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OpinionsIndia has messed up a crucial aircraft purchase for a silly reason

India has messed up a crucial aircraft purchase for a silly reason

Date:

Ravi Rikhye

The country's defence is going down the tubes and you're worried about chipped nailpolish?

messes up another critical defence purchase…”

…you wrathfully inform your significant other. She ignores you, gives a ladylike yawn and contemplates if she should have another margarita, and examines her toes to see if the nailpolish is chipped, and debates if another colour might be more exciting.

You admonish her: “The defence of India is going down the tubes and you're worried about chipped nailpolish?”

At which she languidly gestures towards her depleting glass to hint that a refill is required, and says: “What's your point, darling? The defence of India is always going down the tubes. Give me some real news. I'm particularly anxious to examine the new Clinique eyeliners for the fall.”

At which point you almost explode with annoyance. But you don't explode, because you realise she is absolutely right. You think: Maybe I should see if the new eyeliner colours suit me. It's a more productive activity.

And indeed, so it is. After all, Indian males have worn eyeliner forever, and the new metrosexual man has finally caught on to what we Indians knew all along – that male eyeliner can be sexy.

On the off chance you really care about Indian defence, Editor will explain the latest fiasco.

We ordered two ISTAR aircraft from Raytheon, which is big in the , and which will make us one of the very few nations to have this type of kit. What is ISTAR?

India has messed up a crucial aircraft purchase for a silly reason

Defense analyst Vivek Raghuvanshi quotes an official: “It is the central airborne platform that has state-of-the- communications and sensors, along with advanced analytical capability to achieve real-time targeting capability in the battlefield and operational . It also networks with other sensors, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, to build a common picture for effective targeting. This information is fed to ground commanders for effective decision-making.”

At which point you want tell your significant other: “Not tonight, my dear, I have a headache”, except that it is only 11am. Luckily, you have the old, reliable Editor to explain.

Suppose Pakistan is moving its 1st Armored Division under the cover of a dark and stormy night, with the objective of surprising you with an attack where you least expect.

Well, it doesn't matter how dark and stormy the night, an ISTAR aircraft will pick up the movement and alert Army HQ, the theatre commander, the corps commander, and the division commander on what is going on. If we pay extra, the information can be sent to the brigade as well. Each command level will see exactly what the ISTAR aircraft sees.

The acronym, by the way, stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition Radar. You can now see that amazing as the capability is, the aircraft does a whole lot of other things. It intercepts enemy signals and it tells the ground commander exactly which weapons he should use for a counterstrike, and where he should aim them – exactly.

If this was not enough, the aircraft maintains a two-way feed with all reconnaissance platforms – satellites, aircraft, UAVs, helicopters, and army ground reconnaissance vehicles. It not only sees what those multiple platforms see, it can direct them to change position for better results, uses its own and platforms' countermeasures, and tells the other platform where exactly to launch weapons. It does all this automatically, the crew only set the parameters required by commanders.

In short, it does everything except get you a date with Olympic wrestler Sakshi Malik. First, there are about a hundred thousand men ahead of you. Second, do you really want to date someone who is strong enough to tie you into a package and put you out for garbage collection because you weren't sufficiently entertaining?

So, forget two, we really could use 15, given the length of our hostile land borders. Of course, there's the cost, $1-billion for two.

You really can forget the two, because the purchase is stalled. Not by the finance ministry, which has done more to cripple Indian defence than all our enemies put together. By the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). They're arguing about who gets to do the evaluation.

The IAF says it's the user, the DRDO says only it has the technical expertise. Meanwhile, in true saintly style, the ministry of defence has stepped aside, saying there is no point to the acquisition unless the two organisations decide who is to do the job.

It seems not to occur to the defence ministry that it is supposed to resolve the issue and do it right now. It also does not occur that the IAF is the user, it has to be satisfied first. Apparently, the ministry doesn't know what the word “leadership” means.

You now see that instead of worrying about just the eyeliner, you should be looking at Victoria's Secret to decide which punk panties to order. Shouldn't you first ask your significant other?

Of course not, silly. They're for you. Being a metrosexual is a better use of your time than worrying about Indian defence.

The writer has 45 years of experience in South Asian military affairs.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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