Battlefield Management System for Indian Army – Where Are We?

Aashish

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Bullet Train, Saltoro and the BMS
ByLt Gen Prakash Katoch

IssueNet Edition| Date : 15 Dec , 2017

In a recent pre-election rally in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that those who do not want the bullet train are welcome to keep using the bullock cart. Debunkers of the bullet train argue it is at a tangent to the requirements of overall development – sab ka sath, sab ka vikas. But do they know that high-speed rails were introduced in China over a decade back despite China relocating 9.81 million people living in “impoverished and unsustainable conditions” in 22 provinces to “geographically less disadvantaged areas” during 2016-2020, and by 2030, 400 million Chinese (population greater than of USA) are expected to transit from rural regions (have-nots that China hides from the world) to urban areas. However, focus of this article is the (BMS) of the Army that was required ‘yesterday’, and has been ordered to be foreclosed – akin to compelling Army to continue riding the bullock cart.

In 1998, a delegation headed by then Defence Secretary Ajit Kumar visited the Siachen Base Camp before proceeding to Pakistan for military-to-military talks. Post briefing by the Brigade Commander, Ajit Kumar asked if we (India) could vacate the Saltoro Range. The Commander explained the strategic significance of the range, highlighted Pakistan hiding from its public they had lost their Qaid-e-Azam Post (renamed Bana Post after capture by India) and Parliaments of both countries getting shaken up with incidents in Siachen. The Commander then asked that with all the bloodshed for capturing and retaining Saltoro, if we are to vacate now “toh Sir hum 13 saalseyahanbhaadjhonkrahe they (why were we pussyfooting here for 13 years)?” There was no answer. It is different issue that Manmohan Singh led UPA II wanted India to withdraw from Saltoro, but the same question is relevant to shutting down the BMS that “hum 13 saal se kya bhaad jhonk rahe they (why were we pussyfooting 13 years)” having spent so much time, effort and money, the Directorate General of Information System (DGIS) having been established in 2004, which initiated the BMS as part of Army’s Tactical Command, Control, Communications and Information (Tac C3I), other components being the Artillery Command, Control and Communications System (ACCS), Air Defence Control and Reporting System (ADC&RS) and Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS).

Of all the above operational information systems (OIS), only the ACCCS has been fielded in the Army to-date. All components of the Tac C3I, including BMS, are be integrated through the Command Information and Decision Support System (CIDSS), also being developed by the DGIS. The Tac C3I will also integrate Army’s Electronic Warfare System (EWS) and Electronic Intelligence System (ELINT) operating under Military Operations and Military Intelligence Directorates respectively. The Tac C3I is to provide state-of-the-art C4I2 connectivity within the Army at Corps HQ and below levels. The BMS is to enable faster decision process by commanders at all echelons, better decision with reliable operational information provided in real time and have the ability to quickly close the sensor to shooter loop by integrating all surveillance means to facilitate engagement; through an automated decision support and command and control system, exploiting technology for mission accomplishment in the tactical battle area (TBA) by rapid acquisition, processing and transfer of information, enhanced situational awareness, capability to react to information, sharpen ability to synchronize and direct fire, plus establish and maintain total surveillance resources. In simple terms the BMS integrates resources bringing them to the right place, at the right time, with right lethality to provide real time, appropriate, common comprehensive tactical picture; to link the soldier to the battalion / combat group commander level for situational awareness and decision support. The BMS was to comprise a tactical hand-held computer with individual warfighter and tactical computers at Battle Group HQ and combat vehicles, enabling generation of common operational picture by integrating inputs from all relevant sources through integrated use of a high data rate geographical information system (GIS) and GPS.

The BMS approach paper floated in early 2000s envisaged development, trials and GS evaluation in period 2008-2009, followed by its fielding into the Army during 2013-2017. But the MoD-Army red-tape and DRDO intervention to grab every project took over. Only by end 2011 Defence Acquisition Council approved the BMS as a ‘Make India’ project, followed by Integrated Project Management Study, Expression of Interest (EoI) prepared with industry empanelment pending with MoD, latter expected to be issued to the industry by August-September 2013. At that time it was envisaged to shortlist two Developing Agencies (DA) by about March 2014. Subsequently, design phase was expected to commence by July 2014, limited prototype tested in laboratory by end December 2015 and finally, prototypes developed and fielded for user evaluation by December 2016 (instead of earlier schedule of 2012). The cascading effect by then had already delayed completion of Phase 2 (Equipping) from initial plan of 2017 to 2021 and Phase 3 (Change Management and Up-gradation of System) from 2022 to 2025 as per then status. This delayed schedule too was considered possible only if there were no further hurdles.

