information, he said prior and immediately after the arms drop he was in touch with a Member of Parliament, who in turn told him that the PMO was in the loop.

“I was helped out of the Mumbai airport. Then I was brought to Delhi and then over the land border to Nepal in the back seat of a MP’s car. I was taken in a convoy; people with AK-47s were in cars in front and the rear. I was being whisked away by people who had the power to do it.”

On the motive behind the entire operation, Davy said that the arms were meant for self protection. “It was against state sponsored Communist terror and violence perpetrated by CPI (M).”

He said, “I came from an affluent part of the world and on visiting West Bengal was touched by the poverty and appalling conditions. I worked 15 years for the poor people of West Bengal…I saw my own friends being killed…we had to defend ourselves that was the whole background.”

Later adding: “There were political forces in Delhi who wanted to further their political interest. The design was to ensure President’s Rule in West Bengal. So people were armed.”

Davy said that he would come out with more details about the sensational case within a few days.

The other personae dramatis in the case, Peter Bleach, has also come out in support of Davy and claimed that the Indian government was behind the job and the entire purpose of the operation was to destabilise the Communist government in West Bengal.

Whatever may be the truth behind the controversial case, subsequent governments, indeed, have been guarded about the entire sequence of events, and even a RTI query on the issue was turned down.

Reacting to the development, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat sought an explanation from the Centre.

Mystery Of Purulia? Who Switched Off IAF Radar? Who Helped The Accused In His Escape?

 Purulia arms drop still remains a mystery as it was started on Dec 18, 1995. The mysterious consignment of weapons was dropped from an airplane over the Joupur Jhalda area under Purulia District of West Bengal. The weapons came into notice the next morning and till now nothing is known in this regard.

The Purulia arms drop case started with an Antonov AN 26 Latvian Aircraft which carried Peter Bleach, Kim Peter Davy, South African - Daya M. Anand aka Deepak and five member Latvian crew. The plane on Dec 18, 1995 moves away from its approved flight path and drops weapons over Jhalda. Some say that the radar was switched off but the others claim that it was recorded. The plane again regains its flight path and refuels at Calcutta Airport but no action is taken to seize it.

The custom officers caught Bleach and other five officers but the main person Kim Davy successfully ran away jumping away from the wall of the airport. Thus, the Purulia arms drop case still remains a mystery for all !

For Peter Bleach, the scariest moment came when the ancient Russian Antonov cargo aeroplane he had procured took off from Varanasi airport in northern India, laden with arms and ammunition. He fully expected to be dead within minutes.

The date was 17 December 1995. Three months earlier, the freelance Yorkshire-based arms dealer had been approached about providing a Danish customer with a large quantity of arms and ammunition. When he discovered that they were wanted not by a state army but by a terrorist group, he informed the British authorities – who told him to carry on.

He did so, believing that he was playing a role in an anti-terrorist sting operation: he expected that, before the arms could be delivered, the Indian authorities would bring the operation grinding to a halt, and he would be rescued.

Instead, the mission had proceeded without a serious hitch. Now the arms were about to be dropped to the chosen target – whoever that might be.

As the Russian plane lumbered up into the night sky, he was pretty sure his end was close. "When we took off from Varanasi, I really started to worry," he says. "I thought the Indians had decided just to shoot the plane down and have done with it. At any minute I expected there to be a flash and that's the end. I really did think I was off to meet my maker."

Instead, nothing happened. After 20 minutes the plane peeled away from the "motorway in the sky", the major air route that links Varanasi with Calcutta and points east, and headed for the town of Purulia in West Bengal. It dropped through the night sky to what the crew believed was the right altitude, then they opened the rear-hatch and shoved the loaded pallets towards it. As the arms and munitions plummeted down and the parachutes bellied out, Bleach heaved a huge sigh. "It was the biggest relief of my life."

His nightmare, it appeared, was over. But instead, it was about to begin. Within 10 days, he and the crew of the plane were bound by the arms and legs, flown to Calcutta, locked in the city's vile jail, and charged with the most serious offence in the Indian statute book: waging war on the Indian state, which carries the death penalty.

The Purulia arms drop, as the operation became known, was the subject of a two-year trial at the end of which Bleach and the crew, five ethnic Russians from Latvia, were convicted and jailed for life. Years later, all six were freed after pressure from the Russian and British governments.

The case was closed with the mystery of who the arms were intended for still intact: the man at the heart of the operation, a Dane who went by the name of Kim Davy and who had been spirited away before Bleach and the crew were arrested, has been living in Copenhagen all these years. Now the Indian government is fighting to extradite him to India to stand trial. If they succeed – we will find out in the next few weeks – one of the most puzzling mysteries of recent times may finally be solved.

Or not: both "Davy" himself and Peter Bleach fear that the Dane may be killed before he has a chance to speak. Because the operation, news of which broke when the arms landed not on a remote hillside but in and around a village, could not have gone ahead without the consent of very highly placed figures in the Indian government.

Peter Bleach's professional life was a useful preparation for the situation he found himself in the thick of in the skies above Varanasi. He had served in British military intelligence in Belfast during the Troubles, fought for Ian Smith's white supremacists in Rhodesia and worked as a private eye in Britain before moving into the arms trade.

Now 59 and still sleek and erect despite eight years in Calcutta's jail, where he contracted TB and at one point nearly starved, he seems a throwback to an earlier sort of Englishman: James Bond, Raffles, John Le CarrĂ©'s Honourable Schoolboy. Kipling would have known the type. He worked as a private eye for years, but when spying went sour on him after one sleazy divorce case too many, he drifted into the arms trade. He specialised in small-scale orders – a couple of Polish helicopters or 50,000 yards of camouflage material – for governments in the developing world.

So when a German business acquaintance rang him one day and told him about a Danish contact who was looking for a supply of AK-47s, it promised to be nothing out of the ordinary. Bleach flew to Copenhagen to meet him – "You do want to get an eyeball of the people you are doing business with" – and present his quote for the guns.

But he was in for a surprise. Kalashnikovs are used by state armies all over the developing world, and the quote he had prepared covered their delivery to the bonded warehouse in Calcutta. But his customer, who introduced himself as Kim Davy, said he wanted the delivery made not to Calcutta, but to a remote spot near the western border of West Bengal called Purulia. He produced a map of India and put his finger on it.

For Bleach, there could be only one explanation: the arms were required not by a government but by a terrorist group. "I was a bit taken aback," he says. He pointed out that it was illegal, and would therefore cost a lot more. "So he said, 'Can you give us a fresh quote?' and I said, 'It'll take a lot of doing, I'll need some time to do it.'

"We shook hands on that, and I was driven back to the airport and flew home, and phoned the Ministry of Defence as soon as I touched down. And that," he adds with a bitter laugh, "is where it all went wrong."

