Army Air Defence widens wings
The current evolution of the Army Air Defence (AAD) is influenced by the Indian Army’s reorientation from the western boundaries to the northern borders in the wake of the 2020 standoff with China, as well as lessons learned from the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Akashteer Project
The Automated Air Defence Control & Reporting System, or “Project Akashteer,” will give the Indian Army’s Air Defence units a native, cutting-edge capacity that will allow them to successfully function in concert. Akashteer would make it possible to monitor low-level airspace above Indian Army battle zones and efficiently manage Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems.
Defence Electronics Research Laboratory in Hyderabad created the Sarang, an upgraded Electronic Support Measure system for Indian Navy helicopters, as part of the Samudrika programme. Over three years, the programme will create over two lakh man-days of work.
Both initiatives would promote involvement from Indian Electronics and related sectors, particularly MSMEs that serve as BEL’s subcontractors.
Points to Ponder:
- Following the 2020 standoff with China, the Indian Army has changed its emphasis from the western borders to the northern frontiers, which has caused the Army Air Defence (AAD) to change its focus.
- Lessons from the continuing conflict in Ukraine have also informed how the AAD has changed.
- To create a thorough picture of air defence for monitoring, tracking, and engaging air defence assets, Project Akashteer, a networking and automation programme akin to the Indian Air Force’s Integrated Air Command and Control System network, is now being developed.
- The Akashteer project intends to connect all AAD radars and command centres, eradicating overlaps or duplications, and integrating all weaponry. It will also make it possible to communicate with the network of the Indian Air Force.
- The requirements for air defence on the northern frontiers differ from those on the western front. There is a need for mobile weapon systems and lightweight radars that can be deployed in difficult terrain and meet infantry needs.
- Lessons learned during the conflict in Ukraine have brought to light new threats to air defence, such as swarm drones, loitering munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and cruise missiles.
- To properly combat these threats, the Indian Army is purchasing MANPADS with laser beam-riding and night vision capabilities.
- Radar modules based on gallium nitride are being examined because they would be lighter, which is essential for deployment in mountainous areas.
- The Army is concentrating on countermeasures against loitering munitions, such as active electronically scanned array radars, high-rate gun systems, enhanced optic sights, and fragmented ammo.
- A deal with Bharat Dynamics Limited for two regiments of enhanced Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems designed for mountain warfare was signed in March 2023, totalling around Rs. 8,160 crores.
- Given that the Akash SAM systems are already in production and domestic capability has been built, delivery and induction of the systems are anticipated to occur within the next few years.
- The war in Ukraine has resulted in a global shortage of parts and equipment for air defence systems, which could potentially slow down the rate of introductions. Radar chip shortages, which are primarily imported, could cause delays in production and delivery.