‘Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve and change swiftly; and, technological changes will make responses more difficult to keep pace with. The threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible. Domination of cyberspace will become increasingly important. Control of space may become as critical as that of land, air and sea. Full-scale wars may become rare, but force will remain an instrument of deterrence and influencing behaviour, and the duration of conflicts will be shorter.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Combined Commanders’ Conference in October 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clear and categorical directions to the Combined Commanders of the armed forces is indicative of future threats and challenges to national security. The security challenges for the nation can no longer be defined and definite, as these are varied, conducted in many battle spaces by multiple means driven by a collective ideology, plausibly without any direct attribution and without any overt physical military application of combat power ab-initio.
“Domination of cyberspace will become increasingly important”, is a direction of the Prime Minister, unfortunately we as a nation and the armed forces have not done enough to translate the directions to capabilities. Globally, the second Cold War is widely believed to have started in 2014, however, contours are very different this time. Apart from media and social media, the most exploited arena in this Cold War is the cyber domain.
The Russians are widely believed to be involved in hackings and leaks which had an alleged effect on the US presidential elections. The cyber war however goes much beyond the US and Russia with other nations like Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and China being active participants. Georgia, Iran and Estonia have faced crippling cyberattacks which are thought to be state-sponsored and have proved the power of cyber warfare to shift focus from the conventional to the virtual domain.
India has been the target of nearly 1,852 attacks every minute in 2019 as per a report published by Indian cybersecurity research and software firm Quick Heal. Easy access to the Internet and readily available cyber tools enable ‘lone wolfs’ and ‘non-state actors’ to launch cyberattacks. The advantages of deniability are exploited to the hilt in the cyber domain. There are no traditional and physical boundaries in cyber warfare and it is characterised by anonymity, ambiguity, speed, no warning or indicators and lack of posturing.
In conventional warfare surprise is a critical element and cyberattacks achieve this almost every time. India and especially its armed forces need to be aware of these cyber realities and incorporate appropriate concepts into their warfare strategy. Future wars will be multi-domain multi- dimensional wars waged in many battle spaces across the full spectrum of conflict. Cyber will be the critical factor and the nation with asymmetry in cyberspace will be vulnerable to this low-cost high affect warfare.
CYBER THREATS: INDIAN CONTEXT
As far as India is concerned, our two adversaries, China and Pakistan, pose major challenges in cyberspace, though the cyber threat is all pervasive and can manifest from any source, state and non-state. China has set aside $90 billion for information war in the cyber domain. It is believed that the PLA’s strategic cyber command is integral to the PLA’s Strategic Forces Command, structured to integrate all strategic domains available to the state and directly controlled by the Central Military Commission. It has approximately 1,30,000 personnel on its rolls and pool of additional 2.5 million people who have the basic education and skills in cyber warfare, hacking, espionage, spying and sabotage.
The role of Chinese PLA Unit 61398 and the National Security Agency in launching sophisticated cyber espionage activities is well known and is in open domain. In May 2008, Chinese hackers allegedly broke into India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Chinese hackers are known to have used social networking sites to break into computer networks of the Indian defence establishment like the National Security Council Secretariat, 21 Mountain Artillery Brigade, Air Force Station Delhi, etc. It is also rumoured that the major power grid failure in north India followed by Eastern parts of India in July 2012 including Delhi was a cyberattack engineered by China possibly to check the capabilities.
During the recent Doklam standoff Chinese cyber activities were directed towards India as part of its information warfare, an important component of the three-warfare strategy of PLA. Blackouts in our regional electricity grids and other cyberattacks have been caused by China in the past. It is a matter of concern that almost 80% of our telecommunication equipment is Chinese. They have more than 100 companies manufacturing electronic and telecom products in India. There must be on overhaul of existing rules and regulations with the aim to eliminate Chinese products from critical areas. At present it is near impossible to procure any ICT equipment which is not sourced from China. It is common knowledge that all such equipment has embedded security risks.
The threat from Pakistan is again significant, though their technology prowess is less than China, the motivation levels against their ‘eternal enemy’, India, may be much more. Pakistan has been defacing Indian websites through hacker groups like Pakistan Hackers Club, GForce, etc, in the past. These groups are of the firm belief that they are working for the cause of Kashmir. Lately some groups have taken to social media to discredit the army and cause unrest in the rank and file.
