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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

China-Developed Long-Range, TNW-Armed MBRLs For Export

When China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) holds a grand military parade in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on October 1 (expected to be the biggest in China’s history) showcasing some of its most advanced weapons to mark the nation’s 70th anniversary, one of the most eagerly awaited weapon systems to look out for will be the PLA Rocket Forces’ (PLARF) long-range multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL) that care meant for firing guided rockets containing low-yield tactical nuclear warheads (TNW). In fact, such 400mm MBRLs have already been exported by China to both Pakistan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2011.
While in Pakistan this MBRL is known as the Hatf-9/Nasr, the North Korean MBRL’s name has yet to be revealed. The latter was first test-fired on July 31, followed by additional firings on August 2, August 24 and again on September 10, 2019. According to the Republic of Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the rockets were fired from Sondok in South Hamgyong Province into the East Sea at around 6:45am and 7:02am local time. They flew around 380km at an apogee of about 97km, with the maximum speed reaching more than Mach 6.5. Two rockets were fired each time and flew around 220km (on August 2) to 250km (July 31) at an apogee of about 25km (August 2) and 30km (July 31), with the maximum speed being more than Mach 6.9 for the August 2 test-firing.
Exports of such long-range MBRLs have so far been conducted by both the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp (CASC), also known as the 4th Academy; and the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp (CASIC). The production authority has been the Chengdu-based Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corp (SCAIC), also known as Base 062.
The maiden test-firing of the Hatf-9/Nasr took place on April 19, 2011, while a salvo-firing of all four rockets took place on October 5, 2013, following which formal service-induction with the Pakistan Army took place. Each rocket weighs 1,200kg and contains a 400kg warhead-section. Contrary to its declared range of 60km, the rocket is estimated to travel as far as 380km. The conventionally-armed variants of this MBRL are known as the WS-2 or WeiShi-2 (Guardian-2) and WS-3, with the former being exported to Morocco and Sudan by China National Precision Machinery Corp (CPMIEC).
Soon after May 1998, the chances of an all-out conventional war breaking out between declared nuclear weapons-armed states like India and Pakistan across the 2,175km-long International Boundary (IB) became nil, and since mid-1999 (following OP Vijay and OP Safed Sagar) there have been greater prospects of limited but high-intensity wars being fought along both the Line of Control (LoC) and the that part of the IB that Pakistan refers to as the Working Boundary (WB). India’s Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J & K) has 734km of LoC running through Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions from Kargil to Malu (Akhnoor) in Jammu district, while it has 190km of IB from Malu to the Punjab belt running through Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
The WB, spanning 202km and including the Chicken’s Neck area, lies in Jammu Division between Boundary Pillar 19 and Sangam i.e. between Jammu and Sialkot), which was part of the erstwhile princely state of J & K. It is this stretch that Pakistan refers to it as the WB, since it maintains that the border agreement (the so-called standstill agreement) was inked between the princely state of J & K and Pakistan, and not between India and Pakistan. Given the fact that India maintains a near-foolproof anti-infiltration grid along the LoC, Pakistan has since mid-2013 focussed its terrorist infiltration efforts (via underground tunnels dug throughout the Chicken’s Neck area) along the WB.
Chicken’s Neck is the name given to the territory lying between the two branches of the River Chenab and it is a dagger-shaped salient in J & K that allows the PA an easy access to the bridge at Akhnoor in Jammu, as well as to the Chhamb-Jaurian sector. Measuring about 170 sq km, it is bound by the River Chenab in the west, and by the River Chandra Bhaga, or Ghag Nala in the east. Ferries in Saidpur, Gondal, Majwal and Gangwal areas connect it with the Sialkot sector. Being an open area in the plains, it is excellent for the conduct of swift, offensive manoeuvre warfare by the Indian Army. However, for Pakistan, this area is indefensible by conventional means, as it is surrounded by India from three sides and back in December 1971, was captured by India within a 48-hour period. Consequently, if the IA were to opt for a high-tempo but limited land campaign (under its Cold Start doctrine), with the objective being a piece of Pakistani real-estate stretching all the way out Chhamb, then the only available option for the PA is to exercise its right to self-defence by using TNWs against invading IA formations within the Chicken’s Neck salient, i.e. inside sovereign Pakistani territory.
It is for this reason that the PA between 2012 and 2015 constructed a purpose-built cantonment at Pasrur (southeast of Sialkot) for housing its 18 Hatf-9/Nasr multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), each of which can salvo-fire four 400mm rockets. The rocket is 7.5 metres in length, can carry a TNW with a yield of 3 Kilotons out to a distance of up to 150km, and has a 300-metre circular error probable.
