Army Chief's Annual Press Conference (excerpts)
Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, spoke at length on various issues at the annual press conference before the Army Day (15 January). Here are some important excerpts
The ALH and ALH-WSI is moving satisfactorily. We have started raising these units and these units are functional. What we are now looking at is getting some of the additional weapons, like rockets, but we need better rockets. So, now that is in the pipeline as to which rockets we need for them. We have a rocket which is being manufactured by DRDO, successfully tried and tested, we have given them some timeline by they have to be made available for final testing. Otherwise we will start looking at other agencies for import. The import will be for stop gap.
The missile and rocket (given to us) is meeting some of the parameters. In couple of tests they have not met the standard. Till they don’t meet those desired standards, there are safety issues. You continue with research... but we have given them definitive timeline.
To meet this gap we may have to go for limited imports. The last trial that was done was fairly successful. By February – March they should be giving us final timeline.
The air force is the one who are getting it first. We have hooked on to them. I think they will start coming now. We expect them to come by 19/20.
It has done well. It is making good progress. It is the right kind of machine for our services.
(Although Army chief did not touch upon the Ka-226T, when IDI asked senior official on the sidelines of the press conference, they said the matter is currently at the ministry’s level)
Pakistan’s status after change of government at Islamabad is the same as before. They talk of peace but we don’t see it on the LOC and neither do we see it in the hinterland. Vocally yes they talk of goodwill but we don’t see it on ground
The situation along the nearly 4,000-km long border between India and China has improved following the summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan last year. Certain directives have been issued to various formations along the border following the Wuhan summit and they are being followed. Common directives have been given to all the Commands It is not that different policies are being followed for Northern and Western border.
We’re adopting both hard and soft approaches. The offer to terrorists to join the mainstream stays. If that happens, people of the state will be benefit the most. Security forces are deployed in Kashmir for peace but the separatists should also shun violence. Our position is very clear. Shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. Talks can happen only if they lay down weapons. During Ramzan, we had given opportunity to the separatists to lay down arms. But if someone picks up the gun, we will take action.
As it’s a bilateral issue with the western neighbour. People are saying let’s tone down operations, can anyone give a guarantee that no convoy will be attacked in Kashmir?
The situation is well on our western and northern fronts. There is no cause for concern.
If India thinks it has a stake in Afghanistan, we must step in. I am not saying take the lead. But at least go and listen to what is being discussed in Afghanistan. The government sent somebody to listen at the meeting.
Yes, modernisation is happening. The priority is infantry modernisation. You will see the assault rifle coming in this year. You will also see the other rifle coming in. The missiles are coming in, new bullet proof jackets, helmets, radio set which allow hand-free uses will come in. We had discussion on what kind of radio set we need for infantry. We are looking at software defined radios. The modernisation of infantry is being given the highest priority.
The next version of the Tata Safari will be mounting weapons where ATGM and machine guns can be mounted. Hand launched UAVs have been bought from Army Commander’s special financial power. These are good UAVs which help in surveillance of greater depth.
We are buying sniper rifle through two routes. One is being bought for northern command through Army Commander’s special financial power. They have started arriving. 20th January is the date of supply along with the ammunition. We are also procuring similar sniper rifle in larger number through the capital route. In next two years we will procure the rest of the sniper rifle for entire army. As of now the priority is Northern Command.
We are looking at the complete thing in a different manner. These things started many years ago. Time has come to look at things again. Time has changed. We have moved forward. Now we are looking at BMS..in a different way. A new approach is being adopted because new technologies have come in. F-INSAS, We have now realised that is not what an infantry soldier is. If you look at the way US army soldier and our soldier operates is different. We are modifying the way our combat forces need to be equipped. Not necessarily going the F-INSAS way.
Make in India
We have had hiccups, but there has been some movement in this. Now, we can see big artillery guns being manufactured in India. Since, we have missile technology, Make in India in missiles is going good. Basically, now we have to look at how to imbibe technology.
SDR and whole of communition system should be through Make in India. Many of the idian companies are already manufacturing equipments and exporting them. Mines are also being made through Make in India. Soon, our assault rifle will also be made through this.
Finally, the armoured vehicle will come through SP Model. So which ever country wants to work with us on these vehicle have to work through Make In India.
Last year we exhausted our funds. This year we will exhaust our fund. The government is giving us the money based on the signing of the contract. At RE stage more money can come in than being surrendered. Even now, the additional money that we need, we have projected the requirement.