The May 25 Maoist attack using a 25-kg explosive device in Darba has added impetus to the UPA government's plan to acquire state-of-the-art ground penetration radars from the US to detect buried improvised explosive devices (IEDs ) in low-intensity conflict zones.
The acquisition of ultra wide band microwave radars, which can detect a seven-feet underground IED, was discussed during the Indo-US homeland security dialogue last week, home ministry sources said. "Washington is more than willing to sell the high-tech radars to New Delhi for use by security forces," they added. Delegates to the meeting were led by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and his American counterpart Janet Napolitano.
While Indian para-military forces still use hand-held metal detectors or mine sweepers to open roads for traffic in insurgency-affected zones, the US radar -- mounted on an IED-proof vehicle (like Husky or Stryker) -- scans the road ahead, jams the device's frequency and gives a 3D picture of the buried ordnance.
The US GPR, developed after a billion-dollar research, has successfully tackled IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq. "The GPR will be extremely effective in areas afflicted by the left-wing extremists as Maoists typically bury huge IEDs under the roads and trigger them off through remote or wire detonation. The IED used in the May 25 attack was made of ammonium nitrate and hidden under the road," a senior ministry official said.
It is learnt that New Delhi will acquire these radars through the foreign direct military sales route after the radar's trials in Indian conditions. Two Virginia-based companies are market leaders in the segment and have supplied IED detection radars to the US Army.
The US is also willing to supply port scanners so that explosives and nuclear , biological or chemicals weapons do not make their way disguised as imports into India. This hi-tech equipment, which can scan a truck at one go, will be housed at major ports across the country.