Tag Archives: Defense

Civilian Micro Drones, IEDs, and Extremists


Kulshrestha, S. “Civilian Microdrones, IEDs, and Extremists”, IndraStra Global Vol. 04, Issue No: 01 (2018), 0035, http://www.indrastra.com/2018/01/Civilian-Micro-Drones-IEDs-and-Extremists-004-01-2018-0035.html | ISSN 2381-3652


“I look to the skies
and expect artificial passenger pigeons,
blackening the light,
people taking potshots for kicks
imagining one day they will be extinct.”
Carl-John X Veraj

The proliferation of COTS drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles/systems (UAVs/UAS), have been used by military forces in conflict zones to meet various operational requirements for a long time. However, it is only now, due to the availability of Drone technologies from commercial off the shelf (COTS) market sources, that the use of the UAV/Drones [End note 1]. in the civilian arena have found multifarious applications. This availability of Drones is also being gainfully exploited by terrorists/extremists/non-state actors/insurgents & rebels for furthering their nefarious purposes. The Drones have been weaponised innovatively to drop mini bombs, booby trapping, and carrying out kamikaze attacks on the targets of interest. The exploding of a precision crashed drone, in a target area using remote means, at a time of choice is a more recent phenomenon. For example, Skywalker X-8 drone has been spotted by Kurdish forces since 2015. It is understood that a modified Skywalker X-8 (drone borne improvised explosive device or DBIED-End note 2), white in colour, crashed at approximately 1200 hours on 2 October 2016, about 30 to 40 metres from the Peshmerga trench in the Mosul Dam area. Because the drone was light (approx. 2 kg), it was assumed that it was not booby-trapped. It exploded soon thereafter, resulting in the death of two Peshmerga soldiers and wounding of two French paratroopers. The burns they endured were probably due to the detonation of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil explosive (ANFO), and from the melted expanded polyolefin (EPO) material of the UAV body generated by the heat of the explosion {1}. The explosion of the UAV created a small crater (approximately 15-20 cm in diameter) on the ground where the victims were standing. Since then, the Isis has frequently used weaponised Drones to carry out attacks. The type of Drones are commercially available Chinese mini hobby UAVs with ranges upwards of 7km and payloads of up to 40kg {2}.
As per a report by Bard College, UK, the Drone use by extremists has increased exponentially in 2017. Drones are being used in conflict zones like, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Philippines. In fact, the ISIS has a well organised system for its Drone operations, it is understood that the US had targeted the leaders of the ISIS Drone program during airstrikes in 2017 {3}. The easy availability of cheap drones in the hands of the extremists has also raised the spectre of the extremists carrying out a spectacular attack using a large number of drones akin to a swarm attack by locusts.
Counter UAS – cUAS [End note 3]
The use of consumer drones by Militant groups; for battlefield reconnaissance, dropping small bombs/IEDs, propaganda footage for recruitment videos, acts of terrorism, flying drones into the flight path of commercial airliners, swarming, or creating fear in the minds of public by other acts etc; has accelerated the developments of Counter UAS technologies in major countries.
Western Countries. Whereas the militaries today are conscious that in case of a drone swarm attack it may not be feasible to destroy or take under control of all the attackers it may be a better idea to have a calibrated and a multi layered approach to the problem. This may include both the kinetic and the electronic warfare options. The threat from small UAVs operated by extremist lone wolves are also being looked at with concern. Some of the efforts at tackling drones by the US include applicability of the British Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS), which integrates Blighter’s A400 series Ku-band electronic scanning air security radar; Chess Dynamics’ stabilized electro-optic director, infrared and daylight cameras, and target tracking software; and an Enterprise directional radio frequency (RF) inhibitor to detect, track, classify, disrupt, and defeat UAVs up to a range of six miles {4}. The US Army is utilising multiple equipment to deal with the drone threat. For example; US Army has announced a $65 million contract to SRC Inc. New York, to develop, build, and maintain the low slow small unmanned aerial system integrated defeat system; it has also awarded Leonardo DRS, USA a contract of $16 million to develop a counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) capability to protect soldiers from enemy drones; and it has purchased the “Dronebuster,” which is a 5-pound radar gun-like device that soldiers can use to jam weaponized commercial drones.
Drone Defence of UK uses Dedrone DroneTracker to detect and identify unauthorized UAVs, then utilises either the man-portable Dynopis E1000MP to jam the UAV or its Net Gun X1 C-UAV system to capture the aircraft. Operating from either a fixed location or as a mobile unit, DroneTracker uses acoustic, optical, and infrared sensors for real-time detection and identification.
Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, has developed a cUAV System combining the company’s radars, IR cameras, and direction finders with state-of-the-art data fusion and signals analysis. The system can identify an approaching drone and assess its threat potential at ranges between 5km and 10km, then offer electronic countermeasures like its Smart Responsive Jamming Technology, to minimize the risk of collateral damage.
Russia. The first Russian permanent tactical unit to combat unmanned aircraft has been positioned around Kursk {5}. It is equipped with R-330KMK Zhitel or “Resident” automated radio interference systems. These systems are understood to be able to detect and jam radio signals and interfere with UAV mission systems up to a radius of 30km. “Zhitel” (R-330Zh) system consists of two elements: a wheeled platform with an operator station for the reconnaissance system (0.1-2GHz frequency range) and a trailer with emitters and antennas of the active jamming system. The system’s purpose is to detect, track and jam the Inmarsat and Iridium satellite communications and GSM 1900 cell phones, and also to act against GSM navigation system utilizing the NAVSTAR satellites. “Zhitel” may be operated autonomously or it may, alternatively, be remotely controlled by the R-330KMK station. Its range has been defined as 15 kilometres in case of the ground-system jamming and 200 kilometres, with regards to the airborne platforms.
Israel. At the Singapore Air show in February 2016, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) revealed the Drone Guard, its new system for drone detection, identification and flight disruption. ELTA, a subsidiary of IAI, offers 3D radars and Electro-Optical (EO) sensors for detection and identification, as well as dedicated Electronic Attack (EA) jamming systems for disrupting drone flight {6}.
China. China’s Ministry of National Defense released images of the new cUAS on 28 Nov 2017. The cUAS is a container based, road mobile short-range air defence system. As per UAS Vision {7} ; the detection and jamming vehicle is equipped with roof mounted radar, electronic jamming system, and a small electro-optical (EO) ball turret. The other vehicle has a roof mounted laser emitter, a tracker (EO and thermal), and a laser range-finder on a stabilized elevatable and rotatable platform. SZMID High Technology Co. Ltd of China, has offered a new cUAS against illegal intrusion, which claims that it can disrupt the navigation of an unmanned aircraft, forcing it to land or return to base {8}.
Attack by Rebels on Russian Bases in Syria using Drone Swarm
“As for these attacks, they were undoubtedly prepared well. We know when and where these unmanned vehicles were handed over [to the attackers], and how many of them there were. These aerial vehicles were disguised – I would like to stress that – as homemade. But it is obvious that some high-tech equipment was used, {9}”
Vladimir Putin
On 6th Jan 2018 rebels in Syria launched a Swarm attack using drone borne IEDs. The attack involved using more than a dozen of weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles on Russia’s Khmeimim airbase and a Russian navy supply base in Tartus. Khmeimim or Hmeimim Air Base, is a Syrian airbase is located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim. It is being operated by Russia under a 2015 treaty with Syria. The airfield facilities of Bassel Al-Assad International Airport are utilised by the Khmeimim Air Base. The Russian naval facility at the Syrian port city of Tartus is a leased facility. It is used as a minor repairs and logistic supply base by the Russian Navy.
It is understood that 13 drones were used in the attacks, seven were shot down using Pantsir-S1 system and six were force landed using electronic warfare {10} . The Pantsir-S1 is an anti-missile and anti-aircraft system which has a combined missile/gun for automatically engaging up to 4 targets simultaneously. However, using an anti-aircraft/anti-missile system to bring down ISD modified COTS drones is a very expensive way to neutralise the drone swarms, and militaries are looking for cheaper solutions and measures for the same {11}.
The bombs attached to the captured drones were recovered and had “semi-transparent casings, white plastic fins, and a thick metal hook to attach them underwing.” The bomb’s explosive payload consisted of metal ball bearings epoxied to an explosive core and placed in a mortar bomb-like aerodynamic shell {12} . It is understood that Russians were able to track down the militant launch site after decoding the data recorded on the UAVs and kill the militants responsible for the swarm attack.
The swarm attack by rebels has caught the world by surprise mainly because of the complexities involved in controlling and directing a large number of drones to designated target tens of kilometres away. That the rebels have been able to modify the commercial drones to carry explosives as well as procure rudimentary software to carry out a coordinated attack has shaken the Russians and Americans alike. The possibility of such attacks in near future on non-military targets and urban areas cannot be ruled out.

