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An-32 Aircraft Slammed Into Mountain in Arunachal

An An-32 aircraft that went missing with 13 people aboard last week slammed into the face of a mountain very close to its summit in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka region, a new photograph released by the Indian Air Force shows.  

This is the clearest image of the wreckage to have emerged so far. The An-32 aircraft was first spotted by a Mi-17 helicopter yesterday from a height of 12,000 feet, and rescue workers are currently trying to find bodies and possible survivors.

Search operations began around 6.30 am today. While the Air Force successfully dropped eight to ten personnel near the crash site in two helicopter sorties, 15 mountaineers — nine from the Air Force, four from the Army and two civilians — have also been deployed. A few have reached the crash site, and others are scouring the surroundings woods for possible signs of survivors.

Local mountaineers who sighted the crash site have also been roped in by the Siang district administration.

The An-32, a Soviet-designed twin engine turboprop transport aircraft, had vanished from the radar around 1 pm on June 3 while flying from Jorhat in Assam to a remote military landing strip in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mechuka. An IAF C-130J transport aircraft, Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, NAVY P8-I search aircraft and a fleet of IAF and Army helicopters were deployed for the search over the last eight days. The Air Force used two Mi-17s and an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the P8i — a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Tamil Nadu — for the purpose.

The base for the search-and-rescue operation has been set up at Kayiang in West Siang, an official with the Arunachal Pradesh government said. While a doctor and other emergency services have been positioned there, a back-up team has also been kept on stand-by. Air Force sources told NDTV that the base hospital at Jorhat has been kept ready for medical emergencies.

The mountainous and forested Mechuka region, where the An-32 aircraft had crashed, is believed to be one of the world’s most inhospitable for air travel.

(With ANI inputs)


Abhinandan Varthaman Isn’t the Only POW in Pakistan, 54 Others Remain Forgotten in Time

New Delhi: As India mulled over the possible ways to bring back IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Pakistan on Thursday said it will decided on according the air force pilot prisoner of war status “in a couple of days”.

“India has raised the matter of the pilot with us. We’ll decide in a couple of days what convention will apply to him and whether to give him Prisoner of War status or not,” Pakistani media quoted the country’s Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal as saying.

The 38-year-old was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday after his MiG-21 Bison crashed during an aerial dogfight with a Pakistani jet.

‘The Missing 54’

While the debate over POW status to Varthaman escalates, 54 other Indians soldiers, officers and pilots continue to be held by Pakistan as POWs since the 1971 conflict, although the Pakistan government has often denied their presence on its soil. The 54 POWs have come to be known as ’The Missing 54’.

‘The Missing 54’ are the soldiers and officers of Indian armed forces who were given the status of missing in action (MIA) or killed in action after the 1971 Indo-Pak war. However, they are believed to be alive and imprisoned in various Pakistani jails. They include 30 personnel from the Indian Army and 24 from the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The 30 Army personnel include one Lieutenant, eight Captains, two Second Lieutenants, six Majors, two Subedars, three Naik Lieutenants, one Havaldaur, five gunners and two sepoys from the Indian Army. The remaining 24 from the Indian Air Force include three Flight Officers, one Wing Commander, four Squadron Leaders and 16 Flight Lieutenants.

This list was tabled in the Lok Sabha in 1979 by Samarendra Kundu, Minister of State of External Affairs, in reply to a question raised by Amarsingh Pathawa.

The families have approached both the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in their 48-year-long campaign, but neither body was able to offer assistance.

On the contrary, during the 1971 war, India had taken almost 90,000 Pakistani troops as POWs. However, all of them were released as part of the Simla peace agreement.

Until 1989, Pakistan had completely denied holding the prisoners. However, then prime minister Benazir Bhutto finally told visiting Indian officials that the men were in Pakistani custody. The POW issue had also figured in the discussions between Bhutto and then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi during their meeting in Islamabad in December 1989. She had also assured Gandhi that she would “seriously look into their release”.

Years later, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf back-tracked on this, formally denying their existence in Pakistan.

However, there has been compelling evidence of the presence of 54 POWs in Pakistan’s custody.

In 1972, Time magazine published a photo showing one of the men behind bars in Pakistan. His family believed he had been killed during the war, but instantly recognised him, The Diplomat reported in 2015.

In her biography of Benazir Bhutto, British historian and former BBC correspondent Victoria Schoffield reported that a Pakistani lawyer had been told that Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore was housing Indian prisoners of war “from the 1971 conflict”.

Victoria Schofield in her book Bhutto: Trial and Execution also wrote, “Besides these conditions at Kot Lakhpat (jail), for three months Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) was subjected to a peculiar kind of harassment, which he thought was especially for his benefit… His cell, separated from a barrack area by a 10-foot-high wall, did not prevent him from hearing horrific shrieks and screams at night from the other side of the wall. One of Mr Bhutto’s lawyers made enquiries among the jail staff and ascertained that they were in fact Indian prisoners-of-war who had been rendered delinquent and mental during the course of the 1971 war.”

