LESSONS FROM UKRAINE WAR
30th January, 2023 International Relations
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Context: Missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are likely to be a major future threat, calling for a mitigation strategy as part of an integrated air defence, and underlining the need for a comprehensive air defence solution.
- That is the biggest takeaway for India from an Army analysis of the war in Ukraine, in the context of the air battle fought there and its implications for the Indian air defence.
- With the Russia-Ukraine conflict having lasted almost a year now, the Army is also feeling the pinch in terms of spares and ammunition, particularly for its air defence and armoured fleets, which are largely of Russian origin, a fact recently acknowledged by Army chief General Manoj Pande.
- For ground-based air defences (GBAD), the most important aspect is Survivability against Suppression and Destruction of Air Defence (SEAD/DEAD) operations by the adversary.
- Deconfliction of air defence missiles with interceptors in exclusive engagement zones and decentralised execution of air defence function is a must.
- Loitering munitions are another major threat that has emerged in this war posing asymmetric challenge to both armour as well as air defences. Analysis has shown that the best air defences against them are high rate gun systems, better optic sights, fragmented ammunition and Active Electronically Scanned Array (ASEA) radars.
- The Army’s air defence is in the midst of a major transition.
- Several inductions are in the pipeline and efforts are under way to put in place a layered air defence net for various ranges and altitudes, which has only gained urgency post the Ukraine war.
- As part of modernisation efforts, a ₹200 crore networking and automation project — on the lines of the Indian Air Force’s Integrated Air Command and Control System (ICCCS) network — is now ready.
- The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had given its approval for procurement of a Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD-Infrared Homing) missile system currently under design and development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- At the short-range level, the Army has the indigenous Akash surface-to-air Missile (SAM).
- A quick-reaction SAM is under development by the DRDO, with a range of 25-30 km.
- At the next range, the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) project jointly developed by the DRDO with Israel has now entered production, sources said.
- General Pande had also stated that sustenance of weapon systems and equipment, in terms of spares and ammunition, is one issue that the Army has addressed.