The recent Azerbaijan and Armenia conflict, the top attack by the drones wiped out the armoured tanks and heavily degraded the combat potential

by Lt Col Manoj K Channan

The back channels to come to a ceasefire on the Line of Control was a welcome sign for India and Pakistan and the citizens who live in close proximity and bear the brunt of the artillery barrages as well as small arms fire.

The intensive counter-infiltration operations denied the terrorists from infiltrating their cadres into the Kashmir valley. To gain some respite globally being listed as ‘grey’ by FATF; ISI may have reined in the non-state actors, for obvious reasons.

In order to bolster the morale of its cadres; it can be assessed that a quiet nod may have been given to carry out a dry run and convey a message of the “threat in being”.

Jammu IAF station is adjacent to the Satwari Cantt; it gives the media coverage that is desired by the terrorists and showcases the vulnerabilities. The IAF station is surrounded by units of the Indian Army to provide it inherent ground protection. This negates any opportunity to carry out an attack from the perimeter.

A drone attack is a cost-effective method to cause precision attacks and being small in shape and size are not easily picked up by RADAR systems. These small drones have a limited range.

As the ceasefire with Pakistan is holding; the non-state actors under the control of ISI must be told to ensure no assets are damaged which would break the fragile ceasefire.

Does the attack show, India is not prepared to combat such attacks?

Yes, it reflects the vulnerabilities. There are a large number of OEMs who claim fool proof anti-drone systems. The Indian establishment is seized of this threat since 1999 when the first drone activity was observed and it has steadily been increasing.

The conventional drones being larger in size were being engaged by interceptor aircraft / automatic weapons using a direct line of sight engagements. With smaller drones, this is a challenge and needs AI-based detection and destruction algorithms.

It is not confirmed yet though whether the drone came from across the border or could be from a nearby location of the airbase. It is assessed that the drone was probably a P 16 drone and by the nature of its size it can only be assumed that it was launched from a distance close to its intended target.

Drone attacks are precise and can cause extensive damage. A number of terrorists and hostile leaders have been eliminated by using facial recognition technology with negligible collateral damage.

Countries world over have been using armed drones as smart weapons. The US, China and Turkey are dominant players and have been supplying these to their respective customers. The Indian Defence Services have also leased / bought drones from Israel and US which are armed and have considerable loiter capability over the designated target area.

The recent Azerbaijan and Armenia conflict, the top attack by the drones wiped out the armoured tanks and heavily degraded the combat potential.

With the change in the conduct of warfare India too demonstrated its ability to launch swarm drone attacks during the Army Day parade on the 15th of January 2021.

The Indian Military leadership has been focusing on the use of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and internet of things and building it to enhance its combat potential to degrade a threat both in the conventional and non-conventional environment.

The DGCA is the regulatory authority that works very closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the end-users to ensure that vulnerable areas and vulnerable points need to be protected. State Governments and UTs have promulgated orders that prohibit flying drones without permission as a criminal offence.

The government needs to look beyond promulgation of orders by having effective drone systems in these vulnerable areas and vulnerable points, to negate any future threats.