“An American general, Chuck Yeager, also revealed in an autobiography that during the 1971 war, he had personally interviewed Indian pilots captured by the Pakistanis. The airmen were of particular interest to the Americans because, at the height of the Cold War, the men had attended training in Russia and were flying Soviet designed and manufactured aircraft,” The Diplomat wrote in 2015.

On September 1, 2015, the Supreme Court also asked the Centre about the status of these 54 Indian POWs languishing in Pakistan jails since 1971.

“Are they still alive?” the Supreme Court had questioned.

“We don’t know,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for External Affairs and Defence ministries, told a bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph.

“We presume that they are dead as Pakistan has been denying their presence in their prisons,” he said.

The provisions of the Geneva conventions apply in peacetime situations, in declared wars, and in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties. The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the Third Convention or treaty. More specifically, the 3rd Geneva Convention of 1949 lays down a wide range of protection for prisoners of war. It defines their rights and sets down detailed rules for their treatment and eventual release. International humanitarian law (IHL) also protects other persons deprived of liberty as a result of armed conflict.


Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper force lands in Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar: Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter force-landed in the west of Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district on Thursday, a Defence Ministry official said.

The incident took place when the MI-17 chopper was on a routine mission from Tuting IAF Advanced Landing Ground, an official said. All 16 people on board are safe, the official said. (IANS)


The IAF’s helicopter fleet has steadily increased in numbers over the past few years, blossoming from a handful of U.S. types in the 60s to over 500 French, Indian and Soviet built types. The pride of the force is, undoubtedly, the Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter which has been operated by No. 126 HU with outstanding results in the mountains of Northern India. The bulk of rotorcraft are Medium Lift Helicopters (MI-17/MI-17IV/MI-17V5 and Mi-8s) well over two hundred of these types serving in helicopter units through out the country, playing a vital logistic support role. Induction of the latest machine, the Mi-17 V5, is a quantum jump in our Medium Heli-lift capability in terms of the avionics, weapon systems as well as its hot and high altitude performance. Medium Lift Helicopters of IAF are operated for commando assault tasks, ferrying supplies and personnel to remote mountain helipads, carrying out SAR (Search and Rescue Operations) and logistic support tasks in the island territories, Siachen Glacier, apart from armed role.

The Chetak/Cheetah helicopter fleet has been the backbone in SAR, Casualty Evacuation and RTR (Route Transport Role) role in the IAF. To augment Cheetah helicopter operations in OP Meghdoot sectors, indigenously modified re-engined Cheetal have been inducted in the fleet. This indigenous helicopter has proved its worth and apart from reliability it has shown better load carrying capacity.

Of late, India has taken a conscious decision to go the indigenous development way in so far as procurement of military hardware is concerned. This can be best leveraged in the helicopter capability, as HAL has shown significant capability generation in the successful design and development of the ALH (Dhruv). ALH fleet in IAF has steadily grown from conventional ALH Mk-I to state of the art ‘Glass’ cockpit ALH Mk-III. ALH Mk-I has been effectively utilized for communication, SAR, Cas Evac roles.

It is also the prime machine for Sarang Helicopter Display Team, which projects the capability of indigenous helicopter apart from skill, motivation and training of IAF pilots. ALH Mk-III has been recent induction which undertakes SAR, Cas Evac and RTR. The Weapon System Integrated version, the ALH Mark IV, is also likely to be inducted into the IAF by 2017.

The first Attack Helicopter Squadron of IAF was raised as 125 (H) Sqn (GLADIATORS) on 01 Nov 1983 and equipped with Mi-25 helicopter Gunships. The Mi-35 was inducted in Apr 1990. 104 (H) Sqn was re-equipped with Mi-35 in 1990.

The Attack Helicopter fleet of IAF has a rich history of participating in operations since its induction. The AH has been deployed in IPKF operation in Sri Lanka, under UN at Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo under Chapter 7 of UN for Peace Enforcement. The machine and men of Gunship Sqns have done Yomen service for Indian Air Force and provided Tactical Foot Print to the Air Power.

The rotary wing capabilities of the IAF are poised to undergo a paradigm altering growth. Induction of the Chinook helicopter will be a boost to the nation�s heavy heli-lift capability. The planned induction of Apache Attack Helicopters is yet another instance of the shift in the technology and capability level of the rotary wing fleet by IAF. The prowess of our Helicopter operations have been demonstrated in Uttarakhand very recently, and with all these new capabilities and systems being added on, the IAF will be truly poised to take on any challenges.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-25/MI-35 : Twin engine turboshaft, assault and anti armour helicopter capable of carrying 8 men assault squad with four barrel 12.7 mm rotary gun in nose barbette and upto 1500 Kg of external ordnance including Scorpion anti-tank missiles. It has a max cruise speed of 310 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-26 : Twin engine turboshaft, military heavy lift helicopter of Russian origin with carrying capacity of 70 combat equipped troops or 20,000 kg payload. It has a max speed of 295 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-17 V5 : The Mi-17 V5 is a potent helicopter platform, equipped with modern avionics and glass cockpit instrumentation. They are equipped with state-of-art navigational equipment, avionics, weather radar and are NVG-compatible.

