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Defence ministry: Of OROP, acquisition clearances, rescue ops

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A series of critical clearances worth over Rs 2 lakh crore, One Rank One Pension Scheme, Yemen and operations, changes at the helm of DRDO besides talks of a new defence procurement procedure and breakthrough in Rafale logjam kept the corridors of the Defence Ministry buzzing this year.

2015 also saw a major ambush in which left 18 soldiers dead while some senior officers were killed in anti- insurgency and counter-operations in Jammu and Kashmir.


The year started with the controversial Coast Guard operation on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 which left a suspected Pakistani boat in flames.

As the government claimed that occupants of the "suspect" boat had set it on fire, a video surfaced soon after in which the force's DIG B K Loshali claimed that it was he who had ordered it to be shot at.

A surprised Defence Ministry and the Coast Guard were at pains rebutting his claims which finally led to his sacking earlier this month after court martial.

In January, the government removed Avinash Chander, chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), 15 months before his contract was to end. It left everyone surprised and the government took nearly four months before S Christopher was appointed as the new DRDO chief and G Satheesh Reddy took over as the Scientific Advisor to the Minister after the post was split.

The biggest breakthrough in the Defence Ministry in 2015 was the decision to acquire 36 Rafale jets in a fly-away condition under a government to government deal from France.

The original tender was given a quiet burial as the government decided to go in for only 36 Rafales rather than the 126 that was initially envisaged.

The cost negotiations of the tender had been going in for over three years and had reached a stalemate.

The year also saw work on the new Defence Procurement procedure (DPP). Though it was set to come out by March, the new government found the task rather difficult and the DPP is yet to be out.

The one constant buzzword during the entire year in the Defence Ministry was 'Make in India'. Almost every other contract sanctioned had a 'Make in India' push even as the Ministry interacted more with Indian industry associations to come out with a clear policy on the same.

Chinese submarine forays into the Indian ocean under the garb of anti-piracy operations kept the Indian Navy on its toes.

The Army too was on alert in Jammu and Kashmir, where even though the infiltration attempt was low, the casualty on the Army side was up, including the martyrdom of two colonels.
(Reopens DEL 11)

Among the major proposals of capital cleared in 2015 was the decision to buy 145 BAE's M777 Ultra-Light howitzers at a cost of Rs 2,900 crore, the first such deal since the Bofors scandal.

To provide punch to the attack capability of the Indian Air Force, a contract was signed in September for procurement of state-of-the-art AH-64E Apache attack helicopters besides Chinook heavy-lift choppers.

The delivery of Apache would commence from July 2019. The attack helicopters are critical combat assets utilised for employment in Anti-Tank Guided Missile role, counter- insurgency operations, suppression of enemy air defences among others.

Attack helicopters offer unique offensive capability including support to Army Strike Corps and these capabilities are also required at high altitudes in the mountainous terrain on our Northern borders, not available hitherto.

Chinooks are critically required to support infrastructure build-up in mountainous regions. Heavy bridging and road construction equipment can be airlifted only by this class of helicopters.

Under Make-in-India initiative, 56 ageing Avro transport aircraft will be replaced by C-295 Transport Carriers for which the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium was chosen. The project will cost Rs 11,930 crore. While 40 aircraft would be manufactured in India, 16 would be bought off-the-shelf.

The Indian Army successfully test fired the advanced version of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile from Car Nicobar Island to operationalise another regiment of the weapon system.

On April 9, Block III variant of BrahMos, with steep dive capability was launched from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher.

Akash Weapon System was inducted into the Indian Army on May 5. It is an indigenously developed supersonic short range surface-to-air missile system with the capability to engage a wide variety of aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and UAVs up to a maximum range of 25 km and up to an altitude of 20 km.

The government in November announced the much awaited 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) scheme for the armed forces personnel but a significant section of the veterans have continued with the agitation saying they have been cheated.

The OROP which will cost around Rs 8,000 crore extra every year is expected to remove the pension anomaly that exists in defence service personnel of the same rank having the same number of years in service.

On December 14, the government appointed Justice L Narasimha Reddy as the head of the judicial committee to look into the implementation of the OROP scheme.
Another major achievement of the armed forces was the

rescue and relief operations carried out outside the Indian borders.

On April 25, a severe earthquake of very high intensity jolted the whole of and adjoining areas of India.

Acting upon the request of government, India rushed its armed forces to the quake-stricken areas of on the next day itself and a joint rescue and relief operation of Indian Army and Air Force called 'Op Maitri' was launched.

IAF launched its biggest ever disaster relief operation in foreign land to provide relief and support to Nepalese people.

IAF planes and helicopters undertook 1,636 sorties amounting to a flying effort of 863 hours when they evacuated nearly 780 casualties which includes 121 foreign nationals.

They also rescued 5,188 people from various forward and quake-hit areas. As part of 'Maitri', 18 medical teams and one Field Hospital were deployed and 10 Engineering Task Forces set up.

Five ALH and two Cheetah helicopters were pressed into service through which thousands of blankets and tents, drinking water, readymade food and medicines were distributed among the affected population in close coordination with the Nepalese Army.

Besides the operation, Indian Navy ships and IAF planes in coordination with the Yemen government and the MEA launched a massive evacuation operation in the civil war torn country in March, where particularly naval ships were given the responsibility of evacuating all Indian nationals stranded at various locations.

First they were evacuated from Yemenese port cities to Djibouti and then Air India ferried them back from Sanna to Kochi and Mumbai.

In this operation IAF aircraft facilitated safe evacuation of nearly 2,100 Indian nationals in 11 evacuation trips.

The year also saw commissioning of INS 'Vajrakosh' - the latest establishment of the Indian Navy at Karwar in Karnataka which will act as a missile hub.

The first sea trials of indigenously-developed nuclear submarine INS Arihant also took place.

The government took the decision of building a National War Memorial to honour defence force personnel who were martyred in wars after Independence in 1947.

Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the memorial which will be located near India Gate. A war museum will also be constructed. The entire project would be completed in five years.

First Published: Fri, December 25 2015. 10:57 IST
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