There is a concerted effort by Pakistan for employment of social engineering in cyberspace with special reference to social media. Lone Wolf and non- state actors also pose significant threats. The lack of cyber expertise with such actors is often made up by hiring cyber criminals though the Dark Net for a specified fee. The anonymity factor makes these actors more adventurous as the risk of getting caught or compromised is minimal especially if working from another country.
NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY
Twenty-seven ministries in the Government of India are presently dealing in cyber with varying priorities and funding. Rajeev Bhutani in a CENJOWS paper on A Comprehensive National Cyber Force Structure For India, writes: “India’s response to cyber threats so far has been reactive and fragmented. India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITy), under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) released the country’s first ever National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) on 2 July 2013.
As regards cyber infrastructure, there are as many as six agencies at the apex level, which are dealing with cyber security management: National Information Board (NIB), National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), National Cyber Response Centre (NCRC), and National Technical Research Organization (NTRO).” India needs to create formal structures and organisations to ensure optimal cyber usage and security.
With new technologies like Internet of Everything, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics/Autonomous vehicles are all driven by Cyber space, the key question is are we as a nation future ready. We have over 400 million internet users but lack in critical infrastructure, legal provisions and regulations, security consciousness, secure and sovereign data farms. We have multiple cyber threats which are all encompassing and can target all our sectors from defence to financial, government, transportation, power, media and industry etc.
There is a need to evolve an allencompassing comprehensive national cyber strategy, which defines national objectives, and addresses the security concerns and threats to the nation and in particular the defence forces and operational preparedness and plans. This Strategy should dictate capability building and enhance existing capacities for an effective cyber defence of the armed forces. An effective cyber defence policy and organisation will have to function in concert with all other government departments and organisations under the overall policy framework of the NCA.
Defending the territorial integrity of India in land, sea and air and safeguarding the national interests and assets is the constitutional mandate of the Armed forces. As present and future security threats are multidimensional and multi domain including the all critical cyberspace, the armed forces will have to ensure a secure cyberspace and exploit it as a tool for deterrence. There is imperative that we create structures and systems which enable a secure cyberspace and exploitation to ensure a modern and prosperous India.
PM Modi’s national initiative of DIGITAL INDIA can only take shape if we have the requisite cyber security and cyber technology structures. India needs to create a National Cyber Agency (NCA) by an act of parliament which will be an autonomous body with the requisite authority and funds to govern and administer all aspects of cyber. The NCA should be self-funded, even at an additional one rupee per internet user per month there will be adequate funding for this agency. The NCA will be responsible for cyber security in all its domains and also for creating critical infrastructure and self-reliance in the mid to long term.
It will be much more than a mere regulatory body. On similar lines the states too could create their respective State Cyber Agency which should follow the guidelines and instructions off the NCA. In affect the National Disaster Management Authority model exists and can be replicated with suitable modifications to meet the national cyber security needs. The three critical aspects of cyber security are people, process and technology. There is a continuous effort to plug gaps in these critical aspects through continuous technological upgradation, advisories, guidelines, training and audits.
There is a profusion of armed forces agencies dealing with cyber issues ranging from the Corps of Signals to CERT-Army/Navy/Air Force, the IT departments of various headquarters and the Integrated Defence Staff. The Defence Cyber Agency created in 2019, has been designated as the nodal agency mandated to deal with all cyber security related issues of the Tri Services and Ministry of Defence. These agencies work as per guidelines laid down, in coordination with CERT-In which was created in 2004.
These agencies are mandated for safeguarding the cyber system by creating appropriate standards/ guidelines, rapid emergency response, audits and advice. The processes and guidelines followed are iterative with accountability and responsibilities earmarked. However, the present organisation fall short of meeting even the present-day needs leave aside the future threats and challenges.
CHALLANGES FOR THE ARMED FORCES
The cyber domain is huge and there are going to be 500 million Internet connected devices by 2020 in India. Cyber capabilities are also a major factor of deterrence much like a nation’s nuclear and conventional military capabilities. The Internet has also become a weapon for political, military and economic espionage. The dependence of cyberspace by the military makes it a vulnerable domain for attack by inimical elements.
Attacks can be physically on the facilities where the hardware of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, information, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4I2SR) systems are located, or they can be on the software by distorting the programs which operate the C4I2SR systems. Each service of the Indian armed forces has its own set up for cyber security of critical military assets. This in effect means that the Army, Navy and the Air Force are working in silos and there is hardly any inter communication with respect to this critical aspect.
