In­dian Army Mod­erni­sa­tion – An In­tro­spec­tion

The fa­cade of the yearly re­fined DPP over the years has done lit­tle to ac­cel­er­ate mod­erni­sa­tion. The gap be­tween the In­dian Army and the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) is widen­ing alarm­ingly in favour of the lat­ter. Faced with a two-front threat, In­dia ne

SP's LandForces - - Front Page - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH

GIVEN ITS SIZE, HIS­TORY and am­bi­tions, In­dia will al­ways march to the beat of its own drum­mer,” says Ash­ley Tel­lis. Very apt, but who is the drum­mer, what is his pro­fi­ciency, and what is the qual­ity of his drums? Al­though Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh ac­knowl­edges that China is ahead of us in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy; our de­fence mod­erni­sa­tion is woe­fully lag­ging with in­ad­e­quate bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion, bu­reau­cratic red-tapism, in­ad­e­quate De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy (DPP), cou­pled with the lack of strate­gic cul­ture. Lack of fo­cus on re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) has sti­fled de­fence in­di­geni­sa­tion, as in­dica­tive with In­dian Army, which is forced to even im­port as­sault ri­fles and car­bines. In­dian Army’s 600-odd mod­erni­sa­tion schemes amount­ing to over 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) continue to be en­cum­bered with bu­reau­cratic pro­cure­ment pro­cesses. The fa­cade of the yearly re­fined DPP over the years has done lit­tle to ac­cel­er­ate mod­erni­sa­tion. The gap be­tween the In­dian Army and the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) is widen­ing alarm­ingly in favour of the lat­ter. Faced with a two-front threat, In­dia needs to ac­cel­er­ate the pace of mod­erni­sa­tion of the In­dian Army, duly pri­ori­tised and ex­e­cuted within laid down time frames.

Threats and Chal­lenges

Global and re­gional se­cu­rity con­cerns cou­pled with grow­ing in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenges de­fine In­dia’s se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment. The con­ven­tional threats from tra­di­tional ad­ver­saries col­lud­ing with each other, con­tin­u­ing pres­ence of ter­ror­ist, and the fun­da­men­tal­ist forces in its neigh­bour­hood; has prompted In­dia to carry out force ac­cre­tion in or­der to main­tain a high level of de­fence vig­i­lance and pre­pared­ness. The re­cent an­tiIn­dia coup in Bangladesh, which failed, in­di­cates how frag­ile peace across fron­tiers next to any neigh­bour­ing coun­try is. Developments in Afghanistan-Pak­istan and Pak­istan-China col­lu­sion have brought South Asia to the cen­tre stage of con­ven­tional and sub-con­ven­tional con­flict and in­sta­bil­ity. Ter­ror­ism, low in­ten­sity con­flict mo­ti­vated by eco­nomic dis­par­ity, reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism, nar­cotics trade, threat of nu­clear weapons fall­ing in wrong hands, etc, re­main is­sues of con­cern in our re­gion. Proxy war con­ducted by Pak­istan and the var­i­ous rad­i­cal je­hadi out­fits pro­moted by them through ter­ror­ism continue un­abated. China’s strat­egy of en­cir­cling In­dia through its neigh­bours and con­fin­ing it within the sub­con­ti­nent is ap­par­ent and pal­pa­ble apart from the out­landish claims to en­tire Arunachal Pradesh. In­ter­nally, In­dia faces a se­ries of low-in­ten­sity con­flicts char­ac­terised by tribal, eth­nic and left-wing move­ments and ide­olo­gies. Thus the se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing In­dia are var­ied and com­plex.


“In the com­ing years, we need to build greater sur­veil­lance (satel­lites, aerial and ground-level), night fight­ing and rapid de­ploy­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly for moun­tains. We need im­proved C4I2, sur­veil­lance equip­ment, more he­li­copters, ul­tra-light how­itzers and lighter in­fantry weapons and equip­ment.”

