First indigenously built nuclear submarine launched; indigenous MBT Arjun and T-90 Bhishma tanks inducted; IAF gets eye in the sky
YEAR-END REVIEW – 2009
Ministry of Defence
The country’s march towards indigenization and strengthening of the Armed Forces through modernization and state-of-the-art weapons acquisitions were the highlights of the Ministry of Defence during the year 2009. The Navy took a giant leap with the launching of the first indigenously built nuclear propelled strategic submarine named ‘Arihant’ in July. The Indian Navy is well on its way to acquire a lethal punch in the years ahead when it gets the first indigenous aircraft carrier. The keel for the carrier was laid in Kochi in February. The Navy also received the first batch of three MiG-29K fighter jets. The Air Force got a big boost when the first of the three AWACS, the IAF’s eye in the sky, joined its fleet in May. The Army’s focus during the year was on indigenization with the induction of locally built MBT Arjun and T-90 Bhishma tanks.
To facilitate the indigenous defence industry and fast track acquisitions by transfer of technology from foreign vendors, the Ministry of Defence issued an updated Defence Procurement Procedure-2009 in October. The year also fulfilled a longstanding aspiration of the Armed Forces personnel when the President inaugurated the Armed Forces Tribunal in August. The other significant events during the year include Rescue and Relief during cyclone Aila that hit West Bengal and humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Sri Lanka and the participation by a 400-member tri-service contingent in the French National Day Parade for the first time.
NUCLEAR POWERED SUBMARINE ‘ARIHANT’ LAUNCHED
India’s first indigenously built nuclear propelled strategic submarine named ‘Arihant’, meaning ‘Destroyer of the Enemies’, was launched on July 26 at the Ship Building Center, Visakhapatnam. India thus joined a select group of nations which have the technological capability to build and operate nuclear propelled submarines. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, while congratulating the Director General of the ATV (Advanced Technology Vehicle) Programme, Vice Admiral (Retd) DSP Verma and all personnel associated with it for achieving this historic milestone in the country’s defence preparedness, noted that they overcame several hurdles and barriers to enable the country to acquire self-reliance in the most advanced areas of defence technology. The Prime Minister made a special mention of the cooperation extended by Russia.
The 6,000 ton ‘Arihant’ is undergoing trials for two years before its commissioning.
KEEL LAYING CEREMONY OF INDIGENOUS AIRCRAFT CARRIER
In February the keel was laid in Kochi for the first indigenous aircraft carrier, making India the fourth nation to join a select club of designers and builders of over 40,000 tonne Aircraft Carriers. The ship that will carry 30 aircraft including Mig-29Klub, LCA Tejas and Kamov Ka-31 helicopters and include a complement of 1,600 crew, is expected to add punch to the Navy’s capability when it joins the fleet in 2014. The carrier is the largest vessel for which construction has been undertaken at any Indian shipyard.
COMMISSIONING OF LANDING SHIP TANK INS AIRAVAT etc.
INS Airavat, the third Landing Ship Tank (Large) of the Shardul class was commissioned in May. As a platform designed for amphibious operations the ship can carry 10 Main Battle Tanks, 11 Combat Trucks and 500 Troops and has a considerable range and endurance at sea. With its weapon package, control systems and habitability conditions significantly enhanced from the earlier Magar class, Airavat delivers considerable punch and amphibious capabilities to the fighting prowess of the Indian Navy.
Four Fast Attack Craft namely INS Cora Divh, Cheriyam, Carnicobar and Chetlat were also commissioned over the year.
The first batch of three MiG-29K aircraft were received on December 04, 2009 at INS Hansa Goa. A total of 16 aircraft have been contracted from MiG RAC. These aircraft will be flown intensively after their acceptance.
CONTRACT FOR NAVY’S PATROL AIRCRAFT
A contract was signed in January with Boeing Industries for eight P-8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft worth $2.137 Billion. Delivery of aircraft is scheduled between 2013-15.