Actually, the inherent secretive nature of the armed forces does preclude jointness. HQ Integrated Defence Staff has tried to bring in some jointness in this regard but the existing structures may not allow much exchange of cyber information. May be with the raising of the Defence Cyber Agency security will improve and procedures will be streamlined. The Indian armed forces have their own air-gapped networks which give it a high degree of security.
However, we do have a history of cases like the Stuxnet virus, which prove that air gapping alone does not guarantee cyber security. The army’s network is built up on imported hardware and updating of the same often requires connecting machines to the internet which may render the network vulnerable. The low threshold of education and technical knowledge of soldiers remains a cause of concern. Training such a large military on cyber aspects is a problem area.
Also, the inherent fast pace of technology in the cyber domain necessitates re-training periodically which is difficult administratively and we need to come up with new training methods which enable on the job training without compromise on standards. The infrastructure for such training needs should be put in place. The other challenges faced by the defence forces are supply chain dependence on imports especially Chinese, targeted attacks (spear phishing) on machines, lack of adequate structures, low technical HR development in the country, lack of trust in hardware due to poor in house chip manufacturing base in the country, etc.
The Joint Doctrine of the Indian armed forces was released in April 2017. This doctrine is a revised version of the first document which was released in 2006 and addresses the current realities. The Doctrine recognizes the five domains of modern warfare, ie land, sea, air, space and cyberspace. It lays due emphasis on establishment of the Defence Cyber Agency with both offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities.
The nucleus is already in place and is functioning under the HQ Integrated Defence Staff. With the cyber arena now recognized as a new domain of warfare, setting up an optimal force competent to achieve the dual objectives of defending the country from cyberattacks in war and securing the military’s network operations in peace requires deep and pragmatic thought. Most mega armed forces like United States, Russia and China have raised cyber commands with a huge number of cyber warriors who are both professionals and possess an unmatched passion for cyber war fighting.
Most Western countries like the UK, Germany and the Netherlands have also entrusted this responsibility to their defence forces. There is an urgent need to establish a tri-service Cyber Command as envisaged by the Naresh Chandra Task force and the Shekatkar Committee, which should function directly under the Chief of Defence Staff who will be a single point of contact to Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). It should be headed by a three-star general (CinC) from Army/AF/Navy. HQ Cyber Command will have a real- time coordination with NCA and all other organisations.
It will be responsible for both Cyber Defence and Offence. Just as defending the territorial integrity of India is the sole responsibility of the armed forces, they should also be responsible for defending the national interests in cyberspace. The US and China had established their cyber commands in 2010 and their cyber work forces are gaining expertise to forge ahead in cyber war fighting. There is an urgent need to establish a tri services cyber command which should function under the upcoming Chief of Defence Staff who would be answerable to the Cabinet Committee on Security.
It would also help in real time information sharing and coordination with other government cyber agencies like CERT-In. The dedicated mission teams could be adequately decentralised to, say, Division levels and be given specific tasks of cyberattack, cyber defence, support, etc. Deterrence cyber capabilities are not discussed in open domain, but it goes without saying that this aspect should be the mandate of Defence Cyber Agency, as a purely defensive approach is a recipe for disaster. However, to be effective we also need a dedicated and trained workforce, build a cyber culture in the armed forces and have lateral partnerships with other cyber agencies, industry, academia and experts including foreign ones.
The student community must get into cyber mode with passion to ensure that national security is not outsourced in the future. We need to start cyber security and awareness through courses, funded by the IT sector, in schools and colleges. There is a need to change old mindsets in our country and develop in house technology to match the future cyber challenges posed by China and other adversaries. The development of niche expertise within the armed forces and participation of other agencies, including the PPP model also needs deliberation.
The future digitised battlefield will operate in a hostile cyber environment. Disruptions and loss of data and information will be felt at the operational and tactical level. Inadequate cyber warfare capability/cyber security will inflict considerable damage to the Indian defence forces and be detrimental to national security. India’s strategic challenge in cyberspace emanates not just from external threats but is exacerbated by its rapidly increasing digital ecosystem.
A comprehensive National Cyber Force Structure with Cyber Command at the apex will not only allow the Indian armed forces to gear up for cyber war fighting and win a Net-centric war but will also enable synergy with other national agencies/organisations using the cyberspace thereby providing holistic cyber security to the national assets.
Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd) is the former Director General Military Operations, Indian Army, and currently the Director at the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS).
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INS AIRAVAT REACHES JAKARTA WITH COVID RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR INDONESIA
Indian Naval Ship Airavat arrived at the Port of Jakarta, Indonesia, carrying essential COVID-19 relief supplies. The ship has brought five Cryogenic containers containing 100 MT of Liquid Oxygen and 300 Concentrates to support Indonesia in its fight against the ongoing pandemic.
