INDIA RUSHES TO OUTSOURCE RADAR DEVELOPMENT WITH DEFENCE COMPANIES
By Bulbul Singh
11 Dec 09 India’s defence research agency, DRDO is to award contracts worth over $1.5 billion to various private sector and state-owned defence companies to develop sub systems for advanced long
range radars with a range of over 700 kilometers. DRDO is also
working on designing radars with a range of over 1000 kilometers.
“DRDO plans to outsource development of six to seven Long Range Transportable Radars to private and state-owned companies worth around $1.5 billion to make available the radar to Indian defence forces, as there is a shortage of these radars,” said a senior DRDO scientist.
Though the current outsourcing contract is being considered only for domestic, private and state-owned defence companies, the big ticket work for LRTRs is likely to result in technical and equity sharing partnerships with overseas defence companies, particularly with those from France, Iran and the United States.
The immediate contract will be for the development of LRTR with a range of up to 600 kilometers which have already been designed by DRDO with Israeli help. Thereafter, DRDO will consider outsourcing varieties of radars which are under design and development by DRDO scientists.
There is a severe shortage of surveillance radars of various types, as these aging radars need replacement and upgrade in addition to additional acquisitions.
“The Indian Air Force and the Indian Army have already made it known to the Indian defence ministry on several occasions in the past three to five years that the shortage of adequate number of surveillance radars creates a hole in India’s air defence and needs to be filled at the earliest.” said a senior Indian Air Force official.
Currently, the Air Defence system is made up of the Air Defence Ground Environment System, (ADGES), which is an integrated network of surveillance radars, air defence control centers, air and missile bases and anti-aircraft guns. The system was developed in the early 70’s with equipment purchased from erstwhile USSR. The ADGES system is still the mainstay of the air defence system with surveillance radars deployed across the country.
Shortage of medium powerradars (MPRs) needed for ground control and intercept is as high as 53 per cent of the projected requirement. The holding of low-level transportable radars is merely 24 per cent of the actual requirement of the Air Force.
Another area of shortfall in radars are High Power Static Radars (HPSR), Mobile Radars and Low Level Transportable Radars (LLTR).
The HPSRs are 3-D radars, which cover aerial threats at a height of 2 kilometers and above and have a range of 450 kilometers. The HPSRs are to be directly procured from the global overseas defence market.
Bharat Electronics Ltd. had been assigned the contract to produce Low Level Transportable Radars (LLTRs) but, despite its tie up with SELEX Integrati, a Finmeccanica company, in 2005 no radars have been made at Indian facilities and BEL has been resorting to direct purchases from overseas.
Bangalore-based Electronics and Radar Development Establishment
(LRDE)is the main laboratory under the DRDO which is designing varieties of radar for Indian defence forces.
LRDE develops a range of products from short- to long-range sensors
for ground, air and sea surface surveillance, tracking, and weapons
Giving the future trends in air defence radars under consideration and various stages of development, a senior LRDE scientist said the fundamental nature of radars in integrated air defense systems is being reconsidered. A multi-layered defense with decoys and missiles or guns to protect the prime radar network is under consideration.