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Testing of defence systems: New tool of adversarial response

India has, of late, tested a number of weapons and defence systems. Coming in a concentrated
manner during an ongoing LAC standoff with China raises an obvious question whether these
tests were pre-planned, or they have been orchestrated in response to the current face-off

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)

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India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured. 

Since Chinese intrusion in May 2020, India has tested a number of weapons and defence systems. These tests range from missiles to hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HTDV). Most of these tests have been successful. Coming in a concentrated manner during an ongoing border spat with China raises an obvious question whether these tests were pre-planned or they have been orchestrated in response to the current India-China face-off. 

Given the manner in which the tests have been conducted, it is obvious that they have been done as a response to the faceoff. Therefore, the next obvious question is: What purpose are they serving? Question assumes importance because it is common knowledge that the period between testing and operationalisation of a weapon system takes considerable time. In fact some systems have been inordinately delayed; for example the Trishul, Akash and Nag, the Arjun tank, Nishant UAV have taken so long to develop that they are now obsolete. This aspect is a common knowledge and it is highly unlikely that China will be unduly concerned by these tests. But to assume that the current phase of testing various types of missiles is mere optics meant to demonstrate the Government of India’s intent to counter the Chinese threat may also not be true. A subterranean analysis is needed to decipher the gains that these tests will provide to India’s defence preparedness. The recent statement of DRDO chief G. Satheesh Reddy that “India has achieved selfreliance in the field of missile systems and can produce whatever is required by the armed forces within the country itself” would have been based on a realistic appraisal of DRDO’s capability and not merely an emotional response post these tests. 

SYSTEMS TESTED IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS

 11 tests of various types of missile systems were conducted successfully by DRDO. Only testing of Nirbhay subsonic missile having a range of 1000 km conducted on 12 October, 20 developed a snag and had to be aborted. Some of the important defence systems tested in the recent past are discussed below.

 1) Test of SMART system

 India successfully tested indigenously developed “game changer” SMART (Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo) torpedo system on 5 October 2020 for the first time. SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight antisubmarine torpedo systems for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations far beyond the torpedo range. This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing anti-submarine warfare capabilities of India. However, the point to be noted is that this was the first test and many subsystems of the missile are yet to be tested. It will take considerable time to operationalise the missile.

 2) Testing of 400-km BrahMos 

. Testing of India successfully test-fired on 30 September 2020, over 400- km strike range Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. The surface-to-surface cruise missile, featuring indigenous booster and airframe section along with other Made in India subsystems, blasted off from the launching complexIII of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) near here, a defence statement said. 

3) Test Firing of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle

 India on 8 September 2020, successfully tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle putting India in a select group of nations. This small club includes the US, Russia and China. After the AntiSatellite Test conducted last year, this is the biggest achievement by DRDO in terms of proving new technology. It is a dual use technology. It can also be configured to deliver nuclear warheads as well. While the USA has refrained from its operationalisation, Russia and China plan to use it for nuclear weapon delivery also. In the civil arena, it can be used to launch small satellites at cheaper cost. India has just done a technology demonstration.

 4) Test Firing of Shaurya Missile Test

 Firing of Shaurya Missile. India successfully test-fired a new version of nuclear-capable Shaurya Missile on 4 October 2020. The new missile would be inducted in the strategic forces to complement one of the existing missiles in the same class. DRDO claims it to be amongst the top 10 missiles in the world. Shaurya missiles have a very small profile. It is truck portable and can be launched from either from a single truck or a silo. Hence, it can be located anywhere. Moreover as per DRDO it cannot be detected by satellite imaging, the sources said. Given its short range, portability, difficulty of detection and nuclear capability it is an ideal tactical missile it would be an ideal deterrence weapon in the super high altitude terrain of Tibet. Strategic Forces Command it is believed is in the process of operationalising it in the Ladakh region shortly.

 5) Test of Laser Guided Anti-Tank Missile

 Test of Laser Guided Antitank Missile. On 23 September 2020, DRDO successfully test fired laser-guided anti-tank guided missile. The laser-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is supposed to enhance the firepower capability of the Indian Army particularly along the frontiers with Pakistan and China. There is a long felt need by the Indian Army for an indigenous ATGM and the success of this venture has been eluding the DRDO since long.

 6) Test Firing of Dhruvastra 

Test Firing of Dhruvastra. India’s indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ was test-was fired on 23 July 2020. India has successfully conducted three flight tests of its indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.

 7) Test Firing of Prithvi-II Test

 Firing of Prithvi-II. Indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile was test fired on 24 September 2020. The trial of the missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from ITR complex. This missile is already operational. It was a user trial test. Under the garb of testing, besides validating technical parameters, it provided the much needed practice to the users to deploy and fire this weapon if called upon into battle. It should go to the credit of SFC and the DRDO to utilize the flurry of tests to enhance the defence preparedness of the users. 