Helicopter Aircraft

Chetak : Single engine turboshaft, light utility French helicopter with capacity of 6 passengers or 500 kg load. It has a max speed of 220 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

Cheetah : Single engine turboshaft, FAC/casevac helicopter of French origin having capacity to carry 3 passengers or 100 kg external sling loads. It has max cruise speed of 121 km/hr and can climb to 1 km in 4 minutes.


China accelerates army activity in Tibet Autonomous Region

Increasing Chinese military activities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has set alarm bells in India. While its air presence has been a matter of concern over past several years, latest reports suggest construction of underground bomb-proof shelters to house fighter jets at Lhasa Gonggar airport.

So far intelligence report and images available through satellites suggested that airfields in Tibet were not optimised for offensive operations. But a recent report has suggested that the airports were being converted into military airbase. There are also reports of constructions of bomb-proof hangers dug deep inside the mountains nearby to hold around three squadrons of fighters or about 36 aircraft.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Air Force) has such facilities along its border with Russia. The underground bomb-proof facilities along the India-China border in the TAR region is a “new development”, defence sources admitted.

In addition, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) bases near some of the airfields is also being augmented and expanded along with helicopter bases. The SAM base near Shigatse airfield situated across Sikkim in Tsang province of Tibet has also been augmented.

The new helicopter bases allow helicopters to take off and land with full payload. India has also been upgrading Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) along its northern borders. These temporary airfields located in Walong, Mechuka, Tuting, Pasighat and Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh were built during the Second World War and have now been refurbished.

There are also reports of deployment of its Sukhoi-27 and J-10 fighter aircraft fleets for continuous operations during winter months in TAR that gives Chinese a “year round capability”. This is an important development because in the past China would only occupy forward airfields during the summers.

China PLA Air Force is also on a modernisation spree to ensure that more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft. “It has a credible mix of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft. They have got adequate reserve to replenish after attrition. They have multi-layered air defence systems and rocket forces that allow them (read China) to fight a ground campaign even without a decisive air victory,” sources added.

News To Worry

Chinese Air Force is on a modernisation spree to ensure more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft to enable them in fighting ground campaign as well.

Source: DNA with inputs from agencies


Court of Inquiry orders disciplinary action against Major Leetul Gogoi

NEW DELHI: A Court of Inquiry has ordered to initiate disciplinary action against Army Major Leetul Gogoi in the Srinagar hotel altercation case.

Gogoi has been prima facie found guilty of “fraternising with local and being absent from duty in operational area”. 

On May 23, Gogoi was detained by police following an altercation at a hotel in Srinagar where he was allegedly trying to enter with an 18-year-old woman.

Days later, the Army had ordered the CoI into the incident after Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said in Pahalgam that exemplary punishment would be given to Gogoi if he was found guilty of “any offence”.

“If any officer of the Indian Army is found guilty of any offence, we will take strictest possible action,” Gen. Rawat had said.

Major Gogoi had hit the headlines last year after he tied a man to a jeep in Kashmir purportedly as a shield against stone-pelters during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha byelection on April 9.

(TOI With inputs from agencies)


China, India vow to strengthen military exchanges, cooperation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Aug. 21, 2018, in New Delhi, India. China and India pledged on Tuesday to further strengthen ties between the two countries and their militaries. (Xinhua)

China and India pledged on Tuesday to further strengthen ties between the two countries and their militaries.

When meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries, sharing a friendship dating back to ancient times with broad common interests, should join hands and support each other in striving for win-win cooperation of mutual benefit.

He also called on the two countries to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between their militaries so as to jointly safeguard border stability.

For his part, Wei said under the guidance of leaders of the two countries, bilateral ties and relations between the two militaries have been highlighted by friendly coexistence and win-win cooperation.

He believed that his visit would help implement the consensus reached between leaders of the two countries, deepen military and security exchanges and cooperation, and build mutual trust.

The two countries should jointly maintain peace and tranquility in border area so as to contribute to a closer development partnership, Wei added.

During his visit, the Chinese state councilor will hold talks with Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on strengthening military cooperation and safeguarding border stability.

Global Times


Chinese Still In Doklam, Rahul Gandhi Says, Targeting PM Modi In London

Rahul Gandhi in London: “If India was punching above its weight, Doklam wouldn’t have happened,” the Congress chief said.

