India’s defence preparedness

Jai Hind is a war-cry few enemies want to face. But major upgrades in defence capabilities are long overdue.

Defence needs, large and growing



India has been one of the largest importers of arms and other defence equipment in the world. It mirrors the need to protect itself adequately from hostile neighbours. However, questions have been raised in many quarters about whether procuring foreign defence equipments augurs well for our defence-preparedness? For some experts, the answer would be an emphatic no.


When Narendra Modi became PM in 2014, what he got was a huge defense bureaucracy and a military system with gaping holes in capacity. Some analysts pointed that India needed at least 300 fighter jets, 10-12 submarines, more than 900-1000 combat helicopters, seven frigates (warships) and several thousand artillery guns. Modi, and later Defence Minister Parrikar, set about trying to make big changes.

How long would a country like India depend on piling up foreign stuff? It is definitely not a permanent solution beyond the short-term. This would not provide ways to develop our own indigenous technology, something that we could rely on for sure. The stature that India enjoys as a mighty sovereign democracy must be matched by its pride in cutting-edge military equipment developed right at home.

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Make in India?



After 2015, it is seen that some positive initiatives have been taken to ease our external dependence, with an eye on the long term. These initiatives include four major steps, as below.

First is the  ‘Make in India’ policy in defence sector. Secondly, 100% FDI is now allowed in defence sector through the Govt. approval route, provided it results in access to modern technology. Third is applicability of FDI limit in small arms and ammunition manufacturing. Fourth is doing away with the incentives provided to the public sector in the area of defence manufacturing, thereby creating a level playing field for the public sector, private sector as well as the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). This will definitely enhance competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.




The Assembly Elections 2017 results have reinforced the Modi Doctrine that pushes India's interests positively abroad. 

Read about   [##leaf## The Modi Doctrine]  and [##leaf## Assembly Elections Analysis 2017]



Indian manufacturing giants like Tata Motors, Reliance Industries, can now enter the defence sector manufacturing with a fresh perspective. The 30 per cent offset policy is in place, under which foreign companies selling to another country need to buy a stipulated percentage from the purchasing country so that the country’s foreign exchange position is not strained. [Refer Bodhi Link at the end]

Developing indigenous defence manufacturing capability is one of the top priorities of the government. India has no dearth of engineering talent and skills, as has been shown by us in the IT, Pharma and other important manufacturing sectors. What is important is to nurture this talent and make use of it in this important sector. If we look at the new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016, it would be clear that the government’s focus is on ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector, and procurement through imports would be accorded the last priority.

[इस बोधि को हिंदी में पढ़ें, यहाँ  ##link##]

In November 2016, the INS Chennai (D65) which is the third ship of the Kolkata-class stealth guided missile destroyers of the Indian Navy, was inaugurated for operations. Constructed at Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) located in Mumbai, it is the last of the three ships built under the code name Project 15A. INS Kolkata is her sister ship and first of the class, while INS Kochi is second of the class. Another interesting development is the effort in making some expressways ready for fighter jet landing and takeoffs, for contingency situations. The Agra - Lucknow expressway was tested for it in November 2016.

India's defence budget is not reducing anytime soon!

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It would, thus be clear that defence preparedness is not merely piling foreign defence equipments, arms and ammunition, but manufacturing the same locally with state-of-the-art technology, and even exporting it . The way Israel has done it in the past five decades holds enormous lessons for India.

This graph gives the complete decade's story of Indian defence budget, and the need to augment the capital budget is visible.



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 Continued on Page 2 


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The fire of indigenisation - Agni




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The rapidly changing strategic situation in south Asia, and the World in general, has forced India to up the ante quickly. On December 26, 2016, 
the first successful test of the Agni-5 missile after India became a member of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime, a 35-nation group) was conducted. Launch happened from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation). Agni V is an intercontinental surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the latest in Agni family of medium to intercontinental range missiles. It can target the northernmost regions of China too. Naturally, this test drew an immediate reaction from the Chinese who while sounding cool towards it, questioned if all UN norms were fulfilled!


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    • The heads of Indian Defence Services 
      • The present chiefs are : (1) Army – General Bipin Rawat (Chief of Army Staff), (2) Air force – Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa (Chief of Air Staff), (3) Navy – Admiral Sunil Lanba (Chief of Naval Staff)

Indian strategic defence already has Agni-I, II and III and Prithvi missiles in the arsenal, giving them a reach of more than 3000 kms and providing an effective deterrence capability. Agni IV and V are listed below. Agni VI is arriving soon!

