TATA set to bag contract for armoured vehicles
TATA group is set to bag contract for heavy armoured protection vehicles for the Indian Army soldiers deployed in key sectors. These vehicles help in faster induction and de-induction of the soldiers in difficult terrains apart from providing them protection. In the wake of growing Chinese aggression along the LAC, Indian Army has sped up the process of acquisition of modern and more effective defence equipment. Earlier, Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Mahindra Defence Systems Limited (MDSL) for supply of 1300 Light Specialist Vehicles to the Indian Army. These will be assigned to various fighting units for carriage of automatic grenade launchers, medium machine guns and anti-tank guided missiles. In February, orders for 27 M4 armoured vehicles were placed with the Pune-based Bharat Forge of the Kalyani group which has a tie-up with the South African firm Paramount Group. These vehicles will provide quick mobility in rough terrain in areas affected by mines and IED threats. Also these vehicles offer lot of room for special operations as they can be air-dropped deep inside the enemy territory for operations. Acquisition of these vehicles was a long pending program. The Mechanized Infantry Regiment of the Army is the youngest regiment, a brainchild of former Army chief K. Sundarji, also known as the ‘Father of the Mechanized Infantry Regiment’. Army’s mobility in inhospitable terrain is dependent on the Indian Air Force’s carrying capability.
RFI issued for 155 mm/ 52 Calibre Mounted Gun System
Request for Information (RFI) has been issued by the Ministry of Defence for the procurement of 155 mm/ 52 Calibre Mounted Gun System for the Indian Army. It will be employed in plains, mountains, high altitude area, semi-desert and desert terrain along the Northern and Western Borders of the country. As mentioned in the RFI the gun should be able to fire all in-service ammunition at the time of trials. The vehicle carrying the Mounted Gun System should have the capability of operating in the existing mountain and desert terrain along the borders. The Gun System should also possess Inertial Navigation System based sight system with the capability to orient and fix the location of the Gun System. The Fire Control System (FCS) of the Gun should be able to provide day and night direct and indirect firing and it should be compatible with Project SHAKTI. The equipment should have a minimum of 50% Indigenous Content (IC) and the winning vendor should undertake a 5% offset. Of the 814 mounted gun systems required by the army, 200 shall be brought off the shelf and the remainder will be built within the country through technology transfers to an Indian partner. Dhanush 155*52 mm Mounted Gun System (MGS) developed by Gun Carriage Factory Jabalpur was mounted on an 8*8 Tatra vehicle. DRDO has offered to mount ATAGS 155*52 mm on 8*8 Tatra vehicle to be used as a Mounted Gun System but whether it will be subjected to required modifications is still not clear.
Malaysian Team to visit for Tejas trial
A team of Malaysian Air Force will soon be visiting India to assess the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. Most likely the team will visit Bengaluru in coming two months where they would undertake a full tour of the LCA Tejas production facility, test infrastructure and demonstration of its combat potential. Tejas is a locally developed system that has been ordered by Indian Air Force (IAF) in large numbers. Indian Tejas has attracted the interest of the Malaysian Air Force as it is being offered at cheaper rates than Swedish SAAB Gripen and is more capable than the China origin JF-17. The Tejas MK-1A version being offered by India comes laden with the modern AESA radar, new avionics and the capability to integrate a variety of weapons. It is an ideal fit for the Malaysian requirement that is about to order for 12 jets with options for 24 more in the future. In order to ensure high rate of availability, India has offered to support in training of the ground and air personnel, create a full maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for the Tejas fleet in Malaysia. The two countries have been discussing the potential order for around three years now. In 2019, India had sent two Tejas fighters to be displayed in the LIMA show at Langkawi to pitch the jets for the export order. Stepping-up their defence cooperation, the two countries are also engaging in multi-level joint exercises and training programs. Swedish SAAB Gripen, China’s JF 17 and South Korean T 50 is also a contender for the contract. Tejas is priced at over $42 million per unit that makes it the most lucrative option for the Malaysia. Due to its ongoing border dispute with China, Malaysia is unlikely to go for Chinese fighter aircraft.
Indian Army to participate in Military Exercise in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is organizing a four-nation military exercise from April 4 to 12 to mark the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and commemorate 50 years of the country’s liberation war. India will participate in the exercise along with the army of Bangladesh, Royal Bhutan Army and Sri Lankan Army. The exercise named ‘Shantir Ogroshena’ (front runner of peace) will see participation of a 30-member Indian Army team comprising of officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and soldiers from the Dogra regiment. The exercise’s theme is ‘Robust Peace Keeping Operations’. Observers from the US, UK, Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore will be present throughout the exercise. India had close association with the independence struggle of Bangladesh and hence a number of events are also being held in the country to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war. Bangladesh was born on 16 December 1971 when around 93 thousand Pakistani troops surrendered before the joint forces of the Indian Army and the “Mukti Bahini”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Bangladesh on March 26 and 27 during which he attended the golden jubilee celebration of the independence of the country.
