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India's army technology



Era of Machines

India needs to upgrade its Robotic technology for future combat situations

By Dilip Kumar Mekala In a futuristic battlefield, which would rely widely on precision guided weapons and virtual platforms, Robotic technology is going to play a pivotal role. Presently, the use of robotics with the military and paramilitary forces, especially in India, is limited to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or for landmine and explosive research. A few armies from the developed world are using them for counter terrorism purpose. The use of robotic technology, programmed with artificial intelligence applications can cater to the most vital roles in aerial combat and also in tactical battle areas. Increasing militarisation of robots will be a reality soon and India has a huge challenge to catch up with the developments in this area. Last year, the Indian Army had taken the delivery of the indigenously built Daksh robots. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Daksh is an electrically powered and remotely controlled robot used for locating, handling and destroying hazardous objects safely. The primary role of a battery-operated robot on wheels is to recover improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It locates IEDs with an X-ray machine, picks them up with a gripper-arm and defuses them with a jet of water. Daksh has a shotgun which can break open locked doors, and scan cars for explosives. It can even climb staircases, negotiate steep slopes, navigate narrow corridors and tow away vehicles. The first batch of five remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Daksh, designed and developed by Research and Development Establishment (R&DE), Pune, was handed over to the Indian Army in early 2012. The Indian Army has placed a limited-series-production order for 20 Daksh after extensive trials, testing and acceptance. The army is planning to buy 100 more such remotely operated vehicles to deploy in different sectors for their anti-IED operations. It is also reported that the DRDO is working on a gun-mounted robot (GMR) which is capable of shooting with the help of small arms mounted on it. DRDO is further developing soldier robots that can work like human soldiers. With the use of artificial intelligence and pre-fed data, DRDO is apparently attempting to create a soldier robot. At DefExpo 2012, Cobham showcased its popular Telemax explosive ordnance robot. According to the company, it has received a wide interest from Indian military and paramilitary forces. It is considered one of the most advanced and versatile robots available in the market today. It packs up small enough to fit in the back of a small SUV but when opened, is able to reach over 2.4m height. A four-track running gear has been used in Telemax, making it the first time in a vehicle of this size, which offers a good mobility compared to other forms of running gear. It can handle gradients of 45 degrees without any difficulty. It can also overcome obstacles of up to half a metre in height without problems and also trenched of 60cm in width. But India has never been able to look at the use of Robotics beyond counter IED technology and some other basic operations. Autonomous operations of such devices in the tactical battle area are still a distant thought for the country. In order to test the use of robots in tactical battle area, French and German troops conducted an experiment last year. It demonstrated advanced war fighting concepts introduced by modern command and control systems and evaluate the effectiveness of digitisation in combat area. The forces operating in the experiment included a command centre, some armoured vehicles, robots, drones and a group of soldiers. The experiment was organised by the French procurement agency DGA and industry group that comprised French majors such as Thales, Nexter and Sagem. Mini robots such as Cobham’s Telemax and MiniRoc (developed by French companies) performed important roles such as observation, localisation, surveillance, load carrying, and sentry operations. The robots were also tested for autonomous operations in a battle situation.


Countering IEDs: Training remains the Key

ByMaj Gen Dhruv C Katoch

IssueCourtesy: CLAWS| Date : 13 Mar , 2013

A Royal Navy Counter IED Expert conducts a training exercise in Afghanistan. (Photographer: Lt Nick Southall RN,

On 22 February, eight persons, including six policemen, were killed in a landmine blast triggered by Maoists at Majhauliya village in Bihar’s Gaya district. This marked the first major land mine blast in 2013 by the Maoists resulting in large scale casualties, but it most certainly will not be the last. The blast was powerful, completely destroying the police jeep and killing its occupants on the spot. The Maoists also made off with the weapons being carried by the police party.

The previous year has seen a number of IED blasts and this trend is likely to increase.