In such a scenario, where India will find herself extremely hard-put to justify a second-strike retaliation with nuclear weapons, the only available option then—in order to retain moral ascendancy—will be to resort to a doctrine of pre-emptive but conventional first-strike against the PA’s stockpile of deployed TNWs both at Pasrur and within the Chicken’s Neck area.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

'Desi' X-Band Active Phased-Array PARs for Indian Air Force & Indian Navy


India’s Ministry of Defence on August 26, 2019 inked a contract worth Rs.380 crore with Chennai-based Data Patterns (India) Pvt Ltd under which the latter will supply, install and commission an initial nine X-band Precision Approach Radars (PAR) incorporating active phased-array scanning antennae at Indian Navy and Indian Air Force Air Stations.
All installation and commissioning works at the Indian Naval Air Stations is planned for completion by April 2022, and at Indian Air Force Stations by December 2022. Eventually, more than 60 such PARs are due to be ordered by the MoD.
The active phased-array PAR has been under development by Data Patterns since 2010 and it was only at the Aero India 2017 expo in Bengaluru that one caught the first glimpse of this PAR.
The offer by Data Patterns was adjudged as being superior to the one from ASTRA Microwave.
Operational since 1985, Data Patterns has to date developed more than 1,000 systems and sub-systems in-house, which include ESM sub-systems for various DRDO-developed ELINT/COMINT suites, as well as for jammers. It has also developed a multi-Bit, wide-band radar warning receiver, IFF Mk.XII transponder with Mode 5 capabilities, plus an active phased-array radar in 205MHz frequency (first of its kind in the world).
It has also developed pulse-Doppler weather radars in X and C bands, as well as an X-band Imaging Monopulse RF seeker for the projected Brahmos-NG supersonic multi-role cruise missile in cooperation by the DRDO’s with Hyderabad DRDL lab.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Indian Navy Places Bulk Order For SDRs, Plus Project 15 DDG MLU Details

The Indian Navy will be the first of the country’s three armed services to induct new-generation software-defined radios (SDR), following a contract signature on August 8, 2019 with state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), the producer of the SDRs. It was on November 29, 2017 that the Defence Acquisition Council of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had cleared procurement of these SDRs, valued at Rs.490 crore (US$70.64 million). More than 260 SDRs of different types are being procured under the Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category.
While the MoD-owned Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) designed and developed the SDRs, it was assisted by multiple agencies, including the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), and the Indian Navy’s Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment (WESEE). The contract involves the replacement of existing hardware-based legacy communication sets with software-based multi-band, multi-functional and multi-role/mission radios. This is to enable secure communications for improved information sharing and situational awareness. The SDRs feature domestic waveforms capable of providing a wide range of frequency usage and capability enhancement. The DRDO had worked on the Integrated Development of Software-Defined Radio (INDESDR) project for eight years. Following the development of the radios, the DRDO conducted user-trials for five different SDRs, all of which will be seamlessly interfaced with the Indian Navy’s new-generation digital network (NAVNET).
On October 16, 2018, Vedanta Group’s Pune-based Sterlite Tech, a digital networks and telecom solutions company, bagged a Rs.3,500 crore contract from the Indian Navy deal to design, build, operate and maintain the NAVNET. The multi-year contract includes design, execution, operations and maintenance of the NAVNET. Sterlite Tech will build a robust integrated communications network that would provide a secure, reliable and seamless digital highway to the Indian Navy for administrative and operational applications. This network will give the Indian Navy digital defence supremacy at par with the best naval forces in the world, Sterlite, which also manufactures optic-fibre cables domestically. The initiative includes creation of an independent high-capacity end-to-end communications network, linking multiple static Indian Navy sites and India-administered islands, and includes the setting-up of highly secure data centres and Big Data content delivery software-defined next-generation networks. This is the first time an integrated end-to-end digital network at such a scale is being built in India, empowering the Indian Navy to secure the country’s borders till the farthest posts in India. The technology will also enable the Indian Navy to ride new-age applications with advanced security solutions while bringing real-time situational awareness and faster decision making.
Other Services Networks
At the apex-level is the Army Strategic Operational Information Dissemination System (ASTROIDS), which connects Army Headquarters to the Command Headquarters and forward to the Corps Headquarters while rearwards it will connect to the national command post, the other Services and other national level entities. The latter portion dealing with the national strategic level will be enabled through the C4I2SR (Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Intelligence, Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) System when it gets established.