However, despite the EoI having been prepared by end 2011, it was finally issued only in February 2015, to 14 domestic companies, in which only two consortiums, Tata Power SED-L&T, and BEL-Rolta India, qualified the bids. Then in February 2016, MoD signaled these two consortia to develop BMS prototype that could eventually generate about Rs 40,000-50,000 crore worth of procurement for 600 sets of BMS for the Army. These two consortia were asked to register “special purpose companies” for this project (with freedom to choose overseas partners), with each DA separately developing a working BMS. Each BMS prototype was to have four variants: one, for the infantry battalion group; two, for combat group (armour); three, for combat group (mechanized infantry), and; four, for Special Forces. Technologies to be included in each prototype include a geographical information system (GIS), multi-sensor data fusion system, rugged computing devices, and software defined radio-based communication system for soldiers.

News reports of December 1, 2017 indicated that the MoD and Army were heading towards foreclosing the BMS project because of its costs. As per these reports, the sanctioned cost of Project BMS in 2007 was Rs 350 crore per DA, but presently, MoD is bargaining for the DAs to slash development costs from the quoted Rs 2,500 crore. A subsequent media article of December 7 (http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/fill-the-operational-void.html) brought out that the Army brass has already “rejected” the BMS project. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that the Army has scrapped the projects estimating an eventual requirement of about Rs 70,000 cr by the time the BMS is fully fielded. The December 7 article focused on: Army finding it difficult to balance between its immediate weapon requirements and force multipliers like the BMS in run up to Defence Budget 2018; at today’s prices, the BMS for the entire Army, to be provided by 2025, is to cost upwards of Rs 50,000 cr; development cost by two DAs under high-priority ‘Make’ category of Rs 5,000 cr is to be compensated by Army paying back Rs 1,000 cr over five years from its own allocation; optimal use of BMS is in two tactical war scenarios which are no longer relevant – own forces operating in foreign lands, and deep ingress in enemy areas.

Deeper analysis is required about why a high-priority ‘Make’ category like the BMS has landed up to foreclosure. First, with rapid technological advancement, you cannot have the same archaic procedures and policies for information systems and communications – with all the hype about “ease of business”, the present system with respect to information systems and communications amounts to “disease of business”. Second, over reliance in governmental defence-industrial complex is another major reason for the delay. In the instant case, BEL has been facing the same problems as it had in developing the ACCCS — bulk imported hardware and technology but limited indigenous capacity in applications, design and software customization. Yet, the MoD-DRDO duo combine wanted BEL in the project, causing deliberate delays in progressing the case. Incidentally, the ACCCS fielded in the Army though bearing the BEL stamp is more than 85% Elbit of Israel. ACCCS was a ‘Buy and Make’ project for which the Commercially Available Off The Shelf (COTS) approach was followed with tactical computers procured from Elbit, Israel for the test bed with provision of Transfer of Technology (ToT), and other hardware obtained by BEL commercially from indigenous sources or manufactured by them.

Had we opened the private sector to the BMS project early, like done with Tata Power SED-L&T now, the BMS fielding could have been on its way by now. Third, not only are India’s investments in R&D abysmal, it has failed to establish separate R&D fund, and has failed in creating environment for private sector investing in defence R&D. In the instant case, it is criminal to want the Army to dish out Rs 1000 cr as development costs, with both the current and preceding defence budget ‘negative’ in actual terms. If the government promises 80% development cost of a project to the DAs, it must find R&D funds from elsewhere or cater for additional funds for the same, over and above allocations to the Army. Fourth, annual defence allocations are slashed by the Finance Ministry arbitrarily without discussing operational imperatives. Sixth, India lacks a system like in the US where pre-budget presentations are made to Senate Armed Forces Committee by the Military stating what present operational capability is, what funds are needed and given that allocation, what the operational capability will then be. It is the Senate Armed Forces Committee that recommends the defence budget to the Congress, not the Department of Defence. In contrast, there is little dialogue in such operational matters with MoD holistically other than moving individual cases on file. Seventh, the Army has taken the course of least resistance by simply scrapping the project, possibly on a hint from MoD.

