Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Glory! Warriors maintain our Su-30s at Idaho, Red Flag looms!



Photo 1:
An Indian air force SU-30 MKI fighter jet takes off from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, July 25 to train with Mountain Home AFB Airmen before participating in Exercise Red Flag at Nellis AFB, Nevada, which begins August 9.

Photo 2: Indian air force Cpl. David Mewa, IAF maintainer, performs after flight inspections of the Indian air force SU-30 MKI fighter jet after the jet landed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, July 25

Photo 3: An Indian Air Force maintainer hooks a fuel hose to an IAF SU-30 MKI fighter jet at Mountain Home AFB

All Photos Courtesy US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Stephany Miller

Sunday, July 27, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: DRDO's statement calling for government intervention to save MBT Arjun

With the MBT Arjun programme in its death throes as it were, a very rattled DRDO is trying to put up a brave face, not least because the current DRDO chief Manthiram Natarajan is considered the father and patron saint of the programme. DRDO has prepared a brief statement on the programme that it plans to make available shortly to anyone at the Ministry or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence who cares to listen. LiveFist has procured a copy of DRDO's statement. I will be doing a half-hour special report on Arjun this week on Headlines Today (will post the accurate timing here when I'm back in Delhi :)) Oh, here's DRDO's statement in full:

The project on development of MBT Arjun was initially sanctioned in May 1974 at a cost of Rs.15.50 crore with a PDC (probable date of completion) of 10 years. Time and cost have undergone revision on 3 occasions (in 1980, 1987 and 2000). The reasons for revision in cost and time are; major changes in qualitative requirements, developmental delays for new systems/technologies, delay in import of sub-system due to import embargoes, increase in number of prototypes, difficulties in organising for field evaluation etc. The final cost at the time of closure of the project in Mar 1995 was Rs.305.60 Crores. The development of tanks of similar capabilities in a foreign country will cost 10 times the development cost what we have incurred in India.

Some of the state-of-the-art technologies incorporated in the ‘Arjun’ are modern integrated fire control system with Fire Control Computer and MRS, Hydro-pneumatic suspension, Kanchan Armour, highly lethal and accurate FSAPDS (fin-stabilised armour piercing discarding sabot) ammunition and NBC protection.

The major imported systems in the tank are the powerpack and gun control system from Germany and Delft-SAGEM gunner’s main sight from OIP Belgium. The percentage of import content is 60% in the first lot of 124 tanks to be productionised, which will be reduced to under 45% with the manufacture of first 200 tanks and under 30% with the manufacture of about 500 tanks.

‘Arjun’ is a proven tank as far as DRDO is concerned. The tank has been cleared after taking approval of the Army. The DRDO and Army have drawn a Joint Action Plan and as per which the improvements have been incorporated in the production tanks.

The major deficiencies noted by the users during the trials were ammunition and low life of Hydro pneumatic suspension, road wheels, dust extractor & radiator fan blades. These have been systematically attended to and the performance of the tank during the Summer Trials confirmed to the laid down GSQR.

T-90S and MBT Arjun tanks are of different class. Both the tanks have their own special features. In MBT Arjun, we have more power to weight ratio, hydro-pneumatic suspension for better ride comfort and a stable platform to fire on the move, better quality class of Gun Control System and Fire Control System etc. Missile firing capability of Arjun was demonstrated. T-90S tank has missile firing capability and lower silhouette. Tanks of both the class are required by the Indian Army.

The present cost of MBT Arjun is Rs.16.80 crore and the cost of T-90 is around Rs.12.00 crore. The cost of Arjun compares favourably with contemporary Western MBTs of its class, costing in the range of Rs 17 to 24 crore.

Army has cleared MBT Arjun for production and has placed an indent on 30 March 2000 for manufacture of 124 Arjun tanks, by 2009 for 2 Regiments. Bulk production of MBT Arjun has commenced. First batch of five Arjun production tanks manufactured at Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF), Avadi were handed over by RM to COAS at HVF on 07 Aug 2004. Till date a total of 64 tanks have already been developed at the Defence PSU and 14 have been delivered for evaluation. The remaining 60 would be delivered by 2009 after due JRI. Now, it is time to think of next set of orders from Army on MBT-Arjun.