The Army Static Switched Communications (ASCON) system’s third-tier, commissioned in September 2006, is called Mercury Thunder and it forms the backbone communications network of the Indian Army. ASCON provides voice and data links between static command/formation headquarters and those in peacetime locations. It is of modular design so that it can be upgraded as better technology becomes available. As a back-up, the Indian Army also deployed the static fibre-optic Army Intranet, known as the Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) February 24, 2006. Mercury Thunder builds on Mercury Streak that created an optical fibre cable (OFC) network for the Army in 1995, and Mercury Flash that provided a microwave network in 1998. Mercury Thunder enables the integration of its predecessors with a satellite-based overlay that enables seamless transfers over all three systems. It enables the transmission of real-time battlefield data to top commanders during hostilities and also enables a qualitative improvement in relief and rescue operations when natural disasters strike. Mercury Thunder raises the number of channels on which voice conversations can be simultaneously transmitted from 120 to 10,000. Since ASCON supports a mix of voice, data and video transfer, the number of channels available at any given time would depend on what mix of the three was adopted.
Field-level Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) is under the command and control of the GOC Corps Commander. Field-level ‘Project Sanjay’ Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS), ‘Shakti’ Artillery Command Control and Communications System (CCCS), Air Defence Control and Reporting System (ADC & RS) and Battlefield Management System (BMS) are all bound by the CIDSS as the backbone, also configured to integrate field-level systems like the EWS and ELINT (the Samyukta/Himshakti systems). in an effort to present a holistic picture to a commander and his senior staff officers to ease the decision-making process. The second vital link will connect the Corps Headquarters forward to the Battalion Headquarters. This will be the Tactical C3I (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) system or tac-4g, which will use the 4-G cellular telecommunications networks already established by BSNL, as well as those if private-sector service providers like Reliance JIO.
TAC-4G is based on a flat-IP network architecture which provides flexible and fast communications between many users. This includes fast-and-secure communications between different points and support of concurrent running of multiple applications, many of which require high bandwidth. The high flexibility of TAC-4G along with additional inherent capabilities such as information security, on-the-move network infrastructure, and support of multiple applications, positions the system as an optimal solution for addressing the complex military communications requirements. TAC-4G also supports a wide variety of multimedia applications and allows quick and easy addition or removal of applications. It also implements the ‘network-centric warfare’ principle; allows various-level commanders the highest level of control and effective activation of various warfighting, logistics and maintenance forces; allows, real-time battlefield management and control; uses the cost-effective commercial cellular network providers’ infrastructure, which allows shorter implementation time and fewer risks in comparison to other alternatives that are not based on COTS infrastructures.
Air Force Network (AFNet) is an Indian Air Force (IAF) owned, operated and managed digital information grid. The AFNet replaces the old communication network set-up using the troposcatter technology of the 1950s making it a true net-centric combat force. The AFNet project is also part of the overall mission to network all three armed services: that is the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. Commissioned on September 14, 2010, AFNET is a fibre optic-based network on which the integrated air command, control and communications system (IACCCS) of the IAF rides. It also provides a real-time sensor-to-shooter loop, which will enable IAF commanders to make instant decisions to order the weapons to be deployed. AFNet is a dedicated fibre-optic network that offers up to 500 MBPS encrypted, secure bandwidth. It incorporates the latest traffic transportation technology in the form of IP (Internet Protocol) packets over the network using Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). A large VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) layer with stringent quality of service enforcement facilitates robust, high-quality voice, video and conferencing solutions. All major IAF formations and static establishments have been linked through a secure Wide Area Network (WAN) and are accessible through data communication lines. Decision-makers can now get intelligence inputs (for example, video feed from UAVs, real-time air situation pictures from AEW & CS platforms etc.) from far-flung areas at central locations seamlessly.
AFNet can be described as a perfect example of public-private partnership. The Rs.1,077 crore project, which started in 2006, was developed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (Department of Telecommunications DoT), HCL Infosystems and Cisco Systems in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The DoT started the project in the previous decade to set up a dedicated fibre-optic network for the exclusive use of Indian armed forces at a cost of Rs.10,000 crore. As per the agreement, the DoT is required to lay about 40,000km of optical fibre cable connecting 219 army stations, 33 naval stations and 162 points for the air force (so far, work pertaining to the air force and navy has been completed). In exchange, the armed forces have released the frequency spectrums.
