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IAF sorties helped government fight cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days.”The Air Force has played an important role in lifting currency. We have done 35 sorties and transported 610 tonnes of cash till now, said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday.”We have also helped in running one of the mints 24×7,” he added.The decision to rope in the IAF was taken about 10 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization—making old Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 notes illegal and replacing them with new ones.It is unprecedented for IAF to transport cash which is usually done by train. Sources said since it was an “emergency-like situation” the IAF had been roped in to bring down delays in currency, reaching different centres across the country.The four currency printing centres are located in Nasik (Maharashtra), Devas (Madhya Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). Sources said the employees at the press have been working overtime to meet the cash demands in the country.From close by airfields in Mysore, Indore, Ozar and Kalaikunda, IAF planes are carrying out sorties almost daily to meet requirements.”The cash is transported by road to the airfields from where the Air Force transports it to different centre. This is saving time in transportation,” said a government official. The aircraft being used for transporting the currency are C 130, C17 and AN 32, sources said.Once the cash reaches the destination the local authorities take charge.Sources said initially there was a shortage in currency as the printing machines lacked the capacity to meet the increased demands. The government had announced printing of new Rs. 1000 notes but that has not begun yet.”While the Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes are being printed the void left due to non printing of Rs 1,000 note has created a crunch,” said a government official dealing with the subject.Officials privy to the details said out of a total currency requirement of 17.5 lakh crore, Rs 8 lakh crore is expected to be in 500 and Rs 7 lakh crore in 1,000 denominations. “10 per cent of this demand is being met per month,” the official added.The rest of the demand is to be met with other notes including Rs 2,000.

India needs about 200-250 Rafale aircafts to maintain edge: Arup Raha

New Delhi: Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain
its combat edge over adversaries.

The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on 31 December, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up.

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIBArup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas.

He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”. Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.

Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said.

“But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said.

Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date.

“We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”.

“Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 18:39 IST

AgustaWestland scam: Court sends ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, two others to jail till 30 December

New Delhi: Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi was on Saturday sent to judicial custody till 30 December after CBI said he was not required for further custodial interrogation in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar also sent Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, co-accused in the case related to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA 2 regime, to jail after the probe agency did not seek their further custody.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTIFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

After the agency’s submission, all the three accused moved their bail applications, which will be heard on 21 December as the CBI sought time to reply to the applications.

During the proceedings, the counsel appearing for Tyagi submitted before the court that the Italian top court had
ordered retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives in VVIP chopper scam case, which makes CBI’s stand weak in the current case.

The court, however, said it will take up the matter on next date of hearing on 21 December.

The court had on 14 December extended the CBI remand of Tyagi and the two others by three days after CBI had said it was a “very serious” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as “interest of the nation was compromised”.

The agency had earlier submitted in the court: “It is a very high-profile case and we need proper material. One part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had told the court that he was “a decorated war hero of the nation” and “CBI, which was termed
as ‘a caged parrot’ by the Supreme Court, is trying to tarnish his image”.

Earlier, Tyagi’s counsel had claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) was also a part of it.

CBI had alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made
huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income.

It was also alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several firms through which the money travelled came into existence and Sanjeev was known to alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

The 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the agency in connection with the case.

The CBI had also claimed that alleged European middleman Guido Haschke’s statement, which was received through LR
(Letter Rogatory), proved that he was assured by Sanjeev Tyagi that the latter’s brother was going to be Air Chief Marshal.

The accused persons, however, had alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 16:50 IST

Scary picture: India may see 7 million jobs disappearing by 2050, says study

New Delhi: As many as 550 jobs have disappeared every day in last four years and if this trend continues, employment would shrink by 7 million by 2050 in the country, a study has claimed.

Farmers, petty retail vendors, contract labourers and construction workers are the most vulnerable sections facing never before livelihood threats in India today, the study by Delhi-based civil society group PRAHAR has said.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

As per the data released by Labour Bureau early 2016, India created only 1.35 lakh jobs in 2015 in comparison to 4.19 lakh in 2013 and 9 lakh in 2011, the group said in a statement.

“A deeper analysis of the data reveals a rather scary picture. Instead of growing, livelihoods are being lost in India on a daily basis. As many as 550 jobs are lost in India every day (in last four year as per Labour Bureau data) which means that by 2050, jobs in India would have got reduced by 7 million, while population would have grown by 600 million,” the statement said.

