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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Express exclusive: Air Force plans,projects leaked

Explosive new document: Verma’s ex-associate now sends details of UAVs,spy satellite.

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published: July 21, 2012 2:15:36 am

The Indian Air Force’s entire procurement plans,including top-secret projects detailing what systems would enter service in the next decade,are out in the open,possibly leaked with the connivance of highly placed officials within the government.

A former business associate of the jailed arms dealer Abhishek Verma has sent to several government agencies a shockingly explicit document that details the names,quantity and cost of hundreds of systems being procured by the Air Force,ranging from armed UAVs to precision guided munition,infrastructure on airfields close to China,and a new spy satellite.

The highly classified contents of this document — several hundred lines of data apparently filtered out of a central database kept on computer systems that are supposed to be closely guarded — has thrown the Air Force in a tizzy. Serving and retired IAF officers who have seen a copy of the document told The Indian Express that the contents were authentic.

Former chief of the IAF Air Chief Marshal (retd) S Krishnaswamy described the leak as “outrageous”.

“This (the contents of the document) is the entire Air Force. Every department of the Air Force is here (in the document). By looking at this document one can make out every detail of what the Air Force would be like in 2020. Any rival would know what is our state and the full capability of the Air Force,” Krishnaswamy said.

The document,which contains the logo of the Directorate of Information Technology,Subroto Park,as well as an email ID of the Air Force,appears to have been leaked in October 2010.

It is the latest in a series of classified documents that have been received by the defence ministry and the CBI from C Edmonds Allen,a former business associate of arms dealer Verma. It is separate from the 20-odd pages of handwritten notes on the IAF’s acquisition plans in 2011-12,about which The Indian Express reported last week.

Allen has sent several tranches of information to the ministry,CBI and Enforcement Directorate since January this year. The first few lots contained information on the business links of Verma’s company Ganton with global defence companies. A document released by Allen in February contained details of money transferred by Rheinmetall AD to Ganton to allegedly get it off a government blacklist.

The really scandalous disclosures came in June when Allen sent documents which contained secret files from the ministry and the cabinet secretariat. As reported by The Indian Express on July 14,these contained classified naval plans to buy new submarines,the Air Force’s acquisition plans,and plans by RAW to purchase surveillance aircraft.

One of the documents sent by Allen in July contained details of meetings Verma’s wife,Anca — also under arrest — had with top ministry officials,including Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju. This was reported by The Indian Express on July 19.

The Air Force is currently working to establish the source of the leak of the latest document. A spokesperson did not contest the veracity of the information in it,but said that the leak did not appear to have occurred from the Air Force,which has no central database of such information.

The document contains the status of each project listed — the money spent,the stage it was in at the given date,and the number of units planned to be inducted. The Indian Express is not publishing full details of the contents of the document given the implications for national security — it can,however,be revealed that the details include the number and cost of killer drones that the IAF plans to induct,precise quantities of missiles and precision-guided ammunition ordered or about to be booked,two satellites that the IAF has ordered,and details of the upgrades of fighter aircraft.

“There are serious security implications if the document and its contents are authentic. They give out a precise capability evaluation of the Air Force. A detailed investigation is required to find out how details on each of the projects has been collated and for whom. Immediate action is required to find out the people responsible and fix loopholes,” senior defence analyst Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak said.

While officials say that an investigation is on,no agency has yet registered a case on the leak of the classified documents in clear violation of the Official Secrets Act.

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