Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jan 26 Special | Not just Barack Obama, young naval officer Sub Lt Chippy is also a R-Day star

By Anantha Krishnan M

When US President Barack Obama takes the salute at the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath on Monday, he might not be aware of the story of a young naval lady officer, who will be part of one of the marching contingents. It will be day filled with mixed emotions, pride and great sense of satisfaction for Sub Lt Chippy K Devasia, who will be among the 148 strong Naval Marching Women Contingent, during the R-Day Parade. Chippy and her colleagues will also march into the history books for being the first all-women naval marching contingent ever during the R-Day Parade. Similar to the Navy, the Army, and the Indian Air Force are also fielding all-women contingents this year, drawing inspiration from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to exhibit ‘Nari Shakti’ on January 26.
* Her’s is a story of determination
* Life took a different turn at INA Ezhimala
* Her father’s Bhagavd Gita lessons gave her strength
* Bonding at its best during R-Day Parade 
* Pride of Tricolour matters the most

To read the above starred sub-headings in detail and to know more about Chippy's inspiring life, hit the OneIndia link, here: http://bit.ly/1yHjNqn

Sunday, January 18, 2015

OneIndia Exclusive | My job is to clear all hurdles for forces: Manohar Parrikar

By Anantha Krishnan M

Thirteen hours of non-stop meetings, facility visits, speeches in between, listening to attention-seeking officials, visitors and photo sessions hardly seemed to have frazzled India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. 
Parked a few metres from his make-shift office was a Service aircraft ready to transport him and the battery of officials to the next destination. “The take-off is at 8 pm,” reminded one of his aides.
Parrikar adjusts his reading glasses and says matter-of-factly. “You go ahead with your questions, I am listening.”
He takes a look at the watch. “It’s 7.40 (pm). Okay, go-ahead,” he says, nodding his head. It was time for a really supersonic interview before the scheduled take-off at 8 pm. Excerpts from the interview granted to OneIndia.
* IAF keen on Tejas squadron at the earliest
* My job is to clear all the hurdles
* Forces need to be motivated
* ‘I don’t need any publicity’

Read the above bullet points in detail on OneIndia: http://bit.ly/17WKIo2

Parrikar gets tech taste; IAF gets first Tejas

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Jan 17: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar got a taste of the technologies being trumpeted by DRDO, HAL, BEML and BEL during a 13-hour supersonic visit to Bengaluru on Saturday. As reported by OneIndia earlier, Parrikar also handed over documents of the first Tejas series production (SP-1) aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.
HAL must think out-of-the-box:  While patting HAL for giving thrust to the Tejas project in the last couple of years, Parrikar reminded the DPSU to be smart in their thinking process.
“I want HAL to think out-of-the-box so as to meet the time-line challenges. HAL must also apply the right management tools,” the minister said.
Parrikar wanted HAL to give thrust in the areas of research and technology by exploiting the existing knowledge base. “One does not achieve everything over-night. But by modifying our work culture and by adopting better technology and tools we can achieve the results better,” he said.
* Reluctant IAF finally toes the line
* Tyagi’s dream finally takes wing
* Parrikar rings the BEL
Full report on OneIndia, here: http://bit.ly/15cNtR7

Saturday, January 17, 2015

OneIndia Exclusive: Super-charged Agni-5 farewell awaits DRDO Chief

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Jan 17: A fitting tribute for his four-decades-plus selfless work awaits India’s top missile brain and outgoing Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chief Dr Avinash Chander.
Top sources have confirmed to OneIndia on Saturday that the much-talked about canisterized version (cold launch) of the surface-to-surface Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-5 will now in all likelihood be held on January 31 from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.
On the same day, Dr Avinash will step down as the DRDO chief following the Modi government’s bolt-from-the-blue decision to terminate his contract, citing his age and ‘inability’ to change the system.
Top scientists from DRDO’s eight labs have begun the preparations for the critical trial of the 5000-km missile, with the launch campaign teams having started to move to Odisha. 
If all plans go as per the script and the missile zeroes in on its target, then it would be an emotion-charged reply by Dr Chander’s shishyas to the ‘Yes Ministers’ in the government.
For Dr Chander too, it will pave the way for a head-held-high exit from the top office, which he otherwise was eligible to occupy till May 2016.
A section of the media had earlier reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to witness the 3rd launch of A5, with no official confirmation coming from the PMO or the Ministry of Defence. 
In short, India will probably witness for the first time the launch of a nuclear-capable missile, tipped with emotion, anger and gratitude.
* Third launch of Agni 5, first from a canister
* Dr Avinash – the main architect of A5 
* Exemplary leadership 
* Father of Indian nav systems
* No media interaction, focused on work
Read the full report, here:  http://bit.ly/1B1zOa9

