Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 16 Mar 2010





Give relief to torture victims, Army told
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, March 15
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to two persons —Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog — who were allegedly tortured in Army custody at Maibela camp in Sivasagar district of Assam in January last year.

According to Suhas Chakma, director of Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), a complaint was filed with the NHRC on March 6, 2009, alleging that the Army picked up Baruah on the night of January 31 on suspicion of having links with the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and tortured him at the Maibela base camp along with Neog. The commission registered ACHR’s complaint and directed the Secretary, MoD and SP Sivasagar to submit their reports.

Replying to a showcause notice from the NHRC, the Defence Ministry, through the letter dated February 15, 2010, denied that the victims were tortured and claimed that they have confessed to having provided shelter to the ULFA cadres. However, in his reply SP Sivasagar had informed the NHRC that the police arranged for medical examination immediately after Baruah and Neog were handed over to them on February 1.






Interceptor missile test-fire fails

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, March 15

The country’s ballistic missile development programme took a step backwards today. The test-fire of the advanced air defence (AAD) interceptor missile, designed to take off and destroy enemy missiles in mid-air, failed to materialise off the coast of Orissa this morning.


The incoming “enemy” missile fired from the mobile launcher from Chandipur-on-Sea deviated from its path and plunged into the sea. Resultantly, the defence AAD interceptor missile did not get the automated computerised command to respond and take off from its base at Wheeler Island.


This is the first failure of the AAD. Today’s test was aimed at destroying an incoming missile at an altitude of 15-20 km above the surface. Since November, 2006, three similar tests have been successful at varying altitudes.


The first one was conducted at an altitude 48 km, the second one was inside the atmospheric region at 15-km altitude. The last one was in March last year that destroyed the “incoming enemy missile” at a height of 75 km. It was seen as a stunning success, especially in view of China developing similar capacities to destroy enemy objects in space. It destroyed an old geo-stationary satellite in space and that triggered alarm bells across the globe.


At this morning’s failed test, a highly modified version of the Prithvi was used as the incoming “enemy” missile. It was equipped with a warhead to mimic an enemy ballistic missile. When it deviated from its trajectory, the interceptor missile did not fire as it did not sense anything coming inwards, said sources while adding that it was tougher to shoot down at lower altitudes as the reaction time was short.


The DRDO said, “The missile deviated due to some onboard system malfunction and could not maintain the intended trajectory, failing to attain the desired altitude profile.” Interception was not possible as the deviated target did not present itself as an incoming missile threat and accordingly the interceptor missile did not take off, said the DRDO. The cause of the malfunction was being investigated by analysis of tele-metered data. A fresh date for the test would be announced in due course.






US No 1 arms exporter, China, India top importers'

Press Trust of India / London March 15, 2010, 17:58 IST


While the United States remains the world's biggest arms supplier, China and India are the biggest importers of conventional weapons, the sales of which rose sharply by 22 per cent globally in 2005-2009, a leading Swedish peace research group said today.


New data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that the US remains the biggest arms supplier, accounting for 30 per cent of weapons exports. The main recipients of American weapons were South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.


SIPRI data showed that transfers of major conventional weapons rose by 22 per cent in 2005-2009, compared to the previous five-year period with China and India being the biggest importers of conventional weapons.


While China's arms imports accounted for nine per cent of the global defence sales, the same figure for India was seven per cent, SIPRI said.


Eighty-nine per cent of China's arms imports originated from Russia, it said while identifying France and Ukraine (three per cent each) as the other major sources of conventional weapons.


In the case of India, Russia supplied 77 per cent of the country's imported conventional defence equipment while United Kingdom supplied eight per cent and Israel providing five per cent of its arms requirements.


The SIPRI noted that the volume of arms transferred to the top five major recipients for the period 2005–2009 has increased by four per cent over 2000–2004, but the volume of arms transferred to the two largest importers for both periods, China and India, has decreased by around 20 per cent and seven per cent, respectively.


Transfers of major conventional weapons systems to China have dropped significantly in the last three years. With the exception of a handful of helicopters from France and Russia, no major conventional weapons were delivered to China in 2009, SIPRI said.


The volume of deliveries to India and Pakistan has increased significantly in recent years and will continue to rise during the next five years. India continues to receive Su-30MKI combat aircraft and T-90S tanks from Russia and in 2009 received its first A-50 airborne early warning aircraft, considered an important force-multiplier, from Israel.


