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Indian Armed Forces

Indian Armed Forces
Bharatiya Sashastra Senaen
Emblem of India
Emblem of India
Service branches

Indian Army seal Indian Army
Indian Navy seal Indian Navy
Indian Air Force Seal Indian Air Force

Indian Coast Guard Seal Indian Coast Guard
Commander-in-Chief President Pranab Mukherjee
Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha[1][2]
Military age 18 years of age[3]
Conscription None
Available for
military service
319,129,420 males, age 16–49 (2010 est.),
296,071,637 females, age 16–49 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
249,531,562 males, age 16–49 (2010 est.),
240,039,958 females, age 16–49 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
12,151,065 males (2010 est.),
10,745,891 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel 1,325,000 (ranked 3rd)
Reserve personnel 2,142,821
Budget FY 2014
US$38.35 billion in nominal (ranked 8th)[4]
US$ 119.0 billion in PPP (ranked 3rd)[5]
Percent of GDP 2.5% (2012 est.)
Domestic suppliers Indian Ordnance Factories
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Bharat Electronics Limited
Bharat Earth Movers Limited
Bharat Dynamics Limited
Mazagon Dock Limited
Goa Shipyard Limited
Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers
Mishra Dhatu Nigam[6]
Foreign suppliers  Russia[5]
 United States[5]
Annual imports US$ 24 billion (2000-2011)[7][8][9]
Annual exports US$ 167 million (2000-2011)[7]
US$ 184 million (2010-12)[10]
Related articles
History Military history of India
Presidency armies
British Indian Army
Indian National Army
Ranks Air Force

The Indian Armed Forces (

  • Indian Army - Official website
  • Indian Air Force Official website
  • Indian Navy Official website
  • Bharat-Rakshak - Military & Defense News
  • Website of XISF Foundation, focussed on welfare of ex-services personnel from Indian Military
  • Desi defence showpieces powered by videshi parts
  • DRDO India's lumbering dinosaur

External links

  • Militarism in India: The Army and Civil Society in Consensus- by A. Kundu

^ Does not include members of the Indian Police Service

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See also

The Indian Navy regularly conducts adventure expeditions. The sailing ship and training vessel INS Tarangini began circumnavigating the world on 23 January 2003, intending to foster good relations with various other nations; she returned to India in May of the following year after visiting 36 ports in 18 nations. Lt. Cdr. M.S. Kohli led the Indian Navy's first successful expedition to Mount Everest in 1965. Another Navy team also successfully scaled Everest from the north face, the technically more challenging route.[184] An Indian Navy team comprising 11 members successfully completed an expedition to the Arctic pole in 2006.[185] The Indian Naval ensign first flew in Antarctica in 1981. The Indian Navy succeeded in Mission Dakshin Dhruv by traversing to the South Pole on skis in 2006. With this historic expedition, they have set the record for being the world's first military team to have successfully completed a ski traverse to the geographic south pole.[186]

Indian Navy exploration

The Indian Air Force successfully undertook sorties to help Indian scientists study the total solar eclipse that took place on 23 July 2010. Two separate missions from Agra and Gwalior were flown along the path of the moon's shadow, a mission that was deemed hugely successful by scientists associated with the experiment. While one AN-32 transport aircraft carrying scientific equipment, cameras and scientists that took off from Agra landed back after a three-hour flight, a Mirage-2000 trainer from Gwalior took spectacular images of the celestial spectacle from 40,000 feet. With weather being clear at such altitudes and coordinates planned by the IAF pilots, both AN-32 and Mirage-2000 pilots were able to accomplish the mission successfully.[183]

IAF efforts in eclipse study

Indian Air Force provides regular relief operation for food and medical facility around the world by its cargo aircraft most notably Ilyushin Il-76. The most recent relief operation of the IAF was in Kyrgyzstan.[180][181] During the 2010 Ladakh floods, two Ilyushin Il-76 and four Antonov-32 aircraft of the IAF carried 30 tonnes of load, which include 125 rescue and relief personnel, medicines, generators, tents, portable X-ray machines and emergency rescue kits. A MI-17 helicopter and Cheetah helicopter were pressed to increase effectiveness of the rescue operations.[182] During 2013 Uttrakhand Floods, Indian armed forces demonstrated heroic courage in rescue operations. By 21 June 2013, the Army had deployed 10,000 soldiers and 11 helicopters, the Navy had sent 45 naval divers, and the Air force had deployed 43 aircraft including 36 helicopters. From 17 June to 30 June 2013, the IAF airlifted a total of 18,424 people - flying a total of 2,137 sorties and dropping/landing a total of 3,36,930 kg of relief material and equipment.

Relief operations of IAF

India sought to augment its naval force in the Gulf of Aden by deploying the larger INS Mysore to patrol the area. Somalia also added India to its list of states, including the U.S. and France, who are permitted to enter its territorial waters, extending up to 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) from the coastline, in an effort to check piracy.[176] An Indian naval official confirmed receipt of a letter acceding to India's prerogative to check such piracy. "We had put up a request before the Somali government to play a greater role in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Aden in view of the United Nations resolution. The TFG government gave its nod recently."[177] In November 2008, an Indian navy warship destroyed a suspected Somali pirate vessel after it came under attack in the Gulf of Aden. In a report on Somalia submitted to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said "I welcome the decision of the governments of India and the Russian Federation to cooperate with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to fight piracy and armed robbery against ships." India also expressed consideration to deploy up to four more warships in the region.[178][179] On 2010-09-06, a crack team of Indian marine commandos (MARCOS) boarded MV Jag Arnav and overpowered attacking pirates - seven heavily armed Somalians and one Yemeni national. As part of the Indian response to the piracy menace in the area, the Indian Navy has escorted over 1,200 ships so far.

Anti-piracy mission

India has been the largest troop contributor to UN missions since inception.[171] So far India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed.[172] India has so far, provided one Military Advisor (Lt Gen R K Mehta), one Police Adviser (Ms Kiran Bedi), one Deputy Military Adviser (Lt Gen Abhijit Guha), 14 Force Commanders and numerous Police Commissioners in various UN Missions. Indian Army has also contributed lady officers as Military Observers and Staff Officers apart from them forming part of Medical Units being deployed in UN Missions. The first all women contingent in peacekeeping mission, a Formed Police Unit from India, was deployed in 2007 to the UN Operation in Liberia(UNMIL).[173] It also suffered 127 soldier deaths while serving on peacekeeping missions.[174] India also provided army contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990 as Indian Peace Keeping Force and in November 1988, India also helped restore government of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in Maldives under Operation Cactus.[175] As of June, 2013, about 8000 Indian UN peacekeepers, both men and women, are deployed in nine missions, including Congo, South Sudan, Liberia, UNDOF, Haiti, Lebanon, Abeyi, Cyprus and Cote de Ivoire.[171]

United Nations peacekeeping

Peace keeping, anti-piracy, and exploration missions

DIA has control of MoD's prized technical intelligence assets – the Directorate of Signals Intelligence and the Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre (DIPAC). While the Signals Directorate is responsible for acquiring and decrypting enemy communications, the DIPAC controls India's satellite-based image acquisition capabilities. The DIA also controls the Defence Information Warfare Agency (DIWA) which handles all elements of the information warfare repertoire, including psychological operations, cyber-war, electronic intercepts and the monitoring of sound waves.

Traditionally, the bulk of intelligence work in India has been carried out by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The various services intelligence directorates namely the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the Directorate of Air Intelligence (DAI), Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI) and some other agencies are involved also but their activity is smaller by comparison. The R&AW and IB agencies are composed largely of civilians. Military personnel are often deputed to these agencies, but the letter of the law and concerns of deniability limit the use of serving military officers in some types of activity (especially collection and action). The creation of an intelligence agency coordinating the intelligence arms of the three military services had long been called for by senior Indian military officers.[169] It was formally recommended by the Cabinet Group of Ministers, headed by the then Deputy Prime Minister of India Lal Krishna Advani. The Group of Ministers investigated intelligence lapses that occurred during the Kargil War and recommended a comprehensive reform of Indian intelligence agencies.[169][170] The Defence Intelligence Agency was created and became operational in March, 2002.[170] As part of expanding bilateral cooperation on gathering intelligence and fighting terrorism, the United States military also provided advice to Indian military officers on the creation of the DIA.[170]

The intelligence for the Indian armed forces.[168][169] It was created in March 2002 and is administered within the Union Ministry of Defence.[169] It is headed by a Director General who is also the principal adviser to the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Defense Staff.

Military intelligence

AD was tested in November 2006, followed by AAD in December 2007. On 26 July 2010, AAD was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off the Orissa's east coast. On 6 May 2012, then DRDO chief Dr. V. K. Saraswat confirmed that Phase-I is complete and can be deployed to protect two Indian cities at a short notice. He also added that Phase-I is comparable to PAC-3 system. New Delhi, the national capital, and Mumbai, have been selected for the ballistic missile defense shield. After successful implementation in Delhi and Mumbai, the system will be used to cover other major cities in the country. With this development, India will join the select group of nations (USA, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, Japan, Taiwan) capable of developing and fielding such theater missile shield. In April, 2014, another test was conducted involving an exo-atmospheric interceptor missile.[167]

The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme is an initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defense system to protect India from missile attacks.[165][166] It is a double-tiered system consisting of two interceptor missiles, namely the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception.

Launching of Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile.

Missile defense programme

It is also known that DRDO is working on a slew of directed energy weapons (DEWs) and has identified DEWs, along with space security, cyber-security, and hypersonic vehicles/missiles as focus areas in the next 15 years. The defense ministry in 2010 had drafted a 15-year "Technology Perspective and Roadmap", which held development of ASAT weapons "for electronic or physical destruction of satellites in both LEO (2,000-km altitude above earth's surface) and the higher geosynchronous orbit" as a thrust area in its long-term integrated perspective plan under the management of DRDO.[163] Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) tests are expected to be conducted by the end of 2013.[164]

Future programmes

The DRDO has also developed many unmanned aerial vehicles- such as the Nishant tactical UAV and the Lakshya Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA). The Lakshya PTA has been ordered by all three services for their gunnery target training requirements. Efforts are on to develop the PTA further, with an improved all digital flight control system, and a better turbojet engine. The DRDO is also going ahead with its plans to develop a new class of UAVs, referred to by the HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) and MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) designations. The MALE UAV has been tentatively named the Rustom,and will feature canards and carry a range of payloads, including optronic, radar, laser designators and ESM. The UAV will have conventional landing and take off capability. The HALE UAV will have features such as SATCOM links, allowing it to be commanded beyond line of sight. Other tentative plans speak of converting the LCA into a UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle),[161] and weaponizing UAVs such as AURA.[162]

A scaled down model of the Rustom-1 MALE UAV.

Unmanned aerial vehicles

The U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) has written to India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), proposing the two countries collaborate in jointly developing a next-generation version of the Javelin anti-tank missile.[160]

DRDO executed Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) to develop the ability to develop and design a missile locally, and manufacture a range of missile systems for the three defense services. The program has seen significant success in its two most important constituents - the Agni missiles and the Prithvi missiles, while two other programs, the Akash SAM and the anti-tank Nag Missile have seen significant orders. Another significant project of DRDO has been Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVR), for equipping IAF's air-superiority fighters. The crown jewel of DRDO has been the BrahMos program (as a joint venture with Russian NPO), which aims at creating a range of supersonic cruise missile derived from the Yakhont system. The DRDO has been responsible for the navigational systems on the BrahMos, aspects of its propulsion, airframe and seeker, Fire Control Systems, Mobile Command posts and Transporter Erector Launcher.

DRDO-built 3rd-generation ATGM Nag missile

Missile development programme

DRDO also developed other critical military hardware, such as the Arjun Main Battle Tank and is engaged in the development of the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle, the "Abhay". The DRDO is also a member of the trials teams for the T-72 upgrade and its fire control systems. INSAS, India's de facto standard small arms family including assault rifle, light machine guns and carbine, is developed at Armament Research and Development Establishment, a DRDO laboratory. ARDE also worked on the development of Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher, which has a maximum range of 39–40 km and can fire a salvo of 12 high-explosive rockets in 44 seconds, neutralizing a target area of 3.9 This project was one of the first major Indian defense projects involving the Private sector.

The DRDO's avionics program has been a success story with its mission computers, radar warning receivers, high accuracy direction finding pods, synthetic aperture radar, Active Phased Array Radar, airborne jammers and flight instrumentation in use across a wide variety of Indian Air Force aircraft and satellites. DRDO labs have developed many electronic warfare systems for IAF and Indian Army and high-performance Sonar systems for the Navy.

Electronic-warfare, military hardware

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is an agency of the Republic of India, responsible for the development of technology for use by the military, headquartered in New Delhi, India. It was formed in 1958 by the merger of the Technical Development Establishment and the Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation. DRDO has a network of 52 laboratories which are engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronic and computer sciences, human resource development, life sciences, materials, missiles, combat vehicles development and naval research and development. The organization includes more than 5,000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel. Annual operating budget of DRDO is pegged at $1.6 billion (2011–12).[159]

Research and Development

  1. Ship based mobile, like Dhanush. (operational)
  2. Land-based mobile, like Agni. (operational)
  3. Fixed underground silos (operational)
  4. Submarine based, like Sagarika. (missile operational but nuclear payload delivery process in development)
  5. Air-based warheads of the Indian Air Forces' strategic bomber force like Dassault Mirage 2000 and Jaguar (operational)

India's Strategic Nuclear Command controls its land-based nuclear warheads, while the Navy controls the ship and submarine based missiles and the Air Force the air based warheads. India's nuclear warheads are deployed in five areas:

India also has bomber aircraft such as Tupolev Tu-142 as well as fighter jets like Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Dassault Mirage 2000, MiG-29 and HAL Tejas capable of being armed with nuclear tipped bombs and missiles.[158] Since India doesn't have a nuclear first use against an adversary, it becomes important to protect from a first strike. This protection is being developed in the form of the two layered Anti-ballistic missile defense system.

India has been in possession of nuclear weapons since 1974. Its most recent nuclear test has been done on 11 May 1998, when Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II) was initiated with the detonation of one fusion and three fission bombs. On 13 May 1998, two additional fission devices were detonated. India, however, maintains a no-first use and a nuclear deterrence policy against nuclear adversaries. India's nuclear doctrine envisages building a credible minimum deterrent for maintaining a second strike capability which will be massive and designed to induce unacceptable damage on the enemy.[154] India is on the verge of becoming one of only four nations in the world to possess a Nuclear Triad. India's nuclear missiles include the Prithvi, the Agni, the Shaurya, Sagarika, Dhanush, and others. India conducted its first test with the Agni-V, which can carry a nuclear warhead in the east as far as all of China and in the west deep into Europe with its 5000 km range, in April 2012 and a second test in September, 2013.[155] Agni-VI, with a perceived range of 6000–8000 km is also under development with features like Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Warheads (MIRVs).[156][157]

Range comparison of Agni missiles.

Nuclear weapons

India has also ratified the Biological Weapons Convention (January, 1973) and pledges to abide by its obligations. There is no clear evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that directly points toward an offensive biological weapon program. India does possess the scientific capability and infrastructure to launch such an offensive program, but has chosen not to do so.

In 1992 India signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), stating that it did not have chemical weapons and the capacity or capability to manufacture chemical weapons. By doing this India became one of the original signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] in 1993, and ratified it on 2 September 1996. In June 1997, India declared its stock of chemical weapons (1,044 tonnes of sulphur mustard). By the end of 2006, India had destroyed more than 75 percent of its chemical weapons/material stockpile and was granted extension for destroying the remaining stocks by April 2009 and was expected to achieve 100 percent destruction within that time frame. India informed the United Nations in May, 2009 that it had destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons in compliance with the international Chemical Weapons Convention. With this India has become third country after South Korea and Albania to do so. This was cross-checked by inspectors of the United Nations.

Chemical and biological weapons

Weapons of mass destruction

  • Para (Special Forces): Formed in 1966, the Para (SF) are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of India. They are a part of the highly trained Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army.[148] They are the crack force and help the main army to get in the enemy lines without much damage. The main aim of having a Parachute Regiment is for quick deployment of soldiers behind the enemy lines to attack the enemy from behind and destroy their first line of defense. Para (SF) conduct series of joint exercises with US army special forces Called VJRA PRAHAR.
  • Ghatak Force: Ghatak Platoon, or Ghatak Commandos, is a special operations capable infantry platoon. There is one platoon in every infantry battalion in the Indian Army. Ghatak is a Hindi word meaning "killer" or "lethal". They act as shock troops and spearhead assaults ahead of the battalion. Their operational role is similar to Scout Sniper Platoon, STA platoon of the USMC and the Patrols platoon of the British Army. A Ghatak Platoon is usually 20-men strong, consisting of a commanding Captain, 2 non-commissioned officers and some special teams like marksman and spotter pairs, light machine gunners, medic, and radio operator. The remaining soldiers act as assault troopers. Most undergo training at the Commando Training Course in Belgaum, Karnataka. Often, other specialized training like heliborne assault, rock climbing, mountain warfare, demolitions, advanced weapons training, close quarter battle and infantry tactics are also given. Members of the platoon are also sent to the High Altitude Warfare School and Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School.[149]
  • Jhelum River and Wular Lake.[151] To strengthen its capabilities to carry out special operations, the Navy is planning to procure advanced Integrated Combat System (ICS) for the MARCOS. The Navy wants the ICS for effective command, control and information sharing to maximize capabilities of individuals and groups of the MARCOS while engaging enemies.[152] The individual equipment required by the Navy in the ICS includes light weight helmets, head-mounted displays, tactical and soft ballistic vests along with communication equipment. The group-level gear requirements include command and control and surveillance systems along with high speed communication equipment.
  • Garud Commando Force: The Garud Commando Force is the Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force. It was formed in September 2004 and has a strength of approximately 2000 personnel. The unit derives its name from Garuda, a divine bird-like creature of Hindu Mythology. Garud is tasked with the protection of critical Air Force bases and installations; search and rescue during peace and hostilities and disaster relief during calamities.[153] Garuds are deployed in Congo as part of the UN peace keeping operations.

The Special Forces of India are Indian military units[147] with specialized training in the field of special operations such as Direct action, Hostage rescue, Counter-terrorism, Unconventional warfare, Special reconnaissance, Foreign Internal Defense, Personnel recovery, Asymmetric warfare, Counter-proliferation. The various branches include,

Special Forces

  • National Security Guards (NSG): The NSG is an elite counter terrorist and rapid response force. Its roles include conducting anti-sabotage checks, rescuing hostages, neutralizing terrorist threats to vital installations, engaging terrorists, responding to hijacking and piracy and protecting VIPs. It has 8636 personnel (including 1086 personnel for regional hubs.[146]). The NSG also includes the Special Ranger Group (SRG), whose 3,000 personnel provide protection to India's political leadership.
  • Special Protection Group (SPG):Formed in 1988 by an act of the Parliament of India for "providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and former Prime Minister of India and members of their immediate families (wife, husband, children and parents)". Family members of a serving Prime Minister (PM) may decline security. Former PMs and their immediate family members may also, if they choose, decline SPG security
  • Railway Protection Force (RPF): Established under the RPF Act 1957, RPF is charged with providing security for the Indian Railways.[144] It has a sanctioned strength of 75,000 personnel.[145]
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF): One of the largest industrial security forces in the world, CISF provides security to various PSUs and other critical infrastructure installations across the country. It has a total strength of about 112,000 personnel in 132 battalions.[142][143]
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB): The objective of the SSB is to guard the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Borders. It has 82,000 personnel and 48 battalions, as well as some reserved battalions.[141]
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP): The ITBP is deployed for guarding duties on the border with China from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Diphu La in Arunachal Pradesh covering a total distance of 2488 km.[138] It has 77,000 personnel in 55 battalions.[139][140]
  • Border Security Force (BSF): The primary role of BSF is to guard the land borders of the country, except the mountains. It has 240,000 personnel in 186 battalions,[135][136][137] and is headed by an Indian Police Service Officer.
A soldier of India's Border Security Force in one of the ceremonial uniforms.
A CRPF Commando

The following are the eight police forces according to the naming convention adopted in 2011:[130]

Central Armed Police Forces

Based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, SFF is also known as the Establishment 22.[127][128] The force was put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau, and later, the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.[129]

The Special Frontier Force (SFF) is a paramilitary unit of India. It was conceived in the post Sino-Indian war period as a guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees whose main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another war between the People's Republic of China and India.

Special Frontier Force training

Special Frontier Force

The Assam Rifles can trace their lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy. Since then the Assam Rifles have undergone a number of name changes before the name Assam Rifles was finally adopted in 1917.[124] Over the course of its history, the Assam Rifles and its predecessor units have served in a number of roles, conflicts and theatres including World War I where they served in Europe and the Middle East, and World War II where they served mainly in Burma. In the post World War II period the Assam Rifles has expanded greatly as has its role. There are currently 46 battalions[125] of Assam Rifles under the control of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and they perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counter insurgency and border security operations, provision of aid to the civil power in times of emergency, and the provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.[126] In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.

Assam Rifles

In March 2011, at the request of the Indian Army, the Indian government authorized the Indian Army to provide definitive terminology. A new definition of "paramilitary" was adopted which excluded services now known as the "[123] All of the Central Armed Police Forces are headed by officers from the Indian Police Service and therefore, do not meet the criteria of this definition.[123]

The term "paramilitary forces" was previously used to refer to a variety of armed services that aid the operations of the law enforcement agencies of India and the Indian Armed Forces. No single official definition existed, so the term normally included central armed police and often included state armed police.

Officially Paramilitary forces in India are:[123]

Paramilitary Forces

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian government initiated a program to expand the ICG force, assets and infrastructure. The force is expected to be tripled between 2010 and 2019 in manpower, vessels and aircraft. Indian shipyards are building 156 ships, boats and other craft for the Coast Guard. Twelve more Dornier maritime patrol aircraft will join the force within two years. Since the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the government sanctioned an additional manpower of 4,360 to the force, which had a strength of about 8,000 personnel at that point of time. In order to plug the gaps in coastal radar coverage, the government was speeding up the implementation of a radar chain along the over 7,500-km-long coastline, with 36 radars along the mainland’s coast, six radars in Lakshadweep Islands and another four radars in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[121][122]

India's coast guard has a large number of fast craft including Offshore Patrol Vessel, Pollution Control Vessel, Interceptor Boat, hovercrafts and hydrofoils. The Coast Guard also operates a fleet of 38 Dornier Do 228 maritime surveillance aircraft, 9 HAL Dhruv and 18 HAL Chetak utility helicopters. They patrol the seas and river mouths. The coast guard has performed a number of commendable tasks of rescuing distressed personnel. It has also apprehended pirates on high seas and cleaned up oil spills. Heavy patrolling of sensitive areas such as Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Mumbai have resulted in the nabbing of a large number of smugglers and illegal immigrants.

Coast Guard Office in Kochi, Kerala

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is a maritime Military Force created to patrol and secure India's vast coastline. It was created on 18 August 1978 as an independent entity as per the Coast Guard Act. The coast guard works closely with the Indian Navy and the Indian Customs Department, and is usually headed by a naval officer of the rank of Vice-Admiral. Officers of Indian Coast Guard undergo Basic Military Training at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala along with their counterparts of the Indian Navy. This helps in the mutual interchange of officers among these two sister services. While the Indian Coast Guard Academy is under construction in Azhikkal, Kannur district, Kerala, the sailors of the Indian Coast Guard are being trained along with Indian naval sailors at the Indian Naval training establishment INS Chilka.

Indian Coast Guard

To protect IAF assets on the ground, there has been search for short-range surface-to-air missile. India has begun deploying six Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) squadrons in the northeast to deter Chinese jets, helicopters and drones against any misadventure in the region. IAF has started getting deliveries of the six Akash missile squadrons, which can "neutralize" multiple targets at 25-km interception range in all-weather conditions, earmarked for the eastern theater. IAF has already deployed the first two Akash squadrons at the Mirage-2000 base in Gwalior and Sukhoi base in Pune.[120]

Co-development and co-production of Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA), jointly by Russian partners and HAL, is being launched to meet the requirement of Russian and Indian Air Forces. The aircraft will be designed for the roles of a 15-20 ton Cargo / Troop transport, Para trooping / Airdrop of supplies including Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) capability. It will be configured such that all types of cargo can be transported and the aircraft would be capable of operating from semi prepared runways. The MTA is expected to replace the Indian Air Force's aging fleet of Antonov An-32 transport aircraft. The aircraft is expected to conduct its first flight by 2017, and to enter service by 2018.[119]

India is also in an ambitious collaboration program with Russia to build fifth-generation fighter aircraft, called HAL/Tejas FGFA which will be based on Russian PAK-FA fighter. Earlier in 2013, the two sides completed the preliminary design of the FGFA and are now negotiating a detailed design contract.[118] Although there is no reliable information about the PAK FA and FGFA specifications yet, it is known from interviews with people in the Russian Air Force that it will be stealthy, have the ability to supercruise, be outfitted with the next generation of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and air-to-ship missiles, and incorporate an AESA radar.

India also maintains UAV squadrons (primarily Searcher-II and Heron from Israel) which can be used to carry out ground and aerial surveillance.[115] India is also testing its own long range BVR air to air missile named Astra.[116] and also building a Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) called Rustom.[117]

In recent times, India has also manufactured its own aircraft such as the HAL Tejas, a 4th generation fighter, and the HAL Dhruv, a multi-role helicopter, which has been exported to several countries, including Israel, Burma, Nepal and Ecuador. An weaponized version of Dhruv is called HAL Rudra, which is armed with high-velocity M621 20 mm cannon, long-range 70 mm rockets (8 km), air-to-air missiles (Mistral-II). and MAWS (missile approach warning system).[113] Combat in Kargil highlighted the requirement of an attack helicopter specially made for such high altitude operations. The HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a multirole combat helicopter being developed in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for use by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. The LCH is being designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will be able to operate at high altitudes.[114] LCH will be fitted with indigenous anti-tank missile Helina.

The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, also known as the MRCA tender, was a competition to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Defence Ministry has allocated ~ US$13 billion for the purchase of these aircraft, making it India's single largest defense deal. The MRCA tender was floated with the idea of filling the gap between its future Light Combat Aircraft and its in-service Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighter. On 31 January 2012, it was announced that Dassault Rafale won the competition due to its lower life-cycle cost. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is also in the final stages of acquiring 22 Apache Longbow gunships, armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles in a $1.2 billion contract and 15 heavy-lift Boeing CH Chinook helicopters.[112] The IAF has initiated the process for acquisition of additional Mi-17 IV helicopters, heavy lift helicopters, Advanced Light Helicopter and Light Combat Helicopters. Among trainer aircraft, the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer has been inducted and the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) would be acquired in the near future.

The HAL Light Combat Helicopter in digital camouflage.
HAL Tejas at Aero-India 09

Future developments

In October, 2013, IAF launched its own stand-alone Rs 300 crore cellular network through which secure video calling and other information exchange facilities will be provided. The IAF also plans to issue around one hundred thousand mobile handsets to its personnel of the rank of Sergeants and above to connect and provide secure 'end-point' connectivity to the air warriors deployed across the country. The captive network has been named 'Air Force Cellular'. While Phase I of the project will ensure mobile connectivity to all air warriors in the National Capital Region, its Phase II will cover the rest of the bases.[111]

The Indian Air Force (IAF) got a boost towards becoming a truly network centric air force with launching Air Force Network (AFNET), a reliable and robust digital information grid that enables accurate and faster response to enemy threats, in 2010. The modern, state-of-the-art AFNET is a fully secure communication network, providing IAF critical link among its command and control center, sensors such as the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems and shooters like the fighter aircraft and missile squadrons. Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), an automated command and control system for Air Defense (AD) operations will ride the AFNet backbone integrating all ground-based and airborne sensors, AD weapon systems and C2 nodes. Subsequent integration with other services networks and civil radars will provide an integrated Air Situation Picture to operators to carry out Air Defence role. AFNet will prove to be an effective force multiplier for intelligence analysis, mission planning and control, post-mission feedback and related activities like maintenance, logistics and administration. A comprehensive design with multi-layer security precautions for “Defense in Depth” have been planned by incorporating encryption technologies, Intrusion Prevention Systems to ensure the resistance of the IT system against information manipulation and eavesdropping.[110]

A-50EI (Il-76) with the EL/W-2090

Network-centric warfare

As an airborne early warning system, the IAF operates the Israeli EL/W-2090 Phalcon AEW&C. A total of three such systems are in service, with possible orders for two more.[108] The Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS) is a project of India's DRDO to develop an AEW&C system for the Indian Air Force. The DRDO AEWACS program aims to deliver three radar-equipped surveillance aircraft to the Indian Air Force. The aircraft platform selected was the Embraer ERJ 145. Three ERJ 145 were procured from Embraer at a cost of US $300 Million, including the contracted modifications to the airframe. Probable delivery date for the first batch of three is 2015.[109]

IAF Mirage 2000 at Aero India 2009

In the aerial refueling (tanker) role, the IAF operates six Ilyushin Il-78MKIs. For strategic military transport operations the IAF uses the Ilyushin Il-76, and has placed orders for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, four of which were delivered by November 2013. The C-130J Super-Hercules planes of the IAF is used by special forces for combined Army-Air Force operations. There are six C-130Js in service and six more are planned to be procured.[107] The Antonov An-32 serves as medium transport aircraft in the IAF.

MiG-29 of the Indian Air Force

Historically, the IAF has generally relied on Soviet, British, Israeli and French military craft and technology to support its growth. IAF's primary air superiority fighter with the additional capability to conduct air-ground (strike) missions is Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The IAF have placed an order for a total of 272 Su-30MKIs of which 170 are in service as of 2013. The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a dedicated air superiority fighter and constitutes a second line of defense after the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. At present, 66 MiG-29s are in service, all of which are being upgraded to the MiG-29UPG standard. The Dassault Mirage 2000 is the primary multirole fighter in service and the IAF operates 49 Mirage 2000Hs which are being upgraded to the Mirage 2000-5 MK2 standard. As part of the upgrade, the aircraft will also be equipped with MBDA’s MICA family of medium range missiles.[104] For giving the IAF fighters an edge in anti-ship and land attack roles, smaller version of BrahMos missile is being developed to be integrated in Sukhoi Su-30MKI[105] and is expected to be delivered to IAF by 2015.[106]

IAF Su-30MKI jet touches down at Mountain Home Air Force Base during Red Flag exercise.
A C-130 J tactical transport aircraft of the IAF.


The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Raj and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II. After India achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Dominion of India, with the prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950. The Indian Air Force plays a crucial role in securing Indian airspace and also in India's power projection in South Asia and Indian Ocean. Therefore, modernizing and expanding the Indian Air Force is a top priority for the Indian government. Over the years, the IAF has grown from a tactical force to one with transoceanic reach. The strategic reach emerges from induction of Force Multipliers like Flight Refueling Aircraft (FRA), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and credible strategic lift capabilities.

Indian Air Force

India is also set to become the first country to buy a military aircraft from Japan since World War II. India is expected to sign a deal for the purchase of six Utility Seaplane Mark 2 (US-2) amphibian aircraft when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Japan from August 31 to September 3, 2014. The 47-tonne US-2 aircraft doesn't require a long airstrip to take-off or to land. It is capable of taking off from land and water (300-metre stretch). It can carry loads of up to 18 tonnes and can be engaged in search and rescue operations. With a range of over 4,500 km, it can patrol areas 1,800 km away and react to an emergency by landing 30 armed troops even in 10-foot waves.[103]

Recent induction of attack submarine INS Chakra and the development of INS Arihant make the Indian Navy one of six navies world wide that are capable of building and operating nuclear-powered submarines[102] - others include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. India also launched a 37,500-ton indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in August, 2013 in its bid to join a select group of nations (United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France) capable of building such warships. The warship will undergo extensive tests in the next few years before it is commissioned into the navy. The INS Vikrant, is expected to carry MiG 29K fighters and light combat aircraft such as HAL Tejas.