Friday, January 16, 2015

OneIndia Exclusive: Parrikar to review DRDO, HAL projects in Bengaluru

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Jan 16: Two days after owning up the responsibility for recommending the contract termination of India’s top missile brain and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chief Dr Avinash Chander, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will touchdown in Bengaluru on January 17 morning for the review of critical projects. 
Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources told OneIndia that Parrikar’s office, currently facing the heat for targeting one of the most-revered defence scientists in India, has given instructions not to have any media interaction during his lightning one-day visit. He is expected to visit the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) during the first half of the day. 
* Empowered Committee on LCA meeting 
* Aero-cluster review also being lined up 
* A low-key Tejas handing over event likely 
* HAL’s proposal with MoD 
Dr Avninash Chander to be absent 
Read the full report at OneIndia, here: http://bit.ly/1KQwbt1

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snapshots from Army Day Parade

Also read a OneIndia report on the 515 Army Base Workshop in Bengaluru. Link here: http://t.co/9Fyu4CxCpx

Axe effect on DRDO Chief: Right move, wrong man

Bengaluru, Jan 14: Love your job, but never fall in love with your Company. Because you’ll never know when the Company stops loving you! Not sure whether Dr Avinash Chander, India’s top missile scientist, whose services have been unceremoniously terminated by the government, ever remembered this old adage. Well, the Company in this case, could be the government. 
So Dr Avinash, who is currently the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief, can now plan for his long holidays, read his favourite books and need not wake up early morning to catch a flight. He need not call for a review meeting post mid-night ahead of a missile launch either. And, after January 31, 2015, he will be free to write columns in newspapers and defence magazines on whether India should go for MMRCAs or make more LCAs. Or rightfully, comment more openly on whether India needs a DRDO or not. 
Deserved a gracious exit: Almost 18 hours after deciding to replace Dr Avinash, India’s brand new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made a bold statement. “I had recommended that the position should not be held by a person on contract,” he told journalists, owning up the responsibility for the ‘axe effect.’ Not sure whether it was a clever ‘cover-up’ job by Parrikar to divert the resentment being expressed by many in the last 24 hours – all directed at his boss, Mr Narendra Modi. 
Many felt that the top scientist, who delivered the first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) to the nation, deserved a better treatment. His was appointed by the UPA-2 and was given a three-year tenure purely on his merit. All that will now become history as Dr Avinash, who was left with 15 more months in office, will have to make a silent and sad exit.
Silent because he wouldn’t now probably want a farewell, otherwise reserved for the top chair. Sad as people will now remember him as DRDO’s terminated boss.
Clean track record so far: The Missile Complex in Hyderabad, where most of his pet projects took birth, was in a state of mourning on Wednesday. “There is no charge-sheet against him. He is not involved in any scams, he is neither a fraud. There will be a big void in DRDO’s structure and the cohesiveness will reach an all-time low,” a senior Director of one of the labs told OneIndia.
Dr Avinash, unlike previous DRDO bosses, never bothered to brand himself much and he always backed his men, if the reasons were genuine. “After the partial success of Nirbhay missile, there was tremendous pressure on our team. Many questioned our capabilities and wondered why a Bengaluru-based lab was making missiles. The media reports too played its part. But Dr Avinash constantly told us to stay focused and ensured that he took all the blame all the time,” says another senior scientist.
“And when the missile was a hit during the second launch, he ensured that all the credit was given to us,” says the scientist. 
Delays many and the captain takes the hit: The media selectively picked up PM Modi’s ‘chalta hai attitude’ comment and projected the same as the main reason for Dr Avinash downfall. It unfortunately painted a picture that blamed Dr Avinash for all the ills of DRDO. The innumerable number of delayed projects, senior officials’ grouse against him within the DRDO for not getting promotions, the media’s constant anti-DRDO campaign and a demanding government at the helm of affairs ensured that Dr Avinash’s exit was imminent.
“Young scientists are deeply hurt and demoralized with the government’s decision. He had established a deep connect with us. He always told us the importance of working for the motherland and not chasing money. I still have preserved my resignation letter on which he wrote – No way, we need you,” says a middle-level scientist now part of a team working on a new missile project.
Insiders say that Dr Avinash was identifying all projects that were fetching bad name for DRDO. “He was clear that areas DRDO couldn’t make any breakthrough needed to be closed down and three such projects had already been notified in that direction,” another scientist said.
Did DRDO ignore Modi’s warning bell? While addressing a DRDO event in Delhi last year soon after taking over as the PM, Modi had expressed his wish of DRDO handing over the reins of a couple of labs to youngsters. Though a top Director General had earlier told OneIndia that the process of identifying youngsters had begun, nothing substantial ever came out. Moreover, the DRDO never grabbed Modi’s wish and followed-upon on his dream of running DRDO on new set of tyres.
Parrikar’s statement becomes more meaningful in the context of PM’s wish. “We should introduce in scientific world, slightly younger generation," he said.
However, many online defence enthusiasts are already taking on the government for the surprise move. “What is the logic? If a 64 years old guy is not fit to run an organisation, how is 64 years old Modi fit to run the country,” so goes a comment. “Parrikar’s statement is for media consumption. Why would he not be informed before being removed to bring in young blood? So, his 40 years of service is all waste now?” asks another.
Agni-V will be his best moment: Under Dr Avinash’s leadership, India successfully designed and developed the 5000-km range Agni-5 strategic weapon system propelling the country to the elite Club of five advanced nations having ICBM capability. It brought a quantum jump in technologies such as composite rocket motors, high precision navigation, advanced avionics and world-class mass fractions. He pioneered the design of Multiple Independently Targeted Re-Entry Vehicle (MIRV) and Maneuvering Re-entry Vehicle (MaRV).
His list of achievements is surely long, but he definitely ran out of luck at fag end of career. Modi & Co definitely could have given a better send-off to a man who put India on a map that most nations couldn’t dream of. But then, the DRDO too will have to take the blame for probably not listening to the Master, who is definitely in a hurry to bring ‘Achhe Din.’
Mr Modi deserves a pat on the back for taking a bold step aimed at the much-needed course-correction of DRDO. Just that he probably picked up the wrong guy on the chopping block. And, hence Dr Avinash became a ‘famous scapegoat.’
Sorry Dr Avinash Chander. You deserved a better deal!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Modern military needs intellectual inputs, says Marconi Prize winner Dr Paulraj

