Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
In the context of the pandemic affecting the world, India being amongst the worst impacted countries, the fundamentals of State-Citizen relationship in a democratic dispensation have come under the focus in terms of defining where the nation's energies and resources would be devoted first. The health emergency caused by Covid-19 has been with us for more than a year -- and still persistent -- leading to enormous loss of lives, destruction of employment and a sharp rise of poverty posing the unprecedented challenge before the ruling dispensation of reviving a derailed economy.
The sovereign state of India has in this period been tested also for its ability to ensure defence of the nation against external dangers and security of its people against internal threats. In the developed West, including the US and UK, no external and internal security risks were encountered and the national governments there could more easily concentrate wholeheartedly on dealing with the pandemic and using their large financial resources towards aiding the population in economic distress. In India, a country with financial limitations, the period saw an escalation of the hostile activities of the two adversaries on the borders -- Pakistan and China -- who had formed a military alliance primarily to damage India's security. The Modi government thus faced issues of defence, internal security, health emergency and economic disruption, all together, and it goes to its credit that a sincere and competent effort was made at the highest levels to deal with this challenge on multiple fronts through these difficult months. Prime Minister Modi's leadership stands out for commitment to nationalism, political will, personal application to solution finding, hard work and quick decision-making on matters across the spectrum.
For a sovereign democratic state, defence of the nation and security of its people will always be on top of its agenda notwithstanding any spells of internal difficulties and socio-economic pressures that the country might have faced at any point. By the time the pandemic hit the country, the Sino-Pak axis had already become active in denouncing India for abrogating Art 370 relating to special status of Jammu and Kashmir. While China started a military build-up on LAC in Ladakh, Pakistan stepped up terror activity in Kashmir using even drones for dropping arms and IEDs from across the LoC in aid of terrorists infiltrated into the Valley.
NCC cadets practice early morning. Photo by Mukesh S on Unsplash.
Prime Minister Modi, in spite of his preoccupation with decisions required to be taken to handle the 'pandemic of the century' and boost up vaccine production on a scale large enough to meet the vast requirement of Indians of advanced age, responded promptly to the aggressiveness shown by PLA in the Ladakh sector and the escalation of trans-border terrorism attempted by Pakistan in Kashmir. He made the bold strategic move of appointing the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Bipin Rawat, to expedite the process of preparing the defence forces for jointly responding to an external aggression. The creation of this position had been recommended by the Kargil Review Committee but this was not acted upon all these years.
Following the incident of Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15 last year -- in which a large contingent of PLA physically attacked the Indian Army patrol at LAC and caused the death of twenty soldiers including the Lt Col in the field -- the Prime Minister himself visited the Corps headquarter at Nimu outside Ladakh accompanied by CDS to interact with Army personnel of the forward post and support their role in firmly countering any aggressive move of the Chinese. The Prime Minister delivered a message to China that India's determination to deal with any aggression was 'as high as the Himalayas' -- he set an example of leading the country from the front. Modi's leadership has given confidence to the nation that on defence and security India was prepared to do its best.
It is to be understood that defence is against the threat of an external aggression or an 'open attack' of the enemy whereas security is protection against a 'covert' offensive of the latter such as is the case with terrorism unleashed by infiltrated agents and insiders who had been won over by the enemy and secretly trained for carrying out acts of violence. While advance information about any military offensive of the enemy helps the defence preparation, security banks very heavily on Intelligence gathered by external and internal agencies and made available in time for neutralising the plan of violence or domestic disruption hatched by the enemy agents. The world is witnessing an era of 'proxy wars' and India has been for long at the receiving end of the Pak-instigated asymmetric warfare in Kashmir in which Islamic militants and radicals were used by Pakistan as its instruments. China, now in a deep-seated alliance with Pakistan, is known for using 'deception' as a war strategy. India, therefore, has to be fully prepared for coordinated attempts of these two adversaries to fish in our troubled waters and make moves to internally destabilise India.
The Indian tricolour flag waving in the wind at the Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab, India.Photo by Naveed Ahmed on Unsplash.
