Army deploys anti-drone systems along China border

In a strategic move to bolster its defense capabilities along the northern borders with China, the Indian Army has inducted an initial lot of seven new indigenous integrated drone detection and interdiction systems (IDD&IS). These systems, which are vehicle-based, provide for both “soft kills” of hostile drones through jamming and “hard kills” through lasers. Developed by DRDO and Bharat Electronics, these systems, known as Mark-1 variants, add to the existing counter-drone systems in place.

An officer involved in the deployment stated, “The systems provide an integrated capability to detect low radar cross-section drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and enable their destruction through integrated application of soft and hard kills.”

The increasing utility of drones and swarm drones in conflicts such as the Armenia-Azerbaijan and Russia-Ukraine conflicts has emphasized the need for robust defense mechanisms. As a result, the armed forces are focusing on the induction of a wide array of UAVs from both domestic and foreign sources. There is a significant emphasis on the development and deployment of effective counter-drone systems, including jamming, spoofing, blinding systems, and laser-based DEWs.

“Produced by DRDO and Bharat Electronics, these IDD&ISs are Mark-1 variants inducted by the Army Air Defence (AAD). They will add to the existing counter-drone systems. There will, of course, be advanced IDD&IS versions with longer interception ranges,” an officer said.

“The systems provide an integrated capability to detect low radar cross-section drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and enable their destruction through integrated application of soft and hard kills,” he added.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already taken steps to enhance its defense capabilities against drones. It has floated initial tenders for various anti-swarm drone systems, including kamikaze drones-based systems and mobile micro munitions-based systems. Additionally, the IAF is looking to acquire 100-200 vehicle-mounted C-UAS (counter unmanned aircraft systems) to protect its assets and air bases from drone attacks.

Despite recent advancements, India has lagged behind other countries in the development of drones and counter-drone systems. However, with DRDO’s development of anti-drone systems and plans for more powerful DEW systems, there is a concerted effort to bridge this gap. DRDO is currently working on DEWs with power levels of nearly 30-50 kilowatts, aiming to develop systems with higher power levels in the next three to five years.

“The aim is to develop DEWs with higher power levels in the next three to five years with envisaged operational ranges of tens of kms,” a source said.

“The development of more powerful and efficient lasers will allow for greater range and precision. Moreover, advancements in beam-steering technology and adaptive optics may enhance the weapon’s ability to maintain focus and accuracy at longer ranges,” he added.

The development of more powerful and efficient DEWs will enable greater range and precision in targeting. Advancements in beam-steering technology and adaptive optics are expected to enhance the weapon’s ability to maintain focus and accuracy at longer ranges. Given the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, there is a growing consensus on the need for a mission-mode national program on DEWs to enhance India’s defense capabilities.

Roy Walsh

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