Pakistan received 2 Jiangwei (or F-22P) frigates, its first new major surface warship for many years, and the first of up to 300 JF-17 combat aircraft from China. It also received its first airborne early-warning aircraft, the Saab- 2000AEW aircraft from Sweden.


The SIPRI said combat aircraft accounted for 27 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers during 2005–2009. Orders and deliveries of these potentially destabilising weapon systems have led to arms race concerns in the following regions of tension: the Middle East, North Africa, South America, South Asia and South East Asia.


SIPRI, established in 1966, is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.







Army turns to HAL for 20 Cheetals in bid to plug chopper gap

The army had first floated a global tender for 197 choppers in 2003 to replace its ageing fleet

K. Raghu

Bangalore: After years of delays in finalizing a global tender for 197 new helicopters, the Indian Army has recently decided to buy 20 Cheetal helicopters from Bangalore-based military plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), three people familiar with the matter said.

The army had first floated a global tender for 197 advanced choppers in 2003 to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetahs and Chetaks, also from HAL and in use for at least three decades.

The Cheetal uses the same platform as the Cheetah, even if it has more powerful engines to take troops and weapons to higher altitude regions in the Himalayas and the North-East.

The purchase is the latest of several ad hoc defence deals India has struck in recent years to tide over delays to the army’s modernization plans, often a result of bureaucratic hurdles, cautious decision-making or corruption charges.

“Ad hoc purchases also means you are spending the money allocated for some other aircraft and not necessarily the full funds,” said Deba Ranjan Mohanty, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a strategic think tank in New Delhi.

Each Cheetal costs about Rs25 crore. The estimated cost for the 197 choppers is nearly $1 billion (Rs4,500 crore).

A spokesman for the Indian Army did not respond to calls or emails sent early March.

The delay in the purchase of the 197 helicopters is because the army had to scrap the contract it had given to France-based Eurocopter SA after allegations of unfair trials by competitor Bell Helicopter, a division of Textron Inc. It floated a second tender in 2008.

“Delays mean using old aircraft on extended life, including training and operations,” said a defence ministry official, one of the three people mentioned earlier. “This will affect operational capabilities.” The official and the two other people familiar with the matter did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the development.

“These ad hoc purchases will affect the modernization plans of the armed forces,” said Mohanty.

Nearly half the weapons in India’s military inventory are obsolete, accounting firm KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said in a report in January. The defence ministry has had to surrender 3-9% of its capital budget in the previous seven fiscal years as it couldn’t spend all the money allocated to it for weapon purchases, said the KPMG-CII report. India is expected to spend $100 billion (Rs4.5 trillion) by 2022 on buying new aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks and missiles, it said.

Its most expensive purchase would be that of 126 jet fighters at an estimated $10 billion. Trials are now on for the fighters.

The development of Tejas, the light combat aircraft planned to replace the ageing MiG-21 fleet, has been delayed by at least five years. The government is also yet to finalize the upgradation of 51 Mirage 2000 fighters.

Last week, during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi, India agreed to buy 42 additional Sukhoi 30 MkI fighters. This is to fill gaps and beef up capacity of the Indian Air Force’s fighter squadrons. The air force is operating at least six squadrons below its sanctioned strength of 39.5 squadrons of 18 planes each.

Recently, India opted to buy 145 lightweight towed howitzer guns from BAE Systems Plc. after it had to scrap an earlier tender, in which the front runner Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd was blacklisted on charges of corruption.

When planned procurement processes get delayed and are “fast-tracked through ad-hoc purchases, it also means the model of open competition is also suffering,” said Ratan Shrivastava, director for aerospace and defence at researcher Frost and Sullivan. “You go in for whatever is available, which may not be an optimum solution.”







Gen Kapoor meets Bangladesh army chief

March 15th, 2010 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -


New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor met his Bangladeshi counterpart General Mohammad Abdul Mubeen here Monday amid expanding strategic ties between the two countries.

Mubeen, who arrived in India Sunday, is on “goodwill” visit till March 20. He is likely to meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and other officers of the armed forces.


Mubeen will also visit important military training establishments and field formations in Jaipur, Ajmer and Kolkata.


“The visit assumes special significance in the light of improving military cooperation between the two countries and India’s growing relationship with Bangladesh,” an army spokesman said here.