Some notable features of Agni V missile system are 


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    • Long Range & Versatile
      • Agni-5 has a range of over 5,000 km and can carry about a 1,000-kg warhead. It can hence target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China, and Europe. The solid propellant driven missile was fired from a canister which gives it all-weather and any terrain mobile launch capability. Earlier launches were in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
    • Agile and Modern
      • Agni-5 Missile weighs about 50 tonnes, is 17-metre long  & is a very agile and modern weapon system. The surface-to-surface missile is a fire-and-forget system that cannot be easily detected as it follows a ballistic trajectory (goes into space first).
    • A huge arsenal
      • India already has the Agni 1, 2, 3 and 4 missile systems and supersonic cruise missiles Brahmos, which is world-class. Agni - 5 missile system is India's 'weapon of peace'.
    • Development Cycle - IGMDP
      • The first missile of the series, Agni-I, was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) and tested in 1989. Agni-1 = 700-km range, Agni-2 = 2,000 km range, Agni-3 / Agni-4 = 2,500 km to 3,500 km range.
    • A new member arriving!
      • The Agni-6 is reported to be in early stages of development and the latest and most advanced version, capable of being launched from submarines as well as from land, with a strike-range of 8,000-10,000 km. That would seal the fate of any adventurer, for sure.


India again successfully tested the nuclear-capable Agni IV missile (02-Jan-2017). The surface-to-surface Agni IV has a range of 4,000 km, is 20 m long and weighs 17 tonnes, and is equipped with fifth generation onboard computers and distributed architecture. It can correct and guide itself for in-flight disturbances.


[ Running updates - Defence and Military, here]

[##leaf## Read all about India's defence / paramilitary forces]


Air Force assets



Besides developing an armoury of cutting-edge missiles, upgradation of air force assets needs to be done rapidly. As Arup Raha, outgoing Air Force Chief said : "Acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets is a good move, but inadequate as India needs 200-250 more such fighters in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability, for a combat edge over adversaries. The sqaudron strength sanctioned by Govt. is 42 squadrons, a numerical value. We also need a capability mix. India has enough heavy weight fighters - the Su30 MKI -to last another 30-40 years. The light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF. We need another production line in addition to that."

China has steadily built its air strength. Their new fifth-generation stealth fighter jet J-20 was displayed in Zhuhai Airshow (November 2016), and the Russians fearing a loss of their orders, promptly delivered four Sukhoi-Su35 advanced fighter jets to China. India has the Su-30 jets. China has also successfully tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter jet J-31 (now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon).

Paramilitary and CAPFs



India has faced numerous internal challenges in the form of many insurgencies and terrorist attacks. Over the years, a comprehensive structure of paramilitary forces (now called the Central Armed Police Forces - CAPFs) has been built up. We have compiled all relevant information, which you must study.




[##leaf##  Indian defence forces and paramilitaries]


Tackling the Dragon



India has faced continuous friction from the ambitious Chinese, on multiple fronts. 
Since 2014, the Modi government has tried to mend relations with China. But China has turned down the three major requests from India - (1) India wants to isolate Pakistan internationally as the "mother-ship" of terror, (2) China should help India, and not block her path, in the pursuit of big-power status, and (3) China should not push into the Indian Ocean Region as that is India's sphere of influence. Due to lack of Chinese understanding of Indian aspirations, India has been inviting Uighur, Falung Gong and Tibetan separatists to India. In 2017, the government may be readying the so-called “Tibet card” against China. The Chinese rile at any global recognition for the Dalai Lama, and India wants to now treat him as an asset, and not a liability. In December 2016, the Chinese bitterly criticised India for allowing the Dalai Lama to attend a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan (President Palace) New Delhi, and also closed their borders with Mongolia as Dalai Lama had visited there (Mongolia) for 4 days, thereby badly throwing Mongolian commodity exports off-balance. Looking at this prickly behaviour, it is not unlikely that the Chinese may make a sudden move some day. 

One cannot help but wonder the scenario had the Chinese reciprocated the call by Nehru of "Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai" (Indian and Chinese are brothers) instead of aligning forces against India. Assuming a prospective benevolent relationship, Nehru had even criticised the UN General Assembly discussion on forced annexation of Tibet by China. How things change!  {an insightful document, here} To ensure India is not caught unprepared yet again, the governments over the years have been preparing since long. We take stock of that now. 


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    •  They'll pay a heavy price for any misadventure 
      • China’s continued aggression against Indian strategic interests has forced India to invest heavily in securing the Eastern and Himalayan borders. Some are deterrence measures, and some are conventional warfare military assets. Here is a detailed list  A – DETERRENCE MEASURES – (1) Nuclear-capable Agni-III ballistic missile with a 3000 km range already inducted into the SFC (Strategic Forces Command), (2) Agni-IV and Agni-V undergoing successful field trials, to be inducted any day now, (3) Six Akash surface-to-air missile squadrons being deployed in northeast, (4) BrahMos supersonic cruise missile regiment coming up in Arunachal  B – CONVENTIONAL WARFARE ASSETS – (1) Sukhoi-30MKI fighters already operating from Tezpur and Chabua (Assam), (2) Advance landing grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal (Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Along, Ziro, Tuting) and in Ladakh (DBO, Nyoma, Fukche), (3) First 18 Rafale fighter jets squadron to be based at Hasimara base, Bengal from 2019, (4) Six C-130J ‘SuperHercules’ aircraft to be put in Panagarh, (5) New Mountain Strike Corps (17 Corps) with HQ at Panagarh (Bengal) fully ready by 2021 with 90,000+ soldiers, (6) Two new infantry divisions (36,000 soldiers) already raised at Likabali and Missamari in Assam (2010), (7) T-72 tanks in Eastern Ladakh and Sikkim military assets. On the overall strategic front, India faces new challenges in the evolving Asian game. [We cover that part in this Bodhi, here]  





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ISRO and Indian Defence



On 15-February, 2017, India took a major step forward when the Cartosat-2 was launched by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), as the satellite is capable of earth observation at a very fine resolution. So, in addition to the many civilian applications, the aim also is to closely map the actions of nations hostile to India - Pakistan and China. You won't want to miss the amazing selfie video of this historic flight, right? Here it is!

