Equipment Profile of Indian Army
Considering the lack of implementation of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the Army’s modernisation plans, both Eleventh and Twelfth Five Year Plans put together, may create a $25-$35 billion (approximately ` 1,25,000 to ` 1,75,000 crore) opportunity. It seem
WITH ITS EXPERIENCE AND expertise in fighting in almost all types of terrain including the Thar Desert in the south-west, the plains of Punjab in the West, the mountains and high-altitude areas of Kashmir and Ladakh in the North and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast, and the jungle and riverine terrain opposite Myanmar and Bangladesh, in battlefields beyond its shores in Sri Lanka, and peace-keeping and stabilisation operations globally, the Indian Army ranks tall amongst armies across the world in terms of professionalism.
Currently, a substantial part of the Indian Army is involved in fighting insur- gencies in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-eastern states. The Chinese infrastructural activities along the Indo-Tibet-Bhutan borders and north Sikkim have triggered the necessity for increasing the manpower ceiling of the Army. Thus it has been reported that a total of four additional divisions have been sanctioned for the Eastern theatre out of which two have already been raised. The remaining two divisions will be for a part of the Strike Corps proposed to be raised for offensive operations in the Eastern theatre.
Army’s Equipment Profile
Eleventh and Twelfth Five Year Plans
Indian Army’s 600 odd modernisation schemes amounting to more than 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (200712) alone continue to be encumbered with elaborate bureaucratic procurement processes. It is in this context that we should view the letter written by General V.K. Singh, the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Minister. It highlighted the lack of some types of ammunition critical for the Army and obsolescence of weapons and equipment and the stagnation in the process of military modernisation aimed at winning the conflicts of the 21st century. Moreover, the gap between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China is apparently widening day by day in favour of the latter. Faced with a two-front challenge, India needs to accelerate considerably the pace of modernisation of the Army.
The T-90, the improved T-72 M1 tanks and Arjun tanks will constitute India’s armour might in the future till a new MBT is chosen or designed indigenously
The government it seems has now sanctioned the 12th Five Year Defence Plan as a result of the severe criticism over delays in the past. However, considering the lack of implementation of the Eleventh Plan, the Army’s modernisation plans, both Eleventh and Twelfth Plans, together may create a $25-$35 billion (approximately ` 1,25,000 to ` 1,75,000 crore) opportunity. It seems unlikely that over the next five years, this quantum of funds will be utilised. It does however indicate that the accumulating voids in our capabilities in various arms will adversely affect the Army’s fighting formations in future wars. The main features of arm wise modernisation and the steps being taken in acquisition of equipment are as follows:
The Army has already equipped two regiments with Arjun tanks out of the 124 Arjun main battle tanks (MBTs) ordered by it earlier. An additional 124 Arjun Mark II tanks have now been ordered subject to satisfactory development of the Mark II version of the tanks for equipping two more regiments. These tanks will have substantially upgraded capabilities of firepower, mobility and protection. These are likely to be delivered by 2013. As regards the T-90 tanks, a total of 647 T-90 tanks have been inducted into service.
The T-72 M1, Ajeya MBT, modernisation programme under Project Rhino will extend the service life of the MBT by 20 years; enhance the accuracy with new fire control system (FCS) whose trials are under way. This will give night-fighting capability through a thermal imager integrated with the tank‘s FCS. Three hundred T-72 tanks of the Army have been fitted with thermal imaging stand-alone sights (TISAS) while 300 more are in the pipeline bringing the total to 600 TISAS. Thus about 1,000 remaining T-72 tanks will be fitted with more modern integrated fire control systems. However, the overall night-fighting capability of India’s armour is currently inadequate and operationally unacceptable. The tanks are additionally being equipped with new type of explosive reac- tive armour (ERA) panels which will provide protection against kinetic energy as well as tandem warhead, chemical energy projectiles, for better protection, along with a laser warning system and new radio sets for better and more secure communications. A new power pack is also under consideration to further enhance mobility. The modernisation of the T-72 is way behind schedule due to complicated procurement procedures exacerbated by delayed decision-making and in-house disagreements.
The T-90, the improved T-72 M1 tanks and Arjun tanks will constitute India’s armour might in the future till a new MBT is chosen or designed indigenously. Meanwhile, light tanks for the Eastern theatre are also being debated.
