DEFENCE NEWS

INTEGRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES

A meeting of the three services chiefs was held in June under Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee Admiral Sunil Lanba. During the meeting, modalities for implementation of the recommendations of the Shekatkar committee for increasing jointness among the three forces were discussed.

The recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee were submitted to the defence ministry by Lt Gen. DB Shekatkar. A number of recommendations were cleared by the defence ministry, which thereafter gave them to the Services for their comments for further implementation. It has been informed that the three services are in agreement on the issues such as integrating the logistics and signals along with having a common training facility for intelligence gathering for the three services. As the recommendations of the Shekatkar committee were formed after its members held discussions with the three services, there is a general agreement on many of the issues before the services. As a fallout to the meeting, the Army’s Intelligence Training School could be converted into a joint training school for all the three Services, which would better help in streamlining intelligence gathering functions. There are also separate War Colleges for the three Services, for training middle-level officers. These could in the future be combined.

While there does not appear to be any move to appoint a CDS, the proposal to appoint a permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee for looking after the joint issues of the three services is perhaps under active consideration.

EXERCISE MAITRI

A 15-day long joint military training exercise between the Indian and Thai army, called exercise Maitri is being held in Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh in the first half of July. This is an annual event, which will have approximately 50 troops from Royal Thailand Army and an equal number of Indian soldiers from the Northern Command. The aim is to build and promote bilateral Army-to-Army relations and enhance inter-operability between the two armies. As part of the exercise the two armies will jointly plan and execute a series of drills for the neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in counter terrorism environment.

SCORPENE SUBMARINES

The Navy is planning to instal Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all six Scorpene submarines to extend their endurance. This will be done when the submarines go for normal refit which is six years after their induction. This is a long and expensive process, involving re-designing, as it entails opening up the hull of the submarine, then integrating the plug before resealing it.The first Scorpene submarine Kalvari is all set to join the Navy by August and would go for its normal refit in 2023. The remaining five submarines are expected to be inducted at nine-month intervals.

The AIP module is not part of the original Scorpene contract but the Navy has been keen on having them fitted on the last two of the six Scorpene submarines being manufactured by the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. An AIP module is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was supposed to be installed on the last two submarines before they roll out of the production line. However, delay in the module’s development seems to have scuttled the plan.The module enables conventional submarines to remain underwater for longer duration, greatly increasing their stealth characteristics.

SPIKE ANTI TANK MISSILE

India could be getting the Israeli fourth generation antitank guided missile Spike, developed and designed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.India is Israel’s biggest arms market, buying 41 per cent of its export between 2012 and 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent global arms research institute. Spike is a fifth generation missile manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems. According to a statement released by the company, the Spike LR II “is an advanced multi-purpose missile, and can be launched from any Spike launcher”. As of now, DRDO has developed the Nag anti tank missile, which incorporates many advanced technologies, including the imaging infra-red radar seeker with integrated avionics, a capability that is possessed by few nations in the world. It is likely that both Nag and Spike could find a place in India’s defence inventory.

QRSAM SUCCESSFULLY TEST FIRED

India’s indigenously developed quick reaction surface-to-air short range missile (QRSAM) was successfully test-fired from a test range along the Odisha coast on 3 July 2017. Developed by the DRDO, the sophisticated missile has a range of 25 to 30 km. It was test fired from a truck-mounted canister launcher from launch complex-3 at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur. It was the second developmental trial of the state-of-the-art missile with an aerial target. Capable of engaging multiple targets, the QRSAM is an all-weather weapon system capable of tracking and firing. Reports indicated that the test met all the objectives, to include functioning of radars, electro optical systems, telemetry systems and the like. This was the second developmental trial of the stateof- the-art missile with an aerial target, the earlier test taking place a month earlier, on 4 June 2017.


EYE IN THE SKY

With the successful launch of “eye in the sky” Cartosat- 2E+satellite with surveillance capabilities,India now has a total of 13 satellites being used for military purposes. These satellites have been placed in the geo orbit as also in the sun-synchronous polar orbit (about 200-1,200 km above the Earth’s surface) for better scanning of the earth. The 13 satellites used by the military for surveillance include Cartosat 1 and 2 series and Risat-1 and Risat-2. The Navy also uses Gsat-7 for real-time communication among its warships, submarines, aircraft and land systems.The recently launched 712-kg Cartosat-2 series spacecraft is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scenespecific spot imagery. It can accurately spot objects within a square of 0.6 metre by 0.6 metres.

MALABAR EXERCISE

India, the US and Japan have all deployed their largest warships for the trilateral Malabar exercise to be held in the Bay of Bengal from July 10. The exercise will have around 15 warships, two submarines and scores of fighter jets, surveillance aircraft and helicopters taking part. The Malabar exercise is thus to be viewed in the backdrop of heightened Chinese naval activity, over the last couple of months, in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), with an unusual surge in the number of Chinese warships and submarines entering the IOR, which is indicative of increased muscle flexing by China in this region after achieving near dominance in the South China Sea.

The forthcoming Malabar exercise will showcase from India, six to seven frontline warships and a Kilo-class submarine, along with the 44,570-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. This will be the first time the country’s solitary carrier, with its MiG-29Ks, will take part in a fully fledged combat exercise with foreign countries since it was commissioned in November 2013. The US is likely to field its over 100,000tonne USS Nimitz, a nuclearpowered super-carrier with its full complement of FA-18 fighters. The `carrier strike group’ will include a Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine and three to four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.Japan is fielding its 27,000- tonne helicopter carrier Izumo and another warship for the intensive 10-day combat manoeuvres on the high seas off Chennai. The Japanese warship, which can carry nine helicopters, is primarily meant for antisubmarine warfare, which indicates one of the thrust areas for the exercise being anti submarine warfare.

GUARDIAN DRONES FOR INDIA

India will be getting 22 Guardian drones manufactured by General Atomics, through the US foreign military sales programme, which will enhance the country’s maritime surveillance capabilities and will boost battlespace awareness and target acquisition ability. The Predatory Guardian drones became operational on 1 May 2007 and were inducted as part of the US Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programme. India will be purchasing 22 naval variants of the unarmed surveillance aircraft, becoming the first non NATO country to do so. To be used in reconnaissance missions only, the Guardian drone can remain air borne for over 27 hours and can fly at an altitude of 50000 feet. They can hunt targets and scan terrain by using multiple sensors that are equipped with thermographic cameras.

Once the Drones come into operation, the Navy’s Boeing P-81 aircraft can be freed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW)—a critical requirement in the IOR given heightened Chinese naval presence in the area. The Guardian drones being exported to India are the unarmed version, which is why India will be purchasing armed drones—the Heron TP—from Israel. India currently manufactures the Nishant drones for surveillance and intelligence-gathering. With the availability of armed drones, India will have the option of using the same in its anti-terrorism effort on its Western border.

Future conflict will see a greater role being played by drones, both armed and unarmed. The need to evolve war fighting doctrine in sync with changes in technology is now vital if the full utility of such platforms is to be extracted. While India does not as of now manufacture armed drones, it is believed that a stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is under development by the Aeronautical Development Agency and the Defence Research and Development Organisation in a project named ‘project Ghatak.’ The successful completion of this project would enhance India’s defence capability as UAVs can play a major role in combat through intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and surveillance, and also through the delivery of precision ordnance on specific targets.

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