“The visit would further cement our defence relationship with Bangladesh and add impetus to our defence cooperation. Maintaining enhanced military-to-military contacts with Bangladesh is mutually beneficial to the strategic interests of both the countries,” he added.


The spokesman the visit “has a major significance in the burgeoning defence cooperation between both the two countries”.







Women officers in armed forces

                17:33 IST




            The present strength of women officers is 1012 in the Army (excluding Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps and Military Nursing Service). Twelve women officers in the Army are due to retire in 2010 after 14 years of service. As per the present policy, the tenure of both women and men Short Service Commissioned Officers is ten years extendable upto 14 years. Both women and men are inducted in the Short Service Commission in the Army. Women officers serving in the Army are entitled to the same benefits as available to similarly placed men officers. However, women SSC officers are not eligible for being considered for grant of Permanent Commission in all Branches. Permanent Commission to SSC (Women) officers have been granted prospectively in Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department and Army Education Corps (AEC) of Army. Women officers in the Indian Army are not assigned to the combat arms. A study carried out by HQrs Integrated Defence Staff in 2006 on all aspects of employment of women officers in the armed forces, recommended exclusion of women officers from close combat roles.


            Some of the important actions taken to check recurrence of sexual harassment cases are as under:




(i)                   Orders have been issued on definition of sexual harassment and procedure to deal with such complaints.


(ii)                 Instructions have been issued emphasising ‘Zero Tolerance’ towards sexual harassment cases.


This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in separate written replies to Smt Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Shri Rakesh Sachan in Lok Sabha today.






* Four jawans killed in Pokhran firing range blast


Jaisalmer (Raj), Mar 15 (PTI) Four Indian army jawans were killed in a blast at a firing range in Pokhran in the country's northern state of Rajasthan.


The incident occurred Sunday night when the troops were firing 81 mm mortars and one of the shells exploded, killing the four jawans at the range, about 40 km from here, army sources said Monday.


The army has ordered a probe into the reasons behind the accident, they said in New Delhi.


In March 2008, three army personnel were killed and two others were injured during the 'Brazen Chariots' exercise in the same field firing range.


A 125-mm mortar gun had exploded even as the personnel were firing it for a live demonstration while the army's top brass, defence attaches and diplomats from foreign countries were watching the exercise.







National Defence College officials visit Modi

By our correspondent

Gandhinagar, DeshGujarat, 15 March, 2010


A group of 15 senior officers from Delhi based National Defence College are on four-day Gujarat trip as a part of their study. The officers called on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar today in a courtesy visit.


During conversation with the officers, Modi said that Zero tolerance is the best option to tackle threats like terrorism and naxalism. Modi briefed the officers how Gujarat’s bordering district with Pakistan – Kutch has now become one of the fastest developing district of Gujarat. The Chief Minister also briefed officers about Gujarat government’s efforts to encourage coastal area people to join Navy and tribal people to join Indian Army.







India Continues Work on WMD Defense, Missile Systems

Monday, March 15, 2010


India's Defense Research Development Organization is continuing development of WMD defense technology and the nation's newest long-range missile, the Express News Service reported Friday (see GSN, Feb. 12).


W. Selvamurthy, a scientist and chief controller at the organization, reaffirmed the government's intention to test the Agni 5 missile by early next year. The three-stage missile would have a flight range of about 3,000 miles and could carry a conventional or nuclear payload weighing 1.5 metric tons, he said.


The extended range of the weapon makes it essentially an ICBM, according to Selvamurthy.


The Indian army's planned deployment of the Agni 3 missile is still pending, the scientist said. That missile is designed to fly nearly 2,200 miles and could carry nuclear payloads.


Selvamurthy commented on India's possible induction of antisatellite technology. "DRDO has not taken up an antisatellite space program. But if required, it is well prepared to develop and design such a mechanism," he said.


Meanwhile, the science organization has also made significant moves to protect Indian military personnel from biological, chemical or nuclear agents, Selvamurthy said.


“The DRDO has invented a ‘portable gas chromatograph’ which can detect chemical warfare agents. This has been converted into a three chemical paper which will be placed on the uniform and any change in color will enable the soldiers to detect chemical contamination,” he said.


The organization has also developed a system for diagnosing diseases such as anthrax, plague and H1N1 influenza, along with remotely operated vehicles that could be used to identify chemical and radiation contamination, Selvamurthy said (Express News Service, March 12).







