Russian helicopter accidentally fires rocket at onlookers

Russian military helicopters fire during a military exercise at a training ground at the Luzhsky Range, near St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2017
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Russian helicopter accidentally fires rocket at onlookers

MOSCOW: A Russian military helicopter gunship accidentally fired on spectators during war games in western Russia, injuring several people, news reports said Tuesday.
The Russian military acknowledged that a helicopter accidentally fired a rocket during drills, but did not say when and where it happened. It insisted that no one was hurt in the incident.
The video released on the online 66.ru, RBC and Life.ru news portals showed a pair of Ka-52 helicopter gunships sweeping low at the Luzhsky range, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the border with Estonia, during the Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers. The video showed one of the helicopters firing a rocket that explodes next to a spectator on a parking lot.
66.ru said Tuesday two people were seriously wounded and two vehicles were destroyed in the incident. It said the accident happened Sunday or Monday, and that the video was provided by an unidentified witness.
Life.ru said the rocket exploded near a crowd of journalists, military experts and foreign military attaches.
It said a preliminary investigation by military officials indicated the incident was caused by a short-circuit in the helicopter’s electric system that resulted in the accidental launch of the rocket. Life.ru also posted a cockpit video, showing the rocket’s impact.
Both Life.ru and RBC reported that the incident took place Saturday and say that three people were injured.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accompanied by the top military brass attended the drills at the range on Monday.
The Russian military’s Western Military District acknowledged Tuesday that the video was genuine. It denied that it happened Monday, but didn’t specify when or where the incident in the video took place. It insisted that no one was hurt, and that just one military truck was damaged.
The military said the incident was caused by the failure of the helicopter’s targeting system.
The Zapad 2017 maneuvers, held jointly by Russia and Belarus, got underway Thursday at several firing ranges in both countries and run through Wednesday. The drills have rattled some NATO members, including the Baltic states and Poland, who have criticized an alleged lack of transparency about the war games and questioned Moscow’s intentions.


Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

A tender was withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner. Supplied
Updated 39 min 32 sec ago
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Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

  • New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company
  • Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house

NEW DELHI: The Indian government’s penchant for canceling or withdrawing tenders for defense equipment at the last minute is likely to hurt investor confidence in the country, experts said on Sunday.
New Delhi called off a $9 billion deal to co-develop with Russia a next-generation fighter aircraft, after the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said it would do the job in-house, Indian media reported this week.
Under the deal, a significant amount of the research would have been carried out in India. Russia had agreed to tailor the aircraft to Indian needs, and was to hand over all the technology, the Economic Times reported.
India is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment, and imports at least 90 percent of its equipment, including parts for assembly.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house.
But India lacks much of the high-end technology needed for such equipment, which is why deals where foreign partners agree to share technology are useful for its long-term plans, experts say.
When such deals are canceled, “it greatly reduces confidence in India,” said Saurabh Joshi, editor of StratPost Media Pvt Ltd., a defense news website.
“We can’t willy-nilly… accept arguments that a particular equipment can be developed and produced indigenously before such tenders are withdrawn,” he added.
“There should be an adequate test to develop and produce indigenously. Otherwise, we’re simply postponing an acquisition process by 10 to 15 years, and it’s the armed forces that have to go without critical equipment until then.”
Experts say one reason for the government canceling orders could be a lack of funds. The Russian deal is not the only one to be jettisoned recently.
New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company. The reason given for the cancellation was the same: To develop the missiles indigenously.
A tender was also withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner, experts said.
On average, it takes a tender at least six years to go through the various steps before the final purchase order can be placed.
Any company that loses a bid has to account for that time and investment to its head office and its board, Joshi said.