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Friday, February 18, 2011

After IAF, now Indian Army loses classified papers

NEW DELHI - In what the Indian Army suspects is a case of “commercial espionage,” pages have been leaked from the classified report of the just-concluded field trial of the M777 ultra-light Howitzer that from the United States this year. The Army Headquarters has ordered the Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) to conduct an inquiry.
The acquisition, through the government-to- government foreign military sales route, is worth over $ 647 million for 10 regiments (160) guns and is meant to equip the Army’s mountain warfare divisions.
Sources told The Daily Mail that two computers in the office of Commander, Artillery Brigade, in Sikkim, and another computer hard drive in an artillery unit in Gurgaon have been seized by the Military Intelligence for forensic tests in order to “pin-point the leaks.”

These units were involved in the M 777 field trial which was completed in December 2010. The report was finalized last month.
Five pages of this report mysteriously reached the Army Headquarters last month along with a note urging it to scrap the US order.
Typed in bold letters, the note threatens India’s Army Chief General V K Singh that he would meet the same fate as that of his predecessor in the Adarsh Housing Society scam if the military went ahead with the US gun deal.
The probe, which will include examination of phone call data records as well, is in a key stage and those behind the leak are expected to be identified soon, sources said.
The report is said to have examined the M 777 in light of the results of the trial (General Staff Qualitative Requirements) of Singapore Technologies Kinetics Pegasus gun.
The Singapore company was blacklisted by the Indian Defense Ministry in June 2009 after it figured among the seven companies named in the CBI FIR against former Ordnance Factory Board Director General Sudipto Ghosh.
With the gun-acquisition process delayed for over 25 years, the Army, in consultation with the Defence Ministry, decided not to prepare a fresh GSQR. And let the US gun be tested against the previously shortlisted Pegasus because both are 155 mm and 39 caliber.
“The report on the US gun has been leaked by vested interests to put the acquisition into controversy,” said a senior official.

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