INS Airavat is a Landing Ship Tank (Large) type of ship with a primary role to carry out amphibious operations and is capable of carrying multiple tanks, amphibious vehicles and other military cargo. The ship is also deployed for HADR relief operations and has been a part of various relief efforts across the Indian Ocean Region. India and Indonesia enjoy close cultural and commercial ties. Both countries have been working together in the maritime domain towards a safer Indo-Pacific. The navies regularly carry out joint naval exercises in the form of bilateral exercises and coordinated patrols.
22ND KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS CELEBRATIONS COMMENCE AT DRAS SECTOR IN KASHMIR
The celebrations of 22nd Kargil Vijay Diwas commenced at Kargil War Memorial, Dras on Sunday. Early in the morning, a special event narrating the stories of Operation VIJAY was organized by the Army at Lamochen near Dras where an account of the epic battles on Tololing, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875 and other prominent features was narrated with these very landmarks visible to the audience in front of their eyes. A number of military personnel including the gallantry award winners and families of Kargil War heroes attended the event. The narration took everyone down the memory lane showcasing the daring feat achieved by the valiant soldiers of Indian Army.
Later in the day, the venue of the celebrations shifted to the Kargil War Memorial. A Fusion Military Band put up a display which was followed by a solemn ‘Beating the Retreat’ Ceremony and a Memorial Service, where the attendees paid silent tribute to the fallen heroes. At the memorial, 559 Lamps were also lit, which were a symbolic reminder of lives sacrificed by 559 bravehearts for the Nation. The last event of the day was, ‘A Twilight with Brave Hearts’, with the soldiers at Polo Ground, Dras. In a special tribute to the heroes of Kargil War, musician Aman Chandra enthralled the audience with his musical performance during the eve. Later in the evening, a performance by the Fusion Band of Indian Army along with their lighted pipers was planned as a humble tribute to the valour of our brave soldiers. The trailer of Captain Vikram Batra’s biopic, ‘Shershah’ by Dharma Productions was also released and ‘Maa Teri Kasam’, a soulful and emotive song, conceptualised by Northern Command was screened.
COAST GUARD CARRIES OUT RESCUE AND RELIEF OPERATIONS AMID HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLOODS
Heavy rainfall over past week has triggered devastating floods in various districts of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka and many areas are still waterlogged. Indian Coast Guard was one of the first responders towards providing aid to the general populace at the request of civil authorities which is also one of the charter of duties of ICG, by promptly despatching Disaster Relief Teams (DRT) with inflatable Gemini boat and life saving gears to the affected areas.
ICG DRTs reached areas rendered unapproachable due to water inundation especially in Chiplun & Mahad districts of Maharashtra and Umlijoog, Khargejoog, Bodjug Island and kinnar village in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka and with dedicated efforts evacuated the stranded persons to safety and provided required relief material. At Goa, Coast Guard aircraft have undertaken aerial assessment of Ganjem Dam, Usgaon and Codli areas. Coast Guard helicopter has air dropped approximately 100 kgs of relief materials including food packets and drinking water for the stranded people. ICG efforts have translated in saving of 215 precious lives under the current rescue operation till today across these three states. The services of Coast Guard air station at Ratnagiri are also being extended to IN and IAF aircrafts for airlifting of NDRF teams, relief material and facilitating rescue operations across the affected regions. In addition to the already deployed teams, the Coast Guard DRTs as well as ships & aircraft are standby at high readiness for immediate mobilization for exigencies, if any and a close coordination with local administration is being maintained.
FLOOD RELIEF OPERATIONS BY THREE SERVICES IN MAHARASHTRA, KARNATAKA AND GOA
The three Services have joined hands with the civil administration and national as well as the State Disaster Management authorities in relief and rescue operations in flood-affected areas of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Working in close coordination with the administrations of worst-hit Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra, the Indian Army has deployed Task Forces, comprising Infantry, engineers, communication, recovery and medical teams in the affected areas. The teams conducted rescue and relief operations and saved precious lives in Chiplun, Shirol, Hatkangle, Palus and Miraj areas.
