Military & Aerospace

Swati radar could be a game changer at the LoC
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Mar , 2017

The induction of Swati radar can be a game changer in the mountainous terrain of the LoC where Pakistan is at an advantage geographically. Usually, after firing artillery shells, the soldiers move the artillery guns so as to avoid detection. At the LoC, the mobility is limited due to the mountainous terrain, and fielding of the WLR could halt the usage of artillery by Pakistan to a naught. Any firing by Pakistan would, now, immediately reveal the location of their artillery guns and the ability of the radar to launch counter-fire would mean the destruction their destruction.

The importance of a WLR can be gauged from the fact that more than 80 per cent of casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil war was due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.

The induction of the Swati radar has huge implications for the Indian Army. Swati, an indigenous Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) developed by the DRDO’s Electronic and Radar Development Establishment, will provide accurate location of enemy artillery including shells, mortars, and rockets.

Swati WLR not only locate enemy artillery but is also capable of guiding fire from an artillery gun attached to it and destroying enemy guns. Currently, Swati can detect incoming shells up to 40 km which can decrease relativity with the size of the target, however, the DRDO is planning to modernize the radar by increasing it’s effective detection range and reducing the false alarm rate.

The importance of a WLR can be gauged from the fact that more than 80 per cent of casualties suffered by the Indian Army during the Kargil war was due to Pakistan’s artillery fire. At the time of the war, India had the British- made Cymbeline which could only locate shells fired at a high-angle and this did not make any significant impact during the war. To make matters worse, Pakistan at the time of the war had the American ANTPQ 36/37 radar system, enabling them to target the Indian artillery while the Indian Army had to rely on disproportionate firing to counter the Pakistanis.

The Indian Army has been keen on acquiring the WLR technology since the 1980s . However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been dragging its feet till 1998 when it issued a Request For Proposal. However, due to the sanctions imposed on India after the nuclear tests, the Americans and the French withheld the radars. The following year, after being castigated by the Standing Committee on Defence for not showing any “sense of seriousness” in acquiring these radars, the MoD intensified efforts and authorised the DRDO to develop a WLR.

“With Swati, we can track and attack seven targets simultaneously…”Maj Gen GD Bakshi.

The induction of Swati radar can be a game changer in the mountainous terrain of the LoC where Pakistan is at an advantage geographically. Usually, after firing artillery shells, the soldiers move the artillery guns so as to avoid detection. At the LoC, the mobility is limited due to the mountainous terrain, and fielding of the WLR could halt the usage of artillery by Pakistan to a naught. Any firing by Pakistan would, now, immediately reveal the location of their artillery guns and the ability of the radar to launch counter-fire would mean the destruction their destruction.

Major General Gagandeep Bakshi believes that with the induction of this radar, the Indian Army has not only filled a gaping hole but also gained a slight advantage since Swati has a longer tracking range and are more accurate than American ANTPQ 36/37 radar system. “The American Flycatcher Radar we had up till now proved to be ineffective for the Army. With Swati, we can track and attack seven targets simultaneously. This increases Pak Army’s problems,” G.D. Bakshi said.

Speaking to the author on the condition of anonymity, a former Colonel of the Artillery regiment of the Indian Army said that this [introduction of Swati radar] would be a major improvement from the current British mortar location radar and help in reducing casualties along the border.

It can be inferred that with Swati radar, the civilians living close to the border may feel more secure as artillery fire may go down drastically.

“With Swati, the LoC could go silent. Until now, Pakistani Army knew that we did not have the ability to locate their artillery,” the Colonel said, “now they will be more cautious. The implications are higher along the LoC where Pak enjoys geographical advantage than the plains of the international border.”

In 2014, a week after talks between India and Pakistan were cancelled by Prime Minister Modi, Pak violated the ceasefire and targeted 22 border outposts , killing 20 civilians and injuring many others.

According to news reports, around 30 villages were affected by heavy artillery firing and 20,000 Indian civilians fled their homes to escape the fighting, taking refuge in schools and relief camps. The firings at the LoC were also the heaviest in a decade since the 2003 border truce came into being.

It can be inferred that with Swati radar, the civilians living close to the border may feel more secure as artillery fire may go down drastically.

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12 votes cast
Swati radar could be a game changer at the LoC, 4.8 out of 5 based on 12 ratings
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Harsh Vasani

Postgraduate Research Scholar at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University.

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