Jammu Air Force Station attack: Army chief says fight against drones will be a see-saw battle

NEW DELHI: Indian armed forces are developing capabilities to deal with the ever-increasing threat from drones, with some counter-measures already being put in place, even as they also acquire “offensive capabilities” in the field, General M M Naravane said on Thursday.

“Drones will increasingly be used in all sorts of combat in the future by both state and non-state actors. We are catering to both the offensive use of drones, while also focusing on defensive measures through anti-drone technologies to prevent any attack on our critical facilities,” the Army chief said at a virtual seminar here.

Gen Naravane’s comments come after the first-ever drone terror strike in the country at the Jammu Air Force Station on June 27, which exposed operational gaps in tackling small commercially-available drones that can escape detection by military radars with missile systems geared towards larger unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aircraft and helicopters.

The armed forces need specialized radars to detect and track small drones, which can range from just 30 cm to one-meter in width, while differentiating them from birds. Then, jammers to disrupt or spoof the satellite or video links of the drones as well as directed energy weapons like lasers to shoot them down.

Gen Naravane said the “easy availability” of drones, which can be accessed by both state and non-state actors, has “definitely increased the complexity” of the security challenges being faced by India. Building small drones, in fact, can be done as a “DIY (do it yourself) project” at home.

“We are fully seized of this issue and are working to ensure we are not found wanting in this regard. Some counter-measures have been put in place, with troops also sensitized to the evolving threat,” he said.

Even as the armed forces develop capabilities to deal with this threat “in both the kinetic and non-kinetic realms”, there will continue to be a “see-saw battle” between development of drones and the counter-measures to thwart them.

Stressing the role of “niche technologies” like Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum computing, autonomous and unmanned systems in modern-day warfare, Gen Naravane said the developments along our northern borders with China are a stark reminder that the Indian armed forces need to continually adapt to the exigencies of modern wars to preserve the country’s territorial integrity.

The armed forces require “simplified” defence procurement procedures to facilitate this transition to the digital age. “Unfortunately, this has been one of our biggest stumbling blocks. In order to harness niche technologies like AI, exploit our depth in IT (information technology) and realize the vision of `Atmanirbhar Bharat’, we need to shed old mindsets and make our procedures more flexible and adaptive,” he said.

The “imaginative and offensive” use of drones riding on AI algorithms, first in Idlib (Syria) and then in Armenia-Azerbaijan, have challenged the traditional military hardware of war: tanks, artillery and dug-in infantry. “AI is today the modern, holy grail of technology, with far reaching implications on the nature of geopolitics and geo-strategy. To sum up, we need AI to fight and win our wars,” said Gen Naravane.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.