“The incident itself, while it wasn’t necessarily a spectacular attack by terrorist standards, it certainly portends a very dark future.”
Colin Clarke, RAND
Chinese Drones
A look at China’s ingress into the global drone market is required at this juncture since China is making sophisticated and inexpensive drones that are beginning to dominate the global military and civil markets. The emphasis in this section is on drones which could be easily acquired for exploitation by extremists or rogue regimes.
Military drones. Chinese drones have been purchased by many countries including allies of the US. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have purchased Wing Loongs, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Myanmar operate CH-3. Nigeria uses CH-3 against Boko Haram. Saudi Arabia and the UAE utilise CH-4s and Wing Loongs against Houthi in Yemen {13} . Iraq has got CH-4s. Jordan and Egypt have also bought Chinese drones. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the manufacturers of CH-4 UAV, have already set up production factories in Pakistan, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia {14}.
The bigger combat UAVs come under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) but China is not a signatory to the same and can therefore proliferate its military drones.
Commercial Drones. China’s DJI is a company that has risen to one of the top manufacturers in the commercial drone market. DJI is famous for its Phantom and Mavic Pro drones. It represents 50 percent of market across all price categories {15} . DJI’s rise in the consumer drone market has been due to its ability to innovate and produce feature rich drones. DJI also reduces its prices periodically forcing other manufacturers, at times, out of the market.
The commercial drones are far cheaper and easily available in the open market, further, there is no current binding or international law against sale of commercial drones and therefore it is very lucrative for the extremists to buy and modify them to suit their objectives.
China’s Swarm technology
“Our swarming drone technology is the top in the world,”
Zhang Dengzhou of CETC, China
For years, the U.S. appeared to have a clear lead when it came to swarming drones. In 2015, the Advanced Robotic Systems Engineering Laboratory (ARSENL) of USA, had claimed a world record by launching a swarm of 50 drones. However, at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) bettered that record with a swarm of 67 drones flying together {16}. The drone used was Skywalker X6s, made by the Skywalker Technology Co. of China. Skywalker drones are popular because they’re cheap, readily-available, and easy to customize. ISIS has adapted Skywalker drones to carry bombs {17}. At the Zhuhai 2016 Air show, the SW-6 was showcased, it is a small drone with folding wings which can be dropped from a mother aircraft. Its stated role is reconnaissance, but it is also a good candidate for China’s drone “swarm” project.
Chinese Micro Killer Drones
There are a number of combat drones or CUAVs developed by China but of interest and likely application in swarm warfare include the CH-802 and CH-803. These drones have been developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
CH-802. It is a fixed wing micro air vehicle (MAV) with elevated high-wing configuration and V-tail. It is hand launchable. It has a cylindrical fuselage and a two-blade propeller driven by an electric motor. It has a payload capacity of 1 kg and a range of 30 km.
CH-803. It is a fixed-wing UAV with a cylindrical fuselage propelled by two-blade propeller driven by engine mounted in the nose. It is launched by catapult and recovered by a parachute. It has a range of 30 km and a payload capacity of 3.5 kg.
The Future
The drone and drone swarms in the arsenal of the extremists are going to be here for a long time to come. The drones are going to carry more and more harmful weapons like the chemical sprays or the biological viruses. They will be deployed against the state & civil infrastructure as well as personnel. The targeting and guidance is going to be better and better in tandem with the advances in commercial sector. Better speed, obstacle avoidance, longer range, night operability and payload capacities etc. are going to be the norm in near future.
India, as of today, appears to be deficient in effective cUAS/anti-DBIED defensive measures. Major nations across the globe have already strengthened their capabilities in this field while pursuing Unmanned technologies. It is true that as of now such attacks by extremists have more of a propaganda value than a debilitating one. However, considering the capabilities which can be easily transferred by our adversaries to the terrorists under the current trade regimes, and without any fear of international repercussion, the feasibility of a multitude of attacks upon diverse targets launched from across the borders by non-state actors should not be ruled out. India could capitalise on innovative use of artificial intelligence, AI in collating information leading to purchase of drones, their modification, purchase of civil explosives & chemicals, flight pattern of drones etc to augment the EW and kinetic options of cUAS.
It is imperative that India should put in place an AI based robust kinetic and EW counter drone program at the earliest for protection of the military as well as civil areas of interest to the terrorists.


1.Drones and UAVs are considered to be synonymous references.

2. DBIED (Drone-borne improvised explosive device) – is a drone attached to a bomb fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy or incapacitate personnel or vehicles.

3. A UAS is an all-encompassing description that encapsulates the aircraft or UAV, the ground-based controller, and the system of communications connecting the two.


[1] The Use of Weaponised UAVs by the Islamic State: Analysis of DBIED Incident on Peshmerga Forces in the Mosul Dam Area on 2 October 2016. A Report by Sahan Research Ltd London circulated on 29th December 2016. http://sahan-eu.stackstaging.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Sahan-Research-Report-1st-Investigation-of-an-ISIS-Weaponised-Drone-29xii2016.pdf (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[2] Charles Clover and Emily Feng. Isis use of hobby drones as weapons tests Chinese makers. Financial Times. 11 December 2017. https://www.ft.com/content/82a29f96-c9e7-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[3] Drone Year in Review: 2017. Center for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, 3 January 2018. http://dronecenter.bard.edu/drone-year-in-review-2017/ (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[4] J.R. Wilson. The dawn of counter-drone technologies. Military & Aerospace. 1 November 2016. http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/print/volume-27/issue-11/special-report/the-dawn-of-counter-drone-technologies.html (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[5] Philip Butterworth-Hayes. Russia forms first battlefield tactical counter-UAV unit Kursk. Unmanned Airspace. 01 November 2017. http://www.unmannedairspace.info/counter-uas-systems-and-policies/russia-forms-first-battlefield-tactical-counter-uav-unit-kursk/ (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[6] IAI Unveils “Drone Guard”: Drone Detection and Disruption Counter UAV Systems. Israel Defense. 18 February 2016. http://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/content/iai-unveils-drone-guard-drone-detection-and-disruption-counter-uav-systems (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[7] China Test-Fires New Laser-Based C-UAS. UAS Vision. 30 Nov 2017. https://www.uasvision.com/2017/11/30/china-test-fires-new-laser-based-c-uas/#24TYFbwDTJLE1El6.99 (accessed 18 Jan 2018)

[8] Dylan Malyasov. Chinese defence company offers new counter-UAV system. 22, Sep 2017.  http://defence-blog.com/news/chinese-defence-company-offers-new-counter-uav-system.html (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[9] Putin slams drone attack on Russian base in Syria as provocation. Russian Politics & Diplomacy January 11, 20:01. http://tass.com/politics/984721 (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[10] Kyle Mizokami. Russian Bases in Syria Attacked with Black Market Drones. Popular Mechanics. 12 Jan 2018. http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a15062767/russian-bases-in-syria-attacked-with-black-market-drones/ (accessed 20 Jan 2018)

[11]Marcus Weisgerber.  Air Force Buys Mysterious Israeli Weapon to Kill ISIS Drones. Defence One.23 Feb 2017. http://www.defenseone.com/business/2017/02/air-force-buys-mysterious-israeli-weapon-kill-isis-drones/135620/ (accessed 20 Jan 2018)

[12] 10 Ibid.

[13] Ben Brimelow. Chinese drones may soon swarm the market – and that could be very bad for the US. Business Insider. 17 Nov 2017. https://www.businessinsider.in/Chinese-drones-may-soon-swarm-the-market-and-that-could-be-very-bad-for-the-US/articleshow/61687119.cms  (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[14] Minnie Chan. Chinese drone factory in Saudi Arabia first in Middle East. South China Morning Post.26 Mar 2017.http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2081869/chinese-drone-factory-saudi-arabia-first-middle-east (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[15] April Glaser. DJI is running away with the drone market. Recode. 14 April 2017. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tLjIuXb8JLUJ:https://www.recode.net/2017/4/14/14690576/drone-market-share-growth-charts-dji-forecast+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[16] David Hambling. If Drone Swarms Are the Future, China May Be Winning. Popular Mechanics. Dec 23, 2016. http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a24494/chinese-drones-swarms/ (accessed 19 Jan 2018)

[17] 16 ibid.

Green Energy Initiatives by Defence Forces

(Abridged version published in SP’s Military Year Book 2017)

“Unleashing war fighters from the tether of fuel and reducing our military installations’ dependence on a costly and potentially fragile power grid will not simply enhance the environment; it will significantly improve our mission effectiveness.”

Dorothy Robyn, former deputy undersecretary of defense, in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, May 20, 2010.[1]


Military fuel consumption studies have highlighted various issues afflicting an assured supply of fuel to forces during extended operations especially in regions far away from the country of origin. Fuel is procured from agencies near to the operational areas to reduce the logistic supply chain. This is however subject to prevailing prices and fluctuations from time to time. It makes it difficult to make budgetary provisions for this essential commodity. In addition to the cost of transportation, attacks on the convoys carrying fuel are also a common feature in areas like Afghanistan and Iraq, this leads to loss of essential fuel supplies as well as combat manpower.These problems have a cascading effect on mobility of heavy military equipment as well as battle command stations, so much so that the logistic chain has to be put in place prior to the move to ensure operability of the equipment.

NATO[2] has brought out that the fact that; its forces consumed up to 4 gallons for transporting each gallon of fuel to Afghanistan; about   3000 US soldiers were killed /wounded from 2003 to 2007 in attacks on fuel and water convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan; and that there is one casualty for every 24 fuel re-supply convoys to Afghanistan. In a military camp, about 60/70% of fuel is used to produce electricity to heat/cool water or air. Further, a conventional diesel generator is able to convert only one third of its input energy in to electricity with the remaining being lost as heat. The U.S. military had begun to reduce its dependence upon fossil fuels proactively by 2010. It commenced development, evaluation, and deployment of renewable energy sources to decrease its carbon footprint.

The US Secretary of Defense delivered the review of the Department of Defense (DOD) strategy and priorities to Congress on March 4,2014 vide the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review[3] (QDR).This included the affect of   rebalance to Asia upon force structure, weapons systems, platforms, and operations. The highlights were,  “Positioning additional forward-deployed naval forces to achieve faster response times at a lower recurring cost; Deploying new combinations of ships, aviation assets, and crisis response forces that allow for more flexible and tailored support to the regional Combatant Command; Developing concepts, posture and presence options, and supporting infrastructure to exploit the Department’s investment in advanced capabilities; and Pursuing access agreements that provide additional strategic and operational flexibility in case of crisis” .  It was evident that the shift would imply requirement of additional logistic arrangements in the fuel provisioning chain. It has been estimated that the Asia-Pacific shift would entail an eleven percent additional operational fuel demand on the US DOD.

The European Defence Agency, EDA, has launched the ‘Military Green’ initiative. It has been estab­lished by six countries namely, Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, and Luxembourg. The project visualizes access rights to rooftops and land in military premises being offered to the market for electricity production using photovoltaic technology. The electricity produced would supply the defense locations as well as feed the surplus green energy to the local grid.

NATO constituted a “Smart Energy Team” (SENT), which examined national and NATO documents and visited defense agencies to identify energy efficient solutions for incorporation into NATO’s standards and best practices. The team concluded that ‘Reducing fuel consumption in the military is an operational imperative. Smart Energy solutions cannot only save money when less fuel is used, but can also save soldier’s lives, and help improve the mobility, as well as the resilience and endurance of military forces’[4].

Thus, it can be seen that it became imperative for the major defense forces to give impetus to adoption of renewable energy sources in their routine as well as operational deployments.

Green Energy Generation Options to Defense Forces

Green Energy options that are available to defense forces depending upon their geographical locations include a combination of the following:

Solar Energy. Solar energy is being utilized by the forces to reduce load on traditional generators. Solar energy can be generated using both fixed and portable solar systems to provide a clean source of energy especially at remote locations. This also helps in reducing the number of costly and at times dangerous fuel re-supply missions. With the rapidly reducing costs of PV cells, the rates of solar power are highly competitive. Further, since the PV cells are much lighter they can be easily carried on the backpacks in battlefield.

Biomass. Developments in Biomass have resulted in corn-based ethanol and soybean or canola based biodiesel. Lately, however there is shift away from food crops for generating fuel towards use of lignocelluloses feed stocks and energy crops that can be grown on wastelands. The biomass to liquids (BTL) includes synthetic fuels derived thermo-chemically via biomass gasification and cellulosic ethanol produced biochemically. The production of Fischer-Tropsch liquids (FTL)[5] from biomass is considered advantageous over cellulosic ethanol.