Informing the authorities of what you are up to is second nature for a British arms dealer, Bleach explains. "In those days there was an organisation called the Defence Export Services Organisation (Deso), which had offices in London's Soho Square, a division of the Ministry of Defence." In a business as sensitive as arms dealing, Deso's supervision "was a good system: you fed everything back to them, they weren't bothered about what you were doing so long as it wasn't exactly illegal, and they got a very good picture of who was buying what and what was going on around the world. So my only objective was to go back to the UK and telephone Deso and ask them what they wanted me to do – simple as that. Guess what? The British Government does occasionally support terrorist groups and things like that.

"I gave them all the information and they said carry on, don't let on that you've told us anything. Play them along until we tell you otherwise.

"They came back to me some time later and said, 'We've had discussions with the Indian government and they want the deal to go ahead, but we don't want you to sell the guns.'" That was because letters of credit would be traceable to Bleach, "and then they would have to let on that it was me who had told them about the deal, and that would compromise my situation." Instead, it was arranged that Bleach would find Davy a different source for the guns, while he himself would arrange to buy the aircraft to deliver them.

"Special Branch told me that the only way for the group behind the arms drop to be identified was for the guns to be delivered, and then [the Indian authorities would] arrest everybody when the delivery happened."

Thus Bleach found himself caught up in an international sting operation, with four tons of weapons as the bait. "As I was going down the spider's leg to get on the plane at Gatwick, right at the door of the aircraft there was a guy in a suit who said, 'How long will you be away, Mr Bleach?' I said, 'Not very long at all.' 'Have a good flight,' he said."

It was December 1995 and Bleach expected to be back within days – in time for a North Yorks Christmas. His plan was to obtain an airworthiness certificate for the decrepit Russian plane sitting on the airfield at Burgas, Bulgaria, stuffed with 77 cases of weapons labelled "Technical Equipment", bid his customer a fond goodbye then come home. But Davy refused to let him go.

"He said, 'You know too much, I want you to come with me. I don't want you out of my sight until this is done and dusted. You won't be out of pocket, I'll give you first-class accommodation, you can fly back by whatever route you like, it will be worth your while, but I don't want you to leave.'"

Again, Bleach felt cornered. But he was confident that the British authorities would be keeping a protective eye on him. "I knew that the Brits knew exactly where I was, they were tracking my route, and if I didn't use my return ticket in a day or so they would be aware of the fact – so I assumed that everything was all right."

After nearly crashing at Isfahan in Iran, they landed at Karachi in Pakistan. The plane was on the Tarmac for days, but nobody at the airport showed any interest in its contents. To Bleach's dismay, an Indian friend of Davy showed up with a consignment of cargo parachutes – Bleach had been comforting himself with the thought that the lack of parachutes would prevent the drop from going ahead. The next stop was to be the holy Hindu city of Varanasi.

"We took off from Karachi," Bleach recalls, "and the crew had no idea that they were carrying arms and ammunition, none whatsoever. But you've got to tell them some time! As soon as we were clear of Karachi airspace, Davy and his Indian friend started breaking open the boxes so they could load the guns on to pallets, revealing rack after rack of gleaming, brand-new, high quality Bulgarian AK47s.

"One of the Latvians was making tea at the time in the little kitchenette – his eyes just got wider and wider and his jaw dropped and he turned round and went to talk to the pilot. The pilot came to look, then Davy went forward to the cockpit. I've no idea what passed between them but somehow, with a combination of threats and extra money, he succeeded in pacifying them."

They landed at Varanasi to refuel and feverishly continued to break open boxes and attach the contents to pallets. Bleach joined in, though expecting at any moment that Indian special forces would storm the plane and arrest them all. To defend himself in case of a firefight, he quietly pocketed one of the Makarov pistols.

Then the plane took off, and Bleach waited for it to be blasted out of the sky.

Crammed into the Antonov's rugged interior with Bleach was the 24-year-old Dane he knew as Kim Davy. Like Bleach, he seems to have stepped from the pages of a novel.

Davy, whose real name is Niels Holck, was short and skinny, and his bony face, high cheekbones and Marty Feldman eyes gave him an anxious, intellectual look, enhanced by oversize spectacles. His voice was mild and educated, k and what had brought him to this spot high above the Ganges flood plain were, if he was to be believed, unimpeachable Scandinavian motives: the urge to help some of the poorest people in the Indian subcontinent to help themselves.

Ananda Nagar, the utopian community far below them in West Bengal, "an ideal community" as it describes itself, "completely self-sufficient and progressing harmoniously in all spheres of life", was in deep trouble: it had been under murderous assault by thugs loyal to the communist government of West Bengal, which resented the community's independence. And that, according to Holck, is why he had decided to help them, by giving them the means to defend themselves. The flight had been financed by a lucrative gold-smuggling business he had been conducting from China.

It was not a matter of showering the commune with a few pea-shooters. The consignment consisted of 77 cases of Kalashnikov rifles, Makarov pistols, sniper rifles, anti-tank grenades, RPG rocket-launchers, anti-personnel mines, night-vision binoculars and 25,000 rounds of rifle ammunition: enough kit to start a small war, far more than a supposedly religious group would require for self-defence.

The drop might never have come to public attention if it had landed on the intended spot. But the pallet-loading took so long that the plane finally left Varanasi long after dark, when the landmarks, three hills close together, were no longer visible. And the pilot misunderstood his instructions, unleashing his load not at 300ft but 300 metres, with the result that the parachutes came swirling down in the middle of a village, to the consternation of the inhabitants.

The plane went on to land in the Thai resort of Phuket. It was only when he turned on the television in his hotel room the next morning that Bleach discovered that their consignment had landed miles off target. It was the lead story on BBC World News. "These villagers in India had found the area around their village carpeted with AK-47s," he remembers. Bleach found himself up to his neck in a major terrorist incident gone wildly awry. "I sat in my Phuket hotel room, thinking, 'What the hell do I do now?'"

Holck proposed sending Bleach and the crew back home directly from Phuket without touching India. But Bleach, who clung to the idea that he was still under the protection of the British authorities, insisted that they complete their flight plan by returning to Europe in their Antonov via India. But Bleach was, in fact, under the protection of nobody, and all but the Dane were arrested at Bombay airport.

For many years it looked as though Davy was the only lucky man in the Purulia saga, having skipped out of Bombay and back to Europe before he could be identified. Today, however, the boot is on the other foot. "I may have had an unpleasant few years," says Bleach, "but these days I can go anywhere I want in the world, with the possible exception of India. But Niels Holck dare not leave Denmark."

Holck was arrested last April when the Danish government reversed its previous stance and agreed to his extradition. A local court has upheld his appeal against the order, but the government is challenging that ruling in an appeal in the high court scheduled for May.

Now aged 49, Holck first became famous in Denmark after committing a series of bank robberies – one of them in the bank where his mother worked – when barely out of his teens. After escaping from a courtroom without his shoes he became known as the "barefoot robber".

