There is a urgent need for Jointness of India’s three Armed Forces and the Indian Coast Guard, which is also a nominated Armed Force under the Ministry of Defence(MOD). This task is challenging as the ‘Three Independent Services’ have been running as Independent war horses who get together in war, and when needed at other times. The task to bring about Jointness has fallen into the lap of recently instituted Chief of Defence Staff(CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat as priority. He is also the Adviser to the MOD along with Service Chiefs and become the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee devoid of Command or Acquisition functions.
CDS Gen Bipin Rawat is Dual Hatted. In the MOD he is a Secretary with two Joint Secretaries and he also heads the Integrated Defence Staff(IDS) which has Vice Admiral Hari Kumar heading it as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, who will now have more staff functions to aid the CDS. For the success of the aims for which CDS has been framed, IDF offers a solution to set up a National War Gaming Centre and a War room with data fusion from the services as priority. It will not cost much, but inculcate Jointness and Joint War Plans and attend to the National War Book co-ordination as many Ministries are involved. A War Gaming Centre on the lines of Maritime Tactical Training Centres the Navy runs at Mumbai, Vishakapatnam and Cochin and executes war gaming too for development of tactics and plans exercises like Malabar when in Indian waters, with invited US and Japanese Naval officers,
The paradigm of ‘Sensor to Shooter’ ability has moved ahead in India in the many radars, infrared systems, and other sensors to deliver success which are independently operated by the Navy, Air Force, Army and the Coast Guard to detect and track everything from ships, aircraft to foot soldiers, and from enemy radar systems to enemy communications, supported by NTRO and Intelligence Services under the National Security Adviser Shri Ajit Doval and a National Security Council Secretariat. Each service has its operations Centres, and dedicated communications for commanders to take decisions, in some cases even with satellite and aerostat pictures on their desk, or on call.
THE INDIAN AIR FORCE has fibre optic linking which concentrates on the Air Picture with an Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) which has an automated air-defence command-and-control (C2) centre designed for controlling and monitoring Indian Air Force (IAF) flight operations throughout the country. The Indian government funded nearly Rs 7000 cr (USD110 million) in July 2018 to integrate Air Force, Army, Navy, and Civilian radars with IACCS to provide a nationwide air picture. Following the successful launch of the satellite GSAT-7A in December 2018 the IAF is integrating the GSAT 7A with the IACCS through the Air Force Network (AFNet) communications backbone, which is a secure internet protocol (IP)-based communications system that runs over fibre-optic cable and connects more than 150 locations. Tropo-scatter was discarded.
The IAF also has a telephonic secure mobile handset system and it is reported to be working well. There is lacunae in the Identification Friend or Foe(IFF) methodology in platforms and AA weapon systems. The downing of an Mi-17 helicopter by a missile(Blue on Blue) in the heat of air operations near Srinagar which were launched when Pakistan Air Force retaliated to the Balakot air attack on 27th Feb 2019 with Swift Retort is a pointer that IFF has to be as automated as all other weapon systems. Human Guns Free or Guns Tight has to be an Over Ride by air controllers. The Government must have been updated on this need as CDS ordered the tabling of a paper on Air Defence as his first priority. He must also have visited Indian Navy’s nuclear submarine as it finally made India to barge into the P5 after Shakti tests.
THE INDIA NAVY lays emphases on electronic Maritime Domain Awareness(MDA) in the IOR. BEL with ELCOME has commissioned Coastal AIS stations many on Lighthouses , with a Coastal Terma Radar Chain along the coast , OBSERV and Israeli opto-electro cameras in the National Communication Command and Control and Intelligence (NC3I) network which links the 51 Naval and Coast Guard stations, located along the coast and on island territories to Operation Rooms of the Navy and Coast Guard and SAR stations. The network provides these stations coastal surveillance information obtained from various sensors such as the radar chain and automatic tracking systems and the electro-optical cameras which give instantaneous feed from unmanned stations. The network rides on dedicated terrestrial data circuits, as well as, satellite communication which helps the stations in remote locations to be networked through Internet.
The Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC), at Gurgaon, is the centre where data from various sensors and databases is aggregated, correlated and then disseminated to various stations for enhanced awareness, with Lloyd’s Merchant ships list on payment and National LRIT from DG Shipping to the Coast Guard. The setting up NC3I was successful as a committee was set up under maritime state Secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary post 26/11 and a co-located Fusion Centre in Gurugram is on lines of the set up in Singapore with access to RN and French Navy reps from missions in Delhi. The Indian Navy has also helped smaller island countries in the region to improve surveillance by setting up AIS chains and Coastal Radar stations. A bold initiative to share White Shipping Data (from Africa’s East Coast to beyond Malacca with the littoral countries is being operationalised in stages. Sterlite Industries is assisting the Navy to set up a fibre optic back bone while GSAT 7 ISRO satellite serves the Navy well with Links and ships have the Rukmani system with Israeli Orbit Rukmini antennae on the large ships.
THE INDIAN ARMY has the Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS SEE DIAGRAM) for digitisation and is handled by the Directorate General of Information Systems which deals with this important element of Non Contact Warfare. The heart of the CIDSS is the Tactical Command Control Communications and Information System (Tac C3I), Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS), Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS), Air Defence Control & Reporting System (ADC&RS), Electronic Warfare System (EWS) and, Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) System. The Tac C3I is meant to provide state-of-the-art connectivity from the Corps HQ and below. Upward connectivity from Corps HQ to Army HQ is to be provided by the Army Strategic Operational Information Dissemination System (ASTROIDS). However, there is need for connectivity for which a requirement to provide an automated Battle Management System (BMS) for the sub-units to have sensors, platforms, weapon systems integrated with individual soldiers, to enable them to exploit their assets and translate plans into synergised operations at the lowest level.
Phase 1 of ACCCS has been completed and practically 33 per cent of Artillery units are equipped with state-of-the-art networks. Tac C3I and BSS are in the test bed. EWS, ELINT and ADC&RS are in the process of development. The main Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU) involved is Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the main Defence and Research laboratory is Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR). Progress will be on display at DEFEXPO-2020 at Lucknow.
The number and ability of sensors and of ‘Single Shot’ missiles and weapons in the Armed Forces like the BrahMos, Barak, Spyder missiles and air launched arsenal from the Air Force’s MiGs, SU-30 MKI, Apache helicopters and Navy’s MiG-29Ks continues to grow as the battle space is becoming digitized, and the challenge is to refine sensor outputs into a fused picture without electronic or information overload. This data fused picture will enable swift decision making by the political masters and military Commanders and can only happen when the three services work together so that they can combine their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses to create a secure internet sensor network with modems at one place. To do this, the services will have to rely on various approaches to sensor-fusion technology to enable individual sensors to work together to pool their information and inputs and fill in blanks or incomplete data, and compensate for weaknesses, so essential to create a whole sensor picture that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Advanced commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microprocessors and high-speed wireless data networking have made sensor fusion even more feasible today for a broad variety of military and aerospace applications than it was a decade ago. In the future, in fact, Indian military’s concept of network-centric warfare rests on the foundation of sensor fusion.