DEFENCE NEWS

DRDO LAUNCHES UNMANNED TANK ‘MUNTRA’

India’s first unmanned tank, Muntra, under development at Chennai, was launched was launched on 29 July 2017. The tank was tested and validated at Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan, under dusty desert conditions, where temperatures touched 52 degrees Celsius. The tanks, once operationalised, will facilitate unmanned surveillance missions by the Indian Army. A fact sheet on Muntra is as under:

• Muntra was developed and tested for the Indian Army by Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Avadi.

• Muntra has three variants — Muntra-S for unmanned surveillance, Muntra-M for mine detection and Muntra-N for reconnaissance in areas with nuclear and bio threats.

• It has surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder that can be used to spy a 15 km away ground target.

ARMED FORCES LADIES EXCEL

FLT LT SHIKHA PANDEY

Flt. Lt. Shikha Pandey performed brilliantly in the recently concluded world women’s cricket championship, where the Indian team were runners up. Commissioned in the IAF on June 30, 2012 as an air traffic control officer, she is the first lady officer from the services to represent the Indian women cricket team. Pandey was awarded the Chief of Air Staff Commendation Card by Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, for her sterling performance.

       

CAPT SHALINI SINGH

Shalini was a young mother when her husband, Maj Avinash Singh was Killed in Action (KIA) in September 2001, while fighting terrorists in Kashmir. A spirited and courageous girl, she joined the Army thereafter, and after six months training was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army. When her husband was awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously, it was Lt Shalini Singh who went up to the President of India to receive the award. She left the Army in 2008 as a Captain in the Indian Army, on completion of her terms of service. In early 2017, her son Dhruv, was all of 17 years old. At this time, Shalini participated in the Mrs India Classic Queen Of Substance,2017 contest and was adjudged the winner. Well done, Capt Shalini Singh. We are proud of you and SALUTE your achievement. You truly are an inspiration not just to Indian women, but to all Indians across the globe.

FROM THE RAJYA SABHA

The Minister of State for Defence, Shri Subhash Bhamre, has given the following statements in the Rajya Sabha, in reply to questions asked in the month of July.

•Defence equipment worth Rs 2.38 lakh crore were procured for the armed forces in the last three financial years, including worth Rs 1.52 crore from domestic vendors. Defence equipment worth Rs 48,826 crore were bought from domestic vendors in 2015-16, while in 2015-16 the amount was Rs 49,988 crore, and in 2016- 17 Rs 53,767 crore.

• Government has given ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of some CPSEs including BEML Ltd. Disinvestments through strategic sale are being considered based on recommendations of NITI Aayog after taking into consideration all aspects of the matter. However, after completion of process, specific approval of Government would be sought again.

FGFA
India and Russia are likely to sign a contract for jointly developing the much-delayed Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). An Experts Group, headed by Air Marshal S. Varthaman, (Retd) submitted its report to the MoD on July 7, which states that the FGFA project would be beneficial to India. The Committee had been set up by Mr Manohar Parrikar, when he was the Raksha Mantri. Earlier, MoD bureaucrats had objected to the FGFA project on the grounds that it might duplicate, or hinder, the indigenous Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Speaking on the sidelines of Russia’s premier air show MAKS 2017, Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation said that all decisions over the multi-billion dollar project to jointly develop the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) will be finalised in the near future. He said that Stage one is over and discussions were now underway on Stage II. He however added that the work is very complicated which is why it is taking so much time.

