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DNA Morning Must Reads: Jarnail Singh vs Parkash Badal in Punjab, train derailment in Mumbai & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP announces Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh as candidate against Punjab CM from home turf LambiAfter declaring MP Bhagwant Mann as candidate from Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency Jalalabad, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced Delhi MLA and Sikh rights activist Jarnail Singh as candidate to contest in the electoral battle against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from his home turf Lambi in Muktsar district. Read detailsMumbai: Five coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local derail, services on Kalyan-Karjat line suspendedFive coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local train derailed between Kalyan and Vithalwadi railway station, on Thursday morning. According to initial information, the incident took place at 5:50 am. However, no person has been injured, but services on Kalyan-Karjat line have been suspended. Read moreUP Assembly Elections | ‘No alliance with anyone’: Mulayam snubs son Akhilesh, leaves Congress in the coldSamajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav not only poured water on the dream of stitching together a grand alliance with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), but also snubbed his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by announcing 325 candidates out of total of 403 for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Read moreSasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary todayVK Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide, has not revealed her cards yet but she is expected to be elected the AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 as thousands of party executives, with their supporters, flooded Chennai today. Sasikala herself is expected to stay away while the party executive committee and general council will formally elect her as the leader. Read moreDemonetization: 600 tonnes and counting, IAF on mission cash liftIn 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. Read more

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

Air Chief Marshal Raha takes swipe at China, rejects concerns about Agni-V

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brushing aside Chinese reaction on the test firing of long-range nuclear capable missile Agni-V, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday said India should carry on with its task of building deterrence capability.In an apparent swipe at China, he said one should not talk about someone else doing something unless it is prohibited like nuclear proliferation and went on to add that it is “common knowledge” as to what is happening in this region “in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden”. Underlining that India is only building up its deterrence capability, Raha, who is also the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, said the country will have to build its capability “in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland” which will act as a deterrent.The Agni V missile, with an over 5000 km range, covers the entire China. Reacting to the missile test-firing, Chinese Foreign Ministry had yesterday hoped that it complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance. “I think in international diplomacy, normal diplomacy or military diplomacy, these posturing and signalling will always be there. “So we should just go about with our task, meet our own requirements, security challenges,” Raha said addressing a press conference here days before he demotes office on December 31.Not mincing words, Raha said he will not like to comment on what somebody else is doing unless it is prohibited. “Like nuclear proliferation, which is common knowledge to everyone, what is happening in this region, in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden. This is all common knowledge. I am not saying something new,” he said, without naming any country. The IAF chief stated that India is legitimately developing its capability indigenously and he does not think anyone should complain about it.Raha said India is “obviously building up” capability not to actually fight a conflict as it believes in peace and tranquillity. “But we also know we have been drawn into conflicts several times in the past. So going by historical experience, we have to build our capability. Capability to deter. How do we deter an adversary who is strong? We have to build up capability in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland, take on targets effectively which will hurt the adversary,” he said.

IAF gets nod for acquiring C17 transport aircraft

New Delhi: The government on Friday gave the go ahead to the IAF to purchase one more C17 heavy transport aircraft and also gave the nod to the Coast Guard’s proposal to acquire six multi-mission maritime aircraft for Rs 5,500 crore.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar, also reviewed the working of the DRDO besides giving the go ahead for the procurement of 1,500 indigenously designed and developed Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare protection system for the infantry combat vehicle for Rs 1,265 crore.

Another proposal of the army and the IAF for the procurement of 55 low level light weight radar was also cleared by the DAC for Rs 419 crore.

c17 Image courtesy Boeing

C17 heavy transport aircraft. Image courtesy Boeing

Two “classified” proposals for the acquisition of arms and ammunition for the Special Forces and another related to the Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is also understood to have been cleared.

The aircraft likely to be shortlisted for the Coast Guard is the C295, which is already been negotiated as a replacement for the Avro transport fleet of the air force.

Asked why the IAF is purchasing just one additional C17 aircraft besides the already 10 in possession, sources said this is because that was the only lone aircraft available with Boeing.

The IAF seems to have taken too long to push through the original proposal to buy three new C-17 aircraft. The American manufacturer had already pledged four of the last five C-17s in its production line to Qatar.

As per the 2011 contract worth $4.7 billion, India had an option clause to purchase six additional C-17s but paucity of funds meant that the follow-on order got delayed.

Talking about the NBC system, sources said the infantry combat vehicles are currently fitted with a manual system and the news ones will be automatic.

Sources said the six aircraft to be purchased by the Coast Guard will be fitted with state of the art “mission suite”, designed and developed by the DRDO.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:16 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat ‘best suited’ to deal with emerging challenges: Defence Ministry sources

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry insisted on Sunday that Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, named the next Army Chief overlooking the generally followed seniority norm, was “best suited” for the job.

The appointment of Lt Gen Rawat has ignored the seniority of Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Commander Lt Gen PM Hariz who have spent longer years in service.

Lt Gen Bakshi was not appointed the Vice-Chief when the post fell vacant in September and Lt Gen Rawat was brought in from the Southern Command.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpi

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: [email protected]

“He was found the best suited among the Lt Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North East,” a source in the ministry said.

On Friday, asked if the line of succession will be broken, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had cryptically remarked: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.

He has commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an infantry division in the Kashmir Valley.

He also has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations.

“Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades,” said the source who did not want to be named.

“He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC (Line of Control) with Pakistan, LAC with China and in the northeast,” the source said.

“He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society. His experience as GOC-in-C (general officer commanding-in-chief) Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services,” the source added.

Soon after the appointment was announced, the Congress questioned the government decision.

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted: “Why has seniority not been respected in appointment of Army Chief? Why have Lt. Gen. Pravin Bakshi and Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded, Mr PM (Narendra Modi)?”

The Defence Ministry on Saturday night announced the names of the next chiefs of Army and Indian Air Force, 13 days before General Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha are to retire.

Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will be the next chief of IAF.

Commissioned into the IAF’s fighter stream in June 1978, Dhanoa, who has flown various types of fighter aircraft and is a qualified Flying Instructor, commanded a fighter squadron during the Kargil Operations and flew numerous night strike missions in the mountainous terrain.

He has also held a number of important operational appointments including commanding a fighter base and leading the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan.

He has also served as Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Intelligence) and Senior Air Staff Officer (Chief of Staff) of two operational commands.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 13:56 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat appointed Chief of Army Staff; Air Marshal BS Dhanoa new IAF chief

New Delhi: The government appointed vice-chief of army staff Lt Gen. Bipin Rawat as the new army chief, superseding his two senior officers, while vice chief of air staff Air Marshal BS Dhanoa has been made the new chief of the Indian Air Force.

“The government has decided to appoint Lt Gen. Bipin Rawat, vice chief of army staff, as the next chief of army staff with effect from the afternoon of 31 December,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.

Lt Gen. Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpiLt Gen. Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpi

Lt Gen. Rawat. Image courtesy: [email protected]

It also tweeted that Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will take over as IAF chief with effect from afternoon of 31 December.

Rawat will replace General Dalbir Singh, while Dhanoa will take over from IAF chief Arup Raha. Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lt Gen. Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command Chief PM Hariz.

Government sources said Lt Gen. Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North East.

They said Lt Gen. Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in
the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East. He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering,
compassion, and connect with civil society. His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in mechanised warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, the sources said.

Supersesion in the army is not new though there has not been any such instances in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen. AS Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen. SK Sinha, who resigned in protest.

Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.

This was done by giving his junior, General GG Bewoor a year’s extension, during which time Bhagat retired. Bewoor, thus, succeeded Manekshaw.

Defence Ministry sources said the focus was on suitability and merit for the selection of the new army chief. They said that Lt Gen. Bakshi, an armoured corps officer, spent most of his career in Jodhpur and had two postings in Kashmir, but the positions he was in were not considered field posting. They added that Lt Gen. Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.

With Lt Gen. Rawat’s sudden promotion as the army chief, the line of succession in the force will get affected. The IAF, which has also seen supersession in the past, was set for a smooth transition with Dhanoa, the first in line for the post, named its new chief.

He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978. He has served in various squadrons and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters. Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.

The general officer has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations. He commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley. He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian military academy, Dehradun and Army War College, Mhow.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 22:12 IST

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat to be new Army Chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa to head IAF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government on Saturday appointed vice chief of army staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief superseding his two senior officers, while vice chief of air staff Air Marshal B S Dhanoa has been made the new chief of the Indian Air Force.”Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, vice chief of army staff, as the next chief of army staff with effect from afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet. It also tweeted that Air Marshal B S Dhanoa will take over as IAF chief with effect from afternoon of December 31.Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command Chief P M Hariz.Government sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganized and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, the sources said.Supersession in the army is not new though there has not been any such instances in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.This was done by giving his junior, General G G Bewoor a year’s extension, during which time Bhagat retired. Bewoor, thus, succeeded Manekshaw.Defence Ministry sources said the focus was on suitability and merit for the selection of the new Army chief.They said that Lt Gen Bakshi, an Armoured corps officer, spent most of his career in Jodhpur and had two postings in Kashmir but the positions he was in were not considered field posting.The sources added that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.With Lt Gen Rawat’s sudden promotion as the army chief, the line of succession in the force will get affected.The IAF, which has also seen supersession in the past, was set for a smooth transition with Dhanoa, the first in line for the post, named its new chief.He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978. He has served in various squadrons and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the Sword of Honour .The General Officer has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations.He commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley. He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and Army War College, Mhow.Lt Gen Rawat also held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary s Branch at Army Headquarters.He has been Major General General Staff at HQ Eastern Command. The officer commanded a Multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, the General Officer, during the span of over 35 years of service in uniform, has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Prior to taking over as the VCOAS, Lt Gen Rawat was holding the post of the GOC-in-C, Southern Command.

Abandoned car with J&K registration number found in Pathankot, alert sounded

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An alert has been sounded in the border district after an abandoned car was found at Farfal village near here, with the occupants escaping after being chased by villagers, police said on Thursday.The car with a Jammu and Kashmir registration number was noticed by villagers last night following which they gave it a chase.The occupants of the car then locked the vehicle and ran away, Senior Superintendent of Police Pathankot Rakesh Kaushal said.Police have launched a hunt for the occupants.”Once the car is unlocked, we will be able to find details about its occupants,” he said.Heavily armed terrorists had sneaked into Pathankot in January this year to attack the IAF base.