The data clearly points to the fact that job creation in India is successively slowing down, which is very alarming, it pointed out.

“This (rise in unemployment) is because sectors which are the largest contributor of jobs are worst-affected. Agriculture contributes to 50 per cent of employment in India followed by SME sector which employs 40 per cent of the workforce of the country,” the statement said.

The organised sector actually only contributes a minuscule less than 1 percentage of employment in India. India has only about 30 million jobs in the organised sector and nearly 440 million in the unorganised sector.

According to the World Bank data, percentage of employment in agriculture out of total employment in India has come down to 50 per cent in 2013 from 60 per cent in 1994. It said that the labour intensity of small and medium enterprises is four times higher than that of large firms.

It further said that the multinationals are particularly capitalistic a fact vindicated during investment commitments of $225 million made for the next five years during the Make in India Week in February 2016.

However, what went unnoticed is that these investments would translate into creation of only 6 million jobs, it said. “India needs to go back to the basics and protect sectors like farming, unorganised retail, micro and small enterprises which contribute to 99 percent of current livelihoods in the country. These sectors need support from the Government not regulation. India needs smart villages and not smart cities in the 21st century,” it added.

IAF prepared to take on any sub-conventional threats from Pak: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is well prepared to take on any sub-conventional threats after repeated ceasefire violations from Pakistan, in deterrence to prevent any such intrusion or attack right in the first place. Briefing the media on the 84th foundation day of the IAF at Air Force Station Hindon in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, the Air Chief Marshal Raha said, “Armed forces are well prepared to take on any sub-conventional threats. We have had one or two cases and a determined terrorist can always get the better people, but aim is to prevent it. A deterrence to prevent any such intrusion, any such attack right in the beginning and so that we can neutralize them, so that they cannot actually cause any damage to armed forces property, armed forces people or our own people inside our whole nation,” he added. Raha further said that IAF is becoming smarter saying that, “We are learning lessons everytime something happens and I think we are very well prepared now to face any such contingency,” he added. Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet saluted all the Air Force personnel by saying, “Saluting all air warriors & their families on Air Force Day. Thank you for protecting our skies. Your courage makes India proud.” President Pranab Mukherjee also greeted the Indian Air Force on its anniversary and said in a message that the nation is proud of the capability and competency of the IAF as over the last eight decades, it has emerged as an immensely professional and combat-ready force. The Air Force Day is celebrated to commemorate the day the force was officially established, October 8, 1932.

Acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts could greatly enhance operational ability in near term: Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said that the terror attack in Pathankot and Uri are a stark reminder of the times we live in, and added, that the Indian Air Force is ready to counter such attacks in the future. “The terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase and Uri Army base are a stark reminder of the times we live in. To counter any sub-covenantal threat to our bases, we have instituted various new security measures,” said Air Chief Marshal Raha said on the occasion of 84th anniversary of the founding of the Indian Air Force. He said various courses are being conducted, that have increased security training, consciousness, physical fitness and combat efficiency of air warriors to handle such situations more efficiently. The Indian Air Force celebrated its 84th anniversary at the Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad with a large parade and an air display. The air display commenced with flag bearing sky divers of famous AKASH GANGA Team dropping out of AN-32 aircraft in their colourful canopies. The flypast included the vintage aircraft, modern transport aircraft and frontline fighter aircraft. The ceremony concluded with a scintillating aerobatic display. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted the Indian Air Force. He further said that the IAF has achieved distinction in defending.