Landmine blasts carried out through improvised explosive devices (IED) present one of the severest challenges to the security forces. Anti-mine vehicles or mine protected vehicles (MPV) are not the answer as all such vehicles are designed to withstand a blast of specific magnitude. As such parameters are known, it is a simple matter to defeat the system by upping the quantum of explosive used in the blast. A low cost option can thus easily defeat the huge sums of money spent on buying such vehicles, making the latter redundant as soon as they are purchased. This was amply proved in the Indian Army’s operations in Sri Lanka where Tamil militants had no difficulty in blasting even armoured personalcarriers pressed into service to counter the IEDs. MPVs procured by the Bihar police have earlier been destroyed by the Maoists when in October 2012, a MPV was blown up killing six CRPF personnel and injuring another eight in the Chakarbandha Forest in Gaya District.

Technology can be used to some extent to defeat the IED but in the final analysis, protection can only be afforded if the road is sanitised. Such an effort across the length and breadth of areas affected by Maoist violence requires tremendous resources in manpower and is difficult to sustain. It can hence only be resorted to on specific occasions. How then should this challenge be addressed? The previous year has seen a number of IED blasts and this trend is likely to increase. In 2012, in the Garhwa district of Jharkhand, Maoists blew up a MPV killing 13 police personnel and taking away their weapons. Such blasts have also taken place in Odisha, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh causing heavy loss of life to security forces.

While there are no easy answers, casualties can be minimised by following basic movement drills. The first rule to be followed is to avoid cramming of police personnel into one vehicle. Ideally, movement should take place in three or more vehicles, with vehicles being spaced about 100 meters from each other. All personnel inside the vehicle should be in a position to fire their weapons. To make this feasible, a light vehicle should not have more than four occupants including the driver. The co-driver and the two passengers travelling behind should have their weapons on the ready, and should be able to respond immediately to any crisis. In the event of any vehicle getting hit by an IED, the other two should immediately come into action, assisting the survivors and preventing the insurgents from making off with the weapons. This would require high standards of training and motivation.

The security discourse is unfortunately focussed on enablers such as bullet proof jackets and sophisticated rifles for the security forces, but important as these aspects may be, they can hardly compensate for weaknesses in drills and training. This lesson has still to be learnt.

Going back in time, it is pertinent to mention that even post the high profile case of the Mumbai attacks in which the chief of the anti-terrorism squad Mr Hemant Karkare was killed, correct lessons have not been drawn. The Qualis vehicle in which he was travelling had a total of seven armed police personnel. Being cramped, none of them were in a position to retaliate immediately to an attack which was why just two terrorists could eliminate an entire well-armed and trained squad. The above incident highlights the importance of convoy movement in insurgency affected areas. Moving in a convoy makes it difficult for the terrorist to simultaneously attack all members of the group. At the same time, the security forces have an opportunity to take on the terrorists which may not be possible in a single vehicle move where all the security force personnel have been disabled. The security discourse is unfortunately focussed on enablers such as bullet proof jackets and sophisticated rifles for the security forces, but important as these aspects may be, they can hardly compensate for weaknesses in drills and training. This lesson has still to be learnt. It must be understood that basic preventive measures cost little but can bring down the casualty rate drastically, enhancing at the same time the effectiveness of the police forces. Such options require hard work and have little glamour but are the only ones which will deliver results.

While moving in isolated areas, it is important for the lead vehicle to keep a look out for culverts or other areas where the commander assesses a threat. In case of culverts, IEDs are generally placed beneath them and are detonated when the vehicle crosses over. The counter to such IEDs is that before each culvert, or likely IED site, the vehicle must halt and carry out a physical check. If an IED has been planted which is to be manually detonated, then a sure give away is the connecting wire. In such cases, there is also an opportunity to apprehend the insurgent who will be in the close vicinity of the IED to detonate it. This procedure is laborious and may not always succeed but it provides much better options than blindly stumbling into an adverse situation. The other members of the convoy also need to be trained on action to be taken in case an IED is detected or in those circumstances when the IED has been able to take out one of the vehicles in the group.

In the high intensity insurgency environment in which our police forces are required to operate, the need is to concentrate on basic training and leadership issues. Much too often the discourse gets hijacked by projection of demands for helicopters and upper end technology. But without removing weaknesses at the basic level, other measures are unlikely to yield the desired results. The internal report of the BSF post the attack by the Maoists in Dantewada pointed to lack of training, work pressures and communication gaps as causative factors behind the police forces excessive casualties. To this must be added the issue of leadership. Unless structural factors are addressed our armed police forces will continue to be at a disadvantage in the conflict against Maoists.

