Arming for the future

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Vol 12 Issue 2, May - Jun 2018
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First part of our two part series on the capabilities required by the three services in the future
Ashwani Sharma
Friday, May 25, 2018

To state that the nature of threats and of conflicts is rapidly changing is axiomatic. An analysis of the threats and military conflicts of recent times suggest that profound changes are taking place in the nature of warfare. There has not been a full-scale conflict across the entire spectrum of warfare in recent times. And there are enough indicators that point towards the fact that warfare hereinafter will largely be a combination of conventional and hybrid wars. Geographical terrain and conditions, adversary’s capability, our own aspirations and economic prowess are major determinants that govern the capability that we need to acquire.

Frontal encounters between large force groupings at the strategic and operational levels are likely to recede into the past gradually; with a blurring of lines among the strategic, operational and tactical levels. There will be increasing role of mobile, mixed-service force groupings, while information technology will significantly reduce the spatial, temporal and information gaps between troops and their commanders. With military ops becoming more dynamic, intensive and effective, additional requirements in terms of forces’ maneuverability, mobility and stability of reserves will be needed. Maneuverability makes it possible to relocate forces to critical areas of operations within the shortest time possible and mobility and stability of reserves and resources allow for a quick response to aggravating situation. They are also enablers of influence on how the situation goes. To facilitate the aforesaid requirements, it is imperative that we revisit our organizational structures especially at the higher levels. We need to have leaner structures which  have the requisite wherewithal.

Remote, contact-free influence on the enemy is becoming the primary  method of combat actions and operations, and it is extending their spatial reach both in range and depth. Targets now can be engaged at ranges reaching out to the depths of hostile territory, with use of high-precision, long range weapons and robotic systems and armaments built on new military principles which are being brought into the mainstream of warfare.

The information component of hybrid war is of particular significance as it has a strong influence on the consciousness of both the civilian population and military men, and may adversely impact the ability of the forces to counteract military aggression and impinge negatively on the minds of the civil populace. Most importantly, Asymmetric methods of warfare will gain ascendancy . We are already witnessing an increasing role of non-military means in achieving political and strategic objectives, which in some cases are more effective than military means. Cyber and space are assuming increasing importance with capabilities to incapacitate and isolate enemy militaries without even firing a shot.

Defence forces across the globe, as indeed those of developing nations like India are faced with the dilemma how to brace up and equip themselves to meet the rapidly evolving challenges, that too in a regimen of decreasing fiscal allocations.  In candid terms, the challenge for them is to be ‘most effective at least cost’ – and to do so, it is imperative for them to become ‘smart’ – not just in equipment but equally in the plans, doctrines, training and in the quality of their human resource. While one aspect of the challenge is to visualize the range and extent of the threats faced, their own vulnerabilities, what fillip needs be given to fill up the voids they face, what ‘smart’ equipment to procure and in what numbers and how to train the ‘user’ in the field to deploy the equipment to best effect.  The high costs of military hardware makes it cost prohibitive to utilise even a part of the stocks procured towards training, making the use of simulators inevitable.  The recently held Def Expo 2018 provided a one-stop exposure to an impressive range of hardware available and being incubated globally that is / would be available to modern Armies, though at a price. 

It is the call of the leadership to envision the various challenges faced by the nation both in their gravity and immediacy, to prioritize what threats need to be safeguarded against first, determine the vulnerabilities of opponents and equip to exploit the same, which capability provides a net ‘military balance’ and the eventual deterrence. Breaking the ‘will’ of the enemy and imposing your own, has and will always remain the basic objective of military operations launched against an adversary. Military capability of a nation must always be commensurate with that basic tenet, matching the nation’s security needs and aspirations of wielding the influence at the regional and global level.

In the age of internet which dominates the channels of communication and even commerce, Cyber and information warfare are attaining primacy. Evolution of Cyberspace as the fifth dimension of warfare where the lines in different phases of peace, crisis, conflict and post conflict are blurred, calls for a de-novo approach to develop strategies and tactics for this domain. The outcome of operations in this virtual domain could be tangible or intangible, but there is no denying its immense potential to bring a nation to a grinding halt. Innovation and creativity to exploit technology and outwit the adversary in cyberspace to damage his capability and the will to fight will remain a decisive factor. Information Warfare possesses similar capabilities and retains the potential to demoralise and disorientate the enemy without a shot having been fired.