Despite this unpromising start, Holck, a vegetarian since the age of 17, paints a glowing picture of himself as a humanitarian, fired by anger at state brutality inflicted on some of the poorest people in India. "In the early 1990s I was involved in a comprehensive development project in Purulia run by Ananda Marga," he tells me by Skype from Copenhagen.

Translated as "Path of Bliss", Ananda Marga, the group behind the Ananda Nagar community, was founded in Bihar in 1955 by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, an Indian Railways accountant and teacher of Tantric yoga. It describes itself as an organisation of sannyasin – monks and nuns – who dedicate their lives to meditation and social service. Like other modern Indian spiritual schools, it has spread across the world, with communities from Utah to Copenhagen. What marks it out from the rest is its readiness to fight back against state power.

"I spent 13 years working as a volunteer with different eco-sustainable projects around the world," says Holck. "I was inspired by Ananda Marga's work in Ananda Nagar, among some of the poorest of the poor in India, where they were building a community with sustainable energy resources, promoting cottage industries with the help of micro-loans and so on. It was a big inspiration for me."

But a bitter feud was under way between the Ananda Nagar community and the communist state government of West Bengal, which sent its thugs to level the hospital, attack the monks and nuns, and destroy the community's agricultural projects. "As a result," says Holck, "in 1990 to 1991, I made contact with an ex-US marine and we created a 30-man squad of guards, patrolling this huge area which contained 40 villages in Jeeps. We trained them in unarmed combat. Then in 1991, four guards and an agricultural specialist they were escorting back from the fields to a village were murdered by the West Bengal police. The attacks continued until an Indian politician requested me to bring in enough weapons to arm the guards and the tribal people in the area. When I raised the question of safety, he said, 'Don't worry about the Indian side of things.' It was thanks to him that our plane was not inspected at Varanasi, and that the radar was turned off on the night of the arms drop."

If Holck is the humanitarian activist he claims to be, he is a highly unconventional one. While apparently a sincere and committed member of Ananda Marga at the time, he admits that he financed his voluntary work by buying gold in China and arranging for it to be smuggled into India, where it fetches a much higher price. He was also involved in smuggling gold, gems and Rolex watches out of South Africa, and gold-smuggling and even gold-mining in southern Sudan.

Justifying himself, Holck says: "We learnt from many NGOs, which spend 90 per cent of their time writing grant applications. We were more concerned about doing a lot." But as a Danish journalist who has devoted years to the case points out, "There is no way of knowing how much of the money he made was going into the charitable work." There is no way of knowing a lot of things about him...

He gives me a clue to the identity of the Indian politician on whose assistance he relied, which enables me to find out whom he was referring to – but a well-placed Indian source pooh-poohed the idea that this figure, a Bihari MP, was of sufficient seniority to guarantee that the arms-drop flight would not be touched. "I get the impression that if anyone could have managed the whole operation, it had to be the central government," he says. "Or at least the Congress party." He adds that it would also mean the involvement of India's domestic and international intelligence agencies and civil aviation authorities. "Could such a small-time politician achieve an operation on such a scale? "I doubt it."

The Ananda Marga community has consistently denied any involvement in the plot, and few people familiar with the case believe Holck's claim that it was the intended destination. So who were the arms really meant for? Some claim that they were intended for Bangladeshi insurgents to attack the Bangladesh army. Another possibility is that they were meant for Maoist militants, to enable them to destabilise West Bengal's communist government in the run-up to the general election of 1996.

Whatever the true destination, Holck is not the central figure in the story, despite his exotic CV. "His was not the main conspiracy in this affair," says Bleach. "Like me, he was a pawn. A lot of people close to the summit of Indian government and intelligence would have to have signed off on the arms-drop plan for it to go ahead." This may explain why India was in no hurry to extradite Holck before – and also why, according to both Holck and Bleach, the enigmatic Dane will be in grave peril if the extradition goes through.

"If Holck is extradited to India, he won't last a week," Bleach says. "They would probably kill him in jail. India's Central Bureau of Investigations have known exactly where he was since not long after his escape, but they have always pretended to the courts that they did not know.

"So why have they suddenly started to try to get him back to India for trial? What has changed? It can only be that there has been a power shift in Delhi, perhaps some old scores are being settled. But all the people involved in this were powerful people, and you can be sure that the last thing they want is the risk of Niels Holck standing up in a Calcutta court and naming the politicians in Delhi who were in it with him. It would just be an unfortunate accident, and the whole case would be closed.

"Personally, I don't want Holck anywhere near India and that kind of risk. In an ideal world, I want him standing before a Danish judge, telling his entire story on oath."

Bleach, who on his return to England got a job helping look after a castle in his native Yorkshire, knows what it feels like to be a pawn – then to be discarded and disowned. "The Special Branch knew everything about the drop at least three months beforehand," he says, with a trace of bitterness. "They knew its flight plan, they knew it had to land at Varanasi. But when I got to court, suddenly nobody had even heard of me. They started off telling the court I was a suspect in one of their investigations. They tried very hard to pretend I hadn't told them all about this in advance. It took me two days of cross-examination to break the guy. He finally admitted that he was sent out by MI5...

"The crew and I were shocked when we discovered that we were to be charged with an offence that carried the death penalty. We didn't know that at the time. It's one thing to say, 'You're on your own mate.' But they lied – and the only reason to lie was to try to get me hanged. And I thought that was carrying things a little bit far."

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Netra UAV to enter into production

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) Netra developed by the Defence Research and Development (DRDO) will soon enter the production stage. Talking to Newsline, Alok Mukherjee, a senior scientist with the Research and Development Establishment (RnDE), a DRDO laboratory, said, “Netra has undergone successful trails and is soon expected to enter the production stage. Army as well as the paramilitary forces have shown keen interest in Netra.”

He, however, refused to comment on the orders or the details of the same. Netra, which has a live video and a thermal imaging equipment, was tested in the naxal-affected areas of Chhatisgarh in view of their utility to fight naxal menace in these areas.
Netra along with various other unmanned vehicles and robots would be on display at the Symposium of Robotics and Unmanned Vehicles at the RnDE campus on April 28 and 29. The two- day event, one of its kinds in the recent times, is expected to demonstrate Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) such as Daksh, which is already in the production stage along with Takshak, a smaller version of Daksh used to detect and diffuse Improvised Explosive Device (IED). “One of the major attractions of the event would be two underwater vehicles, one developed by National Institute of Oceanology (NIO), Goa, and the other by C-DAC, Trivandrum,” said Mukherjee.

The 1.5 kg UAV, called ‘Netra’, is a collaborative development project between ideaForge, a company formed by a group of Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, alumni and one of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Pune-based labs, Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) (R&DE) Pune.