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interaction today in London on a range of subjects including India’s border standoff with Chinese troops last year, said the “Chinese are still in Doklam”. PM Modi could have stopped it had he kept a careful watch, the Congress president added.
“Doklam is not an isolated issue. It was a part of a sequence of events, it was a process. Prime Minister is episodic. He views Doklam as an event. If he was carefully watching the process, he could’ve stopped it,” Rahul Gandhi said at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
Implying that the government was obfuscating facts on Doklam, Rahul Gandhi said: “The words used are very interesting – the Chinese have withdrawn from the point of contact, they have withdrawn from where the altercation happened. The truth is that the Chinese are still in Doklam today.”
He added that “if India was punching above its weight, Doklam wouldn’t have happened.”
Doklam is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan.
A standoff over Doklam saw Indian and Chinese soldiers standing eyeball to eyeball for 73 days over Beijing’s attempt to build a road in the area, which New Delhi viewed as a serious security concern because of the access it provides to Beijing. Chinese military positions in Doklam would have been in a position to strike targets in the “Chicken’s Neck” — a strip of land in West Bengal’s Siliguri, which connects India with the states in the north-east.
The two sides “disengaged” on August 28.
Earlier this month, Rahul Gandhi had attacked Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for stating in parliament that the Doklam face-off was resolved through “diplomatic maturity” and there was “not an iota of change” in status quo on the ground.
In a caustic tweet, the Congress chief attached a news report that quoted a top US official as saying China has quietly resumed its activities in the Doklam area and neither Bhutan nor India has sought to dissuade it.
“Amazing how a lady like Sushma ji has buckled and prostrated herself in front of Chinese power. Absolute subservience to the leader means our brave jawan has been betrayed on the border,” the Congress president tweeted.

The idea of demonetisation came directly from RSS

Congress president  Gandhi arrived in London on Friday on his first official visit to the UK as party president. During his two-day visit, he is set for a series of meetings, including an interaction with parliamentarians in the House of Commons complex and a diaspora event.

Rahul Gandhi kicked off his first official visit to the UK since taking over as president of Congress with an address focussed on his foreign policy vision of India at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, which earlier this year played host to the Prime Minister’s speech on Indo-Pacific policy.
During the speech the Congress President called for a re-evaluation of India’s approach to China, as the country sought to strike a balance between China, the West and Africa. “We can’t ignore the fact that China is our neighbour,” he said. “The opportunity is there is an Indian way of doing things that is completely different to the Chinese way or the America way…we have our own ideas that are old, tested by non -violence and listening…we specialise in reducing confrontation,” he said.
He used the opportunity to attack the government’s approach to foreign policy, arguing that it lacked strategic vision, and would fail to gain momentum without unifying the country or solving the job problem. “You can’t run a foreign policy based on hugs,” he said. When “divisions” were created between people “you are reducing India’s power, he said. “You carry all those people together you punch at maximum weight.”
Reiterating his attack on the government’s approach to job creation that he had made in Hamburg earlier in the week, Mr. Gandhi, also attacked demonetisation, arguing it had failed to serve medium sized businesses in the way that would have been needed to revitalise the economy and the formal jobs market.


Chinese military conducts live fire drill in Tibet

The drills, carried out by the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) digital combat unit in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, mainly tested the complete digital combat system in the extreme environment.

A digital combat unit of China’s military has conducted live-fire drills in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which Chinese experts say displayed the country’s determination to build a strong army capable of winning a war in all weathers and territories, official media reported.The drills, carried out by the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) digital combat unit in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, mainly tested the complete digital combat system in the extreme environment, Beijing-based military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told Global Times yesterday.

Chinese pilots ‘likely’ training for U.S. targets: Pentagon

A new Pentagon report says China’s military has expanded its bomber operations in recent years while ‘likely training for strikes’ against the U.S. and its allies.

Such a practice is not targeted against any particular nation near the area, but forms the part of China’s bigger plan to build a strong army capable of winning a war in all weathers and territories, he said.

Song said that almost all units will regularly practice in the area.

Hundreds of military vehicles carrying advanced weaponry including drones, early warning radar, howitzers and air defence missiles participated in the PLA manoeuvre, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported on August 11.

The PLA digital combat unit is able to independently perform counterfire missions including anti-tank and air defence tasks, the Times report quoted CCTV.

The exact location of the drill is not identified in the report.

An article published by the Sina military channel yesterday said that the artillery deployed in the drills were PLL-09, a Chinese 122-millimeter self-propelled howitzer.

Although it is less powerful individually than the 155-millimeter cannons, its manoeuvrability is better and it can respond quicker in the battlefield to be transported thousands of kms through air.

PLA naval vessels from three theater commands have also conducted air defence and anti-missile live-fire exercises in the East China Sea, PLA Daily reported last week.