Fuel Cells. Fuel cells are one of the most efficient techniques for power generation and an alternate to petroleum. They can function on a number of different fuel sources like biogas, hydrogen, or natural gas. They also provide scalable advantage from megawatts down to a watt, which enable meeting a large variety of applications for the forces. They can power transportation systems on land and sea, provide power in remote areas, act as power backups, assist in distributed power, and so on. The byproducts of fuel cells are water and heat since they directly convert chemical energy in hydrogen to electricity. They are also highly efficient with conversion in the range of ~60%, which is nearly twice that of conventional sources.

Waste to Energy. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) can be converted to energy in three ways, namely, pyrolysis, gasification, and combustion. These processes are differentiated by the ratio of oxygen supplied to the thermal process divided by oxygen required for complete combustion. It has been observed that a localized approach to generating energy from waste is beneficial as compared to a large facility located miles away. This helps in reducing the overall carbon footprint as well as facilities that do not look out of place.

Hydropower. Investments in small hydropower systems reduce the exposure to fuels considerably. Intelligently sited and planned systems assure clean and reliable energy over the years.

Marine Renewable Energy. A large source of renewable energy is presented by the oceans, in form of wind driven waves on the coast, ocean currents, ebbing and flowing tidal currents through inlets and estuaries, river currents, offshore wind energy and ocean thermal systems. All of these can be utilized for power generation by the forces.

Geothermal Power. It provides a number of advantages like, it is non-interruptible, it is cleaner, it is an established technology, and is abundant. This is a highly suitable energy source for land-based establishments that have access to it.

Initiatives by Defence Forces

“Today’s war fighters require more energy than at any time in the past and that requirement is not likely to decline,” he explained. “During World War II, supporting one Soldier on the battlefield took one gallon of fuel per day. Today, we use over 22 gallons per day, per Soldier.”

General Martin E. Dempsey

The US Department of Defense (DOD) published its 2011 Operational Energy Strategy, which, laid down the overall guidelines for armed forces to pursue in respect of energy. The US Military has set up the goals of reduction in energy consumption, enhancing energy efficiency across platforms, enhancing usage of renewable/ alternative energy supplies and assuring energy sufficiency. To meet the desired goals, DOD has to look at deploying clean low carbon technologies at its establishments as well as increased renewable energy generation through solar, waste to energy, wind power, geothermal and other sources. In addition the DOD has to comply with a number of energy policies and executive orders that govern the DOD, these include:

-The National Energy Conservation Policy Act, 1978. It lays the foundation for energy management by US agencies.

– The Energy Policy Act of 2005. It laid down requirements and authorizations for:

-Metering of suitable federal buildings by the beginning of fiscal 2012.

– Energy-efficient product procurement.

-Use of energy saving performance contracts through fiscal 2016.

-Federal building standards that exceed by at least 30 percent industry standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

-Renewable electricity consumption for federal agencies to increase to at least 3 percent of facility electricity consumption for fiscal 2007-09; 5 percent for fiscal 2010-12; and 7.5 percent thereafter.

-Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It amended the National Energy Conservation Policy Act to require agencies to improve energy intensity. It expanded authority to facilitate use of energy saving performance contracts.

-National Defense Authorization Act 2007. It codified US DOD’s goal of securing 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2025.

In addition to the above, executive orders issued by the president of the United States that are applicable to US DOD energy efforts include:

-Executive Order 13423, Jan 24, 2007, requires federal agencies to, reduce energy intensity 3 percent annually, and ensure that at least half the renewable energy requirement established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 comes from new energy sources.

-Executive Order 13514, Oct. 5, 2009, requires federal agencies to, establish a senior sustainability officer, and submit an annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan to the Council on Environmental Quality between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2021. Further, it is to be ensured that new federal buildings designed in 2020 or later are ‘net zero for energy’ by 2030.

The US Army has decided to have five installations meet net-zero energy goals by 2020 and have 25 establishments achieve net-zero energy by 2030. To cut fossil fuel Army is increasingly deploying hybrid and electric vehicles.

The US Navy has set the goals of energy efficient acquisitions, sailing the Great Green fleet by 2016, reducing the non-tactical petroleum use by 50 % by 2015, producing 50% of shore based energy from alternate sources, making 50 % installations net-zero by 2020, and lastly, ensuring that by 2020, 50% of its total energy requirements would be met from alternate energy sources.

The Great Green Fleet Initiative of the US Navy. The Great Green Fleet is a demonstrator of the strategic and tactical viability of bio fuels. A strike group has embarked on a yearlong deployment in West Pacific in January 2016. The strike group (JCSSG) consists of USS John C. Stennis with Carrier Air Wing (CVW-9) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay and guided missile destroyers Chung-Hoon, Stockdale, and William P. Lawrence. CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14; Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133; Fleet Logistics Combat Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment 4 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 151, 97, 41 and 14[6]. The JCSSG is using alternate fuel (10 percent beef tallow and 90 percent marine diesel) and incorporating energy conservation measures. The Great Green Fleet initiative also includes use of energy efficient systems and operating procedures like changing of lights to solid-state lighting, temperature control initiative, installation of stern flaps to reduce drag etc.

The US Air Force has decided to reduce overall energy demands, increase energy supply through alternate/ renewable energy sources, and meet the “End State Goals” of DOD by 2030. These include, that bases meet Air Force energy security criteria while optimizing the mix of on‐base and off‐base generation, that aircraft fly on alternative fuel blends, that Forward Operating Bases be capable of operating on renewable energy & optimizing energy utilization. It is also testing different “Hydro treated Renewable Jet” (HRJ) fuels which comprise of bio-fuels and jet fuels in order to have 50% of its aviation fuel from alternative blends by 2016. In addition, the US Air Force is seeking to have better energy efficiency engines for its aircraft in future.

In July this year, the US Army and Air Force have come together to change all their sources of electricity to clean and renewable energy. As per Air Force News Service “The Army and Air Force have identified energy resilience as a critical objective, advancing the capability for their systems… to respond to… unexpected disruptions,” …”Now, both offices will share support staff, business processes, and best practices.”[7]

Indian Armed Forces

In order to reduce the carbon footprint of the Indian Defence Forces and associated establishments the Government of India has initiated considerable efforts under phase-II/III of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission JNNSM. It includes setting up over 300 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects by Defence Establishments under Ministry of Defence and Para Military Forces with Viability Gap Funding under JNNSM. As per the annual report of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the year 2014-2015[8], some of the salient features of the scheme include:

-A capacity of 300 MW to be set up in various Establishments of Ministry of Defence with the minimum size of the project to be one MW. The defence establishments would identify locations for developing solar projects, anywhere in the country including border areas from time to time. The projects under this Scheme will mandatorily use solar cells/modules, which are made in India. The Defence organizations/Establishments will be free to own the power projects i.e. get an Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) contractor to build the project for them or get a developer who makes the investment and supplies power at a fixed tariff of Rs.5.50 per unit for 25 years. The MoD or the Defence Organization would be free to follow their own procurement systems or develop detailed guidelines or procedures for tendering.

-Inter-Ministerial group has recommended National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) Support of Rs. 750 cr.

Indian Army’s quest for green fuels has led to research into algal biomass, which is considered to be one of the best emerging sources of sustainable energy. The algal biomass can be conveniently cultivated in a matter of days at military detachments and used to produce bio-fuel for use in military vehicles. Nine DRDO labs are currently carrying out research on microalgae for extraction of bio fuels[9].

Indian Navy has completed two years of its Green Initiatives Program on World Environment Day in 2016. Navy has undertaken a large number of green measures to reduce its overall carbon footprint. An Energy and Environment Cell[10] at Naval Headquarters has been created to monitor the implementation of the green energy programs. The Navy has initiated efforts to go green in ship designs as well as its operations. It also carries out mass awareness drives in its dockyards, and shore establishments to sensitize the personnel to energy conservation.

The Navy has set a target of 21 MW Solar PV installation[11],  in line with the National Mission of Mega Watt to Giga Watt towards achieving 100 GW Solar PV installations by 2022. Navy has also pledged 1.5 per cent of its Works budget towards Renewable Energy generation. Navy is exploring the feasibility of exploiting Ocean Thermal Energy and Wave Energy as sources of green energy.

Moving Towards Smart Energy

In almost all developing and developed countries, electric industry is moving away from a centralized, producer-controlled network to one that is more consumer-interactive and less centralized. Smart Grid is a term for a functional system, which utilizes modern communication technologies with monitoring & control systems to make the electric grid more efficient. A more advanced grid utilizes information technology for processing data and allows utilities to perform grid operations. Smart grid systems also help consumers to use their energy needs in a better way[12]. In India for instance, the transmission losses are one of the highest in the world, in addition India grapples with unpredictable energy sources feeding the grid[13], it is therefore necessary to have a grid that is highly adaptive, in other words, a smart grid.

Some features of smart grid include[14]:

-Advanced Metering Infrastructure, AMI, it utilizes smart meters, communications networks for transmitting meter data, and management systems for receiving, storing, and processing the data.

-Grid modernization by deploying sensors, communications, and control technologies for efficient grid operations. Smart distribution technologies to help locate and identify defects, and carry out effective monitoring for the equipment.

– Transmission system modernization using digital equipment for monitoring and controlling operations throughout the transmission grid. It uses Synchrophasor technology, with phasor measurement units (PMUs) for measuring instantaneous voltage, current, and frequency.

– Virtual power plants, which allow discrete energy resources (DERs) to feed the electricity grid constantly and reliably.

-Micro grids, which are clusters of local DERs and loads connected in such a way that an operation is possible within the grid or in an independent mode.

The smart grid however, comes with its own challenges in terms of bandwidth and cyber security. Each application of the smart grid requires a combination of communication technologies for handling its own bandwidth and latency[15] needs. Currently, secure interoperable networks are being designed which would provide adequate cyber security.

The defense forces have taken a proactive approach to meet their energy requirements of the future with emphasis upon green energy initiatives and sensitivity to the conservation of the natural environment. The aspects of national security and energy security of the nation have also been carefully blended in the quest for going green. However, as the defense forces are also interdependent upon the civil power sources, the grids being designed would have to be smart enough to cater to distributed energy sources with two way power flows, smart management & generation of energy, cyber protection, band width management, and handling of variable power generated from renewable sources.

[1] House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Readiness (statement of Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense) (March 29, 2012), http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/robyn_testimony_hasc%20mar292012.pdf. (Accessed 21 Jul 2016).