“The UAV is capable of operating in all the conflict theatres, including urban quarters, in a situation similar to that of the 26/11 terror attacks.”, he told reporters here yesterday.

Dr. Mukerjee said the estimated cost of Netra is Rs 20 lakhs, but the price could vary if additional components like thermal camera are added as per the requirements of the security agencies concerned and their use.

IdeaForge, vice-president (Marketing and Operations Unmanned Systems) Amardeep Singh said the UAV has been designed to carry out surveillance in an area of 1.5 KM Line of Sight (LOS) and has an endurance capacity of 30 minutes of battery charge.

Apart from that, Netra is equipped with a resolution CCD camera with a pan/tilt and zoom to facilitate wider surveillance. It can also be fitted with thermal cameras to carry out night operations.

Singh said the operational altitude of the UAV is 200 meters maximum, having a vertical take-off and landing capacity (VTOL) and is equipped with a wireless transmitter.
In addition to that, the in-built fail-safe features allows Netra to return to base on loss of communication or low battery.

Asked if the UAV could function in all-weather condition, Singh said the machine cannot be operated in rainy conditions but research is being carried out to make Netra function even during monsoon

Garuds To Protect IAF Choppers In Anti-Naxal Operation

The Indian Air Force announced the deployment of Garud Special Forces commandos and four choppers for anti-Naval operations in the Maoist bastions in Chhattisgarh. However, they have withdrawn all of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which were operating there until now.

The Garud Commandos have been deployed in order to protect the choppers from eventual Maoists attacks and retaliate whenever there are hostile confrontations. IAF chief P V Naik stated that Four IAF choppers are operating in Raipur, Jagdalpur and Dantewada areas. He confirmed the use of UAVs in these areas in order to track Naxals, but said that all of them have been withdrawn.

He didn’t forget to mention the choppers deployed there, saying that each of them is carrying a Garud Special Force member who mans the gun which is an external part of the chopper. When Naik was asked about the reason of the UAV withdrawal, he said “due to the longtime use, the UAVs have lost the surprise element and they are not the best choice for our goals”.

The IAF chief discussed the Rules of Engagement (RoE) in the Naxal-affected areas, saying that special rules have been given to the IAF for retaliating when there choppers are under attack. The rules are followed in order to reduce to minimum collateral damage, so the only person who can determine the target is the captain of the chopper who must confirm the source of fire and order an offensive attack.

Another question which Naik received was the influence of China and Pakistan over India and if he considers those nations as a threat. The IAF Chief answered respectively, saying that China and Pakistan are not considers as a threat, but more as a challenge and they are currently no concern for him. Naik assured the attending people that the armed forces of India are not weaklings and are perfectly capable of facing any challenge to the country’s security.

Indian Army Fighting To Stop Fresh Infiltration

The Indian Army has been forced to strengthen the security around the border in Jammu and Kashmir due to numerous reports of trespassing attempts by militants.

The high-altitude areas like Sawjian and Doda Shahpur sector have been upgraded. According to army officials, the Indian Army is maintaining a vigil along the entire border, despite the bad weather conditions.

Major Ajay Kumar Pathania said that moving around is very hard due to the heavy terrain combined with the harsh weather conditions. At places the snow is till the waist, but he is sure that the Indian Army has experience in such bad conditions and will easily handle any challenges offered by the nature.

The villages which are along the Line Of Control (LOC) are supporting the Indian Army as much as they can. The head of Sawjian village, Mohammad Zaman stated that the Sawjian sector is the gateway to India and the army is positioned there 24 hours. The villagers are always looking for ways to help the army and co-operate with them as much as possible.
The Jammu and Kashmir regions have been affected by militancy for more than two decades and so far the casualties have reached over 47,000 people.

Indian Army Casualties Since 2009 Is 313 Armymen

According to the Ministry Of Defense the official number of casualties which the Indian Army has suffered since 2009 is 313 across the country.

The Indian Army lost 114 men in 2009, 187 in 2010 and 12 in 2011.

From Rajasthan, eight soldiers were killed in 2009 and 15 more in 2010. Rest of the casualties were reported by Jammu and Kashmir. So far the Navy has lost only one man during operations in 2009, and suffered no casualties during 2010. The Air Force had no casualties in the past two years.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

US charges 4 more Pakistanis in Mumbai attack case

US prosecutors on Monday charged four Pakistanis, including the mysterious "Major Iqbal" of ISI, in connection with the 2008 terrorist carnage in Mumbai, just a day after it emerged that Washington considers Pakistan's spy agency a terrorist outfit.

Also charged in a second superseding indictment filed in the US District Court in Chicago are alleged LeT operative and former Pakistani armyman Sajid Mir, and two other men, Mazhar Iqbal and Abu Qahafa, who allegedly helped train the 26/11 attackers.

The new defendants were charged with aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens and others in India, conspiracy to murder and maim, and providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba. In addition, Mir, Qahafa, and Iqbal also were charged with conspiracy to bomb public places. None of the accused is in American custody and it was not immediately clear how the US justice system will proceed with the case.

Washington has an extradition treaty with Pakistan that pre-dates its creation (inherited from British India and invoked occasionally), but it also has other levers with Islamabad that it has used for extraordinary rendition on other occasions.

The fresh indictment, coming at a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations including the outing of ISI as a terrorist outfit, precedes the scheduled trial later this month of Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana on charges of helping to plan the Mumbai rampage. Prosecutors say Rana, who owned First World Immigration Services in Chicago, helped another Pakistani expat, Daaod Gilani aka David Coleman Headley, open an office in Mumbai as cover so that he could scout sites for the attack.

Headley has pleaded guilty to the charge in a plea bargain to escape death penalty and it is believed he provided the names of Major Iqbal, Sajid Mir and others added in the superseding indictment. A previous indictment in the Rana case also named former Pakistani special services commando Ilyas Kashmiri and a retired Pakistani military man Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed.

Headley told Indian investigators in June 2010 that his trip to Mumbai in 2006 was sponsored by Maj. Iqbal, who handed him $ 25,000 to open an office and set up a house in Mumbai to be used as a front during his scouting trips. Maj. Iqbal then served as the supervisor of Lashkar's planning, helping to arrange a communications system for the attack and overseeing a model of the Taj Mahal Hotel, so that gunmen could find their way around the hotel.

Pakistan has played smoke and mirrors ever since the nexus between ISI and LeT and their role in the Mumbai carnage was exposed by the fortuitous capture of Ajmal Kasab and subsequently confirmed by David Headley. In the ever-shifting narrative, Pakistani officials have sometimes suggested Major Iqbal is a former ISI officer and may have been part of a rogue operation with LeT leading to the Mumbai attacks. But the state has done little to reel in all the players and prosecute them.

The country's jihadi-sympathetic courts, combined with lack of political will, a constant sense of denial and false grievance, and an extremist mindset have all combined to protect the accused from prosecution for the murder of more than 170 people in Mumbai. The intelligence community believes Pakistan deliberately creates "cut outs" of its service personnel so that it can maintain operational deniability.

