Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Silent Peacekeepers

The Silent Peacekeepers

Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan's coffin who martyred in the Conflict

      Its truth that most of the Indian population is least interested in the “Military Field” and even less interest in the life’s of a soldier. He’s one who gave up his today for a better and safer tomorrow for us. This post to show our gratitude to these brave hearts who not only fight defending our own country but also protecting international missions. This is a story about a platoon these 36 brave hearts serving UN mission under the Indian Flag. These brave hearts we are talking about were ambushed by about 2000 Sudan rebels in December 2013. Two of the brave jawans made the ultimate sacrifice while saving 100’s of UN employees and thousands of refugees.

       An calm early morning start to the Indian soldiers posted outside Akobo,Sudan to serve the UN representing India one of the biggest contributor to UUN peace keeping mission. With a watchful eye around the base the soldiers went around following their orders of protecting ”Top UN officials” . Akobo was one of the strategic bases homing several key UN officials, Indian mission command and home to a few hundred rebels. The base provided excellent hospital care in Sudan. But the command picked hostile movement along the base and the men guarding the base took up defensive positions to protect their second home. 

     Sooner the command picked up a large group of rebels coming toward the post. Soon the rebel group  was identified as Lou Nuer youth operating illegally under ethnic reasons. The group kept a demand for the handover of the tribal Sudanese who had taken up refuge inside the base. The Commander in charge of the outpost refused the Rebels request and refused to hand over the refugees. Soon within the minuets  the Rebels encircled the Indian Outpost. With the hostile stand off for a couple of hours the Indian mission never agreed to allow access for refugees. With their requests shot down the rebels resorted to firing with assault rifles. Sensing a huge fall out the Indian mission resorted to returning fire. Encircled by a force of around 2000 rebels the mission soon requested for back up by the UN. Though a back up party arrived it comprised only of a helicopter with seven Soldiers and another helicopter for EVAC the Outpost, a BMP was dispatched to the base. But faced with severe shortage the Indian army fought with full valour. Engaging the enemies head on, the jawans slaughtered the rebels accounting for around 200+ kills.  Faced with very high number of casualties the rebels started pulling back from the base.

        After a three hour gun fight Two Brave Indian Army hero's made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation facing the enemy. The brave hearts who made the nation proud were Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan (8 Rajputana rifles) and Subedar Kumar Pal Singh (Army Medical Corps) while Naik Sahabul Mandal was left seriously injured. And 10 other tribal south Sudanese also killed during the battle. The whole Indian mission at the base was EVAC to Malakkal another UN facility. With combined efforts by the Sudanese army and the UN mission the rebels group was flushed out.

       Mr. Hilde Johnson Special secretary of the UN secretary General paid tributes to the Indian Soldiers in a Memorial ceremony in Juba capital of South Sudan, and said “brave and courageous soldiers,” and extended her heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the fallen Soldiers.

Ms. Johnson, head of UNMISS said in a statement

        " As a Mission, we are inspired by the dedication shown by the Indian troops,”
“Had it not been for their bravery, the death toll at the (UNMISS base) could have been higher.”

Indian Soldiers in UN Mission
Indian Soldiers Patrolling Sudan © Japan Times

Indian Soldiers Patrolling Sudanese Streets

Editor Karthik Kakoor 


Friday, February 27, 2015

Weaponizing HAL Built HAWK AJT

Weaponizing HAL Built HAWK AJT

The HAL Built HAWK shown with Dummy bomb carrier
     With the motto “It's all to do with the training, you can do a lot if you're properly trained” Indian Air Force has felt a strong need to the train its future guardians with top notch knowledge and flying experience. With the search for an advanced jet trainer aircraft and the IAF after negotiations with various companies finally narrowed in towards the world's most successful and proven advanced jet trainer aircraft, the Britain origin HAWK AJT fielded by the BAE systems. The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. IAF on 26 March 2004 signed a contract with BAE systems to procure about 24 aircrafts directly from BAE systems and under ToT signed a contract for aircraft’s to be manufactured by the state run HAL.

        The Indian Air force currently operates about 90 HAWK advanced Jet Trainer. With 24 aircrafts being directly received in fly away conditions from BAE systems the state run HAL has successfully delivered the 75th Hawk ATJ to the IAF. Before any pilots gets a wing to fly guiding a mission on a advanced fighter jet the Hawk platform works as a platform to bring the pilot to speed with the advanced technologies of a fighter jet. The IAF was not the only force to induct these ATJ, Indian Navy have placed several orders with HAL for these jets to train their aviation wing. The navy has placed orders for a total of 20 Hawk ATJ’s. In a recent release the HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju was quoted saying “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has absorbed the technology of British Advanced Jet Trainer "Hawk" completely and would be able to support the project for the next 40 years “