[2] http://www.natolibguides.info/smartenergy. (Accessed 23 Jul 2016)

[3] archive.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pd (Accessed 29 Jul 2016)

[4] http://www.natolibguides.info/smartenergy

[5] James T. Bartis &Lawrence Van Bibber, Alternative Fuels for Military Applications, 2011, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica.

[6] http://www.militaryspot.com/news/great-green-fleet-explained (Accessed 19 Jul 2016)

[7] http://sputniknews.com/military/20160407/1037608215/usaf-army-clean-energy-switch.html (Accessed 24 Jul 2016).

[8] http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/annual-report/2014-2015/EN/Chapter%204/chapter_4.htm

[9] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Army-Goes-Green-to-Produce-Bio-fuel-for-Battle-Tanks/2016/03/16/article3329437.ece

[10] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=145978

[11] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/good-governance/centre/Indian-Navy-is-engaged-in-renewable-energy-generation/articleshow/52618824.cms

[12] US department of Energy, 2014 Smart Grid System Report, Report to Congress, August 2014.

[13] Navneet Gupta and Apurav Jain, Smart Grids in India, Renewable Energy,  – Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, August 2011.http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/akshay-urja/july-august-2011/EN/Smart%20Grid%20in%20India.pdf

[14] 12 ibid.

[15] Network latency is an expression of how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another.

 The Challenge of Military Artificial Intelligence

 (Abridged version published in SP’s Military Year Book 2017)

Intelligent machines were the focus of research work at many institutes after the WWII. In 1950, Alan Turing argued that if the machine could successfully pretend to be human to a knowledgeable observer then one certainly should consider it intelligent[i]. The credit of coining the phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’ goes to John McCarthy in 1955. A number of scientists have defined Artificial Intelligence, (AI) in a varying manner; however, there appears to be no single definition, which has been universally accepted. All the definitions of AI are connected with human intelligence in some way, some of them are:

– “The study of mental faculties through the use of computational models”[ii].

-“The art of creating machines that perform functions requiring intelligence when performed by people”[iii].

-“A field of study that seeks to explain and emulate intelligent behavior in terms of computational processes”[iv].

– “The study of how to make computers do things at which, at the moment, people are better”[v].

– “The study of the computations that make it possible to perceive, reason, and act”[vi].

– “The branch of computer science that is concerned with the automation of intelligent behavior”[vii].

Strong AI has been defined as that moment when “humankind is in the presence of an intelligence greater than its own”[viii], and as “strong AI is reached once the computer regarded as such is conscious of its abilities”[ix].

AI imbibes knowledge from different fields like Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology. AI embodies a wide range of intelligent search methods, techniques for obtaining clarity where uncertainties exist in data and knowledge, and various types of machine learning & representation schemes of knowledge. Its various applications include, speech recognition, natural language processing, expert systems, neural networks, intelligent robotics, gaming and 3D vision. There is a need to define machine learning and deep learning before moving on to the military applications of AI.

Machine learning. It has evolved from the study of computational learning theory, pattern recognition, and artificial intelligence. It is a subfield of computer science.[x] It has been defined in 1959 by Arthur Samuel as a “Field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed”. Machine learning relies upon utilizing algorithm constructions to perform predictive analysis on data[xi]. Machine learning tasks fall into three basic categories namely[xii]; Supervised learning is one in which the computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs; Unsupervised learning is one where no labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input; and Reinforcement learning is one where a computer program interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal.

 Deep Learning. Le Deng and Dong Yu of Microsoft have provided the following definitions for Deep Learning[xiii]:

-A class of machine learning techniques that exploit many layers of non-linear information processing for supervised or unsupervised feature extraction and transformation, and for pattern analysis and classification.

-A sub-field within machine learning that is based on algorithms for learning multiple levels of representation in order to model complex relationships among data.

-A sub-field of machine learning that is based on learning several levels of representations, corresponding to a hierarchy of features or factors or concepts, where higher-level concepts are defined from lower-level ones, and the same lower level concepts can help to define many higher-level concepts.

Some of the deep learning architectures built around neural networks are deep belief networks, deep neural networks and recurrent neural networks. The use of deep learning architectures in automatic speech recognition, bioinformatics, natural language processing, and 3D vision etc has resulted in remarkable successes.

As per Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky of Numenta, building of smart machines has involved three basic approaches. These are the Classic AI, Simple Neural Networks, and Biological Neural Networks.[xiv]

The classic AI approach involved computer programs that were based upon abilities of the human brain to solve simple problems. However, the computers required large amounts of inputs from knowledge experts to lay down the rules based upon their expertise and experience in problem solving. Thus, the classic AI systems were created specific to a problem, while they were very useful in case of problems which had been defined in detail they could not learn on their own and provide solutions to problems. They failed in comparison with general human intelligence.

When the limitations of Classic AI were encountered, scientists looked at the functioning of the human brain at the level of neurons and this resulted in Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). The ANNs lay emphasis upon unsupervised learning from data provided to them. Thus, the Simple Neural Networks learn from data and do not require experts to lay down the rules. The Simple Neural Network is a mathematical technique that locates patterns in large, static data sets[xv]. The ANNs are a subset of machine learning techniques that processes large amount of data using statistical and mathematical techniques in addition to ANNs to provide results. ANNs have transformed into Deep Learning networks with the advent of humongous data and fast computers. Thus, Simple Neural Networks could provide solutions where Classic AI could not. However, the Simple Neural Networks too have limitations when data is dynamic or when data is limited for training.

In the Biological Neural Approach, emphasis is laid upon studying how a human brain works to cull out the properties that are required for intelligent systems. It is established that, information is represented in the brain using sparse distributed representations or SDRs. Further, it is known that memory is a sequence of patterns, behavior is essential part of learning, and that learning has to be continuous. Therefore, the building blocks of intelligent machines should be SDRs[xvi]. The biological neuron is also not as simple as conceived during the Simple Neural Network approach.

Military applications of AI can be found in almost all aspects of military from decision-making, equipment operations, sensors, weapons systems to unmanned vehicles. The military is adopting AI mainly because it results in much fewer casualties, higher efficiency, and lower costs. Intelligent robotics and unmanned vehicles for army, navy, and air force are bringing in a new revolution in standoff warfare. The war against terrorism is practically being fought with unmanned weaponized aerial vehicles in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Be it air traffic control in a combat zone, which would allow manned and unmanned aircraft, weapons etc. to operate without conflict by automated routing and planning; or military decision making in fog of war; or a radar’s target identification algorithms which look at the shape of possible targets and their Doppler signatures; AI is integral to all these systems. In this article two major categories of military applications are discussed which pertain to cyber defence and military logistics.

Applications of AI in Cyber Defence

In 2009, Conficker[xvii] worm infected civil and defence establishments of many nations, for example, the UK DOD reported large-scale infection of its major computer systems including ships, submarines, and establishments of Royal Navy. The French Naval computer network ‘Intramar’ was infected, the network had to be quarantined, and air operations suspended. The German Army also reported infection of over a hundred of its computers. Conficker sought out flaws in Windows OS software and propagated by forming a botnet, it was very difficult to weed it out because it used a combination of many advanced malware techniques. It became the largest known computer worm infection by afflicting millions of computers in over 190 countries.

It s evident that the amount of data and the speeds at which processing is required in case of cyber defence is not feasible for human beings to carry it out. Conventional algorithms also cannot tackle dynamically changing data during a cyber attack. It appears that cyber defence can only be provided by real time flexible AI systems with learning capability.

The US Defence Science Board report of 2013[xviii] states that “in a perfect world, DOD operational systems would be able to tell a commander when and if they were compromised, whether the system is still usable in full or degraded mode, identify alternatives to aid the commander in completing the mission, and finally provide the ability to restore the system to a known, trusted state. Today’s technology does not allow that level of fidelity and understanding of systems.” The report brings out that, systems such as automated intrusion detection, automated patch management, status data from each network, and regular network audits are currently unavailable. As far as cyber defence is concerned in the US, it is the responsibility of the Cyber Command to “protect, monitor, analyze, detect, and respond to unauthorized activity within DOD information systems and computer networks”[xix]. The offensive cyber operations could involve both military and intelligence agencies since both computer network exploitation and computer network attacks are involved. The commander of Cyber Command is also the Director of National Security Agency, thus enabling the Cyber Command to execute computer exploitations that may result in physical destruction of military or civilian infrastructure of the adversary. Some advance research work in respect of active cyber defence has been demonstrated under various fields of AI, some successfully tested examples are:

Artificial Neural Networks- In 2012, Barman, and Khataniar studied the development of intrusion detection systems, IDSs based on neural network systems. Their experiments showed that the system they proposed has intrusion detection rates similar to other available IDSs, but it was at least ~20 times faster in detection of denial of service, DoS attacks[xx].

Intelligent Agent Applications-In 2013, Ionita et al. proposed a multi intelligent agent based approach for network intrusion detection using data mining[xxi].

Artificial Immune System (AIS) Applications- In 2014, Kumar, and Reddy developed a unique agent based intrusion detection system for wireless networks that collects information from various nodes and uses this information with evolutionary AIS to detect and prevent the intrusion via bypassing or delaying the transmission over the intrusive paths[xxii].

Genetic Algorithm and Fuzzy Sets Applications- In 2014, Padmadas et al. presented a layered genetic algorithm-based intrusion detection system for monitoring activities in a given environment to determine whether they are legitimate or malicious based on the available information resources, system integrity, and confidentiality[xxiii].

Miscellaneous AI Applications- In 2014, Barani proposed genetic algorithm (GA) and artificial immune system (AIS), GAAIS – a dynamic intrusion detection method for Mobile ad hoc Networks based on genetic algorithm and AIS. GAAIS is self-adaptable to network changes[xxiv].

From the above it can be seen that there is rapid progress in design and development of cyber defence systems utilizing AI that have direct military applications.

Applications of AI in Military Logistics

Some of the challenges being faced by militaries in both peace and war include ensuring the adequacy of maintenance and repair of sophisticated  equipment, weapons, armament and ammunition; ensuring the supportability of missions with due planning; and guaranteeing  the availability of qualified personnel to carry out the assigned tasks. AI and associated technologies have made impressive inroads in civil and military logistics to ease the cumbersome operations and procedures involved. It has now been established that AI has significantly improved the systems and processes in the logistic chain and has led to considerable savings for the military establishments. AI encompasses many innovative technologies that are being used in military; some of these are discussed in succeeding paragraphs.

-Expert systems are software programs that usually serve as intelligent advisors in specific areas of expertise. Expert system technology has percolated to all functional areas of production and logistics of the military. Logistics expert systems in areas of inventory management, transportation, warehousing, acquisition, maintenance, and production are common. Examples include, the Inventory Manager’s Assistant of US Air Force, Dues Management Advisor (DMA) of the US Navy and Logistics Planning and Requirements Simplification (LOGPARS) system of the US Army.