By Anantha Krishnan M

Saturday, 10 Jan 2015 was a historic day for India’s military aviation. It was on this day in 2011, after many delays, debates and doubts, the Indian Air Force (IAF) reluctantly gave the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-1) to the desi bird – the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas).
Exactly four years later, Tejas added another chapter to its long list of achievements on 10 Jan 2015, when it flew for the first time fitted with a home-grown electronic warfare suite. Sadly, it was on this day in 1970 that India lost a great Test Pilot in Group Capt Suranjan Das, after his plane -- the HF-24 Mk IR -- crashed in Bengaluru.
For the hardcore devotees of aerospace and defence, 10 January gifted yet another moment. Dr Arogyaswami Paulraj, the man who revolutionised wireless technology for the benefit of mankind and the recipient of the prestigious $100,000 Marconi Prize for 2014, addressed a gathering of military brains in Bengaluru. He was delivering the key-note address to the Second Admiral R L Pereira Memorial Lecture, organized by the Navy Foundation, Bengaluru Chapter.
PMO seeks Dr Paulraj’s suggestions: The Marconi Prize, considered as the Nobel Prize of Information Technology, is instituted by the Marconi Society and Dr Paulraj is the second Indian to have won it after Prof Yash Pal. Dr Paulraj, a recipient of Padma Bhushan, donated the entire prize money back to the Society for undertaking advance research in education.
Prime Minister Naredra Modi is said to have met Dr Paulraj during his current visit to India. The Prime Minister’s Office has sought Dr Paulraj’s help while discussing India’s approach to high tech communication technology. He is currently an Emeritus Professor at the Stanford University and travels extensively to China and the United Kingdom as well.

Full report on OneIndia, here: http://bit.ly/1B3JceD

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Navy Chief meets NLCA heroes | NP-2 all set for maiden flight

Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan with the heroes of NLCA project Cmde C D Balaji (Retd) Project Director LCA (Navy), extreme left, and Commodore Jaideep Maolankar, extreme right, the pilot who undertook the historic ski-jump of NP-1 from SBTF, Goa.
(Below) Balaji and Maolankar.  Photos: Tarmak007
Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan on Saturday met with the Naval LCA team from Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and congratulated them for the recent successful NP-1 trials in Goa. The NLCA had its maiden flight from the Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa, thereby crossing a critical milestone.