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi says PMO was part of ‘collective decision’ in favour of AgustaWestland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Saturday sent former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, arrested in the Rs 450 crore AgustaWestland bribery case in procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters, to police custody for four days after the CBI said he was needed to be quizzed to unearth a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.His cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in the procurement of VVIP choppers from the UK-based company during UPA-2 regime, were also sent to police custody till December 14.Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh sent them to CBI custody saying their custodial interrogation was required for a “fair probe” in the case. During the proceedings, CBI sought 10 days’ custody saying it was a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.However, the counsel appearing for the accused, opposed CBI’s plea saying FIR in the case was registered over three years ago and there was no fresh ground for the arrests now.Senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for the former IAF chief, claimed that the decision to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.”It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi’s) individual one. It was a collective decision of which PMO was also a part,” he told the court. The CBI alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several companies through which the money travelled came into existence.While seeking their custodial interrogation, the agency said the accused were required to be confronted and their assistance was needed to collect evidence and details of the bribe amount paid by AgustaWestland through different back channels abroad.It said they were required to be interrogated and confronted with each other and the incriminating evidences.The agency 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 he had not disclosed the source of his income.”It also said the involvement of several others in the entire conspiracy cannot be ruled out. “It was a very large conspiracy having international ramifications. Involvement of others in the conspriracy cannot be ruled out.” The agency claimed that sensitive documents were procured by the firm’s officials and several information regarding the procurement of choppers were conveyed to the firm after which the AgustaWestland got the deal.During the hearing, senior public prosecutor Raj Mohan Chand said that on October 31, 2004, S P Tyagi was appointed the IAF chief and he had to take the charge on January 1, 2005. Till that time, he was attached with the then IAF chief.The agency said at a meeting on March 1, 2005, a fresh tender was issued for procurement of choppers and a U-turn was taken on decisions taken earlier regarding the chopper deal.Under the earlier decision, the choppers had to be twin- engined but after this meeting, at Tyagi’s instance, it was amended to “at least twin-engined”, it alleged.This amendment was intended to make AgustaWestland eligible for entry as its choppers had three engines, the CBI claimed, adding that Carlo Gerosa, the alleged European middleman, and Sanjeev Tyagi were known to each other.Later, another alleged European middleman, Guido Haschke, came in contact with Sanjeev through Gerosa, it said.CBI further alleged that officials of AgustaWestland visited India several times and they, along with Haschke, met Tyagi unofficially and continued their contact.Tyagi’s counsel N Hariharan opposed CBI’s contentions and said the decision to procure the choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective decision of which PMO was also a part”.”The file moved through several levels but I am the only one who has been arrayed as accused,” he said, adding that the investments were made by him post-retirement and there is no ground for seeking his remand. Tyagi’s counsel argued that “the entire material is already with the CBI for sometime and Tyagi joined the probe whenever he was called for. There was a house search a day after the registration of the FIR and CBI had seized all the required materials”.At this stage, S P Tyagi, who was present in the court, told the magistrate, “I can give account of all my land investments if they (CBI) want.”Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for Khaitan, opposed CBI’s plea saying “I hope it’s not the consequence of demonetisation which it seems to be. The FIR was lodged over three years earlier and the arrests now are illogical and illegal.”Luthra claimed that Khaitan had attended the probe on various occasions and his arrest was “malafide”.He said Khaitan was arrested in a case registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to the chopper deal and had already got bail in the matter.”Khaitan had nothing to do with the award of the contract. They (CBI) just want to torture him. What was the CBI doing for three years? ED has already probed the facilitation of money. Money laundering is not CBI’s jurisdiction. If they did not need me when I was in ED custody, what grounds they have now,” he said, adding that everything said by the CBI against Khaitan was mentioned in ED’s case too.Sanjeev’s counsel also opposed the CBI’s contention saying that the agency was seeking custody after over three years of filing the FIR and there was no ground to keep them in custody.After hearing the arguments, the magistrate remanded the three accused to CBI’s custody till December 14 saying, “considering the seriousness of allegations and gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that CBI custody of the accused is required for a fair probe”. 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on Friday by the agency.These are the first arrests in the case by CBI which came three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.CBI had alleged that in 2005, Tyagi had agreed to change long held stand of Indian Air Force that minimum operational ceiling of the VVIP helicopters should be 6000 metres.Tyagi allegedly influenced the decision to reduce it to 4500 metres which brought AgustaWestland into the running for the deal when its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids, CBI sources said.On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks of Rs 450 crore by it for securing the deal.On April 7, an Italian court had convicted two top executives of defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) for paying kickbacks in the deal.

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: Incident acts adversely on IAF’s reputation, says chief Arup Raha

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: SP Tyagi in Patiala House Court, CBI seeks 10-dau custody for all 3 accused

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: CBI to seek 14-day remand in custody for SP Tyagi and other accused

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

Italian job does former air chief Tyagi in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and senior advocate Gautam Khaitan were on Friday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for their alleged roles in the infamous Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper case, also known as the AgustaWestland scam. It is for the first time that a former IAF chief is being arrested in a corruption case.CBI sources told DNA that Tyagi had allegedly met middlemen accused of securing the controversial deal seven times when he was the Air Force chief. They said that the three were called to the agency headquarters at Lodhi Road and questioned for hours before being taken into custody.The arrests come about eight ( 8 or 9?) months after The Milan Court of Appeals — equivalent to an Indian high court — ruled that the AgustaWestland contract involved payoffs to Indian officials, including Tyagi.Tyagi is accused of influencing the IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specifications to suit Italian multinational Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The service ceiling (height of flying capacity) was brought down from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, without taking into account the concerns of the Ministry of Defence.According to CBI officials, the Air Force “conceded to reduce the service ceiling from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres as mandatory with Tyagi’s approval.” Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement. CBI sources said that it was in 2004, when Tyagi was vice-chief, that Finmeccanica approached him for the first time.Sources told DNA that Tyagi allegedly met Georgio Zapa, Chief Operating Officer (COO) the of Italian aerospace and defence group, almost three months after he became the IAF chief. CBI officials said that the reported meeting took place on February 15, 2005.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore. The CBI alleged that the bribes were routed through multiple companies in India and abroad and involved middlemen and other individuals, including British national Christian Michel and Italian nationals Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named by the CBI. Even more interesting is the role of Tyagi’s three cousins – Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep (known as Tyagi brothers) – who have been accused of using the influence of their cousin brother for securing the deal.CBI documents accessed by DNA detail the cosy relationship of the accused with the IAF and the level of inroads that the Tyagi brothers made into the Indian bureaucracy through diligent lobbying. Sanjeev was also arrested by the CBI and it is likely that the others named in the FIR will face action.Elaborating on the role of Khaitan, CBI officials said that his alleged role started when Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland, started giving payoffs to middlemen Guido Ralph Hashke and Carlo Gerosa through a Tunisia- based consultancy named Gordon Services Sarl. Khaitan was previously arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the same case and is accused of setting up shell companies in India before the AgustaWestland deal went through.

SP Tyagi arrested in AgustaWestland scam: Here’s a timeline of events in the Rs 3,600 cr scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Friday, arrested the former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi for allegedly accepting bribe in the AgustaWestland chopper deal. Tyagi was arrested along with his cousin Sanjiv Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan. The deal dates back to February 2010 when the UPA government signed a contract with UK-based AgustaWestland to purchase 12 AW101 helicopters for the Air Force for an estimated Rs 3,600 crore The purpose of this deal was to have choppers fly VVIPs like the president, prime minister and others. However, in 2013, the deal was put on hold by the government after Bruno Spagnolin, CEO of AgustaWestland and Guiseppe Orsi, chairman of the Italian parent company Finmeccanica, were arrested on charges of bribing middlemen to acquire the deal with IAF.

The following day, then defence minister AK Antony ordered a probe into the matter.

Early in 2014, the Italian court investigating the chopper scam names former chief of the IAF, SP Tyagi in the scam, stating that he was bribed by Finmeccanica to sign the deal with AgustaWestland.

Here is a timeline of the AgustaWestland scam.

August 1999: The Indian Air force proposes to replace MI-8 helicopters which are used to carry VVIPs. A global search for the replacement begins.

November 2003: The then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee raises concerns over the deal citing ‘single vendor’ situation.

March 2005: The Ministry of Defence allegedly dilutes requirements for the chopper deal, enabling AgustaWestland to compete after recommendations from IAF.

September 2006: Manmohan Singh-led PMO raises the requirement of choppers from eight to 12.

January 2010: After years of deliberations and changes in a number of requirements, the Cabinet Committee on Security clears the deal for acquiring 12 VVIP choppers.

February 2010: The Ministry of Defence signs the deal with UK’s AgustaWestland.

February 2012: Allegations of corruption while finalising the deal first surfaces in the Italian media. The Indian Embassy in Rome is told to submit a report on the allegations.

February 2013: Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent firm of AgustaWestland gets arrested by the Italian police. This marks the first arrest in the case.

February 2013: The Ministry of Defence begins the process of cancelling the deal, also examines holding back the payment to AgustaWestland. It issues a show cause notice to AgustaWestland for breach of contract and integrity pact. CBI takes over case formally.

February 2013: CBI begins preliminary enquiry against ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi and 11 others.

March 2013: CBI files FIR against Tyagi and 12 others on charges of cheating and alleged criminal conspiracy in the VVIP chopper deal.

November 2013: The deadline for answering the show cause notice for AgustaWestland was 26 November. The company officials meet Ministry of Defence officials to give their side of the story. Justice BN Srikrishna is roped in as the arbitrator by AgustaWestland.

January 2014: UPA government formally scraps the deal with AgustaWestland.

September 2014: Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrests Gautam Khaitan on allegations of kickbacks in the 3,600 crore deal.

October 2014: An Italian lower court acquits Orsi and former AgustaWestland chairman Bruno Spagnolini.

April 2016: A Milan Court of Appeals sentences Orsi to four and half years and Spagnolini to four years in jail on charges of false accounting and bribing Indian officials including Tyagi.

April 2016: Christian James Michel, the middleman in the deal says he is willing to face Indian authorities for investigation. Michel writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention. In his letter to Modi, the middleman also offers evidence related to the case with Indian investigating agencies. Michel, however, denies reports of him and his father being close to the Gandhi family.

May 2016: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi interrogated for his links with the middleman.

December 2016: CBI arrests SP Tyagi for alleged bribery charges and criminal conspiracy, marking the first-ever arrest of a former IAF chief.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 19:17 IST

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi’s arrest sparks Congress-BJP war of words

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

Agra-Lucknow Expressway: Akhilesh, Mulayam inaugurate India’s first road to function as airstrip

Bangarmau: In a first for any road launch, six fighter jets of the IAF on Monday made a touchdown barely skimming the road before taking off to mark the opening of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be also used for war-like emergency situations.

The 302-km-long six-lane expressway, which is India’s longest, is expected to considerably reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Delhi which usually takes 12 to 14 hours.

The dream project of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was inaugurated in Bangarmau by his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of latter’s birthday.

Fighter plane Sukhoi touches down  during the grand opening of Agra-Lucknow expressway on Monday. PTIFighter plane Sukhoi touches down  during the grand opening of Agra-Lucknow expressway on Monday. PTI

Fighter plane Sukhoi touches down during the grand opening of Agra-Lucknow expressway on Monday. PTI

Three Mirage 2000 and three Sukhoi-30 jets of the Indian Air Force(IAF) carried out the ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Expressway which has an RCC construction and reinforced and appropriately marked to facilitate aircraft landings. The portion used for the operations is located at Ganj Moradabad in Unnao District in UP.