MBT Arjun is strategically a very competent armoured vehicle. It has an excellent weight to power ratio, good mobility and very accurate firepower, which confirm to the QRs as laid down by the Army. It compares excellently with all the heavy class of tanks available across the world. It can be effectively deployed in most of the border areas of our country.

Teething problems during the process of productionisation are inevitable. The process of TOT for the MBT will mature and stabilize only after 200 to 300 tanks have been actually produced by the production agency. Hence, we need to have patronage from the government and Army in terms of more orders for our indigenous MBT-Arjun. If the army does not place further orders for Arjun we cannot even amortize the infrastructural investments made by the government for its productionisation, thereby resulting in wasteful expenditure. The Army should place orders for additional 300 tanks before we can break even.

DRDO is working on the development of the futuristic Mark II MBT with suitable technological upgrades, which can be introduced later after completion of production of atleast 500 tanks of the present version. DRDO has tacit knowledge in this area of Combat Vehicle Engineering and possesses full competence in developing futuristic combat vehicles. Any battle tank has a service life of 30 years and goes through technology up gradation progressively. Since MBT-Arjun is an indigenous tank it is all the more easier to bring upgrades and in our opinion the MBT-Arjun will be a viable platform for the futuristic use as well.

Five phases of accelerated user cum reliability trials (AVCRT) of MBT Arjun have been completed. Two tanks have covered more than 5000 km and fired 500 EFC each both in winter, and summer of 2008 at Pokhran and MFFR ranges Rajasthan. Initial teething troubles in transmission and firing have been overcome in the last two phases successfully and the performance and reliability of the tanks are very satisfactory.

The comparative trials of MBT-Arjun and T-90 can be pursued but should not be linked with placement of further orders for MBT. Govt should intervene at this stage and ensure that our indigenous efforts in this direction are appropriately rewarded. MBT Arjun today remains a contemporary battle tank and by far superior to T-54, T-55, and T-72 tanks that the Army has been using over the years.

Read Ajai Shukla's post on the T-90 scandal here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Away!

Am in Bangalore covering the aftermath of the Bangalore blasts. Back to blogging Monday. (That's me at the Madiwala bus shelter where the only fatality of Friday's blasts happened.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Army chief to visit Bangladesh

Press Release from the Army: The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Deepak Kapoor will be proceeding on a reciprocal goodwill visit to Bangladesh from 28-31 Jul 08 on the personal invitation of COAS, Bangladesh Army. The visit assumes special significance in the light of improving military cooperation between the two countries in consonance with our growing relationship with Bangladesh.

There have been limited high level visits between the two countries in the past. The last visit to Bangladesh by Indian Army Chief was in the year 2000. The recent visit of Bangladesh Army Chief to India in Feb 08 and our war veteran delegation to Bangladesh in Mar 08 have indicated a desire to add further impetus to work towards building a mutually beneficial Defence Cooperation.

Bangladesh and India share a very special and important relationship. The friendship between the two countries is based on common ideals and principles, arising from a significant legacy of historical linkages. Both the countries have been working together in various economic and trade developments to benefit from each other.

Military-to-Military Cooperation between Bangladesh and Indian Armed Forces encompasses exchange of high and medium level visits, availing of training courses in each other's training institutions, witnessing of designated exercises by military observers from both sides and sports activities. During the visit, the COAS will be interacting with Bangladesh President and Armed Forces hierarchy. In addition, he will be visiting their important training establishments and field formations.

The COAS's visit will further cement our defence relationship with Bangladesh and add impetus to our defence cooperation by enhancing interaction in the fields of training, exchanges and joint-man-ship.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Glory! IAF Su-30s train at Idaho USAF Base!

Just found these marvellous photos of our Sukhoi air warriors taken at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, USA on July 17 ahead of their participation in the Red Flag exercise at Nellis air force base in Nevada which begins August 9. They'll be here till August 7 on the "warm up" phase. To quote from the US Air Force captions to these photos, "This is the first time in history the Indian air force has been on American soil to train with US fighters. They will be taking advantage of Mountain Home's vast air space and multiple ranges to better prepare their aircrews for future flying missions." The last photo is of Group Captain Ajay Rathore, the exercise coordinator and pilot who flew President Kalam in June 2006. Now I can't wait to get photos from Nellis itself!