General Mohd Abdul Mubeen, COAS, Bangladesh arrives in New Delhi

                17:12 IST

General Mohd Abdul Mubeen, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Bangladesh is on a goodwill visit to India from 14-20 Mar 2010. The visit assumes special significance in the light of improving military cooperation between the two countries in consonance with India’s growing relationship with Bangladesh.


Indo-Bangladesh relations are multifaceted and founded on historical linkages. The successful culmination of recent visit of Bangladesh PM to India in Jan 2010 has also contributed significantly to the consolidation of the existing ties and given a further boost to the cordial relations between both Army Chief’s in 2008 has boosted our military relations.


Military-to-Military cooperation between Bangladesh and Indian Armed Forces encompasses exchange of high and medium level visits, availing of training courses in each other’s training institutions, witnessing of designed exercises by military observers from both sides, exchange of War Veterans, UNPKO, share experience in disaster management, sports and adventure activities.


The General interacted with his Indian counterpart. During the visit, he is also scheduled to interact with the Raksha Mantri, NSA, and President IOA other members of Indian and Armed Forces hierarchy. In addition, he will be visiting Jaipur, Ajmer, Kolkata important training establishments and field formations.


The visit would further cement our defence relationship with Bangladesh and add impetus to our ongoing defence cooperation. Maintenance of enhanced military to military contacts with Bangladesh by Indian Army is mutually beneficial to the strategic interests of both. The visit of Bangladesh COAS has a major significance in the burgeoning def coop between both the friendly foreign countries.






Indian Army Scouts For Medium Range Loitering Missile

by Shiv Aroor on Sunday, March 14th 2010     Comments Off

in National  

The Indian Army has said it is interested in procuring unspecified numbers of a new medium range Loitering Missile (LM) system, and has sent out Requests for Information to firms in Israel (IAI Malat), France (MBDA) and the US (Raytheon). A glance through the RFI shows the Army is interested in a system with capabilities that include top-attack and the ability to abort an attack after target lock (and re-designate). The Army wants a system where the launcher can be mounted on a Tatra truck. More soon.







Army’s Capability Accretion

By Lt Gen Vinay Shankar

Issue: Vol 25.1 Jan-Mar 2010


The challenges that the army is expected to face in the next decade are not likely to be any less formidable. An appraisal of the emerging threats in fact indicates an increasing complexity of the missions that the army may be expected to execute.


The basic character of the Army’s responsibilities is unlikely to witness significant changes. Till the boundary disputes with China and Pakistan remain unresolved, Army’s most important role of ensuring the nation’s territorial integrity will retain primacy. Concurrently, as in the past, the Army will continue to remain embroiled in combating militancy, insurgency and terrorism. With the prevailing instability in the immediate and near neighborhood, and the growing regional and global role of our country, the Army must also be prepared to undertake missions beyond our borders. It may be added that however much the Army may want to resist, it will continue to be drawn to tackle internal law and order situations and national manmade or natural calamities.


lt-gen-vinay-shankarHow has the Army fared in the last two decades in the discharge of its responsibilities? At considerable cost to itself it has barely managed to keep the lid on. Given the serious shortage of junior officers, and the indifferent and insufficient weaponry at its disposal, the Army it can be contended, has done exceedingly well. Regrettably the problems of the Army, and the stresses it is subjected to, are understood only by those who are in it. The MOD and the political leadership, or for that matter also the strategic community have a vague awareness, nowhere close to the ground realities. This explains the decades of inertia.


Exploiting the progressive decline of our conventional military capability all through the decade of the eighties, Pakistan launched a well orchestrated offensive through irregulars in Kashmir from about the beginning of 1990. When the momentum of this offensive seemed to be petering out Pakistan did not hesitate to gamble for higher stakes by resorting to Kargil. The Kargil fiasco and the growing domestic instability, however, did not dampen Pakistan’s appetite for fomenting trouble for us. The terror attack on our Parliament in 2001 and 26 Nov 2008 - Mumbai is still fresh in our memory.


Over the last few years China too has begun to demonstrate bellicosity, tinged with arrogance, against us. Border intrusions with the purpose of intimidation coupled with force accretions in Tibet and along the LAC, portend problems for us. Its aggressive posturing on other fronts compounds the basket of our concerns.


Viewed from the national security perspective it emerges that our concept of military deterrence has failed or is failing. Clearly then, the Army’s conventional war fighting capabilities must be brought to levels that promise if not absolute, sufficient deterrence.