There is no denying that the BMS is an operational necessity which was required yesterday, and accordingly rated “high priority” project. The contention that “optimal use of BMS is in two tactical war scenarios which are no longer relevant – own forces operating in foreign lands, and deep ingress in enemy areas” is naïve. Not only conflict situations, the BMS is very much needed to effectively deal with sub-conventional conflict situations astride borders, in addition to counter insurgence operations within the country. In case of latter, the BMS should be looked at for the cutting edge of the entire security sector, not the Army alone. The mention of the two war scenarios not relevant to India any more is also grossly defeatist. No such prediction can be made with certainity in say 2025 and beyond. Besides, NCW capabilities cannot be acquired overnight. It will be ironic that while there is so much hype about optimization of technology and digitization, a project like the BMS is being scrapped. What about looking at prioritization within the BMS? If we can invest Rs 1,00,000 cr for a bullet train on a 508 km Ahmedabad-Mumbai track, with the overall Indian Railway network (fourth largest in the world) being 1,15,000 km, can’t the finances of few thousand cr be found for the BMS on ‘progressive’ basis? Can we consider the 1.2 million Army part of ‘overall’ Digital India for fielding of the BMS?

The ball is now in the court of the Defence Minister, the requirement being: one, stop the foreclosure of the BMS and instead get going this high priority operational requirement; two, review progress of other components of the Tac C3I that could well suffer similar fate; and, three, establish separate procurement process for information systems and communications in keeping with rapid technological advancements vis-à-vis fielding and requirement of upgrades. In addition to other issues mentioned above, the Defence Minister also needs to examine why we still don’t have in place a Tactical Communications System (that was to be fielded in 2000 – was foreclosed and reopened thrice) while China is already putting quantum communications in place.

Bullet Train, Saltoro and the BMS
 

Ashwin

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A test for the defence minister: end this nonsense about scrapping India's BMS project

5 December 2017

Senior Indian Army generals, who grew up before smartphones became a part of our daily lives, are blundering in scrapping as “too costly” the ~5,000-crore project to indigenously design and develop a Battlefield Management System (BMS). More tech-savvy junior officers understand the importance of the BMS, which will provide frontline combat soldiers with a real-time tactical picture of the battlefield to help them deal with “the fog of war”. But generals call the shots, and now a defence ministry okay is all that is needed to cancel this promising initiative.
The success of the US Army in Gulf war I (1991), when Saddam Hussein's well armed and battle hardened Iraqi Army folded in less than 96 hours, amply demonstrated the power of a networked force. The defence ministry must also evaluate the army's wish to foreclose the BMS in the light of the Chinese BMS (named Qu Dian) which began deployment 10 years ago. Even Pakistan is working on their own BMS named Rehbar. If the Indian military wishes to avoid the fate of Hussein's forces, it too must network its battlefield units securely and robustly.
Then there is the need to prioritise "Make” category projects -- including the BMS, there are only three in the pipeline. These harness Indian defence industry to develop “complex, high-tech systems”, with the government reimbursing 80 per cent of the development cost. Such projects build design and development skills and systems integration capability, which is far more important than “Make in India” projects, which merely involve assembling imported components and systems to blueprints provided by a foreign “original equipment manufacturer” (OEM) under “transfer of technology”. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s decision — whether to kill the BMS “Make” project or nurture it — will be a revealing indicator of her commitment to building real indigenous capability in defence.
Why is the BMS more important than buying the tanks and guns for which the army wants to save its money? A BMS is a “force multiplier” that uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance the effectiveness of the field force and the weapons they operate? An example of this in civilian life is Google Maps. Buying a fast (and expensive) car has limited benefits in terms of reaching one’s destination sooner, but Google Maps’ software does that more effectively. It chooses the fastest route by “crowd sourcing” traffic conditions, with user inputs updating this dynamic element in real time. This allows for the most efficient use of the road. Extrapolating this cheap and commonsensical solution to the battlefield, the “crowd-sourcing” of inputs from friendly elements on the battlefield — soldiers, weapons systems or surveillance devices that form a part of one’s own force — builds up a common operating picture of the battlefield that is updated in real time. The “battlefield transparency” this creates enables soldiers and combat commanders to react to emerging situations faster than the enemy. Network centricity is all about being faster on the OODA loop – the action sequence of Observe, Orient, Decide, Act – than the adversary. In non-military terms that means being quicker in picking up and identifying the enemy, deciding how and with what weapons to engage him, and then actually doing so. A strong BMS system that provides battlefield transparency, and enables the immediate use of firepower and manpower, creates greater combat effect than expensive tanks, guns or fighter aircraft that are unable to use their capabilities to full effect.
Although creating a BMS combat network would be cheaper than buying weapons platforms, it still requires the expenditure of significant sums. In 2011, the defence ministry approved the BMS for an overly optimistic ~350 crore. Other worldwide benchmark projects indicate $1.5-2.0 billon dollars in initial investments towards developing BMS-type “force multiplier “capabilities.
Today, the combined cost quoted by the two “development agencies” (DAs) – one, a consortium of Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and Larsen & Toubro; the other between Bharat Electronics Ltd and Rolta India – is a more realistic ~5,000 crore. This would be paid out over five years, but the army is unwilling to earmark even ~1,000 crore per year for this revolutionary project, which would harness India’s demonstrated skills in information technology. Given the range of technologies that it would galvanise, the BMS would be not just a “force multiplier” for the military but equally for the ICT economy.

