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The Army is working to set up a layered air defence network at varied ranges and altitudes. File

Future threats from missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) call for a mitigation strategy as part of an integrated air defence and highlight the necessity for an all-encompassing air defence system. According to defence sources, that is the key finding from an Army review of the conflict in Ukraine in light of the air warfare conducted there and its ramifications for Indian air defence.

The Army is experiencing a shortage of ammunition and spare parts due to the nearly one-year-old Russia-Ukraine conflict, especially for its mostly Russian-made armoured and air defence fleets, which Army Chief General Manoj Pande recently confirmed.

General Pande stated earlier this month that the Army has conducted a thorough examination of the numerous lessons the fight taught India regarding weapon systems, tactics, and operational procedures. According to him, these lessons would be utilised and taken into account in the Indian context.

“For ground-based air defences (GBAD), survival against Suppression and Destruction of Air Defence (SEAD/DEAD) actions by the opponent is the most crucial factor. A source elaborated on the lessons for GBAD to learn, which have emerged as vital, from the Russian attack and the Ukrainian reaction. “Deconfliction of air defence missiles with interceptors in exclusive engagement zones and decentralised execution of air defence function is a must,” the source said.

The Army is going through a significant change in its air defence. The need for a multilayer air defence net at different ranges and altitudes has only increased since the Ukraine war, and several inductions are in the works.

A networking and automation project costing 200 crore rupees that is modelled after the Indian Air Force’s Integrated Air Command and Control System (ICCCS) network is now complete as part of modernization efforts. “All testing has been finished, and it is prepared for use. At all levels, integration is spread. By March 31, it is expected to be submitted for the competent financial authority’s approval, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in conjunction with the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), approved the purchase of a Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD-Infrared Homing) missile system during its meeting on January 10.

The Army has a significant need for VSHORAD, and attempts to import the equipment on numerous occasions have failed. A significant agreement with Russia that was shortlisted in a bidding procedure has been bogged down for several years and is now in danger of being scrapped. In the interim, the Army made an urgent purchase of Igla-S systems from Russia against the backdrop of the standoff with Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh. The equipment was delivered by December 2021 after the contract was signed in December 2020. This consists of 216 missiles, 24 launchers, and testing apparatus, as The Hindu previously reported.

The Army has the indigenous Akash Surface to Air Missile (SAM) for short-range use. The DRDO is developing a Quick Reaction SAM with a 25–30 km range. The Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), a project created in collaboration between the DRDO and Israel, has reportedly commenced production at the next range.

Additionally, according to General Pande, the Army has addressed the issue of maintaining weapon systems and equipment in terms of spare parts and ammunition. “Even if the next two to three years’ worth of imports are ex-imports, we have a waiver and sanction to obtain. We have 40 of these cases, which mostly deal with air defence and our tank fleet but also include spare parts and ammo. We are investigating how the need for nutrition is satisfied, he continued.


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