Defence Industry

Defence Expo 2020: The Ultimate Display of Military Technology
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 05 Feb , 2020

Many leading defence equipment manufacturers both domestic and international are taking the lead in displaying their high end technologies in cyberspace and artificial intelligence. The various modern weapon systems on offer for sale and manufacture under the Make in India project will however be at the centre stage of this expo 2020.

Recently, at a seminar organized in Delhi on Dec 24, 2019. The Chief of Army Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, highlighted the importance of Artificial Intelligence in a non-contact warfare environment on the future battlefields of 21st century.

He said, necessity was no longer the need for invention and innovations were driving technological advancement. The Indian Army has to remain at the forefront of technological embrace.

“Non-contact warfare is gaining relevance in future wars. That is not to say that the man on the ground…with a rifle in his hand will no longer remain relevant. They will remain relevant all through the ages,” he said.

“Non-contact warfare will help us in gaining advantage over the adversary in future. Therefore, it is important to understand the context in which we need to move forward in this direction,” General Rawat said.

Quantum technology, cyberspace and above all artificial intelligence, all these need to be leveraged, he said.

These thoughts shared by the chief underpin the need of the forces in times ahead. The sense of this could well be at a greater display in Defence Expo 2020.

Many leading defence equipment manufacturers both domestic and international are taking the lead in displaying their high end technologies in cyberspace and artificial intelligence. The various modern weapon systems on offer for sale and manufacture under the Make in India project will however be at the centre stage of this expo 2020.

At display in its Digital transformation area, we will see the Targeting and Reconnaissance optronic pod Talios, from Thales. This combine targeting and tactical reconnaissance capabilities in a single pod which will be able to embed artificial intelligence in the future.

The Talios features high-resolution electro-optical and infrared sensors as well as line-of-sight stabilization to allow for the identification of fixed and moving targets at long ranges via the system’s image processing capabilities.

Additional ongoing system developments include the incorporation of new reconnaissance modes and automatic target detection and recognition algorithms, according to Thales.

As part of the company’s efforts to use artificial intelligence (AI) to support human efforts, Thales said it also plans to implement its Permanent Vision technology, which superimposes high-definition imagery gathered from the Talios in real time onto a three-dimensional map to aid situational awareness for pilots.

In addition to the Talios itself, the pod’s through-life support system has also been qualified, Thales said, including the Smart Fleet management and predictive maintenance solution. Thales is also providing a means of attaching the pod to an aircraft pylon without requiring additional tooling to cut down on installation work.

Thales will also showcase Pathmaster, the first fully configurable unmanned mine countermeasures system. Pathmaster is flexible enough to adapt to the operational requirements of newly emerging naval powers as well as major navies. It is built around an expert system for reliable detection, classification and location of even the stealthiest mines and its fully configurable system can be tailored to the needs of individual navies.

Path master is equipped with SAMDIS, Thales’s latest-generation high-resolution synthetic aperture sonar. With its multi-aspect functionality, the SAMDIS sonar views targets from three different angles.

Thales’ demos for land will include combat systems such as a fully integrated Soldier System capability, SYNAPS software defined radios among the family of communication devices, armaments and mock-up missiles supporting air defence systems such as STARS treak and lightweight multi-role missiles.

In its Security corner, Thales will exhibit its Live Face Identification System, a video-based biometric facial recognition system for tracking and recognition.

The company will also present Eagle shield, a multi-sensor integrated drone countermeasures solution that can detect, identify, classify and neutralise rogue drones flying at low altitude at ranges of up to 7 km.

For Aero & Naval, Thales will showcase anti-submarine warfare solutions such as Captas 1 and Aero & Naval connectivity & Identification solutions such as Next wave, Interrogator Friend Foe TSB 2510 etc.

With the display of such unique digitally driven technologies across verticals, Thales will also showcase its upcoming plans towards the development and modernisation of the Indian armed forces.

However, the star attraction of this Def-Expo 2020 is likely to be the Lockheed Martin’s F-21 fighter aircraft, which is on offer to the Indian Air Force. This takes Center Stage at Lockheed Martin’s display.

An F-21 cockpit demonstrator will be available at the booth for defence and aerospace partners to “fly” the jet for themselves, experiencing its unmatched performance. The F-21 demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment in delivering an advanced, scalable single-engine fighter to the Indian Air Force that also provides unrivalled industrial partnership opportunities ‒ for India, from India.

Another platform highlighted is the MH-60R “Romeo” SEAHAWK helicopter, also on offer to the Indian Navy. The MH-60R is the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter and will bring vital anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities to the Indo-Pacific region.

Boosting Lockheed Martin’s presence at the show is the C-130J Super Hercules and the S-92 multi-role helicopter, both of which represent a strong legacy of partnership with India and the Indian defence industry. The Indian Air Force operates 12 C-130Js, using the tactical airlifter to go anywhere to do everything. India also is connected to the C-130J through Tata Lockheed Martin Aero structures Limited, a joint venture, that has the distinction of being the single-global source of C-130J empennage assemblies included on all new Super Hercules aircraft. All C-130Js now built have major components manufactured in India.

On prominent display is the Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missile system. This versatile and effective one-man-portable and platform-employed anti-tank and multi-target precision weapon system provides capability to defeat a broad spectrum of close combat threats on the modern battlefield. Using fire-and-forget technology, the weapon guides itself to the target without external commands, allowing soldiers to take cover or reposition. With a range of 65 meters to 4 kilometres in most operational conditions, as well as the ability to operate through adverse weather and battlefield obscurants, Javelin can be deployed in a variety of environments and conditions.

Also highlighted is the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS), the advanced electro-optical fire control system used by AH-64D/E Apache helicopter pilots for long-range precision engagement and pilotage capabilities in day, night and adverse-weather missions; and precision guided munitions. 

Another interesting technology at display would be the iSky-50HD systems by CONTROP Precision Technologies. They specialise in the development and production of electro-optical and precision motion-control systems for surveillance, defence and homeland security.

CONTROP’s main product lines include: high-performance stabilised observation payloads used for day/night surveillance onboard UAS, small UAS and aerostats/balloons, helicopters, light aircraft (A/C), maritime patrol boats, remote weapon stations and ground vehicles; automatic intruder-detection systems for coastal and border surveillance, port/harbour security, the security of sensitive sites, ground-troop security and anti-drone applications; thermal imaging cameras with high-performance continuous zoom lens and state-of-the-art image enhancement.

They have recently won a tender by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the supply of its iSky-50HD systems, for use on unmanned airplatforms.

The iSky-50HD is a member of CONTROP’s iSky family of lightweight, compact EO/IR observation systems, which have been specifically designed for use in challenging airborne environments.

The iSky-50HD features highly sensitive multi-spectral sensors, which are gyro-stabilized and have advanced image processing algorithms, thereby providing maximum sensor ranges and performance, for a variety of airborne defence applications.

In daily operation around the world since the 1990s, the iSky systems are integrated into a wide variety of UAV, helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft and aerostat platforms.

Likewise, there would be 925 exhibitors will put up their stalls in the expo. Of these, 775 are Indian firms and the rest 150 are foreign firms.

Click to buy

State-of-the-art weapon systems from across the globe will be showcased at the expo. Simulators, which are normally used to train the armed forces, will also be put on display.

The biggest numbers of foreign exhibitors are from Russia, France, the US, South Korea, Sweden and the Czech Republic. These countries will also set up their exclusive pavilions.

India is expected to sign MoUs with these countries at the expo.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Danvir Singh

Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review, former Commanding Officer, 9 Sikh LI and author of  book "Kashmir's Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour".

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