Why does developing two BMS prototypes cost so much? The other ICT-based networks the army is developing — such as the “artillery command, control and communications system”, which integrates fire support from artillery guns; or the “battlefield surveillance system” that integrates surveillance systems — are basically software systems. These will ride on a communications network called the “tactical communications system” (TCS), which is being developed as a separate “Make” programme. The BMS, however, is intended for the combat soldier, who would outpace communications networks like the TCS, especially in situations like an advance into enemy territory. The BMS, therefore, requires its own communications backbone, built on sophisticated “software defined radio” (SDR) that provides enormous flexibility with its ability to function on disparate “wave forms”. This means the BMS must have advanced communications technology, on which the information technology component is fully integrated. All these must be engineered as part of the project. The US Army tried in vain to ride its BMS on a generic radio, the Joint Tactical Radio System. Some $15 billion later, they realised the hardware and software had to be engineered together in a “system of systems” approach. Each element and device in the BMS has to be planned for SWAP (size, weight and power), and a range of waveforms have to be created.
The day of reckoning for the BMS is December 29, when the two DAs must submit their “detailed project reports”, including final price estimates, to the Defence Production Board (DPrB), which the defence secretary currently heads. The ministry is currently squeezing the DAs to bring down their prices by over 30 per cent, even if that means reducing the scope of the BMS project. It is mind-boggling to see a government that claims to be committed to defence preparedness and indigenisation haggling with defence industry over a project that would bring to the Indian military a “revolution in military affairs”, albeit three decades after it transformed the US military’s way of warfare. It is time for Ms Sitharaman to step in and end this nonsense.

Broadsword: A test for the defence minister: end this nonsense about scrapping India's BMS project
 

Ashwin

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Battlefield Management System for Indian Army – Where Are We?

