Fakir Chand in Bangalore
The ongoing standoff with Pakistan and the heightened tension on the western border since the terrorist attack on Parliament in December last have forced the Indian government to speed up various defence projects and intensify its war preparedness.
Scientific adviser to the defence minister, Dr V K Aatre, admitted in Bangalore that military projects that were at various stages of implementation and nearing completion were taken up on war-footing to equip the armed forces for any eventuality, including border conflict with Pakistan.
"The opportunity has been turned into a swift action," he said.
"The defence build-up during the last 6-7 months has hastened our war preparedness, which includes purchase of equipment and execution of various projects to make our forces on border vigilant and combative," Aatre told rediff.com on the sidelines of launching special Tatra vehicles to carry missiles and warheads for the Indian Air Force and the Army.
In a bid to transport missiles and warheads quickly and efficiently to the armed forces, Aatre said the rolled out Tatra vehicles would be deployed in operations in the coming months by the IAF as well as the Army.
"There is a greater awareness and commitment to take up all pending projects by the various defence establishments across the country so that dependency on imports or overseas suppliers is reduced considerably," Aatre stated.
For instance, final trials of the portable surveillance radar system, developed by the LRDE in Bangalore, have been taken on top priority for deployment on the borders soon.
The scientific adviser also disclosed that Agni-II missiles would be inducted into the Army in the next couple of months as its second test was conducted successfully recently.
"Agni-II is already in the production schedule and will be deployed later by this year. As Defence Minister George Fernandes made a statement in Parliament on Thursday about its status, it will be inducted soon. And Agni-I will undergo one more test flight before commencing full production," Aatra said.
Asked whether India had placed orders for securing Arrow anti-missiles from Israel, Aatre said it was too early to comment on them as they were still under development.
He also declined to clarify whether the government would take up with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, during his forthcoming visit to India, the objections raised by the American Administration with Israel on supplying the Arrow missiles to India.
Aatre, however, denied that the US was blocking the supply of Phalcon early warning planes by Israel to India.
"The Phalcon deal is a large contract, and it takes time for the delivery schedule to begin. Its airborne radar can track missiles and aircraft of the enemy at all altitudes," he added.
Referring to the tremendous progress being made by the technology demonstrator II of the Light Combat Aircraft, Aatre informed the media that the fighter jet was successfully flown for the fourth time in Bangalore on Friday morning.
"The LCA's TD-II has so far flown for over two-and-half hours till date, and the results of its various tests have been good so far. The upgraded version of LCA's TD-I with the latest avionics and additional software will be test flown by September. Both the aircraft will be flying for tests during the last quarter of this year," Aatre said.
Asked about the status of the Kaveri engine, being built indigenously for inducting in the LCA, Aatre said the engine was being sent to Russia for further tests and certification in the next two months. He, however, admitted that the engine project was behind schedule by one year.
The Kaveri engine is being designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency in collaboration with the Gas Turbine Research Establishment and the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the three leading defence undertakings based in Bangalore.
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