The Navy Chief interacted with Cmde C D Balaji (Retd) Project Director LCA (Navy) and Commodore Jaideep Maolankar, the pilot who undertook the historic ski-jump of NP-1 from SBTF. Later speaking to OneIndia, Cmde Balaji (Retd) said that the second prototype of NLCA (NP-2) will soon have its maiden flight.
“We are done with most of the tests barring a few. We are hopeful that the NP-2 will have its first flight within a weeks’ time,” Cmde Balaji (Retd) told OneIndia. 
Read the detailed story on OneIndia, here: http://bit.ly/1AAZ6vD

Friday, January 2, 2015

Active DAC good news for Indian defence

Manohar Parrikar
By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Jan 1: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has become more active since the Narendra Modi government came to power. The high-level body chaired by the Defence Minister has already taken some major decisions, much to the relief of the armed forces. Most importantly, the DAC has been meeting on a regular basis, fast-tracking crucial decisions.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had signed off Year 2014 by saying that the DAC had cleared deals (projects) worth Rs 78,000 crore in the last few months. “In this, Rs 65,000 crore alone is under the ‘Make in India’ category,” he had said. 
The decision to hold regular DAC meetings has been seen as a positive step by many who are closely monitoring India’s defence matters.
Jaitley set the tone: While handling the twin-post of Finance and Defence, it was Arun Jaitley who had decided to revitalise DAC. He had even a taken a jibe at the UPA regime, which had a shoddy track record of holding DAC meetings.
“The DAC has been meeting every month and hope this practice continues, unlike during the previous government,” Jaitley told in November last. “Since I became the minister, the DAC has been meeting every month and I hope the practice will continue,” Jaitley had said.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in its annual performance release claimed that the DAC has cleared proposals worth over Rs 1.50 lakh crore alone in a single year. “Most of the equipment and platforms, cleared by the DAC, will be manufactured in the country, either by the public or private sector entities, through collaborations and tie-ups with foreign manufacturing companies,” the MoD statement said.
DAC becoming vibrant, a good sign, says Matheswaran: Air Marshal M Matheswaran (Retd), former Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development) and currently an Advisor to HAL, says that the DAC has become vibrant under the Modi regime. 
“The DAC meetings have become very regular now, which is a welcome move. Defence Minister Parrikar seems to be serious in conducting DAC and I am happy to see that the current regime is fixing the meeting dates in advance,” Matheswaran, a leading think-tank on India’s military matters told OneIndia.
Matheswaran said that the government’s decision to increase the FDI in defence to 49 per cent has been the highlight of year 2014. “I am also inspired to see the PM pulling up DRDO and DPSUs for non-performance. Accountability is the key,” he said.
He said through the ‘Make in India’ the government has made its intentions clear to help the private sector. “I would want to see some action on this front now,” Matheswaran added. 
DRDO will have a lot more to offer, says Tamilmani: DRDO Director-General (Aeronautical Systems) Dr K Tamilmani told OneIndia that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will have a lot more to offer in the coming years.
“The aeronautical cluster has done matured technology development over the years. The success of Nirbhay subsonic missile is a pointer towards our complete command over a variety of new-age technologies,” Dr Tamilmani said.
He said the DRDO will be happy to join hands with more private industries to build a vibrant eco system in the country. “The industry and user should be together from day one,” Dr Tamilmani said.
He said the Rustom UAV can be used by the Indian Coast Guard to monitor the international waters. “It is ideally suited to see whether our fishermen are crossing their boundaries. The way-point navigation will be handy for the Coast Guard,” the top scientist said.
Private sector wants more changes: In an exclusive interview (set to be published soon) to OneIndia recently, B V R Mohan Reddy, Founder and Executive Chairman of Cyient, an engineering, network and operations solutions company headquartered in Hyderabad, said that the MoD should create a conducive environment for private companies to do business.
“We are keen to do business with Indian defence organizations. But lots need to change in MoD,” says Reddy. 
Recent decisions by DAC: * Decided that all the 384 light-utility helicopters (LUHs) needed by the Army and Air Force to replace the existing Cheetah/Chetak fleets will be made in India with foreign collaboration.
* To build six submarines in India at a cost of about Rs 50,000 crore and to purchase over 8,000 Israeli anti-tank guided missiles and 12 upgraded Dornier surveillance aircraft.
* Acquisition of 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the US will continue. 
* Approved the purchase of Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Suites (torpedo decoys and active towed array sonars) to be fitted on seven stealth frigates and four destroyers, which are to be built in India. 
* Approved proposals for Rs 4,444 crore, including the purchase of four survey vessels at Rs 2,324 crore.
The all powerful DAC: As reported in these columns earlier, the DAC was set up in October 2001 following recommendations from Group of Ministers (GoMs) on ‘Reforming the National Security System.' The need for DAC was felt post-Kargil conflict and this high-level body is chaired by the Defence Minister.
Other members include: Minister of State for Defence, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Defence Secretary, Secretary Defence Research & Development, Secretary Defence Production, Chief of Integrated Staff Committees (HQ IDS), Director General (Acquisition) and Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.
The main aim of the DAC is to fast-track procurement process of the armed forces by optimally utilising the available budget.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

'My mother will be happy' | Sharan Palan is Tarmak007 Follower of The Year 2014 on FB

Sharan Palan, a 23-year-old network engineer working in Mumbai, has been chosen as the Tarmak007 Follower of The Year 2014 on FB.
Hello Everyone!
Sharan Palan, a 23-year-old young man, passionately chasing his dreams, is the Tarmak007 Follower of The Year (#TFOTY). 

