Indian Army orders 28 indigenous Weapon Locating Radars

June 29th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gulshan Luthra
New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) The Indian Army is acquiring 28 highly sophisticated India-made Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs) to track and neutralize hostile artillery fire. The radars are being integrated by the state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), set up in 1954 to meet the specialised electronic needs of the Indian armed forces, but a large number of components will come from the private sector, including some Commercially-available Off the Shelf (COTS) from the international market.

According to a report in the July issue of the India Strategic defence magazine, with the indigenous manufacture of the much-needed radars, there is likely to be no further import of the system from the US arms technology major Raytheon, which has supplied 12 radars to the Indian artillery under a 2002 government-to-government deal for around $200 million.

An advance copy of the India Strategic, made available to IANS, quotes Dr Prahlada, Distinguished Scientist and Chief Controller in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), as saying that the Indian Army had approved the radar after several tests in electronic clutter and “high density fire environment”.

It may be noted that the Indian Army had asked for the WLRs in the mid-1980s but the government sanctioned their acquisition only after the 1999 Kargil War in which the Indian Army suffered more than 80 percent of its casualties due to the Pakistani artillery fire.

The need was felt so urgent that it was in fact the first acquisition from the US under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Raytheon completed the order last year, and the radars were integrated on Tatra chassis supplied by the public sector BEML Ltd.

The Weapon Locating Radar, also known as Gun Locating Radar, helps track hostile fire and directs counter fire within seconds.

Pakistan has had the advantage of US-supplied radars from the mid-1980s, and they were also built by Raytheon, but an earlier model. The version supplied to India has longer range and reach, and the additional capability to destroy some artillery missiles.

There was, however, no Transfer of Technology (ToT) in the WLR acquired from the US, although Raytheon officials have separately told India Strategic that it is favourable to the idea if there are further orders.

The heart of the WLR is the advanced phased-array Rajendra radar, developed by BEL for a multiplicity of use. The Indian radar is also fitted on the BEML-supplied Tatra vehicles, which are produced in India under licence.

Prahlada, who is the interface between the DRDO and the Indian armed forces for the transfer of indigenously-developed technology, said the Indian radar developed by DRDO was good but as technology grows and improves, further development was always possible.

A military system generally has Mark I, and II, and so on. With this WLR radar also, the range and firepower would increase periodically.

The indigenous radar is based on two vehicles, as against three of the Raytheon WLR.

The sensor is on a single vehicle, and the radar has automatic projectile acquisition and data transmission even in high density fire environment. It has high resolution as well as remote displays with the facility to change sector coverage as required in a battlefield.

The range of the radar was not specified but it is believed to be 40-plus km.

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