So how do we go about building a credible dissuasive conventional military deterrence? For the past two to three decades the three services have been unsuccessfully trying to drive the process. It would be mindless to persist with the same approach. The responsibility must shift to the PM and his Cabinet Committee on Security. This is not going to happen without some precipitate action. How this is to be brought about is a matter that the services must address?


The Army could do with a totally fresh appraisal to cover its overall strength, its structure and equipment profile, the quality of its man power, its leadership and its training. Such a review could perhaps be relevant and necessary for the Navy and the Air Force as well.


In this article I propose to dwell on the subject of equipment and weaponry for the Army. Technological advancements are taking place rapidly. Correspondingly the rate of obsolescence is also increasing. It is therefore imperative that we manage change with much greater sophistication so as to ensure available funds are utilized optimally. It follows that individuals charged with formulating qualitative requirements, induction plans and evaluation of systems must be competent and have the requisite grooming and experience. Even though this issue has been debated before no concrete remedial steps have yet been taken.


As regards weapons and equipment, the focus will essentially be on the combat arms i.e. infantry, artillery and armor (listed in what I believe should be the order of priority). Force multipliers and a few other support systems will also be discussed.




The Infantry is the largest arm of our Army and the only arm which has perhaps never had a respite from combat from the time the Naga insurgency began in the fifties. Matters worsened when we sent the expeditionary force to Sri Lanka for Operation Pawan. Ever since, the Infantry has continued, without break, to climb the stress ladder.


Considering the Infantry’s constant engagement in battle I am aware that all Army Chiefs from the early nineties have sought to give the Infantry the highest priority in terms of equipping and modernizing it. But if we were to carry out a critical appraisal of the Infantry in 2010 the report card of twenty years effort would be quite dismal. How ironical, especially when costs are lower and the systems involved are relatively not so complex? The story is eloquent testimony to the manner in which the country’s higher defense management works.


Almost everything that a soldier needs, from the clothes and boots to the weapon he carries, is at present well below par.


Consider the 5.56 family of weapons that the Army is currently equipped. The Army was virtually bulldozed into accepting these weapons. It was told that indigenous R&D must be encouraged. Promises were made that in the production models the user will get a much improved and more reliable version and that a superior Mark 2 will follow. The DRDO also hinted that high volume orders from many foreign customers would be placed soon after the Indian Army accepted the induction and placed orders for delivery. The Army had no choice but to accept though none of the commitments materialized. It has lived with these weapons for more than a decade and paid an incalculable price. A good and reliable personal weapon we know does wonders to a soldier’s confidence and morale. But we have failed in giving him such a weapon. Shouldn’t there be review and people held accountable?


Conceptually the start point of capability-building and modernization has to be the individual soldier. So we must begin by giving him the best we can. Essentially what the soldier needs is a good and reliable personal weapon, comfortable clothing with stealth and concealment features designed to ergonomically accommodate everything he has to carry, the best protection (body armor) that portable weight permits, stabilized helmet mounted computer screens, sensors and night vision devices for observation and using his weapons, effective communications and position locating/ situational awareness systems. In addition he requires a host of sundry items like eye protection goggles, contemporary light bag pack equipment etc. The approach should be to look at the tactical vest and the helmet (protective gear) as a platform on which the future soldier systems are embedded so that weight reduction and mobility improvements issues are optimally addressed.


The resolve to modernize the infantry soldier has been there for long, but the process has been painfully slow. Ways have to be found to accelerate the process and do it comprehensively. We must therefore begin as of yesterday.


When considering assault rifles we have quite a few options available; each having its unique features. Let us briefly look at the 21st century trends in assault rifles. Essentially they are refinements to the systems developed in the previous decades. Some exciting options that could be considered are:-


    * Heckler & Koch HK 416 firing the 5.56x 45 or the HK 417 firing the 7.62×51 NATO rounds. Both these weapons have updated features with Picatinny rails, a drop free magazine release, and some other smart features.

    * Israel’s IMI Tavor TAR-21. It has a compact bull pup design and uses the NATO 5.56x 45 cartridges. It can easily be set up for right or left handed shooters and has several modular variants that come with a standard reflex sight.

    * XM 8 from the US. This has quite a few modular variants with inbuilt electronics such as a laser sight, round counter and integral infra red and visible sights.

    * South Korea’s XK11. This is an interesting new rifle that has a ballistic computer, a laser range finder and a digital scope that provides the soldier with combat data and enables night firing through thermal imaging sights. The product is still at a prototype stage but has considerable promise.