SDR Manpack For Indian Army
SOFTNET Combined SDR-Tactical Data-Link
BNET-AR Combined SDR-Tactical Data-Link For Tejas Mk.1A L-MRCA
Airborne Internally-Mounted Fire-Control System For BrahMos-A ALCM
SATCOM Terminals For India’s Strategic Forces Command
These are the very terminals now being used by the authorities in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and in Ladakh for command, control and communications.
BrahMos-1 Quad-Launcher For Project 15 DDG Mid-Life Upgrade
Other Elements Of Project 15 DDG Mid-Life Upgrade
Following exhaustive competitive evaluations, Spain-based INDRA, in which US-based Raytheon owns a 40% stake, had in late 2016 bagged the contract for supplying through the MoD-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) the naval version of the 3-D all-digital LTR-25 L-band air/surface search radars for both the four Project 15B guided-missile destroyers, and for the seven Project 17A guided-missile frigates, as well as for the mid-life upgrade of the three Project 12 DDGs (that will replace the THALES-BEL RAWL-02/PLN-517/LW-08 L-band air-search radars). Each LTR-25 unit is composed of a primary radar integrated with a secondary radar and an operation and power generation sub-systems. The LTR-25 is capable of digital beam-forming, direct radio-frequency sampling, monopulse technique of operation in elevation and azimuth, clutter-rejection, as well as ballistic missile detection and tracking.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The War That Should Never Have Been-1


Behind the much-feted victory in the India-Pakistan limited war of mid-1999 (in the Drass-Kargil-Batalik-Kaksar sectors of Jammu & Kashmir) lurks colossal blunders—bungles which had involved the top hierarchy of the Govt of India as well as the Indian Army (IA) and Indian Air Force (IAF). In a gist, had the political and IA/IAF leadership simply been more alert and alive to the situation, OP Koh-i-Paima (OP Mountain of Resolve)  need not have been launched at all by the Pakistan Army (PA). As it transpired, India plodded into a needless war costing Rs.19.84 billion, and bled itself in terms of sterling men and material, before eking out a redeeming, if costly, military triumph. It eventually took 11 weeks of bitter fighting by brave and under-equipped Indian soldiers at forbidding heights along craggy mountain ridgelines and peaks, and Washington’s considerable influence, to evict the PA intruders. More 1,200 combatants, including 519 IA soldiers, died; another 1,100 were injured, half of them permanently maimed. Yet, for all the to-do surrounding this definitive episode, it is a shame that no questions are being asked-or entertained-at the highest levels, and no answers being given even 20 years after the conduct by India’s military of OP Vijay (of the IA), OP Safed Saagar (of the IAF) and OP Talwar (of the Indian Navy), especially in terms of decision-making failures/deficiencies at the strategic-level, and lessons learnt at the operational and tactical levels. And it is due to this that India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) till this day desists from publishing the official history of this limited war (which ought to include not only detailed reports on the various AirLand battles/campaigns, but also archival records of India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on national Security). 
Consequently, the 20th anniversary of the limited war will be remembered across India in a celebratory manner over three days (July 25-27), with the theme being “Remember, Rejoice and Renew”, instead of “Analyse, Introspect and Learn”. This was pretty much the case 19 years ago as well when the Kargil Committee Report (KCR) was collectively drafted by K Subrahmanyam, Lt Gen K K Hazari, B G Verghese and Satish Chandra. The KCR failed to include (intentionally or otherwise) the most important lesson, which was: past mistakes that are not acknowledged and corrected due to the political more expedient craving for mass euphoria and exhilaration, always tend to repeat themselves. As the following parts of the narrative will reveal below, it was the severely flawed and executed war campaign (as a direct consequence of strategically unsound higher directions of war laid down by the then ruling political establishment) on the western front in late 1971 and the refusal to officially acknowledge it (by not publishing till this day the MoD’s official history of the 1971 India-Pakistan war) that was responsible for sowing the seeds of the limited war in mid-1999.
The following slides reveal that between October and December 1971, there was considerable disagreement between within the military establishment about the operational priorities, this being largely due to the inability of the then political leadership leadership to clearly spell out the higher directions of war/war directives. For instance, there was no clarity on whether to accord greater priority to the capture of Pakistani territory across the International Boundary (IB) or whether to go for maximum territorial grab across the CeaseFire Line (CFL) and the Working Boundary (WB) along the Chicken’s Neck area.