Just incidentally, here's a piece posted two days ago on the USAF Mountain Home site about the base where the IAF Sukhois are currently warming up. Useful reading:

7/22/2008 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho:
The Mountain Home Range Complex is an ideal location for Air Force pilots to train for the missions they may encounter while in combat.

The 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base operates, maintains and develops the MHRC which is comprised of 7,400 square miles of associated airspace and 122,000 acres of land space used for two air-to-ground training ranges, five no-drop target complexes and 30 multi-size electronic combat sites.

The MHRC supports unit-level and composite force training providing aircrews a realistic training environment to hone their combat skills.

Due to the size and capabilities of our range space, mission activities such as search and rescue training, survival training, convoy escort training and ground based air defense radar threat simulation are possible on our range. While primarily used by active duty units from Mountain Home AFB and Air National Guard units from Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Boise, Idaho, the MHRC also supports other Air Force and Department of Defense users across the nation.

The primary air-to-ground training ranges are Saylor Creek Range, located 12 miles east of Bruneau, Idaho, and Juniper Butte Range, located 37 miles southeast of Bruneau, Idaho.

Saylor Creek Range was established in 1954 and Juniper Butte Range was established in 1998. The training range's impact areas consist of approximately 24,000 acres of exclusive use area land. The ranges provide aircrews a realistic layout of simulated targets similar to those they might encounter during actual combat, such as an airfield, an industrial complex and radar, missile, gun and artillery sites.

Although only inert training ordnance is dropped on the ranges, these munitions still pose a potential hazard to personnel and public access is not authorized on the ranges at anytime. The impact areas of the air-to-ground ranges are fenced off and warning signs are posted approximately every 600 feet. There are approximately 97,000 acres of Air Force owned, joint-use land around Saylor Creek Range where public access is permitted.

Since Saylor Creek Range has been in operation for more than 50 years, there exists a small potential to find ordnance off the impact area. While today's aircraft are highly accurate, aircraft flown 30 to 50 years ago weren't as accurate and, periodically, training ordnance was dropped off the impact area. Normally that ordnance was immediately picked up, but there still exists a small potential to find surface or subsurface ordnance. If you are in a public area near the range and find any objects that look like unexploded ordnance, do not move or disturb the object. Note the location, including directions, any landmarks, or other features that would aid in locating the object. Leave the hazard area and immediately report the object to the 366th FW Public Affairs Office at 828-6800 or the 366th FW Command Post at 828-5800. The command post can also be contacted for any other questions regarding the MHRC.

Photos Courtesy US Air Force

All that's left, is leftovers

I'm no fan of the UPA government, and nor do I once discount the notion that Dr Manmohan Singh has been a weak prime minister. But today, I am filled with hope that the Left parties have been shown their rightful place in the Indian political system. Nowhere.

But it's not just that. In the last few days, the Left has also systematically and inexplicably squandered whatever little doubt people may have had about the possibility that the Communists were a scrupulous and ideologically conscientious bunch. The Left parties, especially the CPIM, have showed themselves up for the first time to be regular politicians like everyone else. All notions of them being obstinately ideological are now permanently gone. Abandoned like dogs by the Samajwadi Party, comrade Karat canoodled with Mayawati, in an instant subverting the CPIM's draconian fear of melding minority politics into its organisational fold. That old fool Bardhan went so far as to call Mayawati the country's next Prime Minister. The Left even found it fit to collude with the BJP! Of all things, this was surely the end of any doubts anyone had about the Left's so-called moral rectitude and integrity.

The expulsion of Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee yesterday was the last straw. The lead editorial in today's Express put it perfectly: "Until they [the Left] learn that institutions are valuable in and of themselves, and not as way-stations; that we do not live in a world in which dissenters can be airbrushed out of photographs; and that decisions made in bitterness and anger will usually be blunders, they will never occupy the social democratic space at the centre which they so clearly feel is theirs by right."