HAL built HAWK in flying
         The AJT aircrafts have been claimed to be versatile aircrafts. In fact various counties around the globe use AJT’s as their ground attack, Recon and CAS role aircraft, the Russian YAK 130, Czech L 30, Dassault Alpha aircrafts. The French built Dassault Alpha was used by Chadian Air force to drop ordinance on the Boko Haram and scored 100 of kills. Most of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) won't allow the end users to modify the end products from its planned role. The HAWK ATJ is an extremely versatile and agile aircraft for a combat role. Armed with Air to Air and Air to Ground laser guided precision missiles these jets can act as a main stay combat aircraft and can be a major force multiplier. The British version of HAWK ATJ, the Hawk T1A have already been armed with Sidewinder Air to Air missiles and a internal gun, but have never have had the opportunity to taste combat in their service history.

     The increasing national concerns with in the country with terrorists and the barbaric attacks by naxals has always time and again stressed the need for air support to ground forces within the country by the means of Light Attack fighter. The ongoing naxal operations have always required a decent Light Attack CAS fighter to give support to the force within the country.
HAWK armed with two Sidewinder and a Anti ship Training Missile

       The Indian Air force has always been approached by the Para military forces for air support in operation against state based terrorisms groups like Bodo and Maoists. The paramilitary have till now only been supported by the Army’s aviation wing with light and heavy attack helicopters. But with the areas of operation and number of operation against these organizations increasing with time a strong need has been felt to include a light yet agile attack aircraft in the force.IAF initially had drawn up plans to procure a COIN (counter intelligence) Aircraft to deal in demanding time. But a detailed feasibility study completes by IAF the HAWK have emerged as the best option. This plan can be realized only if the British based BAE system gives India a go ahead to Arm these trainer jets which have served IAF as an AJT. The IAF formally has sent a letter of request to BAE systems in regard to arming these AJT. With HAL having experience in arming jets has formally forwarded a plan of action to BAE systems and the same was proposed and showcased in Aero India – 2105. With BAE systems showing interest in the project HAL may receive a go ahead soon to arm the jets giving a major thrust to the dipping fighting squadron numbers.

        Arming a jet build for an all together new purpose requires lot of precision engineering. Basically rolled out as trainer the jet needs to refurbished with a cockpit and control system that can support the weapon systems. Hard-on points have to be integrated to the jet and yet the Weight: Thrust ration has to be maintained and the agility and safety has to be kept as vital point. HAL being involved in arming their various aircrafts should have enough knowledge to carry forward the project without the much should they receive a go ahead from BAE systems.

      The Initial plan drawn up for arming these HAWK’s are with a internal 30mm cannon, ASRAAM Air to Air Missiles, Rack of smart bombs and Litening Pod for Navigation and Target identification. With the base plan strong a HAWK can accommodate a single Internal 30 mm cannon, 2 ASRAAM and 4 PGM/LGB. The Hawk may possess the strength for putting up a combat radius of 500 kilometres and service height being ceiled at around 40,000 feet but this may change variably with the weapon systems integrated on the jet. With a light and short combat radius the jet is a perfect contender for CAS and Armed Recon Missions. If this project does get through it may serve as a back up plan to IAF until the newer generation Rafale/Sukhoi are inducted into the forces.

Editor Karthik Kakoor 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

SU T 50 Fighter Project gets a thrust

 SU T 50 Fighter Project gets a thrust

       With the number of operational fighter squadrons dipping to an alarming 25 as against the required 42 squadrons the Government of India has felt a strong need for new fighter jets and in a rapid induction phase. Keeping the future moves of the hostile countries GOI has accelerated the process to induct the best in class 5th gen Fighters for the Indian Air Force. The project has been slated as the SU T50 being jointly developed with the Russians .With the last government showing very less progress in this regard it’s a uphill task for the present government to induct these jets in a rapid succession. Though the deal was discussed with the Russian counterpart during the last government’s tenure no head way was made in the talks and a formal agreement in this regard remained a dream to be realized. 

     From the day the new government took over office the modernization of the armed forces and ramming up the capabilities of the forces has been the top priority. With China running ahead with its very own Fifth generation fighter project the government is surely concerned. China has always been waiting to strike back at India. The present government seems to have realized the real threat to India if any is not “Pakistan “but the “China”. Chinese having established two entirely different projects have joined the elite club of having access to two entirely different Stealth aircrafts platforms and its only after The United States of America. 

     With increased co-operation between China and Pakistan fears of these sophisticated aircrafts being operated in a two front attack against India seems to be a real possibility. And the depleting operational fighter squadron’s numbers of the air force has surely alarmed the government. With no new induction on chart to the air force and faced with only retirement schedules of the 60's era fighters the government has been forced to fast track the “FGFA project”.

