Army Air De­fence — An Up­date

Army Air De­fence (AAD) has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing Point AD to the na­tional strate­gic as­sets like nu­clear plants, oil re­finer­ies, mil­i­tary air­bases, mil­i­tary in­dus­trial com­plexes, com­mu­ni­ca­tion nodes, lo­gis­tic nodes, gun ar­eas, sur­face-to­sur­face m


Army Air De­fence (AAD) has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing Point AD to the na­tional strate­gic as­sets like nu­clear plants, oil re­finer­ies, mil­i­tary air­bases, mil­i­tary in­dus­trial com­plexes, com­mu­ni­ca­tion nodes, lo­gis­tic nodes, gun ar­eas, sur­faceto-sur­face mis­siles and so on.

Lt Gen­eral Naresh Chand (Retd)

AIR POWER HAS BEEN grow­ing since the Wright Broth­ers con­quered flight at Kitty Hawk on De­cem­ber 17, 1903. Mak­ing modest be­gin­nings dur­ing World War I, mil­i­tary air power has man­i­fested it­self in mul­ti­ple plat­forms rang­ing from fixed-wing air­craft, he­li­copters, UAVs, bal­lis­tic mis­siles to cruise mis­siles. The role of air power in­cludes re­con­nais­sance, pa­trolling, com­mand and con­trol, de­ter­rence and de­struc­tion of tar­gets. In the cur­rent war sce­nario it has be­come a for­mi­da­ble in­stru­ment of mil­i­tary might. Threat to In­dia has thus grown ac­cord­ingly and the se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment around it is al­ways on a short fuse. Viewed this in the back­drop of cross border ter­ror­ism, the sit­u­a­tion be­comes even more mer­cu­rial. In such an en­vi­ron­ment it is es­sen­tial that all as­pects of air de­fence (AD) be­come more op­er­a­tionally ef­fec­tive.

Cur­rent AD Ca­pa­bil­ity

Army Air De­fence (AAD) has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing Point AD to the na­tional strate­gic as­sets like nu­clear plants, oil re­finer­ies, mil­i­tary air­bases, mil­i­tary in­dus­trial com­plexes, com­mu­ni­ca­tion nodes, lo­gis­tic nodes, gun ar­eas, sur­face-to-sur­face mis­siles and so on. It also pro­vides Area AD to army of­fen­sive as­sets like ar­mour and the strike corps. The cur­rent hold­ing of AD weapons are of vary­ing vintage rang­ing from 50 years old (L/70 gun) to more than three decades (Kvadrat Mis­sile Sys­tem- SAM 6). Tan­gushka was the last gun/ mis­sile sys­tem in­ducted about 25 years ago. In­duc­tion of Akash mis­sile sys­tem has started in 2016 but it has been thrust on the Army for a dif­fer­ent role as it could not carry out the mo­bile role it was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for.

Ap­praisal of Cur­rent Weapon Sys­tems

The tech­nol­ogy, espe­cially in the field of am­mu­ni­tion, mis­siles, sen­sors and ac­tive seekers, has ad­vanced very rapidly thus it is nec­es­sary to up­grade and re­place the ex­ist­ing AD weapon sys­tems at least ev­ery 15-20 years so that they re­main cur­rent. Apart from the as­pect of weapon ob­so­les­cence, there is a fac­tor of shelf life of am­mu­ni­tion and mis­siles which ef­fects their lethal­ity, ac­cu­racy and safety. Con­sid­er­ing the vintage, the cur­rent AAD pic­ture is rather dis­mal when re­viewed sys­tem by sys­tem.