The aim of the exercise is to check feasibility of Expressways being used as alternate airstrips in case of dire emergencies or non-availability of runways for any reason, a Defence official said.

Mulayam congratulated officials for completing the Expressway in a record two years time along with the chief minister who took personal interest in it.

“At the time of laying of foundation stone of the Expressway, I had asked as to when it will be completed and when four years were asked for its completion I had refused to lay the foundation stone. Later, however, it was done giving 22 months for completing it. The result is before everyone to see that today the road is ready in two years,” SP chief said.

“Earlier, it used to take 12 to 14 hours to reach Delhi and now the distance will be covered in far less time. It will be very beneficial for the people,” he said.

Akhilesh said the project would prove to be an example before the country as no other state had such a vast expressway. “Samajwadis will go to the polls on the back of such great work,” he stressed.

“When roads are laid they lead to development…this road will connect capitals like New Delhi to Lucknow…it will have industries, petrol pumps and mandis along the route…on returning to power in UP, the SP government will take this expressway further till Ghazipur and Ballia in record time… it will connect one end of the state to the other,” he said.

Thanking IAF officials, Akhilesh said this is the first road in the country on which any aircraft can land and take off.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 18:31 IST

Decision on defence reforms including CDS in few months, says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: The defence ministry could in the next “few months” finalise higher defence reforms to bring in jointness among the three armed services which will include creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar admitted that the services did not want to leave their “turf” but they have
“slowly” come to understand that jointness would be much better than individual separate forces.

“I am very clear on it but there were certain aspects which need to be also taken along. I have to take all the
three services on board. Let me be very clear, no one wants to leave his turf,” he said during a book launch on Thursday.

Underlining that he was not speaking in Indian military context alone, Parrikar said across the militaries, the same situation prevailed.

He added that the question was whether one will “force it down the throat” or get everyone on board.

“I think, I have been discussing with the chiefs and slowly they have also come to understanding that jointness
would be much better than individually separate forces,” he said, seeking a “few more months”.

However, the defence minister made it clear that the final call would be taken by the Prime Minister.

Incidentally, the chiefs of both the Army and the Air Force will retire this year end.

Without naming any operation, he said though India has not gone for jointness, “recent operations” were quite successful joint operations.

“The Air Force and the Army integrated so well in recent operations, not saying which operation. There was total
synergy and there was no problem in working together,” he remarked.

The post of CDS was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) which was set up in April 2000 to review the national security system in the aftermath of the Kargil War.

The recommendation, if implemented, would be the first major military reform by the Narendra Modi government, which has already announced significant changes in the procurement process.

Sources said the appointment of CDS is aimed at promoting “jointness at the top” when it comes to planning, operations and modernisation of the military.

Though India has a tri-service command, it is headed by a three-star officer who is junior to the military chiefs who are four-star.

The post of the CDS is likely to be a four-star and he would be in-charge of the tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar islands, the strategic command in-charge of nuclear weapons along with the upcoming cyber and space command.

Parrikar said in the coming months the Andaman and Nicobar command will become a joint command in “real sense” as it was the “need of the hour”, adding that currently there was only a “partial joint command”.

Stating that some joint acquisition was being done, Parrikar pointed out that jointness can save the country lot
of money.

“We are are replicating the same thing. Air Force does the same thing. Army does the same thing. If there is
jointness, lot of things can be synchronised.

“Jointness of acquisition will be advantageous. In fact we are doing some joint acquisition. Give me few more months,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had late last year called for “jointness at the top” of the military establishment.

Parrikar had in March last year said that CDS was a must and hoped to propose a mechanism for the creation of the post within the next three months.

The defence minister said he does not care about what people say about him taking more time even though he had given a time period.

“I realised if I hurry, I will do something which will not taste well just because my ego says ‘I said six months, I should force it in six months’,” he said, adding he was “not there to satisfy his ego”.

“I am there to ensure it happens properly. So I decided that someone may say anything about it, I will do it properly. Today I am confident that I have understood,” he said.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 22:56 IST

IAF strengthens airlift capability in Arunachal, C-17 Globemaster makes landing 29 km from China border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major boost to the country’s rapid airlift capability in Arunachal Pradesh, the mighty C-17 Globemaster aircraft made its first landing at Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground on Thursday, just 29 km from Sino-Indian border.At an elevation of 6,200 ft with a landing surface only 4,200 ft long, the plane landed, validating its short field landing performance at high altitude. The ALG at Mechuka in the Yargyap river valley of West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh had been upgraded recently.Situated along the international border, Mechuka was one of the strategic locations during the India-China war in 1962.The IAF had started its operations with Dakota and Otter in 1962 in the area and subsequently the Antonov-32, popularly known as AN-32, was operated till October 2013 before the upgrade work was started.The road connectivity to the nearest air/rail head at Dibrugarh, about 500 km away, is generally two days of travel, unless the roads get damaged due to frequent landslides.”This is a quantum jump from the existing capability of An-32 and C-130J aircraft. Such airlift capability facilitates speedy transfer of men and material in this rugged terrain, interspersed with valleys and high mountain ranges that inhibit road connectivity,” a statement by the IAF said.In the event of a disaster in the region, C-17 operations to the remote ALG can enhance the speed and quantum of national relief effort. IAF has plans to validate airlift operations to and from various ALGs in the region that would usher in a new dimension in enhanced disaster response.This trial landing is expected to pave the way for operation of civil flights operating to and from the newly upgraded ALGs, which has an enormous potential to boost tourism by improving connectivity to remote locations in the North East.

Embraer paid US $5.76 mn to shell company for IAF plane deal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer paid US $5.76 million to a shell company in connection with a contract it secured to sell the Indian Air Force (IAF) three aircraft for about US $208 million, the US Department of Justice said today.Such a revelation came as Embraer, as per a Justice Department announcement, entered into a resolution and agreed to pay US $205 million to resolve charges of corruption and making bribe payments to foreign nations, including to an agent in India for the IAF deal.Embraer will pay a penalty of over US $107 million in connection with schemes involving bribery of government officials in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and Mozambique, and millions more over falsely recorded payments in India via a sham agency agreement.In a parallel resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Brazilian authorities, the company will also have to pay US $98 million in disgorgement.Embraer earned profits of nearly US $84 million on the aircraft sale to India. In 2009, Embraer paid an agent US $5.76 million pursuant to a false agency agreement with a shell company in connection with a contract it secured to sell the IAF three aircraft for approximately US $208 million, the Justice Department said.”Embraer paid millions of dollars in bribes to win government aircraft contracts in three different continents,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R Caldwell.”Embraer tried to bribe their way into several profitable aircraft contracts around the world,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge William J Maddalena.According to court documents, on July 3, 2008, Embraer executed a contract to provide three highly specialised military aircraft to the IAF for nearly USD 208 million.In connection with the deal, it retained the services of an unknown agent identified in the court as “Agent D” pursuant to a 2005 agency agreement.”It later paid US $5.76 million to Agent D pursuant to a false agency agreement signed in or around 2008,” federal prosecutors alleged.Federal prosecutors said in January 2005, Embraer executed an agency agreement with a shell company domiciled in the UK and affiliated with Agent D (although the name never appeared in the agreement).Under the agency agreement, Embraer agreed to pay the shell company a commission of nine per cent of the value of any defence contracts Embraer obtained in India because it believed the agent could help ensure that any contract would be awarded on a single-source, rather than competitive, basis.”Embraer personnel thought the agreement with Agent D was illegal under Indian law and thus took steps to conceal its existence, including secreting the sole fully-executed version of the agreement in a safe deposit box in London that could be opened only when both an Embraer employee and Agent D or an associate of Agent D were present,” federal prosecutors said.Less than a month after executing the agency agreement with the shell company, on February 8, 2005, Embraer announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Defence Research and Development Organisation to support the development of a new early warning radar system for the IAF which Embraer believed could ultimately result in it securing a contract for the sale of three Embraer-145 aircraft.The agreement for purchase of three planes for IAF was signed on July 3, 2008. The very next day, on July 4, 2008, Agent D contacted Embraer employees and demanded payment of the commission pursuant to the contract.”Agent D continued making demands for payment and, in or around February and March, 2009, an Embraer executive met with lawyers representing Agent D to discuss Agent D’s payment demands. Following these discussions, Embraer executives agreed to pay US $5.76 million to Agent D to settle the claim,” court papers said.To conceal the payment Embraer created a false agency agreement.On November 21, 2009, more than a year after it was awarded the India contract, Embraer through its wholly-owned subsidiary – ECC Investment Switzerland AG – executed an agency agreement with a shell company domiciled in Singapore and affiliated with Agent D for its purported services as an agent in a sale Embraer had made to an unrelated customer in another country that had purchased an Embraer aircraft more than a year earlier in July, 2008.”The Singaporean shell company never performed any services related to that sale or to the sale to the Indian Air Force,” US federal prosecutors alleged.”The same day that the agency agreement was executed, the Singaporean shell company delivered three invoices to ECC, each for US $1.92 million. Embraer, through ECC, remitted three payments to the shell company shortly thereafter. Embraer’s books and records did not reflect that this transaction was related to its arrangement with Agent D,” the Justice Department alleged.

Jammu and Kashmir: Search at IAF station after inputs of suspicious movement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security forces carried out a massive search operation at the Jammu airport after an input that two persons had entered the premises after scaling the airport wall, police said today.One person has been detained for questioning in this regard, sources said.”A massive search operation was launched by security forces and police in and around the airport and IAF station after some inputs about suspected movement last night”, a senior police officer said.The IAF pressed into service helicopters armed with search lights during the night operation, he said.Some children in Azadnagar locality close to Airport in Jammu had informed the people that two suspected persons have breached the wall and entered airport area. The information was passed on to police.Personnel from the police, IAF, army, CRPF and Airport Authority of India (AAI) rushed to the area, which was cordoned off last evening and massive searches were undertaken.Jammu Airport houses IAF station (technical area) and airport complex and is jointly guarded by IAF, CRPF, AAI security setup round-the-clock.The search operation and information on suspected movement had triggered panic in localities around the airport including Gadigarh and Azadnagar areas.

IAF 84th anniversary: PM Modi greets nation, thanks ‘air warriors for protecting our skies’

IAF 84th anniversary: PM Modi greets nation, thanks ‘air warriors for protecting our skies’

Updated: Oct 8, 2016 17:15 IST

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Indian Air Force 84th anniversary: We will not talk, just deliver, says IAF chief Arup Raha

Hindon: Asserting that the Indian armed forces are prepared to take on any challenge, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Arup Raha on Saturday said there has been enough discussion on the surgical strikes across the LoC, but the forces will not talk about it.

