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Friday, August 5, 2011

Yet Another Screw-Up

The MV Pavit incident of July 31 in Mumbai has once again underscored the fact that synchronicity is not India’s forte. I had first warned about such an incident happening way back last December and again last April (see:, when I had distinctly stated that the Indian Navy’s multi-spectrum National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN) would mean nothing until a common operational picture of all ongoing activities at sea through an institutionalised mechanism for collecting, fusing and analysing information from technical and other sources like coastal surveillance systems (CCS), satellite-based automatic identification systems (AIS), vessel traffic management systems (VTMS), fishing vessel registration and fishermen biometric identity databases, emerges. From the July 31 incident, it is now evident that even eight months after Saab TransponderTech of Sweden was awarded a SEK116 million contract (on November 24, 2010) by the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) for supplying a national CSS stradling the entire Indian coastline, even the bare elements of the CSS have not yet been made operational. The CSS system is meant to include TERMA of Denmark’s Scanter 2001 dual-band (S/X) radars each with 50km-range, and equipment for regional and national control centres. Users of the CCS apart from DGLL will be the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and DG Shipping. SaabTech was to have implemented the project, which includes installation, commissioning, training and support together with its Indian partner, Elcome Marine Services. The MoD-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) was to have licence-assembled the radar elements of the CSS, thanks to the transfer of ‘screwdriver technologies’ from TERMA. The project was to have commenced last November itself and is due for completion within 18 months. The CSS that the DGLL has ordered comprises both radars and optronic sensors at 74 locations spread throughout the Indian coastrline. The sensor sites will connect via VSAT links to form a Wide Area Network. SaabTech will also deliver the network servers and software, the CoastWatch operator software, including SAR support and advanced databases and statistical functions to nine control centres--six regional and three national. The control centres will be operated by the DGLL. There is also an option within the contract to include another 12 sensor sites.
Going hand in hand with the establishment of the CSS was the effort by both the Ministry of Shipping and the  Department of Fisheries’ to make it mandatory for all vessels larger than 20 feet that are entering India’s territorial waters to be equipped with transponders for the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which identified them as friendly vessels (the Ministry of Defence continues to insist that installation of such transponders be made compulsory even for boats below 20 feet length). Afterall, what’s the use of the CSS if it cannot distinguish between friend and foe? But it now looks as if the Ministry of Shipping has not yet zeroed in on the potential supplier of such AIS transponders. And of course, who else could be the potential suppliers other than public-sector entities like BEL, ECIL or even HAL? It thus appears that National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) against threats from the sea”, which is chaired by the Union Cabinet Secretary, and which is the apex committee for monitoring progress of the implementation of NC3IN, has not been doing its job, thereby leaving the Navy and Coast Guard red-faced yet again.--Prasun K. Sengupta


Pankaj said...

Dear Sir

1. There was a conference in Delhi called Future Artillery India in Delhi on 20 and 21 June

Any ideas about what the Indian Army people who attended this conference ,said there .

2. Sir will TWO Brahmos Missiles armed with a CL 20 Warhead be able to Destroy a Big target such as MANGLA DAM or Tarbela dam in Pakistan

3. Dont you think that we should simply buy 6 more Scorpenes right now

The Project 75 I New tender will take a million years like MMRCA tender

Anonymous said...

Government departments caught dozing at the desk again. I do not understand what it is about BEL/HAL/BHEL that as long as they are in business it is fine, defense is secondary nay more an afterthought.

I wonder why mainstream newspapers don't catch items like this and bring the departments to shame. This glaring loophole would definitely not have gone unnoticed by enemies.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pankaj you can download from the website and you can also watch videos. I read about the loitering missile that IA is planning and something about network centric capability development.

Hi prasun,
1) IA is planning to induct loitering missile which can do surveillance also like UAV and can change target after that (IAI and Raytheon are leader in this field), how big will be the order also if raytheon selected will they offer tech transfer ?

2) Will these systems mentioned above in your article [coastal surveillance systems (CCS), satellite-based automatic identification systems (AIS), vessel traffic management systems (VTMS), fishing vessel registration and fishermen biometric identity databases] be actually included in our coastal surveillance system ?

3) Any news on when SAAB will start the work on this system ?

4) When is the satellite and fiber optic cable network meant for Indian navy be operational and will there be such a system for coastguard also ?

5) Coast guard cancelled their tender to purchase surveillance aircraft. Why and will they be placing joint order along with Indian navy ?

6) Does indian navy and coastguard uses satellites for monitoring the sea ?

7) Is there plan for coastguard to purchase helicopters and UAVs for surveillance and rescue operations ?

8) How many spy satellites is planned by us and how many operational ?

Pankaj said...

Dear Anon@8.24

You can also read resources that Prasun has uploaded in this blog and his old blog to answer some of your questions above. I didn't even bother reading the rest but for example your last question has been answered repeatedly in both the old Trishulgroup blog and this present one. Practice what you preach.


Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Pankaj@11.32AM: The general consensus at the seminat was that while rocket artillery assets were being inducted in adequate numbers, the Army's tube artillery holdings were in a state of decline and needed to be upgraded ASAP. Nothing new in that. Such seminars and conferences do not exactly discuss issues threadbare as they are commercial events with foreign and Indian corporate sponsorers.
I don't think anyone from India will target installations like dams as their destruction does not serve any military purpose.
Buying six more Scorpene SSKs will not solve the Navy's problems. What the Navy now needs is an expedited process involving selection of the SSK model under Project 75I, followed by induction of home-grown SSGNs. I don't think the Project 75I SSK's competitive bidding process will take that long. It will be concluded just as quickly as the M-MRCA down-selection was done.

To Anon@8.24AM: The IAF already has loitering warhead-equipped drones like the Harpy and Harop. The main component of the CSS, i.e. the TERMA-built radars, have already begun arriving at BEL for final assembly. The AIS issue is something that's at the heart of the CSS but the Ministry of Shipping and DG Fisheries have not been able to reconcile their differences, when they should have done so years ago. The fibre-optic networks are way behind schedule due to screw-ups by BSNL. The Coast Guard wants medium-range MPAs while the Navy wants medium-range maritime surveillance/ASW platforms. The two reqmts don't mesh together and therefore merging them into one common reqmt doesn't make any sense. No satellites are used for monitoring the sea as such SAR-equipped satellites for maritime surveillance have yet to be acquired. The latest CAG report already highlights how many helicopters are reqd by the Coast Guard. MALE-UAVs too are reqd. How many spy satellites are reqd or are in service? The reqmt is large, but at the moment there's only one officially identified spy satellite being used by the NTRO--RISAT-2.

buddha said...

is there any chance of having stealth battlecruiser (nuke power)

heard su-30MKI number is going to be 310 and MIG29K is 69 --- is it true

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To buddha: For which navy are you proposing nuke-powered battle cruisers? Haven't heard about 310 Su-30MKIs but 69 MiG-29Ks is true.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
I would like to share some information and would appreciate if you answer few of my previous questions, i am asking them again.

ICG has cancelled its contract to procure 6 medium-range MPAs. I thought they might wanna join the contract with In because both IN and IAF are looking for amphibious aircrafts and the two aircrafts in ICG competition are suitable for both In and IAF also.

Also i am asking about indian army's latest tender for medium range loitering missiles not IAF( ) and how big will this tender be?

Fiber optic cable for IAF is already in place and thats why i wanna know the progress in IN's network?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon Above: The ICG never cancelled any contract, for no contract was awarded in the first place. The ICG is not specifically looking for any amphibian, whereas the IAF is for conducting combat SAR operations over the sea, and the IN wants amphibians for mounting special operations. Therefore, for the ICG the best contenders are the Q-8-400 from Bombardier and C-295MPA from EADS/CASA. Am not aware of any tender from Army HQ regarding loitering munitions but in future if there's a reqmt for such PGMs then the HAROP will be an ideal candidate. Fibre-optic cable network for none of the three armed services is gully deployed. There's still a lot more work to be done by BSNL.

Anonymous said...

The latest su30mki (42 nos) which IAF placed does it has any new radar or the its same one as in old .

Prasun K. Sengupta said...


Manoj said...

Dear Prasun,

It is really a nice article. I see the problem lies in identifying all vessels at a reasonable distance from coastline and in present circumstances believe me the VTMS can do this. you are right unless the coastal security chain 9already underway) and fishermen Identification System (yet to be finalised) are in place we can not achieve complete coastal security. However till that happens VTMS can prevent such accidents/ incidents from occurring. I was associated with setting up VTMS for Gulf of Khambhat. It was achieved there by choosing qualified people and training them on IALA V103, which is mandatory throughout the world, but not in India. Further with experience, my opinion is that VTMS need to be manned by Coast Guard so that business considerations do not come in the way. This is the case in most of the developed countries. If a vessel is not allowed to enter a predefined boundary by VTMS, all these problems could be solved. Let's hope the authorities look at these issues in right perspective sooner than later, before things become very serious.

Cdr Manoj Bhatt (Retd),

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Dear Commander Bhatt: Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and valued experiences. The VTMS is ideally an inner layer of surveillance and screening in restricted waters and as such must be made MANDATORY for installation on all commercial public-sector & provate-sector ports. As for manning them, in my personal view, a joint team of harbour/port authorities working in concert with the Marine Police should suffice. But for a coastline the size of India's, the kind of integrated sea surveillance system/AIS/fishermen identification system now being put in place (albeit at an agonisingly slow pace) should have been operationalised after the 1993 Mumbai blasts itself. I have been associated in the past with the sea surveillance system that was commissioned by Malaysia along the Malacca Straits in the late 1990s and also with the recently commissioned sea surveillance system along the coast of Sabah in East Malaysia and I can tell you from experience that combined S-/X-band surveillance radars integrated with long-range optronic sensors and installed on lighthouses in custom-built observation towers (of the types in Malaysia and Singapore) go a long way in enhancing maritime domain awareness and gives adequate warning time for the first responders (Navy, Coast Guard or Marine Police) to take preventive measures. Ideally, such a sea surveillance system must be operated and controlled by the Coast Guard, but the problem in India's case is with varied jurisdictions concerning the DG Shipping, DG Lighthouses and Regional Coast Guard commands. Unless a unified command-and-control structure is evolved, such advanced sensors will be of little use.