-Natural language systems convert languages into computer language, thus making it feasible to communicate with computers in language of choice obviating the need to master computer languages. Natural language applications are being used to provide user-friendly query capability for large databases pertaining to logistics.

-Speech recognition systems allow user to interact directly with computers thus eliminating the use of keyboards. The voice signal is digitized and compared with stored voice patterns and grammatical rules for computer to understand the voice message. For example, US Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) is using a speech recognition system in its depot warehouses to interface with the warehouse’s automated storage module (ASM); the US Army is using speech recognition system in association with a diagnostic system for carrying out maintenance of its motor vehicles as well as in its transportation planning[xxv].

-3D vision technology allows a computer to “sense” its environment and classify the various objects in its vicinity. The US Navy is using this in its Rapid Acquisition of Manufactured Parts (RAMP) program and the US Air Force for reverse engineering parts in its maintenance facilities. 3D vision applications are of significant importance in using robotics for logistics.

-Intelligent robots incorporate a host of AI technologies to mimic specific work undertaken by human beings. Mobile robots are being increasingly utilized in activities from patrolling to investigating and neutralizing explosives[xxvi]. Mobile robotic systems are used for carrying out routine inspections of nuclear missiles. They have eliminated the need of human element from going into containment systems. The robot is remotely operated from outside the containment zone. As far as arming of robots (Lethal Autonomous Weapons) is concerned, thousands of scientists and technologists, including, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Steve Wozniak signed an open letter in 2015 asking for a ban on lethal weapons controlled by artificially intelligent machines[xxvii]. The letter states “Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is—practically if not legally—feasible within years not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”

-Neural networks are designed based upon models of the way a human brain functions. They are capable of associative recall and adaptive learning. Because of the massive processing power associated with such networks, they are being increasingly utilized in logistic applications. Eyeriss is a new microchip fabricated at MIT and funded by DARPA that has the potential to bring deep learning to a smart phone that can be carried by a soldier[xxviii].


Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) R&DE(E), Pune are the main laboratories of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in India working in the area of artificial intelligence and robotics. A family of robots that have been developed for various surveillance / reconnaissance applications include[xxix]; RoboSen mobile robot system for patrolling, reconnaissance, and surveillance. It is capable of autonomous navigation with obstacle avoidance capability and continuous video feedback; Miniature Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) is a ruggedized man-portable robotic system for low-intensity conflicts; Walking robots with six and four legs for logistics support; and Wall climbing & flapping wing robots for potential usage in Low Intensity Combat (LIC) operations.

Some projects under development include[xxx]:

-AI Techniques for Net Centric Operations (AINCO) – A suite of technologies for creation of knowledge base, semantic information reception and handling, inference reasoning, and event correlation.

-Knowledge Resources And Intelligent Decision Analysis (KRIDA) – A system that aims to achieve the management of large-scale military moves using extensive knowledge base and data handling.

-INDIGIS 2D/3D – An indigenous Geographic Information System (GIS) kernel that provides platform for development of display, analysis, and decision support involving spatio-temporal data.

-S57 Viewer – for viewing more than one lakh tracks.

-IVP_NCO and IP Lib – A comprehensive suite of image and video processing applications to provide a unified solution to image and video processing in the net-centric operations.

-Indigenous Network Management System (INMS) – An indigenous NMS with resource planning, network planning, and network monitoring tools for IP network management.

Future of Military Artificial Intelligence

The global defence sector has seen unprecedented adoption of unmanned systems and robotics. This has been mainly due to various factors like; reduction in own casualties and feasibility of riskier missions using robots; high precision, minimal collateral damage, longer endurance and range; quicker reaction times with greater flexibility; and finally cost benefits accruing due to reduction in cost of technology with increased percolation. Unmanned aerial systems comprise as much as over 80% of all military robots, in past six years US spending on military UAVs has increased by ten times[xxxi]. Today over 90 countries are operating drones with over 30 armed drone programs. Many programs including, Drone mother ships in air and water; swarm warfare on land, sea and air; high definition real time ISR; wearable electronic packages for soldiers with exoskeletons; and exotic weapon systems are likely to be inducted within the coming decade. The threat of cyber attacks on the AI systems is very real. AI Machines are connected to the human controllers for taking and executing critical commands, the linkages can be hacked both through electronic warfare as well as cyber attacks. Since AI runs entirely on software, there is a finite probability of it being manipulated and used against the owner. DARPA had run a three year ‘Cyber Grand Challenge’[xxxii] to accelerate the development of advanced, autonomous systems that can detect, evaluate, and patch software vulnerabilities before adversaries have a chance to exploit them. The competition which ended on 4th of Aug 2016, achieved its aim to prove the principle that machine-speed, scalable cyber defense is possible. This would mark the beginning of a new era in much needed cyber defence of AI systems.

 As far as AI is concerned it suffices to quote US deputy secretary of defense, Robert Work  “…the 2017 fiscal budget request will likely ask for $12-$15bn for war gaming, experimentation and demonstrations to test out the military’s theories on AI and robotics ‘in human-machine collaboration combat teaming’…”[xxxiii]

[i] http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/node1.html

[ii] Charniak, E., & McDermott, D. Introduction to artificial intelligence. Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc. Boston, MA, USA ©1985,ISBN:0-201-11945-5

[iii] Kurzweil, R. (The Age of Intelligent Machines. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

[iv] Schalkoff, R. I. Artificial Intelligence: An Engineering Approach .McGraw-Hill, New York.

[v] Rich, E., and Knight, K. Artificial Intelligence. McGraw-Hill, New York, second edition.

[vi] Winston, P.H. Artificial Intelligence. Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, third edition.

[vii] Luger, G.F. and Stubblefield, W.A. Artificial Intelligence: Structures and Strategies for Complex

Problem Solving. Benjamin/Cummings. Redwood City, California, second edition.

[viii] Barrat, James. Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

[ix] Russell, Stuart, and Peter Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Montreal, QC: Prentice Hall.

[x] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1116194/machine-learning

[xi] Ron Kohavi; Foster Provost (1998). “Glossary of terms”Machine Learning30: 271–274.

[xii] Russell, StuartNorvig, Peter  . Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0137903955.

[xiii] Li Deng and Dong Yu, Deep Learning: Methods and Applications. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/DeepLearning-NowPublishing-Vol7-SIG-039.pdf

[xiv]Jeff Hawkins & Donna Dubinsky, What Is Machine Intelligence Vs. Machine Learning Vs. Deep Learning Vs. Artificial Intelligence (AI)? http://numenta.com/blog/machine-intelligence-machine-learning-deep-learning-artificial-intelligence.html

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conficker

[xviii] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat, United States Department of Defense, Defense Science Board, January 2013

[xix] U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Defense Department Cyber Efforts,” May 2011, 2–3, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1175.pdf.

[xx] D. K. Barman, G. Khataniar, “Design Of Intrusion Detection System Based On Artificial Neural Network And Application Of Rough Set”, International Journal of Computer Science and Communication Networks, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 548-552

[xxi] I. Ionita, L. Ionita, “An agent-based approach for building an intrusion detection system,” 12th International Conference on Networking in Education and Research (RoEduNet), pp.1-6.

[xxii] G.V.P. Kumar, D.K. Reddy, “An Agent Based Intrusion Detection System for Wireless Network with Artificial Immune System (AIS) and Negative Clone Selection,” International Conference on Electronic Systems, Signal Processing and Computing Technologies (ICESC), pp. 429-433.

[xxiii] M. Padmadas, N. Krishnan, J. Kanchana, M. Karthikeyan, “Layered approach for intrusion detection systems based genetic algorithm,” IEEE International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Computing Research (ICCIC), pp.1-4.

[xxiv] F. Barani, “A hybrid approach for dynamic intrusion detection in ad hoc networks using genetic algorithm and artificial immune system,” Iranian Conference on Intelligent Systems (ICIS), pp.1 6.

[xxv] Bates, Madeleine; Ellard, Dan; Peterson, Pat; Shaked, Varda. http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/H91-1040

[xxvi] http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-Industry-Insights/Robotics-in-Security-and-Military-Applications/content_id/3112

[xxvii] https://www.technologyreview.com/s/539876/military-robots-armed-but-how-dangerous

[xxviii] http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/02/new-microchip-could-increase-military-intelligence-powers-exponentially/125715/

[xxix] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=124000

[xxx] http://www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs/CAIR/English/index.jsp?pg=Products.jsp

[xxxi] http://about.bankofamerica.com/assets/davos-2016/PDFs/robotic-revolution.pdf

[xxxii] http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-08-04

[xxxiii] http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2015/12/15/2147846/the-future-military-artificial-intelligence-complex/

Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)- Navy’s Armed Patrol


(Published SP’s Naval Forces, Dec 2016-Jan 2017. Vol 11 No. 6 )

“It is not surprising that some OPVs are multirole and heavily armed, lighter scantling and faster, whereas others are larger, heavier, therefore slower, and equipped for the purposes of survey [and] pollution control. I think in the past some of the vessels which now come under the banner of OPV would have previously been called something else, such as corvette, light frigate or fishery protection vessel, but due to the current fad they fall under the generic term of OPV.”

Mike Stamford, Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB)

A modern navy operates various types of warships to meet its diverse roles from simple coastal patrols to power projection and war fighting. While the navy has aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, and missile boats for its offensive missions it also has different class of ships for patrol, presence and support roles.

The grant of 200 nm EEZ and the extension from three nm to 12 nm of the maritime boundary/territorial waters of a nation brought to fore requirement of naval ships that could fulfill the roles of extended coastal security as well as provide security cover to the EEZ. The other coastal roles that are needed for the naval craft include, pollution control, SAR, law enforcement, firefighting, towing etc. Larger naval ships cannot maneuver in the restricted and shallow coastal waters and would largely remain underutilized if deployed for EEZ patrols. This had given rise to the birth of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Class of ships. The OPVs however, are being built to sizes and roles specific to a nation; they may range in size from a large attack craft to nearly a frigate size ship. They are proving economic for smaller nations because of their low cost and flexible roles. They are mainly being used for, extended coastal patrols, EEZ protection, maritime presence, law enforcement at sea, HADR, and if needed, for Arctic or Antarctic ice patrols. The primary roles for the combat OPVs are AAW and ASuW. They can be classified as combat OPVs and specific capability OPVs. The combat OPVs are faster and could be equipped with ASW, AAW, or ASuW weapon systems. These OPVs can take part in combat and meet the survivability standards of naval warships.

