http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gene...ne=India Embraces Defense Technology Road Map India Embraces Defense Technology Road Map May 24, 2010 By Asia-Pacific Staff New Delhi India is embracing medium- and long-range precision-strike weapons, short-range directed-energy air defenses and unmanned combat air vehicles as key aspirations for its future arsenal, according to a technology plan expected to be released imminently. The need for these capabilities is spelled out in the defense ministryâ€™s ambitious Technology Perspective and Capability Road Map 2010, its first effort to provide industry with an overview of what the armed services hope to field by the middle of the next decade. The documentâ€™s stated intent is to drive the â€œtechnology and development processâ€ of prospective developers, contractors and bidders in India and abroad, and to â€œprovide industry an overviewâ€ of ministry aims. The extent to which such desires can be adequately funded, and met by industry, national or otherwise, remains a big question. The position paper identifies as a goal the ability to field long-range subsonic cruise missiles for precision strikes against high-value targets. The 625-mi.-range Nirbhay cruise missile is now being developed for both land and air launch. At the other end of the precision-strike range, the road map spotlights interest in loitering munitions. New Delhi has already tapped Israeli and European guided-weapons manufacturers in this area, and in March, the Indian army formally expressed interest in a medium-range loitering missile system. In terms of directed-energy systems, the paper calls for the ability to be able to engage â€œenemy unmanned aerial vehicles in the 8-10-km. [5-7.2-mi.] range, capable of being designated and controlled by appropriate detection and tracking systems.â€ Such systems would likely be laser-based. The directed-energy requirements also include â€œdazzlers,â€ low-power lasers, for special forces to disrupt optical sensors. Indiaâ€™s list of air power, surveillance and missile needs are also detailed in the road map, reflecting the capital commitments the Indian air force is already making in these areas. The document glosses over New Delhiâ€™s well-known requirement for fixed-wing aircraft (fighters and tactical and heavy-lift), while emphasizing the critical technologies the air force wants as part of its rotary-wing procurements. The air force could sign deals for the acquisition of 150 helicopters in the next four years. Arguing that Indian airpower will progressively focus on air dominance and effects-based operationsâ€”until recently a vocabulary associated with the U.S. Air Force and Europeâ€™s main air forcesâ€”the document underscores the need for day/night standoff strike, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV) and an increased number of force-multiplier platforms such as airborne early warning (AEW) and tanker aircraft. The air force is also in the process of developing the capabilities provided by the A-50 Phalcon AEW aircraft, along with its Ilyushin Il-78 tankers. While India continues to look to Israel as a provider of tactical UAVsâ€”the addition of further Searchers or Herons is likelyâ€”the state-owned Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) is conducting a feasibility study of an indigenous UCAV design concept. â€œUAVs with advanced sensors and weapons are going to dominate all facets of the future battlefield and hence the need to acquire the necessary UAV expertise indigenously,â€ the road map document states. â€œThese should be capable of carrying payloads such as weapons, [synthetic aperture radar] payloads, electro-optical devices, [and] electronic and communications intelligence.â€ As a complement to increasing its inventory of precision-guided weapons, the document also spells out the air forceâ€™s far-reaching surveillance and target-acquisition capabilities, including long-range battlefield surveillance, remote sensor systems and the ability to track cruise missiles from airborne platforms. Improved air defenses are identified as a near-to-medium-term requirement, including an overhaul of Indiaâ€™s air defense ground environment. The military is looking to replace its obsolescent Soviet-era surface-to-air missile systems through programs with Israeli and European industry. The air force will look to acquire air defense weapons â€œfrom ground-based mobile platforms capable of engaging all kinds of projectiles-â€”rockets, mortar/ artillery, UAVs, missiles, fighter aircraft, helicopters, precision guided munitions and other stand off armament.â€ The emphasis on air defense reflects the findings of numerous parliamentary committees and government-led security audits that have identified shortcomings in Indiaâ€™s air defenses.