Air Defence Network Image Credit: Geopolitics
Air Defence Network Image Credit: Geopolitics

Finding A Niche

India’s procurement of an estimated five squadrons of s-400 Triumf Sam Systems from Russia has evoked the ire of the united states which has threatened sanctions over the deal. Whether or not this comes to pass, the threat has soured the heretofore positive defence relationship between India and the United States. But then, S-400 is crucial for filling in India’s existing Sam inventory. This is not a mere weapons acquisition, but part of a much broader upgrade of the entire iIndian ground-based Air Defence Network, argues Sanjay Badri Maharaj

Sanjay Badri Maharaj

The procurement of S-400 by India is, perhaps, underexplained. It is not supposed to be seen alone. Along with it, there is also the induction of new radars and communication systems, a full integration of civil and military radars as well as the induction of new SAMs and the development of a broad-based SAM and cruise missile defence network. In addition, the first steps towards a limited BMD (Ballistic Missiles Defence) system are part of this overall upgrade process in the entire Indian Ground-Based Air Defence network. It is into this modernisation programme that the procurement of the S-400 needs to be considered and assessed for importance.

India’s Ground-Based Air Defences

The Indian Air Defence Ground Environment System (ADGES) employs a three-tier detection network. While this system is currently in the process of a major modernisation programme, the basic structure of the ADGES network will remain unchanged. The first layer, rather surprisingly, consists of Mobile Observation Posts (MOP). These remain among the most reliable of the early-warning mechanisms available to the Indian Air Force. The MOPs consists of two-man teams equipped with a HF/VHF radio set and field glasses. The personnel in the MOP are well versed in the visual identification of aircraft as well as their general direction of flight. The MOPs are scattered along the borders at random intervals, ranging between 25 and 45 kilometres. The MOPs usually give the first warning of airborne intrusion, the general direction of the attack and, mo

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