The following slides reveal that back in 1971 there was no dearth of tactical intelligence, thanks to the several East Pakistani Bengalis who had defected from Pakistan’s military and had sought asylum in India. However, at the strategic-level, for inexplicable reasons, no heed was paid to information emanating from several East European Warsaw Pact member-countries (that had in turn acquired the information from sources in China) which had clearly indicated that: 1) Pakistan’s military, against which a 10-year arms embargo had been imposed by the US in 1965, did not possess the resources/hardware assets required for waging multi-front offensive land campaigns on the western front. 2) The PA and PAF would take a considerable time to master the usage of China-origin weapons that were being imported since 1968 as replacements for their US-origin counterparts. 3) Consequently, the PA and PAF would undertake only one offensive campaign, most probably across the CFL against Jammu & Kashmir. 4) The rest of the PA and PAF would hunker down and brace for a defensive war of attrition inside Pakistani territory in order to conserve their war-waging resources/assets and war wastage reserves. Consequently, the IA was forced into adopting an all-out defensive posture all along the IB, WB and CFL, which clearly prevented the IA and IAF from adopting limited and clear-cut offensive joint warfighting objectives that could be quickly achieved during an all-out but short conventional war.
Another reason that remains unexplained to date is why the IAF was denied permission to conduct tactical reconnaissance sorties till December 3, 1971 despite the PAF violating Indian airspace and conducting tactical air recce sorties over northern Punjab and southern Jammu since November 20, and commencing tactical air-strikes inside India out of East Pakistan since November 22. Consequently, the IA was denied vital intelligence inputs that would have possibly enabled it to checkmate the PA’s gamble in both Poonch and Chammb, and the Shakargarh Bulge.
As a result, the AirLand campaigns of the IA and IAF in both Chammb and the Shakargarh were nothing else but slugfest duels with no decisive outcomes on the battlefields, instead of the manoeuvre warfare originally envisaged by the IA's HQ Western Command.
As the evidence above indicates, placing greater emphasis on offensive land campaigns across the IB in 1971 (which produced only diminishing returns) resulted in the IA being forced to accord lesser importance to the mountain warfare campaigns that would have fetched over the following years highly value-added returns. For instance, had the IA HQ authorised its HQ Western Command to allocate greater warfighting resources to its XV Corps for the sake of realising all its envisaged tactical objectives—especially the capture of Olthingthang—then the PA in 1984 would not have been able to set up its firm logistics-support base in Goma for supporting its 323 Brigade along the Baltoro Glacier, and by 1999 would have denied the sprawling firm logistics-support base at Olthingthang from where OP Koh-i-Paima was launched and supported.
Battlefield Gains & Losses of 1971
Frittering Away The Military Gains At Shimla
The then Indian Prime Minister Smt.Indira Gandhi, from a position of strength, now really turned the screws on the dismal Pakistani delegation. She would not budge from her three main demands. First, to recognise the CFL as an International border. Second, to merge Azaad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan into the main body of Pakistan and bury the J & K issue forever, not to be brought up at any international forum. And third and most important: recognise Bangladesh, which would mean accepting the complete defeat of Pakistan and the Two-Nation Theory. Only then would she release the Pakistani POWs and return the captured and occupied territory of what was West Pakistan. Needless to say, the Pakistani delegation could not and would not accept these conditions. The Shimla meeting was, therefore, heading for a total failure. No joint statement or accord was released and the Pakistani delegation prepared to return empty-handed. It was then, at the very last minute, that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto asked Indira for a one-on-one meeting—between only the two of them, behind closed doors. The two leaders were inside for an hour, and then a frowning Bhutto emerged and told the delegation to draw up a joint statement on all other matters like trade, cultural exchange etc. But to leave the main points out. The only one mentioned—and here he got a concession from Indira—was that the CFL would henceforth be termed the ‘Line of Control’ (LoC) for each side and he gave the concession that the J & K issue would not be raised by Pakistan in international forums. What had transpired inside came to light later. Bhutto told Indira that if he accepted her conditions, he would be publicly lynched when he returned to Pakistan. A vacuum would be created, a PA General would take over and start planning his revenge on India as well as the use of military force to release the PoWs. Did she really want that? Or did she prefer to deal with a democratically elected politician and popular leader? In the end he charmed her with his salesmanship and asked her to give him time, promising to recognise Bangladesh in his own way and time. He also got her to compromise on the J & K issue by renaming the CFL as the LoC (just an interim ceasefire line) rather than a permanent international border. He also committed to giving Pakistani Passports to Azaad Kashmiris, thus ending the region’s independent status and making it a de facto part of Pakistan. Now what remained was for Bhutto to make good on his promise to recognise Bangladesh.
(to be concluded)