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Modernisation of The Indian Army

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In September 2019 the Indian Government finalised a road map to spend $130 billion in the next five to seven years to modernise the Armed Forces and bolster their capabilities to effectively counter the challenges from the adversaries. The plan includes acquisition of a wide variety of weaponry to include missiles, warships, drones, fighter jets, surveillance equipment and creation of architecture for Artificial Intelligence. The Indian Army will also receive its due share and undertake its ongoing modernisation at a deliberate pace. The Indian Army has undertaken in the preceding year effort to restructure and optimise its manpower for greater finances to be available for procurement. We will look at the various aspects and commensurate with it, analyse the restructuring of the Indian Army.

In a report appearing in the Economic Times on August 2, 2019, it was stated that the process of restructuring the Indian Army is taking place after obtaining necessary approvals. In Army Headquarters about 300 Officers are being redeployed. Next the concept of the Integrated Battle Groups referred as the IBG is being introduced in the formations. They are being initially tested in the plains sector of the Western theatre. They are light brigade level organic groups capable of undertaking swift actions. Thereafter they would be tested possibly in the mountains. The Mountain Strike Corps is being made leaner and a new Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy) is being established. Further Information Warfare is being given high priority. A newly created branch would deal with this subject which would operate under a Director General who will report to the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy). The aim of the reforms is to cut down the overall strength by about 150,000 personnel over the next 5 to 7 years. Four internal studies dealing with right sizing, reorganisation of Army Headquarters, cadre review of officers and review of terms of engagement of rank and file are under processing. Apart from these, a Human Rights Cell and a Vigilance Cell has been established. Keeping these aspects in view it would be pertinent to assess the state of modernisation of the Indian Army.

Infantry Modernisation

Despite problems, tremendous efforts are being made to modernise the infantry at a deliberate pace. A lot of progress has been made to acquire a modern rifle, Machine Gun and Carbine. In October 2017, the Army began the process to acquire around 700,000 rifles, 44,000 Light Machine Guns (LMGs) and nearly 44,600 Carbines. Around the same time, the Army rejected an Assault Rifle built by Rifle Factory Ishapore after it failed during user trials. Accordingly there was a need for Assault Rifles on a Fast Track Mode. A contract was signed by the Ministry of Defence and the US firm Sig Sauer for procurement of 72,400 assault rifles. The Army would receive 66,400 units, while the Navy will get 2,000 and the Air Force 4,000. The first batch of 10,000 SIG 716 Assault Rifles arrived in India on December 11, 2019. The rifle fires a 7.62×51 mm Cartridge. Apart from these, the AK 203 Kalashnikov rifle will be the mainstay of the Indian Army. A Joint Venture between Ordnance Factory Board and Russia will be made at the factory in Amethi which will receive an indent of over 600,000 rifles from the Indian Army. In all probability the Carbine and the Light Machine Gun will be manufactured in the same factory.


Another important development is the aspect pertaining to Bullet Proof Jackets. Ordnance Factory Board has produced a light weight Bullet Proof Jacket which will be provided to the Indian Army which has a requirement of about 186,000 items. Further, Major Anoop Mishra of College of Military Engineering has developed a Bullet Proof Jacket which has been found to be successful and will be manufactured by the private sector.

In June 2019 India and Israel finally signed a deal for the Spike Missile. This entailed a purchase of 12 launchers and 210 missiles. In November 2019 they were test fired and proved to be successful. As the DRDO man pack missile would be available by 2022, there may be a need to import additional Spikes for the interregnum.

Digital Battlefield

The current Government has always been keen on digitising military applications. Broadly there are four important aspects in the field of Battle field digitisation, which in military parlance is termed as Network Centric Warfare. These are Information Sharing, Improved Situation Awareness, Speed of Command and Enhanced Mission Effectiveness. This is characterised by the aspects of Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition.The Indian Army has been taking baby steps towards the process of digitisation. The entire transformation which was aptly described as systems technology in 1970 to system of systems 1980 onward to a family of systems in the 21st century has resulted in a New Generation Network which enables forces to obtain precise target information in real time leading to quick responsive engagements causing effective destruction of designated targets.

As far as the Indian Army is concerned the digitisation is handled by the Directorate General of Information Systems which deals with this important element of Non Contact Warfare. The heart of the system is Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) which comprises Tactical Command Control Communications and Information System (Tac C3I). the Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS), Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS), Air Defence Control & Reporting System (ADC&RS), Electronic Warfare System (EWS) and Electronic Intelligence System (ELINT). The Tac C3 I is to provide state of the art connectivity from the Corps HQ and below. Upward connectivity from Corps HQ to Army HQ is to be provided by the Army Strategic Operational Information Dissemination System (ASTROIDS). However, there is a lacuna as no connectivity exists at unit and sub-unit level. Accordingly there is a requirement to provide an automated Battle Management System (BMS) for the sub- bvvbvv units to enable them to have sensors, platforms, weapon systems integrated with individual soldiers, to enable them to exploit their assets and translate plans into synergised operations at the lowest level

