Divya Drishti 2021
Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) organized a National Seminar cum Webinar for the Indian Army named ‘Divya Drishti 2021’ on Multi-Domain Operations (MDO): Future of Conflicts. Divya Drishti refers to divine and cognitive perception to provide an insight into emerging challenges and prompt deliberation by national and international experts on MDO. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General MM Naravane, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Raj Shukla, GOC-in-C ARTRAC, and other dignitaries from Defence, three services and leading security think tanks graced the occasion virtually. In his inaugural address, the COAS emphasized emerging threats and challenges to our national security, which require forces to be vigilant at all levels. The legacy issues related to our borders and proxy war situations that our Army faces need to be tackled simultaneously to maintain peace and harmony. Moreover, to strengthen our stand vis-à-vis multi-domain war, our doctrines need to be redetermined and reexamined, even our strategy needs up-gradation.
There were three sessions in the seminar. The first was about ‘Future Threats and Challenges: India’s preparedness in Multi-Domain Ops.’ The second session focused on ‘Enhancing Jointness in MDO,’ wherein cohesion and integration of various forces and domains were discussed. The third session highlighted ‘Achieving Convergence and Collusivity in MDO,’ in this requirement of joint structures to fight joint wars, the convergence of force structure, and theatre commands’ creation were discussed.
Defence Ministry explains Pangong Tso disengagement
Congress Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi had questioned the disengagement process between Indian and Chinese Armies at the Pangong Tso. He also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ‘ceded’ Indian Territory to Beijing. Defence Ministry expressed anguish over misinformation being spread and explained the border row with Beijing at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in detail. Ministry said that India’s territory is as depicted by India’s map and includes more than 43,000 km2 currently under illegal occupation of China since 1962. As per the Indian perception, the LAC is at Finger 8, not at Finger 4, thus justifying India’s right to patrol up to finger 8. Permanent Posts on both sides at the North Bank of Pangong Tso are longstanding and well established. India’s post is Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3, and the Chinese post is to the east of Finger 8.
The current argument prohibits any forward deployment by both sides and stresses on continued deployment at these permanent posts. Ministry has categorically stated that the country has not conceded any territory, instead has enforced observance and respect for LAC preventing any unilateral change in the status quo. In his address to Rajya Sabha earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had specified outstanding problems between the two nations that need to be addressed like Hot Springs, Gogra, and Depsang. These matters would be taken up within 48 hours of completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement.
Army’s RFI for new carbines
The Indian Army has issued a new Request for Information (RFI) for fast track procurement of 93,895 carbines. On February 10, RFIs were issued to multiple Indian and global manufacturers, including Caracal, Colt, SiG Sauer, Beretta, Thales, and Adani Defence. Earlier in 2018, UAE gunmaker Caracal’s CAR816 Carbine had bid lowest in the FTP initiated by the Indian Army for a new compact weapon to replace its World War II vintage 9 mm 1A1 ‘Sterling’ carbine. This RFI has come five months after the Defence Ministry revoked the case for procuring carbines under Fast Track Procedure (FTP). The ministry officials have stated two reasons for this.
- The carbines cost was more than the US-made SiG 716 assault rifles also imported under FTP last year.
- Moreover, no part of the weapons was being manufactured indigenously.
UAE government-owned arms maker Caracal had offered to manufacture all the rifles in the country as a part of the Government’s ‘Make in India’ program. It had also confirmed to oversee Technology Transfer. The Army wants the new Carbine chambered for the 5.56 X 45 mm cartridge and aims to procure the weapons within a year of contract signing.
Focus shifts from Arjun MBT to light tanks and FRCV
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will symbolically hand over 118 Arjun Mark 1A Main Battle Tanks (MBT) to Army Chief General MM Naravane at a Chennai function. This will clear decks for the Army to formally place orders to produce the final batch of Arjun MBTs worth Rs. 6,600 Crore. As the country is stressing upon indigenization of weapons and equipment under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, Arjun MBTs’ production would give a boost up to this program. According to Defence Minister, the Indian Government would reduce imports by $ 2 billion by the end of 2022. The Arjun has been designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDRO’s) Combat Vehicles Research and Establishment (CVRDE), will be produced by OFB’s Heavy Vehicle Factory Avadi, and the first batch of 5 MBTs would be handed over to the Army within 30 months of contract signing.
The Army currently operates two regiments of 124 Arjun Mark 1s, positioned in Rajasthan. The Arjun Mark 2 was developed by 2012, but the project was kept pending since 2015 as the Army focused on ordering more T-90 medium tanks from Russia. The Arjun Mark 2 was renamed as Arjun Mark 1A as it didn’t fulfill all requirements like the ability to fire a missile from its main gun and a battlefield management system. The Arjun Mark 1A cleared trials in 2020 and has been awaiting an order since then.
