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.
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