Internal security has become particularly important in the present scenario and the communal front, regionalism and human rights activism aiming at politics, all need close monitoring. The Modi government is being attacked by the political opponents for allegedly working for 'Hindu majoritarianism' but the latter would be aware somewhere that it is their persistent record of desperately banking on 'Minority' votes that had created a significant backlash and drawn many Hindus to the nationalist-minded BJP regime. Constitutionally, India has 'one man one vote', 'equality' before law and 'freedom of worship' and the ruling dispensation here does not carry a 'denominational stamp'. The paradigms of secularism are thus all met. Mobilisation with communal overtones may have been a familiar feature of electoral politics in India and yet what puts Indian democracy on a sound footing is the astuteness of Indian voters who gave their verdict basically on the performance of a government on the fundamental points of security and economic welfare. People at large see that Prime Minister Modi's intentions to work for both could not be doubted. This is what brought the Modi regime back to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election with an even larger majority. Blindly criticising all policies of the government has not helped the opposition.
On defence and security, a major test for India is the speed and smoothness with which the CDS would be able to achieve the mission of establishing 'jointness' of the three defence services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- and bringing about necessary command structures and fund allocation norms for this purpose. CDS is now the Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) assuming many basic responsibilities of the erstwhile Defence Secretary and he provides the 'single point advice' to the Defence Minister. In the Indian context, two things would prove helpful -- the experience gained by the country on the coordination among the three Service Chiefs achieved through the successful working of the Chiefs of Staff Committee all these years and the positive outcome of the first Tri Services Theatre Command established in 2001 for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands under Vice Admiral Arun Prakash who went on to become the Navy chief.
The Chiefs of Staff Committee had a rotating chairman based on seniority and the only difference there structurally would be the presence of CDS as the permanent chairman. The character of this forum at the apex would not change and to obtain endorsement by consensus on crucial decisions pertaining to 'jointness' of the defence forces after threadbare discussions, should not be difficult. If 'theatrisation' of commands is the direction of reform according to media reports then a combination of geographical factors and threat analysis would surely be a major determinant for that. India's prime defences are on land and sea while the air power as a modern strike instrument, meant to weaken the enemy anywhere, could be used by the national level command in a situation of conflict. That some components of the Air Force would be integrated with theatre commands to strengthen 'joint defence' is an idea that could also be implemented in addition, wherever necessary. It is clear that inter-services operational and rank related adjustments would be sorted out with the passage of time -- facilitated by the past tradition of the three Chiefs at the Chiefs of Staff Committee discussing all matters big or small relating to defence.
An Indian airforce jet at the Aero India 2019.Photo by Vishu on Unsplash.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that Prime Minister Modi has personally attended to the crucial matters of defence and security amidst pressures of the pandemic and economy related challenges. Internal security is also emerging as a task far more important than before for reasons mentioned earlier and the country, therefore, needs a far closer coordination between the central agencies and the state intelligence as well as a much greater recognition of the role of state police as a first responder to national security threats. All this exists already but has to be perfected so that no impediments arose from the fact of politically different dispensations being in position at the Centre and in the state.
A democratic state has to strive to keep national security issues completely above party politics. The annual conference of DGPs called by Director Intelligence Bureau for sharing a review of national security scenario, is the right forum where the centre-state police rapport -- for prompt handling of any imminent threat to internal security -- would be discussed and some illustrations pointed out for identifying the lessons drawn for the general good. Internal security issues seem to be running into political slugfest too often and this is not healthy, if the Joint Parliamentary Committees concerned with defence and security are adequately briefed on the current scenario and the policy framework of the government to handle it explained to them, the opposition would risk getting exposed before the people if it tried to drag these matters into controversies for political motives. People of India are sensitive and receptive towards national security and are willing to even push their personal issues aside for safeguarding it. The Prime Minister has done well to keep defence and security in his focus even when the pandemic and its economic consequences had become matters of overwhelming concern. This would not go unnoticed by the people of India at large.
( This article was first published at IANS and is written by D.C. PATHAK. He is the former Director of Intelligence Bureau of India) (IANS/SB)
Keywords: Defence, Security, India, National Security
As India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, begins its sea trials this year, it not only epitomises a significant milestone in the country's native techno-industrial prowess but also marks the fulfilment of a dream long nurtured by a nation aspiring to revive its maritime tradition and restore to itself the prestige it held among seafaring countries in the past.