The era of the Left is hopefully now over. Hopefully a campaign will be mounted to clean the vestiges of their poisonous influence from the innards of our polity, our economy and the thought process of our security system. Hopefully now, a whole host of defence deals and agreements left in the lurch as a result of surly and presumptuous letters by Sitaram Yechury, can now reach their logical conclusion. That, and the rest of the country.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nag ready for final trials

Next week, Nag, the indigenously developed third generation anti-tank guided missile (3GATGM) will begin terminal trials at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan. Spread across three days, the Nag will be fired at ceiling range against upto seven armoured targets (both moving and static), including with the top-attack capability. These are planned to be the final trials of the missile's development phase. A round of confirmatory trials and user trials with the Army will be carried out either next month of early September.

The Hindu quoted Nag programme director SS Mishra in January as saying, "The third-generation missile is a truly fire-and-forget system. Unlike the first-generation system, in which the operator has to track and guide manually, Nag is entirely autonomous from launch-to-impact to ensure zero-miss distance."

Photo ©Shiv Aroor/LiveFist

Monday, July 21, 2008

Price war over Akash missile? (Updated)

This is something I've heard from three separate senior folks in the Indian Air Force, but haven't been able to get an official confirmation yet on it. Word has it that the IAF has conveyed its displeasure to the Defence Ministry and DRDO (creators of the Akash) over the price quoted by the five-firm consortium led by Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) that will build Akash missiles for its first order. The IAF's initial order for a squadron of Akash systems is understood to be worth around Rs 1,975 crore.

The other companies that will carry out the contract are L&T, Tata Power, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Walchandnagar Industries Ltd.

UPDATE: Just spoke to folks dealing with the Akash induction programme in the air force, and have got an unofficial stand on what the issue is. The IAF has signed on the dotted line for a squadron of Akash missiles, but it has represented to the MoD formally that in its present form, the Akash does not meet certain qualitative requirements set down (manoeuverability), nor have some capabilities been satisfactorily demonstrated by DRDO, including the engagement of low-level targets. It has therefore asked that the unit price of the missile system be brought down by a specified percentage to make up for the shortfall in desired capability.

However, DRDO has represented to the Ministry that the IAF's current order -- preferably for two squadrons of Akash -- go through without a hitch, so that IAF-specified refinements can be brought into follow-on orders of the system. The run-in has apparently turned quite nasty. I don't know why, but I have a bad feeling about all of this. Why does the IAF have absolutely no problems forking out unreasonably large wads of cash for Russian and Israeli systems? And why do treacherous mid-stream price hikes by the damn Israelis and Russians not raise a cheep from our armed forces? This is bad news, and shouldn't be a trend. Indigenous programmes being finished off just when they're complete is becoming a trend.

For all Akash features on LiveFist, click here. For LiveFist's exclusive photo-feature on the successful Akash missile tests of December 2007, click on the following:

EXCLUSIVE: Akash final trial photos
More Akash photos
Even more Akash photos
And, a final batch of Akash photos

MBT Arjun's death knell

The Army's Directorate General of Mechanized Forces (DGMF) has pretty much institutionalized the death of Main Battle Tank Arjun. In a widely publicised two-day "international seminar" on future main battle tanks and future infantry combat vehicles that begins tomorrow and organised the Confederation of Indian Industry, the future armoured vision of the Army will be carved out, and neatly exclude Project Arjun. By now, as has been reported quite widely, the Army has officially decided not to purchase any more Arjun tanks from the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, after the delivery of the 124 already indented for. This is not someone's opinion. It's now on paper. 124 Arjuns and no more. The blow to the programme will be a mere sidelight at the glitzy Hotel Oberoi do that ends the day after.

I spent two days at the Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) and Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi last September, and call tell you that this news -- that 124 will be the final figure -- will have fallen terribly hard on both agencies. For them, the future of the programme was predicated, as CVRDE director S Sundaresh told me, on a minimum order of 500 tanks.

The Army's press release says, "[At the same time they] need to crystal-gaze into the future and absorb technologies to remain relevant in the time-span of 2020-2050. This Seminar will provide the required impetus in that direction."

It further adds, "The Seminar is being organized with the aim of providing an overview to the environment of the aspirations of the Mechanised Forces and to gauge the capability of the Industry to meet these aspirations. In addition, the Seminar would also provide an insight into the emerging cutting edge technologies available in the world today and assess the scope of adapting them in the Indian context."

