TIME TO LEAPFROG TECH­NOL­OGY : A VIEWPOINT

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The United States has re­port­edly sub­mit­ted a list of 10 de­fence tech­nolo­gies for trans­fer to In­dia, bring­ing it into a small group of clos­est al­lies with which Amer­ica shares such sen­si­tive de­tails with­out ex­port con­trol. Con­cur­rently, the US has sought opin­ion from its own de­fence in­dus­try to iden­tify next set of tech­nolo­gies which could be shared and trans­ferred to In­dia and it is es­ti­mated that the num­ber of such de­fence tech­nol­ogy trans­fers could cross 90.

The US Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fense Ash­ton Carter has said that un­der the Bi­lat­eral De­fence Trade and Tech­nol­ogy Ini­tia­tive, US has sub­mit­ted a white pa­per ex­plain­ing where In­dia falls within US ex­port con­trol sys­tem. The US has in­cluded In­dia in the list of “Group of Eight” na­tions that re­ceives the best of the tech­nolo­gies with­out ex­port con­trol. In­dia is re­port­edly re­view­ing th­ese of­fers. The is­sue mer­its se­ri­ous at­ten­tion con­sid­er­ing the threats that In­dia is fac­ing that are likely to mag­nify in the fu­ture. Th­ese not only cover the en­tire spec­trum of con­flict (NBC, con­ven­tional and sub-con­ven­tional) but more im­por­tantly we need to bridge the asym­me­try with our ad­ver­saries, par­tic­u­larly China, in the di­men­sions of aero­space, cy­ber and elec­tro­mag­netic.

If the ca­pa­bil­ity gap has widened ex­po­nen­tially be­tween China’s PLA and the In­dian mil­i­tary, it is be­cause of our tech­no­log­i­cal voids and the in­abil­ity of our mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex and ac­cred­ited red­tapism that has pre­vented us from bridg­ing it. There­fore we must re­sort to leapfrog­ging tech­nol­ogy. Global tech­no­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion is al­ready on the thresh­old of fully net­work-cen­tric forces, bet­ter PGMs in­clud­ing high en­ergy lasers/plasma/elec­tro­mag­netic/ul­tra­sonic/di­rected en­ergy weapons, long-range strate­gic aero­space plat­forms, im­proved ISR and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, stealth and smart tech­nolo­gies, im­proved com­pact nukes, op­ti­mised ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, nano weapons and equip­ment, mi­cro UAVs, ant ro­bots, cy­ber war­riors/worms/virus/cyBugs, anti-satel­lite weapons etc. While con­flict will be five di­men­sional (aero­space, land, sea, cy­ber and elec­tro­mag­netic) in­for­ma­tion will be of im­mense strate­gic value with in­for­ma­tion war­fare span­ning net­work-cen­tric war­fare, C4I2 war­fare, elec­tronic war­fare, cy­ber war­fare and all other forms of op­er­a­tionalised cy­ber space. Space com­bat, cy­ber space com­bat, ra­di­a­tion com­bat, ro­botic com­bat, nano-tech­nol­ogy com­bat will add to forms of com­bat.

From the very es­sen­tial en­gine tech­nol­ogy, we need net­worked el­e­ments of na­tional power; in­for­ma­tion dom­i­nance and in­for­ma­tion as­sur­ance; abil­ity to par­a­lyze enemy C4I2 in­fra­struc­ture; cred­i­ble de­ter­rence against state-spon­sored ter­ror­ism that re­quires op­ti­mis­ing tech­nol­ogy as well; long-range ex­pe­di­tionary strate­gic forces; stand­off weapons to pre-empt enemy at­tack; ad­e­quate mix of DEWs, PGMs, ASATs etc; abil­ity to dis­rupt enemy lo­gis­tics / sus­te­nance; mix of hard and soft kill op­tions; lay­ered strate­gic air and the­atre mis­sile de­fence; com­pet­i­tive cy­ber war­fare ca­pa­bil­ity; abil­ity to ex­ploit space and cy­ber space and con­ven­tional forces ca­pa­ble of win­ning high-tech wars.

We need to ac­cel­er­ate: es­tab­lish­ment of an in­te­grated C4I2SR sys­tem; in­te­grated com­mu­ni­ca­tions (ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal); all plat­forms net­work en­abled; grad­u­ate from cy­ber se­cu­rity to in­for­ma­tion as­sur­ance and dom­i­nance; holis­tic re­view of DEWs, stand­off PGMs, ASATs; ex­ploit tech­nolo­gies like steer­able beam, wide band/soft­ware de­fined ra­dios, net­work se­cu­rity, com­mon GIS, data, fu­sion and anal­y­sis, al­ter­na­tives to GPS, dy­namic band­width man­age­ment, shoot­ing down UAVs, cam­ou­flage. Spy­ing, snoop­ing, re­verse engineering has given China de­signs of the US F-I6, B1 Bomber, US Navy’s quiet elec­tric drive, US W-88 minia­tur­ized nuke (used in Tri­dent Mis­siles) to name a few. China aims par­ity with the US in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy in three decades plus.

The J-20 stealth fighter has been de­vel­oped in record time. Stealth he­li­copters and ves­sels are be­ing worked upon. The in­dige­nous air­craft car­rier un­der de­vel­op­ment is es­ti­mated to be twice as fast with dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of launch­ing and land­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties through twin decks. All this has given China a tremen­dous boost in de­fence ex­ports aside from a mod­ernised PLA. What In­dia needs to learn from China is op­ti­mis­ing tech­nol­ogy re­con­fig­u­ra­tion wherein avail­able tech­nol­ogy is in­te­grated in mul­ti­tude of com­bi­na­tions to at­tain self-re­liance.

Tech­nolo­gies not­with­stand­ing, base level equip­ping of PLA (Army, Navy, Air Force) is al­most com­pletely in­di­genised. As re­gards the joint ven­tures pro­posed by the US, it is high time In­dia opens the de­fence sec­tor to the pri­vate in­dus­try fully con­sid­er­ing the ex­ist­ing mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex is not even meet­ing the re­quire­ment of as­sault ri­fles, car­bines and light ma­chine guns of the mil­i­tary, para­mil­i­tary and cen­tral armed po­lice forces. The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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