Monday, July 16, 2018

Pak Army Spokesperson Insults Indian Flag After Baluchistan Blast That Killed 130, Twitter Asks What’S Wrong With You?

India hater, Siraj Raisani - IDN has deliberately clipped the offensive image

Most times it appears that the Pakistani identity is based upon a virulent hatred of all things Indian. On Saturday, as Pakistan reeled from a blast in Baluchistan that took 130 odd lives, Pak Army’s spokesperson DG Major General Asif Ghafoor instead of wondering why Pakistan had become a terrorists’ haven was happy to indulge in some good-old India bashing.

One of those killed in the blast was Siraj Raisani, a candidate of the Baluchistan Awami Party, who appeared to have an over-the-top obsession with India. And to salute him, Ghafoor posted a picture of Raisani wearing the Indian flag over his shoes and standing over the Indian flag writing: “Salute to our national hero Siraj Raisani. A truly proud Pakistani who made enemies of Pakistan afraid. Your passion, mission and message shall be carried forward,” the ISPR DG also said.
When Pak army officers tweet such pictures...it shows their class...or the lack of it...very poor OLQs @OfficialDGISPR... No wonder India was burying bodies of Pak soldiers..the ones in uniform in Kargil and the ones without uniform (terrorists) in unmarked graves in the valley https://t.co/BVnSHJOzLk
— GAURAV C SAWANT (@gauravcsawant) July 15, 2018
Why is it sir, that to prove he was a patriotic you had to post pics of him degrading the flag of another country? Do you think it suits you as DGISPR? What impression are you giving worldwide ? https://t.co/NxEg8hjz0o
— Sherry (@CherieDamour_) July 13, 2018

The General further added, “We owe you and we shall not let your sacrifice go waste and welcome to the great family of martyred sons of Pakistan.”

It’s shocking, but not surprising, that even in this moment of gloom and doom, Pak Army’s official spokesperson would rather spend the time mocking the Indian flag than deal with a direct threat at home.

The vile nature of the message drew condemnation from both Indians and Pakistani users, who felt that perhaps this solemn time wasn’t the one to mock a neighbour.

As Pakistan observed a day of national mourning following the massacre of nearly 150 people in terror attacks ahead of the general elections, leading newspapers have questioned the claims of the government and the Army that they have crushed terrorism in the country.

Three deadly back-to-back attacks on election rallies in the restive provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that killed two prominent political leaders along with around 150 civilians have renewed concerns that violence could disrupt the elections scheduled for July 25.

Reacting to the spate of terror attacks, the Express Tribune, in a stinging editorial, said, "There is a blood-drenched hole in the claim of the government to have rolled back the forces of terrorism in Pakistan." The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is one of the terror outfits said to be in retreat as a result of sustained efforts by the police, paramilitary and military forces, but not so far in retreat as to be unable to mount lethal bombing operations, it noted.

With campaigning now in full swing the attack calls into question the effectiveness of the state when it comes to countering organisations such as the TTP, it said.

The caretaker government has been briefed as to the clear and present dangers faced by campaigning politicians, and at the very least ought to be extending the duty of care to encompass the security of candidates of all parties, the editorial said.

The Dawn newspaper in its editorial noted that the sudden upsurge in terrorist incidents calls for several urgent responses, including state protection extended to all candidates who ask for it -- without delay. All three candidates who came under attack this week had survived previous attempts on their lives.

Electioneering is a public activity requiring a guarantee of public safety. It is a poor indication of the health of this election if on-ground campaigning is suppressed or forcibly suspended, the editorial said.

It pointed out that these mass-casualty attacks were carried out without apparent warning indicates lapses in intelligence gathering.

In order to ensure peaceful elections, the authorities should not only beef up security but also mobilise the entire intelligence apparatus to do the job they are actually meant to, i.e. preventing attacks, the paper noted.

With just days for the polling day, every effort must be made to ensure that the election is not derailed by elements hostile to the democratic process, for that is what the perpetrators of these attacks are.

"In many ways, the real battle in 2018 is between pro-democracy and anti-democracy forces. Even now, it is not too late, if the political class were to stand in solidarity to defeat these elements.

"Over 100 Pakistanis lost their lives this week exercising their democratic right to participate in defining this country's future. It is time to realise what is at stake," the editorial said.

The News in its editorial said that as the death toll continued to go up, people watched in horror at the violence that has suddenly become a daily nightmare.

"Even though we have repeatedly been told that the back of militancy has been broken, that so many attacks could be carried out in such a short time shows that is far from the case," it said.

The state needs to explain why it has not done enough to ensure the integrity of the elections by providing those under threat sufficient security. When certain parties are being targeted by militancy, their campaigns are naturally hamstrung putting them at a disadvantage to other parties, the editorial said.

"All this has led to observations that perhaps declarations of victory in the fight against militancy were premature. In fact, we now face many threats as militants wage as it were war on our democracy," the News said.

Three attacks in less than a week are more than enough to discourage people from taking part in the polling process, The Nation commented in its editorial.

"The fact that terrorists are succeeding in targeting political candidates without any hindrance tells us how weak security arrangements are in such sensitive days," it said.

Though the interim government has condemned all the attacks, it is to remind the government that mere condemnation does not absolve it from the responsibility of ensuring safe and secure elections.

"It is the foremost duty of the interim setup to guarantee not only free and fair elections but also to assure that no one sabotages the entire process by terror means. The attackers are targeting the political parties and their candidates without any discrimination. The state should take notice of the fact that these attacks are nothing but an attempt to sabotage the election process, the editorial said.

The recent terror attacks on politicians are proof that the fight against militancy is far from over, it said.

