Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Inspiring Villages | Kuttappai, C/o Kanjippadam: He missed out being in IAF, but fell in love with the oar…

By Anantha Krishnan M

“I was born on December 30, 1945 at Chambakkulam. I have passed SSLC (10th grade) and my dream was to join the Indian Air Force (IAF),” says Kuttappai a.k.a Antony Koorippurackal Joseph. 
He sits placidly in his kothumbu vallam (a small, narrow boat), in one corner of which is piled a heap of fish — the day’s catch. 
Chambakkulam is a village in Kerala’s Kuttanadu region, known for its beautiful backwaters, lush greenery and paddy fields. And Kuttappai is something of a household name in the area. He seems to know everyone, and everyone seems to know him. 
Not surprising perhaps, since he rows up and down the Pookaitha river (a tributary of the Pampa meandering here), selling fish from morning to evening every day.
Buttonholed when he is returning from the early morning fish auction in the nearby by Alappuzha market, Kuttappai is initially wary, and not very enthusiastic about a media interview.
But a little cajoling is all it takes to make him loquacious. He drops his air of reserve and decides he’s comfortable being interviewed. “Not that I was worried… I anyway keep talking about myself and my dreams to tourists who visit Kanjippadam (another Kuttanadu village). I like meeting people and chatting with them. Even the small waves of this Pookaitha river and the cool breeze across Kanjippadam probably know bits and pieces of my story,” says Kuttappai lyrically. “But when I realized that you are a journalist, I wasn’t sure what to speak,” he says, suddenly bashful again.
Kuttappai alternates between impassive silence and eloquence. 
He is mildly curious but mostly impassive when told that he is being interviewed for this new series — Inspiring Villages — capturing stories of people, places in the hinterland and their passion.
His boat is anchored at the private jetty belonging to the Green Palace Resort in Kanjippadam, the help of whose staff Mathrubhumi had to take to cajole the 72-year-old fisherman to talk freely about himself.
Kuttappai, born to farmer parents and youngest of seven siblings, wasn’t initially comfortable when he realised that he was speaking to an aerospace journalist. And with good reason too: it was as if his past was catching up with him…

A lie cost him his dream job in IAF: Memories come flooding back. In 1966, at the age of 21, Kuttappai, along with four friends boarded a train to (the then) Bangalore to attend an IAF recruitment drive. At the selection centre, he cleared all the medical and physical tests.
“Just before the interview, our agent Mohammed Ali told us that when the officer asks us about our age we must say 19 and not 21. We were not aware of the rules and we trusted Ali,” recalls Kuttappai, his voice cracking. 
The officer, a Punjabi, grew suspicious after he lied about his age. “I think Ali had tampered with even our attested marks-sheets… The officer informed the police, but we somehow managed to escape from there. But the story didn’t end there. Back home, we received several letters from the government and finally, we were barred from attending any government interviews for five years,” says Kuttappai. The feeling of betrayal still hurts. 
He says he lives with great regret even now for having lost the opportunity to serve in the IAF. His parents were terribly upset too, he recalls.

“When I see my friends, when I meet people working in the IAF, I have a deep sense of regret for not making it… But, I am happy I did not lose my focus. I took to fishing, and I am happy that in the last 40 years of being a fisherman there hasn’t been a dull day. God has been kind to me,” he adds.
His four daughters are all educated and married, and working in the Gulf.

A visit to INS Vikrant triggered his passion: Kuttappai says he was a volleyball player and represented his school in many tournaments.
During a trip to the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, their team was taken onboard INS Vikrant (now decommissioned). It was there that he saw a plane for the first time and was absolutely fascinated by it. The fascination has remained undiminished till today.
“With a 32-33 inches chest and being about 5.6 feet tall, I was among the fit boys in Kanjippadam. I saw a plane for first time in my life on INS Vikrant. We were taken around the ship by the officers. I think I fell in love with the plane instantly. The wings, the propeller… everything attracted me,” he says. His bleary eyes shine at that memory. It was then that he had decided that he wanted to join the IAF.
Even today, he is enthralled as he watches flights taking off and landing at Nedumbasserry Airport near Kochi whenever he goes there to see off or receive his daughters.