INS Kolkata (D63) commissioning ceremony

In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone modernization and expansion with the intention of countering growing Chinese maritime power in the Indian Ocean and reaching the status of a recognized blue-water navy.[99][100] New equipment programs include; the lease of a nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra from Russia, the ex-Soviet carrier INS Vikramaditya and the first of the indigenously built Arihant class ballistic missile submarines by 2012, the first of the Scorpene class submarines by 2015 and the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant by 2017. The plan in the near future is to have two aircraft carriers at sea at all times, with a third docked up in maintenance.[101] Other programs include the Talwar and Shivalik frigates and the Kolkata class destroyers, all of which will be equipped with the BrahMos cruise missile. In a significant step towards India's pursuit for self-reliance in indigenous warship building, four anti-submarine Kamorta-class stealth corvettes (with features such as an X Form Hull and inclined sides for low Radar cross-section, Infra-red suppression, and Acoustic quieting systems) are being built for the Indian Navy.

INS Vikrant the first indigenous aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.


India often conducts naval exercises with other friendly countries designed to increase naval interoperability and also to strengthen cooperative security relationship. Some such exercises take place annually like the Varuna with the French Navy, Konkan with the Royal Navy, Indra with Russian Navy, Malabar with the US/Japan/Australian Navy, Simbex with the Republic of Singapore Navy and IBSAMAR with the Brazil and South African navies. In 2007, Indian Navy conducted naval exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S Navy in the Pacific and also signed an agreement with Japan in October 2008 for joint naval patrolling in the Asia-Pacific region. India has also held naval exercise with Vietnam, Philippines and New Zealand. In 2007, India and South Korea decided to conduct annual naval exercise and India participated in the South Korean international fleet review. In addition, Indian Navy will also be increasing naval co-operation with other allies, particularly with Germany, and Arab states of the Persian Gulf including Kuwait, Oman,[96] Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.[97] Indian Navy is also going to take part in the world's largest naval exercise/war-game RIMPAC 2014 along with 22 other nations.[98]

INS Shivalik the first indigenous stealth frigate of the Indian Navy.


India's first exclusive defense satellite UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity. Its Ku-band capacity is expected to provide high-density data transmission facility, both for voice and video. This satellite has been provided with additional power to communicate with smaller and mobile (not necessarily land-based) terminals. This dedicated satellite is expected to provide the Indian navy with an approximately 3,500- to 4,000-kilometer footprint over the Indian Ocean region, and over both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal region and enable real-time networking of all its operational assets in the water (and land). It also will help the navy to operate in a network-centric atmosphere.[95]

Naval satellite

The Indian Naval Air Arm is a branch of Indian Navy which is tasked to provide an aircraft carrier based strike capability, fleet air defence, maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare. Flag Officer Naval Aviation (FONA) at Goa directs the field operations of the air arm. Naval Air Arm operates eight Tu-142 aircraft, which entered service in 1988. Upgrading of the aircraft are taking place, which helps to extend the service life of the aircraft by sixteen years. The BAE Sea Harrier operates from the INS Viraat. The BAE Sea Harrier FRS Mk.51 / T Mk.60 fly with the INAS 300 and INAS 552 squadrons of the Indian Navy. The Mikoyan MiG-29K will be deployed aboard the INS Vikramaditya. Indian Navy operates 5 Il-38 planes. They are being upgraded to use Sea Dragon suite. Used principally for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search & rescue roles, the helicopter fleet of Westland Sea King and the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King operate from INS Garuda (Kochi) as well as INS Kunjali-II (Mumbai) air stations. 56 more naval utility helicopters are planned to be inducted from 2016. These will be used for surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, electronic intelligence gathering and search and rescue operations. The helicopters will be equipped with 70mm rocket launchers, 12.7 mm guns, lightweight torpedoes and depth charges.[93] Indian Navy will also continue to procure HAL Dhruv as a multi-role utility platform. In the long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) role, Navy uses Boeing P-8I Neptune and has issued a global tender for nine medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft for coastal defense.[94]

A Boeing P-8I of the Indian Navy

Naval Air Arm

In the category of weapon systems, Indian Navy operates Agni-III and Sagarika SLBM, Prithvi-III ballistic ship-launched missile, and a number of land-attack cruise/Anti-ship missile such as Brahmos Supersonic Cruise Missile, 3M-54E/3M-14E Klub Anti-Ship/Land Attack Cruise Missile (SS-N-27 Sizzler), Kh-35 (SS-N-25 SwitchBlade), P-20 (SS-N-2D Styx), Sea Eagle missile and Gabriel. Nirbhay long range subsonic cruise missile and Brahmos Hypersonic Cruise Missile are in development. India has also fitted its P-8I Neptune reconnaissance aircraft with all-weather, active-rader-homing, over-the-horizon AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes.[90] Indian warships' primary air-defense shield is provided by Barak-1 SAM while an advanced version Barak-8 is in development with join collaboration with Israel.[91] India's next-generation Scorpene class submarines will be armed with Exocet anti-ship missile system. Among indigenous missiles, ship-launched version of Prithvi-II is called Dhanush, which has a range of 350 km and can carry nuclear warhead.[92]

The BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile of the Indian Navy.

Weapons systems

The Indian Navy operates a sizable fleet of Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo-class design) and Shishumar (German Type 209/1500 design) class submarines. A nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra has been leased from Russia. India has started construction of six Scorpène class submarines at Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL), in Mumbai under technology transfer from French firm DCNS. The new submarines will feature air-independent propulsion and are expected to start joining the navy during the second half of 2015. Designed for coastal defense against under-water threats, the 1,750-tonne submarine-submarine-killer (SSK) Scorpene is 67 meters in length and can dive to a depth of 300 meters. According to French naval officials, the submarine can stay at sea for 45 days with a crew of 31.[89] The standard version has six torpedo tubes and anti-shipping missile launchers. Other ambitious project in this regard is the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine manufacture program - INS Arihant class.

Viraat (background) and Vikramaditya cruise in the Arabian Sea

Indian navy's carrier fleet revolves around INS Viraat, a Centaur-class aircraft carrier, formerly with British Navy. Navy's second aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at a Russian shipyard on 16 November 2013.[88] INS Vikramaditya will be escorted to India during a nearly two-month voyage by a group of warships to secure a safe sail to its new base at Karwar on the Arabian Sea coast next to Goa. The navy also operates three Delhi-class and five Rajput class guided-missile destroyers. The Delhi and Rajput class destroyers will be replaced in the near future by the next-generation Kolkata class (Project 15A destroyers). In addition to destroyers, the navy operates several classes of frigates such as three Shivalik (Project 16 class) and five Talwar class frigates. Seven additional Shivalik class frigates (Project 17A class frigates) are on order and last Talwar class frigate has been commissioned on 29 June 2013. The older Brahmaputra class and Godavari class frigates will systematically be replaced one by one as the new classes of frigates are brought into service over the next decade. Smaller littoral zone combatants in service are in the form of corvettes, of which, the Indian Navy operates the Kora, Khukri, Veer and Abhay classes corvettes. The next-generation Kamorta class of corvettes are under development with the first commissioning expected during late 2013. Replenishment tankers such as the Jyoti class tanker, the Aditya and the new Deepak class fleet tankers help improve the navy's endurance at sea. The Deepak class tankers will be the mainstay of the replenishment fleet until the first half of the 21st century.

INS Chakra, India's nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Ships and submarines

The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian armed forces. With 58,350 men and women, including 7,000 personnel of Indian Naval Air Arm, 1,200 Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and 1,000 personnel of the Sagar Prahari Bal.[85][86] The Indian Navy is one of the world's largest naval forces and aspires to develop into a blue water navy.[87] As of 2014, the Indian Navy has a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, 9 Landing ship tanks, 9 destroyers, 15 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 mine countermeasure vessels, 32 patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various auxiliary vessels.

INS Vikramaditya is one of the two aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy, the other being Viraat.