"All those institutions making tall claims of ensuring free and fair elections need to re-evaluate their performance. The state should use all its resources to ensure the safety of people in the coming polls," the editorial added.

Source>>

When India Played Cricket To Hide Pokhran II

One of the blasts site in Pokhran: 'Cricket to trick spy satellites, billiards to keep bombs safe'

Undercover Work: The operations at Pokhran had to be done in such a way that no unusual activity was observable by American spy satellites

Tales of Pokhran II, India’s successful 1998 nuclear tests that fooled a watchful West, told by one who was there. Code named Operation Shakti, the 1998 tests in Pokhran were the second time India tested its nuclear capability.

It’s been 20 years since India stunned the world with Pokhran II. It wasn’t the fact that India had nuclear technology, but the realisation that India was able to conduct these tests without the rest of the world not having a clue as to what was going on in a remote location in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer, despite having the place under constant satellite surveillance. In an exclusive interview with Chethan Kumar, Colonel Gopal Kaushik, formerly of the 58th Engineering regiment, talks about those groundbreaking tests. 

“Before we start, I want you to assure me that my location won’t be made public,” Colonel Gopal Kaushik (retired) said, sitting in his living room, somewhere in South India. Twenty years after the regiment he was commanding – the 58th Engineers Regiment – ensured the successful nuclear tests that put India on the map of nations with nuclear arms capability, he still has some untold stories. 

Code named Operation Shakti, the 1998 tests in Pokhran were the second time India tested its nuclear capability, following on from the failed efforts in 1995-96 when the country had to put off the tests owing to international pressure led by the US as details of the tests got leaked.

The challenges, therefore, were many, unlike in 1974 when India under Indira Gandhi carried out the first test – code named ‘Smiling Buddha’. In 1974, India’s intention and capability were unknown, the test location preparations remained unknown, and the US did not have satellites that could keep an eye on developments around the world.

Colonel Gopal Kaushik (Retired) 

But by the time Atal Bihari Vajpayee occupied the Prime Minister’s chair, India had demonstrated that it had nuclear capability—although the 1974 tests were officially never meant for weapons—and the entire world knew of Pokhran as the test site and powerful US satellites were already in the sky.

So, when “Buddha Smiled” again on May 11 and 13 of 1998, there were a lot of stories. And, of the many stories around Operation Shakti, the most popular has been how India handed US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) its significant defeat, keeping the spying agency completely in the dark. 

But some of the little known facts about the tests are here: The 58th Regiment that was responsible for carrying out the tests and keeping it a secret used cricket, practically a religion in India and billiards, to deceive spying satellites and saving the bomb, respectively. 

“The security of information and activities from satellites, spies on the ground and even the general public and our troops was paramount given the leaks earlier, but along with that we also had to create and maintain six shafts as opposed to one in 1974,” Kaushik said.

Scientists and soldier: Gopal Kaushik with the late former president, APJ Abdul Kalam, who served as the joint project coordinator for Pokhran II 

About a hundred scientists, led by the former chairman of the atomic commission, R Chidambaram, former Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC) chief Anil Kakodkar, former president and then Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief APJ Abdul Kalam, and DRDOadviser K Santhanam, Kaushik and his men worked cautiously. 

The 58th Regiment had a vast high security area with periphery of outer fence measuring 24 km, with an intermediate fence of 11 km and inner fence of 6 km. Everything was on a need-to -know basis as they knew that they were being watched.

Members of 58 regiments with scientists

From code names to decoy security posts and from carrying out work in the night and returning equipment to their spots before the satellites came back to track in the morning, the army was literally working in camouflage in extreme weather conditions—temperatures going up to 51 degrees Celsius in summers and minus three in the winters — in a place infested by snakes and scorpions. 

There were plenty of challenges that gave rise to several innovations and strategies, Kaushik said, as he collected water apples from his garden tree to offer. As he washed the apples, he said that one important strategy was to make the spies and satellites believe that everything they did was routine. 

“Among the things we did was routinely play cricket, although it isn’t really a troops sport like football or hockey. That was done purely to attract people to watch and mislead the satellites that nothing significant was happening in Pokhran,” Kaushik said. 

There were also several innovations. “One was to channelise the sub-soil water entering and getting collected in the shafts meant for the tests. There were some shafts that were already built as early 1981, and the 58th Regiment too built shafts in record time. In one of the older shafts, at about 100 metres inside we found a lot of groundwater collected. This meant that our men had to wear special raincoats to go inside and work, which was extremely difficult given the heat. The brackish water also meant corrosion of the metal used inside the shafts. We knew we couldn’t stop the water but we had to prevent it from raining inside. So, my company commander Major (now Brigadier) Suneeth Sharma and I executed a plan, which involved creating channels at every 100 metres of the 800-odd feet shaft. The water would then collect in the well below the canteen (a storage place built to hold the bombs) that had to be pumped out every day,” he said.

But that didn’t solve the problem completely as the pumped out water could not be released onto the sand as it would have changed colour which would be observed by the satellites.

“We couldn’t let the satellites see that we were pumping out water as it would indicate activity. Therefore, we had to bury a host of pipes under the sand to carry the pumped water away from the shafts and to sand dunes as they absorbed the water,” Kaushik said.

There were several other innovations, but the one without which there would be no Operation Shakti, was the “Billiards Sticks Concept”


With most things ready, it was time to fill up the shaft, up to the level of the canteen with sand. However, the team could not just drop sandbags from the mouth of the shaft as it could potentially damage the canteen, even the bomb, with its impact. So, in January 1998, Kaushik had conducted an experiment of lowering sand bags using a cage. 

