Lack of anti-drone equipment on warships poses challenge while guarding waters | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lack of anti-drone equipment on warships poses challenge while guarding waters

By, New Delhi
Dec 31, 2023 12:44 AM IST

Indian Navy has now deployed four destroyers and one frigate to protect merchant shipping from missile and drone attacks in the Arabian Sea

While the Indian Navy has now deployed four destroyers and one frigate to protect merchant shipping from missile and drone attacks in the Arabian Sea, the larger challenge faced by navies across countries is the lack of anti-drone equipment on these warships, according to people familiar with the matter.

Officials at the Indian Navy’s newly-commissioned Stealth Guided Missile Destroyer Imphal at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. (PTI)
Officials at the Indian Navy’s newly-commissioned Stealth Guided Missile Destroyer Imphal at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. (PTI)

This makes merchant ships or oil tankers with no protective measure sitting ducks for the Houthi missiles and Iranian loitering ammunition in the Red Sea, apart from rampaging Somali pirates across the region, the people added.

A frontline frigate of the INS Talwar class is now headed towards the central Arabian Sea to join destroyers INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Chennai and INS Mormugao, which are deployed south of the Arabian Sea to deter missile attacks in the light of recent developments, the people said. INS Visakhapatnam is on standby at the Mumbai harbour as Kamikaze drone-hit tanker MV Chem Pluto is currently undergoing repairs at the Mumbai dockyard.

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While one US carrier strike group, French, UK, Spanish, Japanese, Italian and Danish warships are deployed in the Arabian Sea, none of these platforms, like the Indian vessels, have specific anti-drone systems such as high-energy laser or microwave weapons. Though US, UK and French warships have been able to shoot down drones and missiles with long-range guns and surface-to-air missiles, none of these platforms use jamming or spoofing techniques as they interfere with communication. Even Indian warships have long-range guns and SAMs to shoot down drones.

HT has learnt that friendly navies have formed a sort of corridor from the southern Red Sea to the western coast of India to protect the sea lanes, with dhows or suspicious vessels not allowed to enter this zone in the Arabian Sea. Indian warships are also approaching suspicious vessels, and navy sailors are boarding and checking them for weapons and loitering ammunition.

Apart from ships, the US, French and Indian navies are also using long-range drones for maritime domain awareness, apart from surveillance aircraft and helicopters to ensure that merchant shipping and oil tankers can transverse the red zone.

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