NAVAL ACADEMY AT EZHIMALA
The Naval Academy at Ezhimala, Kerala was commissioned on January 08, 2009. This Academy named INS Zamorin will be the largest officer-training Naval Academy in Asia. The Academy, spread over an area of 2452 acres along the North Malabar coastline, would be conducting a four year 'B Tech' programme in 'Electronics and Communications' and 'Mechanical Engineering' for naval cadets.
1ST BATCH OF WOMEN OBSERVERS JOIN INDIAN NAVY
Two lady officers were inducted as the first women Observers of the Indian Navy. Sub Lieutenant Seema Rani Sharma and Sub Lieutenant Ambica Hooda were awarded ‘Wings’ on November 20, 2009.
In June a meeting chaired by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony decided to set up a high level committee under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary to review the measures taken for coastal security at regular intervals. The other members of the committee will include the Chief of Naval Staff, Secretaries of all concerned Ministries such as Defence, Home, Petroleum and Chief Secretaries of Coastal States.
One significant achievement of the year has been the integration of all maritime stakeholders, including the several State and Central agencies into the coastal security matrix. Intelligence and information sharing has undergone a transformational change. The Indian Navy has established four Joint Operation Centres in all Naval Commands. All coastal security operations are now coordinated from the Joint Operations Centre, which are manned round the clock by Naval and Coast Guard teams. In addition, the state Marine Police and other agencies such as Customs, Intelligence Bureau, Ports etc are also networked with these centers. Besides the four Joint Operation Centers at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair, each coastal district also has its own Operation Center for coordinating activity in their districts. The Coast Guard set up a station at Gandhinagar, Gujarat in December to strengthen maritime and coastal security in the northwestern region.
In a focused drive to enlist the support of fishermen for their role, awareness campaigns targeting coastal and fishing communities were conducted.
Recognizing that the Marine Police and CISF are not fully trained in maritime tasks, the Indian Navy has provided training assistance to all coastal states and CISF personnel. 263 CISF personnel have already undergone training at INS Chilka, the premier training establishment for sailors in the Indian Navy. Local Naval and Coast Guard elements in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Maharashtra have also taken up similar training for the Marine Police. Nearly 1600 marine police personnel have been trained. This effort continues during joint patrols, in which the Navy and Coast Guard participate along with the Marine Police, CISF and Customs.
The Indian Navy maintained one ship on anti-piracy patrol duties in the Gulf of Aden throughout the year. During the year the Indian Naval warships escorted over 700 merchant vessels through the treacherous Gulf of Aden. About 14 piracy attempts were successfully thwarted by the Indian Navy.
From early November an additional ship has been deployed to patrol the maritime areas of Seychelles and Mauritius to counter the increasing cases of piracy in these areas.
FIRST OF IAF AWACS ARRIVES IN INDIA
The first of the three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform arrived in India from Israel in May. Three Mig-29 and Jaguar aircraft escorted the giant IL-76 configured in its new avatar, each that took off from an advanced fighter airbase of South Western Air Command (SWAC). Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SWAC, Air Marshal KD Singh, Air Defence Commander Air Vice Marshal P Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, Air Commodore C Hari Kumar and air warriors of the airbase welcomed the crew of the AWACS aircraft that included the Commanding Officer of the first AWACS squadron, Group Captain B Saju. Their maiden touchdown on Indian soil also marked the first landing of the AWACS in an IAF airbase.
IAF REACTIVATES AIRFIELDS IN LADAKH
On September 18, 2009 an IAF AN-32 aircraft landed at Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in eastern Ladakh. Though helicopters have been landing at this ALG, this was for the first time that a fixed-wing aircraft has landed at the compacted airstrip of Nyoma, located 23 kms from the Line of Actual Control at an altitude of 13,300 feet. It marked the culmination of joint effort by the IAF and Indian Army to enable the IAF to operate in the inhospitable terrain of Leh-Ladakh region in support of the Army.
The landing came 15 months after an AN-32 landed at Daulat-Beg-Oldie (DBO), the highest airfield in the world situated at an altitude of 16,200 feet.
SU-30 INDUCTED IN TEZPUR
The Su-30 aircraft was formally inducted at Air Force Station Tezpur on 15 June 15, following the upgrade of the airbase in the northeast.
