India's air defense radar system has holes in it, lot's of them. And now
the secret is out. Earlier this year, India announced that it had completed a
program that combines radar data from all military and civilian aircraft
tracking radars in southern India. This was done using software that merges all
the tracing information, eliminating duplication and showing on one screen
everything in the air from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, the Indian
Ocean and northern Sri Lanka. Naturally, this got people asking about the
coverage over the rest of India's borders. These questions acquired some
urgency, because India's main enemies (Pakistan and China) are in the north. Turned
out the radar coverage in the rest of India was very spotty.
What is to
be done? For the moment, not much. India began buying new surveillance radars
in the early 1990s, as an effort to replace systems acquired in the 1970s. But
the old stuff was wearing out (or just breaking down a lot), and there was not
enough money to buy replacements quickly enough. This was kept quiet. For good
reason. Knowledge of these gaps would be useful to the commanders of enemy air
forces. Perhaps Pakistan and China already know where the gaps are. Pakistan
has maritime reconnaissance aircraft that often patrol near the Indian coast.
These aircraft can pick up and record data on radar signals. That will show you
where the gaps are, and how frequently the gaps appear. It's now known that
India only has about a quarter of the transportable radars (to quickly plug
gaps) it needs. Making the situation general knowledge puts pressure on Indian
politicians to provide the money for more radars, sooner.