The mechanised infantry is currently equipped with the BMP-2 infantry combat vehicle (ICV), named Sarath. Over 1,000 of these have been manufactured since 1987. The variants include 81mm carrier mortar tracked, a command post, an ambulance, armoured dozer and engineer and reconnaissance vehicles. The ICVs are being equipped with thermal imaging night sights and image intensifiers. The ICV BMP-2/2K is being modernised by upgrading its existing NBC system, fire detection and suppression system, ERA panels to provide extra protection and a new power pack. The scheme to fit environmental control for ICV BMP-2 is in an advanced stage of procurement. Additional battlefield surveillance radar (medium-range) mounted on high mobility
wheeled vehicles are also being procured. Indian Army has planned for a futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) to replace the BMP-2 with key operational and performance parameters envisaged in the Indian context. The project is a pioneer in ‘MakeHigh-Tech’ category where for the first time the defence industry has invited participation by private established agencies.
As part of its more than 20,000 crore Artillery Modernisation Plan, the Army is looking at inducting several types of howitzers through inter-governmental pacts and global tenders. The last major acquisition of towed gun-howitzers was that of 400 pieces of 39-calibre 155mm FH-77B howitzers with a range of 30 km from Bofors of Sweden in 1987. After about 25 years of neglect, the Army still awaits the procurement of about 1,500 howitzers of 155mm, 52 calibre. Out of these, 400 are to be procured outright and 1,100 manufactured indigenously with transfer of technology (ToT). The request for proposal (RFP) for these guns was issued in the beginning of the year 2011 and it is expected that the evaluation process would have been completed by now. Additionally, 145 ultra-light howitzers are being procured from the US through the foreign military sales (FMS) route from BAE Systems. This deal has been cleared by India’s Cabinet Committee on Security. The Army also needs 120 tracked and 180 wheeled 155mm howitzers for its armoured and artillery divisions respectively, for use in offensive operations, the fate of which is unknown.
Indian Army’s 600 odd modernisation schemes amounting to more than 70,000 crore in the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) alone continue to be encumbered with elaborate bureaucratic procurement processes
It is now reliably learnt that when the Bofors 155mm howitzers were procured in 1987, transfer of technology had taken place and it has now been revealed that the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which had been sitting on these designs for the past 25 years, have now accepted to manufacture prototypes of 155mm/ 39 calibre and 45 calibre guns for trials by the Army.
The Heron, a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV from Israel, has been acquired in addition to the Searcher I and II UAVs. Four troops of Herons will become operational. Medium-range battlefield surveillance radars (BFSRs) have been introduced into the inventory of the Army’s surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) units for enhancing the medium-range ground surveillance capability of the Army. The long-range observation system (LORROS) provides day and night surveillance capability up to a range of about 11-13 km.
Development of Nishant remotelypiloted vehicle, designed by the DRDO, to undertake battlefield surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time engagement of targets by artillery fire and laser designation has been successfully completed. It has been approved for induction through limited series production.
The Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS) have been successfully developed and have been deployed in a large number of Corps.
Air Defence Artillery
The corps of Army Air Defence has a large variety of guns and missile systems. It has 40mm L/70, Zu-23-2 Twin gun, ZSU-23-4 Schilka, Tanguska, Kvadrat (mediumrange missile system), OSA -AK (shortrange missile system) and Igla shoulder fired missile system in its inventory. The 40mm L/70 which is about four decades old needs immediate replacement. Considering the high costs of new weapon systems, the Army is going in for weapon upgrades for L-70, ZU-23-2 Twin gun, and ZSU-23-4 Schilka. Meanwhile, the Army is looking for successors to L-70 and the ZU-23-2. Successor to Schilka (ZSU-23-4) already exists in the form of Tangushka, but in limited numbers. A request for information (RFI) has already been issued to find a replacement for Schilka.