Add to it the backdrop of NBC warfare and the scenario gets complicated further. Use of these weapons however, particularly nuclear will invite strong repercussions as nuclear power is no longer the preserve of a select few. The sheer destructive potential of nuclear warfare is also likely to discourage the use  of such weapons. It can, however, not be ruled out as long as the weapons exist, thus calling for preparedness against the threat.

There is thus an ever-increasing debate on what type of capability should be developed. Where does the balance lie between conventional capability and new age threats? The answer perhaps lies somewhere in finding the right balance. Modern means of waging war will throw the enemy off balance, can demoralize and destabilize him, even halt the military in its tracks.  In military parlance, a nation can prevent the adversary from mobilising its forces through cyber and electronic means, and break its will to fight even before the violence begins. Remotely controlled weapons, long range missiles and loitering armaments thereafter can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting, disorganized enemy. But military pundits agree that no matter what, a smart, well prepared nation will restore balance sooner than later. It is then that conventional weapons and platforms will be needed to physically annihilate the enemy. A clever balance thus appears to be solution. In both the cases though it would be wise to acquire modern contemporary technologies and R&D too should therefore be focused on developing modern platforms through simulation and modelling rather than adopting dated methods of research. A critical aspect of R & D in the current environment is also to keep a stringent watch on timelines as technology will otherwise outpace the same.

Another emergent aspect of future warfare is that this ‘military balance’ is no longer an aggregation of capabilities of individual Armed Forces in separate silos.  The requirement is for an amalgam of joint capabilities supported by doctrines and philosophies that enable interoperability and functional jointness.  While individual services must continue to retain their ethos and structures, systems need to also be in place to seamlessly array, singly or in combination, the most effective response to meet an emergent threat.

It is in this backdrop that Defstrat decided to analyse the current status and make a few suggestions concerning capability development for each service. In the next issue we shall cover aspects related to the acquistion process, industrial set up and  budgetary issues.



The Indian Army :A twenty first century force

By Lt Gen Arun Sahni, PVSM, UYSM, SM, VSM

The security paradigm of Nation States including India has been impacted radically, due to opening up of hitherto fore ‘uncontested frontiers’ of Cyber and Space, the changing nature of warfare and the on going ‘revolution in military affairs (RMA)’, steered by path-breaking technological developments in surveillance systems impacting battlefield transparency and smart weapons/munitions causing greater destruction. Cyber dependence is on the increase, be it for effective governance, the way we do business, providing efficient public services or ensuring security.

Technology innovations in space-based assets, robotics, artificial intelligence, ‘internet of things’, are at various stages of fructification, displayed by the advent of  prototypes of a new range of weaponized  platforms, like armed UAVs, un-manned aircrafts, swarm drones and robotic soldiers. These will in the foreseeable future have far reaching impact on the kinetic force application in the battlefield and needs to be kept in mind, while the Indian Army focuses on ‘arming for the future’.

The elements that in my opinion constitute ‘arming for the future’, for the Indian Army should include:

• Modernization, to include equipping the army with a right mix of technological advanced weapons/ munitions, having stand off capability with terminal guidance, greater precision, accuracy and destruction. Also ensuring that it has the necessary war like stores for meeting the national security imperatives, at all times.

• Organizational changes for a leaner and agile force, with the capability for rapid movement and deployment, in varying terrains and altitude. This includes gradual downsizing the standing army for qualitative upgrades.

• Carving out new tailor-made structures to meet the emerging threat spectrum of cyber and space, while concurrently carrying out service specific actions.

• Special measures to enhance the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the army by empowering Commanders and exploiting new dimensions of warfare.

The modernization plan for the army needs to be based on a time bound road map, to obviate identified shortcomings. Therefore, while retaining the focus on induction of modern and advanced weapon platforms, there is a need for separate budgeting and road map for upgrading ‘in service’ systems, to incorporate ‘high tech’ innovations, be it communications with high speed data and video linkages, satellite based disruptive technologies, global positioning systems, advanced ISR sensors/ platforms or smart munitions and missiles to the arsenal

A quick look at the specifics for each arm of the army. The infantry has a long outstanding need for a ‘state of art’ personal weapon. With the increased potency of the company/ battalion support weapons/munitions and ongoing soldier’s empowerment with elements of F-INSAS, real time information cum positioning capability and intra-communication and surveillance devices, there is a need for a review of the current equipping policy of the infantry battalion. For example, the ATGMs, rocket launcher, multiple grenade launcher and ‘under barrel grenade launcher’ are near similar, but necessary due to the varied employment profile of the infantry. For operational dexterity and with changing nature of war, the infantry needs to harmonise what should be integral/intrinsic to its organization.