Indian Navy

  • Exercise Yuddh Abhyas is part of an ongoing series of joint exercises between the Indian and United States Armies since 2005, agreed upon under the New Framework of India-US Defence Relationship. Commencing at the platoon level, the exercise has graduated to a command post (CPX) and field training exercise (FTX).
  • Exercise Shakti is an ongoing series of joint exercises between the Indian and French armies since 2011. Exercise Shakti is conducted to practice and validate anti terrorist operations and drills in snowbound and mountainous areas.
  • Exercise Nomadic Elephant is a series of exercises held by the Indian Army with the Mongolian Army. The aim of the exercises is to enhance counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations, and conduct peacekeeping operations under the mandate of the United Nation.
  • Exercise Rudra Akrosh, in May 2012, was an exercise caries out by the Indian Army to test the preparedness level of its units and to validate new age technology, battle concepts, organizational structures and networked operations. The Western Army Command conducted the exercise in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Exercise Ashwamedha was a recent exercise to test the armies network-centric warfare capabilities. It was held in the Thar desert, in which over 300,000 troops participated. Asymmetric warfare capability was also tested by the Indian Army during the exercise.
Coalition color guard during Yudh Abhyas 2013.


In November, 2013, Indian Army moved a step closer to the battlefield of the future, where command networks know the precise location of every soldier and weapon, with whom generals can exchange reports, photos, data and verbal and written communications. Army headquarters called in 14 Indian companies and issued them an expression of interest (EoI) for developing a Battlefield Management System (BMS). The BMS will integrate combat units — armoured, artillery and infantry regiments, infantry battalions, helicopter flights, etc. — into a digital network that will link together all components of the future battlefield. While precise costs are still unclear, vendors competing for the contract say the army expects to pay about Rs 40,000 crore for developing and manufacturing the BMS.[84]

The Indian Army has also embarked on an infantry modernization program known as Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS).[83] The infantry soldiers will be equipped with modular weapon systems that will have multi-functions. The core systems include bullet proof helmet and visor. The bullet proof helmet is an integrated assembly equipped with helmet mounted flash light, thermal sensors and night vision device, miniature computer with audio headsets. The personal clothing of this soldier of the future would be lightweight with a bullet-proof jacket. The futuristic jacket would be waterproof, yet it would be possible to breathe. The new attire will enable the troops to carry extra load and resist the impact of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. The new uniform will have vests with sensors to monitor the soldier's health parameters and provide quick medical relief. The weapons sub-system is built around a multi caliber individual weapon system with the fourth caliber attached to a grenade launcher. These include a 5.56 mm, a 7.62 mm and a new 6.8 mm under development for the first time in India.

Soldiers of the 99th Mountain Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 5 Gorkha Rifles, during Yudh Abhyas 2013.


To lend greater firepower support to the mechanized infantry, DRDO has developed Pinaka multiple rocket launcher. The system has a maximum range of 39–40 km and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds, neutralizing a target area of 3.9 km2. The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility. Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War,[80] where it was successful in neutralizing enemy positions on the mountain tops. It has since been inducted into the Indian Army in large numbers.[81][82]

Under the Field Artillery Rationalization Plan, the army plans to procure 3000 to 4000 pieces of artillery at the cost of US$3 billion. This includes purchasing 1580 towed, 814 mounted, 180 self-propelled wheeled, 100 self-propelled tracked and 145 ultra-light 155 mm/52 caliber artillery guns. After three years of search and negotiations, in September 2013, India ordered M777 155mm howitzers from USA.[79]

India is re-organizing its mechanized forces to achieve strategic mobility and high-volume firepower for rapid thrusts into enemy territory. India proposes to progressively induct as many as 248 Arjun MBT and develop and induct the Arjun MK-II variant, 1,657 Russian-origin T-90S main-battle tanks, apart from the ongoing upgrade of its T-72 fleet. In fact, Arjun MK-II trials have already started in August, 2013.[77] The improved features in MK-II version of Arjun are night vision capabilities with thermal imaging system for detecting all kinds of missiles, Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), mine ploughs, ability to fire Anti-tank missile with 120 mm main gun, Advanced Air Defense gun capable of shooting down Helicopters with a 360 degree coverage, Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) lending a greater accuracy when it comes to moving targets and superior Laser Warning and Control systems.The Indian Army will upgrade its entire Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty-2 (BMP-2)/2K infantry combat vehicle (ICV) fleet in an effort to enhance their capability to address operational requirements. Upgrades include integration of latest generation fire control system, twin missile launchers and commander's thermal imaging panoramic sights, anti- tank guided missiles, as well as automatic grenade launchers.[78]

Indian Army's upgraded BMP-2 Sarath mechanized infantry combat vehicles.
Arjun MBT bump track test

Mechanized forces


The Army Aviation Corps is another vital component of the Indian Army formed on 1 November 1986. The army aviation pilots are drawn from other combat arms, including artillery officers, to form a composite third dimensional force for an integrated battle. IAF operates & flies attack Helicopters like the Mil Mi-25/Mi-35 which are owned and administered by the Indian Air Force, but under the operational control of the Army & play a major role to support the armored columns and infantry. Apart from the attack role, helicopters like the HAL Chetak, HAL Cheetah, and HAL Dhruv provide logistical support for the Indian Army in remote and inaccessible areas, especially the Siachen Glacier. To equip Army Aviation Corps, procurement process for 197 light utility helicopters (LUH) is ongoing, of which 64 will be inducted in the Army Aviation to replace the Cheetak and Cheetah Helicopters. HAL has obtained a firm order to deliver 114 HAL Light Combat Helicopters to the Indian Army.

Indigenous multi-utility helicopter HAL Dhruv during a joint military exercise with the U.S Army in 2009
Rudra at static display at Aero India 2013

Army Aviation Corps

India is raising a new mountain strike corps to strengthen its defence along its disputed border with China in the high reaches of the Himalayas. The entire XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, will however be fully raised with 90,274 troops at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore only by 2018-2019. With units spread across the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Div at Panagarh and 72 Div at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armored brigades and the like. It will include 30 new infantry battalions and two Para-Special Forces battalions. In other words, it will get some "rapid reaction force" capability to launch a counter-offensive into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the event of any Chinese attack.[76]

Mountain Strike Corps

The field force of the army comprises thirteen corps, three armored divisions, four Reorganized Army plains Infantry Divisions (RAPID), eighteen infantry divisions and ten mountain divisions, a number of independent brigades, and requisite combat support and service support formations and units. Among the thirteen, three are "strike" corps — Mathura (I Corps), Ambala ( II Corps) and Bhopal (XXI Corps). The main combat and combat support units are sixty two armored regiments and there are over three hundred and fifty infantry battalions and three hundred artillery regiments (including two Surface to Surface Missile (SSM) units). Amongst major armaments and equipment, there are nearly 4000 main battle tanks, 2000 armored personnel carriers, 4300 artillery pieces and 200 light helicopters.

The current combat doctrine of the Indian Army is based on effectively utilizing holding formations and strike formations. In the case of an attack, the holding formations would contain the enemy and strike formations would counter-attack to neutralize enemy forces.[73] In the case of an Indian attack, the holding formations would pin enemy forces down whilst the strike formations attack at a point of Indian choosing. The Indian Army is large enough to devote several corps to the strike role. The army is also looking at enhancing its special forces capabilities.[74] With the role of India increasing and the requirement for protection of India's interest in far off shores become important, the Indian Army and Indian Navy are jointly planning to set up a marine brigade.[75]

A Haubits FH77/A of the Indian Army.

Doctrine, corps, field force

The army has rich combat experience in diverse terrains, due to India's diverse geography, and also has a distinguished history of serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Initially, the army's main objective was to defend the nation's frontiers. However, over the years, the army has also taken up the responsibility of providing internal security, especially in insurgent-hit Kashmir and north-east. The Indian Army has seen military action during the First Kashmir War, Operation Polo, the Sino-Indian War, the Second Kashmir War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Sri Lankan Civil War and the Kargil War. The Indian army has dedicated one brigade of troops to the UN's standby arrangements. Through its large, sustained troop commitments India has come in for much praise for taking part in difficult operations for prolonged periods. The Indian Army has participated in several UN peacekeeping operations, including the ones in Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique and Somalia. The army also provided a paramedical unit to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded in Korea.

