‘Air­power by it­self can­not achieve last­ing vic­tory or suc­cess with­out boots on the ground’

Army Air De­fence aims to evolve into a mod­ern net-en­abled force ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing air de­fence pro­tec­tion to field forces and strate­gic as­sets against the com­plete spec­trum of air threat, in all op­er­a­tions of war and all types of ter­rain. In an in­ter­vie

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In­dian Army’s vi­sion of the fu­ture, Army Air De­fence aims to evolve into a mod­ern neten­abled force ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing air de­fence pro­tec­tion to field forces and strate­gic as­sets against the com­plete spec­trum of air threat, in all op­er­a­tions of war and all types of ter­rain.

SP’s: Does it in­clude AD for home­land se­cu­rity? DG:

AD for home­land se­cu­rity has as­sumed a sig­nif­i­cant role in­creas­ing promi­nence in the af­ter­math af­ter the 9/11 events. In the sub­con­ti­nent too, we have the ex­am­ple of the LTTE us­ing light air­craft for ter­ror­ist at­tacks. Thus the pos­si­bil­ity of in­no­va­tive ap­pli­ca­tion of aerial re­sources by ter­ror­ist groups and non-state ac­tors can­not be ruled out. Like other ser­vices, AAD too plays an im­por­tant and crit­i­cal role in en­sur­ing AD for home­land se­cu­rity. This in­cludes de­ploy­ment of sen­sors and suit­able weapon sys­tems to neu­tralise such threats.

SP’s: Are the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween the In­dian Army, In­dian Air Force, In­dian Navy and civil agen­cies clearly de­fined? DG:

De­lin­eation of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween the three ser­vices is ad­e­quately de­fined be­sides most of the co­or­di­na­tion is­sues to pro­mote a high de­gree of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity. As a mat­ter of fact, a num­ber of in­ter-ser­vices study groups con­sti­tuted in the re­cent past have been suc­cess­ful in re­solv­ing most is­sues be­tween the ser­vices.

SP’s: A ma­jor­ity of the weapon sys­tems in the in­ven­tory are ei­ther ob­so­lete or ob­so­les­cent. The L/70 gun, which is the main­stay of AAD and is still car­ry­ing on af­ter more than four decades, is an ex­am­ple. Are there plans to re­place it with a more mod­ern sys­tem? DG:

As part of the mod­erni­sa­tion process, steps are be­ing ini­ti­ated for re­place­ment of the ex­ist­ing gun sys­tems in ad­di­tion to upgra­da­tion of a part of the gun in­ven­tory.

SP’s: Do you con­sider the gun sys­tems rel­e­vant in the cur­rent and fu­ture air threat sce­nario? DG:

Al­though con­cerns about the rel­e­vance of gun sys­tems in the fu­ture AD en­vi­ron­ment are gen­uine, I am of the opin­ion that gun sys­tems will re­main rel­e­vant for ef­fec­tive ter­mi­nal air de­fence against the RAM threat and leak­ers. While mod­ern AD mis­siles can take care of the de­liv­ery plat­forms like air­craft, UAVs, he­li­copters, etc, high rate of fire gun sys­tems are best suited for ad­dress­ing threat from very low RCS tar­gets such as rock­ets and shells. This is achieved by cre­ation of a ‘cloud’ of shrap­nel in the di­rec­tion of the threat to neu­tralise war­head/shell. It is due to this rea­son that guns form the bedrock of many mod­ern ter­mi­nal air de­fence sys­tems like Vul­can Pha­lanx, Iron dome, etc. These gun sys­tems will continue to be an im­por­tant part of ar­se­nal of AAD till such time di­rected en­ergy weapon tech­nolo­gies ma­ture to a stage where they can per­form the same in a cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner.

SP’s: What are the plans for the suc­ces­sor of quick re­ac­tion and medium-range sur­face-toair mis­siles (SAM)? DG:

Plans for ac­qui­si­tion of both quick re­ac­tion and medium-range SAMs are in progress.

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