The cumulative total of platforms and firepower resources in the mechanized forces, needs a review with the induction of accurate, destructive and precision munitions. This quantitative offset needs to be utilized for introduction of suitable AFVs like ‘light tank’ or a Russian BMD equivalent, for airborne/air mobile employment, equipping RDFs (rapid deployment force), for ‘Out of Area Contingencies’ and rapid concentration of combat power and operational flexibility in meeting the challenges astride the mountainous - high altitude northern frontiers.

The advanced artillery gun systems with available modern munitions, are required for artillery to evolve from just providing fire support - to interdiction and in ‘shaping the future battlefield’. Lighter and versatile combat engineer resources are a must as force multipliers for facilitating operations in different terrains. Induction of ‘state of art’ signal communication equipment, EW systems  and cyber support wherewithal for a network enabled army, are again a priority. The air defence resources and the linked C&R system is woefully deficient/ inadequate. This is an area where both close support tactical platforms, a modern gun system,  as also the larger systems for ‘ballistic missile defence’ like S 400/500 need to be inducted urgently.

Towards, up gradation of ‘in service’ equipment we need to look at the complete array of weapons and equipment. The AFV’s need night fighting capability, modern early warning and passive support systems for enhanced survivability in the battlefield. We also need to see the induction of AI and robotics. To optimize the fighting capability of the other arms and services, there is a need for similar upgrades in artillery for acquisition of targets, passage of data and control of gun platforms, impact analysis of engagements with ‘force multiplier rocket systems’, like ’Pinaka’, ‘Smerch’ and ‘Brahmos’; Robotics in combat engineering equipment for bridging, mine clearances etc and dynamically enhancing the arterial communication network of the army, both voice and data, with fusion of the available ICT sub systems in the existing communication linkages.

To carve out a  leaner, agile and smartly equipped army ,there is a need for smart qualitative upgrades with cutting edge technologies.

Firstly, there is a need to deploy high technology/ resolution ISR systems along the vast unresolved and rugged borders with varying terrain profiles. They should be able to look deep into the adversarial country, for timely ‘early warning’. The surveillance system should be in tiers, with a multitude of devices exploiting different technologies for seamless inputs, to include advanced electro optical systems, radars, UAVs, space-based satellites, smart fences / anti intrusion devices and real time sensor monitoring system with remote capability.

Secondly, there is need for an Integral all-weather tactical airlift capability within the army. This will facilitate rapid movement cum deployment/ redeployment of troops, across difficult and inhospitable terrain, for meeting emerging threats, identified by the deployment of a smart surveillance system. This will also ensure continued operational freedom cum flexibility.

Thirdly, for saving manpower, there is a need for fast tracking induction of long overdue modern/ advanced weapon platforms with automated systems. Automation and robotics will reduce manpower requirements across arms.

For harnessing the disruptive changes underway in the virgin frontiers of cyber and space, there is a need to put in place suitable structures/ processes/ strategy, to exploit the advantages afforded by the developments in these two domains. It is here that the three Services should look at Integrated organizations. Towards greater integration between the Army, Navy and Air Force, a concerted effort has to be first made towards jointness in structures cum establishments including training Institutions / facilities

The fighting prowess of the army needs to be optimized by fast tracking ‘network enablement’ of the Indian army. It entails empowering the field commanders, with real time inputs from the battle front / theater of operations. This requires early deployment of ‘Operational Information Systems’ in the army, colloquially termed as C3I / C4 I2SR systems, with its extensive linkages to special to arms/ functional feeder systems. Concurrently to empower staff for timely logistic support, there is a need for early deployment of the ‘Management Information Systems’.

The other area that need attention, is exploitation of our indigenous missile development capability. It needs to be weaved in more effectively within the army’s operational philosophy, while ensuring exclusivity of the Strategic Forces, employing similar systems for nuclear deterrence. Deployment of a ‘Ballistic Missile Defence’ system and its ramifications are another area, that needs deliberation, for a modern and smart army.

In conclusion, there is no debate that an army to remain above the technological curve, needs be self reliant with an indigenous and vibrant manufacturing capability. It is time to move forward beyond the rhetoric towards affirmative actions.