(Total duration : 5:30 min, Original Source here)






However, soon the naysayers started pointing to the risk that the disruptive model that SpaceX of Elon Musk is trying to create. Read more here.


Military exercises of Indian defence forces



The Indian Defence Forces conduct multiple exercises regularly. Here is a sample list for your reference :
  • IBSAMAR is the series of naval exercises by the navies of India, Brazil, South Africa. IBSAMAR = India-Brazil-South Africa Maritime. The first exercise took place in 2008, and the fifth was held off the West-coast of India from 19-29 Feb 2016. 
  • INDRA is a joint, bi-annual military exercise conducted by India and Russia starting in 2003, to boost cooperation and interoperability between the Russian and Indian navies. INDRA = India + Russia. The exercise involves live firing drills, as well as air defence and anti submarine operations. INDRA's ninth edition was conducted in the Bay of Bengal from 14 to 21 December 2016. The exercise has matured over the years with increase in scope, complexity of operations and level of participation. 
  • The Malabar Naval Exercise (started 1992) is a trilateral involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners. Originally it was a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, and Japan became a permanent partner in 2015. Australia and Singapore are past non-permanent participants. It includes activities ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises. The 2016 Malabar exercise was conducted starting 26 June 2016.
  • SIMBEX (started 1993) is the series of naval exercises between the navies of India and Singapore. SIMBEX = Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise. It has transcended the traditional emphasis on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to more complex maritime exercises, such as Air Defence, Air and Surface practice firing, Maritime Security, and Search and Rescue Operations. The 2014 edition was conducted in the Andaman Sea from 22-28 May 14.
  • SLINEX (started 2005) are a series of naval exercises between the Indian Navy and the Sri Lanka Navy. SLINEX = Sri Lanka India Naval Exercise. The fourth SLINEX was from October 27 to November 15, 2015, off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. 
  • AUSINDEX is the bilateral maritime exercise first held in the Bay of Bengal in 2015 and will be repeated off Western Australia in the first half of 2018.
  • VARUNA naval exercise (starated 1993, named 2001) is an integral part of France–India strategic relationship in the 21st century and consists of naval cooperation drills between the French Navy and the Indian Navy. The joint-exercises are held either in the Indian Ocean or Mediterranean sea. The 2015 Varuna exercises focussed on theatre-level Indo-French military cooperation in aero-naval and anti-submarine warfare. 
  • TROPEX is a month-long, annual theatre readiness operational exercise and an inter-service military exercise involving all the services of the Indian Armed Forces. The exercise tests the combat readiness of the Indian naval units, as well as the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard. Started in 2006, the TROPEX 2017 was conducted in Jan-Feb 2017 off the western seaboard of India.
  • Iron Fist is an Indian Air Force exercise held at Pokhran, Rajasthan. It has been held twice - 2013 and 2016. The first exercise in 2013 was designed to display network-centric operations capabilities of the Indian Air Force. Iron Fist 2016 was held on 18 March 2016, featuring the participation of 181 aircraft, 103 of them fighter planes. It also included a display of the firepower of Tejas LCA for the first time. 
  • Exercise Red Flag is an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, US. The purpose is to train pilots and other flight crew members from the U.S., NATO and other allied countries for real air combat situations. India participated in 2008 and 2016.
  • YUDH ABHYAS is conducted by the Indian and US Armies, and is one of the longest running joint military drills, hosted alternately by the two countries. The first exercise was conducted in 2004 at the platoon level, and recent one in 2015. Watch many video analyses on Defence and Military here 


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    • Bodhi Links (for deeper study; Caution: some may be external links, some large PDFs)
      •  ##chevron-right## Defence Offset Policy here ##chevron-right## Defence Procurement Process, MoD, India pdf here ##chevron-right## Ministry of Defence, India – Annual Report 2015-16 pdf here ##chevron-right## INS Chennai launched into the seas here and here ##chevron-right## IAF's fighter jets test the Agra-Lucknow Expressway here and here  ##chevron-right## Indian leaders on Tibet issue (1940s/1950s) - a document from internet here  ##chevron-right## Emerging Asian mega-struggle here  ##refresh## Running updates on Defence and Military here  


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Bodhi Booster: India’s defence preparedness
India’s defence preparedness
Jai Hind is a war-cry few enemies want to face. But major upgrades in defence capabilities are long overdue.
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