Wednesday, September 23, 2015

To Shut Down RAW’s Aviation Wing Will Be A Retrograde Step

A national daily recently reported that the Aviation Research Centre, the covert air arm of our external intelligence agency (RAW) would be shut down and its electronic assets and aircraft distributed between the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and the Air Force. I hope this report is not correct.
No reasons have been given why this move is being contemplated at a time when our internal and external security situations have worsened considerably. The report says that this move is aimed at enhancing “intelligence-gathering on China’s military capacities in the Tibet plateau, by integrating satellite-based data gathered by the NTRO with aircraft-based imaging conducted by the ARC.” Surely China is not our only threat.
The report added that the 2012 Naresh Chandra Committee had recommended merging the air wing with RAW. It was “a recommendation that emerged from complaints that the NTRO was not meeting its needs”. Even in March 2014 we heard similar complaints from Sukhma district in Chhattisgarh where Maoists killed 15 policemen, that the police were finding it difficult to coordinate with NTRO’s $220-million worth drone fleet to locate Maoist formations.
22/09/15 Vappala Balachandran/Quint
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