The Indian Air Force :A clever mix of manned and unmanned platforms

By Air Marshal Ramesh Rai, VM

Future Wars will be hybrid in nature and this also applies in the context of India. Pakistan already employs regulars and irregulars along with non-state actors in Jammu and Kashmir and the Chinese doctrine for a future war conceptualises that war would no longer be about using armed forces alone. Chinese developments in the cyber domain are indicators of a definite combine in the kinetic and non-kinetic components of war being employed. 

Any future war would be supported by advances in technology in the arena of missiles, 5th Generation platforms, precision guided weapons, sensors, UAVs and radars all networked together coupled with the non-kinetic components being used both in offensive and defensive operations. Given the above scenario, some of the capabilities that emerge for the Air Force to fight a smart war in the future are discussed below: -

Network Centric Architecture

Future wars ought to be fought in an enhanced SA environment if they are to be fought smart. A smart combination would call for targets to be generated and attacked by a combination of sensors and platforms managed by a battle management system. This would require a network centric architecture on all weapon systems, air borne and space borne, manned or unmanned.  A Global Information Grid (GIG), would be at the heart of the network architecture to act as a framework for information sharing between sensors, platforms and C2 centres such that each participant receives all transmissions made by the other to share a common understanding on the enemy’s disposition and thereby use the most appropriate weapon in a synchronised and integrated manner. The information sharing grid should be IAF’s back bone to carry out offensive and defensive roles in the form of networked attacks, networked defences and with networked support. In such net enabled warfare lies the smartness on which success or failure in any future imbroglio would depend.

Fly and Fight in Cyberspace

Cyberspace is a physical phenomenon wherein EM Spectrum and computers serve to host digital data, information and networks much in the same way as air hosts airborne systems. Air Force’s networked architecture would be hosted in cyber space with digitised information flowing between computers using the EM spectrum on the GIG. This would need to be protected during war for which the Air Force would need capabilities not only to control and dominate cyberspace to retain freedom of military action, but also to integrate offensive and defensive cyber operations with its traditional force application. This would call to acquire adversary’s presence in cyber space for targeting for which IAF would need Cyber ISR, Cyber-defence and Cyber-attack capability of its own. Such a capability would not only close the loop between cyberspace and its war fighting functions but also interplay with cyber offensive/defensive operations to be part of its employment concept. Some unique cyber effect capabilities that could be employed are paralysing enemy AD system and communication using malware, executing feints, selective computer destruction of enemy combat systems through online manipulation and invading C2 systems of the enemy to mention a few. The air force will need capabilities to blend its traditional and cyber operations to fly and fight in cyber and aerospace.

Drone Warfare

Conceptually speaking, drones ought to be part of the IAF’s arsenal to fight a smart war, since they are cheap, stealthy, deadly, autonomous and can carry out most manned aircraft roles. Stealthy, network enabled, all weather capable drones can carry out myriad tasks such as EW, ISR, Battle field Air Support and Strikes which can be co-ordinated and dovetailed into the overall campaign. Herein will lie the smartness to selectively use drones in an intense fast paced environment to reduce the risk to expensive manned platforms and yet accomplish the required tasks. When riding on the GIG, they can be used as part of networked operations to locate enemy targets in air and on ground, with their advanced radar and EO/IR sensors and then engage them with on board missiles/bombs, while Drones with EW capability can blind the enemy through electronic jamming under the overall purview of an AWACS. In a future scenario, stealthy manned and unmanned platforms could coordinate on the GIG for greater effects unseen by the enemy to achieve desired results. Drones have also been the weapon of choice against terror given their capability to loiter and attack a target confirmed by the Int agencies/HQs. This capability may be required against our western adversary. We can expect China to use its Sharp Sword stealthy drone which is likely to enter service in 2019-20 against us coupled with its 5th generation fighter aircraft and data linked to perform various operational tasks. Likewise, integration of drones into the IAF’s fighting capability cannot be dispensed with.

Advanced Technology Weapons / 5th Generation Aircraft.

Induction of precision air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons with higher standoff ranges (larger the better) is called for. 5th Generation aircraft are multi-spectral stealth, highly manoeuvrable, agile, network enabled, super-cruise ability, equipped with multi-spectral sensors and a full complement of advanced precision weapons. It brings enhanced survivability, situational awareness, lethality and C2 capability in a dense battlefield environment along with competencies in air dominance, strike, ISR and C2 roles. In the C2 role, a 5th Gen fighter, can offer targeting solutions to 4th Gen/ legacy aircraft or UAVs, having degraded the enemy AD thereby making smart solutions from available assets. It can be further exploited to give a strategic advantage to counter advanced weapons systems of our adversaries.