“...We’d found that it took us about one minute to place one bag. We needed to place 6,000 bags, which meant it would have taken at least six or seven days if we worked normally and five days if we worked without breaks. We didn’t have that luxury as the satellites would pick it up. In 1995-96 the satellites had picked up half-a-day’s work,” he said. 

When the time arrived, Kaushik and Sharma came up with the “Billiards Sticks Concept”. “The name was given later by Santhanam, as what we did was inspired by the way cue sticks used to be arranged in Billiard parlours,” Kaushik recollected.

What the team did was to arrange six metal pipes—filled with sand to make them strong—at the door of the canteen as a barricade allowing sand to be dropped from the mouth of the shaft. “We had barricaded the canteen with these pipes after the bombs were placed and then dropped the sand down. Without this, the Buddha wouldn’t have smiled again,” Kaushik said. 

A lot has happened since the Summer of 1998, but the stories from Pokhran in that year never fails to capture the audience.


Newspapers Question Pakistan's Government And Army Over Terrorism

In this file picture from July 14, 2018, relatives of people injured in a bomb blast at an election rally sit outside a hospital in Quetta

Mourners gathered to bury their dead in southwest Pakistan after a blast killed 128 people at a political rally in one of the country’s deadliest attacks

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan observed a day of national mourning following the massacre of nearly 150 people in terror attacks ahead of the general elections, leading newspapers have questioned the claims of the government and the Army that they have crushed terrorism in the country.

Three deadly back-to-back attacks on election rallies in the restive provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that killed two prominent political leaders along with around 150 civilians have renewed concerns that violence could disrupt the elections scheduled for July 25.

Reacting to the spate of terror attacks, the Express Tribune, in a stinging editorial, said, "There is a blood-drenched hole in the claim of the government to have rolled back the forces of terrorism in Pakistan."

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is one of the terror outfits said to be in retreat as a result of sustained efforts by the police, paramilitary and military forces, but not so far in retreat as to be unable to mount lethal bombing operations, it noted.

With campaigning now in full swing the attack calls into question the effectiveness of the state when it comes to countering organisations such as the TTP, it said.

The caretaker government has been briefed as to the clear and present dangers faced by campaigning politicians, and at the very least ought to be extending the duty of care to encompass the security of candidates of all parties, the editorial said.

The Dawn newspaper in its editorial noted that the sudden upsurge in terrorist incidents calls for several urgent responses, including state protection extended to all candidates who ask for it -- without delay. All three candidates who came under attack this week had survived previous attempts on their lives.

Electioneering is a public activity requiring a guarantee of public safety. It is a poor indication of the health of this election if on-ground campaigning is suppressed or forcibly suspended, the editorial said.

It pointed out that these mass-casualty attacks were carried out without apparent warning indicates lapses in intelligence gathering.

In order to ensure peaceful elections, the authorities should not only beef up security but also mobilise the entire intelligence apparatus to do the job they are actually meant to, i.e. preventing attacks, the paper noted.

With just days for the polling day, every effort must be made to ensure that the election is not derailed by elements hostile to the democratic process, for that is what the perpetrators of these attacks are.

"In many ways, the real battle in 2018 is between pro-democracy and anti-democracy forces. Even now, it is not too late, if the political class were to stand in solidarity to defeat these elements.

"Over 130 Pakistanis lost their lives this week exercising their democratic right to participate in defining this country's future. It is time to realise what is at stake," the editorial said.

The News in its editorial said that as the death toll continued to go up, people watched in horror at the violence that has suddenly become a daily nightmare.

"Even though we have repeatedly been told that the back of militancy has been broken, that so many attacks could be carried out in such a short time shows that is far from the case," it said.

The state needs to explain why it has not done enough to ensure the integrity of the elections by providing those under threat sufficient security. When certain parties are being targeted by militancy, their campaigns are naturally hamstrung putting them at a disadvantage to other parties, the editorial said.

"All this has led to observations that perhaps declarations of victory in the fight against militancy were premature. In fact, we now face many threats as militants wage - as it were - war on our democracy," the News said.

Three attacks in less than a week are more than enough to discourage people from taking part in the polling process, The Nation commented in its editorial.

"The fact that terrorists are succeeding in targeting political candidates without any hindrance tells us how weak security arrangements are in such sensitive days," it said.

Though the interim government has condemned all the attacks, it is to remind the government that mere condemnation does not absolve it from the responsibility of ensuring safe and secure elections.

"It is the foremost duty of the interim setup to guarantee not only free and fair elections but also to assure that no one sabotages the entire process by terror means. The attackers are targeting the political parties and their candidates without any discrimination. The state should take notice of the fact that these attacks are nothing but an attempt to sabotage the election process," the editorial said.

The recent terror attacks on politicians are proof that the fight against militancy is far from over, it said.

"All those institutions making tall claims of ensuring free and fair elections need to re-evaluate their performance. The state should use all its resources to ensure the safety of people in the coming polls," the editorial added.


Facebook Disables Accounts of Terrorist Hafiz Saeed's Political Party: Report

Hafiz Saeed is mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack

Facebook has disabled numerous accounts and pages of the Islamist Milli Muslim League (MML). The MML is a political outfit launched by Hafiz Saeed. The US placed the MML on its list of foreign terror organisations

Ahead of the general election in Pakistan, Facebook has disabled numerous accounts and pages of the Islamist Milli Muslim League (MML), in a setback to the political outfit launched by Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa, according to a media report today (July 15).

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had said that it was his priority to make sure his social networking website supports positive discourse and prevents interference in the upcoming elections in Pakistan, India, Brazil, Mexico and other countries.

Recently, Facebook officials contacted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and offered help to local authorities to identify and remove fake pages of different political parties ahead of the July 25 general election, the Express Tribune reported.