Indeed, the impact of seapower in shaping India's past and the role that it would play in forging her future had been well understood by our national leadership and strategists alike, and soon after independence the Indian Navy (IN) embarked on a cogently articulated plan to strengthen its capabilities. Specifically, within six months of Independence, the Navy drafted a ten-year expansion plan which, inter alia, included two light fleet carriers to be later replaced by four fleet carriers.
This focus on carrier borne airpower emerged from the experiences of the Second World War where aircraft carriers indubitably played a central role on both sides. But it wasn't the Navy alone which sought to bolster its aviation capabilities. The eminent civil servant, historian and strategic thinker, Sardar KM Panikkar presciently noted in his book titled India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History (1945). "Equally important, especially for a country like India, with a vast coastline is the development of a naval air arm, as an integral part of the sea forces. The naval air arm has an important part to play in naval warfare, by patrolling the coasts, by keeping the sea clear and affording air cover to the navy."
Indian Navy created a Directorate of Naval Aviation in 1948, five years before the first Sea-land aircraft were inducted. wikimedia
Sure enough, the Indian Navy created a Directorate of Naval Aviation in 1948, five years before the first Sea-land aircraft were inducted. However, due to the vicissitudes of limited budget versus enormous demands for public spending from all sectors, the Navy's requirement of a strong air arm and aircraft carriers was trimmed in 1950 to only a Fleet Requirement Unit (FRU) with 12 aircraft.
Notwithstanding the vagaries of defence budget, Indian naval aviation followed a sure-footed trajectory of growth - from Sea-land aircraft to Firefly, Vampire, Alize, Sea Harrier and Mig 29K; from Super Constellation to IL 38, Tu 142, Dornier and P 8I; a variety of helicopters and augmentation of infrastructure, technological base and quality manpower.
Carrier aviation is ostensibly the bellwether of a navy's aviation prowess. That is perhaps the reason why those who possess it desire to preserve it and those who do not, aspire for it. The operational history of the IN's carriers is illustrative of the capabilities of carriers. Late Vice Admiral GM Hiranandani has accurately chronicled the deployment of INS Vikrant during the 1971 Indo-Pak war in his book Transition to Triumph: The Indian Navy. In this war, INS Vikrant dominated the Eastern maritime theatre where it repeatedly struck ports in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), destroyed about 60,000 tons of merchant shipping and sank a number of Pakistani war vessels. In sum, Vikrant was instrumental in enforcing a maritime blockade of East Pakistan.
India prepares to secure its maritime interests in a gradually changing global strategic stage, there is an emergence of a complex security scenario in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond. wikimedia
In recent years, aircraft carriers have proven their capability in various conflicts such as the First Gulf War in 1990 (Operation Desert Storm), the War on Terror in Afghanistan in 2001 (Operation Enduring Freedom) and the Second Gulf War in 2003 (Operation Iraqi Freedom). Significantly, carriers have played an equally crucial role in containing and managing less than war situations, demonstrating national will and supporting friendly countries. In India's context, the possible roles of aircraft carriers could be supporting the land battle, security of Sea Lines of Communication, protecting vital interests overseas and defence of island territories. Captain Gurpreet Khurana of the Indian Navy has elucidated these roles in an article titled eAircraft Carriers and India's Naval Doctrine'.
While most advanced navies accept the importance of aircraft carriers, critics have often called these versatile platforms as a "self-licking ice-cream cone" and a "white elephant", highlighting the need for a large number of escorts to protect the carrier. Lee Willet has rebutted such criticism in the book 'British Naval Aviation : The First Hundred Years'. He calls attention to the fact that "no carrier has been sunk since 1945 and the vulnerability of carriers is not a military matter but an enduring one for budgetary and inter-service battles". Former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash is of the view that rather than needing protection from a large number of escorts, the carrier actually provides protection to the force that may accompany it.
Although the debate on the cost effectiveness of aircraft carriers is likely to continue, their role and need in naval warfare cannot be overstated. The United States, for example, was only able to respond to the Korean crisis in time because it had readily deployable carriers on call. Similarly, it was the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible that enabled the United Kingdom to defend the Falkland Islands.
