Decades of Ob­so­les­cence

Ma­jor­ity of AAD weapon sys­tems are of erst­while Soviet ori­gin with an av­er­age vin­tage of 30 years. To add to the woes of op­er­a­tional readi­ness, there is short­age of cer­tain types of am­mu­ni­tion which casts its shadow on train­ing. This leads to the di­lu­tion

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) Naresh Chand

Ma­jor­ity of AAD weapon sys­tems are of erst­while Soviet ori­gin with an av­er­age vin­tage of 30 years.

AT­TEN­TION CATCH­ING HEAD­LINES LIKE ‘State of Un­pre­pared­ness’ and ‘Leaky Army Air De­fence Um­brella’ have been used in the past to ex­plain the cur­rent state of pre­pared­ness of Army Air De­fence (AAD) and to high­light the lack of even rudi­men­tary mod­erni­sa­tion in this im­por­tant pil­lar of warfight­ing ma­chine but it seems that noth­ing can awaken the de­ci­sion-mak­ers from slum­ber.

In this re­spect, a re­view of the cur­rent weapon sys­tems held by AAD is given in the fol­low­ing para­graphs:

Gun Sys­tems Bo­fors 40mm L/70: The 40mm L/70 is the old­est sys­tem held with AAD which was in­ducted in 1964. In its time, it was a good gun which has un­der­gone only mar­ginal up­grade. Its fire con­trol radar has un­der­gone changes and cur­rently it has the up­graded Fly­catcher. The De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) have not been able to de­velop an air de­fence gun and the quest for a suc­ces­sor sys­tem has un­der­gone many fu­tile twists and turns. There are not many new gun sys­tems cur­rently in the global mar­ket as the ad­vanced na­tions are in­clined to­wards mis­siles and other na­tions do not need such sys­tems or are car­ry­ing on with the old sys­tems. The only suit­able sys­tem is Rhein­metall AD’s Skyshield which has ad­vanced hit ef­fi­ciency and de­struc­tion tech­nol­ogy (AHEAD) am­mu­ni­tion which con­tains 152 heavy tung­sten metal, spin sta­bilised sub­pro­jec­tiles and ejected by a time fuse. But re­gret­tably, Rhein­metall air de­fence is at present un­der the shadow of the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD), thus there is no way this gun sys­tem can be ac­quired un­less MoD does a U-turn, as it did for Barak mis­sile re­cently. L/70 gun has re­cently un­der­gone an upgra­da­tion car­ried out by the Bharat Elec­tron­ics Limited (BEL). The up­grade in­volves elec­tric drive, elec­tro-op­ti­cal sight­ing sys­tem and a laser-range fin­der. MoD has given the con­tract to BEL for about ` 600 crore.

23mm Twin-Gun: This gun is of erst­while Soviet ori­gin and is about 25 years old. It is a light weight, me­chan­i­cal gun which can carry on for some more time pro­vided it is up­graded with elec­tric drive and an elec­tro-op­ti­cal sight­ing sys­tem with a laser range fin­der. BEL is also car­ry­ing on up­grade of this gun with the help of Is­rael and field tri­als are ex­pected shortly.

Schilka: Schilka is a highly mo­bile tank-mounted air de­fence gun sys­tem with fire con­trol radar. It is of erst­while Soviet ori­gin and has been in ser­vice since 1973. Cur­rently, the gun sys­tem has some more life left but the radar is ob­so­lete. The en­gine also needs re­place­ment. Tun­gus­gka was se­lected as its suc­ces­sor which was also of Soviet ori­gin. It is a gun-mis­sile sys­tem but for some rea­son only a few was im­ported dur­ing 1995 and there was no fur­ther ac­qui­si­tion due to un­known rea­sons. At present only Rus­sia is pro­duc­ing such sys­tems and thus the choice of suc­ces­sor gets limited to them only. Pantsir-S1 is a suit­able gun—mis­sile sys­tem of KBK (Rus­sia) which can suc­ceed Schilka, but this sys­tem is nowhere in the hori­zon. BEL is car­ry­ing out Schilka’s up­grade with Is­raeli Aero-- space In­dus­tries pro­vid­ing new radar, elec­tro sights and some other sub sys­tems. Hin­dus­tan Pow­er­plus Cater­pil­lar is pro­vid­ing a new diesel en­gine. The cabin is also be­ing air-con­di­tioned. The sys­tem is ex­pected for tri­als dur­ing March 2014.

Kvadrat Mis­sile Sys­tem (SAM-6): This is a tank-mounted mis­sile sys­tem which is highly mo­bile and radar con­trolled with a range of about 20 km. It has been in ser­vice since 1974. Its suc­ces­sor is sup­posed to be the Akash sys­tem to be de­vel­oped by DRDO un­der the In­te­grated Guided Mis­sile De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (IGMDP). Akash has been de­vel­oped but only in static role. It has been ac­cepted in static role by the Army but the void for mo­bile sys­tems still re­mains. DRDO had ini­ti­ated a joint ven­ture with Is­rael to de­velop a medium-range sur­faceto-air (MR-SAM) but there is not much de­vel­op­ment in this. Af­ter the clear­ance of Barak by In­dia, this ven­ture may also move for­ward. Rus­sia’s BUK-M1 is the only suit­able mo­bile sys­tem as other sys­tems like Aster30, Is­rael’s Barak Next Gen­er­a­tion, MBDA’s MICA and Lock­heed Martin’s Pa­triot Ad­vance Ca­pa­bil­ity-3 (PAC-3) will have to be mounted on a suit­able plat­form to make it mo­bile. Out of all these, PAC-3 seems the most ca­pa­ble.

OSA-AK (SAM8): This is also a tankmounted mo­bile sys­tem of Soviet ori­gin. It is of 1980s vin­tage and was in­ducted around 1987. It has a range of about eight km and its re­place­ment should be planned now, con­sid­er­ing the long ges­ta­tion pe­riod of new ac­qui­si­tions by In­dia. Tr­ishul was be­ing de­vel­oped by DRDO as part of In­te­grated Guided Mis­sile De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (IGMDP) but it has not suc­ceeded and thus has been fore­closed. Rus­sia’s TOR M-1 which has a range of 12 km is the only orig­i­nal mo­bile mis­sile sys­tem. The new ter­mi­nol­ogy be­ing used for such a sys­tem is quick re­ac­tion SAM (QRSAM). A re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) was is­sued but no progress was made and it was dropped. It is un­der­stood that MBDA is work­ing closely with DRDO to de­velop maitre (means friend­ship) which is an off­shoot of Mica (range 20 km). It is pos­si­ble that they will help DRDO in crit­i­cal tech­nolo­gies like ac­tive seeker to have a new avatar of Tr­ishul as QRSAM or maybe a short-range SAM.

OSA-AK weapon sys­tem

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