“There has been so much discussion on this issue in the country; every section of society is giving an opinion on this issue. … the armed forces are supposed to deliver the result that the nation expects. We are not going to talk about it; we will just deliver,” Air Chief Marshal Raha said at the Hindon air base on the 84th Air Force Day.

Raha is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Responding to a question on the surgical strikes and politicisation of the issue, Raha refused to comment on the Indian Army action across the Line of Control on the night of September 28-29 and related issues.

The surgical strikes had come in the wake of the September 18 terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir, in which 19 soldiers were killed.

In his speech at the Air Force Day function earlier, Raha mentioned both Pathankot and Uri attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir respectively.

“Terrorist attacks at the Uri (army camp) and Pathankot (IAF) base show the troubled times we are living in,” Raha said.

Asked to comment on the issue later, the Air Force chief said India is learning lessons every time something happens.

“We are getting smarter and smarter; we are learning lessons every time something happens. I think we are very well prepared now to face any such contingency,” he said.

“The armed forces are well prepared to take on any sub-conventional threat. We have had one or two cases… a determined terrorist can always get the better of people but the aim is to prevent it… the deterrence. We should be able to detect any such attack right in the beginning so that we can neutralise them (terrorists) before they cause any damage,” the IAF chief said.

Raha, in his speech, said that India is being seen as a “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean region.

The Air Force Day commemorates the establishment of the armed force on October 8, 1932.

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.

President Pranab Mukherjee wishes IAF on its 84th anniversary

President Pranab Mukherjee wishes IAF on its 84th anniversary

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New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday applauded the Indian Air Force, saying that it has achieved distinction in defending our skies, delivering vital humanitarian aid and disaster relief, while extending greetings on the 84th anniversary of the Air Force Day.

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. ReutersFile photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

File photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

“The IAF has achieved distinction in defending our skies and delivering vital humanitarian aid and disaster relief,” Mukherjee said in a tweet.

“Greetings and felicitations to all IAF personnel on the 84th anniversary of the Indian Air Force,” he tweeted.

Mukherjee, in another tweet, said: “The nation is proud of the capability and competency of the IAF.”

He said that over the “last eight decades, the IAF has emerged as an immensely professional and combat-ready force”.

The Indian Air Force is celebrating its 84th anniversary on Saturday by scintillating air display by various aircraft at Air Force Station Hindan in Uttar Pradesh.

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October, 1932.

IAF 84th anniversary: PM Modi hails air warriors for ‘protecting our skies’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Indian Air Force celebrating its 84th anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday saluted all the Air Force personnel and their families, thanking them for protecting the nations’ skies.”Saluting all air warriors & their families on Air Force Day. Thank you for protecting our skies. Your courage makes India proud,” the Prime Minister tweeted.Meanwhile, celebrations began 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 will conclude with a scintillating aerobatic display.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.He further said that the IAF has achieved distinction in defending India’s skies and delivering vital humanitarian aid and disaster relief.The President expressed confidence that the ongoing process of modernisation will transform the Air Force into an even more potent and strategic force that can take on all future challenges.

Serving IAF officer, Bengaluru scientist arrested for running multi-state drug racket

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednesday arrested a serving Indian Air Force Wing Commander and a Bengaluru-based scientist in connection with its probe in an international drug racket involving a scientist and his wife. Wing Commander G Rajasekhara Reddy was apprehended near Nanded district in Maharashtra while he was trying to flee to Goa.

Reddy, who was posted at Air Headquarters in Delhi, was the alleged “kingpin” of the racket and his purported involvement was revealed after the questioning of the duo in Hyderabad.

Representative image. AFPRepresentative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

The officials had on Tuesday seized 231 kg of amphetamine drug from research scientist Venkata Rama Rao as he was trying to collect a drug consignment in Hyderabad and later another 10 kg of the drug were recovered from the scientist’s residence. Following this, Rao, his wife and another aide Ravi Shankar Rao were arrested from Hyderabad on Tuesday.

The drugs seized were worth about Rs 45 crore and is considered to be a potent nervous system stimulant. It is banned in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Officials said Reddy was produced in a court in Hyderabad on Wednesday which sent him in NCB’s custody.

Reddy’s name cropped up in NCB investigation after the scientist and his aides were questioned and Reddy was later nabbed based on the inputs provided by Rao. Some mobiles and Rs 7.5 lakh in cash were recovered from him.

According to The News MinuteWing Commander Rajasekhara Reddy, posted with the Information Technology Wing of IAF in Delhi, has been a classmate of Venkat Rao and the duo resumed contact when Reddy was posted in Bengaluru for about five years till January 2016. Reddy was subsequently posted in Delhi and since then he would reportedly travel to Hyderabad to secure the contraband and trade it to other dealers. The report further said that the group had been cooking the drug out of a rented lab in Hyderabad and were reportedly looking for a permanent base.

NCB first seized 221 kg of amphetamine from two persons at Miyapur area here on 30 September.

Another report in The Indian Express states that Reddy had been under the NCB scanner since several days and he absconded after the raids were conducted. The drug manufactured in Hyderabad was reportedly trafficked to places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

With inputs from PTI

IAF steps up upgrading of infrastructure in eastern sector post-Uri

Shillong: With alertness very high post the surgical strikes on militant camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and the Uri attack, Indian Air Force is aggressively upgrading infrastructure in the eastern sector especially in Arunachal Pradesh.

Securing eastern borders. ReutersSecuring eastern borders. Reuters

Securing eastern borders. Reuters

IAF Eastern Air Command chief Hari Kumar said on Saturday that of the seven advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal Pradesh, five have been made operational and two others will be ready by the end of the year.

Apart from the ALGs, the IAF is also building capabilities to enhance performance in that state, he said.

“Infrastructure development (in the eastern air command) has not kept pace with the rest of the world to allow us to have better equipment and better services that can be provided in this sector … When we look at the performance of any sector, we are looking at building up of capability. The capability to meet challenge and we are not looking up at any specific country as our competitor or our enemy,” he said.

“In addition to the MiG 27 and the Hawks squadrons, we (EAC) are going to get another as the Rafale deal has been
signed,” Kumar said.

Expressing concern over Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism, Kumar said, “If you’ll look at the western sector, Pakistan has made it a state policy to use unconventional warfare because they could not match the strength militarily. They use unconventional warfare wherein they are trying to hit us with a thousand wounds.”

He expressed optimism that what happened in the western sector need not take place in the eastern part.

“What happened in the west need not transfer to activity in the east. It is confined to that area and now we are
waiting to what would be Pakistan’s reaction,” Kumar said.

He said, “Both countries don’t want a war. War is not good for anybody, but we cannot let any country dictate terms to us and kill our soldiers.”

Post Uri attack, IAF upgrades infrastructure in Eastern sector

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With alertness very high post the surgical strikes on militant camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Uri attack, Indian Air Force is aggressively upgrading infrastructure in the eastern sector specially in Arunachal Pradesh.IAF Eastern Air Command chief Hari Kumar said today that of the seven advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in Arunchal Pradesh, five have been made operational and two others will be ready by the end of the year.Apart from the ALGs, the IAF is also building capabilities to enhance performance in that state, he said.”Infrastructure development (in the eastern air command) has not kept pace with the rest of the world to allow us to have better equipment and better services that can be provided in this sector … When we look at the performance of any sector, we are looking at building up of capability. The capability to meet challenge and we are not looking up at any specific country as our competitor or our enemy,” he said.”In addition to the MiG 27 and the Hawks squadrons, we (EAC) are going to get another as the Rafale deal has been signed,” Kumar said.Expressing concern over Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism, Kumar said, “If you’ll look at the western sector, Pakistan has made it a state policy to use unconventional warfare because they could not match the strength militarily.They use unconventional warfare wherein they are trying to hit us with a thousand wounds.” He expressed optimism that what happened in the western sector need not take place in the eastern part.”What happened in the west need not transfer to activity in the east. It is confined to that area and now we are waiting to what would be Pakistan’s reaction,” Kumar said.He said, “Both countries don’t want a war. War is not good for anybody, but we cannot let any country dictate terms to us and kill our soldiers.”

India vs Pakistan: Strained ties, inefficient bureaucracy, but Indian forces are still ahead

On Thursday, Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh told the media that the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on the LoC causing significant casualties and raising tensions between the neighbours. As war between the two countries seems inevitable, we take a look at how India’s military compares with Pakistan.

According to a report published in Los Angeles Times, over the last decade, India is world’s no 1 “importer of military hardware and has built a growing defense relationship with the United States.” But that may not be enough as the report points out that an inefficient bureaucracy, strained civil-military relations and hardware problems remains a challenge.

According to reports, India also has an upper hand over Pakistan when it comes to reserve forces. But an opinion piece in The Indian Express warns of the country’s past failures when it comes to replenishing resources when needed the most. Case for example is 1971, where India took nine months for the armed forces to build up WWR before operations could commence, it said.

There’s still time for the French Rafale aircraft to be a part of the Indian Air Force (almost 36 months), and while India leads Pakistan in terms of numbers, all is not well within IAF. As a Hindustan Times report points out,  “IAF fighter fleet has shrunk to 33 squadrons compared to a desirable 45 to respond to a joint threat from China and Pakistan”. What this means, is we stand no chance if China decides to join Pakistan, if war escalates between the the nations.

Earlier this month, Indian Navy added Mormugao, a guided missile destroyer in its fleet adding more fire to its naval power, raising its total fleet size to 295. According to this The Indian Express report, Mormugao is equipped with surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-submarine rocket launchers, and it can carry two  anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

India has more than double tanks as compared to Pakistan. The number as of now stands at 6,464 for India and 2,924 for Pakistan. However, Pakistan may have an edge over India when it comes to the total number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal. India is estimated to have around 90-110 nuclear warheads whereas Pakistan may have 100-120 nuclear warheads.

Here is an infographic which compares India’s military might with that of Pakistan’s.

If it comes to war...If it comes to war...

Pathankot on high alert: Search operations launched after suspicious looking men spotted

Pathankot: High alert was on Tuesday sounded in Pathankot following inputs about suspicious movement of some people and a massive search operation has been launched on Pathankot-Dalhousie road.

Around 400 security personnel including SWAT team were deployed for conducting the search operation by the Punjab police in the district where terrorist from across the borderhad struck the IAF airbase in January.

Pathankot air base. AFP

Pathankot air base. AFP

“There was a specific input about the presence of some suspicious men roaming around on Pathankot-Dalhousie road. Following this, a massive search operation has been launched here,” Pathankot SSP Rakesh Kaushal said.

“Area has been cordoned off on Pathankot-Dalhousie road to locate suspects,” he said.

Army has also been alerted and there is a heightened vigil, police said.

Notably, Punjab Police and BSF had jointly carried out search operation and flag march in villages near Indo-Pak border on 25 September to thwart any attempt by intruders coming from across the border.