In an incisive article titled "Lessons from Modern Warfare: What the Conflicts of the Post-Cold War Years Should Have Taught Us", Benjamin Lambeth concludes that aircraft carriers can substitute land-based airpower and sometimes they are the only available option for wielding airpower.
As India prepares to secure its maritime interests in a gradually changing global strategic stage, there is an emergence of a complex security scenario in the Indian Ocean Region. wikimedia
Very often, though, aircraft carriers supplement land-based airpower, as evidenced by the performance of the US Navy's carriers in Operation Iraqi Freedom. These characteristics of deck-based air power are critical for India's maritime security. With ever increasing maritime trade, investments overseas and presence of a large Indian diaspora across the globe, there is no way to guarantee security of our maritime interests other than an assured reach in distant regions and the ability to respond quickly in the face of a developing crisis. The navy, by virtue of its mobility, reach, sustainability and versatility can preserve our maritime interests overseas as well as at home in our maritime zones and island territories. However, when ships are deployed beyond the reach of shore-based aircraft, they require support from carrier-based aircraft. This ability of the aircraft carriers to protect own forces and project power ashore is what makes them a key component of naval power.
As India prepares to secure its maritime interests in a gradually changing global strategic stage, there is an emergence of a complex security scenario in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond. The rise of an assertive China and its far-reaching repercussions across economic, geo-strategic and cultural domains symbolises the turbulence in global affairs in general and the Indo-Pacific in particular. The rapid modernisation of the Chinese Navy - which is now the world's largest navy, according to a report released earlier this year by the United States Department of Defence - is of primary concern to its neighbours. The Chinese Navy presently operates two aircraft carriers and is building two more which would be significantly larger and more capable. The consequences of such an exponential growth in China's naval capability will most likely have consequences for India's maritime security.
The pan-IOR vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) articulated by the Indian Prime Minister requires a robust and agile Navy which is capable of ensuring secure seas in our areas of maritime interest and responding to a wide range of potential crises in the region. Aircraft carriers are the sine qua non for such a Navy which aspires to secure core national interests. It is through perspicacity of the Navy's earliest leadership and the consistent guidance and course corrections of their successors, that the Indian Navy has built a credible and effective air arm today. This needs to be preserved and further bolstered in order to forge an adaptive capability to address the emerging regional maritime challenges.
(Article originally published at IANSlife) IANS/SS
Keywords: Aircraft, Indian, maritime, India, aircraft carriers
- The Future Is Unmanned - NewsGram ›
- Mystery Of Pan Am Flight 914: A Plane Vanished And Reappeared ... ›
- India's first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant undocked at ... ›
- Indians fully vaccinated with Covishield or any other UK-approved vaccine travelling to the UK will not have to undergo quarantine from Monday (October 11). - NewsGram ›
A series of voyages by multiple Western allies in mid-2021 through a disputed Asian sea will incite China, the waterway's largest claimant, to shadow the foreign ships, hit back at the countries behind them and possibly hold a live-fire drill, analysts say.
At least eight countries have indicated since late July plans to send navy vessels into the resource-rich South China Sea, which stretches from Hong Kong to Borneo Island, in support of keeping it open internationally rather than ceding it to Chinese control.
The HMS Defender destroyer, part of a British carrier strike group, reached the South China Sea last month, domestic media reported. It's scheduled to join vessels from France, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and the United States for joint exercises near the sea. India for its part plans to send four ships over two months, according to its Ministry of Defense website.
France, the U.K. and Canada sent ships to the same sea earlier in the year.
On August 2, Germany's Bayern warship set out for six months in Asia including the South China Sea, the German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said. "The message is clear: we are standing up for our values and interests together with our partners and allies," she said in a Twitter post.voyages alarm China. A world arbitration court ruled in 2016 that China had no legal basis for its "nine-dash line" that it uses to back a claim to about 90% of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer waterway, but officials in Beijing rejected the decision.
European and Indian voyages alarm China.voa
These voyages alarm China. A world arbitration court ruled in 2016 that China had no legal basis for its "nine-dash line" that it uses to back a claim to about 90% of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer waterway, but officials in Beijing rejected the decision.