It is a voluntary service, the military draft having never been imposed in India. It is one of the largest standing armies (and the largest standing volunteer army) in the world, with 1,129,900 active troops and 960,000 reserve troops. The force is headed by the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The highest rank in the Indian Army is Field Marshal, but it is a largely ceremonial rank and appointments are made by the President of India, on the advice of the Union Cabinet of Ministers, only in exceptional circumstances. (See Field Marshal (India)). Late General S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and the late General K.M. Cariappa are the only two officers who have attained this rank.

Indigenously developed main battle tank Arjun MBT.

Indian Army

As part of its two decade-old Look East policy, India has substantially stepped up military engagement with East Asian and ASEAN nations. Although never explicitly stated, ASEAN and East Asian nations want New Delhi to be a counterweight to increasing Chinese footprints in the region. Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and, particularly, Vietnam and Myanmar have time and again pressed India to help them both in terms of military training and weapons supply.[71] Myanmar’s Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Thura Thet Swe during his four-day visit to India in late July, 2012 held wide-ranging consultations with top officials from the Indian Ministry of Defense. Apart from increasing the number of training slots of Myanmar officers in Indian military training establishments, India has agreed to build at least four Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPV) in Indian Shipyards to be used by Myanmar’s navy. For more than a decade now, India has been providing Vietnam with assistance in beefing up its naval and air capabilities. For instance, India has repaired and upgraded more than 100 MiG 21 planes of the Vietnam People’s Air Force and supplied them with enhanced avionics and radar systems. Indian Air Force pilots have also been training their Vietnamese counterparts. In a first, India has offered a $100-million credit line to Vietnam to purchase military equipment. A bilateral agreement for utilization of facilities in India by the Singapore Air Force and Army was signed in October 2007 and August 2008 respectively and has been extended up to 2017. Singapore is the only country to which India is offering such facilities.[72]

In 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, India made obligation to actively assist Nepal in national defence and military preparedness, and made both nations not to tolerate threats to each other's security.[61][62] In 1958, the then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bhutan and reiterated India's support for Bhutan's independence and later declared in the Indian Parliament that any aggression against Bhutan would be seen as aggression against India.[63] India started the process to bring the island country Maldives into India's security grid.[64] India is also one of three countries with whom Japan has a security pact, the others being Australia and the United States.[65] India and Russia have a military cooperation pact until 2010 which is likely to be extended or renewed.[66] In 1951, India and Burma signed a Treaty of Friendship in New Delhi. Article II of the treaty stipulated that "There shall be everlasting peace and unalterable friendship between the two States who shall ever strive to strengthen and develop further the cordial relations existing between the peoples of the two countries".[67] India had signed a pact to develop ports in Myanmar and various bilateral issues, including economic cooperation, connectivity, security and energy.[68] India has maritime security arrangement in place with Oman and Qatar.[69] In 2008, a landmark defense pact was signed, under which India committed its military assets to protect "Qatar from external threats".[70] On 9 June 2012, the JIMEX 2012 naval exercise took place off the coast of Tamil Nadu in India to Tokyo in Japan. This was the first ever bilateral maritime exercise between the two nations in a long time, reflecting their similar interests, especially the ones involving spontaneous regional security against common external aggressors. Indian Navy also has berthing rights in Oman and Vietnam.

. Indian Naval Base which is speculated to be done to secure India's Maritime assets and serve as a future Iran in southeastern Chah Bahar Seaport India is also helping in development of [60]

Overseas bases and relations

Officer recruitment is through many military-related academies. These include the National Defence Academy, Pune, Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, Officers Training Academy, Chennai and Officers Training Academy, Gaya.[55][56] Other notable institutions are Army War College, at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), at Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJW), in Vairengte, Mizoram, College of Military Engineering (CME), in Pune. After being commissioned, these officers are posted and deputed. They are at the helm of affairs not only inside the nation but also at abroad. The officers are appointed and removed only by the President of India.

Recruitment and training

Indian Armed Forces[52][54]
Active Reserve
Indian Army 1,129,900 960,000
Indian Navy 58,350 55,000
Indian Air Force 127,200 140,000
Indian Coast Guard 10,000
1,325,450 N/A
Paramilitary Forces[52]
Active Reserve
Paramilitary forces of India 875,000 N/A
A soldier of the Indian Army on a training exercise.

The highest wartime gallantry award given by the Military of India is the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), followed by the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and the Vir Chakra (VrC). Its peacetime equivalent is the Ashoka Chakra Award. The highest decoration for meritorious service is the Param Vishisht Seva Medal.

During 2010, the Indian Armed Forces has a reported strength of 1.3 million active personnel and 2.1 million reserve personnel. In addition, there are approximately 1.3 million paramilitary personnel, making it one of the world's largest military forces.[52] A total of 1,567,390 ex servicemen are registered with the Indian Army, majority of them hailing from Uttar Pradesh (271,928), Punjab (191,702), Haryana (165,702), Maharashtra (143,951), Kerala (127,920), Tamil Nadu (103,156), Rajasthan (100,592) and Himachal Pradesh (78,321). Many of them are re-employed in various Central government sectors. [53]


Contemporary criticisms of the Indian military have drawn attention to several issues, such as lack of political reform,[45] obsolete equipment,[46] lack of adequate ammunition,[46] discipline problems[47] and inadequate Research and Development due to over-reliance on foreign imports.[48] In addition, the lack of a 'strategic culture' among the political class in India is claimed to have hindered the effectiveness of the Indian military.[30] These issues are believed by critics to hobble the progress and modernization of the military. However, analysis of the Central Intelligence Agency indicates that India is projected to possess the fourth most capable concentration of power by 2015.[49] According to a report published by the US Congress, India is the developing world's leading arms purchaser.[50] India is investing 99.7 billion (US$1.6 billion) to build a dedicated and secure optical fiber cable (OFC) network for exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This will be one of the world's largest closed user group (CUG) networks.[51]

[44] In 2009 India increased defence expenditure by 21%.[43] is allocated to the modernization of the country's armed forces, over the period 2007-2012 India was expected to spend about $50 billion on new equipment.India's defense budget A considerable portion of [42] India maintains the

Military spending of countries around the world.

The major deployments of the Indian army constitute the border regions of India, particularly Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and the Northeast India, in order to engage in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. The major commitments of the Indian Navy constitute patrol missions, anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the 'Singapore Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise' with the Republic of Singapore Navy in the Straits of Malacca,[37] maintaining a military presence in Southeast Asias waters, and joint exercises with other countries, such as Brazil, South Africa,[38] the United States and Japan,[39] France (Varuna naval exercises), People's Republic of China,[40] the Russian Navy (INDRA naval exercises), and others.

The code of conduct of the Indian military is detailed in a semi-official book called "Customs and Etiquette in the Services", written by retired Major General Ravi Arora, which details how Indian personnel are expected to conduct themselves generally.[35] Arora is an executive editor of the Indian Military Review.[36]

  • To assert the territorial integrity of India.
  • To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  • To send own amphibious warfare equipment to take the battle to enemy shores.[32]
  • To follow the Cold Start doctrine, meaning that the Indian Armed Forces are able to quickly mobilise and take offensive actions without crossing the enemy's nuclear-use threshold.[33] However, officially, India denies having a cold start strategy - quoting the Indian Army chief: "There is nothing called 'Cold Start'. As part of our overall strategy we have a number of contingencies and options, depending on what the aggressor does. In the recent years, we have been improving our systems with respect to mobilization, but our basic military posture is defensive."[34]
  • To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  • To participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in consonance with India’s commitment to the United Nations Charter.

The Armed Forces have six main tasks;[31]

The headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.