Air Forces must train for the most demanding scenarios against the adversary’s capabilities (air-to-air, surface-to-air, space and cyber) to develop realistic and executable operational plans. Realistic training requires live or simulated stores/equipment of the enemy which are seldom available. That apart safety considerations, mission complexity, air space and range restrictions, real time commitments and costs limit the amount and extent of training. Solution for realistic training lies in an appropriate mix of Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) scenarios and exercises in conjunction with simulators. LVC environment allows injection of battlefield effects, entities capable of emulating enemy systems, simulated and constructive threats thus creating a real war time scenario in which operators could acquire skills against myriad threats and yet mitigate training risks. LVC solutions sharing common services and data bases containing elements such as terrain, sea, air and cyber or even non-state actors would make training feasible for all three services on a common scenario as part of joint training. Such joint training/simulations and war games would help develop joint plans and operational concepts in various contingencies. LVC media becomes essential to replicate a complex and intense battlefield for training and formulating war fighting concepts.


In future wars, the side that better manages its war fighting arsenal would be the winner. Hence, a networked architecture with cyber war capability using 5th generations weapon systems become essential for the IAF to bring its fires to bear on the enemy and cause the desired effects. It is in this tone that future capabilities for the IAF need to be conceptualised.


Indian Navy :A blue water capable force

Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, AVSM & Bar, VSM, IN (Retd)

Whether in times of peace, tension or conflict, “India wishes to use the seas for her own purposes while dissuading, deterring or preventing others from using them in ways that are to India’s disadvantage”. It is abundantly clear from this axiomatic assertion that India’s use of the seas has both, ‘enabling’ as well as ‘preventive’ connotations.  India has a clear and persistent need to prevent others — ‘State’ entities as well as ‘non-State’ ones — from using the seas in ways that are inimical to her.  The most fundamental ‘inimical’ manifestation of such uses of the sea involve sea-based threats to the territorial integrity of the country itself — as was vividly illustrated by the terrorist attacks in Mumbai between 26 and 29 November 2008. Obviously, in times of State-on-State armed conflict, the sea can also be used (for either offence or defence) either as a primary ‘front’, or to open a new one.

In all environmental conditions short of actual armed-conflict between nation-states, that is, in times of ‘peace’ (including the peculiar oxymoron favoured by some sections of the Indian political establishment: ‘violent peace’) and ‘tension’, a navy seeks to provide its nation with a requisite degree of geo-strategic and geo-political advantage.  In so doing, the navy seeks to ‘shape the probable maritime battle-space’ before the outbreak of armed conflict.  Since this ‘shaping’ takes place in the collective minds of the countries that define (or influence) the probable maritime battle-space, navies — and the nations that own them — are constantly engaged in a process of ‘perception management’.  Within the global maritime context, it is pretty-much a ‘given’ that the effectiveness of a nation’s navy as a geo-strategic and diplomatic instrument is a direct function of perceptions of its military capability. For example, the ‘perception’ of the Indian Navy that India wishes to create and sustain in the minds of regional and extra-regional players of the Indo-Pacific strategic game, is that of a strategically and militarily competent and significant force that cannot be trifled-with or ignored, without unacceptable cost. Thus, even outside the realm of actual armed conflict, the Indian Navy must be able to demonstrate, in terms of both, ‘capacity’ (material wherewithal) and ‘capability’ (individual and institutional skill; organisational, material, logistic and legal structures; and so on) such competence as will support the perception that it seeks to generate and sustain.

Where ‘capacity’ augmentation of the Indian Navy is concerned, the options-of-choice are indigenisation (‘Make for India’, and, ‘Make by India’) on the one hand, and, the ‘Make in India’ programme, on the other. Capacity-augmentation through direct import is viewed an option-of-last-resort, to be exercised only when unavoidable. In considering any of these ‘Make-in-India’ and ‘Make in/by India’ options, a central question is ‘make what?’ (or, for that matter, ‘import what’?).  The answer is best determined through a seven-step process, whose sequence cannot be varied:

Step 1. Generate and teach a common lexicon through apex-level ‘Doctrine’.

Step 2. Articulate India’s ‘Core National Interest’ as derived from our Constitution, i.e., “the economic, material and societal well-being of the ‘People of India’”

Step 3. Identify and articulate India’s ‘Maritime Interests’ flowing both, ‘from’ and ‘into’ the Core National Interest, as subsets that need to be pursued, preserved, promoted and protected.

