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Saurav Jha
Saturday , August 30, 2014

Some notes on DRDO's PDV ballistic missile defence interceptor


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In late April, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) unveiled the PDV, which has been designed to serve as an exo-atmospheric interceptor for India's emerging two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system consisting of both endo and exo atmospheric interception capability. The PDV's first test was essentially used to validate the capabilities of its on-board imaging infrared (IIR) seeker as well as the capabilities of a new target missile used for this test. As such neither an actual hit to kill (HTK) nor an explosive intercept was orchestrated by DRDO technologists in this test since the idea it seems was to glean as much data as they could from both the IIR seeker as well as the target missile. Nevertheless, this maiden outing for the PDV seems to have validated its integration with the detection, tracking and automated launch control systems associated with the two-tier BMD scheme. Future....


Thursday , August 28, 2014

Interview with the Chief of DRDO, Avinash Chander -Part II


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Saurav Jha: Talking about the future, one area that is always supposed to be 'five years away' is that of directed energy weapons (DEW). India too has programs in this sphere with weaponization being pursued in labs such as CHESS. So what is the status of India's DEW pursuits? Avinash Chander: We have been for too long on the fringe of this area. Our initial aim was to create a centre which will look at how to convert technologies into weapon systems. That centre has just come up. But definitely within the next decade we are looking for sufficient deployable capability. We must have a deployable weapon system within one decade. Saurav Jha: Which of the two technologies is likely to be weaponized earlier, high power microwave or solid state laser? Avinash Chander: lasers will have better opportunities to start with. Because for harnessing microwave power in....


Saturday , August 23, 2014

Interview with Dr Avinash Chander, DRDO Chief and Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister


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The new Narendra Modi government gave the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), a major vote of confidence in its first budget by substantially hiking both the revenue and capital resources available to India's premier weapons development agency. However it is understood that this hike is also intended to help DRDO complete existing projects and pave the way for future programs many of which will be pursued in mission mode. The idea is to create a substantial military industrial complex in India which not only caters to domestic requirements but also dovetails with India's wider geo-economic strategy with respect to manufacturing exports and job creation. DRDO today is being asked to not merely catch up with the west in the realm of military technology but actually create 'technological surprise' for the rest of the world. DRDO itself realizes that for India to achieve this objective, the path taken....


Friday , August 22, 2014

Indian Army C4ISR trends


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The Indian Army (IA) believes that state of the art intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems can serve to give it an advantage over even collaborating adversaries on either flank. As such investment by IA into contemporary ISR systems has been steadily rising with a view to making the kill chain shorter, garnering tactical intelligence and even achieving non-kinetic neutralization capability. The electronic order of battle (EOB) however requires continuous upgradation as well as the development of a doctrine dovetailed to the absorption of new technology. Since ISR systems are a closely guarded arena and may involve non-negotiable operational security (OPSEC) considerations indigenous development is an imperative. Fortunately, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has been working closely with Indian industry to deliver on this front. However in a world where one sometimes has to run fast enough just to stay where they....


Monday , August 11, 2014

The Sonar market in India 'hots' up


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Defence procurement in India has often been characterized by the need to make a decision between importing an off-the-shelf system on operational grounds and waiting for a home grown system to complete development. Sonars for the most part has been an area where such decisions have been easier to make with the Indian Navy(IN) mostly opting for indigenous systems developed by DRDO' s underwater sensor laboratory the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi. Recently however, time lags in a few segments of this critical technology area have led IN to explore foreign options even as the indigenous system is being progressed. A key example would be IN's move to source active towed array sonar (ATAS) units from overseas as an urgent anti-submarine warfare (ASW) requirement given that NPOL's program for that is still work in progress. Nevertheless given operational security considerations and India's overall capability in this sphere, domestic....