The ECP has not recognised the MML as a political party. In April this year, the US placed the MML on its list of foreign terror organisations for its links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group, which launched the 2008 Mumbai carnage.

After the ECP denied recognition to the MML, JuD chief Saeed announced that around 200 candidates of his party would contest the polls under the banner of a little-known party, the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), which is already registered with the election commission.

MML spokesperson Tabish Qayyum told journalists that Facebook has removed numerous accounts of their election candidates and workers without giving any reason. He said Facebooks act is a gross violation of its own policy and sanction on freedom of expression.

Elections are round-the-corner and all political parties are using social media for electioneering. Deleting MML candidates and workers accounts on a particular time is an injustice, he added.

All political parties are using social media to spread their message. Voters are being attracted by posters and video messages but the MML has been denied this facility without any reason, he said.

Zuckerberg in recent statements has said that after identification of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has successfully deployed new Artificial Intelligence tools that removed tens of thousands of fake accounts.


What Is Russia’s S-400 Triumf System All About?

A model of S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow

What Is It?

S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced air defence systems that can simultaneously track numerous incoming objects — all kinds of aircraft, missiles and UAVs — in a radius of a few hundred kilometres and launch appropriate missiles to neutralise them. It is now bang in the middle of the ongoing stand-off between Russia and Western nations. Among the countries under pressure from the U.S. not to buy this weapon is India. The system is a large complex of radars, control systems and different types of missiles. The highly automated S-400 has radars that can pick up an incoming object up to a 1,000 kilometres away, track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously, distribute the targets to appropriate missile systems and ensure a high success rate. The command post detects, tracks and identifies the target.

Then the tracked object is taken over by manned anti-aircraft missile systems of the complex, which launch the counter attack. The development of S-400 (NATO name SA-21 Growler) was started towards the end of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and was disrupted by the collapse of the Communist bloc in 1991. The system is specifically designed to detect and destroy an array of targets — strategic bombers; aircraft used for electronic warfare, early warning, and reconnaissance; fighter jets such as F-16 and F-22; and incoming missiles such as Tomahawk. Russian forces have deployed at least half-a-dozen S-400 regiments, at least two of them are for the protection of Moscow. Russia has also deployed at least two S-400 systems in Syria, much to the concern of observers who fear the system could contribute to a global conflict breaking out in Syria. A single unit, consisting of eight launchers, 112 missiles and command and support vehicles, costs at least $400 million (₹2,500 crore).

How Did It Come About?

S-400 traces its origins to the desperation of the Cold War period to find a credible counter to the threat from missiles and incoming enemy aircraft. S-400 is a dramatic improvement from its predecessor S-300, which was the mainstay of Soviet Union’s air defence during the Cold War, when nuclear missile threat was at its peak. S-300 was initially developed against incoming cruise missiles and aircraft, but the latter versions could also intercept ballistic missiles. They were deployed in the 1970s across Soviet Union for protecting key industrial complexes, cities, and other strategic assets.

Today, the S-400 uses four different types of missiles and can track and shoot down incoming objects as far away as 400 kilometres, while it also has shorter-range missiles to track and shoot down objects that are closer.

Why Does It Matter?

The acquisition of S-400 by countries such as India and Turkey has taken centre stage in the American diplomacy regarding Russia. Upfront, the recent sanctions against Russian entities, especially its military manufacturers and suppliers, mean any country buying the system may run into trouble. Besides, the U.S. has singled out the acquisition of S-400, telling potential customers such as India and Turkey that it is opposed to the move. It believes that S-400 could access sensitive U.S. military technologies in service with the potential buyers. Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, during a recent visit to New Delhi, said: “There is lot of concern in the U.S. over the S-400 system. There is concern that any country, and not just India, that chooses to acquire the system will make it harder to have the level of interoperability we want to have.”

What Next?

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the negotiations for the S-400 were in a “conclusive stage.” There are conflicting reports about Turkey’s plan. American diplomats have accused Russia of “flipping” Turkey with the S-400 offer, while Turkey claims it is a defensive system. At the NATO summit in Brussels early this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the first batch of the S-400 system would be in Turkey by late 2019.


Tejas Price Comes Under Scrutiny


Hard on the purse: The HAL has quoted a steep ₹463 crore each for a new LCA variant. New committee to look into prices of products manufactured by defence PSUs

The Defence Ministry has appointed a committee to look into the costing of products and military platforms manufactured by defence public sector undertakings (DPSU), Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.

The first project to be reviewed is the indigenous light combat aircraft, Tejas, being manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).

This development comes after the cost quoted by the HAL turned out to be higher than those of many imported fighters.

Expensive Platforms

Also several platforms manufactured under licence in India have been found to be more expensive than the imported platforms.

“In general, we have asked a committee to see how the costing of products manufactured by the DPSUs is being done,” Ms. Sitharaman told press persons on Friday. The committee will be chaired by the Director (Costs) in the Ministry.

She said the Indian Air Force (IAF) had come forward requesting that the LCA be the first product to be reviewed by the committee. “We feel there is a need for a review,” she said.

The committee will review all military hardware and systems being manufactured by the DPSUs. The report is expected to be submitted within 60 days, Ms. Sitharaman said.

The IAF has committed to inducting 123 Tejas jets in various configurations. Of these, 40 have already been ordered and negotiations are under way for 83 Mk-1A variants featuring specific advancements. However, the HAL has quoted over ₹463 crore for each aircraft, while the advanced twin-engine Sukhoi-30 assembled in India costs just over ₹400 crore. This price is also a steep rise in comparison to the LCA Mk1 variant for which the HAL quoted ₹100 crore.