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The BMS as applicable to the Indian Army is a command and control system providing real/near real time situational awareness as also information exchange for unit commanders and below down to individual soldiers/platforms to enable optimal management of resources within the Tactical Battle Area (TBA). The BMS will be mobile and integrated with sensors, weapon platforms and decision making tools. The system will provide Common Operating Picture (COP), Situation Awareness to all entities in the TBA networked with secure, robust and reliable communication system supporting voice, data and real time video services. It will comprise of hand held information system with individual soldiers as well as man portable and vehicle mounted information system. All these would be integrated through data enabled communication networks. Further the BMS will produce COP by Geographic Information System (GIS) reference frame work and provide Blue Force Tracking (BFT) using satellite navigation systems. The aim is to have the shortest OODA loop for the soldiers as also a flexible system architecture facilitating quick attachments and detachments. Further the systems must be capable of quick deployment and have the capability to disseminate position reports in a GPS disabled environment relying on alternative Inertial Navigation Systems with GLONASS in loop. Latest inputs received state that the system has foreclosed the project due to non-availability of funds

While the Information systems are being net worked steps are being undertaken to provide sensors as also modern platforms comprising tanks, guns, rockets and missiles. Phase 1 of ACCCS has been completed and practically 40 per cent of Artillery units are equipped with state-of-the-art networks. There are few observations by the Scientific Analysis Group of Defence Research and Development Organisation which once settled will see acceleration in the induction process. Tac C3I and BSS are in the final test bed. EWS, ELINT and ADC&RS are in the process of development. The main Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU) involved is Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the main Defence and Research laboratory is Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR). It would take about three to four years to see induction of these systems.

As regards sensors we have currently acquired Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Battle Field Surveillance Radars, Weapon Locating Radars, Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS), Thermal Imaging Intensification Observation Equipment (TIIOE), N Cross night vision equipment, Hand Held Thermal Imaging (HHTI) equipment, night vision binoculars and Unattended Ground Sensors. The quantities held are minimal and greater numbers are needed for improved Battle Field Transparency. Apart from these, the Indian Army needs satellites as also Aerostats for wider coverage of its Area of Influence.

Adding Punch to Armour, Artillery and Air Defence

There is a need to add punch to the Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry which have to be deployed in the Mountains. With upgradation of roads the T-72 tank and the BMP-2 are deployed in Ladakh. However, there is a need to procure a light tank for our mechanised forces. DRDO is developing a prototype based on the Sarath chassis and the BAE system Combat Vehicle 90 as also other makes could be evaluated.

Currently the most important tank in our inventory is the T-90S. This is a third generation Russian tank. By 2020, India would have a total of 2,011 T-90 tanks working out to about 40 Armoured Regiments. There are also six additional regiments being raised for High Altitude conditions. . The Indian Army is upgrading about 1,600 T-72 tanks with night vision devices and the rest would comprise indigenous Arjun tank which is heavier than the T-90 has a 120mm gun which fire APFSDS, HEAT, High Explosive (HE) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH). The tank fires the LAHAT missile. This is a semi active laser homing missile with a range of 8 km. The Arjun Mk II is undergoing trials with about 75 modifications.

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The BMP-2 is our main APC which has excellent mobility and is equipped with a 30 mm Cannon and fires the Konkurs missile which has a range of 4 Km. Further it has two thermobaric missiles which range up to 6 Km. A decision has been taken to upgrade 1,600 BMP-2 with a 350 Horse Power (HP) engine.The Indian Army currently also has 700 BMP-1s in active service. The Future Infantry Combat Vehicle project is in a state of limbo as also the Future Ready Combat Vehicle.

Artillery is the predominant arm as regards Firepower. The year 2019 saw the induction of the 155 mm Dhanush, the Ultra-Light Howitzer M-777 and the Self Propelled 155 mm Vajra. Further the Long Range Pinaka would be on user trials and possibly inducted by 2022.The Artillery is moving on to Precision Guided Munitions and possibly undertaking trials of state-of-the-art PGMs. Further Hypersonic BrahMos may possibly be inducted in about 2 years.

The Army Air Defence is an extremely important arm as it provides Low Level Air Defence in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA). Currently, the Army Air Defence is awaiting the induction of VShorad Igla S-24 missiles. On December 24, 2019, DRDO confirmed successful development trials of the 30-Km range Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM). The missile is likely to be available for user trials in 2020 and is likely to be cleared for production by 2021.

Other Areas

High Technology aspects concern Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Nano Technology, Lethal Automatic Weapon Systems Directed Energy Weapons, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare. Research in all these fields are moving at a steady pace. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are in a nascent stage of development. Rapid strides are needed to be taken in the field of Nano technology as it would lead to reduction of size and weight which would be suitable for our High Altitude and Glaciated regions. Direct energy weapons are being developed by China and there is a need to expedite their development. We need to build up our credible deterrence in the field of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare.

Threats from China and Pakistan leave us with no option but to undertake modernisation at a fast pace. The Indian Army is currently involved in meeting challenges at the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC). All out efforts must be made by all concerned to expedite modernisation optimising the process initiated by the present Government.

Source: India Strategic
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