But with both the US and Indian justice system moving ahead relentlessly to bring the accused to book, the spotlight is squarely on Pakistan to act, particularly since it has now again come close to being named a state-sponsor of terrorism following the red-flagging of ISI.

On Tuesday, Pakistan reacted angrily to its spy agency being dubbed a terrorist outfit saying it was being defamed internationally. "The ISI is a patriotic organisation which has a huge role in combating terrorism. Those who are trying to bring the ISI into disrepute would never succeed in their design," the country's interior minister Rehman Malik was quoted as saying, a day after WikiLeaks cables showed US investigators considered the ISI a terrorist group.

India Likely To Award Trainer Contract In Q3

Alenia Aermacchi M-311
Grob Aircraft G120TP
Korea Aerospace Industries' KT-1
A Pilatus PC-7 'Turbo 
Embraer EMB-312 Super Tucano
India is poised to shortlist a manufacturer to provide much-needed basic trainer aircraft.

The contenders — Grob's G-120 TP, Embraer's EMB-312 Super Tucano, Korea Aerospace Industries' KT-1, Finmeccanica's M-311 and Pilatus' PC-7 — emerged following a request for proposals issued in early 2010. The deal is estimated to cost $1 billion.

"The flight trials [of the competitors] have been completed and we are assessing the evaluation made by the Indian air force," an Indian defense ministry official says. "We expect to award a contract in the third quarter of 2011 and the [deliveries] are expected to commence some time [in] 2012."

India is seeking to procure 75 aircraft off the shelf, with 106 to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) under a joint venture agreement.

The selected manufacturer will be required to deliver an initial batch of 12 aircraft within two years of signing the contract. The project is aimed at replacing HAL's HPT-32 Deepak aircraft, which were grounded following several crashes due to technical glitches.

"We are in urgent need of trainer jets for our pilots," the official says. The air force has been without a basic trainer jet since July 2009.

India's arms build-up has been hampered by a series of delayed or canceled deals. Analysts say that a delay in awarding the contract for basic trainers could deflate profits for both the bidders as well as the prime domestic recipients of offset work.

Under defense ministry procurement procedures, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that win Indian contracts must support the Indian industrial base by purchasing defense goods and services locally, as well as other direct and indirect investments in defense manufacturing and R&D infrastructure. Offset levels begin at 30% of the contract value and may be higher in certain cases.

The addition of Hawk 132 Advanced Jet Trainers and Intermediate Jet Trainers also is part of the air force's flight training modernization. Last July, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce signed an agreement valued at ₤700 million ($1.1 billion) to supply Hawk trainers to India.

The deal for 57 aircraft was signed with HAL at the company's headquarters in Bengaluru during the visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The order is valued at more than ₤500 million for BAE and as much as ₤200 million for Rolls-Royce.

An earlier order for 66 BAE trainers took two decades to negotiate and was hampered by a lack of parts. The deal was finally signed in 2004, and 24 of these airplanes were completed in December 2009. Of the remaining 42 to be built by HAL, 10 have been delivered, and the entire batch is expected to be completed by 2012.

Now the question arises what happened to IJT being developed by DRDO which is supposed to get Operational clearance by the end of 2011. Do we need a basic Jet Trainer in addition to IJT or the Basic Jet Trainer is to replace IJT.
It was reported that as a vote of confidence, the Chief of Air Staff has placed an order for 16 HJT-36s, meant for the national aerobatic team, the Surya Kirans. A second vote came from the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister Dr. V.K. Atre, who said, "We are few more steps to the AJT and a larger LCA, the mid-combat aircraft"
The HJT-36(IJT) allows India to build any of the following:

1] A basic trainer, suitable for basic jet training.
2] A trainer for basic combat use of unguided weapons, air-to-air missiles and sea targets.
3] A combat trainer with under-wing hardpoints capable of launching guided missiles and using guidance equipment pods.
4] A single-seater tactical fighter, with guns, all-weather radar for use of AAMs and ASMs.
5] A Coast Guard SAR aircraft, with a nose-mounted search radar.
6] A sporty private jet for enthusiasts.

North Korea Responsible For Computer Attack

A massive denial of service attack that affected South Korean and U.S. forces’ Internet communications in 2009 originated from North Korea, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, said recently.

North Korea “rented” a botnet from a third party and used it to temporarily shut down Internet traffic in South Korea on July 4, 2009, Pace said a cybersecurity symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 11.

George Kurtz, worldwide chief technology officer at the Internet security firm McAfee, told National Defense April 19 that it would not be surprising if North Korea were the instigator of the attack, although he had not heard any acknowledgment of that fact from official sources. Pace retired from service in 2007. He is now chairman and CEO of SM&A Strategic Advisors. At the time of the attack, he was a member of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of defense on policy matters. He remains a member of the board.

A denial-of-service attack usually involves flooding servers or other Internet nodes with information requests. Those attacking use thousands of computers whose users unknowingly have downloaded viruses that enslaved their operating systems. The goal is to slow down or even halt Internet communications, Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, said in a November interview about the South Korea incident.

In this case, the botnet sent requests to the U.S. government, stock exchange, and other websites. The attack temporarily caused the world to shut down Internet service coming from South Korea.

“Like terrorism, it’s often not the event that counts, but the response it provokes,” Alperovitch said.

In this case, the response of turning off traffic from South Korea was noteworthy. Most of the classified military network communications travel on the same undersea cables to and from South Korea as regular Internet traffic, Alperovitch noted. That would affect communications between U.S. forces, the South Korean government, U.S. Pacific Command and the Defense Department.

“Can you actually degrade a capability because most of the classified networks used the same undersea cables?” Alperovitch asked. “It’s an interesting motivation to explore.”

“It was pretty clear it was a politically motivated attack,” he added. Anti-South Korean and U.S. spam preceded the attack. There was little damage done in the United States, but the affects were more acute in the South Korea, Alperovitch said.

Oddly, on July 10 the operation ended when the botnet operators sent out a command destroying the network of enslaved computers. That would be unheard for a criminal group, who see these botnets as valuable tools, Alperovitch said.

North Korea, cut off from the world and the global economy, is not known as the most “wired” country. But the case shows that the level of entry for a nation wanting to launch such attacks, and possibly degrade the communications of an adversary, is not high.

Kurtz said, as far as renting a botnet, that is not a problem in the underground criminal cyber-economy. “Being able to rent one — cost is not an issue. They are out there and easy to find.”

Monday, 25 April 2011

Sachin Greets Wheelchair-Bound Army Jawans

The video conference between Tendulkar and soldiers from the
Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center in Khadki, Pune
Just two days before his birthday on Sunday, despite being in the middle of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar did not turn down the opportunity to interact with a large group of wheelchair-bound soldiers in Pune.