Sharan’s father is a retired hotel waiter and mother is a housewife. Sharan is currently working as a Network Engineer (L1) in Mumbai. He is a 12th pass and couldn’t complete is graduation owing to financial worries on the home front. In the meantime, he managed to complete a course in hardware networking.
Hailing from Kaup, a small-time village in Mangalore, Sharan has been a hardcore follower of Tarmak007 right from the moment the blog made its presence on FB, back in January 2013. “I remember when I liked this page, the number was 104. That was on the first day of the blog on FB,” says Sharan.
Surprised at being a winner: The humble kid was absolutely surprised when Tarmak007 chased him down asking for his number. “I wanted to always join the armed forces, but couldn’t, may be because I was very thin. But, I enjoyed my 2-year stint in NCC,” says Sharan.
Once the telephonic interview was over, Tarmak007 received a message on FB, which was moving. “Thank You Sir.. First time winning anything in my life… My mother will be really happy.” Sharan’s mother is currently bed-ridden after an unfortunate accident at home.
“Only last one month I couldn’t visit Tarmak007 regularly as I was taking care of my mother. There’s no proper network in my village,” says Sahran 
In love with Mumbai: Sharan loves Mumbai and he just returned after being with his mother. “I love this city. It gives lots of hopes and if you can really work hard, you can achieve your goals. Sir, Mumbai is full of energy, and always crowded. Getting a job is not a problem here,” says Sharan.
Mamma’s boy: Sharan gets around Rs 12,000 and after his monthly expenses are taken out, he still saves some money to be sent to his mother. His elder sister is married and now settled in Mumbai. When asked about his dreams, Sharan said: “My dream is to support my mother. She supported me so much. And, it’s my turn to make her happy. Always…”
When, the interview was done, Sharan had a request. “It’s okay, if you want to give this award to someone else. Speaking with you itself is a big award for me. I have always appreciated the amount of time and energy that goes behind updating the blog. I see many blogs sharing from Tarmak007,” says Sharan.
Why Sharan? For the last 2 years, Sharan has been an avid follower of the blog. He always appreciated the achievements of Indian defence and most of his comments were short. Every time, the blog crossed a milestone, Sharan was the first to respond. While the blog had some passionate followers of late, who could probably overtake Sharan with their GK levels, I stuck to loyalty and simplicity – 2 key factors I saw in the follower.
Hence, Sharan Palan becomes the Tarmak007 Follower of The Year 2014.
The first special awardee: Anish Puri has been chosen as the first special awardee. Anish has been a devoted follower of the blog and has probably not missed a single post in the last couple of months. He has followed Tarmak007 like a shadow and even has been very active on the Twitter as well. Anish seems to be having good knowledge levels on world defence as well.
Second and third special awardees: Shubham Sahai and Ashok Nayak have been chosen as the second and third special awardees. Both have been active on the blog. Their comments are always decent and to the point.
The awards: Sharan Palan will get to spend one day with the Tarmak007 during Aero India 2015. His stay in Bengaluru and entry to the air show will be sponsored by the blogger. He will also be presented a table-top model of Tejas, courtesy ADA. In addition, he will also receive a one-year free subscription of Hamari Fauj Hindi defence magazine.
The first special awardee will get a 2014YONEX Pro Series Backpack, sponsored by Uttsav Mishra, former international badminton player and currently coach of Senior Indian Badminton Team (Core Group). He is also the Chief Coach of Air India Badminton Team. Uttsav is an avid follower of Tarmak007.
The second and third special awardees will get a 2015 Diary/Organiser.
Finally...: There are others as well who have been following the blog vigorously. Pratik Das, Kedar Karmarkar, Arnav Pai, Basani Satheesh Kumar, Goboor Vivek, Onam Mukherjee, Sreekuttan Kadakkal, Meenakshi Lekhi, Neeraj Mishra, Anshul Anand, Rahul Devnath, Saurav Jain and Bhuvanesh to name a few. I might have definitely missed out many names and it’s no easy task to remember all!
While I thank each and every one for keeping the philosophy of the Tarmak007 intact – Clean Blogging – I have one request to all the knowledgeable visitors to Tarmak007. “Educate every visitor, in case they are ignorant of the facts and figures. Do not make fun and deflate their passion. Simplify the facts so that everyone understands the complexities of aerospace and defence.”
Tarmak007 is a blog that aims at educating the common man on India’s aerospace and defence might. With your help, I am sure we can inspire more souls every day.
Congratulations to Sharan! You have truly inspired me. He can be reached at: sonupalan578@gmail.com 
Remember, it’s your blog! Happy New Year to all!