PRESIDENT INDUCTS VVIP BOEING BUSINESS JET 747/700 INTO IAF
President Pratibha Patil inducted the new state-of-the-art VVIP jet into the IAF on April 1, 2009. The President later undertook a flight to Assam aboard the new Boeing 747/700, christened as ‘Rajdoot’. The sparkling white 60-passenger-capacity aircraft, designed on the lines of the US President’s Air Force One and equipped with a wide range of security cover and latest communication devices, replaces the Boeing 737.
PRESIDENT FLIES SU-30, BOARDS AIRCRAFT CARRIER VIRAAT
The President of India, Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil became the first woman President anywhere across the world to fly a fighter jet. She undertook the historic half-hour sortie on the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft at the Lohegaon airbase, Pune on November 25. Next month the President boarded the INS Viraat, India’s only aircraft carrier, and witnessed the operation of Sea Harrier Vertical Take-Off and Landing fighter jets from its decks. The 50-year-old 28,000 tonnes aircraft carrier rejoined the Indian Navy in August after a year-long refit at the Cochin Shipyard.
MMRCA FLIGHT TRIALS BEGIN
The Indian Air Force began flight evaluation tests for the procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) in August. US' Boeing and Lockheed Martin, French d'Assault, Swedish SAAB, European consortium EADS and Russian MiG are vying for the deal worth around Rs. 48,000 crore ($10.2 billion). The IAF hopes to complete the tests by April, 2010.
IAF EFFORTS IN ECLIPSE STUDY
The Indian Air Force successfully undertook sorties to help Indian scientists study the total solar eclipse that took place on July 23. Two separate missions from Agra and Gwalior were flown along the path of the moon’s shadow, a mission that was deemed hugely successful by scientists associated with the experiment. While one AN-32 transport aircraft carrying scientific equipment, cameras and scientists that took off from Agra landed back after a three-hour flight, a Mirage-2000 trainer from Gwalior took spectacular images of the celestial spectacle from 40,000 feet. With weather being clear at the altitudes and coordinates planned by the IAF pilots, both AN-32 and Mirage-2000 pilots were able to accomplish the mission successfully.
ARMY RAISES FIRST ARMOURED REGIMENT OF MBT ARJUN
History of sorts was made on May 25 when the Indian Army proudly equipped itself with the first Armoured Regiment of the indigenously built Main Battle Tank, Arjun. The development marked the fruition of 35 years of research in self-reliance by dedicated Indian scientists against all odds. 16 tanks (cumulative 45 Arjun tanks) were handed over to Lt.Gen.D.Bhardwaj, DGMF, towards formation of the 1st Arjun regiment at a function in Avadi, Tamil Nadu. MBT Arjun is the state-of-art main battle tank designed and developed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi along with other DRDO and industrial partners. MBT Arjun is provided with excellent mobility, superior firepower and protection and its features are comparable to contemporary tanks operated by cavalries around the world.
INDIGENOUSLY BUILT T-90 ‘BHISHMA’ TANKS ROLL OUT
India rolled out its first batch of the indigenous, Russian-designed T-90 tanks in August, which will be the country’s main battle tank over the next three decades. The successor to the T-72 tanks, the T-90 - renamed Bhishma after the Mahabharat stalwart - is the one of the most advanced tanks in the world. It has night-fighting capability and can fire guided missiles from its turret. It is also designed to ensure protection of crew from radioactivity in the event of a nuclear attack. The Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi in Tamil Nadu will make 100 T-90 tanks annually over the next 10 years. The tank will be the spearhead of India's armoured corps and the mainstay of its offensive operations.
ARMY’S EFFORTS TO RESTORE NORMALCY IN J&K
The terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir have drastically come down and infiltration has been largely checked, thanks to the strict vigil on the Line of Control maintained by the Indian Army. In view of the improved situation in the state, the Army withdrew two Divisions comprising closed to 30,000 troops.