    * The AK Series. The Kalashnikovs family of assault rifles is much too well known.


hk416-imi-tavor-tar-21An important trend in small arms in the 21st century is that sophisticated electronics is now being built into the design of these weapons. Whereas I believe we are currently looking at the weapons and the allied electronics as two separate systems to be procured independent of each other and then integrated. There could be some justification for the approach we have now adopted. A few years ago we had considered integration of night sights in our tender for assault rifles. At that time there weren’t many who were offering such embedded systems. To my mind the idea was right though the timing was wrong. But now, with most weapon manufacturers developing weapons with built in electronics, I am not too sure whether we should be jettisoning a sound concept.


Given the current employment of the Army and looking at the two vital needs of the infantry soldier i.e. his personal weapon and his body armor, it is difficult to decide which merits greater priority. What is but evident that on both counts the establishment has been found wanting.


xk-11Today we have all of the Rashtriya Rifles and a significant proportion of the Army deployed in combating militancy, terrorism and insurgencies. Of these how many of their personnel, are equipped with suitable body armor? And what are the constraints to procuring body armor? On both counts we will get answers that are far from convincing, particularly when today we have a host of companies in India manufacturing body armor and combat helmets. With a dynamic and inclusive approach we can harness the capabilities of these companies to give us quality protection suits and helmets at competitive prices. As a matter of fact with some support in terms of investment in R&D and inducements of assured orders, our companies can well become global leaders in protective solutions.


Assessments suggest that in the development of ’small arms protective inserts’ (SAPI), technology today is at only the 40 percent level. Both in the case of X SAPI - silicon carbide and ceramic and E SAPI, and high molecular weight polyethylene (HMW- PE) and aramid fibers, there are possibilities that by improving the quality of resins and making the weave more unidirectional, weight to protection ratios can be substantially improved.


The infantry also needs to acquire better surveillance and target acquisition capabilities as well as more potent fire power at the section level and above. A mission, terrain and adversary based analysis may suggest the induction of special weapons and surveillance systems on a regional basis. It can be assumed that such an exercise would have been undertaken.




In my reckoning Artillery modernization has not made any headway because of two reasons. The first is that- blinded by the labels of ’support’ and ’supported’, the Army has not yet grasped the full import of the modern artillery on tomorrow’s battlefield. The second can best be described by just one word: jinxed.


However like the Infantry, modernization of the artillery has also been a matter of concern in the last decade or so. In these years much has apparently been done but unfortunately without any headway. Actually the process began in the early eighties. But other than 400 Bofors guns procured in the mid eighties we have nothing else to show.


The exercise to procure new towed and mounted self propelled tracked and wheeled 155 mm 52 caliber guns are on. We are also planning to induct a specified number of light weight 155 mm guns for certain areas and missions. It is important at this juncture to focus on ensuring that the process of evaluation and induction moves without any hiccups and delays.


As we induct these guns the space of the contact battle at the tactical level will increase to a 30 km envelop thus enhancing our ability to destroy, maneuver, and defeat. Similarly we need to pay more attention to the requirements of the Artillery at the operational and strategic level. In this context even though we have been inducting the Prithvi, the BrahMos and the Agni series, the process has been based on the developmental projects of the DRDO and not on the basis of a well thought through conceptual framework. The subject of rocket and missile artillery thus merits deeper examination. We require more systems that can provide coverage between the 30 to 100 Km ranges. Besides, the liquid propellant based Prithvi imposes certain operational limitations. Admittedly the Smerch rocket system has filled this gap to some extent but much more needs to be done.


Firing platforms like the guns and rocket and missile launchers are just one of the four pillars upon which comprehensive artillery capability is structured. The other pillars are communications to include artillery command and control systems, surveillance systems and the ammunition systems. In the Kargil war our communications and surveillance systems were not adequate. Thus the guns could be exploited to only 30 percent of their potential.


In principle surveillance and target acquisition capabilities must exceed our delivery systems ranges by at least 30 percent. The ideal would be 50 percent. We have been working on this for a while but more needs to be done. We should be able to establish a comprehensive surveillance and target acquisition grid by using a mix of ground and air/ space based sensors to include satellites, aircraft, drones, helicopters and tethered balloons. On the ground besides, electro optical devices and thermal cameras we will also require a sufficient number of weapon locating radars some of which should be employable in the mountains. The surveillance grid must allow for transmission and exchange of data to all shooters and decision makers in real time. The problems of surveillance in the mountains merit special attention.


