1. FIRST APACHE HELICOPTER FORMALLY HANDED OVER TO THE IAF
On May 10, 2019, the first Apache Guardian helicopter (AH-64E (I)) was formally handed over to the IAF at Boeing production facility in Mesa, USA. Air Marshal AS Butola, accepted the helicopter on behalf of the IAF. It may be recalled that the contract for 22 such helicopters were signed with the US Government and M/s Boeing Ltd in September 2015 and the first batch of these helicopters is scheduled to be delivered by July this year. The aircrew and ground crew have already undergone training at the US Army base in Alabama. Induction of these helicopters is a significant step towards modernisation of IAF helicopter fleet and they would provide a substantial edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.
2. IAF INTERCEPTORS FORCE AN-12 AIRCRAFT BELONGING GEORGIA TO FORCED TO LAND AT JAIPUR
As per the MOD press release, on May 10, 2019, an unknown aircraft was seen to have entered the Indian Air Space in North Gujarat Sector. Even though its IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) was ‘on’, it neither followed the authorised Air Traffic Services (ATS) route nor responded to Radio calls from Indian controlling agencies. Since ATS routes in the area were closed due to the current geopolitical situation, and the aircraft entered Indian Air Space from an unscheduled point. IAF scrambled its Air Defence interceptor aircraft and vectored them towards an unknown target. On visual contact, the aircraft was identified as Georgian An-12 flying at twenty-seven thousand feet. However, when challenged, the aircraft responded and informed that it was a non-scheduled An-12 aircraft that had got airborne from Tbilisi (Georgia) for Delhi via Karachi. The aircraft was shadowed and forced to land at Jaipur for necessary investigation.
3. INDIAN NAVAL SHIPS SAIL WITH NAVAL SHIPS OF JAPAN, PHILIPPINES AND USA
Indian Naval Ships —INS Kolkata and Shakti carried out Group Sail with naval ships of Japan, Philippines and the US in South China Sea from May 3 to 9, 2019. The Group Sail aimed at deepening the existing partnership and foster mutual understanding among participating navies. The exercises carried out included formation manoeuvring, underway replenishment runs, cross-deck flying and exchange of Sea Riders etc. Such engagements provide opportunities to build upon the existing relationships. China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam pushing competing claims to parts of the maritime region. United States, Japan and India do not have any territorial claims there.
4. INDIA HOST INTERNATIONAL ARMY SCOUT MASTERS COMPETITION 2019
An International Army Scout Masters Competition is being organised under by the Indian Army at Jaisalmer from July 24 to August 17, 2019. Mechanised Infantry Scout Teams of eight countries will be participating in the event. Senior Military and Diplomatic dignitaries from participating countries visited Jaisalmer Military Station on May 14 and 15, 2019 and were briefed on the training facilities created for the event. The competition will be conducted in five stages—testing the overall skills of Mechanised Infantry Scouts in simulated battle field scenarios. The combat skills will be adjudicated by a panel of international judges and referees. India is conducting this competition for the first time as part of the International Army Games.
5. US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS VISITS INDIA
Admiral John Michael Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, US Navy, paid an official visit to India from May 12 to 14, 2019 and held discussions with Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman COSC and Chief of the Naval Staff. He also interacted with Defence Secretary, Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman COSC and the National Security Council Secretariat. The aim of the visit was to consolidate bilateral naval relations between the two countries and explore new avenues for naval cooperation. Major issues discussed during the visit included operations and exercises and, training and capability enhancement. The tow navies of India and the US have been regularly interacting at bilateral and multilateral forums. After being accorded Major Defence Partner status by USA in 2016, India—US ties have grown significantly in recent years. The inaugural Ministerial 2+2 Dialogue conducted in September 2018 also facilitated new avenues for defence cooperation between the two countries. (refer MoD press release)
6. EXERCISE BULL STRIKE CARRIED OUT IN ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR COMMAND
Exercise Bull Strike, a company level joint airborne exercise, was conducted at the Teressa Islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with an aim to showcase joint operations capability of the armed forces. A total of 170 troops from three services carried out para drop operations in a Combat Free Fall and Static Line mode.
7. DEFENCE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS TEST FLIGHT OF ABHYAS
DRDO has successfully conducted the flight test of ABHYAS—High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from the Interim Test Range, Chandipur in Odisha. The flight test was tracked by various Radars and Electro Optic Systems and proved its performance in fully autonomous way point navigation mode. The configuration of ABHYAS is designed on an in-line small gas turbine engine and uses indigenously developed MEMS based navigation system for its navigation and guidance. n