THIRD SUCCESSFUL TEST OF BALLISTIC MISSILE INTERCEPTOR
India inched closer towards its endeavour to put in place its own home-grown Ballistic Missile Defence System by successfully carrying out the third Interceptor test on March 06, 2009 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island in Orissa. The two-stage Interceptor Missile fitted with advanced systems hit the target enemy missile at 75 kms altitude. This third consecutive interception of Ballistic Missiles once again demonstrated the robustness of the Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.
DEFENCE PROCUREMENT PROCEDURE 2009 RELEASED
An updated and revised Defence Procurement Procedure-2009 was released in October 29, and it came into effect in November. It promotes indigenous defence industry, ensure transparency and accountability in all procurement cases and liberalizes Offset provisions to enable vendors to fulfil their obligations. The amended DDP-2009 introduced a new category named ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ which enables indigenous private and public industry to enter into joint ventures with foreign suppliers by Transfer of Technology and not by Research and Development.
ARMED FORCES TRIBUNAL INAUGURATED
The long-awaited Armed Forces tribunal was inaugurated by the President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on August 07, 2009. Set up by an Act of parliament in December, 2007, the Armed Forces Tribunal has its Principal Bench in New Delhi and eight regional benches spread across the country. It has been followed with the setting up of the Tribunal’s regional benches in Chandigarh, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kolkata and Chennai. The Tribunal will have 15 courts in all, - three each in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Lucknow and one each in Jaipur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai and Kochi.
Aggrieved armed forces personnel will now be able to appeal against sentences handed down by the court-martial. The Tribunal has the powers to grant bail to any person in military custody. The Armed Forces Tribunal provides a judicial forum for the redressal of grievances of about a 1.3 million strong armed forces personnel and another 1.2 million Ex-Servicemen.
RESCUE & RELIEF DURING ‘AILA’ CYCLONE etc.
Acting upon the request of the West Bengal government, the Ministry of Defence dispatched medical teams of the Armed Forces personnel to the devastating cyclone ‘Aila’ affected areas of North and South 24 Parganas districts of the state in June. Many columns of the Army and several divers from the Indian Navy were also engaged in providing relief and rescue. These teams provided medical aid to several thousand people in the Aila affected areas. 5,000 kgs of relief stores were also distributed in the flood affected areas, which include clothing, food items and tentage. Divers from Indian Navy and Army personnel rescued 450 marooned persons and evacuated them to safer areas. Armed Forces also pressed into service Gemini boats in cyclone affected areas to distribute relief materials. IAF also pressed the Mi-17 helicopters into service to provide aid to the affected people.
When parts of Andhra Pradesh and northern Karnataka were badly affected by floods in the first week of October, the Army, Navy and IAF carried out extensive operations, rescuing over 3,600 people. More than 4.5 tonnes of rations were distributed by the Army to the marooned people in the two flood affected states. The Air Force deployed 32 aircraft and helicopters, carrying out 340 sorties.. The Navy also deployed two Chetak helicopters and diving teams for flood rescue operations.
In February the IAF also launched Operation Humsafar to supply food and medicines to the snowbound remote areas of Doda district.
AID TO WAR-RAVAGED SRI LANKA
On the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, medical teams from Armed Forces were sent to war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka. Indian Air Force IL-76 transport aircraft airlifted several tones of medical aid to Colombo in March.
The Indian Army conducted the joint exercise ‘YUDH ABHYAS-09’ with the US Army at Babina near Jhansi in October, towards coordinated peacekeeping and disaster relief operation. A Mechanised Infantry Battalion of Indian Army and 2nd Squadron of 14 CAV of 254 Stryker Brigade Combat Team comprising 325 US troops participated in this exercise. The Indian and Maldivian troops conducted ‘EKUVERIN-09’ exercise in Belgaum.
Exercise COPE INDIA 2009 was held in October at Agra between IAF and US Air Force. Six IAF Jaguars participated in a joint Air Exercise with the Royal Air Force of Oman at Thumrait, Oman the same month. Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet Task Force comprising four warships carried out joint exercise ‘SIMBEX 09’ in March with the Singapore Navy. The Fleet also exercised with the US and Japanese Navies under the aegis of the MALABAR exercise. Additionally enroute, the fleet conducted exercises with the navies of Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia. On the other hand, a Western Fleet Task Force comprising four ships were deployed to Europe from May, 2009. The fleet ships touched over 15 ports and in addition to having dedicated joint operations with the Royal Navy and the French Navy under the codenames ‘Konkan’ and ‘Varuna’ the ships also conducted exercises enroute with 12 different navies viz. the Algerian Navy, Portugese Navy, German Navy, Turkish Navy, Israeli Navy, Russian Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy, Spanish Navy, Moroccon Navy, Hellenic Navy, Egyptian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman.