Surgical strike: IAF chief says situation ‘live’, ready for any challenge

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The situation is “live” in the wake of the surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC and the armed forces are ready to deal with any challenge, IAF Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on Tuesday. He also said it was just a “coincidence” that Pakistan’s air force’s “High Mark” exercise took place at a time when tension between India and Pakistan was high. Even as he refused to take questions on the surgical strikes by the Army last week during his customary annual press conference ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8, Raha said the force has the power to punish its enemy, but a decision on using it in an offensive role will have to be taken by the government.”Air Force, Army and Navy are always ready,” Raha, who is also the Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee (COSC), said. When told would it not be a let down if he did not comment on the surgical strikes, Raha candidly said he was in “half a mind” to call off the media interaction because he knew everybody is charged up and he will be asked questions on the issue. “I think I should not say anything because it is very sensitive and things are still live,” the Air Chief Marshal said.He asserted that the IAF is capable of taking on any contingency that one can think of. Raha is the first chief among the three Services to face the media after the surgical strikes. Officials have remained tight-lipped about the operation except for a short and crisp statement by Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh. Raha said the issue of surgical strikes was a sensitive one and the force was focussed on improving its capability, but it was not directed at any specific country.”We are not going to develop our capability vis-a-vis a particular adversary or country. We just build our capability to have a strategic reach and to deter our adversary. And if we have to use that capability in a conflict or contingency, we will,” he said. The IAF chief said it would have been the best had the force’s wish list was fulfilled.Raha said earlier the procurement was “process driven and not outcome driven”, but things were changing now. While earlier procurement was a long-drawn process, the government is now trying to think out-of-the-box to shorten the time period. The example is the Rafale deal which was in the works for nine years before a decision was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to opt for a government-to-government contract with France.Raha said the attack on the Pathankot airbase was a “setback” to the IAF and the force has taken multiple steps to bolster security.

Indigenously built Tejas inducted into IAF

The Indian Air Force on Friday inducted the first squadron of the indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas into its fleet.An induction ceremony to induct two Tejas aircrafts was held at the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bengaluru, which included a multi religious prayer. The crew members of the first squadron of Tejas, a multi-role supersonic single-engine aircraft designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), also performed pooja and broke coconuts to mark the auspicious occasion. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>HAL handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to the IAF which will make up the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA. The aircrafts also performed a sortie during the induction ceremony.Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who on May 17 took his maiden flight in Tejas, had termed the aircraft as good for induction. Air Force has said the idea is to have a total of six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next.

Scripting history: India’s first batch of women fighter pilots inducted in IAF fighter squadron

History will be scripted on Saturday when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will formally commission women fighter pilots along with flight cadets of various branches of the Indian Air Force at a combined graduation parade at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal.The graduation parade will be a landmark in IAF history as the first three women pilots will be commissioned in the fighter stream of the flying branch.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Each has cleared the first stage of training and has about 150 hours of flying. After getting their wings tomorrow as flying officers, they will train for six months on the Advanced Jet Fighter ‘the British-built Hawk’ they will be assigned fighters and their squadrons.Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had earlier told ANI that after being commissioned, they would go to the advanced jet training, and later proceed to the regular squads.Raha, on the occasion of International Women’s Day had announced that the nation will see its first batch of female fighter pilots on June 18.In February 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee had announced that all military combat roles will be opened to women in the future.

Watch: IAF chief Arup Raha flies the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Tuesday took his maiden flight in India’s home grown Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, calling it “good” for induction.An ace pilot himself, Raha is the first Chief of Air Staff to fly the indigenously designed and produced Tejas in about a 30-minute sortie over Bengaluru skies around the HAL airport in Bengaluru. Group Captain M Rangachari was with him in the twin-seater trainer aircraft.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is my first sortie in Tejas, it is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations,” Raha was quoted as saying by the aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL).The Air Chief Marshal carried out manoeuvres in the entire flying envelope of the aircraft, an HAL statement said, adding he carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks. He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar and Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDs).Watch:HAL said Raha appreciated the flying qualities of the aircraft and congratulated the entire team of HAL and others involved in getting the LCA programme to this stage.”It is a morale boosting gesture from the IAF Chief that reposes great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities,” HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju ssaid.During the sortie, the Air chief checked for himself the take off, climb performances and agility of the aircraft by carrying out aerobatic manoeuvres, a Defence release said. This was also an opportunity to see the integration of avionics, simulated weapon integration and to get a feel of operational capability during the flight, it said.The series production of the Tejas aircraft has already commenced at HAL Bengaluru and the first squadron of the LCA was expected to be formed by July 2016, HAL said.The Air Chief also inaugurated LCA Painting hangar at HAL’s LCA Tejas Division, and took stock of HTT-40 (Basic Trainer) which was parked on the tarmac besides visiting LCA production line and other facilities. IAF currently plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft, with 100 of these having major modifications. The force wants Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and beyond the vision range missiles.As per the production plan, six aircraft will be made this year and HAL will subsequently scale it up to eight and 16 aircraft per year.