Weapons on Combat OPVs

While some nations have equipped their OPVs with Exocet and similar missiles, the majority of the combat role OPVs carry three types of weapons namely; a large/medium caliber main gun, a small caliber auxiliary gun, and a machine gun. The machine gun is also carried by the onboard helicopter.

Main Gun.  A warship’s main gun can be a large caliber gun or a medium caliber gun. Many navies prefer medium caliber guns like the Oto Melara 76 mm, for their OPVs. The main gun’s maximum effective range is substantially higher than the auxiliary and the machine gun’s maximum effective ranges. Firing from long range is particularly important in conventional warfare, but not necessarily when fighting with terrorists. In littoral areas, there could be many merchant vessels, which could make it almost impossible to classify a ship at long distances. The only way to classify an unknown vessel from a long distance is with a helicopter. Therefore, even though the maximum effective range of the main gun ranges from 7000 meters to 10000 meters, the OPV would not be able to fire its main gun until the enemy boat is classified as hostile. The probability of hit is about 80% at 500 m.

Auxiliary Gun. The auxiliary gun for the OPV is a small caliber gun for example a 30 mm CIWS naval gun. The auxiliary gun’s presence is important especially when the OPV is not able use its main gun for some reason. If the hit probability of the auxiliary gun is high, it can be a game changer.

Machine Guns. A machinegun, normally a 12.7 mm, is operated by OPV personnel, and it has a relatively short effective range when compared to the ranges of the main and the auxiliary guns. Its main purpose is to warn other ships and to protect its own ship from small targets. The machine guns are very useful in crowded areas, since it is very difficult to classify a small boat from a long distance. It is also impossible to use missiles or long-range guns at shorter distances. Further, rules of engagement may not allow firing at hostile craft unless it approaches within a certain threatening range. In this case, the OPV can use its machine guns both for warning the approaching craft and for protecting itself. The probability of hit at 500 m is about 50%; it increases as the distance to target decreases.

Onboard Helicopter and its weapon. The high-speed capability of the helicopter makes it one of the most valuable assets of an OPV. It can perform search, detection, and reconnaissance operations in relatively short amounts of time, and with high accuracy. Technological advances also allow the helicopters to use cameras that help them to classify the targets. When the helicopter detects an unknown vessel, it moves towards that target for classification at its maximum speed, which ranges from 50 knots to 180 knots. The friendly craft have AIS devices, which allow classification of almost all of the vessels in the area. However, there are could be some vessels that cannot be classified via AIS these could be identified by the helicopter. The classification distance may depend on weather conditions, capability of the camera, or the training of the operators. A 12.7 mm machine gun is normally used on the helicopter.

Combat OPVs

Larger combat OPVs, for example the UAE Baynunah class OPVs are combatants to meet the requirements of combat patrols in Strait of Hormuz. The Baynunah class are fitted with weapon systems including the MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 surface-to-surface missile (SSM) and the Raytheon Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) RIM-162 surface-to-air missile (SAM). They also have an Oto Melara 76 mm gun and two 27 mm cannons. They also carry an organic helicopter, mine-avoidance sonar system, MASS decoy system, 3-D radar and a full communications suite. These OPVs meet the AAW and ASuW requirements of the UAE for protection of its assets and merchant shipping in the region. With a displacement of ~ 640 tons, they can achieve speeds of up to 32 kt. The first of these OPVs was built in France by Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie, while the rest are being built in the UAE by Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB).

BVT of UK (now BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships) has built combat OPVs, for Oman that, have a length of 98.5 m with a displacement of 2500 tons. They carry Exocet anti-ship missile and Mica vertical-launch close-area air-defense systems.

Dutch shipbuilder Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) has built four OPVs for the Royal Netherlands Navy under Project Patrouilleschepen. These ships are 108 m long, displace 3750 tons and have a speed of up to 21.5 kt. They are to meet the requirement for patrol, surveillance and interdiction operations in the Netherlands EEZ. They carry a helicopter, a single 76 mm gun, a 20-30 mm gun and two machine guns.

Navantia of Spain has already constructed four Buque de Acción Maritima patrol ships for the Spanish Navy. These are built to a modular design for protection of maritime resources; maritime interdiction; port security; and counter-terrorism patrolling. These OPVs carry a helicopter and are armed with a single Oto Melara 76 mm gun and two 20 mm cannon, and fitted with the ‘Sistema de COMbate de los Buques de la Armada’ SCOMBA combat management system (CMS). Two more of the same OPVs are under construction.

Special Purpose OPVs

The specific capability OPVs are built to commercial standards and are equipped with lesser armament. They are rigged for specific role that they are designed for and may not be able to take part in battle at sea since they are bulkier and slower than the combat OPV. An area of developing role for OPVs are endurance and presence missions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, which would necessitate changes in its design to meet operating conditions in broken ice. With the likely hood of opening up of Northwest Passage, it is expected that maritime trade from China and Japan would use this route for carting goods to Europe. Rolls Royce has been designing OPV type ships for meeting the Arctic/ Antarctic conditions. The Danish Arctic patrol ship, the Knud Rasmussen class is an example of such ships.

Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard had contracted BVT for building three presence OPVs for protection of oil and gas reserves, fishery protection, and for anti-drug operations however, the contract was cancelled and the OPVs were delivered to Brazil.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany has developed a series of 1,000-2,000 ton OPVs. These are: a 67 m fast OPV; an 81 m Guardian-class OPV displacing 1,800 tons; an 85 m, 1,900-ton Sentinel-class multimission OPV; and a larger 99 m version of the Sentinel OPV displacing 2,100 tons. They are built to commercial standards, the vessels are equipped with a helicopter and boat capability, have modest speed, sensors and weapons equipment.

BAE systems provides 90 m OPVs to Brazil, Thailand and UK.


As detailed in the website of IN, in its constabulary role, the IN is employed to enforce law of the land or to implement a regime established by an international mandate. The protection and promotion of India’s maritime security is one of the IN’s prime responsibilities. This encompasses a constabulary role, where it relates to threats that involve use of force at sea. The tasks that the IN has to undertake in the constabulary role ranges from Low Intensity Maritime Operations (LIMO) to maintaining good order at sea. It also includes coastal security, as part of India’s overall maritime security. With the establishment of the ICG in February 1978, law enforcement aspects of the constabulary role within the Maritime Zones of India (MZI) have been transferred to the ICG. Security in major harbors and ports are the purview of the port authorities, aided by customs and immigration agencies. Constabulary tasks beyond the MZI are vested with the Indian Navy. After the terrorist attacks on Mumbai on 26 November 2008, the overall responsibility for coastal security has been mandated to the Indian Navy, in close coordination with the ICG, State marine police and other central/state government and port authorities.

The Indian Coast Guard, ICG has been tasked to protect India’s maritime interests and enforce maritime law, with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. The ICG also operates Offshore Patrol Vessels. ICG deploys  Samar class Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessels having 2005 tons displacement, Vishwast class Offshore Patrol Vessels (1800 tons displacement) and Vikram class Offshore Patrol Vessels (displacement 1220 tons) . However, the number of OPVs appears insufficient to meet the requirement of patrolling and providing security to more than 7000 km of coastline and Island territories of Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep.

The Indian Navy had started inducting the Offshore Patrol Vessels in the late eighties, but the numbers inducted appear to be far less than that required to effectively safeguard the maritime assets, sea lines of communications and tackle sea pirates.

Goa Shipyard Limited in India has been building a series of 105 m-long, 2,215 ton OPVs for the Indian Navy. They are fitted with a 76 mm naval gun and two 30 mm cannons, and are capable of operating a single Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv helicopter.

The Pipavav NOPV class are naval offshore patrol vessels being built by Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Limited. In June 2016, it was reported that the shipyard, which has been acquired by Reliance Defence, is now accelerating work on the delayed order where the first ship was supposed to be delivered in early 2015. As per the revised schedule, the first ship will now be delivered in early 2017 and all ships will be ready for induction by the end of 2017. The ships are being constructed in two batches of two and three ships with a shorter delivery schedule for the second batch.

Significantly, the IN OPVs can also be modified to accommodate Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, (TEU) payloads, hence they can be considered as low cost warships with bigger roles.


OPVs have carved out a place for themselves mainly due to enhancement of territorial waters and the declaration of EEZ. The smaller nations too have equipped themselves with OPVs because of their versatility and low costs. The cost of the OPVs depend upon the combat systems and sensors required by a country to be put on board. To keep the costs low the combat system should therefore, be mission specific and limited to the low-intensity capabilities. While OPVs are not equipped for full-fledged, combat they should be able to accomplish the constabulary tasks they are assigned to do. The OPV arena is set to expand with the likely hood of the opening of the North West Passage to Europe.

Weapons and Sensors that Wait to Strike

(Published 24 Jun 2016, CLAWS)


Passive sensor triggered weapons have been in use for a considerable time by the military. They have been in form of Bangalore Torpedo, anti tank mines or anti personnel mines on land and as ground or moored mines at sea. Passive sensors have been extensively used on land for electronic support measures and at sea for detection of ships by submarines. One of the largest chains of passive sensors in the WWII era was Sound Surveillance System or SOSUS. It was a chain of hydrophone sensors located at various places in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The main aim was locating Soviet submarines transiting the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom gap (GIUK gap). With developments in stealth technologies, other elements have been added to it such as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), and it has become part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS)[1].

One of the important weapons of the cold war era, that lay dormant until activated, was the anti submarine encapsulated torpedo MK 60 CAPTOR. It was a deep-water mine which could be laid by aircrafts, ships or submarines. The mine could distinguish between surface ships and submarines as well as between friendly and enemy submarines based on their acoustic signatures. It would thereafter launch the MK 46 torpedo, which would then acquire and attack the enemy submarine. Both Russia and China had also developed similar mines.

With the rapid advances in sensor technologies, it is now feasible to expect robustness, high quality, and reliability in commercially produced sensors. The sensors today are produced using novel signal processing methods, provide very high speeds, and utilize low cost electronic components. Similarly, two main developments in manufacture of chips, which have acted as a catalyst in exponential improvements in computing technologies, include, firstly, coupling of traditional electronics with optical components using Ge Laser to obviate usage of wiring in chips. The ongoing work at MIT’s Microphotonics center utilizes a series of subterranean tunnels instead of buried fiber cables for transmission of the laser[2]. This would achieve at least 100 times faster speeds than current systems. Secondly, the use of Mermisters or resistive random access memory (ReRAM) chips. These are 1000 times faster and can store twice as much data as flash memory chips. The main advantage is that ReRAM does not lose contents once power is switched off. [3] Further, they can be used in logic computations, implying thereby that both memory and computation functions can be carried out on the same chip[4].

