Network Centric Warfare Capabilities & INDIAN ARMED FORCES

By: Next Generation Weapons Technology

Network Centric Warfare and Indian Navy & IAF and land based units. More satellites will be launched as grid as launched previously.

In addition to making platforms and infrastructure for network centricity, the Navy has also made organizational changes to create and efficiently manage the transition to seamless Network Centric capabilities. The creation of a new post of Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Communications Space and Network Centric Operations) is step in the process to migrate from a ‘Platform Centric Navy’ to a ‘Network Enabled Navy’.

During various exercises, Network Centric Warfare (NCW) has been one of the crucial aspects being validated. During the various coordinated exercises conducted by the Army with the Air Force, the endeavor has been to validate and integrate the use of all available assets, including satellites, UAVs and HUMINT (Human intelligence) to assist commanders at all levels in taking dynamic and proactive operational action in a fluid battlefield.

According to an official, another important facet being validated during the field exercises is the real-time sensor-to-shooter loop, which enables commanders to take instant decisions even as information is shared among platforms and personnel to order the weapons to be deployed. Network Centric Warfare provides shared information of the battle space among armed forces and is an integral part of the ongoing transformational studies.

In fact the major revolutions in information and communications technology have transformed the very basis of accepted norms of warfare and global security.

According to an official note of the Indian defence ministry the modern combat atmosphere is becoming more and more complex due to increase in ranges and complexity of military equipment, advances in Information Technology and sophistication of C4I2 structures/Net-Centric warfare.

Adoption of the latest technology in developing new warfare systems would propel us towards our goal of achieving a technological edge over the adversary in prevailing decisively across the entire spectrum of conflict with reduced force levels and minimal casualties.

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while inaugurating a seminar presented the official view on the issue. “Terrorist groups are highly networked, nimble footed and more lethal, this calls for appropriate responses. Cyber threats are emerging as a major source of worry. Cyber and information warfare could qualitatively change the concept of a battlefield.”

The Indian defene minister had recently stated that Information Superiority in today’s scenario directly translates into Combat Superiority, and an extremely responsive and agile ICT infrastructure would be required. The greatest challenge for our armed forces is to transform to meet both current and future challenges in this uncertain world of the 21st century.

Augmenting capabilities

Hence the ex Chief of Army Gen V K Singh had said last year that the academia and the industry can help the armed forces leverage state-of-the-art technologies in executing dedicated ICT networks. “With the focus of the battlefield shifting to a Network Centric environment, it is imperative to augment our capabilities in the digital domain to maintain information superiority over our adversaries. Our information grid will be a potent force multiplier and will enable us to optimally use our weapon systems.”

Accordingly the IAF has already made operational the Phase-1 of its layered, hardened and in-depth air defence command, control and communications network, called integrated air command, control and communications system (IACCCS).

This has been made operational and once the IAF-owned, operated and managed fully secure and reliable network and gigabyte digital information grid-known as AFNet, is fully operationalized, the force can rely on a very efficient system to challenge the rival forces.

Under an overall project cost of ‘16,000 crore, the IACCCS is being made operational under a two-phase program, which has been designed as a robust, survivable network-centric C4I3 infrastructure that will receive direct real-time feeds from existing space-based overhead reconnaissance satellites.

This will also be assisted by the ground-based and aerostat-mounted ballistic missile early warning radars and high-altitude-long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles, and manned airborne early warning & control (AEW & C) platforms. The AWACS acquired from Israel has already been incorporated as IAF’s eye in the sky for providing advance warning about any fighter jet or missile taking off. This will help activate the IAF fighters to counter the threats.

The IAF has rightly assessed that the Ballistic Missiles have emerged as a major threat to a populated city, hence it has been authorized to coordinate the early warning and response aspects of a layered, ground-based, two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) network that is now at an advanced stage of development.
The BMD has been indigenously developed by the Indian defence research organization DRDO. The fibre-optic network-based AFNet, has in fact replaced the IAF’s tropo -scatter based communications network, which been deployed at a cost of around ‘ 11 billion in collaboration with US-based Cisco Systems Inc, HCL Infosystems Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

According to an IAF official the AFNet is based on the most up to date traffic transportation technology in the form of internet protocol (IP) packets over the network using multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).

A large voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) layer with stringent quality of service enforcement will facilitate robust, high quality voice, video and conferencing solutions. These are two main critical elements which has been inducted and the future steps will be to plug into the IACCCS a large number of new-generation ground-based radars that are now in the process of being delivered.

These are for airspace surveillance in search of airborne targets (like manned aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles), or coastal surveillance or ground surveillance.

Thus the NCW capability will give the armed forces sufficient time to react to any threat effectively. The NCW is in fact the brainchild of the US Army which worked on the processing power of the computer and networking communications technology for providing shared information of the battle space among the commanders of the three forces.

This tremendously helps in creating synergy for command and control which results in quick decision making and enables to coordinated complex military operations over long distances for a dominating war fighting advantage.


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