 With the new government finalising the contract with the Russian counterpart the long waited Fifth Generation aircrafts can soon be seen patrolling the Indian skies with a IAF tag on them. The Indian and Russian government have now officially signed contracts to produce the first test models for the 5th gen fighters benefiting for both Russian and Indian Air force.

     The Indian delegation has demanded for minute modifications than to the model being developed for the Russian forces. The Russian Variant has been formally named as PAK FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation), and the Indian variant being named as PMF (Perspective Multi-role Fighter). The main developing parties for the Fighter have been finalised with Russian based Sukhoi being theajor investor and developer for Russia and the Indian side’s development and manufacturing process being headed by HAL. 

    With both the state owned companies having a good rap out and past experiences in the SU 30 project the companies have made significant steps to materialize the long pending projects. Finally the disputes in regard to various issues regarding the “Technology sharing” and financial worries with Sukhoi and HAL has crossed the turbulent waters and has finally sailed in to a calmer portion promising a bright future for both the forces.

   Even though the first T 50 made its first public appearance in Jan 2010 very less has been know of the aircraft’s capabilities and with just the test models ready it’s a very long way for the induction of these force multiplying fighters into the respective forces. The FGFA project now stands for a testing time where the capabilities the role of the aircraft is time and again tested. With various demands to be met the Russians are sticking to field their first Squadron of SU T 50 by 2017 even though it’s really asking. 

    The first fully fledged prototype model to be handed over to HAL is being awaited in a year to follow. HAL would then be charged with the responsibilities to fine tune the capabilities of the aircraft and to start the process of modifications for Indian conditions. The first Indian version is scheduled to be delivered and inducted by 2019. Indian Air Force has scheduled to field at least a few squadrons of these sophisticated fighters by the year 2021. But with very less ground work being completed it’s a very demanding schedule the IAF has set-up for the HAL. With the time frame being too tight the Indian Government may opt for various other options. To stick to the demanding nature India is facing the government may end up with a totally new contract to procure a few squadrons of  T 50 directly from Russia.

   Though rumors have been for quite some time nothing has been officially confirmed till date. IAF has time and again felt the need to operate these stealth capable fighters for quite some time if the present government does sign a deal for a direct procurement IAF may boost of these ultra-tech fighters which will surely serve as a mega force multiplier for the IAF. Sources close to Russian agencies said have deferred the dates for these T 50 to around the planned induction time of 2020.

    The major modifications being demanded by the IAF is to have capacities for the fighter to operate with a two manned stations. The present and under development fifth gen fighters of other nations actually have been developed around a one manned station. Starting from F 22, J 31 to the F 35 all have been provided and developed for a single operating crew. The mother design T 50 itself is being developed around a single manned station. The only ones who seem to be following the IAF path are the Israeli's who have had plans to modify their F 35 to be manned by two operating crews. And the change in this very basic design demands a very skilled team to work for flawless perfection to be mastered.

   To boost the dipping squadron numbers and the need for deep strike operations increasing  IAF initially planned to procure some 250 FGFA but faced with short runs in various fields the final number was trimmed to 150 FGFA’s. Former IAF chief Browne was quoted saying to have initially went for 150 two manned FGFA and 50 T 50 from Russia but later to be trimmed down to 150.

     If the fact is to be believed IAF can boost of 6-7 operational FGFA squadrons by 2021. And if the government does go ahead with the plans to procure a few T 50 directly from Russia in fly away condition IAF can boost of stealth capable fighters joining their forces by 2020. Hope the all crucial FGFA project rolls in the top gear and the expected deadlines are met and the IAF is given a major booster for strategic deep penetrating bombing missions in the near future.

Editor Karthik Kakoor

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Bakistani Terror Boat

The Bakistani Terror Boat 

     The setting hours for a new year 2015 the country was busy preparing for the celebrations but  The Coast Guard of India was in full action mode armed with vital evidence from our intelligence agencies with a “ intruder alarm “ ringing out load. An intruder with a repeat of 26/11 on cards. The vet work of the intelligence agencies proved to be a grand success and the Coast guard intercepted the boat off the Gujarat Coast. The Coast guard following the SOP ordered the boat to be stopped and to be prepared to be boarded. But the Pakistani flagged fishing trawler refused to follow the orders and steered in a hostile move against the orders of the Indian coast guard, trying to evacuate from the EEZ. After hours of drama on the high seas the trawlers crew resorted to firing. The coast guard in response fired upon the trawler ending the chase game. It was just another day for the armed forces safe guarding the nation from hostilities often launched across the border.

   On Dec 31st, Indian Intelligence agencies picked up a suspicious Pakistani flagged fishing trawler was off the coast of Pakistan. Resources under the service of Intelligence agencies reported the activity with the trawler loading unidentified materials and huge stocks of fuels an d departing from the port of KetiBunder, Karachi. With the information received the Indian agencies immediately reported the activity to the top brass. With various other resources confirming of suspicious activity, the Coast guard was immediately summoned to do what they were best at.