In response to the latest foreign visits, China will start by protesting diplomatically or through domestic English-language media, said Derek Grossman, senior analyst with the U.S.-based Rand Corp. research organization. It could get tougher by following the foreign ships, he told VOA.
"That's easy to complain about it in public through official and unofficial channels," Grossman said. "There's going to be some complaining, but I think sort of at the higher end of the spectrum you can see Chinese ships tailing German and Indian, British ships in the South China Sea."
None of the countries sending ships this summer claims the sea, which is prized for fisheries and undersea fossil fuel reserves. China contests the sea instead with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Backed by Asia's strongest armed forces, China has rattled other claimants by landfilling islets for military installations. Beijing occasionally sends vessels into the maritime exclusive economic zones of its rivals.
India, Japan and European countries are following a U.S. lead by sending warships, some analysts say. Washington, a superpower rival of Beijing, doubled the number of its "Freedom of Navigation Operations" in the sea in 2019. U.S. officials hope to stop China's expansion in the contested sea, where some of the smaller countries are historic American allies.
India's defense ministry said its ship deployment "seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain."
Chinese defense planners should view the foreign ship movement as "shows of flag" with coordination such as "parallel cruising" rather than a direct military threat, said Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan. The People's Liberation Army Navy may respond with more missile tests without hitting anyone, he said.
This month China already announced it was planning live fire, "aircraft carrier killer" anti-ship ballistic missiles exercises in the sea.(VOA/HP)
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Thursday unveiled a leap in technology of teaming up unmanned aircraft and vehicles with manned jets similar to the US project of skybrog. It will enhance Indian military strike capabilities.
Teamed with a manned aircraft known as mother-ship, the unmanned aircraft will leverage autonomy to disrupt and defeat adversaries in contested environments.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
The technology named Combined Air Teaming System (CATS) will have a mother ship , operating from faraway, and four autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle known as CATS Warrior with a capacity to carry out strike stealthily entering 700 kilometres inside enemy territory. These unmanned aerial vehicles are capable of autonomous functions and will also have all the manoeuvring capabilities.
“We are developing the project where the manned aircraft will operate within the boundary and the unmanned aircraft will enter the enemy zone and can carry out strikes deep inside the enemy territory,” said Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engineering and R&D) at HAL.
He said that it is a dream project of HAL and very futuristic.
Elaborating upon the system, Chatterjee said the system will have a mother-ship carrying components like Hunter and Alpha. The mother ship which is a manned aircraft will be in the Indian territory. “The mother ship can be LCA or Jaguar or other combat manned aircraft,” Chatterjee said.
The CATS Hunter attached to the mother-ship, which has a deep penetration straight way strike capability, can go deep into the enemy territory and carry out strikes.
At present, the CATS Alpha is a glider and has capabilities to carry four, eight, sixteen or twenty four swarm drones. Alpha has can glide 50 to 100 kilometres into the enemy territory and once it reaches the mission zone, swarm drones comes out.
These 24 drones, around 25 kg, can carry smaller drones of each weighing 5 kg and can go deep into the enemy territory to strike.
All these are controlled by a mother-ship stationed faraway.
Now comes CATS Warrior. The mother ship controls around four CATS warrior. These CATS Warriors have capabilities to enters into the enemy territory upto 700 kilometres.
“It can straightway hit the target at a distance of 700 kilometres or can go to 350 kilometres and come back.
“It carries ammunition, missiles if needed CATS Alpha,” Chatterjee said.
HAL is also developing a high-altitude satellite system. It will be solar energised. This asset will be flying unmanned around 70,000 feet height for around two to three months and will be taking all the information.
HAL is also developing high altitude asset with long endurance. It will be flying 50,000 feet for 24 hours and it is also part of CATS programme.
“These are very futuristic. This was conceptualised by HAL and IAF is supporting,” said Shrikant Dudhe, Project manager of CATS.
Once CATS Warriors are developed they will be integrated with mother-ship. “Everything would be indigenous,” Dudhe.
It has been found that lot of foreign countries have shown interest in this HAL project. (IANS)