An alert was also sounded in the border districts of Pathankot and Gurdaspur in the wake of terror strike on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

Notably, terrorists who had sneaked in from across the border had attacked Pathankot air base on the intervening night of 1 January and 2 January  this year while Dinanagar in Gurdaspur was targeted on 27 July last year.

The Pathankot attack had claimed the lives of seven security personnel while four terrorists were killed.

Three heavily-armed terrorists wearing army fatigues, had stormed a police station in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district last year killing seven persons, including a Superintendent of Police, before they were gunned down during a day-long operation.

India seals the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters for Rs 58,000 crore from France

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s final. India and France on Friday signed the much-awaited Rafale fighter jet deal to buy 36 of them in fly-away condition at a cost of Rs58,000 crore. 15 percent of which will be paid in advance.The aircraft will be delivered to IAF within next 36 to 67 months.The deal for the twin-engine fighters signed in the presence of India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart here Jean Yves LeDrian has come about after 17 months of intense price negotiations and the final price was agreed at 4.2 billion euros lesser than the original price quoted by France (12 Billion).India also managed to get the aircraft customised with 14 Indian Air Force (IAF) specifications including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile Meteor that Rafale jets will come fitted with. Besides, the weapons package also includes advanced precision guided air-to-ground long range weapons.As part of the offset obligations, France will invest a total of 50 per cent of the Rs58,000 crore. While 20 percent of it will go into local Rafale component production and the rest into the research for military aeronautics.The deal also entails advanced training of three IAF pilots, one engineer and six technicians by the French air force.In January, 2012 the Manmohan Singh government had decided to buy 18 such aircrafts in “fly-away” condition, and 108 were to be made operational by state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) through the transfer of technology clause.However, Prime Minister Modi, during his France visit lin April, 2015, announced buying 36 of them in fly-away condition by scrapping that tender and invoking “Critical Operational Necessity” of the IAF.Other bidders who lost to Rafale in 2012 were the American F/A-18 and F-16, Russian MiG 35, European Eurofighter and Swedish Saab Gripen.Rafales will provide a much needed succour to IAF whose squadron strength is at 34 currently as against the sanctioned strength of 42. IAF’s front line fighters, the Russian Sukhoi 30’s serviceability is around 55 percent only and vice chief BS Dhanoa in March last said IAF is not ready for a two-front war with China and Pakistan together.Customised aircraftIndia managed to get the aircraft customised with 14 Indian Air Force (IAF) specifications including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile Meteor that Rafale jets will come fitted with. Besides, the weapons package also includes advanced precision guided air-to-ground long range weapons.As part of the offset obligations, France will invest a total of 50 per cent of the Rs58,000 crore. While 20 percent of it will go into local Rafale component production and the rest into the research for military aeronautics.

Rafale deal: French Defence Minister to arrive in India on Thursday night

New Delhi: French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian will arrive on Thursday night for signing of the Euro 7.8 billion deal on Friday for 36 Rafale jets which will come equipped with latest missiles and weapon system, giving IAF a cutting edge over arch rival Pakistan.

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

The deal for the aircraft, the first fighter jet deal in 20 years, will be signed on Friday in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Drian, sources in Defence Ministry said.

Also present will be the chief executive officers (CEOs) of top French companies, including Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale. The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 percent offset clause.

These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked, come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp’ that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.

The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF is its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.

Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’ the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour.

‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. Sources said the “vanilla price” of just the 36 aircraft is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros. The rest of the cost includes spare parts and maintenance.

French Defence Minister to arrive in Delhi tonight, Rafale deal to be signed tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday night to sign the Euro 7.8 billion deal on Friday for 36 Rafale jets which will come equipped with latest missiles and weapon system, giving IAF a cutting edge over arch rival Pakistan. The deal for the aircraft, the first fighter jet deal in 20 years, will be signed on Friday in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Drian, sources in Defence Ministry said. Also present will be the chief executive officers (CEOs) of top French companies, including Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale.The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50% offset clause. These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked, come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp’ that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF is its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary. Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range.During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’ the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour.’Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. Sources said the “vanilla price” of just the 36 aircraft is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros. The rest of the cost includes spare parts and maintenance.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle crashes near Jaisalmer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of the IAF on Thursday crashed near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.The UAV crashed near Bada Bagh, about 5 kms from Jaisalmer city, this morning, Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said.The UAV was on a routine sortie.A court of Inquiry has been ordered, he said.

Rafale deal confirmed: An overview of its history and what this means for India

As news broke late Wednesday evening that India and France had finally agreed upon the terms and conditions for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets by the former from the latter, it was probably greeted with relief rather than joy. Dassault, the French aviation company that manufactures the Rafale, had won the tender in January 2012 but had been locked in negotiations with the Indian government over the technical details ever since. When Narendra Modi came to office, he tried to break the impasse and India initiated talks directly with the French government for an inter-government agreement but even that, until just a month ago, seemed to be going nowhere. The conclusion of the deal, to be signed on 23 September, will be a relief to the Indian Air Force as well as Dassault. The first planes will begin to arrive 36 months hence and the entire order will be completed a further 30 months from then.

Representational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

In fact, India’s search for a medium multi-role combat aircraft had begun almost a decade ago in August 2007 when finances finally allowed the IAF to begin replacing its aging fleet of MiGs. Four companies participated in the competition – Saab, Mikoyan, Lockheed and of course, Dassault. The Rafale’s similarities to the Mirage 2000 that the IAF already operated, its lower life-cycle costs, and its naval and nuclear strike variants clinched the deal for Dassault.

Although the deal was originally envisaged to be for 126 aircraft with an option of 74 more, the final agreement has settled around 36 jets. Projected to cost $12 billion in 2012, that figure has also come down to $7.88 billion. However, India has managed to negotiate for several bells and whistles in the smaller deal and it is reported that the agreed upon price is around $750 million less than what the previous government was willing to pay.

Dassault has agreed to make India-specific modifications to the planes, allowing the integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays. Additionally, MBDA, the European missile manufacturer, will provide Meteor, an air-to-air missile with a beyond-visual-range over 100 km, and Storm Shadow (known as Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée – Emploi Général or SCALP in the French military), an air-launched cruise missile with a range of over 560 km, with the Rafales. Both these acquisitions will significantly improve the reach of the IAF, allowing them to shoot deep into enemy airspace or territory without crossing any international boundaries. Integration of the Brahmos-NG, a smaller version of the Brahmos supersonic missile, will make the Rafale a lethal platform by land or sea.

A complete transfer of technology, including for the Thales RBE2-AA radar and software source code, spare parts, maintenance, training, and a guarantee of 75 percent operational availability for the first five years takes the price of the package up from a base price of $3.8 billion for just the Rafales to the final number. A 50 percent offset agreement obligates Dassault to re-invest half the money from the deal in India again, creating hundreds of new jobs.

India’s decision to buy only 36 planes, barely two squadrons, seems puzzling at first. They will not fill the gap in the IAF’s numbers and nor will the Rafale’s nuclear capability add much to the Indian offensive toolkit. One can only assume that once the first set of jets are delivered, a further order will be placed to augment the existing numbers, including naval variants. This is even more likely if Dassault begins to manufacture in India – with the transfer of technology, it would be easy to domestically ramp up numbers as India has done with the Sukhoi. The Rafale’s primary role is to replace the IAF’s retiring fleet: while the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft is expected to step in at the low end, the Rafale will occupy the mid-level force structure with the expectation that an advanced indigenous descendant of the Tejas or the fifth generation fighter that India is jointly developing with Russia will form the top of the line component.

Immediately, the Rafale is expected to give India the dominant status in the air. Wedded to airborne control systems, the Rafale and its armaments can essentially hit enemy targets while staying out of range of their fighter jets. Though not the essential component of a future cross-border strike, the Rafale can provide the additional firepower if needed. As the IAF’s description of the tender suggests, the Rafale is a multi-role platform that can be deployed for air dominance, ground support, aerial reconnaissance, and nuclear delivery. The Rafale has already been used in all these capacities – except the last, of course – in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, and Iraq and maintained a high operational rate throughout.

Neither the Rafale nor any other weapons system will give the side possessing it the ultimate advantage in battle and such expectations are foolish. Nonetheless, the Rafale, when it arrives, will substantially augment the Indian Air Force’s capabilities in several mission profiles and put India’s hostile neighbours on notice. An additional acquisition of domestically manufactured Rafales post-2021 would buy the Indian defence establishment time to complete its advanced fighter aircraft for the IAF. For an enervated service, the arrival of the Rafales will be a breath of fresh air.

Rafale deal: India set to ink pact with France on Friday after cabinet nod

New Delhi: The government has cleared the much anticipated deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets which will cost 7.878 billion Euros and will be signed on Friday in the presence of French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian.

Defence sources said that deal for the aircraft, the first fighter jet deal in 20 years, comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the UPA era one, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 percent offset clause.

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

File image of a Rafale aircraft. Reuters

This means business worth at least three billion Euros for Indian companies, both big and small, and generating hundreds of jobs in India through offsets. The Rafale fighter jets, deliveries of which will start in 36 months and finished in 66 months from the date contract is inked, comes equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like Meteor and Scalp that will give the IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.

Sources said the government on Wednesday formally cleared the Inter Governmental Agreement to be signed on Friday in the presence of Drian who arrives on Thursday evening along with CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA and top government officials.

The contract for the deal was already cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security earlier. The price of the contract was fixed in May, sources said. Sources said the “vanila price” (just the 36 aircraft) is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet mounted displays, will cost 1700 million Euros.

Rest of the cost include spare parts, maintenance among others. Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while still staying within India’s own territorial boundary.

Pakistan currently has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India used a BVR of 50 km while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour. Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.

The tough negotiations by the MoD-IAF team extracted many concessions and discounts from the French before arriving at a price that is almost 750 million Euros less than what was being quoted by the French side in January 2016.

This was when the commercial negotiations gathered pace, almost seven months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s intention to buy 36 Rafales off the shelf from France during his trip to Paris in April 2015.

7 things you need to know about the indigenous LCA Tejas

The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first squadron of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas on Friday, with two aircraft in the force fleet.After nearly three decades in the making, the first two Tejas aircraft were handed over to the IAF by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The induction ceremony took place at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment, Bengaluru in the presence of Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here are some things you should know about the home-grown LCA Tejas:
ALSO READ IAF chief flies LCA Tejas, reaffirms India’s first indigenous fighter’s capabilityCredit: tejas.gov.in
ALSO READ In a first, Made in India LCA Tejas and attack chopper LCH to fire at IAF’s exercise in Pokhran* Tejas is a 4.5 generation plane- equipped with helmet-mounted display and fly-by-wire, a computer-regulated and semi-automatic system for controlling the flight of an aircraft or a spacecraft.* Tejas has multi-role capabilities. It is designed to carry a host of weapons- air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry. In air-to-air ones, Tejas will carry long-range beyond visual range weapons, with highly agile high off-boresight missiles to tackle any close combat threat. Additionally, a variety of air-to-ground munitions and an extremely accurate navigation and attack system allow the LCA to attack surface targets over land or at sea with precision.
ALSO READ Watch: IAF chief Arup Raha flies the Light Combat Aircraft TejasCredit: YouTube screengrab*The name of the first squadron of the Tejas LCA will be ‘Flying Daggers 45’. IAF plans to induct six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next. All squadrons of Tejas will be made up of 20 planes, including four in reserve. * The IAF wants future modified versions of Tejas to have Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, and advanced beyond the vision range missiles. This upgraded version will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.Yet another feature- mid air refuelling capability may only happen in the Tejas I A version, slated to come out in 2019.Credit: YouTube screengrab* Tejas will eventually replace the Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) 21, and will be used as a supplement to bigger fighter planes such as the Sukhoi Su 30 MKI* The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before it is moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.Credit: tejas.gov.in* While the idea to have an indigenous fighter aircraft was conceptualised in 1970s, the actual work started only in the 80s and the first flight took place in January 2001. The project often ran into rough weather and came in for criticism over the delay.(With Agency Inputs)

Live: Watch ‘Made in India’ LCA Tejas take its first flight after IAF induction

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday raised the first squadron of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas with the induction of two aircraft into the force.State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will hand 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.Live video of the event:<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking flight: The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas take first flight after being inducted into the IAFCatch the initial videos and pictures below:It is reported that the aircrafts are likely to perform a sortie during the induction ceremony.Watch the aircraft in action:The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before being moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.

Nine killed in medical store fire in Mumbai

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IAF plans to put LCA Tejas in combat role by next year

The Indian Air Force plans to put much-delayed Tejas in combat role by next year after raising in July the first squadron of the indigenous Light Combat Aircrat which it counts “superior” to Pakistan’s JF 17 fighters.State-run HAL will hand over the first two Tejas aircraft to IAF on July 1 which will make up the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA which will be based in Bangalore for the first two years before being moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The idea is to have a total of six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next. Tejas will feature in combat plan of the IAF next year and will be deployed in forward bases also, IAF sources said. They asserted that Tejas, which still has at least 19, mostly related to maintenance and easier operations, of the 43 deficiencies that the force had highlighted earlier, is “one of the exceptional single-engine fighter aircraft in the world”.Asked how the aircraft fared in comparison to JF 17, jointly developed and built by Pakistan and China, the IAF said it was “better”.”It is a better one since it is mostly made of composite which makes it light and very agile. It also comes with smart ammunitions and bombs which help it to hit targets in a precise manner,” a source said.Sources also said that Tejas will replace the MiG 21s and will be used for air-to-air fight and ground attack and could also be a compliment to bigger fighter planes such as Su 30 MKI.All squadrons of Tejas will be made up of 20 planes in total, including four in reserve. As per the plan, while 20 would be inducted under the “Initial Operational Clearance”, another 20 will be inducted later with Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR) and some other features. The IAF plans to induct over 80 aircraft with better specifications known as Tejas 1A. The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced beyond the vision range missiles, will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.While the idea to have an indigenous fighter aircraft was conceptualised in 1970s, the actual work started only in the 80s and the first flight took place in January 2001.

Creating history in IAF: Meet India’s first three women fighter pilots

Photos: 1 of 2

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Flying high: Why the IAF’s induction of three women fighter pilots is a landmark move

The Indian Air Force commissioned on Saturday its first batch of three women fighter pilots. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was the Chief Guest at the combined graduation parade at the Air Force Academy Dundigal, Hyderabad. With this, the IAF has become the first to open all branches of the Service for women. Effectively, women can now engage in combat.Earlier in October 2015, in a landmark move, six women were short-listed for the initial selection and grooming. Having cleared the initial two stages of training and gained over 150 hours of flying experience each, Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi will now proceed for a six month Stage-III, dedicated fighter training on Advanced Jet Trainer, the BAE Hawk at Bidar in Karnataka. On completion, they will be assigned different fighter aircraft and they will join the mainstream fighter squadrons.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Getting the aircrew badge, the ‘Wings’ worn over the left breast pocket is any aspiring aviator’s dream. But to be a ‘Fighter Pilot’ is a different ball-game altogether. It’s the most highly regarded position in any air force and the selection process only accepts elite candidates. It requires high academic ability, physical fitness and a strong mental drive to get selected. Fighter pilots have to display strong leadership qualities and team work in any combat mission. Decisions have to be made in split seconds, especially so at very high speeds and under high forces of gravity in ‘G’ manoeuvres. All Air Forces have only Commissioned Officers as pilots. One has to volunteer to be a fighter pilot and there are no differences in physical and mental standards between men and women. Some concerns include studies in the West that indicate women have 45 to 50% less upper body strength which may make them more prone to fractures and bone injuries. Fighter pilots also require strong muscle tissue along the extremities and abdomen for better ‘G’ tolerance, and a woman’s body structure may have lesser tolerance.
ALSO READ Scripting history: India’s first batch of women fighter pilots inducted in IAF fighter squadronWomen have had their role models. Sabiha Gokcen of Turkey was the first women fighter pilot ever in 1936. USSR had fighter pilots in WW II and Lilya Litvyak became an ‘Ace’ with 12 aerial kills. The real thrust for women becoming fighter pilots took place in the 1990s when all Western Air Forces inducted fighter pilots to fly high ‘G’ modern jet fighters. In 1989, Canada was first to induct fighter pilots. Jeannie Leavit of USA flew 300 combat hours in Iraq. China had its first batch of six women fighter pilots in 2013, and Ayesha Farooq became Pakistan’s first fighter pilot, also in 2013. More recently, we saw UAE’s Mariam al-Mansuri fly combat missions against ISIS in an F-16. A progressive democracy like India delayed the final induction in 2016.In 2013, the US Army passed an order that allows women same opportunities as men in combat arms which led to elite commando jobs for women. In December 2012, the US had its first three female submariners.Former Indian President Pratibha Patil made India proud by flying the Su-30 MKI in a 30-minute sortie at the age of 74 with minimal emergency training on 25 November 2009. By inducting women fighter pilots, IAF has hit the right notes in terms of equality and opportunities for women. Women have excelled in all branches of the IAF. Breaking the last glass ceiling will now put pressure on the Army and the Navy to open more roles for women. The initial approval is for a test period of five years. But the same would inevitably be extended. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar however clarified that the induction would be in a “phased manner” as necessary facilities for accommodation and training need to be created.Unfortunately, the number of women applying to join the armed forces has seen a decline in the last few years, as per a parliamentary report. I feel the numbers should finally go up to around 30 fighter pilots in the next 10 years. The same may be reviewed every 5 years. The issue of Command of Combat units may also be visited in years ahead. Indian women are resilient and strong and our aim should be to find ways to induct women rather than deny them opportunities. The author is a retired Air Marshal.

Manohar Parrikar to attend commissioning of first batch of women pilots on June 18

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will attend the commissioning ceremony of three women officers as the fighter pilots for the first time in the IAF history on June 18 at Air Force Academy in Dundigal near here.On the occasion, Parrikar will review the Passing out Parade and confer the ‘President’s Commission’ to 129 graduating trainees of various branches including 22 women trainees.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The graduation parade, which will be held as part of successful completion of the pre-commissioning training by the flight cadets of various branches of Indian Air Force will be a landmark event in the history of IAF, as the first three women pilots will be commissioned in the fighter stream of the flying branch, a defence release stated here today.The women to be inducted as fighter pilots are Bhavana Kant, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi.They will go to Bidar in Karnataka for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots.However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.Parrikar will also present the ‘wings and brevets’ to the newly-commissioned officers of the flying branch and to the officers from sister services i.e. Navy and Coast Guard who have successfully undergone the flying training.The reviewing officer will present the President’s Plaque and the Sword of Honour to the flight cadet standing first in the order of merit in ‘flying branch’ who will have the privilege of commanding the parade, stated the release.The reviewing officer will also award the President’s Plaque to the toppers (first in overall merit) in the navigation and ground duty branches of the graduating course.

Manohar Parrikar to witness historic commissioning of three women fighter pilots

Hyderabad: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will attend the commissioning ceremony of three women officers
as the fighter pilots for the first time in the IAF history on 18 June at Air Force Academy in Dundigal near Hyderabad.

On the occasion, Parrikar will review the Passing out Parade and confer the ‘President’s Commission’ to 129 graduating trainees of various branches including 22 women trainees.

The graduation parade, which will be held as part of successful completion of the pre-commissioning training by the flight cadets of various branches of Indian Air Force will be a landmark event in the history of IAF, as the first three women pilots will be commissioned in the fighter stream of the flying branch, a defence release stated on Friday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The women to be inducted as fighter pilots are Bhavana Kant, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi.

They will go to Bidar in Karnataka for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.

Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots.

However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.

Parrikar will also present the ‘wings and brevets’ to the newly-commissioned officers of the flying branch and to the officers from sister services i.e. Navy and Coast Guard who have successfully undergone the flying training.

The reviewing officer will present the President’s Plaque and the Sword of Honour to the flight cadet standing first in the order of merit in ‘flying branch’ who will have the privilege of commanding the parade, stated the release.

The reviewing officer will also award the President’s Plaque to the toppers (first in overall merit) in the navigation and ground duty branches of the graduating course.

Making history: IAF all set to induct first batch of women fighter pilots

New Delhi: The first batch of women fighter pilots, comprising three cadets, will be inducted in the Indian Air Force on 18 June.

The three women pilots will be commissioned into the fighter stream on 18 June this year after successful completion of the initial training, official sources said. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is also expected to attend the event.

Thereafter, they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit by June 2017.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi are the trainees who qualified for the fighter stream after it was thrown open to women in October 2015.

They will go to Bidar in Karnataka in June 2016 for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.

Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots.

However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.

