By Pushpkar Bhardwaj
In the current standoff with China, the need of a robust Air Defence System is realized. India’s air defence system is patchy and when compared with china it appears a little feeble. However, India is gradually and steadily catching up. There are plenty of projects going on and many of those are indigenous. India is eyeing on improve and safeguard India border from Land, Air, and off course from space too. Just to give a high-level glimpse, how India’s ADF is shaping up.
Categorization of Indian Air Defence Systems: –
- Long Range interception: Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme.
- Short Range interception: Akash Air Defence System and Similar Systems.
- Intermediate Interception: S-400 Triumph (future induction).
- Very Short-range interception: MANPADS and Anti- Aircraft Guns.
India’s Anti-Satellite Missile test (Mission Shakti):-
The space component of Indian air defence is addressed by missile developed under “Mission Shakti”. On March 27, 2019 India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex. This was a technological mission carried out by DRDO. The satellite used in the mission was one of India’s existing satellites operating in a lower orbit. The test was fully successful and achieved all parameters as per plans. The test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability.
The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space-based on complete indigenous technology.
Ballistic Missile Shield:
The system is a double-tiered system consisting of two land and sea-based interceptor missiles, namely the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception. The two-tiered shield should be able to intercept any incoming missile launched from 5,000 kilometres away.
Furthermore, details some other day.
The Ballistic Missile Defence System has three main functional components.
Radar Network: To detect enemy ballistic missiles immediately after they are launched, and then tracks them along their flight path
C4ISR Network: The command and control system plot and predicts the enemy missile’s flight path and assigns interceptor missiles to destroy the intruding missile.
Interceptor System: Interceptor system to include interceptor missile, fire control radar, support launcher and BMCP. The ABM shield has its own interceptor missiles,
MRSAM – The Barak 8 based system provides cover in a medium-range spectrum. The Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) was developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in August 2019.
The range of MRSAM is around 100 KM and this missile is equipped with Two-stage, smokeless pulsed rocket motor, two-way data link, Active RF/IIR seeker, and can travel at 2 Mach.
Akash Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) System :-
Akash mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system is ready and fully integrated with the Indian Army. The Akash (sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system being built by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The range of the system is 40 KM and it can engage a target at an altitude of 18 KM. Along with these Indian forces currently operate a wide range of air defence systems of soviet origin, a medium-range system imported from Israel (SPYDER) and some other system around which ambiguity remains.
Future Inductions in Indian Army: –
S-400 missile system:-
There is already a lot of said about S-400. It is one of the most advanced missile defence systems in the market, designed to engage targets at ranges of up to 400 km, in an intensive jamming environment. There is huge discomfort in Pakistan Defence establishment towards S-400. Pakistan has inducted a Chinese-made Low-to-Medium Altitude Air Defence System (LOMADS) LY 80 to counter S-400 and planning further to boost its capability.
DRDO reveals 350km XRSAM missile details: –
In 2019, DRDO for the first time has revealed details of the upcoming Air Missile Defence System which will be developed by Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL). DRDO said that XRSAM Air Missile Weapon system will have a range of 300 plus km against targets like Bombers, AWACS and Mid-Air refuellers which usually operate from the depth of its own air space and it will be able to take down fighter more than 250km range.
Threat from China and It’s propaganda: –
The threat of China is now getting bigger with every passing day. Matching china is not easy as Its defence budget stands at $152 billion against India’s $51 billion, which is three times that of India.
But that doesn’t mean China can walkover, think tanks on both sides believe that the next India-China conflict would be limited in scope and short in duration instead of a protracted, large-scale, force-on-force campaign. That’s due to the threat of nuclear attack as both the countries have enough nuclear capability
China is operating currently it’s indigenously developed HQ9, HQ6, Four Version of S-300 which comprise Air, Naval and army. It has also the capabilities of BMD systems which was tested in September 2017. China also tested successfully an anti-satellite missile test using its K series missile with a Kinetic Vehicle-mounted in January 2007.
The export version of HQ-9 is also a threat as it may soon be in Pakistani inventory
Though the Chinese systems look impressive on paper, though none of these are extensively tested. Most of the western observers believe that China’s HQ-9 is nothing but reverse engineering of S-300 air defence systems. China has an edge in terms of numbers and their specification, but India is not too behind.
Ex IAF Chief Mr. Dhanoa well said during an interview given to a media house
“The Chinese propaganda of superior air capability, wondering that if the Chinese equipment was so good, Pakistan would have used its Chinese JF-17 and not the F-16 aircraft to attack Nangi Tekri brigade in Rajouri sector on 27 February 2019. But Pakistan used the Chinese JF-17 to merely give air defence cover to its Mirage 3/5 bombers. Or why China’s “iron brother” used Swedish early air warning platforms up north and the keep Chinese AWACS in the south”.Ex IAF Cheif BS Dhanoa
To give PLA a bloody response India has deployed its indigenous Akash, the Israeli SpyDer and Soviet-origin Pechora and OSA-AK system. Also, Indian troops armed with the Russian-origin Igla air defence system have been deployed on the crucial heights along the border to take care of any enemy aircraft trying to violate the Indian air space there. There is also confirmed news that India has taken and deployed air defence system from its friendly nation.
The IAF has superior AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) capabilities, for air defence management. But the PLAAF, has a larger inventory of drones for surveillance, target acquisition, weapon delivery.
Most importantly the threat for the IAF arises from the PLAAF’s missiles and air defence assets in Tibet. The IAF can target China largely in Tibet or strike it is assets like railway lines, gas pipelines, which makes Beijing vulnerable. importantly, the PLAAF cannot field its entire fighter aircraft inventory solely against India, considering Beijing also has conflicts with other neighbors like Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.
IAF has had some experience of warfighting in high altitude mountains during the Kargil conflict in 1999, on the other hand, the PLAAF has none. This gives the IAF a phenomenal advantage over the PLAAF in any future conflict scenario.
One thing is for sure that if China thinks that it is going to be a walkover with India, then they are living in an illusion. It is not 1962 and India can give a very hard time to China in all the areas.