India’s electronic warfare units are archaic, but camouflage, concealment can blunt PLA

If the People’s Liberation Army of China leads a technology-driven attack on the Indian forces in high altitude terrain, what are India’s options? The PLA will rely more on Cyber and Electronic Warfare, and PGMs, rather than on an infantry-predominant close-combat attack from a position of disadvantage.

In the near future, cyber, electronic, space and artificial intelligence domains of warfare will be exploited, in addition to the traditional domains of land, air and sea. With full-scale wars between nuclear weapon States being a passé, these new domains will be the primary means of use of force in the competitive conflict among nations.

An article by a US think tank visualises the future of war well. Published in February this year, the authors create a ‘modern’ battlefield of 2035, involving India on one side and China-Pakistan on the other in Jammu and Kashmir. But kinetic and electronic attacks by drone swarms are no longer a fantasy. Nearer home, there was a report in Pakistan media last week about cyberattacks targeting Army personnel and government officials. It has been speculated that the May 2017 Sukhoi 30 crash in Arunachal Pradesh was caused by a cyberattack from China.

India needs to catch-up

Our armed forces have been seized of the problem for the last two decades now, but not much has moved. In 2004, former Chief of Army Staff General S. Padmanabhan, soon after his retirement, wrote a fictional account The writing on the wall-India checkmates America 2017 a scenario of an India-Pakistan war wherein US acts in collusion with Pakistan, but is neutralised by an Indian cyberattack. This optimism back then was due to a growing acknowledgement for India as a world leader in Information Technology. However, despite an early start, so far in real terms, we have only taken baby steps.

We have had Signal Intelligence and Electronic Warfare units for a long time. However, these are saddled with archaic equipment. Indigenisation has made no headway and import is extremely difficult due to reluctance of foreign governments. We created Information Warfare Brigades on the lines of what the US Army has, but failed to integrate Electronic Warfare, Cyber Warfare , psychological operations and military deception under them.

We have yet to evolve a formal doctrine on Information Warfare. Although the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy are in a much better position than the Army, they too are well short of the desired capability. During the dogfight the day after Balakot, questions were raised about the electronic warfare capability of our aircraft vis a vis the F16s. We have done well to establish the Defence Cyber Agency and Defence Space Agency in 2018, but these are only baby steps and we have miles to go. Recently, the Army ordered a study, headed by a senior Lt Gen on advanced “niche and disruptive warfare technologies” that range from drone swarms, robotics, lasers and loiter munitions to artificial intelligence, big data analysis and Algorithmic Warfare.

In sharp contrast, the PLA has a head start of three decades and has been seized with Information Warfare since 1993, post-Gulf War 1 in 1990. The PLA’s strategic concept, which is formally given out in the Central Military Commissions’ Defence White Papers, in 1993, highlighted “ local wars under modern conditions”. In 2004, this was modified to – “winning local wars under conditions of informationisation (sic)”. The strategic concept was further modified in 2015 to “winning informationised (sic) local wars”. This strategy signifies that Information Warfare — encompassing Electronic Warfare, Cyber Warfare, Psychological Warfare, strategic deception and communication/electronics aspects of Space Warfare — will play a predominant role in the way China fights its wars. To this end, in the 2015 reforms, the PLA’s Strategic Support Force has been created to control all sub-domains of Information Warfare.

The PLA is rapidly laying fibre-optic cables in areas secured through its preemptive manoeuvre in Eastern Ladakh, to enhance its Information Warfare capabilities.






Source:-  The Print

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