Indian Army's southern command chief, lieutenant general SK Saini
Indian Army's southern command chief, lieutenant general SK Saini IANS

The Indian defence industry needs to evolve to provide solutions for the protection requirements of armed forces, Indian army vice chief lieutenant general SK Saini said on Saturday.

He said a large number of Indian troops are deployed in super high-altitude areas where the temperature touches - 50 degrees celsius. However, cold-weather equipment is imported.

“...we are still importing cold-weather equipment, mainly due to the lack of viable indigenous solutions,” said the Indian army vice chief stressing that a collaborative effort needs to be put in this field “to fulfil our vision of aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).”

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He was speaking in a webinar organised by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies over Force Protection India 2020.

Saini said the character of warfare is undergoing a rapid change. The lethality and intensity powered by the latest technologies, the blurring of lines between friends and foes, combatants and civilians - makes it imperative for militaries to adapt to safeguard themselves and succeed in operations.

“While we are well on our way towards modernising and honing our war waging capabilities, protection of our assets is going to be a daunting task. It is a fact that forces and the resources which survive the enemy onslaught, both during peace and war, are the ones which will live to fight another day,” he said.

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Saini said the first priority is to ensure survivability while retaining the freedom of action to facilitate functioning without impairing operating efficiency.

He said the second is economy of resources in terms of cost, effort and time must be assessed against threat manifestation and neutralisation.

The vice chief pointed that primary element of Force Protection is of course individual protection.

Towards this effort the Indian army has evolved considerably in terms of modern arms, ammunition, protection, kitting and clothing. However, there is still much scope for innovation.

“There is a requirement to focus on night-vision goggles, combat helmets, bulletproof jackets, light portable communication sets and many more,” he said.

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Saini pointed out that even as the industry has stepped up to the challenge, the solutions provided, however, lack innovation and integration.

The effort in this field must be to ensure a reduction in manpower commitment by integrating physical and electronic surveillance and incorporating automation and innovation in Perimeter Fencing, Intrusion Detection Systems etc.

He also said that amongst other threats, drones and UAVs stand out in their innovative employment and destructive potential.

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“Considering their low cost, multi-use and dense proliferation, the threat will no doubt increase manifold in the years to come,” he said.

“In this context, third dimension threats may take precedence in the near future, for which we need to plan now. Both hard kill and soft kill counter-drone solutions including swarm technology are the need of the hour,” he pointed out.