In fact, Tendulkar had a big match against the Chennai Super Kings, later in the day (which his team Mumbai Indians won). While Tendulkar could not visit the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center in Khadki, Pune, due to his IPL commitments, he interacted with the soldiers via videoconferencing (VC).
The interaction, which will be telecast on TV today, lasted for 25 minutes and around 50 soldiers participated in it. When the VC began, Tendulkar was the first to greet the other party, and fired the first salvo. He asked, "Where do you get the strength to fight for the country from?" One member replied, saying, when they go to the battlefield, they don't think about themselves but the country.

When it was the turn of the soldiers, one of them stated that in India, every child wants to become a Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar smiled and pointed out that every child has a dream, which is either to become a painter, teacher, cricketer or a soldier. "Parents should support their dreams and children in turn should reciprocate and give their best," he added.

From then on, all the questions focussed on Tendulkar's career. One of the soldiers asked why Tendulkar chose cricket, when as a child he was interested in tennis. In response, Tendulkar revealed his fascination for tennis icon John McEnroe and his never-say-die spirit. "I have always been fascinated by McEnroe because he hated losing. Even today, I catch up on some of the old matches he played at Wimbledon. I joined cricket because I received support from my brother and coach. Thankfully, it was not a bad choice," said Tendulkar, drawing smiles from everyone.

By the end of the interaction, Tendulkar promised to visit the centre once he found time from his cricketing commitments. According to Tendulkar, he is not only keen to visit the centre but also share a food and a game of basketball with the soldiers.

Women Air Warriors Embark For Mt. Everest Expedition

Striving to Touch the sky with glory a 20 member Indian Air Force mountaineering team was flagged off by the Air Officer-in-charge-Administration Air Marshal JN Burma today, to scale Mt Everest.

It is the first time in the history of IAF that women in Blue have embarked on an expedition to scale the highest peak on earth. The idea was conceived in early 2009, since then there have been consistent efforts. The team underwent a rigorous training schedule including Basic Mountaineering Course and Winter Training Camps at Siachen in 2010 and 2011. They went on to scale progressively higher and tougher Himalayan peaks in the past two year starting with Mt Stok Kangri (6121M) in Leh, Mt Bhagirathi II (6512M) in Uttarkhand, Mt Kamet (7757M) in Garhwal and Mt Saser Kangri I (7672M) in Landhakh.

The team consists of 11 women officers who will be accompanied by one doctor and eight other male air warriors who are qualified mountaineers. The team will be following the southeast ridge route as was used by Hillary and Tenzing in the first successful expedition to Mt Everest in 1953. The route involves technical challenges such as famous Khumbu icefall which is extremely volatile and keeps shifting, innumerous crevasses and ceracs.

Apart from creating precedence in the field of adventure activities by IAF women officers, this endeavor is also a milestone in women empowerment.

Amongst the other dignitaries to attend the ceremony were Air Mshl N Verma, Air Cmde GK Patnaik, Air Cmde M Singh, Gp Capt R Chandola, Col Sanjeev Soni and Cdr KS Rawat who wished safety and success to the team with a message, Do well, the nation is looking up to you

IAF Wants To Buy Long-Range Missiles

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is scouting the global arms market for stand-off missiles for its modern fighter jets to shore up their capability to shoot down enemy aircraft beyond visual range, an officer said Monday.

The IAF has issued a request for information (RFI) to global manufacturers of stand-off missiles fitted with light warheads that are capable of hitting enemy planes without engaging them in close dogfights, the officer said here.

"Such missiles become very potent when linked with airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) that provide inputs on enemy missiles and aircraft beyond visual range. We do possess AWACS and we can make best use of these missiles," the officer added.

The IAF, in its specifications for the missiles, has sought a high-accuracy, precision strike weapon to avoid collateral damage. With a guidance system for both its midcourse and terminal stages after being launched, the missile will be a day-and-night weapon with all-weather operational capability.

Stand-off missiles, which are fired from beyond visual range, allow the fighter jets to remain out of the offensive range of the enemy aircraft.

A ground-based training simulator along with multi-media training packages, dummy training missiles, captive training missile pods and storage-cum-maintenance infrastructure also form part of the system the IAF is searching for.

The IAF's MiG-29 and Sukhoi SU-30 combat jets already operate Russian-origin R-27 medium-to-long-range missiles and the R-77 medium range missiles. The Defence Research and Development Organisation is also developing an air-to-air missile, Astra, with a 100-km range.

The IAF is looking to procure long-range air-to-air missiles at a time when it is increasing the number of Sukhoi aircraft in its fleet, apart from upgrading the MiG-29s.

All The Three Satellites In Good Health

The three satellites put in orbit on Wednesday by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16) are “absolutely fine,” officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Thursday.

The Resourcesat-2, the Youthsat and the X-Sat were in good health and working satisfactorily, they said.

The Resourcesat-2, an advanced remote-sensing satellite, will replace the Resourcesat-1, which was put in orbit in October 2003. The Resourcesat-2 has been fitted with three sophisticated cameras, and the first images of the earth are expected on April 28. Though the Resourcesat-1's life was five years, it was still sending pictures of the earth.

The images from the Resourcesat-2 will be useful in estimating the acreage of crops and the stress they are under, keeping a surveillance on pests, locating groundwater, identifying schools of fish in the sea, predicting the advance of glaciers, monitoring water bodies and keeping a watch on deforestation or changes in the rural and urban landscape.

They can also be used for estimating the salinity or acidic conditions of the soil owing to the excessive use of fertilizer, and for disaster management, mapping wetlands and categorising wasteland.

The Resourcesat-2 also carries a payload from Canada, which receives signals from ships and provides information about their location and speed. The estimated life of the satellite is five years, and its images will be used by more than 15 countries.

The Youthsat has three payloads — one from Moscow University and two from ISRO. Together, they will help in investigating the relationship between activities in the sun and the thermosphere-ionosphere above the earth. The X-Sat of the Nangyang Technological University of Singapore is an earth-viewing satellite.

The Resourcesat-2 is India's 18th remote-sensing satellite. A series of Indian Remote-sensing Satellites (IRS) have been put in orbit, beginning with IRS-1A in March 1988.

“The imaging systems in the IRS series have demonstrated India's technological leadership at the global level in observing the entire earth,” an ISRO official said.

The nine IRS in service now are the Technology Experiment Satellite, the Resourcesat-2, the Cartosat-1, 2, 2A and 2B, the Indian Mini Satellite-1, the Radar Imaging Satellite-2 and the Oceansat-2.

They make the IRS system the largest civilian remote-sensing satellite constellation in the world.


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Eurofighter 's Ground Attack Capability Non-Existent

Read Parts Of The The Damning Report

The RAF has blown up two apparently abandoned Libyan tanks using a Eurofighter Typhoon jet in a move which appears to have been motivated more by Whitehall infighting than by any attempt to battle the forces of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The following video was released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the events shown took place (this is much faster than normal).