VVIP Chopper scam: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi travelled to Italy 10 times, says CBI

Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief S P Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement.Tyagi was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday in connection with the Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper scam.The alleged meetings between the former Air Chief Marshal and AgustaWestland middlemen took place first when he was air vice-chief and then as chief of Air Force.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI claims that it was when he was IAF chief that Tyagi allegedly tailored chopper specifications to favour AgustaWestland, one of the four global vendors in talks with the defence ministry.CBI sources said that it was in 2004, when Tyagi was vice-chief, that Finmeccanica approached him for the first time. Later, when it was announced that Tyagi was next in line for chief, Agusta middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa held some more meetings with him.The middlemen again met him at an air show in Bengaluru, where AgustaWestland had put up a stall. Another meeting with the middlemen took place at the office of one of Tyagi’s cousins, who is also charge-sheeted by the CBI.Along with Tyagi, his three cousins — Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep — have been accused of lobbying for AgustaWestland.CBI sources allege that in one meeting on March 7, 2005, Tyagi, as air chief, changed the specifications. Following his retirement, Tyagi is said to have travelled to three places in Italy- Florence, Milan and Venice. The CBI is looking behind the reasons for Tyagi’s travel.Agency sources added that the three cousins, known as Tyagi brothers, will be summoned in the coming weeks, along with Gautam Khaitan, a lawyer, who has also been accused in the scam, in which Rs350 crore were allegedly paid as kickback.In 2004, the Tyagi brothers, who made acquaintances with Guido Hasheesh and Carlo Gerosa, signed a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl in Tunisia. After May 2004, 1,26,000 euros and 2 lakh euros after February 2005, camouflaged as consultancy fee, were paid to Tyagi brothers and some of the money was allegedly paid off to Tyagi himself.In 20102, the defence ministry made a deal for AgustaWestland choppers. One mandatory requirement was that the service ceiling (height of flying capacity) must be 6,000 metres. Even though AgustaWestland declared that its EH-101 helicopters had a service ceiling of only 4,572 metres, it was cleared for flight trials on the grounds that Agusta would bring helicopters to 6,000 metres.Not only did Agusta not increase the service ceiling, but the flying capacity of the choppers was brought down from 6,000 to 4,500 metres. This was done even after reservations by the previous NDA regime and the IAF, which had, on multiple occasions, disapproved of reducing the ceiling height.

Rafale deal: Govt may not have made final announcement but for us it is finalised, says BJP

The government may have not made a final announcement on the Rafale deal yet but for the BJP it has been “finalised” and the Modi government has saved over Rs 21,000 in the “re-negotiation” with the French government.”The deal to buy 36 state of the art Rafale aircraft from France at 12 billion dollar (Rs 80000 crore) was re-negotiated and finalised at 8.8 billion dollar (Around Rs 59000 cr),” a tweet by the BJP said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government “saved” public money and the deal resulted in gain of “technological knowledge” and “strengthening the air power to defend the border”, it said.Officially, the negotiation between India and France are at an advanced stage.Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh had said on Tuesday that the two countries had resolved most of the “hitches” in the multi-billion Euro Rafale deal and the remaining issues will be cleared in the next DAC meet, scheduled to be held on Thursday.Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had said, “It (deal) is at a very advanced stage.”

India to get first batch of female fighter pilots in June

With the globe marking International Women’s Day on Tuesday, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that the nation will see its first batch of female fighter pilots on June 18th this year.”As of now three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training and are at par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18th,” Raha told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that all the three trainees should get commissioned on that day and become the first women officers in the fighter stream, Raha added that subsequently they will go to the advanced jet training, and later proceed to the regular squads.”I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved IAF’s proposal to induct women as fighter pilots and very soon on 18th June this year, Indian Air Force will get its first woman fighter pilot,” Raha said at a seminar on women in uniform in the Army Medical Corps here.He asserted that it was the AMC who first provided the opportunity to women to serve in the defence after which, the floodgates have opened for women to prove their mettle.However in March last year, Raha had said that women are physically not suited to fly fighter planes. “As far as flying fighter planes is concerned, it is a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems,” he had said.Later he changed his stand saying that he had no doubt that women could become fighter pilots.

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