Thursday, December 25, 2014

India's very own Chuck Yeager | Tributes to Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava

By AVM Rajeev Hora 
Commandant ASTE
Evening of 18 December, while trying to reach his son Kishore, I rang up Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava’s mobile number by mistake and I heard an all too familiar voice telling me that the subscriber was out of reach! Well, he sure was this time and probably reaching for the stars on a second WW biplane! We had just come back home after performing the last rites for Retd Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava VM who left for his heavenly abode on the 17th of December 2014.
But somehow, as we traced our feet back to our homes a few utterings overheard during the funeral still hung in the air- We have lost an icon! End of an era! The Grand old man of Flight Testing! We probably don’t realize what we have lost today! So loving, so humble! And all of it was so very true as every Tester (as Test pilots and Flight Test Engineers are fondly known as), in town wanted to be there at that moment which actually never felt like mourning but a final celebration of an extraordinary life!
The same day obituary in the Times of India read ‘A brief period of illness ended a remarkable life, lived to the fullest, centred on others and the Indian Air Force’! What a way to capture the lifetime of probably the greatest aviation enthusiast and Tester the country has ever produced! A flyer-writer who was our link to the past, a man who regaled us with the adventures of yore and had always an amazing story to tell! The Devons, the Liberators, the Spitfires and so many other ac of that vintage used to suddenly come to life in his presence!
Although 1994 was the first time I came across Gp Capt Bhargava, I learnt from the old timers that he was a permanent feature as a Guest Lecturer in the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, the flight test establishment of the IAF, despite his retirement from the Air Force in 1976. No training course was considered really complete without his talk on flight-testing which had all the elements of a Chuck Yeager autobiography! Well he sure was our very own Chuck Yeager! I still remember going back home rather despondent after attending his talk as to why I was subjecting myself to the horrors of the ‘stability and control’ prĂ©cis whereas this old man could so easily ‘guestimate’ the same by having one distant look at the inadequate size of the fin of the Ajeet trainer prototype taxiing out!
Well, he was indeed good at guessing! We all were aware of his frail health this season as he refused many a social invitation. But this time when he gave me a call from the hospital, he made a specific mention that he had passed my phone number to his family members, just in case they required any sort of help. His premonition or guess was spot-on and the he really did not recover from the high-risk surgery that the doctors had advised!
Gp Capt Bhargava’s father was an ICS officer in the British Raj days and he spent his childhood in Bulandshahar and Gorakhpur. The aviation bug bit him rather early in life and he was commissioned in Oct 1950 in the 53rd Pilots Course. He flew Spitfires and Vampires before attending the Empire Test Pilots School in UK to graduate as one of India’s pioneer test pilots.
In his test flying career with the IAF, besides production test flying, he flew the first flights of the HAL Pushpak, the HS-748 ‘Avro’ and the Messerschmitt HA 300 Fighter designed by Egypt. The first flight of the HS-748 earned him one of the first Vayusena Medals awarded to the IAF – in 1962. He was also the first commandant of ASTE (then A&ATU) and served as the Station Commander of Jodhpur. After his career in the Air Force, he was with the Flight Safety Directorate of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bangalore before retirement.
Gp Capt Bhargava’s long spell in Egypt were full of interesting challenges as he worked with the Egyptian Air Force to build and test fly their own aircraft. His family still remembers how he would fly aerobatics over the Nile river. But the most exciting was the day when he got airborne in the Messerschmitt prototype for the first time. His colleagues took over the ATC and Cairo television broadcast the flight live. It was an intensely emotional for the Egyptians who thanked him repeatedly and in tears!
Apart from that, the greatest number of his entertaining and spellbinding stories were about the No 7 Squadron. Those were probably the years he enjoyed the most, though it’s difficult to choose. His family, friends and acquaintances always thought of him as being synonymous with the Air force. Every waking moment centered on the Air force, long after he left it formally. In truth, he never did leave! His articles kept gracing the pages of publications like Air Forces Monthly, Air Enthusiast, Flypast, Air International and Indian Aviation for many years. His talks in various seminars were pure gold and were so eagerly awaited. His wonderful wife Mohini would often jokingly accuse him of bigamy as aviation was indeed his first love! He also led his daughters Mala and Meena to become so intensely involved in the whole thrilling world of flying at a young age that they would often listen in to flying exercises being executed through a VHF radio!
A keen blogger, he kept himself abreast with the latest technologies till his very last and would often invite youngsters to help him with his IT stuff. Some people also don’t probably know that he was a wonderful statistician and could conduct a two hours extempore class on statistics any time. But more than any other attribute, his will to help out people in need really stood out. One of my last conversations with him was from his hospital bed just three days before his final goodbye when he was desperately struggling with his own deteriorating health wherein he requested me to help sort out the pension papers for the kin of a long departed colleague!
The Indian aviation world is indeed a lesser place in his absence. We at ASTE are so happy that we were able to confer the first ‘Life Time Achievement in Flight Testing’ award to him just a few months before his demise. No one deserved it more to be the first recipient! ! He was indeed a very happy man, a learned man, a very kind man and a truly great man!
They don’t make aviators and gentlemen like him anymore! It is said that a man stops feeling immortal when he loses his parents!
Suddenly the world of flight-testing seems mortal and we know why!