31 Jan , 2017

Project Battlefield Management System (BMS) was envisaged by the Indian Army to enable a faster decision process by commanders at all echelons, enable better decision due to reliable operational information provided in real time and have the ability to quickly close the sensor to shooter loop by integrating all surveillance means to facilitate engagement through an automated decision support and command and control system, exploiting technology for mission accomplishment in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA) by rapid acquisition, processing and transfer of information, enhanced situational awareness, capability to react to information, sharpen ability to synchronize and direct fire, plus establish and maintain overwhelming operational tempo.
The Army was late in conceiving this system, in that, planning for NCW capabilities below Brigade HQ level was not originally thought of along with other Operational Information Systems.
The system customized to the specific army requirement, needs to be first integrated and tested in a controlled environment for which a test bed laboratory will need to be established. After testing in the laboratory conditions, validation trials of the system will be carried out in field conditions. After successful validation of the system in field, the process for equipping will begin. The Army was late in conceiving this system, in that, planning for NCW capabilities below Brigade HQ level was not originally thought of along with other Operational Information Systems.
The BMS will comprise a tactical hand held computer with individual warfighter and tactical computers at Battle Group HQ and combat vehicles enabling generation of common operational picture by integrating inputs from all relevant sources by integrated use of GIS and GPS with a high data rate.
Phase I of Project BMS comprising test bed laboratory and field trials at test bed location of one Combat Group and three Infantry Battalion Groups by 2012 has been inordinately delayed, initially three years lost due to indecision within the Army concerning delimitation between the BMS and the Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS) under development by the Infantry and concurrent fallout in re-ordering of the Feasibility Study. The Infantry insisted in handling Phase 3 of F-INSAS (Computer and Radio Sub Systems plus Software Integration) by themselves while DGIS was already developing the BMS including for Infantry.
The BMS design caters for light weight, ergonomics and long range communication over portable SATCOM (Team / Troop Leader level), and sensor integration is integral to the project.
A conservative approach by the Army at this stage, which is likely due to the limitations of legacy communication equipment, could limit exploitation of future technology.
The BMS sought by the Army is to perform a variety of operational situational awareness and decision support functions at a Battalion / Combat Group level. The lowest level to which the system will be connected is individual soldier / combat platform and the highest level will be the Battalion / Regiment Commander integrating to the Tac C3I System through the CIDSS, enabling a common operational picture, integrating all sources through integrated use of GIS and GPS, will be a highly mobile and with high data rate. The communications should: not interfere with the legacy communications; optimally utilize bandwidth available involving voice, data, imageries video streaming; scalable ensuring availability from being man-portable to being fitted in combat vehicles.
For a BMS to be successful there is a need for a reliable, robust, resilient and efficient communication system that assures that the network is always functional.
Net centricity warrants a paradigm shift from voice centric to data centric systems and networks eventually enabling NCW capabilities. For BMS communications the IA would be looking for long ranges, high bandwidth data transmission (live streaming), facilitating messaging including voice mail, quickly deployable, self configuring and self healing networks, easy to customize, rolling coverage and interoperability. The focus will have to be on change in network topology, non line of sight communications, spectrum management, network management systems, QoS (including latency, assured delivery, jitter), security of communications, networks and storage, robustness and authentication. Bandwidth requirements for the BMS need to be viewed keeping in mind the incremental requirements that would be required progressively over the years.
A conservative approach by the Army at this stage, which is likely due to the limitations of legacy communication equipment, could limit exploitation of future technology.
In February 2016, MoD signaled these two Indian consortia, one led by Tata Power and the other led by BEL, to develop a BMS prototype for the IA, which could eventually generate about Rs 40,000-50,000 crore worth of procurement for the Army.