Bids for upgrading Nagpur airport to be issued soon

In a boost to regional air connectivity in Maharashtra and Central India, the state government is planning to expand the capacity of the Nagpur airport and to construct a new runway.”The request for quotations (RFQs) for the upgradation and modernisation of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (BAIA) will be issued soon. This project will be undertaken on a public private partnership (PPP) basis on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis,” said a senior government official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that a decision in this regard was taken in a recent meeting of the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC) – a special purpose company to develop Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) and Aviation Infrastructure in the state to provide the regional air connectivity.The BAIA airport is considered among the top 20 busiest airports in the country. According to an estimate, the airport saw a movement of around 1,401,147 passengers and 13,330 aircraft in 2014. The airport also saw handling of around 6,063 tonnes of cargo. The recent development is expected to improve its traffic handling capacity.The official said the decision to add another runway to the existing one would augment the capacity of the airport to handle passenger and cargo traffic. “One runway can be earmarked exclusively for the use of the Indian Air Force… now, there are restrictions on civilian flights. If a new runway is constructed, one can be kept exclusively for them,” he added, stating that the capacity augmentation would also help boost passenger traffic and exports from the units located in MIHAN and the larger region.The project was estimated to cost around Rs 1,400 crore and would consist of a parallel runway, taxiway, passenger terminal building and new cargo terminal building.”The existing terminal building is small. So, it will be expanded or a new one will be constructed,” the official said. “We will follow the PPP model which has been chosen for the proposed Greenfield Navi Mumbai International Airport…. since the operating income for the Nagpur airport will not be high, we will have to ensure that the non-operating income will be large. It is the first time this is being done in the Brownfield model,” he added.The state Cabinet has recently consented to swap MIHAN land with the IAF to aid the airport’s expansion. This had already been approved by the Centre. Accordingly, 278.158 hectare of Air Force land will be transferred to MIHAN in lieu of the former getting 400 hectare of MIHAN land. The CRPF will also swap 2.30 hectare land for a parcel of the same size with MIHAN. The aviation industry insiders are of view that even though the decision for swapping which has been hanging for over a decade has been cleared by the state Cabinet, it will not make much sense till the IAF physically hands over the possession of the said land. This would practically happen only after its new bases gets ready for operation on the land handed over to them by MADC.

DGCA seeks IAF nod for more flights to Jammu, Srinagar

With airlines keen on increasing services to Srinagar and Jammu, aviation regulator DGCA has sought Indian Air Force’s approval for increasing flight movements at the two airports.The airports are under the control of the IAF, which has allowed limited civilian aircraft movements.Sources said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has sought IAF approval for increasing the number of flights at the two airports from the current eight to 12 per hour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Airlines want to introduce more flights to the two airports. They (the IAF) have agreed to consider our request,” a senior DGCA official said.While awaiting approval, the aviation regulator has also written to the J&K government seeking increased security for airliners at the two airports.

Kiren Rijiju flies on board fighter jet Sukhoi-30 MKI

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday flew on board a Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft, joining an elite list of dignitaries who have undertaken a sortie on the frontline fighter jet.Forty-four-year-old Rijiju took off from Indian Air Force’s Halwara base in Punjab and flew for about 30 minutes in the supersonic jet, which can go up to the height of 56,800 feet at a maximum speed of 2,100 km per hour. “Sukhoi flying brought me closer to IAF team at Halwara Air Force Station. Salute to brave pilots for securing our sky,” the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs said after the sortie. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rijiju joined the list of dignitaries who had cruised in the aircraft that include former Presidents late A P J Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil and former Defence Minister George Fernandes. Rijiju occupied the co-pilot’s seat along with an experienced top notch fighter pilot of the IAF.Sources said a few days ago Rijiju had undergone a successful medical fitness test. The Minister wore a jump suit and a special eye-gear so that he could comfortably undertake the high-altitude sortie. Rijiju under took the sortie following a request by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, sources said.

IAF chief flies LCA Tejas, reaffirms India’s first indigenous fighter’s capability

India’s first home grown fighter jet, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas found a fresh stamp on its capability and suitability for being inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday when the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha himself flew in it.Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Raha, accompanied by Group Captain M Rangachari took a 30-minute sortie over Bengaluru skies after taking off from the HAL airport. Besides maneuvers, twin-seater trainer aircraft, the IAF chief, who is an ace ace fighter pilot himself, carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks in the twin-seater trainer version of the aircraft.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar.”It is my first sortie in Tejas, it is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations”, Raha remarked.Even as HAL is likely to hand over the fourth Tejas aircraft to IAF by June end, with them, IAF said it “intends to form the first squadron of the LCA on July 1, 2016.”HAL, too, in a statement corroborated that “the series production of the Tejas aircraft has already commenced at HAL Bengaluru and the first squadron of the LCA is expected to be formed by July 2016.”HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju said, “It is a moral boosting gesture from the IAF Chief and reposes great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities.”IAF has plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft and the production plan includes manufacturing of six aircraft this year and scale the production to eight and 16 in subsequent two years.Tejas is expected to replace the ageing MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft.The single-engine multi-role fighter recently took part in the Bahrain International Airshow and did successful precision bombing during the exercise. It, however, missed its target on firing the Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) at the mega IAF exercise ‘Iron Fist’ at Pokhran in Rajasthan on March 18.The sanctioned number of aircraft squadrons for IAF is 42 but currently only 34 of them are in place while 12 of them are to be phased out by 2020.

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.

Former Isro chief UR Rao to be honoured with IAF Hall of Fame Award  

Bengaluru: Eminent space scientist and professor UR Rao will be honoured with the 2016 ‘IAF Hall of Fame Award” by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), for his outstanding contribution to the progress of astronautics.

The IAF award is intended to reward personalities for their contributions to the progress of astronautics and the Federation.

Image courtesy ISROImage courtesy ISRO

Image courtesy ISRO

In a letter to Rao, a former Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman, IAF stated “It is a true honour for IAF to attribute this award to Prof Rao, who has been for many years an active participant to the success of space in general and of the Federation in particular”.

The IAF Hall of Fame consists of a permanent gallery of these personalities, including a citation, biographical information and a picture, in a special part of the IAF web presence.

This year’s 67th International Astronautical Congress will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico during 26-30 September 2016.

Prof Rao will receive the ‘IAF Hall of Fame’ Award and a certificate, during the closing ceremony on 30 September according to an ISRO release.

IAF fears slowdown in modernisation after Customs Act change

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has asked the defence ministry to find a way out in the wake of a recent amendment in the Customs Act removing blanket duty exemption for defence goods, a move that may delay modernisation and maintenance programmes of fighter planes like Mirage and Jaguar.

Indian Air Force. ReutersIndian Air Force. Reuters

Indian Air Force. Reuters

Under the new rules, which came into effect from 1 April, customs duty exemption has been given to specific projects, all of which are in production in the country.

However, components and spare parts for Mirage, Jaguar and MiGs combat aircraft have been left out of the list of
exempted goods.

IAF came to know about the new changes only in the first week of April, defence sources said, adding that various
imported spare parts and components, worth several millions of euros, are now lying at various ports.

“This is not something which affects IAF alone. It affects other two Services also,” an official said, adding that since it is a new rule, clarifications have been sought.

Defence experts say that if the matter is not resolved soon, at least 20 percent of the Mirage fleet, which is being modernised under a multi-million euro deal with France, will be grounded.

Sources said the “thinking” behind the move to give duty exemption in project-specific cases was to ensure that the
domestic industry thrives.

“It is clear that someone missed a few points as genuine shipments are stuck,” a source said.

Under the agreements that have been signed, the country exporting the spare parts and equipment takes care of the
duties sand taxes in that country while the importer takes care of the same in the country.

Till last year, aircraft, aircraft parts, aircraft engines and aircraft engine parts, along with others were exempted under Section 93 (C) of the Customs Act if they were imported by Central and state governments, contractors to them or PSUs and the sub contractors of such PSUs.

“Nowhere in the world there are duties and taxes on military goods. It is hoped that the issue would be resolved
soon,” the source said.

PTI

ED’s Agusta charge sheet mum on Modi govt claims

A slew of technical shortcomings with Agusta (AW-101) VVIP choppers are now popping up in official government statements, even as the Rs 3,726 crore deal is caught in controversy. It now unfolds that corruption via kickbacks were encouraged, so that, these major shortcomings – which have now become the basis of political furore between BJP and Congress inside and outside Parliament – will be overlooked.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questionably, though the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chargesheet filed in the case in November, 2014, gives a miss to some of the glaring technical lacunae in AW-101 choppers, which, according to latest revelations by government, were tried to be covered up by those involved in giving and taking the kickbacks. Notably, the ED registered the case under the prevention of money laundering Act (PMLA) on July 3, 2014, more than a month after the current Modi government came to power on May 26. However, it is further notable that ED premised its complaint on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 12, 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power.On Friday, referring to facts that emerged from the field test of the AW-101 choppers, defence minister Manohar Parrikar pointed out in Lok Sabha that serious questions were raised about chopper’s capacity. The helicopters failed test at 5,400 feet in Srinagar and it was clearly flagged to be unsuitable for flying in Gulmarg and Pahalgam. In an elaborate statement, quoting from what he claimed were official files, Parrikar said of Agusta trials that, “effective pay load capacity at MSL in OGE configuration is nil above 30 degree centigrade…meaning that if the temperature is above 30 degree C then it would not be able to lift any load. With day time temperature usually above 10 degree in most of the plains of North India, pay load capacity in OGE configuration is limited to 300 kg, reducing with every degree rise in temperature above 10 degree. Effective pay load capacity at 3,500 feet, AMSL in OGE configuration is nil above minus five degree.” Parrikar also pointed to a “mysterious”fire at the ministry of defence (MoD) on June 3, 2014, that burnt Agusta files and said he will get CBI to investigate it. None of these find a mention in the chargesheet.Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen are named in the case. According to Parrikar, Tyagi and others, who are accused of reducing flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft), which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the race for the deal, are small fries and it were the Congress-led government of that time that was involved in the larger game of Agusta corruption. If not for change in the ceiling, Agusta choppers couldn’t have qualified for even submission of bids.While the change in ceiling forms part of “facts and circumstances of the case leading to the filing of the (ED) case”, curiously, the CBI complaint that led ED to register a case, reads that the then PMO during UPA rule acted to reduce the ceiling on inputs/suggestions by the Indian Air Force (IAF) only. The facts of the case with the CBI and ED tends to tilt against Tyagi more rather than the government of the day. “It was during the tenure of ACM (retd) SP Tyagi as the chief of air staff and with his approval that air force conceded to reduce the service ceiling to 4,500 metres as mandatory or to which it (IAF) was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons,” the ED chargesheet reads.Sukhois too flew in with allegationsMulayam Singh Yadav, as defence minister in 1996 Deve Gowda-led United Front government, signed a $1.8 billion contract to buy up to 50 Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MK – currently India’s frontline fighter jets – even as the IAF was not very keen to get it. According to then reports, IAF then was doing well with the induction of Mirage-2000 and Mig-29 into its fold.On Sukhois, former IAF chief Surinder Kumar Mehra was famously quoted as saying, “It’s a very good machine, but we are not interested”.The chopper now used for VVIPsThe Russian Mi-17 V5s have replaced Mi-8s for VVIP travel in India. The former has been upgraded and specially configured for VVIPs.What the chargesheet doesn’t mention clearly, but Modi govt claimsThe AW (101) failed field trials in Srinagar, Pahalgam and GulmargThat field trials were conducted in UKThat a fire at the ministry of defence burnt sensitive Agusta filesThat it was UPA government and not former IAF chief SP Tyagi who designed Agusta corruptionThose facing the heatFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi Sanjeev aka Julie TyagiDocsa TyagiSandeep TyagiGautam Khaitan (associated with Aeromatrix) Praveen BakshiGiuseppe Orsi (former CEO, Italian defence major Finmeccanica)Bruno Spagnolini, CEO, AgustaWestland (Britain-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica)Guido Ralph Haschke (middleman)Carlo Gerosa (middleman)Christian Michel (middleman)Firms named: FinmeccanicaAgustaWestlandIDS Infotech Ltd (India)Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd (India)

Saluting bravehearts: IndiGo pilot shows the way on how to honour a war-hero

Public recognition to brave hearts in our armed forces are rare and hardly forthcoming. But Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand was in for a pleasant surprise when he took a flight recently.