In Karnataka, the Indian Navy mobilised seven well-equipped flood relief teams along with Naval divers, rubber ‘Gemini’ boats, life jackets and medical equipment for flood relief operations. The teams evacuated 165 people from Singudda and Bhaire villages near Kadra Dam, while 70 people were evacuated from low lying areas of Kaiga. Naval Seaking, Advanced Light Helicopters & Indian Air Force MI-17 helicopters conducted multiple sorties and rescued people marooned due to sudden and sharp rise in the water levels. They also conducted aerial survey of the affected areas to enable senior officials to assess the situation and plan rescue and relief operations.
Around 400 personnel of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were airlifted by Indian Air Force aircraft from Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata and Vadodara to Pune, Kolhapur & Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and Goa along with 40 tons of rescue equipment. The teams of the three Services are working round the clock to rescue the locals affected by floods, besides providing them with food, water, medical. More rescue teams and aircraft are on standby for deployment.
INDIAN ARMY INTENSIFIES FLOOD RELIEF OPERATIONS IN MAHARASHTRA
With the unprecedented rains and resultant overflowing of various rivers, a number of areas in Ratnagiri, Kohlapur, Sangli and other districts of Maharashtra have been inundated. On request of civil administration, Southern Command has mobilised flood relief and rescue teams to assist the locals in flood affected areas. A total of 15 flood relief teams from Aundh Military Station and Bombay Engineering Group, Pune have been deployed for flood relief and rescue operations in Sangli, Palus, Burli and Chiplun. The columns are involved in rescue of local villagers stranded in submerged areas and in restoring normalcy in these inundated areas. Over 100 persons have been rescued from the affected areas to safe locations.
The Indian Army is also providing cooked meals and drinking water in tankers to the villagers. Medical camps have also been established wherein medical teams of Army Doctors and Nursing Assistants have been deployed for providing necessary first aid and medicines to locals being evacuated from flood affected areas. The Army also with its deployed engineering efforts cleared the main route at Posare Budruk village of Ratnagiri district which was blocked due to landslide. The Army has established a Flood Relief Operation War Room at the Pune based Headquarters Southern Command to monitor the ongoing situation. Additional 10 flood relief teams have been put on alert for any contingency.
INDIAN NAVY MOBILISES RESCUE TEAMS FOR FLOOD RELIEF AND EVACUATION
With large parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa reeling under extensive flooding of both urban and rural areas caused by incessant rains and consequent overflowing of riverbanks and dams over the last few days, the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy has mobilised considerable resources to provide assistance to State and District administrations of affected areas.
Maharashtra: Based on request received for assistance from civil authorities, a total of seven Naval Flood Rescue Teams (FRT) from Mumbai have been deployed to Ratnagiri and Raigarh districts. One Seaking 42C Helicopter from, Mumbai was deployed for aerial reconnaissance at Poladpur/Raigad. One ALH helicopter from Goa was positioned at Ratnagiri for relief/rescue, additional Flood Rescue Teams are being maintained on a high degree of readiness at Mumbai, for immediate deployment.
Karnataka: At Karwar, Indian Naval Emergency Response Team (ERT) comprising 17 Divers, five Geminis, associated equipment such as Life Jackets and Life Buoys was deployed in the morning hours on Friday in response to a request for assistance from the District Collector, Uttara Kannada. District to rescue people stranded near Kadra Dam, Mallapur Kurnipet, Kaiga due to heavy rains / floods. The team was able to successfully evacuate over 100 stranded people at Singudda and Bhaire villages whilst rescue efforts are being continued at Kaiga and Mallapur. The rescued personnel were shifted to safe locations in coordination with the district administration. In an another swift Search and Rescue mission undertaken at Dongri in Gangavalli river belt, eight personnel stranded in two hotels were air lifted by Naval Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), when local attempts for rescue were unsuccessful. The Naval ALH was launched from Goa and successfully completed rescue of the stranded people in over two hours.
Goa: In addition to providing aerial support to Karwar rescue efforts, A sortie was made to Ganjem near Ponda to check and verify the receding water levels. Another ALH has been deployed at flood affected Ratnagiri to undertake search and rescue missions.
INDIAN NAVY EXERCISES WITH ROYAL NAVY CARRIER STRIKE GROUP
Indian Navy participated in a three-day bilateral Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG)-21 led by HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Bay of Bengal from 21st to 23rd July. The bilateral Maritime Exercise was designed to hone the ability of the two navies to operate together in the maritime domain. The maiden exercise between Indian Navy and the Royal Navy’s latest Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth included participation of CSG-21 comprising Type 23 Frigates and an Astute-class submarine in addition to the other surface combatants. Indian Navy was represented by IN Ships Satpura, Ranvir, Jyoti, Kavaratti, Kulish and a submarine. Anti-Submarine Warfare capable Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft P8I also participated in the exercise.