The video appears to show a T-72 tank neatly parked, stationary and unmanned: the target was plainly not in use. The Telegraph reports that the location struck was "an abandoned tank park". Many Libyan armoured vehicles are old and not serviceable due to lack of parts and servicing. RAF sources admitted to the paper that the jets making the strike had had to spend "a long time" searching before they could find a valid target to hit, and that the timing of the strike was "no coincidence".

The video release was accompanied by a briefing to reporters from an RAF air marshal, in which he stated:

"The RAF has never doubted the efficacy of the Typhoon as a potent ground attack aircraft. Last night, it proved we were right."

This hasty effort by the RAF to get Typhoons into ground-attack action took place just ahead of the scheduled release by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee of a damning report on the Eurofighter, titled Management of the Typhoon project. This report had been expected to be highly critical of the Typhoon, and indeed it is. It says:

In 2004, the Department decided to retire the ground attack Jaguar aircraft early and to spend £119 million to install ground attack upgrades on early Typhoons to cover the resulting capability gap. These upgrades were ready for use by 2008. A year later, the Department decided to retire the air defence Tornado F3 aircraft early to save money and therefore re-prioritised Typhoon away from ground attack missions to air defence tasks. It is now not using Typhoon's ground attack capability.
The RAF had already taken massive flak over the Eurofighter regarding an earlier report by the National Audit Office, which revealed that the service has only a handful of Typhoon pilots trained to carry out ground-attack missions. At that point the RAF stated that it planned to have enough airmen trained in ground attack to "conduct a small scale ground attack mission by 2014" and to stand up a proper bomber capability for Typhoon in 2016
It thus becomes fairly plain that in order to carry out this week's small-scale attacks, the RAF must have resorted to measures such as pulling weapons instructors out of training units, disrupting the future personnel pipeline and quite possibly delaying the arrival of a proper, sustainable corps of Typhoon pilots capable of all tasks.

And the service has done all this, seemingly, in order to blow up a couple of abandoned, probably unserviceable 40-year-old tanks (most likely the T-72M "monkey model", as the Russians term the inferior kit they export to despised nominal allies).

Or, more accurately, the RAF has done this in an attempt to wrong-foot the MPs of the Public Accounts Committee.

But in fact it is the RAF which will remain in the wrong on the matter of Eurofighter and its ground attack capability. It remains the case that the airmen have spent nine-figure sums upgrading early Tranche 1 planes to do ground attack, and that these aircraft will shortly be permanently mothballed – that is, thrown away – without in most cases ever once being flown by a pilot who could use those expensive weapon systems.

It remains a fact that the Eurofighter will only be fully capable as a bomber – to the point where it is actually better than the aged 1980s-vintage Tornado alongside which it is flying above Libya – in 2018, once yet more billions have been spent on it. (It would seem that in fact the RAF does doubt its potency, no matter what AVM Osborn may say). And it remains an even more painful fact that just three years later on current plans the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will arrive with its stealth and modern electronic-warfare capability, rendering the Eurofighter totally obsolete as a bomber and quite probably as a fighter too.

So the desperate effort UK has seen this week to get some weapons off some Eurofighters should not obscure the fact that the RAF's conversion of the plane into a bomber has been and will continue to be an unmitigated, idiotic procurement disaster. It should also not obscure the fact that even without the bomber upgrades the Eurofighter was a horrific train-crash of a project: without bomber upgrades it would still have cost us £20.2bn to obtain planned fleet of just 107 jets, putting each one at £189m (with bomber conversion this will climb to £215m).

And people should not allow the RAF's cynical, pointless bombings to make them forget that more and worse is to come on Eurofighter in the matter of the plane's running and support costs. These are officially acknowledged to be no less than £13bn until 2030 – nearly enough to replace Trident! – and it is quite plain that this figure has been unrealistically lowballed. In other words UK taxpayer will either pay more, or – perhaps more likely – get fewer flying hours and thus in effect even fewer jets.

One might note that the Australian government has recently purchased 24 of the latest F-18 Super Hornet jets from the States for about £3.9bn (spread over a decade) in a deal which includes training and support costs. These planes are at least as good as Eurofighters for any realistic task – better, for most jobs.

If UK scrapped its Eurofighter fleet now, it could do a sensible deal like the Aussies – probably RAF will get a better price as the F-18 line is nearing the end of its run and RAF would be buying in bulk. The £13bn would buy and support a fleet of at least 90 Hornets. If RAF also scrapped the Tornado it could get many more. There is a huge worldwide fleet of F-18s, so running costs would be cheap as chips and wouldn't have planes and pilots grounded for lack of spares as UK do with the crappy Eurofighter.

Hornets would not only be better than Eurofighters and Tornados: they would also be able to fly from UK's new carriers as soon as they are built. On current plans the ships will stand empty for years, and then finally put to sea with small, feeble air groups.

Needless to say, the plan of simply buying F-18s would have BAE Systems and its bloated Continental arms-industry chums up in arms – as things stand it is they who will get UK taxpayers billions in sweetheart support deals without any penalties for poor performance.

But nonetheless the RAF itself realistically would much rather have a powerful fleet of F-18s for which it could actually obtain spares and which it could put into the air at a reasonable cost – as opposed to their current embarrassingly rubbish situation.

That is why it's so depressing to see the air marshals turning their (frankly rather transparent) behind-the-scenes machinations not against BAE Systems, but against their political oversight.

Yet another foolish own goal by the Ministry of Defence UK.

Public Accounts Committee - Thirtieth Report Management of the Typhoon Project


Typhoon is a multi-role aircraft capable of both air defence and ground attack. The Ministry of Defence (the Department) entered into a contract for the first 53 aircraft in 1998, and is buying Typhoon in collaboration with Germany, Italy and Spain. The total cost to the United Kingdom of buying the aircraft and supporting them in service over the next 20 years is estimated to be £37 billion.

Typhoon is a highly capable air defence fighter and is now being used to defend United Kingdom and Falkland Islands airspace, as well as being part of recent efforts to impose a no fly zone in Libya. However, Typhoon was commissioned during the Cold War and it took 20 years, and a higher budget, from the start of development to the aircraft being deployed operationally.

The Department originally planned to buy 232 aircraft. However, in light of changed operational requirements and significant funding constraints arising from the pressures of the defence budget, it is now ordering 160 aircraft and will retire the 53 oldest aircraft by 2019, leaving a long-term fleet of 107 aircraft. It is unclear as to whether the acquisition of the third phase in this contract, for the last 16 aircraft, was driven by contractual obligations or by operational need.