The press release continues: The Seminar will see a cross section of experts in the field of designing and development of armoured fighting vehicles from across the Globe including US, UK, France, Germany, Israel and Ukraine, speaking on the subject. It is imperative to nurture the domestic R&D and promote the Public Private Partnership if we are to create a powerful domestic Industrial Base for the future. In today’s global context, no one Nation can independently develop weapon platforms, and therefore, embarking on the consortia/JV route is a viable option. Our DRDO, academician and the industry will have an opportunity to network and exchange their views especially on absorbing technologies and reducing time-lines from conception to productionisation of these complex Fighting Vehicles.

Apart from the usual retinue of speakers (Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor and DGMF Lt Gen Dalip Bharadwaj), the seminar will give the dias to notorious Arjun-baiter and former DGMF Lt Gen KDS "Dolly" Shekhawat and Brig General Yaraon Livnat of Israel's Merkava MBT programme.

Photo ©Copyright The Hindu

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Filler: Random photos I've taken!

Gonna be real busy with political reporting over the next couple of days, so won't be able to blog. So enjoy these photos I've taken from the LiveFist archives! They're random, have no particular logic for being put up here now and are non-newsy, so there it is! From top: 1. An Il-76 at Yelahanka -- this bird ferried us journalists back from Aero India 2005. 2. For some reason, one of my favourite photos. 3. I took this photo of the Communication Squadron Boeing-737 VVIP jet after it landed with us at Car Nicobar a few months after the tsunami. 4. Mirages from 1 and 7 Squadron at Kalaikunda in 2006 for Cope India (you can see USAF F-16s further down).

All photos by Shiv Aroor/Copyright LiveFist

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Glory: The babies our Sukhois will fly with at Red Flag!

"A flight of aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges on June 5, 2008." These are some of the birds that eight IAF Su-30MKIs will be flying with and against between August 11-28 in the Red Flag exercise. The Su-30MKIs will perform the Air-to-Ground functions of the exercise along with French Air Force Rafales and American and South Korean F-15K Strike Eagles.

Photo Courtesy US Air Force/ Master Sgt Kevin J Gruenwald

Su-35 Super Flanker offered to India

I was in Zhukovsky, Russia in August last year for the MAKS 07 air show where the Su-35 air superiority fighter was unveiled to the public for the first time. The Hindu reports that Rosobornexport has formally put on offer the Su-35 to the Indian government, as a possible alternative to the MMRCA! I know my friend Hindu defence correspondent Sandeep Dikshit doesn't weave castles in the air, so this one's probably's Rosoboron's audacious little pipe dream. Though I wouldn't put it past the IAF to now want all its Flankers standardised "in a phased manner" to the Su-35 standard!

Photos Copyright Shiv Aroor/Zhukovsky 2007

Friday, July 18, 2008

Air Chief: BAE Systems has admitted to its mistakes

In an exclusive interview to Headlines Today, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal FH Major has admitted that "mistakes" were made in the Hawk advanced jet trainer procurement that have led to serviceability problems.

"BAE has admitted that they had made a mistake here, here and here. They were gracious, and now we are back on track," Major said. He also clarified that the "rusted" spares that had been widely reported in newspapers following the Hawk crash, was the erroneous noting of a team that had observed some discoloration of some pipe components, and had nothing to do with rust.

"The accident that happened had nothing to do with these problems. The court of inquiry report is yet to be completed and brought to our notice," the Chief said.

In an interesting revelation, the Chief spoke out for the first time about the air force's MAFI programme. The Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure programme proposes to upgrade and comprehensively network, initially, 38 airfields (both in use and inactive) and bring them up to levels where they can handle all manner of aviation. Following this, all other airfields will be standardised to a prescribed standard, the parameters of which will be defined in the first phase of MAFI.

The Chief also spoke about the LCA engine problem and how it doesn't meet IAF requirements and new revelations about fresh parameters set for urban warfare, and presented to the government for consideration

I will be posting a full interview transcript here shortly.

Air Chief's interview

My interview with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major airs this evening at 6PM on Headlines Today.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photos: The IAF Sarang helicopter aerobatics team at Farnborough 2008

Kaveri for LCA a dud, Kaveri for warships on track!

Just received this press-release from DRDO: Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore of DRDO had been indigenously developing Kaveri engine for propelling the Indian Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas). As a spin off during development, a marine version has been evolved to develop shaft power for propelling Indian Naval ships.

