AGUSTAWESTLAND DEMONSTRATES SW-4 SOLO HELICOPTER TO ITALIAN MOD
headquarters. According to the officers, the Army Headquarters has sought at least 50 per cent hike in the financial powers of its key formations such as the Udhampur headquartered Northern Army Command in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Kolkata headquartered Eastern Army Command, responsible for the security of the North-eastern states, to let them buy weapons and ammunition.
At present, under the financial powers accorded to them in 2006 by the previous UPA Government, the commanders from the North and the East can buy weapons and ammunition worth only up to ` 50 lakh without the approvals of higher-ups. This amount could fetch only bare minimum ammunition for the nearly five lakh troopers cumulatively posted in both Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, according to Army officers. In concurrence with the Integrated Financial Advisers (IFA), a system introduced in 2006, the Army commanders—who are all in the rank of a Central Government secretary—can at present buy ordnance stores up to ` 10 crore. It is this financial power, in concurrence with the IFAs, that the Army wants hiked by at least 50 per cent. That is, instead of ` 10 crore, the Army commanders should be able to buy weapons up to ` 15 crore. This would though only help in offsetting the inflationary factors,” an officer told The Sunday Standard.
“Most of the amount prescribed at present is pittance compared to the cost of weapons and equipment. Even if the hike proposed by the Army Headquarters is accepted by the government, it would only help ward off the inflationary effects on the defence budget,” a Lt General-rank officer said, requesting anonymity. AgustaWestland has successfully demonstrated the ground-station-based remote controlled capabilities of its modified SW-4 Solo rotorcraft unmanned aerial system / optionally piloted helicopter (RUAS/OPH) to the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD). Undertaken in Italy and Poland, the ninemonth flight testing programme validated the helicopter and its potential to offer enhanced capabilities for the Italian armed forces in future. The trials were carried out as part of the research and development contract included in the National Military Research Plan and signed with the MoD’s Directorate for Air Armaments.
During the development phase and flight trials, the helicopter successfully completed the planned missions in OPH configuration with a safety pilot on board. Specific test activities included system monitoring, hands off and remote controlled manoeuvres, as well as hovering and a range of mission profiles. Derived from the proven SW-4 light single-engine helicopter, the SW-4 Solo has been designed for both unmanned and piloted operations, providing users with maximum operational flexibility. Jointly developed by AgustaWestland and PZLSwidnik in Poland, the helicopter can perform a range of missions, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as cargo re-supply in RUAS configuration. The piloted variant can also undertake personnel transport, surveillance and intervention, and can be fitted with a comprehensive mission equipment package, including search and communications / intelligence systems.
SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS AND PERSONNEL IN ARMY
Shortage of officers in Army as on January 1, 2014 is 8,455 (17.77 per cent). In Other Ranks, there is a nominal shortfall of 16,597 (1.44 per cent) as on April 1, 2014. To mitigate any adverse impact on the functioning of the Army, appropriate measures have been undertaken including internal adjustments. Various measures have been taken on an ongoing basis to reduce shortages in the officers’ cadre. Vigorous campaigns have been launched to attract the talented youth to join the armed forces. The service conditions of the officers joining through Short Service Commission (SSC) have been made attractive. The tenure of SSC officers has been increased from 10 to 14 years. The implementation of recommendations of the VI Central Pay Commission with substantial improvement in the pay structure of officers of armed forces has also made the services more attractive. Army has undertaken sustained image projection campaign to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career. Awareness campaigns, participation in career fairs and exhibitions, advertisements in print and electronic media, motivational lectures in schools, colleges are some of the measures in this direction. All the above mentioned measures have resulted in gradual improvement in the last five years with shortage of officers reducing from 26 per cent in 2010 to 17.77 per cent in 2014. This information was given by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in a written reply to Naresh Agrawal in Rajya Sabha today.
FDI IN THE DEFENCE SECTOR
In May 2001, the Defence industry sector, which was hitherto reserved for the public sector, was opened up to 100 per cent for Indian private sector participation with FDI permissible upto 26 per cent, both subject to licensing to enable private sector industry to participate in defence production within the country. However, wherever FDI beyond 26 per cent is likely to result in access to modern and state-of-the-art technology in the country, decisions can be taken to allow higher FDI on a case-to-case basis with the approval of Cabinet Committee on Security. In the Union Budget 2014-15, it has been announced that the composite cap of foreign exchange is being raised to 49 per cent with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route for defence sector. FDI is one of the route through which the domestic industry can strengthen its capabilities required to produce within the country different equipment / weapon systems / platforms required for defence. As per the FDI policy, the FDI in defence sector is through FIPB route and / or with approval of Government. Further, there are adequate provisions in Government’s policy to ensure that the role of DRDO and India’s indigenous defence production programme are not compromised and / or minimized. This information was given by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in a written reply to Sukhendu Sekhar Roy in Rajya Sabha recently.
US ARMY SCIENTISTS DEVELOP NEW BALLISTIC PROTECTION SYSTEM
Scientists from the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) have developed an improved modular ballistic protection system (MBPS-X).
Developed in collaboration with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, the system offers increased armoured protection compared with the existing MBPS. NSRDEC team lead programme engineer Karen Horak said: It’s a rewarding programme to work on because we’re protecting soldiers in places where sometimes they don’t have protection. “The MBPS has been perfected with the MBPS X, which has a lot more protection.
MBPS technology has been leveraged to protect embassies and consulates around the world. The MBPS-X consists of a panel with a strut behind it that can be strapped to other panels, and can be used with any type of shelter to protect personnel and equipment, as panels do not attach to the shelter. The MBPS-X includes all the benefits of the MBPS, which was also developed by NSRDEC and the University of Maine. Comprising mobile, re-deployable, reusable, quickly erectable and lightweight panels, both systems provide protection for personnel and equipment in expeditionary base camps and an array of shelters, and do not require special tools for assembly. MBPS technology has already been used to safeguard embassies and consulates worldwide, and also in the development of the elaborate overhead protection system for the roofs of shelters. The MBPS-X is expected to be deployed in 2016.