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CLOSE IN WEAPON SYSTEMS

Indian Armed Forces require around 1000 Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) and each Service projected their different qualitative requirements. Production and life cycle manufacturing of small quantity of different weapons for each Services with similar operational need would be the costlier effort. Therefore, the air defence guns with same general specification for all the three services would help to cut the logistic cost including maintenance, repair and spares.

Air threats play a decisive role in war operations and the same have graduated from conventional aircraft to a variety of aerial platforms such as the low silhouettes, low signal Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Surface to Surface Missiles (SSMs), Cruise Missiles, Anti Radiation Missiles and Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs). Air Defence Corps is responsible for providing the terminal air defence to vital static assets and mobile combat forces through Ground-Based Air Defence Weapon Systems (GBADWS) comprising of air defence (AD) gun and Missiles.

            It is important to protect the vital static assets and mobile combat forces from low silhouettes, low signal such as Helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) etc where gun system is very effective. Thus AAD needs an effective transition plan to cover all range of threat with balanced shift from gun-centric to missile-centric defence. Gun regiments need to be re-organised as Gun-Missile (GM) regiments, to make optimum use of the characteristic of both guns and missiles. However, the progress of this plan is not very satisfactory though a beginning has been made.

            The emergence of space and its weaponisation has raised the importance of air defence to the next level, where the ministry is now reviewing the national air defence plan to induct a range of systems to defend the skies for all the services. This includes buying and upgrading air defence system, besides an upgradation of the old trusted air defence guns.

Current Inventory

Indian Army: Air Defence Guns (AD Guns) is an integrated system with radars and capable of shooting down small radar cross section targets like drones and low flying objects. India currently relies upon L-70 that is of 1960s vintage, while ZU-23 is from the 1970s. It has around 1000 number 40mm L-70, out of which 200 guns are being upgraded and modernised at Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), with the help of Bharat Electronics Limited. The L-70 upgraded Gun has all electronic drive system along with integrated fire control system to provide an effective, autonomous air defence system and to increase the life span of equipment with low operating maintenance cost.

            While India's Punj Lloyd has been shortlisted for Zu-23mm air defence gun upgrade involving replacing the manual laying system with a rugged Electro Optical Control System. The gun is also modified with a day and night camera, laser range finder and a digital fire control computer. The upgradation can engage the NATO standard aerial targets, upto a range of 2500m flying at 300m/s.

            The existing AD guns are incapable of engaging the aircraft currently being used by our adversaries which travel faster than the speed of sound. Even after upgradation, these guns will sustain for next 7-10 years, making it crucial to replace them with more advanced weapon. Hence, procurement of new guns is an imperative which are capable of engaging air targets day and night, using both fire control radars and electro-optical fire control systems.

Indian Navy: It presently has 30mm guns fitted onboard for the role envisaged for the gun is in low intensity maritime operations.  The CRN-91 Naval gun is controlled by an electro-optic fire control system for day and night use, developed and jointly produced by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The CRN-91 Naval gun is not a sophisticated weapon but its operational cost is very low. It has been installed on many small Indian Naval ships.

            AK 630 a 30 mm gun, which had been procured from erstwhile USSR and Russia. Additionally, the gun has also been fitted onboard all major war vessels manufactured indigenously. The ToT for manufacturing of this gun has been done to OFB and from assembling of semi knock down kits. These guns do not come with a EOFCS but can be locally controlled and fired by visual sight Kolanka in addition being remotely controlled by an independent FCS.

Indian Air Force: IAF has these guns on its platforms as follow:-

  • Rudra helicopter is equipped with Nexter's THL, 20mm turret gun. THL 20 is armed with a 20mm M 621 ultra-light and low-recoil force cannon which makes the turret lighter and provides it with high firepower capabilities.
  • HAL Tejas is equipped with 23 mm twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon with 220 rounds of ammunition.
  • Jaguar Aircraft is equipped with 30 mm DEFA cannons, 150 rounds/gun.
  • Mirage 2000 has 2× 30 mm DEFA 554 revolver cannon, 125 rounds per gun.

Projected Requirement

Indian Army

Indian Army is planning to procure 428 nos. of more or equal to 30mm Air Defence Guns and approx 45,00,000 of ammunition under the "Buy & Make (India)". The worth around Rs 16,900 crore, in replacing vintage L70 and Zu-23mm guns. The gun should be capable of being towed and engage air targets during day and night using Fire Control Radar as well as Electro-Optical Fire Control System (EOFCS) independently. The cyclic rate of Fire should be 500 rounds / min (or more) if the gun fires HE/AP and AHEAD/3P/PFFC/ AIR Burst ammunition /similar ammunition or 3000rounds/min (or more) if the Gun fires only HE/AP/similar ammunition. Effective Range against air targets - 3500 m or more and height against air targets- 1500 m or more, with service life of not be less than 25 years.

Indian Air Force

In mid 2016, the Defence Acquisition Council gave the Acceptance of Necessity for 61 flights of air defence guns for the Air Force, with each flight consisting of four guns, expected to cost Rs. 7,000 crore under the 'Buy and Make' procedure of the DPP. The IAF will install these 244 guns and Radars around the sea ports, airports, oil fields and metropolitan cities to shoot down enemy UAVs incoming missiles and planes.

            The guns would be manufactured in India, in line with government's 'Make in India' initiative. However, the Indian companies would need to collaborate with foreign OEM. It is an integrated system with radars and capable of shooting down small radar cross section targets like drones and low flying objects.

