Five Indigenous Weapon Systems India Can Induct To Narrow Gap In Military Capabilities With China
If India has to be battle ready, it has to address the gaps in its military capabilities with China.
Here are five indigenous weapon systems that can help India in the event of an armed conflict.
With the skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on 15 June, what looked like a usual standoff in eastern Ladakh a month and a half back has now become the most serious military crisis between the two countries in over three decades.
The last time the two countries came this close to an armed conflict was 1986-87, in Sumdorong Chu Valley in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, and General K Sundarji was the army chief.
While an armed conflict does not look imminent, one can’t be ruled out if China refuses to pack up and move back from the new areas it has occupied. In this context, here are five indigenous weapon systems, which can help India address the gaps in its military capabilities vis-a-vis the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
1) Light Combat Helicopter
Light combat helicopter (LCH) is a dedicated light helicopter for combat operations built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The helicopter, which has a narrow fuselage configuration, is equipped with “stealth features, Armour protection, Night attack capability and crash worthy landing gear for better survivability”.
According to Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, the only helicopter pilot to become Chief of Air Staff, “During the Kargil War of 1999, there was a need felt for armed attack helicopters capable of operating at high altitude. That’s where the LCH fits in.”
“It has successfully been tested in altitudes over 13,000 feet and was the first attack helicopter to land at the forward landing base in Siachen,” he writes.
The government had in November 2016 cleared the acquisition of 15 of these helos. However, no deal has been signed yet. The HAL, its maker, expects the deal to be signed this year.
It has began production of five new airframes with plans to deliver ahead of time when a final deal is in place. While the initial clearance is for 15 helos, HAL expects the total number to go up to 165.
2) Netra AEW&C
When fighters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were flying towards Balakot to hit terror camps in Pakistan, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were in air guiding them and keeping a close watch over movements in Pakistani airspace.
The aircraft, often called India’s “eye in the sky” by defence enthusiasts, "provides 240-degree coverage and surveillance ranges between 250km and 375km".
India, currently, has only two of these aircraft.
While the first platform was inducted in 2017, the second was formally handed over to the IAF in September 2019.
Experts have said that two Netra AEW&C platforms are not enough even for the Pakistan front, let along keeping an eye on movements along both northern and eastern frontier.
While India’s AEW&C fleet is very small in comparison to China’s even Pakistan operates a larger fleet with six Saab 2000-based Erieye AEW&Cs.
3) Light Utility Helicopter
India needs a replacement to Cheetahs and Chetaks helos in its fleet of utility aircraft.
With India-Russia joint venture to manufacture the Kamov Ka-226T light helicopter delayed due to tricky negotiations between the two sides, the light utility helicopter (LUH) of HAL can be inducted by the Indian Army.
The aircraft underwent high-altitude trials at Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldi in September 2019. In August this year, two prototypes of the LUH will head to the Siachen glacier to demonstrate its capabilities to the Indian Army.
The army plans to induct 126 LUHs.
According to Livefist, “The LUH achieved initial operational clearance (IOC) in February, with FOC planned for next year, by which time paperwork on inductions will have begun”.
4) Dhanush Howitzers
Dhanush, a 155 mm towed artillery gun, is the first indigenous artillery gun of this calibre.
The Indian Army has ordered 114 Dhanush Howitzers and the first few guns have already been handed over to it by the Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory.
In view of tensions with China, the army can speed up the induction of these guns for use along the China border.
Dhanush guns can add to the firepower of the M777 ultra-light howitzers inducted by the army for use in mountainous terrain.
The gun, an improved version of the design and technology supplied by Bofors in the 1980s, underwent trials in cold and high-altitude conditions in Leh and Sikkim.
5) Guided Pinaka
During the Kargil War, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launch system was used to target Pakistani positions.
An improved version of Pinaka, called Pinaka MK-II or guided Pinaka, can improve India’s firepower along the China border.
Using guided Pinaka, which has a new navigation, control and guidance system, the Indian Army can target Chinese positions with improved accuracy.
The extended range version of the rocket used in this system has hit targets at a range of 90 km during trials at a test range off the coast of Odisha in December 2019.
One Pinaka launcher has 12 rockets which can be fired in 44 seconds. Each Pinaka rocket delivers 100 kilograms of high explosive on the target.
This means that around 7.2 tonnes of high explosive is delivered on the target in 44 seconds.
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