In end 2011, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the BMS as a ‘Make India’ project, following which an Integrated Project Management Study (IPMT) was completed. The Expression of Interest (EoI) was prepared and the case for empanelment of industry to receive the EoI was pending with the Department of Defence Production (DoDP) and was expected to be issued to the industry by August-September 2013. Thereafter, it was envisaged to shortlist two Developing Agencies (DA) by about March 2014. Subsequently, design phase was expected to commence by July 2014, limited prototype tested in laboratory by end December 2015 and finally, prototypes developed and fielded for user evaluation by December 2016 (instead of earlier schedule of 2012). The cascading effect by then had already delayed completion of Phase 2 (Equipping) from initial plan of 2017 to 2021 and Phase 3 (Change Management and Up-gradation of System) from 2022 to 2026 as per then status. This delayed schedule too was considered possible only if there were no further hurdles.
In February 2015, the EoI for BMS was finally issued to 14 domestic companies. However only two consortiums, Tata Power SED-Larsen & Toubro, and Bharat Electronics-Rolta India, qualified the bids. In February 2016, MoD signaled these two Indian consortia, one led by Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and the other led by Bharat Electronics (BEL), to develop a BMS prototype for the IA, which could eventually generate about Rs 40,000-50,000 crore worth of procurement for the Army.
As per media reports, MoD informed BEL and Tata Power SED in writing that the consortia they respectively lead had been selected out of four that had given proposals in response to the MoD’s tender. MoD has instructed both consortia, one consisting of BEL and Rolta India, and the other comprising of Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), to register “special purpose companies” for this project. Each of these development agencies will separately develop a working BMS.
The BMS prototypes will be developed and tested in the next 40 months; a final order of 600 plus such systems would then be placed for more than US$ 5.8 billion.
Each BMS prototype is to have four variants: one, for the infantry battalion group; two, for combat group (armor); three, for combat group (mechanized infantry), and; four, for special forces. Technologies to be included in each prototype include a geographical information system, multi-sensor data fusion system, rugged computing devices, and a software defined radio-based communication system for soldiers.
Under Make in India, the government funds 80% of the prototype development cost and the development agencies cover the rest. Prototype development is estimated at about $300 million, according to an executive of a domestic company participating in the consortium.
Media quotes a senior executive from one of the consortia stating, “The challenge in developing a BMS is not on the hardware. With Indian vendors capable of manufacturing the latest state-of-the-art electronics, hardware will not be a challenge, but the challenge will be in deploying such a system. Considering the size of the Indian Army, an efficient command-and-control system is the heart of the system and the biggest stumbling block.”
The development agencies are free to choose overseas partners for technical assistance but the eventual tender will only be awarded to the domestic companies under the Make in India category. The BMS prototypes will be developed and tested in the next 40 months; a final order of 600 plus such systems would then be placed for more than US$ 5.8 billion.
Once fully developed and proved, the BMS will be able to receive and transmit data, voice and images from multiple sources, including radar, cameras, laser range-finders and ground sensors, allowing the soldier on the battlefield access to real time information simultaneously with the commanders up the chain. It will be a critical element of the Army’s NCW capacity building as part of the Tac C3I.
BMS for the India Army is an essential force multiplier that has been long overdue. It is good that this is being developed indigenously under Make in India…
A project like the BMS is a multi disciplinary process. It is, therefore, imperative that critical issues are addressed at the inception stage. For this, the test bed must be in full, not truncated as has been the case in testing other operational information systems because of the void of the Tactical Communication System (TCS). A full rest bed would ensure that deficiencies do not crop up later at the fielding stage necessitating upgrades.
BMS for the India Army is an essential force multiplier that has been long overdue. It is good that this is being developed indigenously under Make in India, like the TCS. The biggest challenge naturally will be deployment on ground suiting every need of IA in varying terrain and environment conditions. Therefore, developing appropriate system would demand a great amount of flexibility without compromising on speed and security.
The requirement no doubt will be colossal considering it will be fielded pan Amy at the battalion / regiment level, but similar system will eventually be required by the Para Military Forces (PMF) and even the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Police forces involved in anti-terrorist and counter insurgency operations if we are to achieve national net centricity to counter the increasing irregular threats from terrorists, non state actors and state sponsored non state actors.