Advancements in ammunition technology have led to a dramatic enhancement in the lethality and destructiveness of the artillery. With improved conventional munitions (ICM) the kill capacity of the ordinary shell has gone up in multiples. Smart and intelligent munitions now permit pinpoint accuracy enabling the artillery to engage and destroy fortifications and tanks from long ranges. We must induct such sophisticated ammunition speedily. However while doing so the challenge lies in getting the mix right since sensor/seeker based munitions are relatively very expensive.


Armor and Mechanized Infantry


The Armor is the only arm of the Indian Army whose upgradation and modernization has by and large been on track. With the induction of the T 90 tanks our armor is as good as any in the world even though some upgrade programs on the T 72 are a bit behind schedule. With the planned induction of TI based fire control systems and active protection systems our armor is likely to remain contemporary for the foreseeable future.


The BMP 2 inventory merits attention. It is understood that comprehensive plans have been drawn up to improve its fire power mobility and night fighting capabilities. Once implemented the BMP units will have the requisite level of compatibility with our tank fleet.


Supporting Arms


AD Artillery. Traditionally the Army’s approach to air defense has been to look at a family of guns and missiles to provide a tiered air defense umbrella to the tactical battle area (TBA). With the advancements in missile technology there is a case to review this approach. Contemporary medium and short range surface-to-air missiles have hit probabilities that are close to 0.9 and 1 (90 to 100 percent). If backed by sound surveillance, acquisition and tracking systems, the air defense umbrella provided can be reasonably effective. It is for this reason that not many countries/ weapon manufacturers are today in the business of making air defense guns. To my mind the focus should be on procuring adequate numbers of both the short range and the medium range missiles and have them backed up by effective surveillance coverage of the air space impacting the TBA. In this, field coordination with the air force has been lacking in the past. Hopefully the problem has now been addressed.


Engineers. With battle field transparency progressively improving there is a case to review our concepts of laying defensive and tactical minefields. We should instead graduate to the concept of laying reactive/impromptu minefields using mechanical systems to lay mines or have them remotely delivered. Based on the conclusions arrived appropriate capabilities would have to be built up.


Signals. Communications are getting cheaper and better by the day. Advancements are extremely rapid. We must radically change our approach to remain in step. Gone are the days of plans like the AREN and the ASCON. The attitude required is that of the average mobile phone user who changes his phone without much ado. Rapidity of decision making and implementation will now be vital.


Other than the requirements of the arms there are two areas that deserve much greater attention in the future. The first is a subject that we have been grappling with for a while, made some progress, but not enough, and that is simulators. Virtual reality and graphics can today bring enormous realism to training. Most of our section and platoon/troop training should be based on contemporary simulation systems. Again at the unit and formation level we should depend much more on war gaming and simulation to train our officers and commanders.


The second is robots. These are futuristic platforms that will be performing a variety of missions in the battlefields of tomorrow. Some have already been deployed, many more will follow. An executive of a company engaged in the development of robots asked me recently as to why the Indian defense forces were not interested in this subject. My cryptic response was that we have not yet learnt to value human lives sufficiently. However the topic goes beyond lives. It is about doing certain missions more effectively. Besides other things a robot can perform quite a few human tasks without experiencing stress and fear.


The preceding analysis of the possible requirements of the Army is by no means exhaustive. It is just a cursory survey from a given perspective. There could be other differing views on some of the suggestions made. But what perhaps is beyond debate is the imperative of substantive capability accretion if the Army is expected to successfully face the challenges of the coming decades. More importantly, is that the plans for induction of new weapons and equipment and force multipliers must not follow the pattern that we have witnessed in the past two or three decades. Acquisitions have to be urgently undertaken. Following the rigid rigor of the DPP is a prescription for inaction or interminable delays. Important acquisitions must therefore be brought under some fast track procedures. Surely, we have the genius to conceive a policy and a structure that can ensure that within the framework of fiscal and procedural prudence, sound procurement decisions are taken within the desired time frames.


We do not need astrologers to tell us that the security climate for us over the next decade or so is unlikely to be benign. If we do not then prepare to face the potential threats it is possible that we may face humiliation similar to what happened to us in 1962.


Lt Gen Vinay Shankar, former Director General Artillery.






No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal