Wednesday, March 23, 2016

India's Defence Industey. By Saurav Jha

In early January 2016, speaking after he inaugurated a new Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) helicopter unit in Tumkaru, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly stated that ‘If India has to be self-reliant in the area of security according to our armed forces needs’, it has to ‘make its own weapons’. This was quite in keeping with the emerging centrality of indigenous weapons’ manufacture to Modi’s ‘Make in India’ vision as evidenced by Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar’s view that ’the requirement for domestic production of defence equipment is more than for any other sector’ and that ‘achieving self-reliance and reducing dependence on foreign countries in defence is a necessity today rather than a choice, both for strategic and economic reasons’.

Naturally, such a doctrine must reflect itself in a concrete reorientation of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) towards a decided emphasis on sourcing indigenously designed, developed and manufactured systems for it to be credible. Long in the making, the contours of this re-orientation have now been unveiled and reveal an attempt to foster indigenisation while balancing competing pressures and interests. For Indian industry, defence is now seen as a ‘recession proof’ business and the privileging of local manufacture with no discrimination between public and private entities has been a long standing demand by it.

Given India’s muted private investment cycle, it was only a matter time before the government would have had to step up public spending in order to ensure employment generating growth. Now one of the major ‘non-plan’ heads under the Union budget is of course the allocation for defence (excluding pensions and civil expenses by MoD), accounting for about 13-14 percent of overall government spending annually. Forty percent of the total allocation for defence is typically reserved for capital expenditure. And of that 40 percent, a significant portion leaks to foreign lands each year, something that is now an unsustainable proposition. After all, a country also imports influence along with weapons’ purchases from abroad. Instead, the priority now is to keep much of the capital component of the defence budget ‘in country’ and use it to widen the defence industrial base (DIB) in a bid to spark a new wave of industrialisation. India’s broad industrialisation target is to increase the share of manufacturing output in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 15 percent to about 25 percent by 2025. Military industries, with their positive techno-economic second order effects and high value nature are being seen as an important means to attain that goal. In fact, India’s ever growing domestic requirements will be used as an anchor to expand the DIB with the concurrent aim of becoming a major military systems exporter in the years ahead. Though projections vary, a 3-5 percent global market share by 2030 is certainly not outside the realm of possibility for India’s DIB. Incidentally, the MoD intends to raise Indian defence exports to the level of a billion dollars annually by 2020.

It is in the late 2020s, 2027 to be precise, that the Dhirendra Singh (DS) Committee tasked with reworking DPP- 2013 (the last version of the DPP before DPP-2016, which will be released this year) by the Modi administration, will find India eventually attain the long cherished goal of reaching 70 percent indigenisation levels. In recent years, the ‘foreign exchange component’ has accounted for around 50 percent of MoD’s capital expenditure and this represents an outflow of $ 6-8 billion annually.

To be sure, in the period 2013-15, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AON) primarily to proposals in the ‘Buy’ (Indian) and ‘Buy and Make’ (Indian) categories under DPP-2013, something whose impact will be felt in terms of reducing foreign outflows in the years ahead. For instance, in 2014-15, of the 56 AoNs accorded by the DAC for a total value of Rs 117829 Crores, 40 AoNs, amounting to Rs 111070 Crores were from the ‘Make’, ‘Buy’ (Indian) and ‘Buy & Make’ (Indian) categories. And in 2013-14 only 6 out of 34 AONs went to the ‘Buy’ (Global) category for a potential order value of only 371 Crores which represents just 2 percent of the total value of all AONs approved in that period.

Nevertheless, there is a fair bit of concern about the level of ‘indigenous content’ (IC) in systems that are being procured even under the ‘Make’, ‘Buy’ (Indian) and ‘Buy and Make’ (Indian) categories. In many cases, domestic value capture is less than 25 percent even under the ‘Buy’ (Indian) format. Naturally higher IC is desirable not just for operational security reasons (OPSEC) but also to generate greater employment through military procurements by increasing the number of component suppliers who’ll chiefly be micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Indeed, one of the key reasons for the ‘Make in India’ push in the defence sector is the fact that military related manufacturing is still relatively labour intensive and has the potential to generate several higher wage middle class jobs. According to some projections, an Indian DIB that can cater to 70 percent of annual needs by 2027 will lead to the creation of almost a million new domestic jobs despite an expected doubling of productivity in that period.

As such, the DS committee has made a strong case for increasing IC in Indian military procurements and this recommendation seems to have been accepted by the government. The DS committee has also pointed out the role played by ‘preferred categorisation’ of procurement modes in DPP-2013 which privileges ‘Buy’ (Indian), ‘Buy and Make’ (Indian) and ‘Make’ over ‘Buy and Make’ and ‘Buy’ (Global), in shifting prospective procurements towards more domestic heavy categories as encapsulated in the nature of AON’s accorded. In fact, the imposition of procedural discipline in DPP-2013 at the ‘Statement of Case’ (SoC) stage, wherein a proposal to select a given category, say ‘Buy’ (Global), needs to incorporate a justification for excluding more preferred categories such as ‘Buy’ (Indian) etc , has played a major role in reducing import heavy plans from the military’s side.

In keeping with the DS committee’s view that this process be consolidated in favour of indigenous developments and higher IC, MoD has announced the introduction of a new category in the soon to be released DPP-2016 called ‘Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured’ (IDDM) which will be accorded precedence over all existing categories in the DPP i.e even over ‘Buy’ (Indian). Any system that has been designed and developed in India with IC levels of at least 40 percent will be considered as eligible for IDDM categorisation. Interestingly, IDDM will have another mode of categorisation wherein any system with over 60 percent IC levels will also be earmarked for potential preference in procurements through this category.

The introduction of IDDM underlines the importance being accorded to buying homegrown systems wherein the systems level Intellectual Property (IP) resides in India, since that is a key determinant of value capture in high end systems and the basis for a truly capable defence industry that will remain competitive in the years ahead. An Indian product built using Indian design standards and procedures will also be far easier to modify and maintain, which are crucial considerations when inducting major weapon systems that need to serve for decades. Now the minimum IC criteria for IDDM does indicate that while IP is very important, the product must indeed be something that relies on the Indian industrial eco-system without which the advantages of design ownership will get eroded to an extent, with OPSEC and cost concerns emerging for major sub-systems. Moreover, only higher IC serves the other aims of deepening the DIB and generating employment.

What constitutes ‘Designed and Developed’ in India will however need to be clearly specified in DPP-2016, because this is bound to lead to a lot acrimony between various players in the Indian defence landscape. While smaller players who have mostly homegrown systems in segments such as simulators will welcome it, some of the larger players may consider themselves shortchanged, since the origin of some of their key ‘indigenous offerings’ lies elsewhere and they may still not have access to the full systems level IP. On the other hand, if ‘designed and developed’ is kept vague, yet others who have actually invested in ‘in-house’ R&D and own IP will be worried if only ‘partly Indian’ systems easily qualify for IDDM categorisation. Either way, there are going to be increasing calls for a delineation of what in design terms will qualify to be an IDDM category proposal.

In the case of IC however, DPP-2013 itself clearly outlines how it is to be measured and the thrust for greater IC as we have mentioned above will continue apace. And even as higher IC requirements for most procurement categories will be mandated in DPP-2016, other steps to encourage domestic manufacturers to increase IC in their offerings are already being taken. An example of this would be the extension of exchange rate variation (ERV) protection to all Indian companies irrespective of whether they publicly or privately owned. This is expected to nudge Indian companies towards compliance with DPP-2013 norms which explicitly rule out showing sub-vendor imports at the tier III or IV level as IC, since any incorporation of a sub-vendor’s import as IC would hurt the main vendor himself if the rupee depreciates.

Another move that is expected to support higher IC levels is the recent removal of excise and customs duty exemptions given to PSUs that’ll make sourcing components and sub-assemblies that much more expensive for them. Now given that PSUs continue to account for 90 percent of all defence manufacturing in India, this measure would be particularly effective in boosting IC levels if PSUs were simultaneously not allowed to ‘pass thru’ the resultant higher costs in the short run to their customers. Instead, key PSUs such as HAL need to be pushed to expand their domestic vendor base through greater outsourcing and India’s DIB needs to come together to create an updated database of existing vendors. These measures, which have also been recommended by the DS committee will go a long way in expanding India’s MSME base beyond the 6000 or so MSMEs which are currently supported primarily by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). For HAL however, the share of imports in total expenditure has actually risen from 80 percent in 2001 to 96 percent in 2012.

The outsourcing push to domestic MSMEs is also reflected in the removal of licensing requirements in June 2014 for most parts, components, sub-systems, testing and production equipment. Worldwide, 80 percent of any major weapons’ system is typically outsourced to sub-vendors who are chiefly MSMEs and it is time that the Indian defence industrial eco-system began to exhibit such features as well. According to MoD, the idea is to make MSMEs beneficiaries of about 30 percent of the total capital expenditure on defence.

Beyond acting as sub-vendors, it is primarily in the realm of some of the relatively smaller value Indian Army procurements both in low and high technology areas where MSMEs can hope to become even suppliers of whole systems. Indian Army’s ever growing equipment pool requires a vast range of systems, some of which though low volume in nature will entail rapid innovation, an area where agile MSMEs can actually succeed. In any case, Indian private sector players whether big or small do seem to have their eye on prospective IA related requirements to grow their defence practice, as it were. A large fraction of the 307 Letters of Intents (LOIs)/Industrial Licenses (ILs) issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to some 182 companies till October 2015 have been for land warfare systems or for electronics items that can easily have land warfare applications among other uses. Till date, 50 licensed companies covering 79 ILs have reported commencement of production and even partial commencement is now enough to stave of withdrawal of license. Importantly, the initial validity of ILs granted under the IDR Act have been increased from 7 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend an IL by another 3 years on a case-to-case basis. These relaxed regulations are naturally intended to attract greater private interest in a number of ‘Make’ programmes that are now at the planning stage.

Indeed, as the DS committee report emphasises, the focus of military procurement must see a shift towards ‘Make’ programmes with high IC in tune with the requirements outlined in Long Term Integrated Perspective Plans (LTIPPs) as well as a more detailed Technology Perspective Capability Roadmap (TPCR). In order to defray the risk associated with these technology intensive programmes under the ‘Make’ category, MoD has also announced changes to the way in which ‘Make’ programmes will be executed. DPP-2016 will modify the existing ‘Make’ rules to include three types of programmes.

In the first type, termed ‘Make I’, the government will fund 90 per cent of the prototype development cost i.e 10 percent more than the current outlay of 80 percent as specified by DPP-2013. Moreover, if a successful prototype fails to get an order within 24 months of completion of development, the concerned vendor will be refunded its share of expenditure (i.e 10 percent) incurred in developing the prototype. This rule is expected to make it easier for vendors to incur expenses in a risky high ‘cost of capital environment’ reassured that a significant portion of their cost is likely to be recovered even if orders are not placed. The second type deemed ‘Make II’ will involve industry funding for prototype development and if a tender is not issued within two years of successful prototype development, MoD would refund the entire development cost to the duly selected vendor. The third mode called ‘Make III’, is reserved for MSMEs and involves industry funded projects with a development cost of less than Rs 3 crore, with the development cost once again being refunded to the chosen vendor if a tender is not issued within 24 months of successful prototype development.

Whilst the two big ‘Make’ projects currently seeing deployment, the Integrated Materiel Management Online System (IMMOLS) and the Integrated Air Defence Command and Control system (IACCS) have been Indian Air Force programmes, in the near future it is IA which is going to drive some of the bigger ‘Make’ schemes such as the Tactical Communication System (TCS), Battlefield Management Systems (BMS) and Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programmes. These programmes will of course be governed by DPP versions older than DPP-2016, but some of their specific features point to the shape of things to come. While all ‘Make’ programmes till DPP-2013 pertain to ‘high technology complex systems or critical components/equipment for any weapon system to be designed, developed and produced indigenously’, the TCS programme was considered particularly dependent on being able to leverage cutting edge technology, which is why a 45 percent weightage had been given to the ‘access to critical technologies’ criteria. Even in the case of the FICV project this head has a 31.37 percent weightage. But in the case of both TCS and BMS, commercial assessment of a vendor’s turnover, profit, net worth and physical assets have weights of only zero and 10 percent respectively. In the case of the FICV project the weightage given to commercial assessment is 26.08 percent however.

What this reveals is that in times to come ‘Make’ projects in the C4ISR category requiring a ‘network of networks’ approach will give the utmost weightage to a vendor’s in house R&D capabilities and/or ability to secure access to IP from elsewhere. For more traditional systems such as armoured vehicles and other platforms more traditional parameters that take into account commercial assessments will matter considerably in addition to considerations of technology and IC levels, the latter being specified at a minimum of 30 percent for ‘Make’ projects under DPP-2013.

The DS committee in turn has recommended that for platforms of ‘strategic importance’ the L-1 competitive bidding route can be junked altogether in favour of inviting a ‘strategic partner’ (SP) from the private sector for the creation of long term capacity in a particular segment. Since the primary focus of SPs would be to support sustainability and bring forth incremental improvements in platform capability through technology insertions over their lifetimes they would need to have competence in system engineering, supply chain management to manage life cycle support, and should be companies that are looking for assured revenue streams based on long term partnerships, rather than those who could prefer one off contracts from time to time.

The DS committee’s SP model recommendation is based on the view that markets for major weapons platforms typically do not lend themselves to competitive models owing to a variety of factors including their inability to support more than a handful of players. The SP model recommendation has been accepted by the government and the VK Atre Committee set up to give it detailed shape has decided that it will be pursued for large projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore in  two categories. The first category would include partnerships in the fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, submarine, armoured fighting vehicles, aero-engines, guns and warship segments. Each of these segments will see the selection of only one SP based on a minimum qualifying criteria which will include at least 51 percent Indian ownership, a minimum annual turnover of Rs 4000 crores for the past three years, a CRISIL ‘A’ rating, revenue growth of at least 5 percent in the past 5 years and a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 3:1. A second category under the SP model that will look at metallic materials and alloys, non-metallic materials and ammunition will however see the selection of up to two partners from private industry. Final evaluation will give a 50 per cent to technical parameters, 30 per cent to financial parameters and 20 per cent to platform specific criteria.

Clearly, the emerging details of the SP concept indicate that the government undeniably intends to distribute very large programmes amongst groups with established industrial capability. The limiting of the number of SPs to only one in key platform segments is an indication that it wishes to avoid the bidding related acrimony that has been seen in the past, for say the FICV programme, where a company like Tata Motors could narrowly miss out being selected based on a slightly ad hoc financial criteria. Instead, in the SP model the government will undertake a rigorous audit of interested firms who will have to allow inspection of their books for this end.

It is worth noting that each SP in the designated segments will be chosen over and above the capacities that exist in the public sector. So it must be kept in mind that while the government may be leveling the playing field by issuing longer term licenses, extending ERV protection to all Indian companies and subjecting public firms to the same tax structure, it will not let existing public capacity wither away. With over 120,000 employees and 41 factories spread out across India, OFB will continue to be a recipient of massive orders. Even in the case of the FICV program, MoD has duly nominated OFB to be one of the contending ‘Development Agencies’ for this ‘Make’ programme. OFB has also been receiving steady ammunition orders under the revenue head of the defence budget.

Among the eligible private players for any programme, technical competency and IC levels in their wares will obviously be key considerations for successful selection in the years ahead. Given the emphasis being placed on indigenous IP, as epitomised by IDDM, companies that have had long associations with DRDO, whatever their size, and those invested in R&D, will find themselves in an advantageous position. Long term involvement in DRDO projects has also given private sector primes such as L&T and Tata Power SED access to a potentially larger domestic vendor base that will be important to meet IC requirements.

The SP concept is a clear indication that the government wants private sector primes to focus on one or two areas of core competency and legacy capability. This means that new companies incorporated in various segments, irrespective of whether they are backed by very large conglomerates are unlikely to make much headway in securing key orders from the Indian military. Moreover, given that the new offset guidelines indicated by MoD say that only tenders worth over Rs 2000 crore will require offset packages instead of the current Rs 300 crore, the scope to build a defence practice through creating greenfield capacity is also dwindling. This is on account of the fact that future offsets though of a higher value on the average will mostly be of a ‘direct or directed’ nature wherein they’ll be used to source key technology in lieu of large orders placed with foreign majors. In any case the number of offset opportunities themselves will reduce greatly on account of far fewer ‘Buy’ (Global) tender. In the years ahead, success in the Indian defence market will come to those companies that invest in R&D, are able to work closely with the public sector and are in the game for the long haul.


The Aerial Threat and Necessity for Air Defence

During the American Civil War, in August 1861, Union Forces used a balloon to observe Confederate Forces massing against Washington. Using a rifled 6 pounder, the Confederates fired several rounds at the balloon. They scored no hits but the fire caused the balloon to be brought down. Since the time such balloons were used to observe or throw bombs or other hostile weapons against ground troops, the counter to these actions have always been keeping pace against such hostile air action as its natural fallout. Balloons made way for very sophisticated flying machines, which could cause awesome devastation, and as a counter, the 6-pounder has been replaced by a family of surface-to-air weapon systems consisting of radars, guns and missiles, which when deployed in a coordinated manner, can sanitise an expanse of air space for a particular period of time against unfriendly aerial activity.  Air power and the nature of aerial threat is undergoing a dynamic change. Today, air power no longer connotes manned combat aircraft alone, but is shifting towards the realm of unmanned platforms. The air threat matrix, wherein the use of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapons have become a rule rather than exception and is now defined by players like attack helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), cruise and ballistic missiles, Electronic Warfare, Anti-Radiation Missiles, smart, intelligent and precision guided munitions; and in times to come space based weapon platforms, will dominate the battlefield. Technology has made a cutting edge impact in all facets of air power, transforming it into an aerospace power. Therefore, not only is there a crying need for land based air defence of the country's air space but also the need for integration of effort in terms of management and employment of all air defence resources. Air defence, at the national level, necessitates an overall integrated approach in order to perform its intended role. In India, although Indian Air Force is overall responsible for air defence of the nation, the army, navy and the air force have their own air defence branches with weapons which fall under the operational control of the Indian Air Force. 

Requirements for Air Defence

The ground, air and naval combat forces must be allowed maximum freedom of manoeuvre and therefore, must be able to ensure that multiple aerial threats in a particular geographical area is taken care of in the short span of a few seconds available for engagement. Therefore, there is a requirement for shifting layers, mobility, varying ranges to provide flexibility in air defence. These layers will also have to be tiered to provide multiple punishment at area and point defence levels. Air defence will also have to be lethal and capable of engaging at enhanced ranges with a mix of guns and missiles with added capability of handling multiple targets. These measures should also be able to have a networked grid of long and medium range surface to air missiles (SAMs) facilitating plug and play operation to provide area air defence cover to all assets. The system must also have a modularly designed identification of friend and foe system which can be compatible with all users of air space to prevent fratricide. It must be able to have gap free surveillance and ability to act against non-state actors, capability against unconventional measures and finally an apex organisation for consolidated control of all air defence assets and seamless integration with theatre missile defence. Having all these in the air defence organisations would naturally make such organisations complex and consequently more expensive. It would therefore, be prohibitive for any country to have state-of-the-art air defence always and every time. Therefore, the solution has to be a judicious mix of different technologies with updation and upgrades. 

Layers of Air Defence

As mentioned earlier, air defence has to be layered and tiered to ensure that its assets in terms of static, semi static and mobile assets survive aerial threats. The outermost layer is usually provided for by the air force in terms of interceptors supplemented by long range Surface to Air Missiles (LRSAMs). These are additionally buffeted with Medium Range SAMs (MRSAMs), Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORADS) and finally the close in weapon system (CIWS) constituting rapid firing guns with programmed ammunition or a mix of guns and missiles as per importance of the assets being protected. The LRSAMs have a chain of radars and control system providing early warning information. These are deployed to ensure that the air threats are taken care of at the longest distance. Similarly, the navy also has its concentric air defence or defence in layers with various types of ships each of which has various air defence weapons of different ranges and capability. Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (CIWS) is part of the US Army's Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar systems used to detect and destroy incoming rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets. It also helps provide early warning of attacks. Therefore, it is important that we need to have a look at what is available in all these segments with a particular interest to the available air defence equipment in our neighbourhood.

Point Air Defence

         Point air defence can be explained as the measures adopted to provide air defence of a single object or a small area, e.g. a ship, bridge, building or an airfield usually against aerial threats. These weapons have smaller range, greater flexibility and within the sight of the vulnerable point that it protects.  The point air defence is generally provided with close-in weapon systems on ships and airfields or a mix of land based very short SAM systems for example a combination of Polish Loara or Rheinmetall Skyshield gun system with AHEAD ammunition alone or in combination with man portable missile systems like RBS 70NG, Stinger or Igla S. These are cheaper compared to long range complex air defence missiles and are well suited to provide terminal stage air defence both against aircraft and helicopters as well as against mortars and missiles too. But such systems will have to be deployed in all important points where there is an aerial threat. There is a school of thought propagating that “there is no need for guns in the modern air defence arsenal and all guns need to be replaced with missiles”. What is required is that the final stage of air defence or point defence or the final CIWS should be a gun-missile mix to incorporate all the advantages of the non jammable guns. Today, many countries have the outdated L70, Zu-23 twin barreled and Zsu-23 Schilka guns which need to be replaced with more efficient guns systems like the Skyshield, Loara, German Mantis system and their self-propelled counter parts like Gepard, Tunguska M1, Pantsir or the South Korean Doosan systems. The gun systems are generally to engage in the range of 4 to 6 km and the missiles in the range of 6-10 km thus providing two layers of defence against aerial threats. In fact, the Russian Tunguska and the Pantsyr are gun missile systems mounted on single combat vehicle and can be very effective against low flying aerial threats in the mobile battle field. 

The Pakistani point air defence consists of limited quantities of modern radar controlled 35 mm Oerlikon guns with Skyguard radars and RBS-70 SAMs with Giraffe Radars in this segment. These are deployed to protect vital installations and air assets. Similarly the mobile assets get point air defence from a weapon mix of optically laid, manually controlled 37 mm, 14.5 mm guns and RBS-70 missiles mounted on APC M-113. Apart from this, the Pakistani army air defence also deploys older version shoulder fired infra-red (IR) or laser beam riding missiles like SA-7, Redeye, Chinese made HN-5, indigenous Anza or US made Stinger missiles independently or along with a number of 14.5mm Guns to protect a point. 

            The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air defence however, has much better equipment in terms of quantities for point air defence. The PLA uses a mix of guns and short range SAMs or two varieties of SAMs for point air defence. In terms of guns the PLA has towed 57mm and twin barreled 37mm guns. The gun missile mixes are mostly vehicle or track based. The Type 95 system has CLC-1 search radar with four 25 mm guns mounted on the vehicle along with four QW2 heat seeking missiles. Along with this, they have CLC-2 search radar based on a separate vehicle. The system has been developed to bring about an equivalent of Russian Zsu-4 Schilka weapon system.
Next in line is the latest 8x8 vehicle version called Lundun 2000 which has a Type 730B gun considered to be a copy of the Goalkeeper 30mm CIWS and is also thought to be a copy of the Avenger gun used on the US A10 aircraft. Recently, an addition of six TY90 SAMs is aimed at equating it to Russian Pantsyr in terms of role. The system is equipped with a counter rocket, artillery and munition (C-RAM) role by the PLA. There is a Type 90 variant of the 35 mm guns initially licensed by Oerlikon which has been made into a radar controlled guns system with good mobility by adding a heavy mobility vehicle and a Type 902 radar system. Similarly, the Chinese are reported to have been able to clone the Crotale SAM in their latest version called HQ7B/FM 90 based on a 6x6 vehicle with the missiles reported to have a range greater than 10 kms. The HQ6/HQ61 again is employed as point defence SAMs. These have now been improved to LY60/HQ64 system which is reported to be a clone of Italian Selenia (Alenia) Aspide MkI SAM system with greater range of upto 20 kms. A copy of AN/TWQ- 1 Avenger of US is thought to be the FB6A system which again uses TY90 SAMs. Then there is the LS II AD system (Lie Shou ‘Hunter’) with a mixed missile armaments of two SD-10/PL-12 and two PL-9C SAMs. The system again is based on a heavy mobility vehicle with a search radar, electro optical system and a laser range finder. Other point defence systems with the Chinese PLA are FLV-1/FLG-1/FL 2000 wheeled air defence system with QW1A lightweight SAMs, Yi Tian WZ551 wheeled system with short ranged SAMs (TY90 variety) with a range of upto 6 km and then there are the shoulder fired SAMs like QW2 and FN 16. Thus, the Chinese have based their point defence based on mobile components made out of radar controlled guns, very short ranged and short ranged SAMs. The quantities are thought to be adequate but the efficacy is something which needs verification.

Short Range or Medium Range Area Air Defence

The next tier in air defence is termed as short range and depending on how the nomenclature with respect to range is used, some may even classify this in the category of medium range air defence. The short range is generally in the range of 20 to 30 km with a height of 3-4 km and medium range extends upto 50 km. There could be various versions of these with high mobility versions mounted on high mobility vehicles like Tatra, Tata or Ashok Leyland 8x8 vehicles or could even be mounted on tracked chassis.
Indigenously produced by DRDO, Akash, is the most modern version of this type of missile system now with the Indian Army and Air Force. Such systems are a complex combination of radars which carry out electronic scanning and provide information known as air situation picture to the next level of radars which are tracking radars. These continue to track the targets assigned to them and even guide the missile from their launchers to destroy the tracked targets. In the short range variety, the common ones that are available are Tor M2K (successor of the versatile OSA-AK) and Pantsyr system (without gun version) of Russia, MBDA manufactured SPADA 2000/ASPIDE 2000 missile system which is a ground based missile system capable of operating in dense ECM environments to provide all weather area defence against combat aircraft and incoming missiles. Another important system from the Israeli stable is the remodeled air to air missile Derby and Python by Rafael which makes a combination of these missiles into a system called SPYDER.  The SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) is an advanced ground based anti-aircraft missile system that uses surface-to-air versions of the Python-5 and Derby missiles. The Swedish company Saab is also a player in this segment with their BAMSE missile system and Giraffe surveillance radar. The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) of Raytheon is a highly adaptable mid-range solution for operational air defence requirement. The system provides a tailor-made, state-of-the-art defence system that can maximise their ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, UAV or cruise missile threats.

Two missiles come to mind in the medium range variety: the Russian Buk (beech tree) System owing to the alleged role of the equipment as reported by the media in the infamous case of downing of the Malaysian Airplane over Ukraine in 2014. In true terms it was developed as the successor of Kvadrat and Kub missiles. The Israeli Barak 1 converted to Barak 8 (lightning) is one of the most modern MRSAMs. The missile is mounted on mobile vehicles and is vertically launched active seeker missiles. These translate into actual fire and forget capability with multiple engagement scenarios and capability for the user. These systems are generally deployed in a fashion so that an area is provided with ground based air defence and can be also called as area air defence. In easy to understand terms, the area air defence assets cover may have a variety of point air defence weapon systems in the given geographical area depending upon the time and importance of the assets that these weapons are protecting.
In 1998, the China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CNPMIEC) produced an improved HQ-7 with faster and longer-range missiles, with an IR-tracking camera. This version received the export designation FM-90 which is thought to be the reverse engineered version of the Thomson-CSF Crotale missile. This is the missile system that Pakistani air defence has recently procured. Apart from this, the Pakistani army air defence is not known to have any other short or medium range SAM.

Till the early nineties, Chinese air defence was being catered to by SA-2 SAMs and J-8 fighter aircraft. However, the Chinese have been reportedly moving ahead with area air defence steadily post the breakup of the Soviet Union. Presently, most of their SA-2 have been modernised and are present in numerically significant numbers. China has also been thought to have the Russian Tor M1 (SA-15) with indigenously produced derivatives like HQ-9/HHQ-9/FD2000/FT2000. The FT 2000 is reportedly a derivative fitted with anti-radiation seeker for engagement against AWACS aircraft and against standoff jamming aircraft. HQ-9 is likely to be using the Russian S-300PMU technology including cold launch design for vertical ejection. It probably would fall under the MIM-104 Patriot category in terms of performance. The system has phased array radar based on a heavy mobility 8x8 vehicle and claims to operate in C band with ranges upto 125 km. HHQ-9 is the naval version of the SAM. HQ-12/KS-1A of PLA compares at best with US built RIM-66 SM-1/SM-2 standard SAMs in terms of capability. This system is to replace the now upgraded and hybridised HQ-2 and has a maximum range of 50 km with 27 km of altitude capability. Also, very little is known about HQ-16/SA-11 (Gadfly) which probably is a joint version of PLA and Russia for area air defence.

Long Range Area Air Defence and Anti- Ballistic Shield

Air defence SAMs have to cater for the long range and standoff missile threats which have now acquired serious proportions. The long range precision guided missile fired from standoff ranges upto 100 km have gone beyond the capability of short or even medium range SAMs. Therefore, air defence requirements now commences from taking on the threat at longest ranges and against the ballistic missiles which can travel across continents and pose credible threat. The systems which cater to these include the S400 (Triumf) of Russia or Project Nike of US. Apart from these the extended range Barak and the famous Patriot may also be considered in this category. S400 missile system is the most modern and has been in the news recently for its deployment in Syria and also the acceptance of necessity being granted to procure them for the Indian Air Force. The Russians deployed the first of the S400 to protect Moscow in 2007 as part of Aerospace Defence Forces.

The system was developed as an improvement over the S300 as it would help the countries develop capability against standoff attacks. The S400 is highly flexible when it comes to engagement ranges. The system uses multiple types of interceptors based on the targets range. The S-400 command node can bring down the very long range target at 400 km, at 250 km, at 120 km and also at a medium range of 40 km too. The big interceptor S400 missiles (which are understandably harsher on the pockets) need not be used on targets flying closer and can be reserved to harass slow moving, high value targets (like AWACS, Fuel tankers, transports, etc). The Russians find this approach of arming a single system with multiple interceptors most suitable for their needs. In comparison, Patriot is a long-range, high altitude, all-weather solution that has been rigorously tested more than 2,500 times with US Army oversight under real-world conditions. It can counter threats from tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones and advanced aircraft. Today, China has formidable long range anti-ballistic SAMs like Russian S300 PMU-21 heavy mobility system to provide modern, multi layered integrated air defence systems.

Future Trends

Air defence is a concept which has to be primarily coordinated and carried out at the highest level and therefore, in India the overall responsibility of air defence is with the Indian Air Force. Although, the air force, navy and the army have its own integral air defence equipment, the operational control is with the Indian Air Force. Some countries like Russia have separate air defence commands and Pakistan even has an Army Air Defence Command headquarters (HQ). Air defence is a complex business but there is a trend to simplify the systems. The complexity is owing to the fact that the aerial threat has changed from fixed wing aircraft not only to complex ballistic missiles but also to drones which have varied ranges and speeds. Therefore, one single system cannot cater for all these varied aerial threats. The situation is so potent that even ammunition has become an aerial threat vehicle. The complexity multiplies owing to the need of not only destroying or limiting the aerial threats but allowing self-owned aerial threat vehicles to utilise the same air space to destroy the enemy’s assets.  Therefore, the need for an integrated system which would have Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) sub systems, detectors and sensors which will control the weapons.

In terms of guns, the future would be of systems which have unmanned and remotely-controlled turret with integrated ammunition feed. These will ensure better reaction time and reduction in crew, multi-weapon platforms with guns and missiles on the same platform to provide multi-layered defence and improved kill capability. The need for locating fire control systems on the weapon platform for shorter reaction time, provision of mobility with high mobility vehicles and high rate of fire with multi-barrel guns having independent breech blocks. In the field of ammunition, trends like advance hit efficiency, where muzzle velocity is calculated for each round and time to the target, is fed in the precision fuse resulting in the shell exploding at optimum range to create a sub projectile cloud is already a trend.

In case of SAMs, the integrated air defence for point defence and area air defence in a grid fashion with plug in and plug out facility would be required if a system cannot cater alone for the various threats at various ranges. Even the S400 system which has a variety of interceptors for destruction of variety of targets at various ranges has Pantsyr system to provide close protection against suddenly appearing helicopters which could target the S400 radars or missile launchers. A mobile grid, if resources are adequate, is one of the best ways to employ air defence resources adding to flexibility and creating a theatre grid. Such a grid would then be able to also support manoeuvre forces and strategic assets. Multi-layered deployment to cater for vertical and horizontal aerial threats thus catering to air defence of high altitudes from low and very low altitudes is another modern trend. The deployment has to be in a layered and tiered manner and have to be time and area specific for best results. Israeli air defence with Arrow3, Arrow2, David’s Sling and Iron Dome is one such example catering for the upper and lower layers respectively. There is a great need for all air defence command and control elements to be networked so that the process of  gathering, fusion and dissemination of information to permit the real or near-real time tasking, control, integration and co-ordination of maritime, land and air force AD capabilities. The communications architecture should have sufficient capacity, security, jam-resistance and survivability to accommodate information exchange between all levels of command and control, including the capability to transmit operationally-essential information within a degraded communications environment. Voice and data link are primarily required in air defence for the task of communication. Tactical data links have evolved to meet critical real-time and near real-time information exchange requirements, with particular significance for air defence operations.

Exercise Shakti 2016

Indo-French joint military training 'Exercise Shakti-2016' commenced at the Mahajan field firing range in Bikaner on 8 January 2016 with the opening ceremony that saw the unfurling of the national flags of both countries to the strains of national anthems, "Jana Gana Mana" and "La Marseillaise". Brigadier SS Mohite, officer commanding, Indian Brigade welcomed the French contingent and urged both contingents to achieve optimum cohesion and inter-operability to achieve the military objectives of the exercise. He stressed upon the importance of free exchange of ideas, concepts and best practices between the troops and the necessity to learn from each others' experiences. He added that, “The joint exercise facilitated both armies to know each other better, share their experiences and enhance their situational awareness through information exchange. This would help them in undertaking joint operations at platoon level for neutralisation of terrorist threat under the ambit of United Nations Mandate.”
Few days prior, the French contingent of a platoon group of 35th Infantry Regiment comprising 56 personnel landed at Suratgarh from France. The 8-day-long exercise focused on joint training on counter insurgency and counter terrorism environment under United Nations Mandate.
Participating troops in Shakti 2016 engaged in several missions ranging from joint planning, cordon and search operations, search and rescue, joint tactical drills and the basics of special arms skills. The joint exercise was divided into two successive phases: the first concentrated on tactical training and close combat while the second, validation, phase had the two contingents undertaking a wide range of missions, from planning to search and rescue operations via the joint execution of counter-insurrectional combat tactics.

The Indian side consisted of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of Garhwal Rifles, which forms a part of the part of the Sapta Shakti Command. The Indian units had undergone a strenuous training schedule, which included tactical operations and heliborne missions. Shakti-2016’s gruelling training schedule was aimed at streamlining infantry tactical operations and last phase of the exercise included clearing of terrorist packets in simulated rural and urban environments.

2nd Battalion of Garhwal Rifles, has varied experience in combating terror and insurgency. It distinguished itself in the Northern theatre, by taking part in several counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. The unit received the prestigious Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Citation and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command Unit Citation for keeping terrorism at bay, maintaining law and order, and preserve the sanctity of the border in the Northern regions.

The French Army contingent, the 35th Infantry Regiment, led by Major Thibaut De Lacoste Lareymondie, has a long history of tactical experience, which dates back to 1604 when it was established in Lorraine. The regiment has received at least 12 honours to its credit. It also has a varied combat experience, having served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria and Iraq. The 35th Infantry Regiment was raised 411 years ago and specialises in close combat. Presently based in Belfort, eastern France, the regiment is equipped with the VBCI eight-wheeled armoured vehicle made by Nexter Systems and the Felin soldier combat system made by Sagem. It became entirely digitalised in 2006 making it one of the French army’s most modern regiments.