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Airbases Fortified As CDS Rawat Warns Of Next-Gen Attacks

(This was originally posted in The Hindustan Times by Rahul Singh)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has strengthened defence at its forward airbases in the western sector to pre-empt fresh drone attacks, a day after small drones were used to target the Jammu air force station, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Sunday’s attack was the first-ever offensive use of drones to target an Indian military facility. “Counter-measures have been put in place to pre-empt such drone attacks on forward bases. Snipers and jammers are in place, among other measures. Bases are on alert,” said one of the officials cited above, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The drone attack is a watershed in asymmetric warfare and underlines the need for the armed forces to build capabilities to deter, detect and neutralise such aerial threats. While the IAF is now certain that drones were used for the Jammu attack, it is still not clear as to how many drones were used, where they came from or which side they flew away after dropping the two improvised explosive devices, said a second official.

The attack on the Jammu air force station has lent fresh urgency to deploying anti-drone technology to tackle threats from small drones, he added. Drone activity was reported over Ratnuchak-Kaluchak military area in the Jammu region on Sunday night.

“Immediately, high alert was sounded, and quick reaction teams engaged them with firing. Both drones flew away. A major threat thwarted by the alertness and proactive approach of troops,” said a government spokesperson in Jammu.

Chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat on Monday told a TV channel that the three services, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), academia and other stakeholders were working together to develop technology to counter the threat from drones at the earliest.

He said DRDO has already achieved some success and even demonstrated its anti-drone technology. DRDO has developed anti-drone technology to disable or shoot down hostile drones. Its anti-drone system has a range of two to three kilometres with radar capability to pick up the drone and then use frequencies to jam the unmanned aerial vehicle.

A top government official said DRDO has transferred the technology for the production of its anti-drone system to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). “ DRDO has written to the three services and informed them that the anti-drone system is available,” he said. DRDO is also ready to transfer technology to private industry to produce the anti-drone system, he added.

“We have to start preparing for future generation warfare. Drones, swarms and other such elements will change the nature and character of warfare. We are quite concerned about drones being used in this domain and therefore we have been continuously working on anti-drone technology,” Rawat told CNN-News18.

He said that while the three services were working together on anti-drone technology, a call was taken that the IAF should become the lead agency for coordinating all efforts on how to counter drones in the future. The Jammu attack marks a new chapter in Pakistan’s proxy war against India in Jammu and Kashmir, officials told Hindustan Times on Sunday.

“It appears to be a trial run by the adversary to gauge India’s capability to detect small targets that can fly across the border and target Indian installations. We need to beef up our surveillance capabilities, especially to pick up radar signatures of small drones that are capable of causing significant damage,” former assistant chief of air staff Air Vice Marshal Sunil Nanodkar (retd) said on Sunday.

Pakistan-backed terrorist groups and its Inter-Services Intelligence have been using drones to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs across the border into J&K and Punjab, but never have drones been used before for attacking a military base. The Jammu attack came four months after the Indian and Pakistani militaries announced on February 25 that they had begun observing a ceasefire along the Line of Control from the midnight of February 24.

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Hindustan Times

Kartik Sud

I am working as a News Author With the DefenceXP network, Observing LOC and LAC

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