L/70 Gun Sys­tem

L/70 is the main­stay of AAD since 1964. when it was her­alded as the most mod­ern gun sys­tem with a fire con­trol radar. It was ef­fec­tive against the air threat of the 1960s but it now com­pletely ob­so­lete. It is a mir­a­cle and ster­ling qual­ity of pro­duc­tion at Ord­nance Fac­tory (Gun Car­riage Fac­tory in Ja­balpur) that the guns are still fir­ing and fit in all as­pects. The re­quire­ment is of a gun with a rapid rate of fire of about 2,000 rounds/min and an ef­fec­tive range of about 2,500 me­tres. L/70 gun pro­vides Point AD to all the na­tional strate­gic as­sets thus with­out a more mod­ern gun, the AD to these as­sets be­comes very weak. L/70 was to be re­placed by 2000, how­ever there is no progress. The De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s (DRDO) de­vel­op­ment ef­fort has also failed. Not many gun sys­tems are cur­rently avail­able but a pos­si­ble choice was Skyshield of Rhein­metall AD but un­for­tu­nately the com­pany has been black­listed by In­dia thus there is no hope even in the dis­tant fu­ture for a suc­ces­sor sys­tem. The Army is look­ing at some of the sys­tems avail­able in the erst­while East Euro­pean na­tions but noth­ing con­crete has emerged. Even if a gun is short­listed, it may take at least a decade for the de­liv­ery to start un­der ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme. No­tion­ally if 10 reg­i­ments have to be pro­vided with the new guns then at the rate of one reg­i­ment per year, it will take 10 years to equip all the 10 reg­i­ments. That takes it to 2040 or so and if the gun re­mains cur­rent for even three decades, the time frame will be 2070. It is un­likely that the cur­rent guns and am­mu­ni­tion will be able to counter the air power of 2040-70. L/70 has also been up­graded jointly by the Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BEL) and the Gun Car­riage Fac­tory in Ja­balpur; with elec­tric power lay and elec­tro-op­ti­cal sight­ing sys­tem but this has not im­proved the ef­fec­tive­ness of the gun ex­cept that it does not need a fire con­trol radar. The process of in­duc­tion of this sys­tem is yet to start.

23mm Twin Gun

This is a fair weather gun sys­tem of Rus­sian ori­gin which is more than three decades old how­ever its rate of fir­ing of 2,000 rounds/ min­utes is very good. It is a light and mo­bile gun and ideally suited for sup­port­ing the field for­ma­tions in plains and moun­tains. It was up­graded by BEL and Punj Lloyd in com­pe­ti­tion. Punj Lloyd has got the ten­der and they have joined hands with EVPU of Slo­vakia to pro­vide the elec­tro-op­tonic sys­tem. 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. It came into lime­light dur­ing the Yom Kip­pur War of 1973. Its suc­ces­sor was Tan­gushka, one reg­i­ment of which was pro­cured, but for some rea­son no fur­ther pro­cure­ment was car­ried out. The re­sult is that the AAD is stuck with lim­ited equip­ment which is ob­so­lete and dif­fi­cult to main­tain. The Schilka up­grade is be­ing car­ried out jointly by BEL with El­bit of Is­rael which in­cludes a new pow­er­ful en­gine, dig­i­tal com­puter, bet­ter elec­tro-op­ti­cal 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. 48 Schilkas will be up­graded. The in­duc­tion has also started but it is very slow and may take more than a decade to up­grade all the 48 sys­tems. It will be em­ployed for an­other 20 years that means the gun and chas­sis will be about seven decades old and may not be em­ploy­able. Thus it nec­es­sary to iden­tify more mod­ern sys­tems to com­plete the ex­ist­ing voids and also to re­place the old sys­tems.

Quick Re­ac­tion SAM (QRSAM) Sys­tem

The cur­rent sys­tem is OSA-AK which is a highly mo­bile sys­tem for the AD of ar­mour for­ma­tions. This sys­tem is more than 30 years old and needs to be re­placed. DRDO’s ef­fort to de­velop Tr­ishul sys­tem did not suc­ceed and a re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) had been is­sued twice. The ex­pected pa­ram­e­ters of QRSAM are a range of not less than 15 km, al­ti­tude of more than 6 km and the abil­ity to en­gage tar­gets fly­ing at 0-500 me­tres/sec­onds as well as hov­er­ing he­li­copters. QRSAM Sys­tem should not be mixed with Low-Level Quick Re­ac­tion Mis­sile Sys­tem (LLQRM) which is an In­dian Air Force (IAF) Sys­tem. Fol­low­ing sys­tems are avail­able glob­ally: Spy­der SHORAD Mis­sile Sys­tem of Rafael-IAI (Is­rael). Spy­der name is a com­bi­na­tion of Python and Derby mis­siles which are in­te­gral to the Spy­der Sys­tem. Python has an IR dual wave­band elec­troop­ti­cal imag­ing seeker with lock-on af­ter launch, with in­frared counter-coun­ter­mea­sures. Derby has an ac­tive radar seeker, lock on be­fore launch and ad­vanced pro­gram­mable ECCM. Spy­der has a max­i­mum range of 15 km and al­ti­tude of 20-9,000 me­tres, can carry out si­mul­ta­ne­ous en­gage­ment of mul­ti­ple tar­gets, carry out rip­ple fir­ing, is all­weather and highly im­mune to coun­ter­mea­sures. The sys­tem is claimed to ef­fec­tively counter all mod­ern aerial threats in­clud­ing air­craft, he­li­copters, cruise mis­siles, UAVs and pre­ci­sion guided weapons. IAF has al­ready ac­quired the sys­tem. Tor-M2 9M331 SHORAD Sys­tem