ICGS Rajratanwho kills the enemy Boat

Upon being briefed, Indian Coast Guard immediately went into action mode launching  the Indian Made ‘German origin’ “ Dornier Do 228 “ which is an proved platform for Maritime search and Track, flying low the Dornier started the sweeping vast stretches of open sea to identify  the small trawler. After repeated pass by’s, the trawler was spotted steadily making its way towards the Indian coast. The Surveillance party immediately summoned the Central Command centre about the suspicious trawler. IGC in-shore patrol vessel(IPV) Rajratan was charged with the operation to intercept and board the trawler. With the interception successful the ICG IPV immediately ordered the trawler to slow down and be prepared to be boarded upon. But the trawler continued to speed away and started evading the ICG ship. Following the SOP the ICG crew fired the warning shots but the trawler continued evading the ICG ship. The Central command was appraised of the followings and the ICG ship was given a free hand for action. With a certain fate of death awaiting them the jihadists set the board ablaze and the resulting fire engulfed the trawler and the resulting explosions sinking the suspicious trawlers with all the Jihadists taken care of.

 Shortly after the operation GOI reported the success of the operation commending the “ ICG “ and shedding some light towards the operation with some photos.

The nation celebrated the operation’s success and commended the ICG for the safe guarding and the news was aired and the MoD officially reported of the operation and named the trawler to be of Pakistan origin.

But what followed was a series of serious allegation from the Think tanks based out of Delhi accusing the GOI and ICG of running a fake operation. The next 48 hours was covered with various questions regarding the operation. This is my sincere attempt to answer these serious questions which have questioned the very operational manner of our Navy and ICG .

why was the trawler fired upon .?

   The very first point to note is that the trawler was operating in EEZ/Indian territorial waters. Law of the sea states that if intercepted by a “ Military force “ of a nation you are operating in and you are demanded for an investigation the visiting vessel has to follow the orders.  Defying this the Pakistani flagged trawler operating deep within the Indian waters attempted to steer away from the ICG when the orders were made. The ICG immediately sticking to their SOP fired resorted to the warning shots.The intruders firing further orders from the IGC set the trawler upon fire.

  But the very question that needs to be asked to Journalists questioning the integrity of the armed forces is “Why would a fishing trawler supposedly involved in fishing activities evade the IGC ? Why weren’t the orders followed? Why would the ship evade and resort to firing against a warship.

    Its a worldwide practice for all fisherman to follow the orders enforced upon them by the governments. But what was witnessed here was totally opposite. Forced with the responsibility to safe guard the nation out IGC followed the line of action. Ultimately all that matters is the safety of the nation.

How do you know that's a Terror Boat..!

   Armed with the Naval intelligence our Navy has possibly placed informant's all over the world. That backed with the sophisticated satellites its always a possibility to keep eye on suspicious activities. With the intelligence agencies picking up the trawler Karachi the trawler was put under surveillance. The Dornier Do 228 surveillance aircraft pieced the final pieces in the puzzle . And finally the hostility shown by the Trawlers crew simply summed up the motives of the intruders.

Was taking them to custody a option..?

 The consignment of the trawler was not confirmed .The input was only about suspicious activity. So taking them to custody was always a option. The very first action from IGC was to intercept and board the trawler. But the trawler complicated the issue without following the orders. Witnessing hostile action the IGC yet again followed a SOP which mandates any ship getting in close vicinity to a suspicious vessel .

Was the Trawler actually fired upon..?

Initially some reports reported that the ICG fired shots at the trawler thereby hitting the large cache of Ammo aboard the trawler and in turn setting the trawler on fire and sinking it . But ICG has never confirmed about shots being fired upon the trawler.GOI has officially confirmed that the intruders themselves set the trawler on fire fearing action from IGC ships.

This was the first major operation after Parrikar took over MoD. A lot of  controversy was made out of this in India, but nothing was really reported from the across border in Pakistan. These controversies questioned the very integrity of Indian Coast guard

. The top brass of IGC ranging from  IG to the ships commander being put under scanner. Much was made of this by the Media and Think Tanks. This may ultimately change the way our forces take action towards any future hostility. This has surely downed the spirits of our armed forces.

It was the duty of Indian Coast Guard to protect the EEZ and as far as that goes the IGC has performed a great job to the point. I believe them to the last breath and there is no doubt those brave man performed a flawless operation saving a thousand lives back in the country with putting their life’s at stake. Hope there arises no doubts about their operational integrity in the Future.

Jai Hind, Bravo Coast Guard

Editor Karthik Kakoor