There have been other instances where licence-manufactured products of the HAL have been costlier than those imported. The Su-30 fighters imported from Russia and the advanced jet trainer Hawk from the U.K. are cheaper than those manufactured by HAL.


India Condemns Terror Attacks In Pakistan


In this picture, Pakistani Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel stand at the bomb blast site in Mastung on July 13, 2018, following a bomb blast here at an election rally. A bomb killed at least 70 people and injured 40 others during a rally in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, in the day's second attack on a political event ahead of the July 25 election

NEW DELHI: India has strongly condemned the latest series of terror attacks in poll-bound Pakistan that have claimed over 150 lives.

"Three tragic terrorist attacks have hit the people of Pakistan within a short span of 3-4 days," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.

"More than 150 innocent people have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured," it stated.

Stating that "more disturbing is the fact that these attacks took place on election rallies, essential to the democratic process", it said: "India has always condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We strongly condemn these attacks and extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families."

A number of bombings at political rallies over the past one week have shattered peace in Pakistan ahead of the July 25 polls, with the latest in the string being a devastating suicide attack in Baluchistan on Friday that killed at least 132 people.

Amid intensified election campaigning, attacks in different areas of the country have stoked fear of more violence.

Provincial authorities said the suicide bomber on Friday detonated in the middle of a compound in Mastung's Darengarh area where a political meeting was in progress.

The Pakistan government has declared Sunday as a day of national mourning over the attacks in Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The attack in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Friday left four dead and nearly 40 injured.

Source>>

At Soldier's Funeral, Sight of His Five-Month-Old Baby Moves All

Mukut Bihari Meena's five-month-old daughter during his funeral

Jaipur: Five-month old Aaru sat on the coffin of her father, Army paratrooper Mukut Bihari Meena who died fighting terrorists in Kashmir. She also held the burning stick along with her grandfather Jagannath before the latter performed his son's last rites.

"You sat on the coffin without crying. Moments before, you had seen the face of your father. It was very emotional. Me and all the Army officers were watching and your innocence was at the centre of our thoughts," Jhalawar district collector Jitendra Soni said in an emotional letter to the baby girl.

"The blessings of every responsible and sensible citizen of the entire country are with you. Grow well and make your father's glorious martyrdom your pride," Mr Soni said.

Twenty-five year old Mukut Bihari Meena laid down his life in Kupwara on July 11. He was laid to rest with full military honours.

Public representatives, officials from the Army, district administration, police and thousands of people from different parts of the district paid respects to the martyr.


Will Not Allow Terror Activities Against India On Our Soil: Bangladesh

Rajnath Singh co-chaired with Asaduzzaman Khan for home minister-level talks in Dhaka

Dhaka: Bangladesh today reassured India that it will not allow its soil to be used for any terrorist activities against the neighbouring country as visiting Home Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with his counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan on security-related issues.

Mr Singh, who is in Dhaka on a three-day visit, co-chaired with Mr Khan the 6th India-Bangladesh home minister-level talks.

The meeting discussed "all security related matters of interest including counter terrorism, capacity building and increased cooperation between security agencies, border management, countering illegal activities like fake currency, drug and human trafficking, consular issues", the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said in a statement.

Briefing reporters after his talks Mr Singh, Asaduzzaman Khan said security issues largely featured in their meeting, with particular focus on border management, cross-border crimes and illegal activities.

"We had a successful meeting," Mr Singh said in his brief comment. He did not join Mr Khan for the media briefing.

Asaduzzaman Khan said Bangladesh reassured India that "we will not allow its soil to be used for any terrorist activities particularly against India in line with our zero tolerance policy to terrorism and militancy".

He said India has extended all types of support to Bangladesh to counter terrorism and militancy.

"They are now exchanging militancy related information with us," he said.

"Discussions were held to ease travel arrangements between the two countries as well," he said, adding that under a revised travel agreement signed today Bangladeshi freedom fighters and elderly nationals would get five years' multiple Indian visa.

Asaduzzaman Khan said discussions were held to make easier the visa issuance process for students and medical treatment seekers in India.

Mr Khan said the Rohingya issue was also discussed and his counterpart conveyed India's commitment to extend its assistance for safe, speedy and sustainable return of these people to Myanmar's Rakhine state.

India has offered to send more relief material and supplies to help Bangladesh deal with the needs of those in the relief camps. India is simultaneously working on a project to construct pre-fabricated housing in Rakhine to ensure the displaced Rohingya are properly resettled post-deportation.

More than six lakh Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter in Bangladesh following violence in Rakhine State in August last year.

Yesterday, Mr Singh held an "extremely fruitful" meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when they discussed issues of mutual concern, including the menace of terrorism.

An Indian high commission statement issued after the meeting said Mr Singh sincerely thanked Hasina for cooperation in addressing New Delhi's "security concerns".

The statement said Sheikh Hasina agreed with Mr Singh that joint bilateral efforts to combat militancy and terrorism yielded "special success".

According to a spokesperson from Bangladesh Prime Minister's office, Mr Singh, without naming any country, said that the expected regional collaborative actions against militancy was not possible due to some nations in the region.

"After spending three days in Bangladesh I am heading back to New Delhi. I am deeply touched by the warmth and hospitality of the people of Bangladesh. Bharat-Bangladesh Moitree Chirojeebi Hok (Long live India-Bangladesh friendship)," Mr Singh tweeted before his return to New Delhi.


Sushma Swaraj Meets Bahrain Leaders, Discusses Ways To Improve Ties

Swaraj gifted a box of books called 'Bharat Ek Priychay' to the National Library in Manama

Manama: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today called on Bahrain's Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa and co-chaired the second joint commission meeting to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral ties.