The project began in the 1980s and the Department was over-optimistic on costs. In particular, it failed to anticipate significant cost increases and delays from the rigid and complex collaborative arrangements. Overall, it is costing the Department £20.2 billion, £3.5 billion more than it first expected, to buy a third fewer aircraft. This is equivalent to the purchase cost of each aircraft rising by 75%, from £72 million to £126 million.

In 2004, the Department decided to retire the ground attack Jaguar aircraft early and to spend £119 million to install ground attack upgrades on early Typhoons to cover the resulting capability gap. These upgrades were ready for use by 2008. A year later, the Department decided to retire the air defence Tornado F3 aircraft early to save money and therefore re-prioritised Typhoon away from ground attack missions to air defence tasks. It is now not using Typhoon's ground attack capability.

Problems with the availability of spares mean that Typhoons are not flying the hours required and the Department is forced to cannibalise parts from other aircraft to maximise the number of aircraft available on a given day. As a result, it is not fully training all its pilots, and only eight of the 48 Typhoon pilots were capable of undertaking ground attack missions on Typhoon. In addition, the Department had to ground five pilots temporarily in 2010. The problem is likely to be exacerbated as the number of Typhoons in-service increases and they are used in a wider range of operational roles.

Support costs are budgeted at £13.1 billion, but reviews by the Department have suggested costs could be as high as £16.6 billion across the life of the aircraft. The Department has identified potential savings of £3.5 billion to keep support costs within budget, albeit that this budget was meant to cover 232 aircraft not the 160 now being bought. We are concerned that the Department has budgeted for cuts to meet overall expenditure targets and that, over time, the costs will creep up again. To ensure good value from this expenditure, the Department will need to both reduce the cost and increase the timeliness of future collaborative spares and repairs contracts. At present, the contracts do little to incentivise better industry performance and to penalise failure.

The Department has appointed a Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) to be the person accountable for delivering each major procurement project. However the SRO on Typhoon has limited decision making powers and merely co-ordinates activity. That is not good enough.

On the basis of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, we took evidence from witnesses from the Ministry of Defence on the past decisions taken on Typhoon, and on the improvements that the Department can make to the delivery model to get more from industry in terms of reduced costs and better performance in the future.

Conclusions and recommendations

1. Despite buying 30% fewer Typhoons than originally planned, the cost of production and development has risen to £20.2 billion, £3.5 billion more than the Department first expected. This reflects the accumulated effect of over optimism on costs. We have commented on this issue in previous reports. Typhoon will be in-service for another twenty years and, given the Department's assurance that it has learned the lessons, our recommendations in this report focus on how the Department can secure best value on the project going forward. Good decisions are based on good information. If the Department is to make more realistic and achievable investment decisions in future, it needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the balance between costs, number of aircraft kept in service and the operational capability which the aircraft provide.

2. The Department's calculation of unit cost per aircraft does not include all relevant costs. The Department calculates a unit cost of £73 million, based on production costs alone. However, the inclusion of development costs and the cost of capital take the total unit cost to £126 million. In order to provide a full picture of costs and enable comparison across projects, the Department should calculate and report its unit cost on a basis that includes all expenditure, including development and production costs.

3. The Department was not able to demonstrate that it had conducted a thorough cost- benefit analysis to support its original decision to equip Typhoon with ground attack capability, or its subsequent decision not to use it. The Department spent £119 million giving Typhoon a ground attack capability to replace the capability previously provided by the Jaguar aircraft. However, in 2009 the Department decided to retire the air defence Tornado F3 aircraft early to save costs and re-prioritised Typhoon in air defence roles. This has meant that Typhoon's ground attack capability is not being used. This is an all too familiar pattern of decision making, reflecting the overall failure to control defence spending; balancing the books in the short term without taking into account long term value for money. The Department should treat decisions about major changes to the operational use of key equipment most seriously and conduct thorough cost-benefit analyses to ensure value for money is achieved.

4. In settling on the number of aircraft to be ordered, the Department had to make difficult judgements on the balance between affordability and operational risk. The net result will be the number of aircraft being bought falling from the planned 232 to 160 and 53 of these aircraft being taken out of use by 2019; leaving a fleet size of 107. It is also unclear whether the third phase of acquisitions was determined by contractual commitments as opposed to operational imperatives. In future we expect the Department to offer us a clearer explanation as to why it has reached such judgements on individual capabilities and for these judgements to be underpinned by robust cost and operational analyses.

5. Major defence procurement contracts are often lengthy and therefore carry an inherent risk that elements become obsolete before projects are completed and operational. The risk of obsolescence was exacerbated in the case of Typhoon, which was not operational until two decades after the project started. The Department needs to find ways to actively manage this risk to achieve best value for money. It should consider, for example, how to oblige contractors to manage the risk of obsolescence throughout the life of a project, which might include in-built flexibility for aircraft and other equipment to accommodate upgrades.

6. The Department relies on a small group of key industrial suppliers who have the technical and design capability to build, upgrade and support Typhoon. In the absence of competition, the Department needs to demonstrate it is achieving value for money from its single source supply contracts but did not supply specific evidence that it is doing so. We expect the Department to generate robust cost and performance data, potentially drawing on its independent United Kingdom support contracts with BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, to assess the value for money of future contracts.

7. Problems with the availability of spare parts have meant that Typhoons are not flying as many hours as the Department requires. As a result, the RAF only had eight of its 48 Typhoon pilots capable of undertaking ground attack missions. This has also led to five pilots being grounded and the Department regularly taking parts from some aircraft to ensure it has a sufficient number to meet immediate operational needs.

a) The Department must negotiate future contracts so that industry delivers spare parts on time; and

b) A limited amount of 'cannibalisation', for example, from aircraft undergoing maintenance, may be better than incurring the additional cost of purchasing and storing large amounts of spares, but we question whether it can be cost effective to have three planes with a total value of £ 378 million sitting on the ground. The Department should undertake more robust analysis to determine the most cost effective balance between cannibalising aircraft, buying more spares and accepting increased operational risks.

8. The Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) on Typhoon is not involved in key decisions, for example, those related to exports of the aircraft. Good practice suggests there should be one person with full responsibility leading the delivery of key capabilities such as Typhoon. The SRO role as applied by the Department on capabilities like Typhoon does not have appropriate responsibilities and cannot therefore be held to proper account. The Department should consider, as part of the work of the Defence Reform Unit, how to give SRO's the authority they need to manage the delivery of the equipment for which they are accountable.

9. The form of collaboration underpinning the Typhoon project has added cost growth and delay to the project. Decision making within the collaboration is a lengthy process and it can take several years for key upgrades to be agreed and delivered. The arrangements were agreed in the 1980s and driven by political considerations rather than by commercial or military imperatives. Done well, collaboration offers significant potential benefits from sharing costs and developing common capabilities with allies. To enable it to make the most of on-going and potential new collaborative opportunities, the Department should evaluate its portfolio of collaborative projects to establish what has worked well, or failed, and why this has happened.