India’s Army Solving Bomb Problems With Daksh Robots

India’s Army Solving Bomb Problems With Daksh RobotsImprovised Explosive Devices (IEDs) is a problem that’s faced by armies all over the world. They aren’t that easily detected, and can easily kill or permanently disable any human that tries to disarm or accidentally comes into direct contact with it.

To make things safer for its troops, the Indian Army has placed orders for the Daksh, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that was built for seeking out IEDs and diffusing them. Created at the Pune-based Research and Development Establishment (R&DE - Engineers) in cooperation with several companies such as Theta Controls, Dynalog and Bharat Electronics, this battery-powered robot has a variety of features that make it effective at the task it was created for.

This ROV was built on wheels and is fairly compact, making it easy to navigate through narrow corridors in potentially dangerous buildings. It finds bombs by using an X-ray scanner. Upon detection, it then uses its robotic arm, picks up the explosive, and disarms it using a jet of water.

Using the master control system and onboard cameras, soldiers can operate the Daksh from a distance of up to 500 meters. Though built on wheels for mobility, this robot has no problem with going up steep slopes or a flight of stairs. Opening doors won’t be much of an issue either, since it can easily break these obstacles down using a shotgun.

Orders for 20 Daksh units were placed with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) back in 2009. Major General Rakesh Bassi held a function last December 19, 2011 wherein the first six Daksh units were given.

“The army started thinking of acquiring counter-IED equipment in the 1990s, following instances of indiscriminate use of IEDs by terrorists and anti-nationals. We had to acquire 45 such equipment from the UK, while the DRDO was asked to develop the ROVs. The indigenous content and support carrier vehicle provides a unique feature to 'Daksh’” said Bassi.

Since this mechanical invention is indigenously manufactured, costs for acquiring this invaluable piece of equipment is estimated to be 50% cheaper than its imported counterparts. Field tests for this bomb-diffusing robot went well, and so the army decided to order a hundred more of these bots.

Written by: Tommy Coffler Published on 12/22/11

Daksh Counter-IED Robot Joins Indian Army

Posted byArmed Forces International's Defence Correspondenton21/12/2011 - 12:15:00

Daksh Counter-IED Robot

The Indian Army now has in service its first robotic technology - a counter-IED device named the Daksh.

This six-wheeled RVO (Remotely-Operated Vehicle) will be used to locate and destroy hidden IEDs and other explosive devices, going in ahead of troops to minimise the potential for loss of life.

It features an X-ray scanner for location purposes, a roof-mounted gripper arm that picks up explosive devices and a high-pressure water jet for bomb diffusion purposes. There's also the option of an integrated shotgun, to force open locks.

The Daksh has the ability to travel on angled ground, ascend flights of stairs and even tow other vehicles. The Indian Army's ultimately getting 20 of these highly capable Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and, right now, it's got an initial six examples.

Daksh Counter-IED Robot

The Daksh counter-IED robot's a product of DRDO - India's Defence Research and Development Organisation - and the Army handover occurred in grounds belonging to the organisation's Research and Development Establishment.

"The army started thinking of acquiring counter-IED equipment in the 1990s, following instances of indiscriminate use of IEDs by terrorists and anti-nationals", Indian Army representative Major General Bassi told the Times of India. "We had to acquire 45 such equipment from the UK, while the DRDO was asked to develop the ROVs. The indigenous content and support carrier vehicle provides a unique feature to Daksh"

Indian Army Daksh Robot

"We will hand over the remaining 14 units of the order in a year's time", DRDO's S Sundaresh added, at the Indian Army Daksh robot transfer event. "The ROVs will be deployed in the northern and eastern command areas of the army and, based on the latter's feedback, the DRDO will develop a further improvised variant called Daksh Mk-I."

Beyond the Indian Army's use, export orders for the Daksh counter-IED robot are also being sought and, possibly alongside these, international partnerships of some kind.

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation has been in operation since 1958. Headquartered in New Delhi, it works in a huge variety of fields include aeronautics, missile and combat vehicle development and computer sciences.

Image copyright Jjamwal - courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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