After Shinde, Pak now conducts saffron wargames

Sushil Kumar Shinde
New Delhi, Jan 25: Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who recently kicked up a row with his 'Hindu or Saffron terror' remark and making the Pakistan happy, would be very pleased to know that a Pakistani military exercise has a saffron tag.

Against the backdrop of tensions with India, the Pakistani military is conducting a combat exercise involving fighter jets and ground troops. And, curiously, it is known as the 'Saffron Bandit' exercise.

While visiting formations engaged in the wargame, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne said the armed forces were "well prepared to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"The prevailing complex global geo-political environment and regional threat situation are not only unique but also more challenging, since we face both internal and external threats," said Gen Wynne. "Therefore, readiness and war preparedness have attained enhanced significance," said Wynne, Pakistan's second highest ranking military officer.

The exercise is being conducted against the backdrop of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following a string of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The Saffron Bandit exercise is held every three years. PAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Butt, participated in the exercise to gauge the preparedness of combat squadrons.

Butt piloted a F-16 combat jet for a simulated strike mission. Gen Wynne flew in an airborne early warning and control aircraft yesterday to observe the "employment of integrated air and ground combat elements" while army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani too visited the exercise areas. Wynne said the exercise would help enhance Pakistan's "preparedness in the hi-tech scenario of aerial warfare."

Indian AWACS progamme

India has just taken up development of the Rs 6,000 crore Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) that will have the capability to penetrate "longer distances" enemy territory by way of radars and electronic warfare systems without venturing into the region physically.

Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, Secretary in the Department of Defence (R&D) and Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) V K Saraswat said DRDO just started the programme, after clearance from the Government recently.

Asked how it's different from the indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system, he said: "AWACS is a heavier and high endurance system, which can give you in terms of coverage about 360 degrees as against AEW&C which is about 270 degree coverage".

In addition, (compared to AEW&C) AWACS flies at a higher altitude and it can penetrate into the enemy territory -- not physically -- (but) by way of radars and EW (electronic warfare) systems to longer distances and it can be in sky for larger durations, besides giving better visibility.

"All over the world, people have AEW&C and AWACS in a tandem mode because each one does its role and that's what our country is also doing", Saraswat said in Bangalore on Friday. He said two AEW&C aircraft would be ready this year, adding, "By 2014, we will complete delivery of all the three aircraft (AEW&C) to Indian Air Force".

Saraswat also said that the DRDO has conducted a flight of "guided bomb". "It's a bomb which can fly for about 40-50 or even more kilometres in a guided mode and it can be released from an aircraft". He said the guided bomb is a totally indigenous effort, from designing, development and realisation including explosive content in them, as also guidance and control.

With PTI inputs

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