Air Defense: The Great Gaps Of India



October 30, 2008: 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.


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