The headquarters of the Indian Armed Forces is in New Delhi, the capital city of India. The President acts as de jure Commander in chief of the Armed Forces.[27] while de facto control lies with the executive. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is the ministry charged with the responsibilities of countering insurgency and ensuring external security of India. General Dalbir Singh Suhag is the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Admiral RK Dhowan is the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and Arup Raha is the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS).[28] The Indian armed force are split into different groups based on their region of operation. The Indian Army is administratively divided into 7 tactical commands, each under the control of different Lieutenant Generals. The Indian Air Force is divided into five operational and two functional commands.[29] Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal. The Indian Navy operates three Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the rank of Vice Admiral. There are two joint commands whose head can belong to any of the three services. These are the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The lack of an overall military commander has helped keep the Indian Armed Forces under civilian control,and has prevented the rise of military dictatorships (unlike in neighboring Pakistan).[30]

The President of India is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces



The beginning of the 21st century saw reorientation for India in the global stage from a regional role in the subcontinent to a major role in the Indian ocean region stretching from Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Strait.[26] India’s sphere of influence needs to encompass not just the South Asian Sub-continent, but also the northern Indian Ocean area, from the eastern seaboard of Africa in the west, to the Malacca Straits in the east, and must include Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), China and Myanmar. India’s credibility, as a regional power will be contingent upon institutional stability, economic development and military strength, including nuclear deterrence. The long stretches of disputed borders with China and Pakistan and sizable areas under their occupation continue to be major irritants, notwithstanding the peace processes underway with both countries.

The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out a mission in northern and eastern Sri Lanka in 1987–1990 to disarm the Tamil Tigers per the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.[25] It was a difficult battle for the Indian Army, which was not trained for an unconventional war. After losing approximately 1,200 in personnel and several T-72 tanks, India ultimately abandoned the mission in consultation with Sri Lankan government. In what was labeled as Operation Pawan, the Indian Air Force flew about 70,000 sorties to and within Sri Lanka.

India fought Operation Meghdoot, capturing the top of the Glacier. It still maintains a military base there, which is world's highest altitude military base.[24] Pakistan tried in 1987 and in 1989 to re-take the glacier but was unsuccessful.

In 1961 tension rose between India and Portugal over the Portuguese-occupied territory of Goa, which India claimed for itself. After Portuguese police cracked down violently on a peaceful, unarmed demonstration for union with India, the Indian government decided to invade and Operation Vijay was initiated. A lopsided air, sea, and ground campaign resulted in the speedy surrender of Portuguese forces. Within 36 hours, 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule was ended, and Goa was annexed by India.

While India had become a republic, British officers seconded from the British Armed Forces continued to hold senior positions in the Indian Armed Forces into the early 1960s. On 1 April 1954, Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force. Effective from 1 April 1955, a Parliamentary Act, the Commanders-In-Chiefs (Change in Designation) Act, re-designated the office of Commander-in-Chief as the Chief of Staff of each respective branch. Not until 1958 would the last British chief of staff, that of the Indian Navy, be succeeded by an Indian; on 22 April of that year, Vice Admiral Ram Dass Katari became the first Indian Chief of Naval Staff. The Chiefs of Staff of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy were upgraded to four-star rank on par with the Chief of Army Staff in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

Republic of India (1950 to present)

The period immediately following Indian independence was a traumatic time for India and her armed services, as along with the newly independent India, the Indian Armed Forces were forcibly divided between India and Pakistan, with ships, divisions and aircraft allocated to the respective Dominions. During this period, the armed forces of India were involved in a number of significant military operations, notably the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and Operation Polo, the code name of a military operation in September 1948 in which the Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and overthrew its Nizam, annexing the state into the Indian Union. On 15 January 1949, General K.M. Cariappa was appointed the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the India army. On 26 January 1950, India became a republic and all "Royal" designations and affiliations were dropped.

Dominion of India (1947-1950)

[23] In

The Indian Army during World War I contributed a number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theaters of war. One million Indian troops would serve overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war. In World War I, the Indian Army fought against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire.

The Royal Indian Navy was first established by the British while much of India was under the control of the East India Company. The first Indian to be granted a commission was Sub Lieutenant D. N. Mukherji, who joined the Royal Indian Marine as an engineer officer in 1928. Indian sailors started a rebellion known as the Royal Indian Navy mutiny in 1946, on board ships and in shore establishments which spread all over India. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the rebellion.

Humber armored cars of 10th Indian Division move forward in Italy, 22 July 1944.

British India (1857 to 1947)

Sea lanes between India and neighboring lands were the usual form of trade for many centuries, and are responsible for the widespread influence of Indian Culture on other societies. Powerful navies included those of the Maurya, Satavahana, Chola, Vijayanagara, Kalinga, Mughal and Maratha empires.[21] The Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Maratha and Kerala fleets were expanded, and became the most powerful Naval Forces in the subcontinent, defeating European Navies at various times (See the Battle of Colachel). The fleet review of the Maratha navy took place at the Ratnagiri fort in which the ships Pal and Qalbat participated.[22] The Maratha Kanhoji Angre and Kunjali Marakkar, the Naval chief of Saamoothiri were two notable naval chiefs of the period.

Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's Prime Minister Kautilya's Arthashastra devotes a full chapter on the state department of waterways under navadhyaksha (Sanskrit for Superintendent of ships) . The term, nava dvipantaragamanam (Sanskrit for sailing to other lands by ships, i.e. Exploration) appears in this book in addition to appearing in the Buddhist text, Baudhayana Dharmasastra as the interpretation of the term, Samudrasamyanam.

Ancient to medieval era

India has one of the longest military histories, dating back several millennia. The first reference of armies is found in the Vedas as well as the epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. Classical Indian texts on archery in particular, and martial arts in general are known as Dhanurveda.



  • History 1
    • Ancient to medieval era 1.1
    • British India (1857 to 1947) 1.2
    • Dominion of India (1947-1950) 1.3
    • Republic of India (1950 to present) 1.4
  • Current 2
    • Overview 2.1
    • Personnel 2.2
    • Recruitment and training 2.3
    • Overseas bases and relations 2.4
  • Indian Army 3
    • Doctrine, corps, field force 3.1
      • Mountain Strike Corps 3.1.1
    • Army Aviation Corps 3.2
    • Modernisation 3.3
      • Mechanized forces 3.3.1
      • Infantry 3.3.2
    • Exercises 3.4
  • Indian Navy 4
    • Ships and submarines 4.1
    • Weapons systems 4.2
    • Naval Air Arm 4.3
    • Naval satellite 4.4
    • Exercises 4.5
    • Modernization 4.6
  • Indian Air Force 5
    • Aircraft 5.1
    • Network-centric warfare 5.2
    • Future developments 5.3
  • Indian Coast Guard 6
  • Paramilitary Forces 7
    • Assam Rifles 7.1
    • Special Frontier Force 7.2
  • Central Armed Police Forces 8
  • Special Forces 9
  • Weapons of mass destruction 10
    • Chemical and biological weapons 10.1
    • Nuclear weapons 10.2
  • Research and Development 11
    • Electronic-warfare, military hardware 11.1
    • Missile development programme 11.2
    • Unmanned aerial vehicles 11.3
    • Future programmes 11.4
  • Missile defense programme 12
  • Military intelligence 13
  • Peace keeping, anti-piracy, and exploration missions 14
    • United Nations peacekeeping 14.1
    • Anti-piracy mission 14.2
    • Relief operations of IAF 14.3
    • IAF efforts in eclipse study 14.4
    • Indian Navy exploration 14.5
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17

The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under control of the Ordnance Factories Board and 8 Defence PSUs namely, HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani.[6] The Indian Armed Forces are the world's largest arms importer,[15] with Russia, Israel, France and the United States being the top foreign suppliers of military equipment.[16][17][18]

The Indian armed forces have been engaged in a number of major military operations, including the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971, the Portuguese-Indian War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, the Kargil War, and the Siachen conflict among others. India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development on programs such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). The Indian armed forces are steadily undergoing modernization,[12] with investments in areas such as a F-INSAS, missile defense system and a nuclear triad.[13][14]

It is important to note that the Central Armed Police Forces, which are commonly and incorrectly referred to as 'Paramilitary Forces', are headed by officers from the Indian Police Service and are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

and the largest standing volunteer army in the world. 3rd largest military force. With strength of over 1.3 million active personnel, it is world's Union Cabinet Minister of Defense (MoD), which is led by the Ministry of Defence of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Supreme Commander is the President of India. The Strategic Forces Command) and various inter-service institutions such as the Special Frontier Force and Assam Rifles ([11]

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