HAL pushes for IMRH program
After getting appraisals from the armed forces for its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is looking forward to the development of the 13-tonne medium-lift Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH). These are intended to replace the Mi-17 legacy helicopters that are set to retire from 2028 onwards. Russian-made Mi-8, the predecessor of Mi-17, entered service in India in 1971, and its many variants have been in service since then. The Mi-17 helicopters are rigged and handy and have proved their mettle several times.
As Russia is about to offer Mi-38 to India, HAL needs to buck up its efforts and present a credible alternative in IMRH. The helicopter will have to face hostile weather conditions to supply ration, medical evacuation, and ammunition supply. Thus, there is a need to enhance its capabilities to match and outperform the Mi-17 helicopters’ capabilities. HAL is working to refine IMRH’s design to make it more maintenance-friendly. The formal approval for IMRH from the Indian Government is expected in the next 2-3 years.
Indian Navy joins Iran – Russia’s Joint Naval Exercise
India has joined Iran and Russia in a two-day naval exercise named ‘Iran Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021’, held in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. The exercise participants include forces and vessels from the Russian Navy, Iranian Navy, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Commander of the Iranian Navy said that the Chinese Navy would also participate in the exercise. The exercise will cover an area of 17,000 sq. km and will include shooting at sea and air targets, liberating hijacked ships, search and rescue operations, and anti-piracy operations.
Commissioning of INS Karanj
INS Karanj, the Indian Navy’s third Scorpene Submarine of Project P-75, was commissioned in Mumbai. Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) has delivered three Scorpene submarines named Khanderi, Kalvari, and now Karanj. 4th Submarine Vela has commenced sea trials, while the 5th one, Vagir, launched on November 12, 2020, has also commenced harbor sea trials. 6th Submarine is in an advanced stage of outfitting. These six submarines are being constructed under Project 75, wherein number 75 refers to a unique identifier assigned to a program for the series production of submarines. With these submarines, India is cementing its position as a summary in building a nation. MDL built two SSK submarines are in service today since 1992 and 1994. MDL is executing the medium refit cum up-gradation of all the four SSK class submarines of the Indian Navy. MDL has been instrumental and a leading player in indigenous warship building in India. It has built the Leander and Godavari class frigates, Khukri class Corvettes, Missile boats, Delhi and Kolkata class Destroyers, Shivalik class stealth frigates, the SSK submarines, and the Scorpene Submarines to provide strength to the Indian Navy.
Theaterisation plan to be rolled out
India’s long-awaited theaterisation plan will be rolled out formally in the coming months to best utilize its military resources amid growing security threats. India is facing a joint threat from its two nuclear neighbors, thus making it imperative for the armed forces to present a coordinated response by all three services. Theaterisation refers to placing specific units of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force under a theatre commander, led by an officer from any of the three services, depending on the roles assigned to them.
The Air Defence Command will come up in Prayagraj (Allahabad) in April. It will control air defense resources of all three services and will be protecting military assets from airborne enemies. Its Commander in Chief will be a top three-star officer from the Indian Air Force (IAF). The maritime Theatre Command will come up in May, headquartered in Karwar on the West coast. It will secure India from seaborne threats and will have Army and Air Force elements under it, with the Commander in Chief being a top-three star Indian Navy Officer.
The Commander in Chief of the commands will report to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in his role as a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). India’s CDS General Bipin Rawat wears the three hats as he is the permanent chairman of the COSC, heads the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), and is the single point military advisor to the Defence Minister. The CDS is expected to bring about jointness among the three services; setting up of integrated theatre commands is one of the means to achieve jointness. India is expected to have three other integrated commands to secure its Western, Northern, and Eastern fronts, Logistics command to avoid duplication of efforts and resources. It is in CDS’ mandate to bring about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, and repairs and maintenance of the three services.
Synergy in the application of combat power is essential in the new age warfare, which is multi-domain and waged in many key battle spaces simultaneously. Integration in the aerospace domain is critical for deterrence, while in the maritime domain, integration is all the more important as our locational and geographical advantages can deter China’s aggressiveness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The CDS will have operational control over all the integrated commands, while service chiefs will be responsible for raising, training, and sustaining their forces.
The Department of Military Affairs is one of the five verticals in the defense ministry apart from the Departments of defense, defense production, defense research and development, and ex-service welfare. With integrated commands coming up, the DMA may also need restructuring. Creating new infrastructure for integrated commands would add to the financial burden and might also take time. Thus, the government is of the clear view that the integrated commands will be created using existing infrastructure.