India needs to up its defense game. India is dealing with potential conflicts on two fronts. On both these fronts we have belligerent neighbors engaged in asymmetric multi-dimensional confrontation. Pakistan is more of warfare and China is more of competition. Yet, India must prepare for the potential conflict. And in this we need to improve our preparation substantially.
Just cursory look at the Air force in the region will set us back. Pakistan Air Force generally known combat strength is about 500 aircraft. China is about 1600 aircraft. India is about 600. While the numbers are not exactly a way to differentiate - but considering the length of border and our defense requirement India should aim for 2000 combat plane air force.
This means HAL cannot produce 16 aircraft per year. It has to produce 16 aircraft per month. Using private participation we need to improve this number quickly. Second, it appears we need full Rafale deal AND a F16 manufacturing line at the same time.
IAF should also think of getting larger number of combat drones. These drones should be able to manage to fly with manned aircraft. This one manned aircraft (M) -coupled with around 10 drones (D) or more. Thus one mission unit with M-D combination. Then you can add mission units with xM-yD.
These mission units will need to collaborate and coordinate with share intel. That will require a robust ICT interface.
Airforce needs support from ground and space in the form of missiles and information. We should develop mechanism for coordinated launch of missiles controlled by the aircraft pilot herself. We can augment it with coordinator based ground support too.
The future soldier will be an augmented information soldier.
We need to up our game in terms of equipping the soldier with top-class equipment. AK-203 is a step in the right direction. But we need to lighten the soldier and get every soldier a robo-buddy. The buddies could be in multiple form - carrier mules, terrain mapping drones, communication bots and combat drones (sniper buddy). For this we need very intense development in robotics and again the ICT component will also play a role.
We should experiment with augmenting the soldiers with exoskeletons and other techniques to improve battleground performance.
Air-cover has been neglected part of the army. Apache helicopters in air support is essential.
Future of navy is stealth platforms. As the US stealth ship Zumwalt goes for a maiden mission, China is developing aircraft carrier buster missiles. The Chinese missiles are hyper-sonic and thus almost impossible to intercept. In this context any above surface ship will find it difficult to beat the defenses. Hence reliance of submarine platforms should be increased.
Sub-marine drone tech is actually quite interesting. It can be used on sink-and-forget wait mode. Thus we should be able to plant and move around many depth assets on wait and watch basis. Without humans on board this is (a) easier and (b) safer. It also improves the counter-strike and defense capability. These drones should be easy to manufacture in large numbers and low cost. These drones need not be large they can simply be attachments to ammunition that can help the ammunition to navigate and activate.
Deep sea surveillance and AGAIN ICT is also going to be critical.
So Navy must develop platforms but also develop choking -technologies for anti-ship systems.
Space is important front for information wars. The satellites form critical part of the ICT infrastructure we need to deploy across the forces.
Satellites should be able to perform twin functions - jamming enemy satellites and keeping ICT infrastructure working for our forces.
The ability to quickly and rapidly restore downed satellites is very important. We should also explore possibility of smaller satellites that can last only for 5/6 months and then disintegrate. The smaller the satellite the costlier it is to destroy. Also because of size, you can build for redundancy. It is also possible to launch 100 satellites in one launch. These satellites are more relevant for theater coverage rather than country coverage.
Most of modern warfare is quite destructive and hence preventive techniques are more important than remedial measures.Cyber war allows for information and processing delays in enemy retaliation and gives us additional time and information to respond better.
Many times it is better for cyber initiatives to operate in bleeding mode than in crippling mode. Thus, it is better for cyber initiatives to delay the enemy communication rather than cripple it. Thus introducing delays and errors is better than crippling the infrastructure for short time. These cyber initiatives can also provide advanced information about enemy maneuvers. The aim is to destroy combat assets of the enemy.