HAL to certify HTFE-25 by 2025
State owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is planning to certify its Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine (HTFE-25) ‘25’ signifying its thrust to be 25 kN. The engine will be certified after testing it onboard company-owned Hawk Mk. 132 Advanced trainer aircraft designated as “Hawk-I”. The flight certification process is set to begin in 2024. Presently, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fleet of Hawk Mk.132 AJT is powered by Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk. 951 turbofan engines. HTFE-25 won’t replace this engine, rather it will be used as a powerplant on the HAL’s HJT-36 Sitara Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) that is undergoing spin testing because of extensive changes made to its tail and rear fuselage. Two Core engine Prototypes of the HTFE-25 have undergone 100 percent max speed and have carried out around 500 runs on the engine ground testbed. The fan stage testing of the engine will start soon. HAL has also proposed to develop a reheated derivative version of the HTFE-25, HTFE-40 with an afterburner section. It will possibly replace the engine of Jaguar deep penetration ground attack aircraft fleet.
Summer mess dress changes for Brigadiers and above
Army has been doing review of uniforms to be worn by officers. In line with this, summer mess dress has changed for officers ranking Brigadier and above. The regimental affiliations have been removed from the new dress colloquially known as ‘Dress 6(b)’. The changes will apply to the rank of Brigadier, Major General, Lt General and General. The regimental colour on badges has been removed and only brass badges will be allowed. The headgear shall consist of black turban for Sikhs and black cap for others. Black cummerbund with an Army crest shall be used instead of the colourful regimental cummerbund. The Indian Army uses nine types of uniforms divided into summer and winter category. The uniforms are divided into combat, peacetime uniform and ceremonial uniform that itself is of three types.
Special Forces’ attempt on world record with PWDs
A group of veterans from India’s Special Forces are looking forward to create three world records- on land, air and underwater with people with disabilities (PWDs). In first attempt, a team led by former 9 Para officer Major Vivek Jacob will climb the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier. The team of around 20 persons with disabilities will include ex-servicemen, serving soldiers and civilians. After this, a team will be doing accelerated free fall in Dubai and later they would head to Maldives for scuba diving in the open sea. An organization of Special Forces’ veterans was formed by Major Jacob known as Conquer Land Air Water (CLAW). Around 12 crore people live with one or the other disability but they remain away from the mainstream because of the challenges of the society. The officers founded CLAW after getting inspired from an IAF officer paralysed from his waist down. The group has opened scuba training centre for PWDs in Puducherry. The establishment was launched in 2019 and has trained more than 100 people with disabilities in four cities. CLAW is preparing to formally tie-up with the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) of the Army in Pune and Chandigarh for institutionalized training.
Promotions may be denied to navy personnel over fitness issues
Indian Navy has set strict guidelines for its personnel with penalties for both male and female if they fail to maintain high level of fitness standards. Penalties include warnings, ineligibility for promotions and awards and suitable administrative actions. New guidelines include Physical Efficiency Test (PET) that involves a 300-metre shuttle run in under 65 seconds, dive into swimming pool from a 5-metre high platform, 1.5 km run within 13 minutes and many such exercises. It is a routine tradition to conduct PETs for naval officers and sailors. But as per new guidelines, those who fail to clear PETs in specific time-frames will face strict actions. A naval officer or a sailor on failing to qualify the PETs will be counselled by the Commanding Officer (CO) and the Head of the Department (HoD) respectively. Then they have to go for mandatory retest. On failing to qualify the retest after 90 days they will be issued a formal warning. If they fail to pass the test even after 180 days, they would be rendered ineligible for awards, deputation, courses or even extension of service or re-employment. They would secure negative weightage for sea-time selection (sea tenures) and their time-scale promotions will be withheld till they clear the test. They would not get accelerated promotion or be recommended for awards. They will also be marked as non-eligible for volunteer courses and grant of re-engagement by units. If personnel fail to qualify PETs even after 270 days, show cause notice will be issued against them, followed by suitable administrative action after three months. The suitable administrative action could also mean removal from service. Earlier, the physical fitness standards were confined to individual levels that have been made more unit-oriented now. The warnings were issued earlier also but they were without time frames with listed punitive actions against them. The move specially targets those personnel who do not take PETs seriously.
Now PETs would be conducted every six months for sailors and officers at command and fleet headquarters. The revised PET standards have become more stringent with a reduced grade spectrum, with specific parameters for age groups, men and women naval personnel. The 300 metre shuttle run has to be completed by male personnel within 65 seconds and by women personnel below 30 years of age within 90 seconds. Dives into swimming pools that were earlier from a height of 3m will now be from a height of 5m. It is compulsory for all male personnel below the age of 50 years and for female personnel below the age of 45 years. Females in the age group of 45-50 have to complete 1 km run within 10 and a half minutes and for men in the same age group, 1.5 km run has to be finished within 13 minutes. The Navy also intends to keep a tab on obese personnel. Commands have been asked to conduct surprise tests of units to check the physical fitness of personnel.