Using the core of the Kaveri engine, the scientists of GTRE have added Low Pressure Compressor & Turbine as a gas generator and designed a Free Power Turbine to generate shaft Power for the maritime application. The Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine (KMGT) as it has been named has been transported to Naval Dock Yard, Vishakapatnam and installed on to the Marine Gas Turbine test bed which is an Indian Navy Facility capable of testing the Gas Turbines upto 25 MW of shaft power through a reduction gearbox and a water brake dynamometer.

The involvement of Indian Navy in the development of the engine including their participation during testing has given a tremendous push to the success achieved so far. During the recent visit of the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh to Naval Dock Yard, Vishakapatnam, Shri T. Mohana Rao, Director, GTRE has demonstrated the engine to the VVIP along with the Senior Naval Officers. The engine has been further tested to its potential of 12 MW at ISA SL 35°C condition which is the requirement of Indian Navy for propelling the SNF (Rajput) class of ships. This peak power was demonstrated to various dignitaries including the Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri Shri M. Natarajan, Vice Admiral B.S.Randhawa, Dr D Banerjee, CC (R&D) and others.

India will become self-reliant in this critical technology of gas turbines for ship propulsion with the support of the Indian Navy as a very active and participating user throughout the development. This will put India in the elite club of marine gas turbine designers amongst USA, Russia, UK and Ukraine.

More Glory: Sukhois over Portugal

These photographs were taken on July 13 by Portuguese photographers Leandro Rocha (1 and 3) and Fabio Rocha (2) just before the Indian Air Force contingent to the Red Flag air exercise in the US landed at Lajes Terceira airport in Portugal. The contingent includes eight Sukhoi-30MKIs, an Il-76 and two Il-78M mid-air refuellers. The IAF is expected to release more photos in the coming days, so you can expect more glorious photos of our warriors in the air right here.

Chief of Air Staff: "We have now set down parameters and assets for the application of air power in an urban setting"

My interview with Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major airs tomorrow (Friday) at 7pm on Headlines Today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hi-rez Glory! Indian Sukhois over Sicily!

Here you go, people. The last post had pretty low-rez photos. Here's the cure! Enjoy.

Glory! Indian Sukhois over Sicily!

Will someone get a load of these beauties! Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30MKIs en route to the Red Flag air exercise in the US. These photos show 1. Two Sukhois refuelling from an Il-78M tanker over Mt Etna, Sicily; 2. Four IAF Su-30s over the Mediterranean; 3. An IAF Su-30 at a foreign base en-route, and 4. The IAF Il-78 tanker at the same foreign base en-route. Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal PV Naik, currently on a visit to Congo, will represent the IAF at the Red Flag multinational air exercise that commences early next month.

New Phalcon squadron, etc

The three Phalcon AWACS aircraft that begin deliveries from Israel in two months, will be a part of a newly raised unit, 50 Sqn, at Agra. A name for the unit is currently being decided upon. This and a whole lot more was revealed to Headlines Today in an interview today with Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Major. The full interview, which includes a whole lot more, will be broadcast on Thursday (July 17) primetime on Headlines Today. Will post the time here tomorrow morning.

NOTE
I'm sad to announce that I've decided to activate the comment moderation option on LiveFist as a result of some personal attacks in what is supposed to be a free and professional space. The person responsible for the comments -- of course conveniently disguised as Anonymous, has been identified. I have no problems with attacks against me, or my blog, or what goes into it; what I cannot are personal and vulgar attacks against my friends, associates and others who have nothing to do with this blog or its contents, or indeed, defence at all. Rest assured all other comments, will pass through to the comments section.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Photos: Army memorial ceremony for Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Talk about delayed reaction. A full two weeks after he passed away, and a lot of criticism to boot, the government today finally gave India's best loved soldier a memorial send-off worthy of his stature. Obviously embarrassed about the ridiculously low-profile attendance at the Wellington funeral, the three service chiefs, defence minister and top brass of the Army were out in full force to pay homage. A sober and well-organised ceremony. Those who spoke included the Defence Minister AK Antony (who called Manekshaw "the greatest soldier India has ever produced"), Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor, Lt Gen Depinder Singh (formerly Military Asst to Manekshaw), Lt Gen JK Sinha, Western Commander Lt Gen Tej Sapru and a couple of senior Gorkha officers.