Ms Swaraj arrived in Bahrain on a two-day visit.

She began her engagements in Manama today by meeting her counterpart and a close friend of India Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

The two leaders co-chaired 2nd India-Bahrain High Joint Commission.

The first meeting of the High Joint Commission (HJC) was held in New Delhi in February 2015.

Shaikh Khalid praised the contribution of the Indian community settled in Bahrain towards the economic development of the country.


Nawaz Sharif Allotted 'B' Class Category In Adiala Prison


Officials said Thursday is the visiting day. Facilities include television, newspapers, bed, attach bathroom, fan and servant. Nawaz and Maryam were arrested on Friday night upon their arrival in Lahore

Police officials took away the clothes and food that was brought for Nawaz Sharif and his daughter by their family members. Facilities include television, newspapers, bed, attach bathroom, fan and servant. Nawaz and Maryam were arrested on Friday night upon their arrival in Lahore

Former premier Nawaz Sharif has been allotted 'B' class category, while his daughter Maryam Nawaz has declined better facilities in Adiala prison.

According to the jail manual, an inmate has facilities including television, newspapers, bed, attach bathroom, fan and a servant in the 'B' class category.

Maryam was shifted to women cell, where she declined to request for provision of 'B' class to her.

The letter was released by Maryam Nawaz's social media team

In a letter released, Nawaz Sharifs daughter, Maryam said she declined better facilities at the Adiala Jail. The letter posted on social media stated that Maryam had been asked to submit an application to the jail superintendent for better facilities. In the letter, Maryam writes that she refused this and did not make the decision under anyone's pressure.

The former premier and his daughter, who were convicted in the Avenfield Apartments reference, were arrested on Friday night upon their arrival in Lahore and were subsequently taken to Islamabad in a chartered flight.


Lockheed Martin F-35 Jet's Price Falls Below $90 Million

In this file picture of a prototype F-35 fighter jets flies during an aerial show

FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND: The United States has struck a preliminary deal to buy F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin worth about $13 billion, clearing the way for a larger multi-year purchase that aims to bring the cost per jet down to $80 million by 2020, sources said.

The deal for 141 F-35s lowers the price of the F-35A, the most common version of the stealthy fighter jet, to about $89 million, down around 6 percent from $94.3 million in the last deal struck in February 2017, the sources familiar with the talks said.

Bringing down the cost of the world's most expensive defence programme is crucial to securing more orders, both in the United States and abroad.

President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have criticised the F-35 programme for delays and cost overruns, but the price per jet has steadily declined in recent years as production increased.

The current "handshake" deal will be solidified along with pricing and other terms in a contract that will be announced in the coming weeks, the sources said, on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

The agreement with the U.S. Department of Defence removes a crucial road block from the ongoing negotiations for a multi-year deal for the fighters that is expected to consist of three tranches over fiscal years 2018-2020.

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin "have made progress and are in the final stages of negotiation," the Pentagon's head of acquisitions Ellen Lord said in a statement, adding the two sides had reached "a handshake agreement which symbolises the Department of Defence's commitment to equip" U.S and allied forces, while giving "great value" to the U.S. taxpayer.

Last summer, Reuters reported that F-35 customers including Australia, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, South Korea, Britain and the United States had aimed to procure 135 or more jets in fiscal year 2018 for delivery in 2020 for about $88 million per jet.

In addition, negotiations were ongoing for the multi-year U.S. deal that was said to be worth more than $37 billion, and encompassing a record 440 F-35 fighter jets.

But negotiations for this 11th batch of jets extended because new Pentagon leaders drilled deep into the programme to understand it and its costs, prolonging negotiations for the multi-year "block buy," the sources said.

On Sunday, a Lockheed Martin representative said the handshake agreement on the production contract for the 11th lot of F-35 aircraft was in place, but the total value and cost per variant would be released when the contract was finalised.

The F-35 comes in 3 variants: the F-35A conventional take-off and landing model; the F-35B, a short take-off/vertical landing version; and the F-35C, used aboard aircraft carriers.

The F-35 program is aiming to grow the fleet to more than 3,000 jets and bring the unit price of the F-35A closer to $80 million in 2020 through efficiencies gained by ordering in larger quantifies.

The jet had production problems in 2017, but Lockheed still hit its 2017 target to deliver 66 to the United States and its allies.

Lockheed is aiming to deliver 91 jets in 2018 and the Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker hopes to nearly triple annual production to more than 160 jets in 2023.

Despite the challenges the programme has faced, the jet completed its flight testing in April. In May, Israel said it had been the first country to use the fighter in combat.

New international customers are also possible. In February, the U.S. State Department approved the possible sale of 34 F-35s to Belgium for as much as $6.53 billion. Belgium is due to make a decision on a new fighter later this year.

General Tod Wolters, the top U.S. Air Force general in Europe and NATO's Allied Air Commander, said the new warplane was taking root in Europe.

"It's a game-changing system," Wolters told Reuters ahead of the Royal International Air Tattoo military air show in England. "We're in the process of integrating the F-35 into the complete environment, not just the airspace."

Norway, Britain and Italy will have received 40 F-35s in Europe by the end of the year.


Russia's MiG-29 Fighter: Moscow's Worst Combat Jet of All-Time?


Or just misunderstood?

by Charlie Gao

The MiG-29 is one of the world’s most prolific fighter jets. It currently serves in both NATO and CIS air forces. It’s the fifth most common combat aircraft in the world, even the current president of Bulgarian used to fly them.

