Current News - National - Defence
On 25th Sept, in a formal ceremony at the Hindan Air Force Station in Uttar Pradesh, the Indian Air Force (IAF) officially inducted its first C-295 transport aircraft, following its delivery from the Airbus facility in Seville, Spain.
- Induction Ceremony: The medium lift tactical aircraft, capable of operating from unprepared landing grounds, will replace the HS-748 Avro aircraft.
- Aircraft Acquisition: India formalized the acquisition of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft in September 2021 to replace the legacy Avro fleet of the IAF, with a total cost of Rs 21,935 crore.
- Production of aircraft components has commenced in Hyderabad, with the Vadodara Final Assembly Line (FAL) set to be operational by November next year.
- The first India-made C295 is expected to roll out in September 2026, with the final delivery to the IAF slated for August 2031.
- 'Make in India' Aerospace: The C295 aircraft will be produced under India's first-ever 'Make in India' Aerospace program in the private sector, breaking the long-standing monopoly of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in military aircraft manufacturing.
The Indian Navy's indigenous warship, INS Sahyadri, currently mission-deployed in the Indo-Pacific, engaged in its inaugural trilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise alongside ships and aircraft from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Indonesian Navy on September 20-21, 2023.
- Enhancing Regional Stability: The trilateral exercise served as an invaluable opportunity for these three maritime nations to reinforce their partnership and bolster their collective capacity in promoting a stable, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region.
- Sharing Expertise: The exercise facilitated the exchange of knowledge and expertise among the participating navies. It provided an arena for leveraging each other's experience, contributing to improved readiness and cooperation.
- Comprehensive Training: The exercise encompassed intricate tactical and maneuvering drills, cross-deck visits, and cross-deck landings of integral helicopters.
- These activities were undertaken to enhance crew training and boost interoperability among the naval forces involved.
- INS Sahyadri: INS Sahyadri, the third vessel in the indigenously designed and constructed Project-17 class multirole stealth frigates, was constructed at Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai.
The Indian Army has recently added 600 domestically-produced self-neutralizing anti-tank mines called "Vibhav" to its arsenal, representing a significant boost to India's defence capabilities in countering armoured threats.
- Collaborative Creation: The 'Vibhav' anti-tank mines are a result of collaboration between the Indian Army and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- These mines are designed for point-attack against enemy armoured vehicles, showcasing India's commitment to independent defence capability development.
- Cutting-Edge Technology: 'Vibhav' mines are constructed using advanced plastic materials, ensuring durability and strength for storage, handling, and deployment in various field conditions.
- Versatile Defence: 'Vibhav' mines are specifically engineered to deliver mobility kill effects against all types of enemy armoured vehicles, offering formidable defence whether laid mechanically or manually.
- Enhanced Safety Features: Equipped with an electronic anti-handling and anti-lift device (EAHALD), 'Vibhav' remains active for 120 days once armed, increasing its effectiveness and safety.
- Mechanical timers are integrated, enabling self-neutralization after 120 days, minimizing the risk of unintended consequences.
- Multiple safety and actuation mechanisms ensure secure handling for operators while maintaining lethal capabilities against armoured vehicles.
Recently, the Defence Ministry has granted approval for the acquisition of a regiment of Pralay tactical ballistic missiles, marking the first-ever induction of a ballistic missile for conventional operations in the Indian military.
- New Capability: The Defence Ministry's approval paves the way for the Indian Army to acquire a regiment of Pralay tactical ballistic missiles, capable of striking targets within a range of 150–500 km.
- Historic Move: This marks the inaugural deployment of a ballistic missile for conventional military operations, representing a significant development, as stated by senior defence officials.
- Production Status: The Pralay missiles are currently in the process of mass production and are expected to become operational in the near future.
- Broad Strategy: The acquisition of these missiles aligns with a broader strategic objective to establish a strategic rocket force, a concept championed by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.
- Proven Effectiveness: Pralay missiles underwent successful testing on two consecutive days in December, demonstrating their reliability and effectiveness.
- Advanced Technology: The Pralay missiles are propelled by a solid-propellant rocket motor and incorporate innovative technologies, poised to significantly enhance the Indian Army's offensive capabilities.
Recently, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved proposals totaling Rs 45,000 crore, encompassing the acquisition of 12 Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft and indigenous Dhruvastra short-range air-to-surface missiles for the Indian Air Force, along with several other platforms and weapon systems for the armed forces.
- Acceptance of Necessity for Su-30 MKI Aircraft: The DAC, headed by the Defence Minister, granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- Initial Step: AoN marks the initial step in the procurement process, with the grant of AoN not guaranteeing a final order.
- Russian-Origin Aircraft: Su-30 MKI jets, of Russian origin, have a commendable flight safety record.
- Fleet Restoration: The induction of these aircraft will help restore the IAF's Su-30 fleet to planned levels by replacing lost aircraft over the years during training.
- Dhruvastra Indigenous Missiles: DAC also approved AoN for the procurement of Dhruvastra short-range air-to-surface missiles, designed to be fired from the HAL-made Advanced Light Helicopters Mk-IV.
- Dornier Aircraft Avionics: Proposals for avionics upgradation of Dornier aircraft were cleared, which will enhance operational accuracy for the IAF.
- LAMV and ISAT-S: DAC granted AoN for Light Armoured Multipurpose Vehicles (LAMV) and Integrated Surveillance and Targeting System (ISAT-S) to enhance protection, mobility, attack capability, and survivability of the Army’s mechanized forces.
- HMV Gun Towing Vehicles: Procurement proposals for High Mobility Vehicle (HMV) Gun Towing Vehicles for rapid mobilization and deployment of artillery guns and radars for the Army were also approved.
- Next Generation Survey Vessels: The DAC gave the green light for Next Generation Survey Vessels to bolster the Navy's hydrographic operations.
- Defence Acquisition Procedure: All procurements will be made from Indian vendors in accordance with relevant categories of the Defence Acquisition Procedure, governing all capital acquisitions of the ministry.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is set to build the world's highest fighter airfield in Ladakh's Nyoma region, with the foundation stone for the project to be laid by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 12th September at the Devak Bridge.
- Proactive Infrastructure Development: The Chief of BRO, expressed confidence that India would surpass China in terms of infrastructure development along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) within the next two to three years.
- Recent Accomplishments: Over the past 2-3 years, the BRO has completed 295 projects with a combined value of ₹11,000 crore.
- These accomplishments reflect a commitment to enhancing infrastructure along the 3,488 km stretch of the LAC.
- Increased Budget Allocation: The central government has significantly increased its budget allocation for border infrastructure development in recent years.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Drone Federation of India are set to jointly host Bharat Drone Shakti - 2023 at the IAF airbase in Hindan, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, starting from 25th September, 2023.
- Showcasing Drone Advancements: Bharat Drone Shakti - 2023 will span two days and serve as a platform to highlight the growing significance of drones in India, both in the military and civil sectors.
- Live Aerial Demonstrations: The event will feature more than 50 live aerial demonstrations, showcasing the capabilities of the Indian drone industry.
- These demonstrations will encompass various drone applications, including survey drones, agriculture drones, fire suppression drones, and tactical surveillance drones.
- Participation of Start-Ups and Corporates: Over 75 drone start-ups and corporate entities are expected to participate, underlining the breadth and depth of the drone ecosystem in India.
- Global Drone Hub Vision: The Ministry of Defence stated that this event aligns with India's aspiration to become a global hub for drones by 2030. It underscores India's commitment to nurturing and showcasing drone technology and innovation.
Recently, a cutting-edge autonomous anti-drone system, driven by artificial intelligence (AI), was revealed by a Hyderabad-based robotics company.
This innovative system is capable of safeguarding not only critical installations like nuclear facilities and oil rigs but also vast areas, potentially covering entire cities, from various types of drones.
- Introduction of Indrajaal: Grene Robotics, a deep-tech firm specializing in AI-powered security solutions for defence, enterprise, and government sectors, showcased this advanced drone security system named "Indrajaal."
- Indrajaal is recognized as the world's exclusive wide-area Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS), offering a comprehensive and integrated security solution against agile threats that static defences cannot effectively counter.
- Indrajaal's Design and Capabilities: Indrajaal employs a LEGO-like combination mechanism, incorporating 12 distinct layers of AI-powered technology.
- It offers 360-degree protection, capable of real-time detection, identification, classification, tracking, and neutralization of threats.
- The system's response time can be as short as 30 seconds to a few minutes.
- Indrajaal can defend against various classes and levels of autonomous drones across an expansive area of 4,000 square kilometers.
- Rising Hostile UAV Activity: The increase in hostile UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) activity in India has become a growing concern. Incidents include attempts to drop weapons, money, and narcotics across the border and missions to surveil Indian security forces.
- Differentiating Friendly and Threatening Drones: Grene Robotics emphasizes that the future will witness extensive drone activity, with the majority being friendly drones rather than threats. Indrajaal possesses the capability to distinguish between friendly and hostile drones.
- Cost and Practicality: The cost of implementing Indrajaal is considered reasonable, with a ballpark figure of Rs. 5 crore, making it a justifiable capital infrastructure cost for safeguarding critical facilities.
- Limitations of Current Deployments: Existing drone defense systems have limitations, as standalone systems are neither scalable nor practical.
- Radar-based detection is inaccurate for low radar cross-section (RCS) drones close to the ground, and it cannot identify the operating radio frequency.
- Jamming can only delay an attack, laser weapons require specific conditions, and there is no countermeasure against swarm attacks.
- Point defense systems relying on physical sighting are ineffective against moving drone targets.
On 1st September, India launched its latest warship, Mahendragiri, at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders in Mumbai, marking a significant stride in the nation's defence indigenization program.
- Project 17A Frigates: Mahendragiri, named after an Eastern Ghats mountain peak in Odisha, is the seventh vessel of the Project 17A Frigates.
- These frigates are an evolution of the Project 17 Class Frigates (Shivalik Class), featuring enhanced stealth capabilities, advanced weaponry, sensors, and platform management systems.
- Symbol of Indigenous Defence: The newly christened Mahendragiri represents a technologically advanced warship and symbolizes India's commitment to embracing its naval heritage while advancing its capabilities in indigenous defense.
- Multiple Constructors: Under the Project 17A program, M/s MDL (Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders) is constructing four ships, and M/s GRSE (Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers) is building three ships.
- In-House Design: Project 17A ships have been designed internally by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau, highlighting the country's dedication to self-reliance.
- Aatma Nirbharata Commitment: Around 75% of equipment and systems orders for Project 17A ships have been placed with indigenous firms, including Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), aligning with India's self-reliance agenda.
- National Progress: The launch of Mahendragiri signifies the remarkable strides India has made in establishing a self-reliant naval force, reflecting the country's ongoing commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities.
Recently, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has established a nine-member committee, led by K Vijay Raghavan, former Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, to review and improve the functioning of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with the aim of bolstering India's self-reliance in the military sector.
- Objectives: The committee's goal is to offer recommendations for refining the role of the state-owned agency and enhancing its output within the military domain.
- Timeline: The committee has been granted a three-month window to deliver its report, as indicated by government insiders.
- Addressing Accountability and Professionalism: With approximately 7,000 scientists employed by DRDO, the ministry acknowledges the necessity of establishing accountability, promoting professionalism, and implementing time-bound delivery mechanisms within the organization.
- Post-Report Action Plan: Upon receiving the committee's report, the MoD intends to conduct a brainstorming session, engaging domain experts from both domestic and international sources, to devise a comprehensive strategy based on the recommendations.
- Committee Members and Terms of Reference: The committee objectives include redefining DRDO's role, engaging with academia and industry for futuristic technologies, fostering a skilled workforce with performance accountability, and streamlining administrative and financial systems.
- CAG Report and Previous Review: The decision to assess DRDO's operations stems from a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India that criticized the organization for labeling 20 mission mode projects as 'successful' despite not achieving their goals.