Army wants new radar for threat detection along China border

Updated on Nov 10, 2021 12:29 PM IST
The radar figures on a new list of Make in India projects that the army plans to pursue in partnership with the industry
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane. (File photo)
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane. (File photo)

The Indian Army has sought to equip itself with a modern low-level light-weight radar (LLLWR) for threat detection and response along the China border where surveillance is restricted due to mountainous terrain, officials said on Monday. The terrain provides easy ingress to enemy aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying at low altitudes, they said.

The radar figures on a new list of Make in India projects that the army plans to pursue in partnership with the industry. The list, released by army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Monday, includes surveillance and armed drone swarm, counter-drone systems, infantry weapon training simulator, robotic surveillance platforms, portable helipads and a variety of ammunition.

The army wants a 3D active electronically scanned array radar that has a range of 50 km with tactical control of air defence weapons. To boost self-reliance, the government has notified two lists of 209 defence items that cannot be imported in bans that will be progressively enforced from 2021 to 2025. The LLLWR is among the weapons and systems that cannot be imported.

The radar is required for the northern and eastern borders with China whose army has ramped up military activities in both sectors. India and China have been locked in a border row in Ladakh for more than 18 months, and ongoing military talks to resolve tensions have not resulted in a major breakthrough.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has also developed an LLLWR named Aslesha Mk I for ground-based surveillance in high altitudes, plains and mountains to detect and track airborne targets.

The Indian Air Force has inducted the Aslesha radar but the army chose not to order it as its requirements were different, the officials said.

There is an urgent need for LLLWR to plug a critical vulnerability along the China border, the officials said.

The army has just inducted the upgraded L-70 anti-aircraft gun, a legacy weapon manufactured by Swedish arms firm Bofors AB, into the eastern sector to tackle aerial threats. This is the first time the upgraded L-70 gun has been positioned at a high altitude. The upgraded L-70 guns, with a range of 3.5 km, are capable of shooting down aircraft, armed helicopters and UAVs.

India and China have hardened their positions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, going by increased military activities on both sides of the boundary, infrastructure development, surveillance and combat manoeuvres by their armies in the midst of the ongoing border standoff, as reported by Hindustan Times on Monday.

Despite two rounds of disengagement at friction points on the LAC this year, the two armies still have 50,000 to 60,000 troops each and advanced weaponry deployed in the Ladakh theatre. In a report released last week, the US defence department said Beijing was taking “incremental and tactical actions to press its claims” at the LAC, despite participating in talks to resolve the crisis.

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