Step 4. Identify and articulate ‘Indian Naval Objectives’ which, when achieved, will preserve, promote and protect each ‘Maritime Interest’

Step 5. Identify and articulate the ‘Strategies/Plans’ that must be adopted in times of ‘peace’, ‘tension’, and ‘conflict’ to achieve each ‘Naval Objective’

Step 6. Integrate the various strategies into a common ‘Naval Strategy’, while retaining the distinctions between times of ‘peace’, ‘tension’, and ‘conflict’

Step 7.  Determine and articulate the capabilities needed to pursue the integrated strategies through the promulgation of the ‘Maritime Capability Perspective Plan’

Although the new ‘Make-2’ category within the DPP allows industry to make ab-initio offerings of both, platforms and equipment, industry has limited understanding of all seven of these steps and how the navy might fight and what, therefore, the navy might need.  The net result is an inadequate business-strategy in determining the optimum manufacturing-model for products that might address those needs and, general disquiet arising from an inability to identify and offer even ‘low-hanging fruit’.   

It is important to remember that for India and her Navy, ‘Coastal Security’ and core military-preparedness are not mutually exclusive or contradictory propositions.  Indeed, the dictates of ‘coastal security’ are complementary to the Indian Navy’s core military-preparedness, especially since ‘coastal security’ also concerns itself with the safe development and continuous protection of the country’s extensive offshore economic assets. Many young readers would do well to remember that James Carville’s 1992 Clinton-campaign cry: “It’s the economy, stupid”, has been echoed through much of recorded history.  However, while ‘coastal security’ is largely defensive in nature, ‘littoral operations’ (the littoral is an imaginary belt 200 nm on either side of the coastline) are quintessentially offensive. 

The Indian Navy has been designed as a quintessentially ‘blue-water’ capable force and, as such, has a missile-intensive weapon-fit incorporating a predominance of SSMs (Surface-to-Surface Missiles), SAM (Surface-to-Air Missiles) and land-attack missiles. For the perception that we wish to strengthen about the Navy in the minds of the players of the Indo- Pacific strategic game and to take on our adversaries we  must be adequately prepared  to fight both as a ‘blue- water’ navy and in the littoral  or coastal waters as well. Pakistan would endeavour to limit us to the messy and crowded waters of the littoral as the basic operational concept of the Pakistan Navy (because of our superiority) must necessarily be that the minimum number of PN ships meet the minimum number of IN ships — just once. In addition as already stated coastal security and core military preparedness are mutually inclusive.

Some examples of brown-water capacities that the Indian Navy therefore needs would include the following:

•             Unmanned /Autonomous Armed and Unarmed Vehicles in all three mediums, (USVs, UASVs, UUVs, UUAVs, UAVs, UCAVs, etc.) 

• Contemporary Electrical Batteries - especially paper-batteries that might power small, launch-and-forget UAVs.

•             Electrical high-speed outboard motors (OBMs) and noise-cancelling/sound-blanking solutions for

two-stroke and four-stroke IC-engine OBMs.

•             Diver-scooters and Diver-Propulsion Vehicles.

• ‘Low Observable Technology’ semi-submersible craft such as the ‘Alligator’, the ‘Subskimmer’ and the ‘Sea Lion’ [SEAL Insertion, Observation and Neutralisation].

•             Image-recognition software.

•             Electro-magnetic applications, ranging from ‘rail-guns’ to catapults for the launch of carrier-borne aircraft.

At the high-end of armed-conflict, naval platform-and-equipment requirements would include the urgent induction of the following:

•             Shipborne multi-purpose and ASW-specific helicopters

•             Ship-launched-and recovered rotary-wing UAVs and UCAVs

• Contemporary Integrated Underwater Sound Surveillance Systems (IUSS) such as DRAPES (Deep Reliable Acoustic Path Exploitation System) — these are critical to track Chinese nuclear-powered SSNs and SSBNs as they transit between the Pacific and the Indian oceans.   

•             Area-ASW capability such as the air-launched Multi-Static Active Coherent (MAC) Sonobuoy System

•             At least three carrier battle-groups each centred upon a 65-90,000-tonne aircraft carrier with appropriate aircraft.

•             At least four LPD with high-speed LCACs embarked.

•             At least seven fast underway-replenishment ships.

All this, of course, presupposes that India possesses requisite political will and that winds of change can be actually made to blow through the Kafkaesque corridors of our defence bureaucracy.


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