Despite its popularity, the design has been considered to have some significant flaws and has seen a checkered combat record when it has gone up against Western designs. As Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation attempts to modernise and push the MiG-29 for sale again, under the new name “MiG-35,” it begs the question: Can the MiG-29 be saved?

When the MiG-29 first entered the scene in the 1980s, it was conceived as a “lower-end” air-superiority fighter which could be procured in greater numbers at a lower cost, in contrast to the Su-27, which was considered to be the high-end solution.

While the Su-27 Flanker didn’t see any exports until the waning years of the Soviet Union, the MiG-29 was already earmarked for export when it was still in development. As such, the MiG lacked many advanced systems found in the Su-27.

While the Su-27 featured an advanced computerised fly-by-wire system that allowed for an aerodynamically unstable airframe, the MiG-29 despite a similar layout of engine and wings did not have this, instead relying on a traditional system of hydraulically controlled control surfaces. The MiG-29 also packed a less powerful radar and had much less internal fuel relative to the Sukhoi.

However, the two aircraft were similar in many aspects. Both had a focus on heat-seeking weaponry, with bulbous InfraRed Search and Track (IRST) sensors on the nose of both aircraft. These were integrated with the advanced thrust vectoring R-73 missile, which could be slaved to a helmet mounted sight which allowed a pilot to lock onto a target just by looking at it. This could make the MiG-29 very hard to beat in a close-in dogfight.

Despite these similarities, the lower-end nature of the design limited the MiG-29’s capability to conduct combat at beyond-visual-range (BVR). The lower power radar limited the plane’s ability to search for and lock targets at a range, and the plane only featured six weapons hardpoints. This initial version of the MiG-29 can be called the 9.12 version and was exported to Warsaw Pact countries.

Later versions of the MiG-29 resolved some of these issues. The MiG-29S (9.13), built for domestic use featured an enhanced radar that could shoot the R-77 active-radar homing air-to-air missile and increased the number of weapons hard-points to eight.

Around the same time that these updates were being completed, the MiG-29s reputation was about to take a beating. While exact numbers are uncertain, the Iraqi MiG-29s (9.12s) didn’t fare well against coalition air power during Operation Desert Storm. Eight years later, Yugoslavian MiG-29s (also 9.12s) also suffered significant losses when facing down NATO air power over the Balkans.

While Russia scored a second wave of exports to African and Asian countries in the 1990s, mostly of the MiG-29SE type, a downgraded MiG-29S for export, the future of the MiG-29 around the world appears to be in danger.

Most of the old Warsaw Pact MiG-29s are now in the hands of NATO countries, so naturally, they have no future in the service. Poland has kept their MiGs in service largely by developing their own cottage industry, which does overhauls and repairs. But even now Poland is looking to withdraw the MiG from service and will probably replace it with F-16s. The entire fleet was recently grounded after a fatal crash.

For other export customers, the MiG’s biggest rivals are variants of the Su-27. While so called “second-generation” MiG-29s such as the MiG-29M and MiG-29SMT (MiG-29M technology applied to 9.13 airframes) brought the level of avionics up to that of contemporary Su-27 variants, these updates have not come cheap. In addition, the SMT upgrades have mixed reviews of quality. Notably, the Algerian Air Force canceled its order of MiG-29SMTs in favor of more Su-30MKAs.

Therein lies the problem for the MiG-29. While it can reach the same level of features as the Su-27, the cost of upgrading them to that level makes the unit cost approach that of upgraded variants of the Su-27.

The cost of a Su-30MK2 was estimated to be around $35 to $37 million in 2013, and the cost of a MiG-35 is around $46 million . While recent variants of the Su-27 (such as the Su-35) have price tags around $80 million, these variants have AESA radars and advanced thrust vectoring engines, features which are removed from the MiG-35 for cost reasons.

In combat, the Su-27 has consistently bested the MiG-29, going 5:0 against the type during the Eritrean-Ethiopian war. With roughly equal unit costs and similar capabilities, it’s a fairly simple decision to go with the aircraft that was designed from the outset to be better than the other and has proven it in combat.

While the MiG-35 has won one large order with Egypt and a smaller one with Iraq, these numbers are dwarfed by the number of Sukhoi sales that have occurred within the same time period. This trend seems likely to continue into the future.


Russia Faces Military Aircraft Quandary


The late April announcement that India would no longer be a partner with Russia on the Sukhoi Su-57 program has raised questions about what the future is for Russian military aerospace. The newest design from the long-time fighter designer had been billed as the next-generation evolution in Russia’s aviation industrial complex and was intended to be Moscow’s response to the Lockheed Martin F-22A.

However, delays in producing both a new engine, the Izdeliye 129 design being developed by a team of different Russian aero-engine firms, and the new N036 AESA radar being developed by NIIP in Zhukovskiy, had forced the program to make significant compromises. The initial versions of the aircraft are being manufactured with the same Saturn/Lyulka 117S/Al-41F-1S engine and NIIP N035 passive (PESA) Irbis radar set that are installed in the Su-35.

“A consequence of this current situation has had the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) senior commanders asking ‘what does this [Su-57] aircraft do for me that the Su-35 does not,'” a Russian aerospace analyst in Moscow told AIN. “Not only is there not a constituency within the armed forces promoting the Su-57, but there are also no champions for it within Russian industry itself as there are no major orders for the aircraft, so–unlike Su-35–it has no possibility to generate positive cash flow.”

At this time the number of Su-57s on order amounts to only 12 units, to be delivered to the VKS. The aircraft was deployed in late February for a brief set of demonstration missions with the Russian forces in Syria in what was criticized as little more than a PR move, but the specialists that AIN spoke to stated that the real capability of the aircraft cannot be demonstrated until a new engine, radar, and avionics suite are flown, tested, validated, and have entered full-scale production.