As per the DRDO officials, the order of 118 tanks will be last for the 68 tonnes Arjun. Due to their heavyweight, the Arjun tanks have limited mobility along roads and bridges in rugged northern areas. This shortcoming can be addressed with light tanks weighing between 20-25 tonnes and medium tanks weighing between 30 and 50. Moreover, light and medium tanks have an advantage in multi system deployability and capability in varied terrain. In the next five years, the Indian Defence Industry will be entirely self-sufficient in all aspects of armored vehicles. The experts say that they are looking forward to developing future armored vehicles like Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCV) and the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV). The former will replace the Indian Navy’s fleet of nearly 300 T-72 and T-90 tanks, while the latter would replace 1600 Russian BMP-2 ICVs in service.
India to attend bilateral exercise in Saudi Arabia
As a part of its growing strategic engagement between India and Saudi Arabia, both nations’ armies would undertake Joint Bilateral Exercise for the first time. Indian Forces contingent will be traveling to Saudi Arabia to participate in the exercise in the next financial year. In December 2020, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane became the first Indian Army chief to visit the West Asian Country. During the visit, he visited the Headquarters of the Royal Saudi Land Force, the Joint Force Command Headquarters, and King Abdul Aziz Military Academy.
India is one of the Kingdom’s Strategic Partner Countries under its Vision 2030. Relations between Saudi Arabia and India have strengthened in the last two years. In February 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had visited New Delhi. His visit was reciprocated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the same year in which Strategic Partnership Council Agreement was signed. In 2019, Riyadh also announced investments targeting a value of US $ 100 Billion in India.
India to get new tanks from Russia
India is about to sign a multi-billion dollar contract with Russia to supply around 500 T-14 ‘Armata’ tanks. As soon as these tanks got an export certificate, India decided to include these heavy combat vehicles in its armament. T-14 ‘Armata’ tanks can withstand a direct hit from a large caliber and a UAV strike, thus making its acquisition more relevant for New Delhi. India is one of the oldest and largest buyers of Russian weapons.
Quite recently, the deal for S-400 Triumph Air Defence System was finalized. India is also looking forward to purchasing a large number of 5th Generation Su-57 fighter jets. As the T-14 ‘Armata’ tank is capable of repelling the attack of superior enemy forces, it has evinced interest of some other countries also like Algeria, Iran, Belarus.
MoU signed between Safran and HAL For M88 Engines
The French manufacturer Safran Aircraft Engines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to study the manufacturing of components and the assembly of the M88 engine designed by Safran in India. The companies are also considering a Transfer of Technology (ToT). The purported M88 engines will power a potential second batch of Dassault Rafale Fighter Jets for the Indian Air Force or any aircraft manufactured in India by HAL.
Indian authorities are discussing an arms contract including a second batch of 36 Rafales with their French counterparts. Along with this, the agreement includes a partnership between HAL and Safran to elaborate the indigenous design of a 110 kN high thrust engine. This component could power the 5th Generation fighter bomber developed by HAL, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). A statement by Safran lauded India’s efforts towards self-reliance. The agreement augurs well for future requirements of fighter aircraft in India and also opens up potential export opportunities of the same.
Boeing to supply F-15EX to IAF
According to Ankur Kanaglekar, the head of India Fighters Sales in Boeing Defence, Space, and Security, the assets being offered by Boeing to the Indian Air Force are among the best. For years, Boeing has supported the mission readiness and modernization objectives of India’s defense forces. Boeing supports India in its operation of 11 C-17s, 22 AH-64 Apaches (with six more on order), 15 CH-47 Chinooks, and 9 P-8i (with three more on order).
Boeing has recently received the license to market the F-15EX to the Indian Air Force (IAF) from the US Government. Detailed data on F-15EX has been shared with the IAF through government to government channels. The F-15EX is a future-ready, multi role solution in the form of unmatched payload, performance and persistence by integrating leading-edge technologies, networks, weapons, and sensors. It can operate from high altitude airfields and can carry a large payload, farther than any other fighter of the same class.
The F-15EX will be procured under Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) program. Boeing, by way of its unique Public-Private Partnership with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra, is looking forward to refining its localization techniques. The IAF’s MRFA program would utilize Boeing’s so far made extensive investments in skilling, manufacturing, innovation, and technology in India. More than 250 suppliers in India are integrated into Boeing’s global supply chain, supplying products and services worth more than $ 1 Billion.
The F-15EX can fly at Mach 2.5, has a maximum ceiling of 60,000 feet, can withstand 9Gs, and has a weapon carrying capacity of 13 tonnes. The F-15 was never defeated in the air to air combat, where agility is highly important. F-15EX has a kill ratio of 104 kills to 0 losses.
It will also come laden with technologies like the world’s fastest mission computer, advanced radar with computing power higher than any other aircraft in the US inventory, network-centric open mission system that offers sensor fusion, a new cockpit display system for unmatched situational awareness; the new digital Joint Helmet mounted Cueing (JHMC) system that offers faster digital processing package and most contemporary ‘India-Unique’ Electronic Warfare System.