Former IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handleFormer IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handle

Former IAF fighter pilot and IndiGo captain Harish Nayani with Kargil hero Naik Deep Chand. Image from IndiGo Twitter handle

Former Indian Air Force fighter pilot Rajiv Tyagi shared on Facebook how an IndiGo Airlines captain and an ex-IAF pilot Harish Nayani proudly announced of having the war-hero as a passenger aboard the flight.

“Harish Nayani, 62nd course, Kilo Squadron, NDA, erstwhile IAF fighter pilot, now a Captain flying for Indigo Airlines, had a war-hero passenger on his flight the other day. Naik Deep Chand, who lost both legs and his right arm in the 1999 Kargil War, was flying Indigo. Harish announced the presence of the war hero on the flight, to the delighted applause of 180 passengers. This is all the recognition war heroes need, for acts no nation can repay them for,” Tyagi said in his Facebook updated.

Overwhelmed by the response the post got, the former IAF officer posted again.

The airlines also re-tweeted the tweet posted by journalist Man Aman Chhina.

Social media was also abuzz with praises for Nayani.

“Good gesture. There are hundreds of ex IAF pilots flying in civil aviation but none could think of something this. Hope the others too give veterans their due. Well done Capt Nayani from a 117 PC veteran,” said Jagjeet Singh Grewal.

VVIP chopper scam: ED writes to MoD, IT & other agencies to share details about officials

In an attempt to crack the suspect name codes and the alleged kickbacks paid in the VVIP choppers deal, ED has sought information from the Defence Ministry, Income Tax department and FIU to share details about officials and other individuals figuring in the case.Officials said the agency has sought property details on ten serving and retired officials of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force who had handled the procurement process of the AgustaWestland choppers at some point of their service.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has also sought details from the IT department and the Financial Intelligence Unit to provide details of personal finances, transactions and investments made by some people suspected to have some connection to the case.They said the references have been made in the light of a hand written note by the alleged middlemen in the case, a document also brought on record by a Milan court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes.Sources indicate ED investigators have made some “analysis” of the probable identity of these code names and hence want to investigate the flow of funds and the “proceeds of crime” and possible kickbacks made in the procurement of these choppers.With the help of data from the tax department and FIU, some evidence can be established, they said.To the Defence Ministry, ED has specified names of officials about whom they need the details of assets possessed.”This service-maintained data will be matched with current data being provided by the IT and FIU,” they said adding some officials of the MoD are in top positions now.Widening its probe in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, the ED has also begun a trail of “cash” which is suspected to have been paid as alleged kickbacks for the purchase of these helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland.The financial probe agency has set the ball rolling with the second round of questioning of witnesses and accused in connection with the scam.The ED, in its charge sheet filed last year in a court, had claimed to have detected flow of alleged kickbacks sent from abroad to companies of the accused Gautam Khaitan and cousin brothers of the former IAF chief.Officials said the flow of funds is being probed as it is alleged that it was quid pro quo to make AgustaWestland eligible to get selected for the final delivery of the 12 AW-101 helicopters to India for VVIP flying duties.The ED, as per the charge sheet, had traced two payments of Euro 1,26,000 and another two lakh Euros from a company based in Tunisia and others made to Tyagi brothers “camouflaged” in the form of consultancy fee and its probe had found that the said “remittances correspond with the developments taking place in alteration/reduction of mandatory servicing ceiling of the helicopters.”The ED alleged that “besides these two remittances, the Tyagi brothers including the then IAF Chief Tyagi, also received some amount of cash from Haschke and Gerosa.The ED probe found that the alleged middlemen Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, in collusion with the Tyagi brothers Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep “managed to make inroads in IAF through Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and thereby could influence and subvert the consistent stand of IAF regarding mandatory service ceiling of the helicopters.”This ground was used by CBI and ED to register their respective FIRs in the case and brought out the alleged illegal involvement of the ex-IAF chief and his cousins in perpetrating the scam.The agency, sources said, suspects the tainted cash could have been used by the accused for making certain high-value payments and purchase of costly items.It is also expected that a joint team of the two agencies could be authorised by the government to soon travel to few overseas locations to track the trail of funds, both through wire transfer and cash.

Tyagi had met Finmeccanica COO while in office as IAF chief

Former Indian Air Force marshal SP Tyagi had allegedly met the chief operating officer (COO) of Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica while in office. The meeting with the official of Finmeccanica, accused in the Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper scam, had taken place in 2005, almost three months after he was selected as the IAF chief.The revelation came from the CBI officials who interrogated Tyagi for the second consecutive day. Agency officials also added that Tyagi allegedly had financial interests in at least four companies based out of India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI officials told dna that the alleged meeting had taken place on February 15, 2005 in India, but did not mention the venue. Sources in CBI, however, said that investigators have retrieved records which indicate that the meeting had taken place between Tyagi and Finmeccanica COO, Georgio Zapa.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.Sources said that an elaborate record of individuals the government officials meet during their office time is usually maintained and it was possible that CBI investigators accessed the same. The agency is also looking at the travels made by Tyagi post his retirement in 2007. Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement.It had also come to fore that the former AFM was linked to three companies which have been identified with their initials: ‘Vanshi’, ‘Anuras’ and ‘Shavan’. On Tuesday, sources told dna that Tyagi might have other shares in some other companies out of which one Noida-based company, named Meghanshu, has been identified. Tyagi and his wife are the owners of the companies. The investigating agency has written to the Financial Intelligence Unit “to gather more details about the financial transactions of these companies in India and abroad”.Tyagi, along with another accused in the massive scam, Gautam Khaitan, are to be questioned by the probe agency on Wednesday while the former AFM’s cousins, also known as Tyagi brothers – Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep, have been called later this week. The three are accused of lobbying on behalf of AgustaWestland.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.AFM Tyagi is accused of influencing IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specification to suit helicopters put for bidding by AgustaWestland. The service ceiling (height of flying capacity) was brought down from 6,000 metres to 4500, even after reluctance by the ministry of defence.CBI documents revealed that 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.

VVIP chopper scam: Here is what SP Tyagi revealed to CBI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was grilled by the CBI for the second day on Tuesday in connection with the controversial Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal. SP Tyagi has accepted the meeting with COO of Finmeccanica Mr Zapa during examination, he met with him in 2005 in India. SP Tyagi has also admitted to have financial interest in three companies – Banshi, Anuras, and Shavan. TV channel reports also said that CBI asked him what he shared with Haschke and what he got in return.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>SP Tyagi and his wife, are the owner of these three companies in addition to a fourth company, Meghanshu. All four companies based in Noida.The CBI has called SP Tyagi for questioning tomorrow again. TV channel reports have said that the former IAF chief might be confronted with Gautam Khaitan tomorrow.Tyagi arrived at the CBI headquarters at 11.00 am, sources said. The agency had questioned him on various aspects of the case including his alleged links with middlemen, his alleged trips to Italy, reasons behind changing specifications, and relations with his cousins yesterday, the sources said. Recently, the Milan Court of Appeals in Italy had concluded that bribes were paid to clinch the deal. CBI had registered a case against Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) which made Agusta Westland helicopters eligible in the race for the deal.Tyagi had denied all the allegations against him. The agency had already questioned Tyagi in 2013 but this session is the first after the Italian court order. CBI sources said the agency called Gautam Khaitan, former board member of Aeromatrix, one of the suspect in the case, for questioning on Wednesday while cousins of Tyagi–Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep–have been called later this week.It is alleged by Italian prosecutors that bribes to clinch the deal were paid through middlemen and routed through a consultancy contract between AgustaWestland and companies owned by middlemen. Khaitan and the Tyagi cousins have strongly refuted the allegations against them.With agency inputs.

Forest fires: NGT issues show cause notices to Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh

New Delhi: Voicing concern over the forest fires raging in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday said it was shocked that everybody was taking the issue “so casually” and issued show cause notices to both the states.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) as to what they have done in the matter to control the situation.

Uttarakhand fire. PTIUttarakhand fire. PTI

Uttarakhand fire. PTI

“What have you (MoEF) done regarding the fire? It shocks us. Everybody is taking it so casually,” the bench said.

Responding to the query, the counsel appearing for MoEF said that entire team of officials concerned was working on the issues and choppers of Indian Air Force (IAF) have also been deployed in the ongoing firefighting operations.

To this, the bench asked Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh state governments, “What is your preparedness to prevent such incidents?”

The bench, however, asked the advocates for these states to take instructions on this issue.

“Issue notices to the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to show cause about the forest fires that have occurred in both the states,” the bench said, adding that the concerned secretaries would file their affidavits in this regard on the next date of hearing on 10 May.

The green panel also directed them to inform it about the preventive steps taken by them prior to the fire incident and also about the forest management plans.

“We want to know the cause of fire,” the bench said.

The observations came while the NGT was hearing arguments on the petition filed by an NGO against alleged “unregulated” operation of rafting camps in Rishikesh and other areas on the banks of river Ganga.

Massive forest fires have engulfed a large part of areas in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

In Uttarakhand, two IAF choppers and over 10,000 personnel have been deployed in the firefighting operations. The Centre has claimed that situation in the state was “under control”.

Forest area of over 3000 hectares have been blighted in Uttarakhand due to the fire.

AgustaWestland case: CBI questions former IAF chief SP Tyagi again

New Delhi: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was grilled by the CBI for the second day on Tuesday in connection with the controversial Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.

SP Tyagi. PTI

SP Tyagi. PTI

Tyagi arrived at the CBI headquarters at 11 am, sources said.

The agency had questioned him on various aspects of the case including his alleged links with middlemen, his alleged trips to Italy, reasons behind changing specifications, and relations with his cousins yesterday, the sources said.

Recently, the Milan Court of Appeals in Italy had concluded that bribes were paid to clinch the deal.

CBI had registered a case against Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.

The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m (15,000 ft) which made Agusta Westland helicopters eligible in the race for the deal.

Tyagi has denied all the allegations against him.

The agency had already questioned Tyagi in 2013 but this session is the first after the Italian court order.

CBI sources said the agency called Gautam Khaitan, former board member of Aeromatrix, one of the suspect in the case, for questioning on Wednesday while cousins of Tyagi–Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep — have been called later this week.

It is alleged by Italian prosecutors that bribes to clinch the deal were paid through middlemen and routed through a consultancy contract between AgustaWestland and companies owned by middlemen.

Khaitan and the Tyagi cousins have strongly refuted the allegations against them.

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