8) Test Firing of ASAT

 Last year in March, India test-fired an A-SAT missile under ‘Mission Shakti’. The Successful testing has demonstrated its anti-satellite technology.

 9) Test Firing of Rudram Missile 

In continuation of testing various missiles, India successfully test-fired Rudram 1, its first anti-radiation missile designed to take down enemy radars on 9 October 2020. The antiradiation missile can be launched from Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets. The missile has a launch speed of up to 2 Mach, twice the speed of sound. This will enhance our air combat power manifold and it is hoped that the DRDO will operationalize this capability at the earliest. 

Analysis of the testing Game

 Limited Value: While India’s operational capabilities do not get a boost by such tests in the short term, it does convey a strategic message of India’s increasing technical capabilities and the resolve to deal with our adversary. Having said that, on the flip side we must not get complacent by these tests and continue to be realistic on their impact on the enemy. In fact, some experts say that “the surge of tests by the DRDO is welcome; however, ability to deploy these systems needs greater emphasis and visibility.” If the aim of these tests is signalling to the domestic audience it may have served the purpose, but experts are unlikely to be impressed. Historically too, if we take the record of the journey from final testing to operationalisation of a weapon system, it varies from 8 to 10 years. For example, Prithvi 1 was tested in 1988 and finally it came into service in 1994. Similar story exists for most of the systems under development by DRDO. The technology demonstrator to operationalisation is a journey by itself and incurs considerable financial commitment besides technical, human expertise and financial challenges of commercialization and finally operationalisation.

 Likely Gains

 Enhanced Technical Prowess: Above limitations notwithstanding, the missile journey of India is a success story, comparable to any leading military power in the world. On the positive side, a number of advantages these weapon tests bring to the table. Weapon tests do add up to a country’s technological capabilities. 

Hard Power Image:

 Conducting the weapon tests in a concentrated manner during an ongoing face off conveys an image of strong hard power orientation and resolve of the nation to its adversary. China though not worried by these tests would be cautious while responding to us especially since most of our existing systems provide dual capability of conventional and unconventional employment. Encourage Defence Exports:

 Successful testing of new defence weapon systems generate acceptability of India’s capability to produce quality weapon systems that too at much lesser cost. This will facilitate export of defence systems by India. It is therefore not surprising that in the past few years our export of defence systems have increased by 700 percent in the last three years. India is now exporting defence weapons and equipment to 42 countries, which includes the likes of US, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, and Sweden, Azerbaijan, Seychelles, Estonia, Indonesia, Guinea and the Philippines. India’s exports in 2014 stood at meager Rs 2,000 crore, which in 2019 stood at Rs 17,000 crore and India intends to increase it by $5 billion (about Rs 35,000 crore) in the next 5 years. Improved technological threshold will encourage our neighbouring countries to go in for imports from India. Countering Chinese Influence on our Neighbours: 

Increased acceptability of defence equipment due to display of high end technology demonstration will also help in weaning our neighbours away from Chinese influence. For example the decision to provide a Kilo Class Submarine, Tanks, artillery guns, ammunition for T-72 tanks, radars, sonars and 500 bullet proof jackets to Myanmar’s military may have been influenced by India’s increasing technological capabilities. A similar help to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will go a long way in countering the Chinese influence in our backyard. 

Enhanced Defence Preparedness:

Increased testing leads to induction of indigenous equipment in the long – run at lower costs. Also, some of the equipment tested are on the verge of being inducted into the service such as the Shaurya missile system. There are reports that Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has begun looking for deployment of the weapon system in Ladakh. Further, these tests also help in providing the much needed user practice and revalidation of existing stockpile of our systems. Conduct of the 350 km range Prithivi 2 from the existing stockpile is a case in point. Deployment of Shaurya missile, world’s top 10 missile and ability to practice and validate existing strategic weapons does give us a better response capability against our arch rival China.

Parting Words

 India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured. But it makes it up with the Integrated Missile Development programme and the Space programme. Fortunately these are systems of the future and when coupled with its niche technology development programme in robotics, artificial intelligence, ship building and UAVs we expect India to rapidly move in the direction of self-reliance especially if the private defence sector is boosted appropriately. The new DAP 2020 with an option for leasing of defence systems is a good provision to tide over our short term needs at relatively lower costs till we achieve greater selfreliance and increase our exports as rightly aimed by the present government. It would not be out of sync to mention that India is on the path of projecting itself as a significant power in the region and the testing of new defence systems is a right step in that direction. 

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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