For air defence of mechanised units, it has been planned to acquire mediumrange surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) and quick reaction SAM (QRSAM) systems. RFP for QRSAM is being issued and there is a joint development venture of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel for MRSAM for all the three services. Successor to Igla has been shortlisted and will go for trials shortly. Shortlisted systems are SAAB RBS-7O, MBDA, Mistral, a Russian SAM system and South Korea’s LIG Nex1.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved of a new assault rifle, 5.56mm calibre and a new generation carbine. The Army awaits a complete overhaul of its basic weaponry for soldiers. Seeking to arm its infantry soldier with a lethal and sophisticated assault rifle, the Army has started the field trials for procuring more than 60,000 assault rifles in a deal worth 13,000 crore. The assault rifles which were under consideration as reported by the media include Beretta, IWI, SIG Sauer, Colt and Ceska Zbrojovka. The Army wants its latest rifles to be equipped with detachable under-barrel grenade launchers, nightvision devices, laser designators and so on. Sources said, “The trials have begun and considering the requirements of the force, the guns will be tested in deserts, extreme cold weathers, high-altitude regions and so on. The Central Paramilitary Force and
state police undergoing modernisation programme would also be able to procure the same. According to the Indian Procurement Policy, the selected vendor will have to transfer the technology to the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board, which will then manufacture the guns under licence within the country.
New bullet proof jackets, ballistic helmets and boots anti-mine which were also to be procured, have not materialised so far. The infantry is also looking for a manportable third-generation anti-tank guided missile under barrelled grenade launchers, 60mm mortars, enhanced-range 81mm mortars and thermal-imaging night sights for assault rifles. Incidents like 26/11 have underlined the need to equip all infantry battalions suitably for rapid reaction. This is being achieved by procuring specialised items for the Ghatak Platoons (Commando Platoons) of Infantry Battalions. Multimode grenades have been indented with the Ordnance Factory Board while ammunition of the Rocket Launcher Mark III is also to be procured. The infantry is also being provided with multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), light-bullet proof vehicles (Lt BPVs), light-strike vehicles (LSVs) and additional snow mobiles.
Equipping of Special Forces (SF) is lagging woefully. “Packaged equipping” of subunits has not taken off and critical equipment like laser target designators is yet to be provisioned. The Army’s emphasis has been on expansion, ignoring the universally acknowledged four Special Forces global truths: Humans are more important than hardware Quality is better than quantity Special Forces cannot be mass produced Competent Special Forces cannot be created after emergencies arise. It would be prudent to first consolidate the existing seven Special Forces battalions and fully equip them before adding more.
The future infantry soldier as a system (F-INSAS) has been initiated to make the infantryman a weapon platform with situational awareness, increased lethality and sustainability in the digitised battlefield. F-INSAS is to be effected in three phases: Phase-I includes weapons, body armour, clothing and individual equipment; PhaseII is the target acquisition system and Phase-III comprises the computer sub-system, radio sub system, software and software integration. F-INSAS will be a part of the battlefield management system (BMS) of the Army.
Engineers: Equipment has been procured to assist in de-mining operations and to improve the engineers’ capability for disaster management. Protective equipment, to enhance the fighting capability of the Army in the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) scenario has been procured. Protection against improvised explosive devices (IED) in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations is being constantly enhanced through procurement of a sophisticated range of counter IED equipment. The capability is also being strengthened by replacing existing bridge systems with state-of-the-art indigenous bridges, which will enhance tactical mobility of our field formations. Procurement of new earth-moving plants and material handling cranes is also being done to reduce the fatigue factor for troops.
Signals: The Corps of Signals has assimilated all types of technology from mobile cellular, satellite, microwave and fibre-optic communication and are today on the verge of ushering in a next-generation network, based on futuristic technology. As far as radio communications are concerned, a number of promising technologies such as software defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio (CR) are being closely analysed for their effective military usage.
The objective of the Director General Information Systems is to vigorously pursue the establishment of the Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) for the Army to link together all other automated communication and information systems such as the battlefield surveillance system (BSS), the artillery combat command and control system (ACCCS), the air defence control and reporting system (AD C&R) and the battle management system (BMS), in an effort to present a holistic picture to a commander and his senior staff officers to ease the decision-making process. This will also link the communication system at strategic, operational and tactical levels and enable the Army to fight “network-enabled warfare” in the future.
MBT Arjun MK-1 tank passing through the Rajpath
T-90 battle tank
BAE Systems's M777 lightweight howitzer