Battlefield Management System for Indian Army – Where Are We?
 

Pankaj

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Dec 3, 2017
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We need to invest in incorporating Artificial Intelligence with these systems.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a transformative technology which provides the machine with a capability to imitate intelligent human behavior like visual perception, speech recognition and decision making.

US, China and Russia are in a race to integrate AI with their military operations and are investing huge sums to develop smart autonomous defence systems. Valdimir Putin once famously said, “Artificial Intelligence is the future, not only for Russia but for all humankind. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

And application of AI in the air force would be unmanned aircraft, not ground guided drones but aircraft's which will have missions performed by AI, including adaptations and adjustments based on situations such as unexpected weather, enemy aircraft attacking or approaching, missiles or other munitions used against the aircraft. Such AI powered aircraft's would also be able to evaluate the target during flight by scanning ground or airborne sites to determine which needs to be destroyed. So the machine would be able to recognize and differentiate between a congregation of cattle and a dispersion of advancing soldiers, or distinguish between a stable and an enemy ammunition dump, or target enemy tanks and ignore friendly tanks, depending upon the mission. AI is revolutionary and would be useful in every type of mission.

Russia is building an AI powered missile which can think of itself and choose its own targets, US plans to incorporate AI into its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), while China is also working on it AI powered weapons. As per a report published by Goldman Sachs, China is best equipped to become the AI world power.

However the AI research in India is primarily focused on consumer goods. If we do not invest in AI R&D for defence today, we will lag too far behind in the race and will continue to be importers of military equipment rather than producers as the current weapon systems will become outdated with the advent of new technology.

Is anyone aware if we are investing in any AI project in Defence Sector?
 

Ashwin

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In a blow to prospect of “digital army”, army shutting high-tech “Make” project

On Friday, the army will officially shut down a project that was aimed at transforming it into a 21stcentury force, which leverages digital communications and information technology (IT) to swiftly detect, identify and destroy its foes.

Senior generals, including the army’s vice chief, want to scrap the revolutionary Battlefield Management System (BMS) to save the Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion) it will cost to develop. Instead, they want legacy weapons like rifles and light machine guns.

The official foreclosure of the BMS project will be declared on Friday, ironically, by the Defence Production Board (DPrB) – a defence ministry body charged with promoting the development of futuristic defence platforms.

The battlefield efficacy of a digitally networked force was first demonstrated in the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein's vaunted Iraqi Army was overwhelmed in 96 hours by a US military that had married sensor technology with real-time networking, across combat and support units.

Stunned by that demonstration of force application, all major militaries began developing networked battlefield systems. A Chinese version of BMS, the Qu Dian, began deployment a decade ago. Pakistan is developing its own BMS, named Rehbar.

But the army, placing traditional weapons above high-technology, says that equipping the army’s 800-plus combat units with BMS would cost an unaffordable Rs 50-60,000 crore (500-600 billion), going by prototype development costs. Industry sources counter that prototype development costs far more than industrial production, where scale would dramatically drive down prices.

After the BMS project was okayed in 2007, the defence ministry chose two Indian consortia to develop competing versions of the BMS. In one, Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) is partnering L&T, while Bharat Electronics has joined hands with Rolta India in the other.

The BMS project is one of only three “Make” category platforms that India’s defence industry has been asked to develop, with the defence ministry reimbursing 80 per cent of the costs.

BMS seeks to leverage India’s IT skills and talent to equip individual soldiers and commanders – each carrying a high-tech “software defined radio” (SDR) – as “digital entities” that can receive information from battlefield sensors, such as unmanned aircraft, radars, ground sensors and lookout posts. In turn, each soldier transmits battlefield information in front of him, feeding into a comprehensive “battlefield picture” available to every combatant.

The principle on which BMS works is the same as Google Maps, which gets drivers to their destinations quicker by “crowd-sourcing” traffic information from numerous sources, including drivers’ mobile phones. BMS similarly “crowd-sources” battlefield information from its own soldiers, through their SDRs.

A networked military is faster on what military jargon calls the OODA loop – the cycle of observing (detecting the enemy), orienting (locating him), deciding (the type and location of a weapon to engage him most effectively) and acting (to launch the weapon to destroy the enemy). Engagements are usually won by the force that “closes the OODA loop” quickest. That is what the BMS enables.

An industry executive says the technologies that would be developed for BMS – which involve connecting numerous entities on a single network – are the same as those that drive an Internet of Things (IoT). “BMS would galvanize IoT knowhow in India. This would be a classic case of technology ‘trickle-down’ from defence to civilian applications,” he says.

Paradoxically, BMS, which networks the army’s frontline combat echelons, is being shut down even as work continues on networking higher headquarters through projects like the Tactical Communications System, Command Information and Decision Support System, Artillery Command, Control and Communications System and Battlefield Surveillance System.

Junior army officers, who are far more tech-savvy than the digitally-uncomfortable generals, scoff at the logic of a 21stcentury command and control network that controls an old-style combat force.

“Every military worth its salt will be networked in a decade or two. We will have no choice but to be networked too. Foreclosing BMS today will only mean that, instead of Indian companies, it will be the Israelis or the Americans who network us”, says an officer who is part of BMS.
 

Ashwin

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For fancy generals, A handful of redundant and expensive Apache helicopters are 'urgent' but basic and indigenous BMS is not.
 
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