Army Air De­fence – An Up­date

The se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood is al­ways on a dan­ger­ous thresh­old thus it is essen­tial to con­tin­u­ously mod­ernise AAD weaponry and man­power


The se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood is al­ways on a dan­ger­ous thresh­old thus it is essen­tial to con­tin­u­ously mod­ernise AAD weaponry and man­power.

Lt General Naresh Chand (Retd)

ARMY AIR DE­FENCE (AAD) is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of mod­ern war­fare as air power and air threat is de­vel­op­ing rapidly due to im­proved aero­nau­tics, avion­ics and ar­ma­ment. Un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs), cruise and bal­lis­tic mis­siles have added an­other di­men­sion to the threat. UAVs are cost ef­fec­tive, easy to ac­quire and op­er­ate thus a counter to this threat has to be ac­quired. The se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood is al­ways on a dan­ger­ous thresh­old thus it is essen­tial to con­tin­u­ously mod­ernise AAD weaponry and man­power.

Cur­rent sce­nario and fu­ture plans

Gun Sys­tems

40mm-L/70. 40mm-L/70 is the main stay of AAD and has been the warhorse of AAD since 1964. It was to be re­placed by 2000 how­ever there is no progress. The De­fence Re­search and Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s (DRDO) devel­op­ment ef­fort also kept its re­place­ment at a limb for about two decades. Not many gun sys­tems are cur­rently avail­able but a pos­si­ble choice was Skyshield of Rhein­metall AD but un­for­tu­nately the com­pany was black­listed by In­dia but the present gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing the situation and the process of ac­qui­si­tion may restart soon. This area is most crit­i­cal as In­dia can­not af­ford to re­place all of them with mis­siles. The time frame for such a ma­jor ac­qui­si­tion will take about five years to fruc­tify. Af­ter that no­tion­ally if 10 reg­i­ments have to be pro­vided with the new guns then at the rather am­bi­tious rate of one reg­i­ment per year, it will take 10 years to equip all the 10 reg­i­ments. That takes it to 2030 and if the gun re­mains cur­rent for even three decades, the time frame will be 2060. The air threat will change rapidly and these sys­tems will be­come ob­so­lete thus the need for ur­gency with more mod­ern guns and am­mu­ni­tion.

Up­grade of 40mm L70. The gun has been up­graded jointly by BEL and Ord­nance Fac­tory, Jabalpur; with elec­tric power lay and elec­tro-op­ti­cal sighting sys­tem. The process of in­duc­tion of this sys­tem is in progress. How­ever at best this an in­terim so­lu­tion as the ba­sic gun re­mains of the early 1960s vin­tage and this com­bi­na­tion can­not work in the night and fire con­trol radar is still re­quired.

23mm Twin gun. This is a fair weather gun sys­tem which is of more than three decades old how­ever its rate of fir­ing is very good (2,000 rounds per minute). It is suit­able for mo­bile role and em­ploy­ment in the moun­tains.

Up­grade of 23mm Twin gun. It has been up­graded by BEL and Punj Lloyd. Punj Lloyd had tied up with a Pol­ish com­pany and their sys­tem has been short­listed for the In­dian Army. The up­grade in­cludes power lay and elec­tro-op­ti­cal sighting sys­tem which will en­hance its ca­pa­bil­ity man­i­fold and also pro­vide it with night fir­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

Schilka sys­tem. It is a highly mo­bile sys­tem for sup­port­ing ar­mour for­ma­tions and is in ser­vice since the early 1970s. Its suc­ces­sor was Tan­gushka, one reg­i­ment of which was pro­cured, but there were many twists and turns for buy­ing ad­di­tional mounts. The re­sult is that the ar­mour for­ma­tions are de­void of mo­bile AAD guns as the old Schilkas are ob­so­lete and dif­fi­cult to main­tain.

Schilka up­grade. The Schilka up­grade has been car­ried out jointly by BEL with Is­rael Aerospace In­dus­tries (IAI) for the fire con­trol radar and Elta for the ther­mal imager and the laser range finder. The up­grade pack­age in­cludes a more pow­er­ful en­gine, dig­i­tal com­puter, bet­ter elec­troop­ti­cal sighting sys­tem and a new fire con­trol radar. The four bar­rel 23mm gun with a rate of fire of 3,400 rounds per minute has been re­tained and there is a pro­vi­sion for fir­ing shoul­der fired mis­siles. The in­duc­tion has also started and the up­graded sys­tem will man­age the air threat for the next decade or so. Mean­while, a bet­ter sys­tem should be ac­quired.

Su­per-Vul­can of IAI. The Su­per-Vul­can is an ad­vanced tank-based, mo­bile air de­fence sys­tem in ser­vice in the Is­raeli Air Force. It has M113/Vul­can/Stinger launch­ers with an en­hanced suit of TV and FLIR tar­get auto-track­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. It has an ef­fec­tive range from 500 m to 6,000 m against he­li­copters and 8,000 m against air­craft. Mis­sile Sys­tems Quick Re­ac­tion SAM (QR SAM) sys­tem. The cur­rent sys­tem is OSA-AK which is a highly mo­bile sys­tem, ac­quired for the air de­fence of ar­mour for­ma­tions. This sys­tem is more than 20 years old and needs to be re­placed. DRDO’s ef­fort to de­velop Tr­ishul sys­tem did not suc­ceed and a RFP had been is­sued twice. Hope­fully the cur­rent RFP will be taken to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion. Fol­low­ing sys­tems are avail­able glob­ally:

Tor-M1 9M330 SHORAD sys­tem. The Tor-M1 SHORAD (SAM-15) de­signed by Al­maz-Antey of Rus­sia, is a clas­sic mo­bile Rus­sian sys­tem de­signed es­pe­cially for air de­fence of ar­moured and other mo­bile for­ma­tions. Tor is suc­ces­sor to OSA-AK SHORAD (SAM-8) sys­tem. It can en­gage targets from medium to very low-al­ti­tudes, against many types of aerial targets like he­li­copters, fight­ers, UAVs, guided/cruise mis­siles and pre­ci­sion guided weapon; in an in­tense jam­ming en­vi­ron­ment. The com­bat ve­hi­cle can op­er­ate au­tonomously and can also fire on

the move. The sys­tem can be brought into ac­tion in three min­utes and typ­i­cal re­ac­tion time, from tar­get de­tec­tion to mis­sile launch, could range from 3.4 sec­onds for sta­tion­ary po­si­tions to 10 sec­onds while on the move. Each fire unit can en­gage two sep­a­rate targets. Tor-M1 can de­tect and track up to 48 targets at a max­i­mum range of 25 km. It can en­gage two targets si­mul­ta­ne­ously at a range of 1 to 12 km and al­ti­tude of 10 to 6,000 m with a kill prob­a­bil­ity of 92-95 per cent.

Sur­face launched ad­vanced medium-range air-to-air mis­sile

(SLAMRAAM). SLAMRAAM is a key player in Raytheon In­te­grated De­fense Sys­tems’ state-of-the-art in­te­grated air and mis­sile de­fence sys­tems which can counter cur­rent and fu­ture cruise mis­sile threats, and a wide range of air breath­ing threats. SLAMRAAM is ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing ma­noeu­vring land forces, high-value fixed as­sets and mass pop­u­la­tion cen­tres. SLAMRAAM is the US Army’s do­mes­tic vari­ant of the Nor­we­gian ad­vanced sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tem (NASAMS). SLAMRAAM sys­tem uses the AMRAAM fire-and-for­get mis­sile, a sur­veil­lance radar, a fire distri­bu­tion cen­tre and AMRAAM launch­ers. The SLAMRAAM launcher mounts six AMRAAM mis­siles on a tur­reted high-mo­bil­ity multi-pur­pose wheeled ve­hi­cle which pro­vides 360° cov­er­age. The US Army uses the Raytheon AN/ MPQ-64 Sen­tinel radar to carry out the sur­veil­lance and tar­get search, ac­qui­si­tion, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and track­ing func­tions. The elec­tron­i­cally scanned phased ar­ray radar uses range gate pulse doppler op­er­a­tion at X-band, has a scan rate of 30 rpm and range of 75 km.

Hawk-AMRAAM air de­fence sys­tem. Raytheon and Kongs­berg De­fence have jointly de­vel­oped the Hawk-AMRAAM air de­fence sys­tem, which com­bines the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Hawk and AMRAAM mis­siles by in­te­grat­ing the sys­tem with FDC. The sys­tem can in­clude the Sen­tinel radar and the Hawk AN/MPQ-61 high power il­lu­mi­na­tor for tar­get track­ing and il­lu­mi­na­tion, al­though it is pos­si­ble to hook up with any num­ber of radars and mis­sile sys­tems to the FDC. It has been re­ported that Hawk has been up­graded and named Hawk 21 with the FDC de­vel­oped by Kongs­berg as part of NASAM sys­tem.

Medium Range SAM (MRSAM) Sys­tem Kvadrat.

Kvadrat is the cur­rent sys­tem which is more than 35 years old and has the tech­nol­ogy of early 1960s thus an RFP has been is­sued but later on with­drawn due to poor re­sponse. As DRDO’s Akash has not been found suit­able for mo­bile role, a few reg­i­ments of Akash has been con­tracted for semi-static role.

Joint ven­ture (JV) of DRDO and

Is­rael Aerospace In­dus­tries. This JV is for the devel­op­ment of long/medium-range SAM. There are many name to the same sys­tem like Barak next-gen­er­a­tion, lon­grange SAM (LRSAM) and MRSAM. The LRSAM is the naval ver­sion which has been suc­cess­fully fired on De­cem­ber 30, 2015, from INS Kolkata. Land ver­sion is called MRSAM, is said to be a very ad­vanced SAM that can track and shoot down in­com­ing mis­siles and other fly­ing ob­jects with very high level of ac­cu­racy. While LRSAM is for Navy, the Air Force has al­ready an or­der for MRSAM and the Army vari­ant has been re­cently ap­proved. The sys­tem in­cludes a mis­sile and multi-func­tional sur­veil­lance and Threat alert radar for de­tec­tion, track­ing and guid­ance of the mis­sile. An Army ver­sion of the MRSAM for one reg­i­ment worth about 9,000 crore (about $1.4 bil­lion) was agreed upon be­tween De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar and his Is­raeli coun­ter­part Moshe Ya’alon dur­ing his visit to In­dia in Fe­bru­ary 2015. How­ever, given the re­quire­ment this num­ber is ex­pected to go up. The mis­siles will be man­u­fac­tured by the Bharat Dy­nam­ics Lim­ited.

Shoul­der-fired SAM Sys­tems. The cur­rent sys­tem is Igla which is also in ser­vice with the In­dian Navy and the Air Force. A tri-ser­vice RFP was is­sued and com­par­a­tive tri­als have been car­ried out but there has been no fur­ther devel­op­ment.


Schilka Air De­fence gun

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