The new, improved camo pattern uniforms of the Indian Armed Forces, interspersed with the black outfits worn by strapping young men from the National Security Guard, the elite anti-terrorism unit also known as Black Cats, dominated the Air Force Auditorium at Subroto Park in New Delhi on 16 June.
They were all gathered for the Air and Missile Defence India 2023 seminar and exhibition organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) and Indian Military Review, where experts from the forces, as well as the defence industry like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), spoke on ‘Integrating New Technologies and Optimising Legacy Systems.’
“This seminar aims to look at Air and Missile Defences around the world, especially after the Ukraine War; there are many lessons to be learnt,” said Air Mashal (Retd) Anil Chopra, the Director General of CAPS. The plethora of new missiles and standoff weapons being developed by the US, Russia, China, India and others, as well as the weaponisation of space, made this seminar extremely relevant, he told BharatShakti.
The introductory session included an inaugural address by Air Marshal Surat Singh, DG Air Ops, and an industry perspective by Col KV Kuber, Director Defence and Aerospace for Ernst and Young, and the release of a Knowledge Paper on Air Defence prepared E&Y and IMR.
Session 2, titled Emerging Technologies and Industry Capabilities, which Air Vice Marshal Tarun Chaudhry chaired, had Group Captain Prashant Arora elaborating on Lessons in Air Defence from the Russia-Ukraine War, Brigadier Manish Kumar of the Army Air Defence – a major combat support arm tasked with the protection of Indian air space from enemy aircraft and missiles, especially below 5,000 feet — speaking on Emerging Air Threats: Challenges to Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems from Recent Conflicts, and DRDO scientist Vasudev Ramakrishna giving the industry perspective on New Developments In Radars For Detection, Tracking Threats And Targeting.
Stressing the need for Atmanirbharta (self-reliance), particularly in the defence industry, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Anil Golani, the Additional DG of CAPS, said India had done “very well in manufacturing radars. From close-range to long-range radars, we are doing a lot of great work.”
The seminar provided an “excellent opportunity for professionals from the air defence field, as well as the industry and academia, to come on a common platform to get to know and understand the latest developments in the field of air defence and what is happening in the country to protect the nation and its skies from any intrusion. With the proliferation of drones and counter-drone systems, this has become a very important part of military operations, as can be seen from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” he told BharatShakti.
Session 3, which AVM Golani chaired, had Air Commodore SM Paranjpe speak on the Challenges Posed by Ballistic and Hypersonic Missiles and Stand Off Weapons. DRDO scientist Nandakumar S gave a Perspective on Over the Horizon Radar for Peninsular and Chinese Front.Given the multiple threats posed by an increasingly diverse array of air and spaceborne weapons – ranging from ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles, rockets, stealth aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and drone swarms – speaker after speaker spoke of the urgent need to revise, review and integrate the various air defence systems under the proposed Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), the proposed automated command and control system for AD, which should extensively use artificial intelligence and quantum computing for identifying and neutralising aerial threats.
The final session, chaired by Air Vice Marshal PV Shivanand, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Air Defence), had Wing Commander K J Antony, Joint Director, AD, speak on countering stealthy aerial threats, followed by Commander Viraat Shiggaon giving the naval perspective on Air Defence Countermeasures, Brigadier O P Vaishnav explaining the future roadmap on countering unmanned aerial threats, and DRDO Scientist Amit Kumar on Countering the threat from Ballistic and hypersonic missiles and stand-off weapons. It was followed by a question-and-answer session before the closing remarks by the CAPS DG Air Marshal (retd) Chopra and a vote of thanks by Major General Ravi Arora, (retd) Chief editor of Indian Military Review.
“Air Defence is becoming increasingly important, and we in India must ensure that we are not caught napping,” Air Marshal Anil Chopra told BharatShakti. Noting that “efforts are on to integrate air defence into the IACCS, and more integration is taking place, and we are trying to get space too under this umbrella,” he said, “there were people today in uniform, people from academia and the industry like the DRDO who spoke about the latest developments, so I think the seminar has gone off extremely well, and there will be lessons to be learnt and we will making a report which will be distributed to the people concerned.”