Indian Navy

Procurement of 20 - 30 mm Close In Weapon System (CIWS) with associated Electro Optical (EO) Surveillance-Cum-Tracking, Radar, Integrated Surface-To-Air-Missile (SAM) and Gun Control System, under 'Buy-Make' Category for quantity 25 Nos and worth around above Rs 300 crores. It has initiated the procurement of advanced Close in Weapon System (CIWS) for new warships - Kashtan CIWS fitted on IN Talwar class frigates. Vendors are required to indicate their willingness for ToT, including critical technologies, elaborating range and depth of ToT being offered. However, the Navy now wants to procure a better CIWS as standard fit for its new warships including INS Vikramaditya and the Project 15A destroyers currently being fitted at MDL.

Brief Specifications: The CISW should comprise of the following sub-systems:-

  1. a) A surveillance-cum-tracking radar
  2. b) An Electro Optical (EO) system
  3. c) Integrated Surface to Air (SAM) system
  4. d) 20 - 30 mm caliber gun along with gun control system.

The Navy wants an automatic search and track capability against anti-ship sea skimming missiles and approaching attack crafts. The CIWS should be able to generate Fire Control Solution (FCS) and control an associated gun. It should be possible to interface the CIWS with the ship's Combat Management System (CMS).

Some Major CIWS Systems

A CIWS usually consists of a combination of radars, computers, and multiple rapid-fire medium-calibre guns placed on a rotating gun mount. Examples of the major CIWS used world wide by Air Force are:-

  • THALES' Crotale NG from France
  • BAE Systems VL Seawolf
  • OTO Breda of Italy's Myriad
  • Goalkeeper from THALES Naval Netherland
  • Kashtan from Russia's Tulamashzavod
  • Mk 15 Phalanx (USA)

Some of the other major CIWS used are: (Refer Table below)

Model/NameManufacturerCaliber/ BarrelsRate of FireMounted onRemark
Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS)    General Dynamics, United States 20 mm, 6 4,500 rounds/minute Aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers. There is now also a land-based version.
Kashtan CIWS KBP Instrument Design Bureau, Russia 30 mm, 6   10,000 - 12,000 rds/min Aircraft carrier, battle cruisers and frigates Are typically made up of two GSh-30k (AO-18K) six-barrelled 30 mm gatling guns.
Type 730 CIWS Xi'an Research Institute of Navigation Technology, China 30 mm, 7 4,200 rounds/minute Destroyers and frigates The 30 mm Gatling gun is extremely similar to the General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger. There is also a land based variant designated LD-2000 (LD: Lu Dun, meaning Land Shield).
KORKUT   ASELSAN with FNSS SavunmaSistemleri (FNSS), Turkey    35mm KD C Cannon, 2 1,100 rounds a minute. A remotely-controlled turret mounted in the centre roof of the vehicle. Detect, track, identify and destroy aerial targets. It is capable of carrying out missions on heavy armoured platforms.
Skyshield   Rheinmetall Defence   35mm automatic cannon, 2 or 4 a rate of fire around 1,000 rds/min Ground-based short-range air defence system and Vehicle-mounted configurations are also possible. Air defense system includes the Skyshield 35 Fire Control Unit (FCU) which provides air space surveillance over the complete elevation range with each antenna revolution.
Goalkeeper CIWS  General Electric/Thales Navy, Netherlands 30 mm, 7 4,200 rounds/minute (70 rounds/ second)       Naval vessels   Uses the GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm Gatling gun.
AK-630 CIWS Tula Arms, Russia 30 mm, 6 5000 round/min (83 round/s) Naval vessels It can be described as the Soviet counterpart to the United States Phalanx CIWS. It has a higher firing rate than both the Goalkeeper and Phalanx (Block 1 and older) CIWS systems, combined with the fact that they are often mounted in pairs.
Meroka CIWS Oerlikon, Spain     20 mm, 12 1,440 rounds per minute cyclic (for all twelve barrels) Naval vessels    Uses twelve Oerlikon 20 mm/120 guns mounted in 2 rows of 6 guns each.
DARDO CIWS Breda/Oto Melara, Italy 40 mm, 2 2 x 300 round/min, 2 x 450 round/min (Fast Forty) Naval vessels  The Fast Forty is an improvement version of the system with higher rate of fire, dual magazine and dual feed mechanism to allow switch from HE to APFSDS rounds when a missile gets within 1.000 meters from the vessel.
Myriad CIWS Oto Melara, Italy 25 mm, 2 x 7       5000 round/minute (83 round/second) per gun, combined rate of fire, 10,000 round/minute  Naval vessels   The Myriad CIWS was a twin 7 barrelled, 25 mm Gatling gun CIWS developed by a consortium including Oto Melara.
Typhoon CIWS      Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel  20-30 mm       ---        Naval vessels   The cannon system mounted can be an ATK Oerlikon, Mauser or Giat model in the 20-30 mm caliber range.
Millennium antiaircraft system and the MLG light naval gun       Oerlikon Defense, Swiss 35mm cannon shell   over 1000 rounds per minute,   Naval ship with deck space large enough to accommodate. The combo of the Millennium Gun's big shell and its high-speed firing rate equals a very high probability that it attacks in a very short period of time.

Conclusion

There has been an exponential development in the quality and magnitude of air threat due to technological innovations. The Air Defence of the country is a joint responsibility of all the defence forces. The Army and Indian Air Force are asking for different weapon for same operation, hence, delaying the acquisition plans. The Air Defence Gun the long pending requirement is struck with MoD as it does not want Hybrid inventory for the same purpose. The Army QR for the air defence guns is said to be 'unreasonable' and 'over-ambitious' in comparison to Air Force one and MoD wants it to be harmonized.

            Producing small quantity of different weapon for the services for same operational need would be the costlier effort. Therefore, the air defence guns with same general specification for all the three services would help to cut the logistic cost including maintenance, repair and spares. Additionally, producing weapon for all the services in huge quantity would be the best option for the country.

 

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