The year 2018 has been majorly significant because of the much awaited reforms in the defense forces thereby strengthening India’s national security. The highlight issues of the year gone by are: –
What was the much debated Rafale deal issue?
The opposition stirred up controversy around the Rafale planes procured by the current government. The planes, which were Rs 60 crore cheaper than what the UPA government would have paid for them. There were public interest litigations (PILs) filed in the Supreme Court demanding a probe monitored by the apex court into the NDA’s Rafale deal. The court, however, ruled that there was no need for it to interfere in the Rafale deal.
India completes nuclear triad with INS Arihant submarine
- It was a dream come true for India when the nation joined an elite group by achieving a nuclear triad. It did this after the first deterrence patrol by the ‘Made in India’ INS Arihant nuclear submarine.
- After the induction of INS Arihant, India can now respond to any nuclear attack on it from land using its Agni series missiles, from the sky using its fighter planes and from the sea using the INS Arihant.
India gets force multiplier S-400 missiles from Russia
- In October 2018, India signed a $5.4 billion deal for five S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missiles from Russia. This missile can track and destroy combat aircraft, even stealth aircraft at unprecedented ranges.
- This gives India a massive deterrence against China, which also possesses this missile.
- It gives India a decisive advantage over Pakistan in any air battle.
- As an additional advantage for India, the Triumf missiles would cost significantly lower than the Patriot Pac II and THAAD missile systems of the US.
Growth of India-US partnership in defence
- There was a lot of progress in India-US ties, especially in defence, due to multiple bilateral visits in 2018.
- The first major review of the relationship took place during 2+2 dialogues between the defence and foreign ministers of both countries.
- India’s purchase of the Triumf missiles from Russia would have automatically attracted crippling sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), but the Donald Trump administration made an exception for India, which shows the strategic value that the US attaches to its relation with India.
Military reforms in 2018: –
- Notable reforms in the Indian Army:
- Procured m777 howitzers and K9 Vajra, in first major induction of artillery guns since Bofors guns were inducted in mid 1980s.
- To carry out extensive and far reaching reforms with an aim to enhance its war-fighting capabilities and effectively deal with all possible challenges facing India along its borders with China and Pakistan.
- Infantry modernisation under which a large number of light machine guns, battle carbines and assault rifles are being purchased.
- To acquire 2,600 future infantry combat vehicles for the Army.
- To indigenously manufacture a fleet of modern battle tanks, christened as future ready combat vehicle.
- The Army pursued an aggressive anti-terror policy in Jammu and Kashmir and dealt firmly with almost all incidents of unprovoked firing by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Indian and Chinese troops also held their seventh round of military exercise which was suspended in 2018 following the Doklam standoff.
- Notable reforms in the Indian Navy: –
- Strengthened its presence of warships in the Indian Ocean region
- Carried out a total of 35 multilateral and bilateral maritime exercise in the year. According to official figures, 33 Indian Navy ships are on deployment everyday on an average.
- The government is also eyeing to set up a naval base at Assumption Island in Seychelles.
- As part of the Navy’s modernisation drive, the government has approved induction of 56 new ships besides the 32 vessels which are being built.At present, the Navy has around 130 vessels.
- The launch of nuclear submarine INS Arihant was also another highlight for the Navy.
- Reflecting their growing military ties, India and the US inked a key pact — Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) – under which will facilitate Indian armed forces to obtain critical military technologies from the US, and access communication network.
- Notable reforms in the Indian Air force: –
- Held a 13-day long pan-India military exercise in April to check its readiness to deal with a hostile Pakistan and China.
- Rs 40,000 crore deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia.
- Besides trying to deal with the Rafale issue, IAF started the process to procure a batch of 114 fighter jets as part of its long-pending modernisation drive.
Major Obstacles being faced by Indian defence forces: –
- Shortage of funds impacted the Army’s modernisation drive. The Army told a Parliamentary Standing Committee in March that it was reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurement when China and Pakistan were enhancing their military capability.
- Though the defence ministry was seriously looking at implementing the ambitious Strategic Partnership model for defence production, it could not firm up any major deal under it.
Thus, although India’s security has been strengthened substantially, a lot more is yet to be done to create deterrence for the threatening neighborhood and overcome the menace of cross border terrorism and other such security concerns.