(Blogger's Note: This a brilliant tribute to late Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava (Retd) [21 Aug 28 to 17 Dec 14  written by ASTE Commandant AVM Rajeev Hora, which went live on kbhargava.com. It is evident that this piece is straight from the heart and hence flawless and moving. Probably among the best tributes I have read in a long time. Good one, AVM! A rare coincidence though, from now on we shall remember December 17 every year on two counts. The first flight of Wright Brothers and the final flight of Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava. R.I.P. Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava. We shall continue to spread the aroma of your life. Tarmak007)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Panchi packs a punch during first flight


Read OneIndia report, here: http://bit.ly/1B5uJfM

Breaking on Tarmak007 | Panchi's maiden flight successful

Panchi, wheeled version of Nishant UAV, had its maiden flight successfully. It flew for 20 minutes. Take off and landing perfect. ADE gave birth to Panchi in the last 8 months. Stand-by for more later.

My way of saying Thank You...

Don't miss the announcement on: Tarmak007@FB soon.

When I refused to fly Pt Nehru

Photo Courtesy: Bharat Rakshak

By Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava 

Indian Air Force (Retd)
The date of refusal was November 26, 1961 and the passenger involved was Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Prime Minister, with an entourage of other VIPs. It was on the first transport aircraft to be built in India, the Avro 748 which was put together from imported major sub-assemblies by the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) manufacturing an aircraft for its own use was in itself a unique event, perhaps first in the world. Despite, the lack of experience our technicians and engineers did a very good job. I flew the aircraft on its maiden flight on November 1, 1961, with the Defence Minister, VK Krishna Menon and AVM Harjindar Singh, the father of the project and host, watching from the control tower. With hardly any testing done, the flight was uneventful. 

Since elections were due soon, Krishna Menon decided to blow his trumpet. The Prime Minister was asked to inaugurate the aircraft and 'dedicate it to the nation' on November 26 at Palam. By then, not all systems had been installed and production tests had not been completed. But as is our wont, there were many cynical and adverse comments rife about the aircraft within IAF and Indian Airlines (IAC). In view of this, I decided to show off a really major safety feature of the aircraft: coping with one engine failure during take off. 
For the Inauguration and to watch the flight, Prime Minster, Pt 
Jawahar Lal Nehru and guests were seated near the Blue Hangar by the side of Runway 27, about three hundred yards away from it and also down to the right from the dumb-bell. Others present were Krishna Menon (naturally), Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Aspy M Engineer, several other ministers, secretaries and some senior IAF officers. A special invitee was Sir Roy Dobson, Chairman Hawker Siddeley Group which had by then acquired AV Roe & Co. Most pilots, not otherwise engaged, from Air Hq Communication (Comm) Squadron were seated in the rearmost row. Sqn Ldr CV (Chandu) Gole was to provide the commentary 
After being sent off ceremoniously to fly the aircraft, my copilot Sqn Ldr RD Sahni and I boarded the aircraft, started both engines and lined up for take-off at the 27 dumb-bell. During the take off run, as we reached decision speed, I feathered the critical right engine which was on the side of the spectators. Pilots of Comm Squadron all stood up in alarm perhaps thinking that the aircraft was about to crash. We took off. climbed to 500 feet, turned around and right in front of the guests re-started the engine. Only then it became clear to the spectators that stopping the right engine was a deliberate act for display. The rest of the show was good but perhaps over-praised by Chandu. My hope was that both IAF and IAC would recognise that extreme safety was built into the turbo-prop aircraft, the certification requirements for which had evolved from the dangerous failures of engines on piston engine transports. 
After landing and switching off close to the spectators area, we were met at the bottom of the steps by the PM. I was introduced to him by Krishna Menon. Pt Nehru gave me a tight welcoming hug with a huge smile on his face and said, "Yes, I know this chap" (Like hell he did! It was just a political comment). In the next few minutes all senior people climbed into the aircraft and all seats got occupied with Pt Nehru in the front row. He whispered to Krishna Menon who came up to the front door where I was standing and asked if the PM could be given a ride. 
I was horrified at the idea of carrying the PM and others in an unproven aircraft which had not even finished the essential production tests. I told Krishna Menon that no flight for the PM or any other passengers was possible. I suggested that he look at the people seated in the aircraft, the safety of which was yet to be ensured. I said half the Government of India, many Governors, Ministers, Secretaries, etc were present. There was no way I would risk flying them in the aircraft which was not yet ready to carry passengers. I explained that the IAF took extreme care to ensure safety of its passengers. I did not mention that I was not even qualified to carry any of them anyway.
His only comment was that I had been flying it and showing it off. I explained that I was a test pilot and it was my job. It was limited to testing the aircraft till it got ready to be used in service. 
Krishna Menon turned away and spoke a few words to the PM. The conversation was so short that I knew he never mentioned even the smallest part of my explanation. All he could have said in those few seconds would have been, "The pilot refuses to fly us". Anyway, Pt Nehru immediately got up from his seat and in a visibly angry huff without once glancing at me walked down and out of the aircraft.
The CAS followed him and Krishna Menon. As the CAS passed me, he said in a soft undertone, "Well done, Bhargava". I then knew that I was not about to be tried by a Court Martial. 
My display had an interesting fallout. I heard from some kind people that Sir Roy Dobson, immediately after our touchdown, said to Pt Nehru that it was the finest display of a transport aircraft he had ever seen, surely an exaggeration meant for currying favour and promoting his own business. The result was that two months later on Republic Day 1962, I was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for courage and professional skill. The medal had been instituted only a year and eleven months earlier. Mine was among the first 12 or 15 VMs for IAF. This had its own tale. 
All early decorations were awarded in the Rashtrapati Bhawan by the President himself. My wife and I attended the investiture in April 1962. As is the custom, after the ceremony, we were ushered in for a cup of tea with the President. Soon after the two of us sat down in front of a small table, two cups of tea appeared. We were facing President Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. Seated on his right was Pt Nehru. Almost before I took the first sip of my tea, the President asked me, "Since when have the Bhargavas been a martial race". My reply was 
instant, "Since Parashuram, Sir". Pt Nehru bursts out laughing but the President went quiet and never said another word to me. Fortunately for me Pt Nehru was gracious enough to ask how the Avro 748 was doing. 
Obviously he had not forgotten the refusal. I explained that we had completed tests on it and the aircraft was fit for passengers. But we did lose the main passenger door the first time we pressurised the aircraft. By then the involved design fault had occurred on five aircraft around the world with an air hostess being sucked out as the aircraft was heading for Lima airport of Peru. I hoped that he realised the significance of IAF not risking its passengers. 
It was time to leave, though we were kept back for a few minutes extra for two other awardees to join us. As we came out, the Naval officer escorting us told me, "Sir, you have upset the President". I was horrified and asked him how. He said that my reply was that the Bhargavas were martial people since Parashuram. I said that I did not think that it was a rude or offensive reply. It was very much a part of our mythology. He explained that all that was well but the President was also a Bhargava. He never thought that he was from a martial race. I knew of him as a very gentle person.. He was a teacher, a philosopher and was devoutly religious. I had read most of his exposition of The Bhagwad Gita. But it was a realisation too late. 
Unfortunately, I never got a chance to make amends! 

(The above article is being reproduced from web written by late Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava. I found it from a Google group and hence couldn't give the credit properly.) 

R.I.P. Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava

R.I.P. Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava.
 He died in Bengaluru last week (Dec 17). Sadly, none of the newspapers/TV channels bothered to even have a small obit on one of the finest jewels of IAF. That shows the plight and focus of my 'great' profession, journalism!
I haven't interacted much with him, though was aware of his activities through friends. I have read some of his pieces and knew that he was a rare treasure trove of information on IAF. He was a voracious writer and never missed an opportunity to pen his thoughts.

Photo Courtesy: Bharat Rakshak
Read an obit by Marut fans here: http://bit.ly/1B48FC4

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