With the presence of the CSG-21 in the Indian Ocean, the ongoing exercise has afforded excellent opportunity to engage over the entire spectrum of maritime operations including ASW, Anti-Air and Anti-Surface warfare. The exercise also witnessed the maiden participation of the F 35 B Lightning which operate from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Regular IN-RN interactions over the years have augmented their professional content, interoperability and adaptability in the ever-changing security scenarios. The inter-operability achieved over the years has ensured a quantum jump in the complexity and scale of professional exchanges which is being further enhanced by the presence of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group in the Indian Ocean.
Both the UK and India are in the midst of a carrier renaissance, with the CSG spearheading the UK’s Joint Expeditionary capability. The joint endeavour provides tangible security to friends and a credible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security. An Indian warship will also exercise with the Royal Navy off the coast of the UK in August. First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said, “This is a month that will see the Royal Navy and Indian Navy meet and work together in two oceans – beginning in the Indian Ocean as the UK Carrier Strike Group arrives for the first of multiple UK-India exercises and events. Later this summer, both will participate in a separate exercise in the Atlantic Ocean. The deployment is proof of the strength, energy and significance of the growing relationship between our navies.”Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said, “The UK and India are key defence partners and the Carrier Strike Group’s deployment is a symbol of Global Britain in action, showcasing our commitment to India, the Indo-Pacific region, and confronting threats to international order.”Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, mentioned, “As HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group cross the Indian Ocean, it is only natural that we should exercise with the Indian Navy. At the strategic level, the exercise is a muscular expression of the closer defence partnership that Prime Ministers Johnson and Modi envisaged when they agreed the UK-India Roadmap 2030 earlier this year.”
As part of its maiden operational deployment, the CSG will sail over 26,000 nautical miles, engaging with 40 countries from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific and back again. The fifth generation HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier, at 65,000 tonnes, is the largest surface vessel ever constructed in the UK. Taller than Niagara Falls, her propellers generate the power of 50 high-speed trains. She leads six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a frigate from the Netherlands in the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation. It is equipped with the fifth generation F-35B Lightning multi-role aircrafts. They are being jointly crewed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the US Marine Corps. From defending democratic values and tackling shared threats, to seizing new trade opportunities through engagements with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India and others, the deployment marks a step-change in UK engagement in the region. The UK is already investing significantly in the region by seeking ASEAN Dialogue Partner status, kicking off negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and rapidly progressing trade talks with Australia, New Zealand and India.
DRDO CONDUCTS SECOND SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT TEST OF AKASH-NG IN THREE DAYS
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful flight-test of New Generation Akash (Akash-NG), a surface-to-air missile from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha at 1145 hrs on Friday. The test was carried out against a high-speed unmanned aerial target which was successfully intercepted by the missile. The flight test has validated the functioning of complete weapon system consisting of the missile with indigenously developed RF Seeker, Launcher, Multi-Function Radar and Command, Control & Communication system. The test was carried out amidst inclement weather conditions proving the all-weather capability of the weapon system. The system performance was validated through the data captured by a number of Radar, Telemetry and Electro Optical Tracking systems deployed by ITR, Chandipur. A team of Indian Air Force Officers witnessed the test.
First test on Wednesday was done successfully without seeker meeting all the mission requirements
DRDO successfully flight-tested the New Generation Akash Missile from Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the coast of Odisha on Wednesday. The flight trial was conducted at around 12:45 pm from a land-based platform with all weapon system elements such as Multifunction Radar, Command, Control & Communication System and launcher participating in deployment configuration. The missile system has been developed by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories. The launch was witnessed by the representatives of Indian Air Force. In order to capture flight data, ITR deployed a number of Range stations like, Electro Optical Tracking System, Radar and Telemetry. The flawless performance of the entire weapon system has been confirmed by complete flight data captured by these systems. During the test, the missile demonstrated high manoeuvrability required for neutralising fast and agile aerial threats. Once deployed, the Akash-NG weapon system will prove to be a force multiplier for the air defence capability of the Indian Air Force. Production agencies Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) also participated in the trials.
Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh has congratulated DRDO, Indian Air Force and the Industry on the second successful flight test of Akash-NG in a span of three days. He said the development of this state-of-the-art missile system will prove to be a force multiplier for air defence capabilities of Indian Air Force. Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy congratulated the teams for successful trial of Akash NG which is capable of intercepting high speed and agile aerial threats.
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