“No one can say how long all of that might take,” said several of the specialists AIN spoke with.

Sales Prospects

There are active efforts to sell aircraft that are currently in production to export customers. The Su-35, which had previously been sold to China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), has been employed in some of its first operations. The PLAAF has been one of the Russian industry’s most important and primary cash-generating customers for more than 25 years, so the sale of the Su-35 to Beijing after many years of sales of Su-27 and Su-30 models is part of an effort to retain this customer for the immediate future.

The aircraft participated in some of the recent flights that circled the Republic of China (ROC, i.e. Taiwan) as part of a series of activities designed to intimidate the island nation. The PLAAF has thus telegraphed its intentions to make the Su-35 part of its spearhead operations aimed at the ROC and other potential island targets by flying the Russian-made fighter alongside the Xi’an H-6K bomber and several other ELINT and AEW&C platforms.

PLAAF Su-35s have also been seen flying into Novosibirsk/Tolmochevo airport on a refueling stop en route to Moscow recently. This has sparked speculation that the PLAAF is looking to acquire more Su-35s and is exploring options to modify the configuration of the aircraft currently in their inventory.

The publicity of the sale to the PRC has been part of the campaign that Moscow employed to sell the Su-35 to Indonesia. The Indonesian Air Force had been operating a mixed fleet of Su-27s, Su-30s, F-16s and the intention has been to use the Su-35 acquisition as the beginning of a process to modernize the force.

The M-MRCA Program

By far the most important potential sale for Russian industry at present is what is being called “version 2.0” of the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) tender.

The original, earlier tender was supposed to establish a production line for 118 fighter aircraft to satisfy the government’s “Make in India” requirement. France’s Dassault Rafale was selected in 2012, but no production line was ever put in place in India and in the end, New Delhi simply procured 36 of the fighters off-the-shelf from the production line in Bordeaux. This has left the Indian Air Force with a 118-aircraft (or greater) deficit in addition to the 127 Su-57s that would have been procured for that program and now must be acquired elsewhere.

Responses to the RFI for this second run at M-MRCA were submitted on July 6, 2017. The Russian bid will be for a new, updated version of the MiG-35 that was proposed in the original tender process. This aircraft will include several improvements over the previously proposed aircraft. These include:

  • A newer variant of the Phazotron Zhuk-MA AESA radar set with a new generation of transmit/receive (T/R) modules. The T/R modules are likely to be still based on Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) technology but will be smaller and larger in number than the previous modules.
  • An increased-thrust variant of the existing Isotov/Klimov RD-33MK engine that pushes the thrust rating up just below 10 tonnes.
  • Increased use of composite materials in the aircraft structure to make the airframe lighter and capable of carrying more fuel and weapons systems.

Long Range

On March 30, retired Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Zhikarev, commander of all long-range aviation for the VKS from 2009-2016, gave an interview on the new, modernized Tu-160M2 program to Russia’s Nezavisimoye Voyennoe Obozreniye (Independent Military Review). He said there will be major improvements in the aircraft over the previous variant, making it a “longer arm” of the VKS’s strategic bomber force.

He explained that the key to the new Tu-160M2 design configuration is a next-generation set of integrated, onboard electronic systems. This includes an electronic warfare suite that “reduces the aircraft’s RCS [radar cross-section]” and that also includes “an airborne EW system that can determine the identity of any attacker, its range, its course, or angle of attack. The system can be set in automatic mode or can be engaged manually to jam the radar set of an adversary, or it can project the firing trajectory of an incoming missile—infrared or radar-guided.”

The EW is so effective, he claimed, that the Russian VKS will be confident enough to engage its bomber force in direct combat while air defense threats exist in theater. He contrasted this with the U.S., which “used tactical missiles and cruise missiles to take out air defense assets in Yugoslavia and Iraq and then [only once those air defense units were neutralized] committed their strategic bombers."

The overall picture is one in which Russia’s combat aviation still has a stable of viable combat platforms and customers looking to acquire these kinds of assets. What remains to be seen is how much longer these previous-generation platforms can be “stretched” into the current day and beyond before they begin to show signs of obsolescence.


Chhattisgarh Naxal Attack: Two BSF Jawans Killed In Gunfight In Kanker District


Two BSF Jawans were killed and another was injured in a gun battle with Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district today. The gunfight took place in a forest near Mahla camp of BSF under Partapaur police station limits.

Two BSF Jawans were killed and another was injured in a gun battle with Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district today. The gunfight took place in a forest near Mahla camp of BSF under Partapaur police station limits.

Two Border Security Force (BSF) Jawans were killed and another was injured in a gun battle with Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district today, police said. The gunfight took place in a forest near Mahla camp of BSF under Partapaur police station limits when a team of BSF’s 114th battalion was returning after carrying out an anti-Maoist operation, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) Sundarraj P told PTI. When the patrolling team was advancing through forest of Barkot village, located around 250 km from the state capital Raipur, it came under heavy fire from a group of Naxals leading to the gun-battle between the two sides, he said.

After a brief exchange of fire, the ultras fled into core forest, he said. “Two constables identified as Lokender Singh and Mukdhiyar Singh, belonging to Rajasthan and Punjab respectively, were killed while another constable, Sandeep Dey, sustained injuries in the gunfight,” he said. Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the bodies of the deceased were brought to the headquarter of BSF’s 114 battalion in Pakhanjore, he said. The injured Jawan was being airlifted to Raipur for further treatment, the DIG said. On July 9, two BSF Jawans, belonging to the 121st battalion, were killed when Naxals had triggered an IED blast while they were on a bike patrol in the Chhotebethiya area of Kanker.