BEL has developed a lighter, compact variant of its Swathi MK-I weapon location radar (pictured here). The new system is intended for operations on mountains and at high altitudes

How Does It Work

The SWATHI WLR is primarily designed for locating hostile Artillery weapons including gun, mortars, and rockets. In its secondary role, the WLR also tracks and corrects friendly Artillery fire. SWATHI electronically scans a designated sector at very high scan-rates (multiple times a second). As soon as an incoming projectile is detected during its initial upward trajectory prior to reaching the apex, the system automatically acquires and classifies the threat and initiates a track sequence, while continuing to search for new targets.

The incoming round’s trajectory is tracked, and a computer program analyses the track data and then extrapolates the observed trajectory backwards towards the weapon that fired the round. This calculated point of origin is then transmitted via the existing Artillery command/control network, to enable own Artillery to quickly and accurately engage the detected hostile weapon system. A similar function is used to observe trajectory of own Artillery rounds and locate where own shells have landed, in order to correct this fire onto the intended target.

Speaking to media at a recent event, Anandi Ramalingam, BEL's chairman and managing director, said that six Swathi MK-II units were ordered.

“The six units ordered are the mountain version of the WLR, which are lighter in weight,” Ramalingam said. “The Indian Army operates around 30 of the older MK-I variants.”

According to a BEL source, the MK-I variant, which is spread across 8×8 wheeled Tatra trucks, comprises two vehicles weighing 30 and 28 tons. The MK-II variant, which is based across two 6×6 wheeled Tatra trucks, weighs 18 tons each. “This is to satisfy the army's primary requirement that the platform should comply with bridging capacities,” the source said.

The Indian Army is also using the same radars for its operations along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir where this system is used to trace the source of attack by Pakistani positions. The system was handed to the Indian Army on a trial basis in 2018.

New Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande is a major supporter of indigenisation and orders for many types of equipment like self-propelled artillery guns are likely to go to Indian vendors only.