Interestingly, Russia, China, and Iran have taken active interest in passive radar technologies. As per reports of a Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s online affiliate, in February 2015, Moskva-1 (developed by KRET) is a passive radar system, which would enable Russian troops to detect and identify airborne targets as far as 240 miles away without disclosing their location. It is understood that this could also be supplied to Iran[5].

The USAF had also released a request for information RFI RFI-PKS-0001-2012 for development of a Phased Array Antenna in respect of its Passive RF Sensing program. This involves development of analog and digital beam forming techniques for wideband phased array radar antennas that can operate over a 10:1 bandwidth[6]. The US Army too has evinced interest in such systems that lie in wait submerged at sea and could be launched at an opportune time[7].

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has undertaken a project titled Upward Falling Payload (UFP) in which it is envisaged that drones would be made to lie in wait at concealed locations on the sea floor, for prolonged periods before being launched to the surface and into the air[8].

As per DARPA, “Nearly 50 percent of the world’s oceans are deeper than 4 km, which provides vast areas for concealment and storage. Concealment provided by the sea also provides the opportunity to engage remote assets that may have been dormant and undetected for long periods, while its vastness allows simultaneous operation across great distances. Getting close to objects without warning, and instantiating distributed systems without delay, are key attributes of UFP capability.”[9] The DARPA UFP program in its study phase, looked at long-range communications, deep-ocean high-pressure containment, and payload launch. It is understood that one of the firms that participated in the first phase was Sparton Electronics of De Leon Springs, Florida; this firm had worked to develop conceptual designs of a system with the potential to launch a plethora of non-lethal weapons like electronic warfare jammers, blinding lasers, and distracting light strobes upon surfacing.

The second phase would be development of proto types. The sub systems of the UFP program include; the pressure tolerant container or riser which would hold the payload for prolonged periods; the communication package, which would trigger the encapsulated payload to be launched to the surface, and the payload, which should be able to execute its function after it, is made to surface. To achieve the above aims the technologies that DARPA is looking at include, long endurance reliable electro-mechanical systems, very small sensors, small-unmanned systems, long-range underwater communications, navigation technologies etc. Phase 3 would be demonstrations of the systems at sea.

Once developed the UFP would provide pre-deployed sensors or non-lethal weapons in open seas. These could be  used by the US Forces for surprise deployment in times of international conflicts across the globe.

The author is not aware of any such futuristic research initiatives in respect of Indian Armed Forces by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in India.




[1] http://fas.org/irp/program/collect/iuss.htm


[3] Six minute Memrister guide https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvA5r4LtVnc

[4]  http://www.computerworld.com/article/2516972/computer-hardware/hp-chip-discovery-could-be-a-tech–game-changer-.html


[6] https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=ce67bff643299c827cb5b3f1d106f37f&tab=core&_cview=0

[7] http://my.nps.edu/web/cruser/blog/-/blogs/105727309


[9] http://www.darpa.mil/program/upward-falling-payloads


Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheli Par Islands)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

ANALYSIS | Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories

IndraStra Global  4/05/2016 03:28:00 PM  Featured , India , Indian Navy , Maritime ,Sea Lanes of Communications , South Asia

Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories

A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheli Par Islands)

By Rear Admiral Dr S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), Indian Navy  and Rahul Guhathakurta, IndraStra Global


The strategy for coastal and offshore security has been articulated in the document “Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy” of the Indian Navy. The strategy envisages ‘to reduce, counter and eliminate the threat of armed attack by sub-conventional groups, and also influx of arms and infiltration by armed attackers from the sea, against coastal and offshore assets’.

The chapter “Strategy for Conflict’ covers the actions for coastal and offshore defense. Essentially the operations will be carried out by the Indian Navy in synergy with the Indian Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and other security agencies.

Defending India’s Coast, Offshore Assets, EEZ and Island Territories.

India has a formidable naval force with both blue water and littoral capabilities; it also has a credible Coast guard, which would work in unison with the Indian Navy in times of war. Further India has put in place a powerful template for marine domain awareness, intelligence and protection of the coastal and offshore areas, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack of 26 Nov 2008. Some of the measures include; setting up of Multi Agency Centres (MAC) for intelligence inputs and reports; registration of fishing vessels by states; placing in orbit Indian Regional Navigation Seven Satellite System and satellite GSAT 7 ; setting up of a coast wide radar chain; raising Marine Police force, Marine Commandos Rapid Reaction Force and a Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB);setting up layered patrolling; putting in place The National Command Control Communication and Intelligence network (NC3IN) etc.

Prominent Gaps in Coastal and Offshore Defence

Thus, the layered defence of Indian coast and its offshore areas consists of Indian Navy, the coast guard, the marine commando & Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) and the marine police. All these are info-linked for maximum advance knowledge and in a way form a net worked coalition. However, there apparently is a gap as far as setting up the coastal and offshore area defences per se is concerned. It lacks the delay, denial, disruption, and demoralizing (D4) capability, which is essential in today’s environment. This capability should be acquired by leveraging the perceived threats presented by the submarine, mines, small craft and cruise missiles.

The defence plan should be an asymmetric and proactive approach to defence with defining it as a zone that comprises two segments of the defence environment:-

·                     Seaward- the area from the shore to the open ocean, which must be defended to thwart expeditionary forces at sea.

·                      Landward- from the shore to the area inland that can be supported and defended directly from the shore.

The existing gap in Indian defences can be obviated with very potent defence elements by including:-

·                     Comprehensive assessment of threats from expeditionary forces to ports/ harbors.

·                     Procurement of midget/ miniature submarines with torpedoes and mine laying capability along with arrays of underwater sensors for environment, intrusion information, navigation and communication.

·                     Procurement of UAVs/USVs with intelligent software for remote operations as swarms.

·                     Procurement of Unmanned Underwater Sensor and Weapon Carriers capable of transmitting integrated underwater picture to fixed or mobile stations, firing torpedoes and laying mines.

·                     Procurement and laying of cable controlled mine fields, other mine fields across various depths zones.

·                     Coastal extended reach anti ship cruise missile batteries.

·                     Coastal gun batteries with ability to carry out precision attack on surface ships at ranges greater than 50 km.

·                     All systems networked for an ironclad protection of the Indian Coast and offshore assets and territories.

·                     Development of weapons specific for use in coastal areas and

·                     Development of systems for collection of oceanographic information.

A robust Indian coastal and offshore defense plan and its implementation is an essential element of economic wellbeing of India, as it would ensure security of sea trade, shipping, fishing, marine resources, and offshore assets as well as security of the EEZ.

Rights of a Coastal State w.r.t. EEZ

Within its EEZ, a coastal state has sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing natural living and non-living resources of the waters superjacent to the seabed and its sub soil. Further, it can exploit and explore production of energy from water, winds, and currents. The EEZ remains an open zone with freedom of innocent passage for all. The EEZ legal regime is different from that governing territorial waters and high seas, and contains certain characteristics of both.

However, in a recent judgment regarding the Enrica Lexie (Italian marines) case, the Supreme Court of India has declared the region between the contiguous zone and the 200 nautical miles in to the sea as ‘High Seas’. The Supreme court has said that Article 97 of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is not applicable as shooting was a criminal action and not a navigation accident.

China has been maintaining its right to regulate foreign military activities in its EEZ, as it feels that it has the right to prevent any activity that threatens its economic interests or security. It also asserts that its domestic laws have jurisdiction in its EEZ. The Chinese law requires foreign entities to obtain prior approval to carryout resource exploitation, fishing, and marine research. As far as military activities are concerned, it holds them as prejudicial to ‘peaceful purposes’ provision of the Laws of the Seas Convention. This interpretation has led to a number of minor standoffs between it and the United States of America.

India is also one of the countries, which mandate prior permission before any maintenance, or repairs are carried out to the submarine cables running on the floor of its EEZ.

With respect to military activities by foreign militaries in the EEZ, India along with Bangladesh, Brazil, Cape Verde, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Uruguay require obtaining of prior permission. North Korea has prohibited any such activity within 50 nm of its territory and Iran has completely prohibited the same.

As far as oceanographic surveying is considered, again some countries require prior permission, in fact, China registered protests against the activities of USNS Bowditch and India against HMS Scott and USNS Bowditch, which were gathering military data by undertaking oceanographic survey. Coupling the above with increased proliferation of submarines in the region, the instances of clandestine underwater and ASW surveys would only increase. There are bound to be incidents involving intruder submarines in future and states would therefore be monitoring activities in their EEZs diligently.

EEZ Security Components

Two essential components of effective EEZ security management comprise of surveillance and deterrence. Some of the drawbacks of EEZ surveillance systems in use today include; inability of patrol boats to carry out surveillance, since their missions are area denial, SAR or interdiction; UAV’s have much better sensor packages but need a large infrastructure for 24/7 surveillance; HF radars are affordable but need very large areas for installation; Microwave radars suffer from limited horizon; and patrol aircraft incur huge costs. Since radars have difficulty in automatically identifying unknown and devious small vessels and the electro optic systems are heavily weather dependent, there is requirement for add on sensors to carry out effective monitoring of EEZ. In fact, a complete EEZ surveillance system should be able to cater to all the facets of EEZ activity be it , terrorism, drug and human trafficking, piracy, smuggling, coastal security, Search and rescue, sea traffic control, pollution control, illegal fishing, illegal arms supply and exploitation of natural resources of solar, air, wave, minerals, oil and gas. For such an extensive requirement a cooperative, synergetic and system of systems approach between various agencies involved would be paramount.

The surveillance platforms would include the following:-

·                     Unmanned undersea vehicles, sonar arrays, patrol submarines, and other under water sensors.

·                     Remotely operated vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, offshore platforms, sensors for activity monitoring, and patrol boats.

·                     Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), communication networks, control centers, pollution monitoring centers, surface and navigation radars, and electro-optic systems.

·                     Unmanned Ariel Vehicles, patrol aircraft, helicopters, aerostats, and sensors.

·                     Observation and communication satellites.

Coming to the deterrence capability in the EEZ, it has to be a non-military option during peacetime, which brings the discussion to deployment of Non Lethal Weapons (NLW) and the need to develop them for the EEZ environment. Conflicts in the EEZ are definitely going to be unconventional and it would be difficult to distinguish the adversary from the neutrals or friendly vessels. This may lead to conflicts where use of lethal weapons may not be permissible. Non-lethal weapons would provide tactical as well as strategic benefits to the EEZ protection force in the global commons. NLW would enable options for de-escalation of conflicts, avoid irretrievable consequences of using lethal options, and result in deterring activity without loss of lives and damage to material. NLWs have to be cost effective and easy to operate, as different varieties in varying numbers would be required. However to ensure a calibrated approach, across the spectrum of conflict, there is also a need for NLWs to be doctrinally integrated with the regular naval forces to enable them to tackle a developing situation in the EEZ.