INDIA INVIGORATES ACT EAST POLICY
India-Myanmar ties have strengthened over the past few years. India rolled out the red carpet during the recent eight day visit of Myanmar military chief, Min Aung Hlaingto India, seeking bilateral defence cooperation. India has agreed to provide a variety of arms and equipments for patrolling border areas jointly with Myanmar. Indian warships will make regular calls at Myanmar’s ports. India also ensured military assistance to help Myanmar stand as an independent nation without having to bend to an excessively influential big nation in the neighbourhood. Further exchanges with Myanmar’s government heads and military officers will facilitate expansive cooperation between the two countries. India espoused the policy of Look East which the BJP led NDA government has proactively escalated into the Act East policy. This includes comprehensive cooperation mechanism in politics, economics and security through developing trade relations with the Mekong countries. Myanmar is the only ASEAN member country that has both land and sea borders with India. The two share a land border of 1,643 kilometres. New Delhi has worked incessantly to strengthen relations with ASEAN members in a dynamic, action-oriented way. Myanmar holds the key in India’s new outlook being a crucial buffer state between China and India. Compared to the rest of ASEAN countries Myanmar can boast of a unique advantage in the Indian framework and will benefit from New Delhi-Beijing contention for strategic space in the Indo-China region. Growing India-Myanmar ties will help Nay Pyi Taw minimise its over-reliance on China and can also facilitate diversification of its economic portfolio.


SLNS SAYURALA

The first Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV), SLNS Sayurala, designed and constructed by GSL for Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) embarked on its maiden voyage to Sri Lanka on26July 2017 from MPT/Goa. The delivery of the vessel, 86 days ahead of contractual schedule, added another feather in cap of GSL as Defence Vessel Exporter from the country. The ship, commanded by Captain (ND) A N Amarosa, and the entire crew members, was ceremonially seen off by Rear Admiral SS Ranasinghe, Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Navy, Rear Admiral SMDK Samaraweera, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital, NM (Retd), CMD, Goa Shipyard Ltd & Shri. S. P. Raikar, Director (Operations), besides other dignitaries.


EX MALABAR

On 10 July, the Indian, US and Japanese navies began the Malabar Naval Exercise- 2017 aimed at achieving deeper military ties between the three nations. The Malabar exercise took place amid the military standoff between armies of India and China in the Dolam area, at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and Tibet and at a time when Beijing is ramping up its naval presence in South China Sea.

The US ships that took part in the trilateral exercise in the Bay of Bengal were US Ship Nimitz (CVN68), guided missile cruise USS Princeton (CG59), guided missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG83), USS Shoup (DDG86) and USS Kidd (DDG100), a Poseidon P-8A aircraft as well as a Los Angeles fast-attack submarine. From Japan, the ships which participated were Japan Maritime Self Defence Force ships JS Izumo (DDH 183), and JS Sazanami (DD1 13). The Indian participating ships were Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa and the Indian Aircraft Carrier, INS Vikramaditya. The 21st edition of the exercise, conducted ashore and at-sea, include professional exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare. It also included medical operations, damage control, explosive ordinance disposal, helicopter operations and anti-submarine warfare would also take place. The at-sea exercise included events such as submarine familiarisation, air defence exercises, medical evacuation drills, surface warfare exercises, communication exercise and search and rescue operations.Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces have an understanding and knowledge of shared working environment at sea. As members of Indo-Asia Pacific operations, the three maritime forces would look forward to continuing to strengthen the bonds and personal relationships.

TANK BIATHLON GAMES

An Indian Army team participated in a tank race competition in Russia along with groups from several other countries including China. The Tank Biathlon commenced at Alabino Ranges on July 29 and the Indian Army participated in it with T- 90 tanks. A total of 19 countries with three crews each are have participating in the event and the top 12 of them will be selected for stage II relay race out of which only four will qualify for the final stage of the race on August 12. The Tank Biathlon competition is an international event conducted as part of the International Army Games held every year since 2013 at Alabino Ranges in Russia.International Army Games involve 28 events which are organised in Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and China.The Indian Army team has been participating in the competition for the past three years. However, this is the first time that the Indian team is participating with own T-90 tanks which have been shipped to Russia. The competition simulates actual battle field conditions involving driving at high speed and entails switching from one mode of operation to another at a fast pace.The team has been selected through a rigorous selection process on the basis of technical expertise, physical fitness, mental endurance and consistency in accuracy of firing the tank weapons while driving the tanks through a replica of the original circuit in Russia, at Babina Field Firing Ranges in Central India. The tanks were transported to Russia by Sea and the team moved to Russia on 20 July 2017 for participation in the competition from 29 July to12 August 2017. Pic shows a T-72 tank, operated by a crew from Azerbaijan, during the Tank Biathlon competition at a range in the settlement of Alabino outside Moscow.

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