Thursday , August 07, 2014

The Indian Military looks East


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Earlier this year, President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone of an Indian Army (IA) 'air defence' (AD) station at Nabagram in Murshidabad district, West Bengal that is expected to be complete by 2018. This new military installation is purportedly part of the infrastructure build-up under way in the Eastern part of India to support the IA's new mountain strike corps (MSC) which was green lighted last year and is designed to launch offensive operations into Tibet. While the immediate raison behind some of this support infrastructure may indeed be the new offensive posture vis a vis China, the sheer number of new developments spanning all three military services and other security services suggests a comprehensive overhaul of the homeland security architecture in the Eastern part of the country which was till now reaping the dividends of India's 1971 victory in the Bangladesh war. Given that India's East is set....


Tuesday , July 29, 2014

Technology is increasingly driving India's homeland security market


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India's homeland security (HS) spend is now larger than the overall defence budget of many countries. Understandably this sector is attracting just as much attention from India's domestic industry as the bigger defence sector itself. Moreover HS is an arena where entry barriers for Indian private firms are arguably lower and many high-value solutions can be currently crafted through the use of conventional off the shelf (COTS) technology. Of course the sheer span of the sector ranging from high end cyber security devices to protective gear for troops deployed on internal security duties mean that HS is anyway becoming a significant avenue for Indian industry to shore up revenues even in otherwise lean periods. However, ultimately companies that wish to consistently succeed in this space will need to focus on domestic innovation dovetailed to emerging scenarios with a focus on cost and terrain effective technology rather than simply rebadging imported....


Saturday , July 19, 2014

Trends in combat jet sensors of relevance to the Indian Air Force's transformation


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In 2007 during the run up to the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) decision, the then air chief had remarked that what matters today is not the exterior of the aircraft but what is inside it. This was of course an allusion to the centrality that combat jet tactical avionics has in determining the efficacy of the same. Indeed it is primarily for this reason that 40-60 percent of the cost of a modern fighter can be attributed to the on board tactical avionics package and associated software. As the Indian air force (IAF) transforms itself over this decade it would be worthwhile to look at the transition it is making in terms of combat sensors through potential new inductions and upgrades. The term avionics was coined by journalist Philip J Klass who condensed 'aviation electronics' to arrive at it. Modern on board avionics as such includes all primary....


Saturday , July 05, 2014

Putting the Indian Army's desire to import assault rifles in perspective


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Not all Armies in the world fight with a domestically developed standard issue rifle. The Indian Army (IA) however is not one of them and for the past two decades has been equipped with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) built and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) designed INSAS family of rifles. Nevertheless in a bid to acquire a rifle suited to 'modern battlefields' IA is looking for a next generation assault rifle with modular, multi-calibre characteristics whereby the same basic lower receiver can fire bullets of different calibre through a rapid field change of barrel, bolt carrier group (BCG) and of course the magazine. IA's current approach to procuring this purported new species of assault rifle (AR) for its infantrymen seems two pronged. On the one hand IA has rolled out a tender for an AR of imported design that it intends to get licensed produced by OFB while....


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Safe city concept lays the groundwork for Modi's smart cities


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The unsavoury events of the past decade, ranging from mass terrorist attacks to public crimes against women has created the need for safer Indian cities. As such the 'safe city' concept has taken hold in India with the country's first ever such consolidated project taking off in Surat with more underway. Safe city is somewhat synonymous with the 'smart city' concept given that the basic internet protocol (IP) based surveillance setup for both are similar. Moreover given that the BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi has mentioned 'smart cities' as part of his potential agenda in government and has promised to set up some 100 new such cities in India, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at the public safety aspects of a smart city under the safe city paradigm as it is being currently envisioned in India. It is in Modi's home state of Gujarat....


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More about Saurav Jha

Saurav Jha studied economics (and debated politics) at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He writes and researches on global energy and security issues and is a regular contributor to publications such as World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written for Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. He is the Consulting Editor of Geopolitics magazine. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, was published in March 2010 to excellent reviews. He is presently working on The Heat and Dust Project, a quirky travelogue, based on an intense budget journey through India, co-authored with his wife Devapriya.

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