Growing Panache of Indian Military Might - Part 1

Post date: Oct 08, 2018 5:51:24 AM

By SACRIR Defense Desk Editor: Swarna Surjya Chakraborty

'Raksha' the Sanskrit meaning of the word ‘Defense’ is most often used nowadays as Double Entendre. Today defense is not about protection but also about assertion of power to keep enemies at Bay. As a Nation with one of the most ancient civilizations in the world India has witnessed foreign aggression time and again resulting in its reduced territorial land limits and infiltrated cultural identities. Right from Alexander to the British or lately Chinese, India always stood to lose from every single incidence of invasion. With a size as big to be called a sub-continent India never had much unity among her hundreds of princely states when it came to building a united credible defense force. It was Chanakya, the Indian Sun Tzu, who first understood this deficiency and instrumented proper tenets towards a United Bharat – the ‘Akhand Bharat'.

The Post Independence (1947 A.D.): The Nehruvian era saw India finding itself in the league of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Nations finally ending up in the Anti US group led by the erstwhile U.S.S.R. It is U.S.S.R that became India's first overseas defense partner in its quest for protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Up to late 80s’ most of India's defense purchases were sourced from Russia after U.S.S.R disintegrated. This caused a huge footprint of Russian legacy in India’s defense industry.

The Modern Context post U.S.S.R disintegration: The fall of the Soviet era posed a serious threat to Indian Arms Industry as spare parts weren’t readily available for the Russian infrastructure ecosystems as a lot of defense manufacturers in Soviet Union were now Independent Nations like Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. To fill this void in serviceable hardware India decided to turn towards the Western European countries like France, U.K. and Sweden apart from finding potential defense partners in Israel and in U.S.

India’s Current Capabilities.

India is a Nuclear Power Nation since 1970s but today being Nuclear doesn’t make you a super power unless you can carry out your strikes inside enemy territory and breach their defense shields. Though not a signatory of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) & Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) India's doctrine of ‘No First Use of Nuclear weapons’ makes it a responsible Nuclear power. India also ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) for banning the use and test of Chemical weapons. India is on the verge of a tectonic shift in their defense tactics and consider more on conventional strikes and credible deterrence.

The Indian Army:

With the second largest standing army in the world comprising of around 12 Lakh active and 10 Lakh reserved personnel India is becoming deadlier when comes to combat capabilities. Unlike other services the Indian Army consumes a lot of ‘Made in India’ equipment and the list is expanding. India's infantry and artillery regiments are equipped with a reasonably good equipment list. It currently operates ageing Russian T72 (Ajeya) and T90 (Bhishm) tanks considered as one of the best in its class even today complemented by the home grown Arjun Mk2. The new generation Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) is in development stage and is expected to become the Main battle tank and game changer for India owing to its state of the art fire power, Anti radiation shield and toughest armor for frontline defense. India also developed a self-propelled armored artillery gun K9 Vajra in collaboration with South Korea for second line defense. The aftermath of the Kargil conflict exposed several weaknesses when it came to raw assault capabilities and this led to the procurement of ultra light M777 howitzer towed guns from US. India also inducted its own Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) manufactured 'Indian Bofors' called the 'Dhanush’ 155mm caliber howitzer which can fire at an incredible rate of 60 rounds per minute. India has also called to replace it’s age old INSAS assault rifles with new sophisticated ones and a quotation for around 5,00,000 units has already been floated. Also a new defense requisition has been made to OFB for the procurement of light Bullet proof vest for the army. India also developed its own multi barreled rocket launcher called Pinaka. Apart from all these Indian Army has its own tactical air support unit called the Army Aviation Corp which was also developed analyzing the Kargil operation where Army needed to request Air Force for mountain attack missions. The Army aviation currently operates helicopters like Hindusthan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Rudra and indigenous HAL LCH for close combat situations. Besides HAL Dhruva and HAL Cheetah are used for transport and logistical support. India is also going to get Boeing Apache attack helicopters and medium lift transport Chinook helicopters from US as well.

Long strike capabilities: Indian Army has at their disposal an array of missiles meant for different purposes. The DRDO & BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) developed Akash is a surface to air missile capable of striking aerial targets 30 km far at a peak altitude of 18000m. The Prithvi series missiles are tactical short range surface to surface ballistic missiles with range up to 600 km with small payloads. India also has a surface to surface short range hypersonic cruise missile named Shaurya. Besides India is months away from inducting the latest Agni 5 nuclear capable MIRV ICBM.

Agni 5: India's first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) has a range of 5000 to 8000 km enough to cover the whole of China or North Korea and capable of carrying nuclear warhead. Also Agni 5 is Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) capable which makes it impossible to neutralize at the terminal phase as an anti missile system cannot take down multiple warheads at one go making it very lethal. However there is no official confirmation on Agni 6 which was believed to come as an advanced avatar of the Agni series.

Pralay: India is currently testing this short range tactical surface to surface ballistic missile meant to bridge the gap between Prithvi series and Agni series.

However the icing on the cake is the indigenously produced and co-developed by Russia & India the world's most advanced multi role supersonic cruise missile – ‘The Brahmos'. It is very lethal due to the very high kinetic energy it generates as well as not so predictable end flight path. The second iteration of Brahmos with a hypersonic speed of Mach 7 is under advanced stage of development.

Air Missile Defense Shield: India has developed its own Missile interceptor system Pradyumna for medium range ballistic missile countering. It has also developed an advanced air defense shield called Ashwin. Besides India has also order the most advanced air defense system S-400 from Russia and NASAM from U.S.

India is again reportedly working on Anti Radiation Missiles to take on enemy advanced warning system.

To boost local manufacturing Government has asked private parties like Tata, Ashoke Leyland and Mahindra to participate in Army bulk transport vehicles.

NAVIC: ISRO has gifted India's own Regional Navigation System and according to reports the precision of this system would be 5m for Civilian use and 2m for military purpose which would provide an unmatched combating edge to the armed forces in difficult terrains. The NAVIC stands for Navigation using Indian Constellation and unlike GPS, Glonass, Galileo and Beideu this system uses a constellation of 7 satellites to provide Navigation in Indian subcontinent only and thus the accuracy is quite high.

What not so cool for the Army: India's indigenous Arjun battle tank is too heavy for its cause resulting in an underwhelming performance. Apart from that India still lacks a proper skill in engine development for armored vehicles. Also India still lacks specialization in sophisticated assault rifles and carbines as the Indian INSAS is far from meeting global standards. Besides Indian army suffers too much casualty in counter insurgency operation. They need proper electronic surveillance systems, effective Droning and good social networking to mitigate this teething issues.

Contd... To Next Part

Disclaimer: Some information are sourced from various public domain and open sources like, MoD portals, Wiki, Journals etc.