de­signed by Al­maz-Antey of Rus­sia. TorM2 is a fully-au­to­mated sur­face-to-air mis­sile (SAM) sys­tem man­u­fac­tured by Al­maz-Antey’s Izhevsk Electro­mechan­i­cal Plant Kupol, to de­liver ef­fec­tive air de­fence in jam­ming en­vi­ron­ments. The sys­tem can counter a wide range of tar­gets in­clud­ing un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles, guided mis­siles, cruise mis­siles, air­craft, he­li­copters and high-pre­ci­sion weapons fly­ing at very low to medium al­ti­tudes. The Tor-M2U SAM Sys­tem is armed with 12 9M331 sur­face-to-air guided mis­siles as com­pared to six mis­siles in the ear­lier ver­sion. The mis­sile’s high-ex­plo­sive frag­men­ta­tion war­head and an ac­tive prox­im­ity fuse al­low it to de­stroy tar­gets mov­ing at speeds of 700 me­tres per sec­ond and al­ti­tudes of six km, within a range of 12 km. It can fire tar­gets with a short stop of three to five sec­onds. The Tor fam­ily of SAM Sys­tems is in ser­vice with the armed forces of many coun­tries in­clud­ing China, Egypt and Rus­sia. This is most suited to be a suc­ces­sor to OSA-AK.

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 Sys­tem). SLAMRAAM Sys­tem uses the AMRAAM fire-and-for­get mis­sile, a sur­veil­lance radar, a fire dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre (FDC) and AMRAAM launch­ers. The SLAMRAAM launcher mounts six AMRAAM mis­siles on a tur­reted High-Mo­bil­ity Mul­tipur­pose Wheeled Ve­hi­cle which pro­vides 360° cov­er­age.

Hawk-AMRAAM AD Sys­tem. Raytheon and Kongs­berg De­fence have jointly de­vel­oped the Hawk-AMRAAM AD 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 Hawk21 with the FDC de­vel­oped by Kongs­berg as part of NASAM Sys­tem. Raytheon jointly with Kongs­berg De­fence and Aerospace, con­tinue to in­te­grate new ca­pa­bil­i­ties into NASAMS to de­velop and field highly ca­pa­ble and fully in­te­grated so­lu­tions.

So far, no head­way has been made for the QRSAM Sys­tem. Ear­lier me­dia re­ported that QRSAM Sys­tem Maitri will be de­vel­oped jointly be­tween DRDO and MBDA but it has made no progress. An­other re­port men­tioned Maitri with a 40-km range which was meant for the IAF but in view of the in­duc­tion of Akash SAM Sys­tem, also could be con­sid­erd are up­graded Tun­guska and Pantsir of Ru­sia. IAF in­di­cated that it is no longer re­quired.

Medium Range SAM (MRSAM) Sys­tem

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 thus two reg­i­ments of Akash have been con­tracted for semi-static role. Mean­while, DRDO has signed an MoU with Is­rael for the joint de­vel­op­ment of a mis­sile sys­tem of about 70 km. So far, the Navy has car­ried out suc­cess­ful tri­als of the sys­tem em­bed­ded on a ship. This can eas­ily be em­ployed by the Army by mount­ing, it on suit­able mo­bile plat­forms. Mean­while, in the in­terim phase, the AAD may ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of im­port­ing a few reg­i­ments of Pa­triot Ad­vance Ca­pa­bil­ity-3 (PAC-3) from the US through the FMS route. PAC-3 is the ob­vi­ous choice as it is warproven; has hit to kill tech­nol­ogy; can en­gage air­crafts, he­li­copters, UAVs, cruise and tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. It is also de­ployed with many na­tions in­clud­ing the US.

Shoul­der-fired SAM Sys­tem. The cur­rent sys­tem is Igla which is also in ser­vice with the In­dian Navy and the Air Force. Rus­sia has a im­proved Igla-S which is a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to the cur­rent sys­tem.

Up­graded Schilka Weapon Sys­tem

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