Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tejas engine offset offers come in

European aerospace company Eurojet and America's General Electric submitted offset proposals for their bids for light combat aircraft Tejas engines to the ministry of defence on Friday, a day before the deadline expires -- December 12.The Indian government invites offset proposals from bidders of defence and civil aircraft deals.

Little choice for IAF

IN the Medium-range Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) sweepstakes, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is confronted with many choices, all of them bad.

Whatever the IAF’s reasons for wanting a new aircraft, the government means to use the deal to make international political capital, gain leverage in bilateral relations, and cement a strategic partnership. The Air Staff Quality Requirements – insofar as these can be deduced – are opaque.

Is the IAF in the market for an aircraft to carry a heavy weapon load over a long distance in extended regional operations, or for a warplane to augment its existing strength in localised air defence, strike, and similar short-legged, Pakistan-centric, missions? This fuzziness, deliberate or not, will help the government to make the final selection, based less on technological trends or performance parameters than on the basis of which purchase best serves the country’s larger strategic interests. The candidate aircraft are currently undergoing flight tests in diverse Indian conditions – desert, high altitude, and high humidity – to determine their utility. If the aim is to get the maximum political bang for the buck for the $10.4 billion for a fleet of 126 MMRCA and the lucrative opportunity to sell other military hardware in the future and to enhance the supplier country’s political influence and its trade, technology, and military footprint in India, Delhi better secure a lot more than just some flying machines.

Army to use Zanskar ponies to carry supplies in higher reaches

NEW DELHI: If China's People's Liberation Army can use yaks to ferry supplies alonG the border, the Indian Army is planning to brandish a new
weapon of its own: the famous Zanskar ponies. The Army plans to gradually replace mules with Zanskar ponies -- one of the indigenous breeds of equines whose native tract is the Zanskar Valley in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir -- to ferry supplies, arms and ammunition to soldiers manning forward posts in the area.

"We have undertaken `in situ' breeding of Zanskar ponies in Ladakh region. These ponies are better suited than mules for snow-bound high-altitude areas,'' said Army's Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) director-general Lt-General J K Srivastava on Thursday.
"These ponies, with a lifespan of 25 years, can each carry 50-60 kg. We plan to supply Army formations in the region with 300 of these ponies as pack animals,'' he added.

Incidentally, DRDO's Defence Institute of High-Altitude Research lab at Leh has also been conducting research on Zanskar ponies, including conservation, multiplication and upgradation of the local equine germplasm.

RVC is also into horse and dog breeding and training. It already rears and trains guard, sniffer and search-and-rescue dogs for Army, National Security Guards, Central Industrial Security Force and other paramilitary forces.

In its latest endeavour, RVC is now planning to import around 40 dogs of breeds like Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd and Labrador to further improve their gene pools.

"RVC dogs have performed tremendously well in the most difficult and challenging counter-terrorism operations. We will provide the dogs to Delhi Police for the Commonwealth Games next year. The National Disaster Management Authority has also sought search-and-rescue dogs,'' said Lt-Gen Srivastava.



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