The emerg­ing threats and chal­lenges man­date that In­dia should be pre­pared to fight hy­brid wars in fu­ture which may in­volve the armed forces in si­mul­ta­ne­ously fight­ing lim­ited con­ven­tional con­flicts on two fronts, out of area op­er­a­tions, counter in­sur­gency and counter proxy war op­er­a­tions in the do­mes­tic arena, low-in­ten­sity asym­met­ric wars, cy­ber wars, UN peace­keep­ing and peace­mak­ing op­er­a­tions, etc. The in­ter­nal sit­u­a­tion is likely to get worse with tech savvy ter­ror­ists even en­gag­ing in cy­ber, maritime, chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and ra­di­o­log­i­cal ter­ror­ism, egged on by China and Pak­istan. The In­dian Army’s fo­cus should be on a pre­pared­ness pro­file and sta­tus which has Rapid De­ploy­ment Forces for de­fen­sive and offensive op­er­a­tions, smaller fully in­te­grated Strike Forces (in­te­grated with air power and air as­sault for­ma­tions) for the ini­tial stages of offensive op­er­a­tions fol­lowed by larger “fol­low up” for­ma­tions if the war lasts longer than an­tic­i­pated. Ca­pa­bil­i­ties must be built to fully ex­ploit aero­space, cy­ber and elec­tro­mag­netic do­mains throughout the spec­trum of con­flict. Ad­di­tion­ally, In­dia should have forces for low­in­ten­sity con­flict op­er­a­tions (LICO), power pro­jec­tion and out of area con­tin­gen­cies (OOAC). In­dian Army would also need Spe­cial Forces for spe­cial op­er­a­tions and a nu­anced in­ter­nal se­cu­rity/counter-in­sur­gency force for LICO through reengi­neer­ing of its ex­ist­ing forces. NCW ca­pa­ble forces and com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance (C4ISR) ca­pa­bil­i­ties, will be­come a ne­ces­sity with en­hanced sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, ca­pa­bil­ity of iden­ti­fy­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and de­stroy- ing tar­gets in near real time with en­hanced ranges and lethal­ity to achieve as­cen­dancy over the en­emy. The aim would be to em­ploy over­whelm­ing fire­power/force at the point of de­ci­sion. The back­bone of such a struc­ture would be well-de­signed com­mu­ni­ca­tion ar­chi­tec­ture at the na­tional level with in­te­grated net­works which are in­te­grated with the sen­sors for speed­ily trans­mit­ting fused and in­te­grated data through com­mand and con­trol ech­e­lons en­abling greater sit­u­a­tional aware­ness for com­man­ders at all lev­els.

Mod­erni­sa­tion Plans

The ar­tillery mod­erni­sa­tion plan amount­ing to over 20,000 crore aimed at in­duct­ing how­itzers, but the last such in­duc­tion was in 1987 (400 pieces Bo­fors guns). The Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) sat on the de­signs for 25 years de­spite be­ing coaxed by the In­dian Army. Only re­cently they have agreed to pro­duce pro­to­types of 155mm/39 cal­i­bre and 45 cal­i­bre. Since 1987, the 100mm and 122mm field guns of Rus­sian ori­gin and the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped and man­u­fac­tured 75/24 In­dian Moun­tain Gun have be­come ob­so­lete and the In­dian Army still awaits pro­cure­ment of some 1,500 how­itzers of 155mm, 52 cal­i­bre. Of these, 400 are to be pro­cured out­right and 1,100 man­u­fac­tured in­dige­nously with trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy (ToT). Re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) for these guns was is­sued in early 2011 and the eval­u­a­tion process should be un­der way. Ad­di­tion­ally, 145 ul­tra light how­itzers were to be pro­cured from the US through for­eign mil­i­tary sales (FMS) route from BAE Sys­tems but are locked in le­gal com­pli­ca­tions. The In­dian Army also needs 120 tracked and 180 wheeled 155mm How­itzers for Ar­tillery Di­vi­sions, of which there is no news. One hun­dred and eight pieces of 130mm M46 Rus­sian medium guns have been suc­cess­fully “up-gunned” to 155mm cal­i­bre with ord­nance sup­plied by Soltam of Is­rael, en­hanc­ing the range to 40 km with ex­tended range am­mu­ni­tion. How­ever, man­u­fac­ture of am­mu­ni­tion by IAI (Is­rael) is de­layed as IAI has been black­listed. Coun­ter­bom­bard­ment (CB) ca­pa­bil­ity is also be­ing up­graded, but at a slow pace. A min­i­mum of 40 to 50 weapon lo­cat­ing radars (WLRs) are re­quired for ef­fec­tive CB, es­pe­cially in the plains, but only a dozen have been pro­cured so far. In ad­di­tion to the 12 AN-TPQ 37 Fire­finder WLRs ac­quired from Raytheon, USA, un­der a 2002 con­tract worth $200 mil­lion (`1,000 crore), Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BEL) is re­ported to be as­sem­bling 28 WLRs. These radars will be based on both in­dige­nous and im­ported com­po­nents and are likely to be ap­proved for in­tro­duc­tion into ser­vice af­ter ex­ten­sive tri­als that are on­go­ing. The radar is expected to match the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Fire­finder sys­tem and will have a de­tec­tion range of about 40 km.

As for Army Air De­fence Ar­tillery mod­erni­sa­tion, the 40mm L/70 which is about four decades old, needs im­me­di­ate re­place­ment. Con­sid­er­ing the high costs of the new weapon sys­tems, In­dian Army is go­ing in for up­grades for L-70, ZU-23-2 Twin gun, and ZSU-23-4 Schilka and is also look­ing for suc­ces­sors to L-70 and the ZU-23-2. The suc­ces­sor to Schilka (ZSU-23-4) al­ready ex­ists in the

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