His love for English is infectious: Kuttappai discloses a little bashfully, that he loves speaking English. He has been fascinated by the language right from childhood.
“At the back of a fish truck, I once noticed a painted English sentence: ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’ I wasn’t sure about the meaning and so I asked the lorry owner. He wasn’t sure either. Then I asked the driver, and he didn’t know either. I kept asking around. My search for the meaning finally ended with a man in our locality, who people said was suffering from some mental imbalance. But he cleared my doubt. From then on I learnt as many English words as I could,” says Kuttappai, who rows up and down the Pookaitha river selling fish from morning to evening.
Most of his customers are clueless about English. Indeed, they have no need to learn the language, he concedes. 
“When I speak English, people laugh at me,” he admits ruefully. And then gets defensive: “To catch, to sell, to buy or to cook fish you don’t need to know English. But what’s wrong in learning it?”
His wife Annamma Anthony (54), also loves English, he claims. However, she hasn’t done much to learn the language, he confides, a little disappointed.

A very popular fisherman in Kanjippadam: Apparently Kuttappai is as popular as Kerala’s yesteryear football hero I M Vijayan, in every household of Kanjippadam.
“I have heard about this fisherman and he even met me once. I understand he is a very hard working soul,” says Fr Peter Mathirappilly, the Vicar of Holy Cross Church in Vaisyambhagom, a village near Kanjippadam.
Gigi Thomas, Managing Director of Green Palace Resort, who regularly buys fish from Kuttappai, has a soft corner for him, having known him from childhood. 
“He is a man with integrity. He is not greedy, and does his job with great passion. Kuttappai has carried me around when I was a kid and even given me boat rides during my school days,” says Gigi, who is also a former Kerala hockey player.
But the best compliment comes from Sabu Thomas, who is a manager with the same resort.
“Kuttappai is the soul of Kuttanadu. We can’t match his energy levels, despite his advancing age. His presence brings warmth. He is probably the guardian of Kanjippadam,” says Sabu, who interacts with Kuttappai on a daily basis.

Youngsters are talented, but look for shortcuts…: So, finally, when asked for his views on the current generation and their ability to take on challenges, Kuttappai’s face falls. Most of them lack depth, he says.
“Youngsters these days don’t have the patience to understand things. They seek shortcuts for everything in life. Unless you have patience, unless you have the knowledge, it is difficult to achieve any results. But who listens?”
But Kuttappai also sees a bright spot: “But today’s youngsters have many talents. May God bless them all,” he adds.
Incidentally, Kuttappai’s nephew Saji Thomas is a recipient of the Arjuna Award in rowing.
When he is gifted a miniature model of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Kuttappai looks at it keenly for a while before putting it into his pocket with a grin. 
As he rows away, there is a look of satisfaction on his face. After all, he is now the owner of a Tejas!

(Inspiring Villages is a series that seeks to capture stories of ordinary people, places and passion.  @writetake )

Saturday, November 18, 2017

40 years after plane crash, surviving crew member visits site near Jorhat in Assam

Wg Cdr Raveendran (Retd), 3rd from left with friends at the crash site on November 4, 2017. 
By Anantha Krishnan M
Forty years after a Tu-124 (V-643) Pushpak carrying the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai crashed at Takela Gaon village in Assam (enroute to Jorhat from Delhi), an air warrior who survived the accident visited the site along with few friends recently.
Exhibiting great presence of mind to evacuate those injured, including the PM, was a 28-year-old under trainee flight engineer Flt Lt P K Raveendran. Now, 68, and a retired Wing Commander from the Indian Air Force, Mathrubhumi caught up with the air warrior on his return from the crash site.
Tighten your seat belts and enjoy this narrative feature in the company of Wg Cdr Raveendran (Retd).
Friday, November 4, 1977. Welcome to the prestigious Air Head Quarters Communication Squadron. Here, the best of transport crew consisting of highly qualified and experienced pilots, navigators, flight engineers and flight signalers are normally handpicked for this special task.
Crashed plane Tu-124B (Image: BR)
As usual the crew room was abuzz with activities, each proudly wearing Comn Sqn badge that features Pegasus, the legendary winged divine stallion with the inscription ‘Sevaaur Suraksha’ (Service and Security). 
The VIP of the day to fly on Tu-124 (V-643) Pushpak was Morarji Desai. The take-off was planned at 17:15 hrs, to drop the PM at Jorhat and return to Delhi by night. The crew members were: Wg Cdr Clarence Joseph D’lima (Captain), Sqn Ldr Mathew Cyriac (Co-pilot),Wg Cdr Joginder Singh (Navigator), Sqn Ldr V V S Sunkar (Flight Engineer), Flt Lt O P Arora (Flight Signaler) and Flt Lt P K Raveendran (U/T Flight Engineer).
“The empty (with no VIP) return leg justified my presence on-board as an under-trainee Flight Engineer. As a conscientious under-trainee, I followed Sunkar Sir to the Pushpak positioned in the VIP bay and then around the aircraft watching him meticulously carrying out the external checks and then cabin and cockpit checks. By the time we finished with the checks, Clarie ir walked in and I still remember his golden words responsible for keeping me alive till this day. May his soul rest in peace,” recalls Wg Cdr Raveendran (Retd), while sharing the incident to Mathrubhumi. 
According to Ravi, the flight was uneventful and proceeded with clockwork precision till the
The letter written by PM
Morarji Desai after the crash.
crew started the descent to the Jorhat airfield. 
“It was cloudy all around and quite bumpy and I figured that Clairie Sir was going in for a straight in approach and landing on the runway 04. The first sign of trouble came when I heard the pitch of the Soloviev D20-P turbofan engines noise increasing, as Clairie Sir opened power to initiate a ‘go-around’. Soon, through the patches of low clouds, I could spot the Jorhat runway, quickly vanishing below the aircraft. Clairie Sir decided to do a ‘timed circuit’ to reposition the aircraft for a second approach,” he recalls. In other words, the plane was in some trouble.
None of the crew seated behind could spot anything outside as it was well past local sunset time and pitch dark all around. Ravi says he could sense from the engine sound that the Pushpak was on finals. 
“I couldn’t see anything outside. Suddenly through the starboard wing flap slots, I saw the bright landing light on the right undercarriage bay wall in the process of being extended. Oh my God! Trees! Yes trees it was. The Puspak hit the ground with a heavy thud, skidded some distance and came to a halt, right engine still blazing away. Immediately after the impact, cabin lights had gone off,” says the former air warrior, hailing from Vadakara in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. 
Garnering courage, Ravi says he shouted asking everyone to come out, through the rear exit, which was by then opened by Sgt Iyer.
A letter from the CM's Secretariat.
“In the faint reflection of the right engine tailpipe blaze, I could see ghost-like figures trying to open their seat belts and scrambling towards the rear door. As we helped the passengers exit the aircraft the blaze from the right engine suddenly stopped, and it was all quiet and dark,” he said.
Owing to the impact, the nose portion of the aircraft was twisted and bent downwards with no access to the cockpit. 
“I shouted the names of my fellow crew members one by one, hoping against hope that I would hear a response. I thought the entire crew may be trapped inside, unconscious; and I was consciously trying not to think of the worst. Dejected, I walked all the way back and jumped out of the rear door, onto the slushy ground below,” says Ravi, who served the IAF for over 20 years. He was later with the Light Combat Aircraft programme for another 20 years.
He said the whole place was reeking of ATF splashed all around. The crew had to request the villagers who approached with burning country torches to keep a safe distance, to prevent the possible risk of fire.
Later, the ground crew and fellow passengers escorted the PM to a near village. The others on the entourage were his son Kanti Bhai Desai, Director of IB John Lobo and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister P K Thungon. 
Wg Cdr Raveendran (Retd).
Taking a ride in a rickety Jhonga, and a bicycle, though injured, he reached the Jorhat Air Force Station and broke the news that the PM’s aircraft has crash-landed and while the PM was safe, the fate of the cockpit crew was unknown. He said the hospitality and helpful demeanor of the people of the North-East facilitated the rescue operations.
“My mind was still on the crew trapped in the cockpit and I was hoping to hear the news of them rescued; but that was not to be. Through the night, terrible news of bodies recovered from the crash site kept coming in and by early morning next day the count had reached five which sealed the hope of any surviving cockpit crew. The impact of the nose landing gear with a tree ripped open the cockpit floor through which the crew fell out and their bodies were found scattered on the crash site. I felt sad and miserable and the question kept popping up in my mind ‘why He spared me’; and shed silent tears for my dear departed colleagues,” adds Ravi.
Wg Cdr Raveendran (Retd) with one
of the villagers who sheltred the
PM and team in 1977.
The veteran FTE says that during the Court of Inquiry (CoI), the members mainly focused on his actions with regard to rescue operations, post the accident. Later he came to know that the CoI had recommended his name for gallantry award ‘Shaurya Chakra’ which he received from President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy on January 26, 1979.
“And to visit the crash site 40 years later on November 4, 2017, it was an emotional moment for me. I was fortunate to walk out of the ill-fated Tu-124 and sit with you today to share the story. I am thankful to my friends who accompanied me to the crash site in Takela Gaon village, including Wg Cdr U K Palat, SC (Retd), Jayaprakashan Ambali and K M Divakaran. The IAF and local administration too extended all help for this very special visit,” adds Ravi.
The team also visited the house that gave shelter to PM Desai and others. Appreciation letters from PM and others are still kept in good condition by the villagers. Ravi was also honored with a Gomocha (a small piece of cloth which is a symbol of Assamese culture) by the lady of the house. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

India all set to test-fire BrahMos missile from Su-30MKI

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Nov 13: India is all set to create history with the maiden test-firing of BrahMos cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter any time soon. This will be the first ever test-firing of a supersonic cruise missile in the world from a frontline fighter against a target.
Military sources confirmed to Mathrubhumi that preparations have been on in full swing at one of the air bases in the eastern sector. Two Sukhois with modified bellies have been readied for the job, while one will be on a stand-by.
The launch crew consisting of scientists, engineers, technicians, designers and pilots from the Indian Air Force (IAF), BrahMos Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have been active at the air base for the last one week.
It can be confirmed that all pre-flight tests have been concluded and weather-permitting the first BrahMos missile will be fired against a temporary target being set at the Bay of Bengal.
Software fine-tuned to perfection: BrahMos officials were unavailable for any comments. A team from BrahMos is said to be attending the Dubai Air Show. 
Speaking to the media at Dubai on Sunday, Alexander Maksichev, BrahMos Joint Managing Director too confirmed that the first test-firing of the missile could take place towards the end of November.
However, Mathrubhumi can confirm that the maiden live firing of the 2.4-ton air-to-ground missile might take place within the next one week.
Last year in June, a Su-30MKI undertook the first flight with BrahMos onboard at HAL’s Nasik Division with a modified belly and desi launcher.
The first demonstration flight had lasted for 58-minute demonstration flight carrying the supersonic cruise missile. The maiden profile of missile in an airborne role was technically called as a ‘Mass Dimensional’ one.
Since then several flights were tests (separation trials or dummy missile drop tests) were conducted during ‘technological missile profile,’ testing various parameters and different modes. In the last one year, the technical team fine-tuned the software based on the data collected from various tests.
The upcoming firing of BrahMos will be in its full profile. BrahMos air variant will enable the IAF to penetrate deep inside the enemy territory and destroy vital installations from stand-off ranges.
Once inducted, IAF will become the only air force in the world in possession of a supersonic cruise missile system. 
Former IAF Chief Arup Raha delighted: Reacting to the news of the impending test, former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha (Retd) told Mathrubhumi that BrahMos will give a major boost to the capability enhancement of IAF.
“I am delighted that finally the programme is inching closer to its goal. It is a huge indigenous step strengthening our strategic capabilities. It propels IAF’s strike capabilities by many folds. BrahMos on Sukhoi strengthens our stand-off capability in a dense environment,” the former IAF chief said from Calcutta.
He said with Su-30MKI features coupled with BrahMos’ supersonic cruise abilities, the IAF will become a formidable force in the region. It was during his time that the programme got a major fillip with HAL tasked to modify two Su-30MKI platforms.
“More aircraft from the existing inventory can be modified and even the new ones too can be integrated with BrahMos. I am happy that the programme has come to such an advanced stage. I shall wait for the big news now,” ACM Raha (Retd) said.

Propelled by HAL’s young blood, HTT-40 ready for critical stall & spin tests

By Anantha Krishnan M

Bengaluru, Nov 12: Two prototypes (PT-1 & PT-2) of the Basic Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) are ready for the crucial stall and spin tests.
Since Aero India 2017, the young team from HAL’s Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) were reading both platforms for the stall and spin tests, which had given enough nightmares for the erstwhile HJT-36 (Sitara) project.
Mathrubhumi can now confirm that the design and manufacture of the anti-spin gantry truss has been completed and they have been already integrated on to both prototypes.
The aircraft has already started the flight-testing with the spin gantry and will start the stall and spin tests in shortly.
The truss installation has been a significantly complicated process for the designers and engineers as it had to be installed at the rear part of the aircraft extending it away from the rudder. This has been done ensuring that the rudder doesn’t get obstructed as the parachute is being deployed.
The ASPS (anti-spin parachute system) is a mandatory requirement for undertaking spin tests. The ASPS will be used to arrest the spin manoeuvre, if the aircraft fails to control the spin.
The spin gantry has been imported from American firm Airborne Systems. Insiders say that it has been delivered in a record time of three months as against a cycle time of three years which was taken for earlier projects.
Wind tunnel testing results encouraging: The truss structure is a complicated welded entity, which has tested the nerves of the ARDC team.
“We have done enough wind tunnel model testing and the results are encouraging. The stall and spin characteristics results have further boosted the morale of the team,” says an official.
The designers have been taking an extremely cautious approach keeping in mind the challenges it had thrown for the HJT-36 programme.
The ARDC team has done extensive simulation analyses before arriving at the current configuration.
Both prototypes have completed more than 120 flights, ticking off other test points ahead of the ultimate test.
The certifying agency CEMILAC, which is doubling up as a co-designer in the HTT-40 project, seems to be having a positive bearing on the project. The target set for achieving certification is December 2018.
Interestingly, HAL’s head T S Raju have been playing the mentor’s role for the team, and letting them know on many occasions that the HTT-40 is a project owned by the youngsters of the company.
Parrikar’s backing inspired ARDC team: Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is a huge fan of the HTT-40 project, and has taken immense interest in patting the young team from time to time.
Parrikar had expressed confidence during the first official flight of PT-1 in June 2016 that the young team would deliver an aircraft as per the needs of the user.
With his successor Nirmala Seetharaman expected to visit HAL and DRDO labs in Bengaluru shortly, the ARDC team is leaving no stone unturned to catch the attention of the ‘minister on the move.’
The HTT-40 had stolen the limelight during Aero India 2017 with its 36-year-old Deputy Project Manager Prashant Singh Bhadoria and his team being the most-sought-after-souls at the show.
Started with HAL’s internal funding of Rs 500 crore, the HTT-40 project got the ahead for detailed design in August 2013. The detailed design was completed in 21 months (May 2015) and the BTA PT-I had its maiden flight (unofficial) in May 2016 and PT-2 in May 2017.
As reported by Mathrubhumi earlier, another prototype (PT-3) with optimised design\ reduced weight and a weaponised variant (PT-4) are expected to fly out from the ARDC hangars in future.

Monday, October 2, 2017

2nd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award for Rajeev Mishra of Rajasthan Patrika

By Anantha Krishnan M

Bengaluru, Oct 2: Rajeev Kumar Mishra (45), a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, has been selected for the 2nd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2017. The award has been instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a writers’ movement spearheading silent missions for unsung heroes.

The award will be presented on October 11 in Bengaluru, during the 2nd Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram. 
The award carries a specially-crafted crystal memento, a certificate of appreciation and Rs 10,000 in cash. The awardee will be onboard IIF’s national missions as a special invitee for the next one year.
Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the G. Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award last year.
Unique selection process: This year, the jury selected Rajeev Mishra from a list of six journalists across India shortlisted from various streams. Seven members of IIF, a representative of AKIF and a relative of late G Santha teacher constituted this year’s jury.
"This year too we had a tough task in picking one from the shortlisted six journalists. Finally, it was Rajeev Mishra's consistent commitment to the reader as a writer that helped us in choosing him for this prestigious award. We found his writing well-researched, sans any sensationalism," says Dr Kota Harinarayana, Mentor of IIF.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in January this year. Once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their Editors was sought to measure some of their performance parameters. 
“Our endeavor is to recognize electronic, print and wire media journalists, from both reporting and desk, who make invaluable contributions to their profession. We seek the opinion of readers/viewers as well, while short-listing the awardees. Next year, the award will be given to a television journalist,” says Sindhu A, National Coordinator, IIF.
Consistent & committed writer: Rajeev has been covering all beats — ranging from politics, crime, sports, business, science and technology, to space and defence — often doubling up as a deskperson-cum-reporter. His specials on India’s space programmes ensured that the non-English-reading segments benefitted immensely, especially in the non-metro cities. 
Hailing from Siwan district in Bihar, Rajeev has been a journalist for the last 13 years. Born to farmer-parents, he was a casual announcer with All India Radio in Jamshedpur before starting his career with Dainik Uditwani in 2004.
Later, he moved on to Lokmat Samachar before joining Rajasthan Patrika in 2008. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota, Rajasthan. He is married to Nisha Mishra and blessed with a daughter and son.
Reacting to the news of his winning the award, Rajeev says that his responsibility as a journalist has increased with the honour. “It’s a matter of pride for me. I dedicate this award to my newspaper and all its readers. I am delighted that my selection was done by highly revered jury members,” says Rajeev. (rajeevnmishra@gmail.com | Twitter: @rajeevmishra25)

About late Santha teacher: Born to scholar parents in 1942, G. Shantha (my mother) was a post-graduate in English literature and hailed from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. She first taught English in colleges (Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu and Devasom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala) before settling down at Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away at the age of 65 on 17 February 2007, following a heart attack. She went the extra mile in spreading the essence of English literature among rural children, even after her retirement. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Making of the fearless few: Inside Parachute Regiment Training Centre

Bengaluru: “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is the ability to overcome fear that makes you special. The earlier you will, the better solider you become. The focus of our training here is to make the young recruit fearless at the earliest,” says Lt Col Manish Sharma, General Staff Officer (Training), whose job is to coordinate and monitor the training conducted at the Parachute Regiment Training Centre (PRTC).
During a visit to the PRTC facilities here recently, the young recruits exhibited glimpses of their breathtaking skills from their rigorous training modules.
“We continuously work on building the confidence of the recruits in their training and their own abilities as well. The tests like ‘confidence walk’ and ‘fan jump’ further build on the confidence of the recruits,” says Lt Col Manish, who conducted the media around. 
He said formalised motivation training sessions are also conducted wherein case studies on operations undertaken by the units are explained.
Who can become a paratrooper? Any serving soldier who is a volunteer and under 28 years of age (30 years in case of officers) and is in medically fit condition can apply to be a paratrooper. 
The recruit will then undergo a probation-cum-selection-training of 90 days. During this training he is tested physically, mentally and emotionally.
“The physical tests besides the routine PT include basic tests of PPT (Physical Proficiency Test) and BPET (Battle Practice Efficiency Test) with superior standards and speed marches of 10, 20, 30 and 40 km with 23.5 kg of load,” says Lt Col Manish, a recipient of Sena Medal. 
Post successful completion, the recruit has to undergo a Basic Parachute Descent course at Paratroopers’ Training School in Agra where he undergoes five combat static line jumps from a height of 1250 feet. Upon finishing this curriculum successfully, he becomes a paratrooper.
When asked what makes the paratroopers different from the rest of the forces, the young officer quoted from the legendary Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery of United Kingdom. @Mathrubhumi

Read full report here: http://bit.ly/2fybwkI

Monday, September 18, 2017

Be a ‘lion’ in air & not a ‘Lamb’, Arjan Singh told a young pilot!

Bengaluru: Air Vice Marshal Ajit Lamba (Retd), the veteran Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot -- revered as a legend and mentor to many current-day aviators -- says late Arjan Singh Marshal of IAF was the kind of a person who charmed all those who came across him.
In an interview to Mathrubhumi on Monday, the 81-year-old ace pilot said the MAF was very fond of him as well.
“I tend to think that the MAF was very fond of me. But I am sure that there are many others, both senior and junior to me in the Service who may be carrying similar expressions. This itself speaks volumes for the late Arjan Singh. He was the kind of person who charmed all those who came across him,” says AVM Lamba (Retd).
Recalling his first encounter with the departed soul, AVM Lamba (Retd) says the duo met when the MAF visited their No 7 Squadron as the then Chief of Air Staff during the 1965 Indo-Pak War.
Read the full report i Mathrubhumi, here: http://bit.ly/2h9ZyBG

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sailing superhero Cdr Abhilash Tomy set for Golden Globe Race next year

Bengaluru, July 02: India’s sailing superhero Commander Abhilash Tomy (Indian Navy) will be at Plymouth in UK amidst some of the best sailors in the business, attempting to recreate history, one year from now, 
Cdr Abhilash, now 38, and 30-odd sailors from across the globe, will be on a solo circumnavigation mission on their small traditional long-keeled yachts, aided by just paper charts, a sextant and wind up chronometer as their navigate tools.
The organisers of the Golden Globe Race (GGR-18) said that the event set to begin on June 30 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe Race and the remarkable achievement of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in becoming the first man to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation.
Cdr Abhilash created history on April 6, 2013 by becoming the first Indian (79th in the world) to complete a solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation under sail.
He had set out on the mission from Mumbai on November 1, 2012 on sail boat INSV Mhadei.
A Keerthi Chakra recipient, he is among the five sailors who received a special invitation to partake in the GGR-18.
Full report here: bit.ly/2sB5Vhd

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Challakere ATR will be home for gen-next fighters, UCAVs

By Anantha Krishnan M
Challakere, May 28: The new address for testing India’s future manned and unmanned platforms will be: ATR, Co/DRDO, Voru Kaval village, Challakere taluka, Chitradurga District, Karnataka. From now on, fighter jets and unmanned platforms will jettison over the Challakere skies, undertaking missions to boost India’s military preparedness. 
Around 250-plus km from Bengaluru, the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) inaugurated today, will be soon home for many ongoing and future aeronautical projects of DRDO.
With Indian Space Research Organisation, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Indian Institute of Science too landing at Challakere, the togetherness of aerospace minds at close proximity augurs well for India’s future.
Read full report here: http://bit.ly/2ruTgR1

DRDO making ‘big, big’ planes inside, say villagers near Challakere ATR

By Anantha Krishnan M
Villagers of Voru Kaval and Navilekunte in Challakere (Chitradurga Dist, Karnataka), have very little clue about the activities inside the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) being readied by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
They only know that DRDO is making ‘big planes’ inside.
“Nobody is allowed inside. They are making big, big planes,” says one of the villagers whom this Correspondent met while returning from the ATR, which will be inaugurated on May 28.
Under a massive peepal tree, the villagers had assembled for their regular chit-chat and chai. Giving them company was a couple of monkeys, who according to them, are the permanent residents at a nearby Hanuman temple.
Most of the villagers who spoke to Mathrubhumi said that they need jobs and were not ‘bothered’ about what goes inside.
“Even our MP (Member of Parliament) and MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) are not allowed to go in,” says another man.
Read full report here: http://bit.ly/2qZbZTf

Photo essay on DRDO’s ATR in Challakere

See the complete essay here: http://bit.ly/2rbUqzL

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Challakere: From 'Oil City' to India's prime military base of future

By Anantha Krishnan M
@Deccan Herald
Oil and military matters have nothing in common. A sign board on the National Highway at Challakere says: Welcome to the Oil City (because of the numerous edible oil mills around the town). Another board points towards Voru Kaval village, the new home for Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) at Challakere taluk in Chitradurga district of Karnataka. 
On May 28, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley will inaugurate the ATR, being set up on the 4,290 acres of land provided by the Karnataka government. Following the completion of the first phase work, the range will be extensively used for testing and evaluating unmanned and manned projects of the DRDO.
The DRDO has already positioned two of its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — Rustom-1 and Rustom-2 TAPAS (Tactical Advanced Platform for Aerial Surveillance) — at the ATR. Once the range becomes fully operational, the DRDO will test air-to-ground weapons, parachutes, aerostats and electric warfare flares. Officials say no test flights of ballistic missiles and commercial airline operations will be conducted at the range, sticking with the guidelines given by the National Green Tribunal.

Read the full report here:http://bit.ly/2r5xWi4

Friday, May 26, 2017

#Over2Challakere: DRDO's ATR all set for official launch

Here's the 2nd prototype of #Rustom2 ready for 1st flight in a month from #ATR with reduced weight and a new engine. (Below) The front gate of ATR. Stand-by for more on Tarmak007.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Shashi Sinha: Madurai’s shy girl is now mother of interceptor missiles

By Anantha Krishnan M
Little Shashi along with her friends from neighbourhood cycled every evening towards a vantage point on Tadbund Road in Secunderabad to catch a glimpse of planes landing. With every touchdown, a little dream quietly took wing from the corner of the runway.
“We used to park ourselves and wait to see the big birds making touchdown. It was an awesome feeling to see planes comedown. There was this huge wall and the little opening gifted us close proximity to flying machines. We couldn’t afford to buy a ticket and see planes from close quarters. Enjoying everything from a distance was the norm then,” says Shashi Sinha.
Shashi locked on to the dream of dating flying machines for some time with the hope that she would become a pilot. To her, it was the most fascinating job on the planet. But, as she grew life charted a different flightpath and she completed her B.Tech in Electronics from Osmania University.

She drew inspiration from her father, a paratrooper 

Her hero was her father who was in the Army. She picked up early threads of discipline from him, while her mother, a Hindi pundit, taught her the power of patience.
“My mother walked 5 km to and fro every day to her school. She was such a live wire and participated in all activities in the school. Not even once in her life she cribbed. Not even once she said she was tired of cooking for us. Not sure if I can find a woman today, who doesn’t complain,” says Shashi, Project Director, Advanced Area Defence (AAD) Endo Atmospheric Interceptor Missiles, Defence Research and Development Oorganisation (DRDO).
While sharing interesting bits of her family details, Shashi said her father was a self-made man and never depended on anyone.
“He was a paratrooper and joined the Indian Army at the age of 15. He fought in the World War-II and often told me stories of USSR (Russia) and their military might. I grew up listening to these inspiring tales of men, war machines and their triumphs. Decades later in 2003 when I set my foot on Russian soil, I fondly remembered the stories my dad shared,” says Shashi, now 56 years old.
I wanted both my daughters independent 

She said the day when her father was born, he lost his mother. “That made my grandfather turn more superstitious, making my father not-so-welcome-soul in the family. But, over the years the neglect my father got from his own family made him so stronger,” she says.
Shashi too had her share of setbacks in life when she lost her husband Lt Cdr Gaurav Raj Sinha, a naval officer hailing from Allahabad, in a road accident in Hyderabad in 1997.
“Ours was a love marriage and he was my M.Tech coursemate at IIT Kharagpur. While pursing higher studies on radar applications, our signals and wavelength matched. But, his death really shook me hard because he took care of the family so much that I felt suddenly orphaned. With my two little daughters then only nine and seven years of age, I had to start a new life again,” says Shashi, who joined DRDO in November 2001.
Her contributions range over varied subjects such as development of flight vehicles, RF seekers, radomes and Radar Cross Section to name a few. In August 2012 she was made the Project Director and in 2015, she led the team successfully flight-tested the endo-atmospheric interceptor AAD, which incorporated many home-grown critical technologies.
The death of her husband and the additional responsibilities made Shashi to take a fresh look at her life and she chose to make both her daughters independent.
“I did not want to take any help from anyone. I did not want them to feel at any point that they are orphaned. It was tough for me. But I hung on to life. For many months, I used to sleep holding my husband’s photo closer to my chest. It gave me strength,” she adds.
Her elder daughter Pavitra is now a freelance artiste, while the younger one Roshani is pursuing her post-doctoral studies abroad.

Hit to kill AAD mission a great leap forward for India

When asked about the AAD project, Shashi said that India has now made huge inroads with the recent success of the mission. She said the systems are fine-tuned ahead of its induction.
“Elsewhere in the world, the missiles are lighter and smarter. We are also reaching there and with all the available technologies we could recently demonstrate a hit to kill mission, becoming the third nation after the US and France,” she said.
17, the AAD interceptor destroyed incoming ballistic missile satisfying all the mission objectives. Shashi and the team are currently engaged in the design and development of a multiple–role long-range interceptor that counters a wide range of threats, carrying onboard many new technologies.
On the challenges of heading such a sensitive project, Shashi says every job entrusted upon must be dealt with dedication.
“I want every woman to constantly push their limits. I want them to take on all the challenges head on. Enjoy the task given to you. Own them up,” says Shashi, who has been always inspired by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and Dr V K Saraswat, whom she considers are the builders of the BMD programme in India.
“Dr Kalam’s encouraging words on my first day in DRDO were so inspiring so much that they are still my guiding mantras. If an ordinary girl from Madurai can come this far, I am confident there are many woman in India who can achieve much more than what I did. The idea is to lock on to your goals all the time,” says Shashi.
According to her visionaries like Dr Avinash Chander, Dr S. Christopher and Dr Satheesh Reddy have always encouraged her team to push the limits.

What’s the secret the family tattoo? 
Interestingly the top missile scientist and her daughters spot a tattoo on their hands and Sashsi has a small story to share behind it.
“These are a family tattoo designed by my daughters. I got it done this year at the age of 56 and was really excited to get my first tattoo. The written tattoo says ‘pure moon light’ -- which is a combination of our names together. Pure means Pavitra, Moon means Shashi and Light stands for Roshani. The symbol seen is a celtic Triquetra. A triangle is known to be the most stable structures, and so it signifies the three of us. The shape around the Triquetra is that of a guardian angel, signifying my late husband watching over us and protecting us,” says Shashi, with a child-like excitement.
So, what does the ‘Iron Lady’ while not adding teeth to her hit-to-kill toys? Well, she paints, swims, paints and hits her garden of hope.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I am dreaming of my daughter joining Army and serving Siachen: Hanimanthappa's wife

The Hanumanthappa family at their Betadur home.
The Samadhi of Hanumanthappa.
Hanumanthappa’s daughter Netra.
Hanumanthappa’s wife Mahadevi.
 Read the complete report, here: http://bit.ly/2lrlA3x

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