Defense of Island Territories

The defence of the Island territories has to be structured as a mix of the Coastal and EEZ defence plans. The defence plan in case of the Islands should be an asymmetric and proactive approach to defence with defining it as a zone that comprises three segments of the defence environment:-

·                     Seaward- the area from the shore to the open ocean, which must be defended to thwart expeditionary forces at sea.

·                     Landward- from the shore to the area inland that can be supported and defended directly from the shore.

·                     From the Sea-  from the sea by warships and submarines in case, an incursion has already been made on an unprotected/ inadequately protected island. As well as drawing from offensive infrastructure at the islands in the vicinity.

The surveillance and defense components have to be drawn from the coastal and EEZ defense plans and augmented by use of warships and submarines at sea.

“Even if Chinese naval ships and submarines appear regularly in the Indian Ocean, so what?” he asked. “As the largest trading nation in the world, maritime security in the Indo-Pacific cannot be more important for China. The Chinese navy has to protect its overseas interests such as the safety of personnel and security of property and investment. Much of these are along the rim of the Indian Ocean.” – Zhou Bo, honorary fellow, Academy of Military Science, Beijing, Jul 2015

An Academic Case Study of Proactive Defense Infrastructure at Two Lakshadweep Islands (Minicoy and Suheli Par)

The Lakshadweep islands lie between 8° – 12 °3′ N latitude and 71°E – 74°E longitude about 225 to 450 km from the Coast of Kerala. There are 12 atolls, 3 reefs, and five submerged banks. In all, there are 36 Islands, with a total land area of 32 sq km; Lakshadweep islands have a lagoon area of 4200 sq km and 20,000 sq km of territorial waters. It provides a large swath of 4, 00,000 sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone.

Map 1: Proximity Analysis of Minicoy Island and Suheli Par with respect to SLOCs (Interactive map available at http://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/ANALYSIS-Proactive-Defense-Infrastructure-Planning-of-Indian-Island-Territories-Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Suheli-Par-002-04-2016-0015.html)


Minicoy is the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep. It lies between 8° 15’ to 8° 20’ N and 73° 01’ to 73° 05 E with an area of 4.4 sq km including the Viringli islet. Minicoy is separated from the rest of Lakshadweep by the nine-degree channel and from the Maldives by the 8° channel. It is an independent oceanic island that does not belong to either the Maldives or the Lakshadweep bank.

Map 2: Minicoy Island Naval Air Station: The Concept (Interactive map available at http://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/ANALYSIS-Proactive-Defense-Infrastructure-Planning-of-Indian-Island-Territories-Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Suheli-Par-002-04-2016-0015.html)

Suheli Par

It is located at 10°05′N 72°17′E / 10.083°N 72.283°E / 10.083; 72.283, 52 km to the SW of Kavaratti, 76 km to the south of Agatti, 139 km to the west of Kalpeni and 205 km to the NNW of Minicoy, with the broad Nine Degree Channel between them. There are two uninhabited islands, Valiyakara at the northern end with a lighthouse ARLHS LAK-015, and Cheriyakara on the southeastern side. These two islands have a long sandbank Suheli Pitti between them.

Map 3: Suheli Par Naval Air Station: The Concept (Interactive map available at http://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/ANALYSIS-Proactive-Defense-Infrastructure-Planning-of-Indian-Island-Territories-Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Suheli-Par-002-04-2016-0015.html)

As a purely academic exercise, a proactive defense infrastructure has been studied for placement on Minicoy and Suheli Par using GIS and other architectural tools available as open source. The primary study is based upon the following documents:

·                     Draft Approach Paper For The 12th Five Year Plan (2012‐2017), Earth System Science Organization Ministry of Earth Sciences

·                     Notification under section 3(1) and section 3(2)(v) of the environment (protection) act, 1986 and rule 5(3)(d) of the environment (protection) rules, 1986 declaring coastal stretches as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and regulating activities in the CRZ. New Delhi, the 19th February 1991(as amended up to 3rd October 2001)

·                     Report of the Working Group on Improvement of Banking Services in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep by RBI, 12 May 2008

·                     Socioeconomic Dimensions And Action Plan For Conservation Of Coastal Resources Based On An Understanding Of Anthropogenic Threats. Minicoy Island – UT Of Lakshadweep Project Supervisor: Vineeta Hoon. Centre for Action Research on Environment Science & Society, Chennai. 2003.

·                     Report on Visit to Lakshadweep – a coral reef wetland included under National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment & Forests. 30th October – 1st November 2008

·                     Report on BSLLD (Urban) Pilot in Lakshdweep, 2014. Directorate of Planning and Statistics, Lakshadweep.

·                     CZMAs and Coastal Environments- Two Decades of Regulating Land Use Change on India’s Coastline. Center for Policy Research, 2015.

·                     Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP) for Minicoy island.

·                     Lakshadweep Development Report

Criterion for selection of the island of Minicoy and Suheli par

Some of the criterion for selection of the islands of Minicoy and Suheli par are:

Minicoy and Suheli Par would synergistic-ally straddle the 9-degree channel, one of the most important SLOC not only for India, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and also for China. The security of the SLOC would be ensured pro-actively by developing the defense structure at both islands.

·                     Minicoy is inhabited and Suheli Par is not, thus providing two distinct classes of islands.

·                     Minicoy is geologically different from other islands in the Lakshadweep.

·                     Both have large lagoons.

·                     Both need to be developed for prosperity and connectivity of the region with main land.

·                     Both have poor connectivity with mainland.

·                     Both can provide security structures for EEZ and its regulation

·                     Main Features of Proactive Defense of Islands.

The main features of the conceptual structures include:

·                     Airstrips for use by tourists as well as defense.

·                     Small harbor facilities

·                     Submarine piers

·                     Mini/midget pens

·                     Staging facilities

·                     Coastal gun and missile batteries

·                     Mooring Buoys

·                     Off Shore ammunition storage

·                     Air defense capability

·                     Radar and underwater sensors

·                     Strategic Oil Storage Facility

·                     Command, Communications, and Control Center for Indian Navy

·                     Strategic Communication facility

·                     Storm Warning and Fisheries information center

·                     Ocean Surveillance stations and cabled Oceanic Information Observatories

·                     Floating sun power panels

·                     Offshore Desalination plants

·                     Facilities for Tourists

Linkages with MDA, ODA, and OICZ

It is important that any academic exercise for development of a proactive defense infrastructure of island territories consider concepts of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), Oceanic Domain Awareness (ODA), and Ocean Information Consciousness Zones (OICZ). MDA focuses upon the maritime security environment specific to naval operations; the ODA focuses upon the overarching oceanic environment. Both are technology intensive and require sophisticated sensors and computational capabilities.MDA has tactical, regional, and strategic components whereas the ODA is strategic knowledge based architecture. Both require elaborate data and information fusing interface with myriad of interconnected agencies. The MDA primarily needing vast inputs from commercial, intelligence and security agencies and the ODA from advanced research, academic and scientific communities. The ODA is conceptualized as a comprehensive 3D+ knowledge zone up to India’s EEZ, the OICZ on the other hand is a collaborative approach at sharing oceanic information, processing it as required and archiving it for use at a later date. ODA can be established by a country individually, but OICZ requires transfer / sharing of scientific knowledge and technology between nations. Benefits of ODA accrue to the nation whereas OICZ would empower the region. Both are strategic in nature.

The usage of “geo-spatial tools” behind the “Conceptual Proactive Defense Infrastructure Plan” for Minicoy and Suheli Par

In the field of geopolitical studies, spatial analysis driven by various geographic information system (GIS) technologies helps strategic experts in computing required and desired solutions. In this analysis of Minicoy Island and Suheli Par, Google My Map API is used to perform a variety of geo-spatial calculations by using a set of easy to use function calls in the data step. In layman’s term, a layer-by-layer computational analysis of geographic patterns to finding optimum routes, site selection, and advanced predictive modeling to substantiate this analysis has been carried out. These concepts are formulated by considering the land reclamation factors and available details of Integrated Island Management Plan of Government of India (GoI) for Lakshadweep Islands. However, there are certain limitations associated with this analysis with respect to bathymetric data, which has not been considered for evaluation purpose due to lack of availability of such data in open/public domain. Further, these interactive custom maps can be easily exported into KMZ format and can also be embedded seamlessly with other websites for further distribution.

Considering all the factors discussed hitherto the maps are embedded in this article, depicting the proactive defense infrastructure plan for Minicoy and Suheli Par have been developed.


India’s EEZ and island territories face threats of disruption of energy supplies, piracy, and acts of terrorism, in addition to the fact that other nations are keen to poach in to the fisheries and seabed wealth. The security of the EEZ and island territories is therefore a matter of India’s national interest and need exists for boosting the surveillance and augmenting security arrangements of EEZ’s and island territories. Even though, an ambitious plan for coastal security and maritime domain awareness has been put in place, it needs to be further strengthened and stitched together so that the security of EEZ and Island territories functions as a comprehensive entity with synergies across the various agencies involved.

The academic exercise undertaken above in respect of Minicoy and Suheli Par islands demonstrates that it is feasible to provide effective SLOC protection, achieve maritime dominance in a limited area of interest, provide support to second strike capability and utilize space and oceans for surveillance, intelligence, science, and communications purposes.

Time for a proactive approach to plan the defense of EEZ and island territories is now!


About The Authors:


Rear Admiral Dr S. Kulshrestha: The author RADM Dr. S. Kulshrestha (Retd.), INDIAN NAVY, holds expertise in quality assurance of naval armament and ammunition. He is an alumnus of the NDC and a PhD from JNU. He superannuated from the post of Dir General Naval Armament Inspection in 2011. He is unaffiliated and writes in defence journals on issues related to Armament technology and indigenisation.


Rahul Guhathakurta: He is the founder of IndraStra Global and a seasoned supply chain management professional with 8+ years experience in trade route optimization and planning through various GIS applications.

Cite this Article:

Kulshrestha, S, Guhathakurta, R “ANALYSIS | Proactive Defense Infrastructure Planning of Indian Island Territories – A Conceptual Case Study of Lakshadweep (Minicoy and Suheri Pal Islands)” IndraStra Global 002, no. 04 (2015): 0015. http://www.indrastra.com/2016/04/ANALYSIS-Proactive-Defense-Infrastructure-Planning-of-Indian-Island-Territories-Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Suheli-Par-002-04-2016-0015.html |ISSN 2381-3652|