New Delhi. The Indian Army is acquiring
28 highly sophisticated Made-in-India Weapon Locating
Radars (WLRs) to track and neutralize hostile
The radars are being integrated by the state-run
Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), set up in 1954
to meet the specialized 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.
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 US$ 200 million.
Dr Prahlada (uses single name), Distinguished
Scientist and Chief Controller in the Defence
Research and Development Organisation (DRDO),
told India Strategic in an interview
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 mid-1980s but the government sanctioned
their acquisition only after the 1999 Kargil War
in which the Indian Army suffered more than 80
per cent of its casualties due to the Pakistani
During the Kargil War, according to Army Headquarters
reports, the Pakistanis could detect Indian fire
and counter attack while Indians were at the receiving
end and had to deploy massively disproportionate
firepower later to suppress the Pakistanis.
The process for the WLRs acquisition was stopped
in 1990 by the then government along with the
purchase of most other systems for the armed forces
and the intelligence agencies.
In fact, the Parliaments Standing Committee
on Defence said in a report tabled in both the
houses on 18 April 2000 that it was seriously
concerned by the degree of seeming casualness
shown by the Defence Ministry in this regard,
The Ministry of Defence has not shown any
sense of seriousness in acquiring this item. The
enquiry in respect of this item had admittedly
started in 1989 and even after a decade the Indian
Army has not been able to acquire it. Our adversary
is in possession of the weapon locating radar
and it was used by it during the Kargil conflict
to destroy our gun positions..
desire that the Government should take immediate
steps to equip the Army with this Radar.
The need was felt so urgent after the Kargil
War that it was in fact the first acquisition
from the US under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
programme. Raytheon completed the delivery 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, AN-TPQ-36.
The version supplied to India, Firefinder AN-TPQ-37,
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. Of course, its the US government
that has to approve any transfer of technology
and arms sales.
Rahtheon's Firefinder radars supplied to India
can track "first-round" hostile fire
within seconds from a range of three to 50 km,
and launch precise counter attacks. The radar
also holds strategic significance in that it can
be configured to detect missiles by adding a 60-degree
sector mode antenna to extend its range.
The Raytheon radar's computerised signal processors
detect, verify and track up to 10 artillery, mortar
or rocket projectiles, estimates their firing
position as well as the impact point and helps
direct friendly fire in neutralising enemy positions
subsequently. Manned by a crew of 12, the radar
is capable of separating any clutter generated
by birds, helicopters and aircraft.
The Indian radar, which is a good example of
import substitution, is stated to have matching
The heart of the DRDO-BEL WLR is the advanced
electronic phased array Rajendra radar, being
made 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.
Dr Prahlada, who is the interface between the
DRDO and the Indian armed forces for the transfer
of indigenously-developed technology, said that
the Indian radar developed by DRDO was good but
as technology grows and improves, further development
would be there. The system is modular.
A military system generally has Mark I, and II,
and so on. With this WLR radar also, the range
and firepower would increase with periodic development,
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.