Indian Naval warships and aircraft also conducted joint surveillance of the extensive Exclusive Economic Zone in the waters of Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles. Our ships conducted coordinated patrols with the navies of Thailand and Indonesia.
SEPARATE PAY COMMISSION FOR ARMED FORCES ANNOUNCED, PAY HIKE PROPOSALS IMPROVED
In a New Year bonanza for the Armed Forces on January 1, 2009, the Prime Minister’s Office informed the Defence Ministry that the Armed Forces personnel would henceforth have a separate Pay Commission, which is delinked from the civilian pay panel. On April 21 the Government notified Pay Band-4A with a Grade Pay of Rs 8000 for Lieutenant Colonels and equivalents in Navy and Air Force, which benefitted about 15,000 officers. Later the Government approved higher wages under the Sixth Pay Commission for Lieutenant Generals and equivalent officers, putting them at par with the Director Generals of Police, a key demand of the Armed Forces. About 33 per cent of the total number of Lt Generals in the Army, Air Marshals in the IAF and Vice Admirals in the Navy, were granted the Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) Plus scales.
AERO INDIA 2009
The 7th Edition of Aero India, Asia’s premier Air Show, was held in Bengaluru from February 11 to 15, 2009. In size and number, this was the biggest air show, hosted by India so far. 592 exhibitors from 25 countries participated at the show. A number of aircraft including F-16, F-18, MiG-35D, Eurofighter, IJT, ALH Dhruv, AJT Hawk, C-17, Embraer 135 Business Jet Legacy 600, C-130J Hercules, Citation XLS,G 550, AN-12 Cargo and A-310 MRTT were on display. Defence Ministers of France, Peru, Bolivia, Surinam, Mongolia, Oman and Maldives came for the show. Besides high level delegations from 40 countries also attended the Show.
SAINIK SAMACHAR CENTENARY
The Armed Forces Journal ‘Sainik Samachar’ celebrated its Centenary on January 2, 2009. Sainik Samachar had started as Fauji Akhbar, an Urdu weekly on January 2, 1909, with an aim to provide Army personnel with ‘a summary of news with a military bias’. It was re-christened as Sainik Samachar on April 04, 1954. The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony released a Coffee Table Book ‘Soldiering On...’ on the occasion.
INDIAN ARMED FORCES CONTINGENT PARTICIPATES IN FRENCH NATIONAL DAY PARADE
A 400-strong contingent of the Indian Armed Forces comprising marching columns and a combined military band from the Army, Air Force and Navy participated in the French National Day parade on July 14, 2009 in Paris. This was the first time an Indian military contingent was accorded the honour. The contingent was commanded by Air Commodore RK Mathur.
ANTONY TAKES OVER AS DEFENCE MINISTER FOR THE SECOND TIME
Following the resounding win of the United Progressive Alliance in the April-May General Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, Shri AK Antony took over as the Defence Minister for the second time on May 25, 2009. Shri Antony has been at the helm of the Defence Ministry since October 25, 2006.
Shri Pradeep Kumar took over as the Defence Secretary on July 31 following the superannuation of Shri Vijay Singh. Shri Kumar was already working as Secretary (Defence Production) in the Ministry of Defence. Earlier on May 31, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik took charge as the 19th Chief of Air Staff from Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and later the Navy got Admiral Nirmal Verma as its new chief, following the superannuation of Admiral Sureesh Chopra.
Eminent missile scientist Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat took over as the new head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Shri M Natarajan on September 1, 2009. Dr. Saraswat spearheaded the development of country’s strategic and tactical missile systems including the ‘Agni’ series of strategic missiles covering a range up to 3,000 kms.