Mov­ing ahead...


That In­dia’s Coast Guard is rapidly build­ing up ca­pa­bil­i­ties to pre­vent a re­peat of 26/11 type of sit­u­a­tion was more than ev­i­dent from what tran­spired dur­ing the 31st Coast Guard Com­man­ders’ Con­fer­ence held in Delhi. In­au­gu­rat­ing the three-day con­fer­ence on Au­gust 31, De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony high­lighted the ex­pan­sion and strength­en­ing of the Coast Guard. He re­vealed that the Coast Guard De­vel­op­ment Plan has been ap­proved and ad­e­quate funds have been pro­vided. The ‘ser­vice’ is in­deed on course to dou­ble its as­sets and ca­pac­ity build­ing by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan pe­riod. A new Coast Guard Re­gional Head­quar­ters and five Coast Guard Sta­tions have been es­tab­lished. By the end of the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, an­other six (al­ready sanc­tioned) sta­tions are also likely to be es­tab­lished. The Phase-I of the Coastal Sur­veil­lance Net­work project is near­ing com­ple­tion and the sys­tem will pro­vide ad­di­tional mea­sures to­wards elec­tronic sur­veil­lance.

How­ever Antony as­serted, “We aim to achieve near-gap-free elec­tronic sur­veil­lance along our coasts”, it is hoped that a whole gamut of tech­nol­ogy ab­sorp­tion, train­ing, hu­man re­source man­age­ment, in­ter-ser­vice and in­ter-de­part­men­tal is­sues to pro­vide the nec­es­sary syn­ergy and the all im­por­tant ‘com­mand and con­trol’ is­sues would be suc­cess­fully tack­led to make the coun­try’s maritime bor­ders im­preg­nable to un­de­sired el­e­ments. The In­dian Coast Guard will have to play its role to per­fec­tion so that the na­tion doesn’t face the ig­nominy of 26/11 ever again.

With con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions are in full swing, the In­dian Air Force (IAF) is hope­ful that its multi­bil­lion-dol­lar deal for 126 Rafale fight­ers would soon move to­wards a log­i­cal con­clu­sion. A re­cent state­ment by the IAF Chief Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne that while the is­sues per­tain­ing to off­sets, trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy, HAL’s role and costs were in­deed com­plex, the en­tire process was pro­gress­ing smoothly and he hoped the deal will be signed some­where around the end of the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. It is hoped that the Air Chief’s words will put an end to un­nec­es­sary ru­mour-mon­ger­ing and pro­vide com­fort­ing balm to the ‘frayed-with-anx­i­ety’ nerves of the win­ning OEM’s of­fi­cials.

And, what is hap­pen­ing on the In­dian Army’s front whose mod­erni­sa­tion plans continue to be in a state of slum­ber. Re­cent devel- op­ments in­di­cate that all may not be lost with the Army’s mas­sive $6 bil­lion very short range air de­fence sys­tem (VSHORADS), which looks to con­nect nearly 1,000 launcher sys­tems and over 6,000 mis­siles, hav­ing pro­gressed into a cru­cial phase in­volv­ing qual­ity as­sur­ance tests at Ban­ga­lore and a check-out the elec­tronic sys­tems in Ladakh. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est buzz, the big-ticket bid is cur­rently a three-way fight be­tween the French MBDA Mis­tral, Swe­den’s Saab RBS 70 NG and Rus­sia’s KBM new gen­er­a­tion Igla-S. Field eval­u­a­tion tri­als of all three VSHORADS plat­forms were con­ducted un­der dif­fer­ent con­di­tions in Ra­jasthan (hot-weather), Visakha­p­at­nam (coastal) and Ladakh (high al­ti­tude). So far, all three seemed to have per­formed to spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The com­pe­ti­tion could go ei­ther way and, un­der­stand­ably, the fight is go­ing to be fierce with each team ex­tolling its prod­uct to the hilt.

An ar­ti­cle by Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch on Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Net­work for Sol­diers de­lib­er­ates on some of the lat­est trends and evolv­ing tech­nolo­gies.

As the say­ing goes, “May the best win” but win, it must. Army can­not any longer al­low its projects to keep floun­der­ing on the rocks of uncer­tain­ties and vested in­ter­ests.

Pub­lisher and Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

Jayant Baran­wal

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