The year 2022 witnessed path-breaking reforms to equip the Indian Armed forces with state-of-the-art weapons, equipment and technologies to meet future challenges. The focus was to develop a rock-solid, trustworthy and self-reliant domestic defence industry to meet the requirements of modern, future-ready and tech-savvy armed forces. Towards this end, a number of efforts were made to increase defence exports in line with the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision.
On December 9, 2022, Chinese PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in the Tawang sector but were firmly beaten back by the Indian troops. The Indian Army prevented the PLA from crossing over to the Indian Territory and forced them to go back to their posts. This led to a number of injuries on both sides. However, there were no fatalities or serious casualties on the Indian side. As a follow-up after the incident, high-ranking Indian Army officials held a Flag Meeting with their Chinese counterparts and asked them to refrain from such actions and maintain peace and tranquillity along the border. The issue was also taken up with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.
One of the most spectacular developments in 2022 was the AGNIPATH scheme for the recruitment of youth in the Armed Forces, making it possible for the youth (Agniveers) to don the uniform and serve the country for a period of four years. The scheme has been designed to ensure a youthful profile of the Armed Forces and bring about a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy military.
The Agniveers who join as part of the program will be entitled to an attractive monthly package, Risk & Hardship allowances and a one-time ‘Seva Nidhi’ package on completion of their engagement period. Already over 54 lakh aspirants including females have volunteered to join the three Services (Indian Army – 37.09 lakh; Indian Navy – 9.55 lakh and Indian Air Force – 7.69 lakh). The Agniveers are expected to begin training from January 2023
Some of the other significant highlights of 2022 included the following:
- Gen Anil Chauhan took over as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in place of General Bipin Rawat who died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu last year.
- Gen Manoj Pande took over as 29th Chief of the Army Staff following Gen Naravane’s superannuation on 30 April 2022. This is the first time that an officer from the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) has made it to the coveted post of the Chief of the Army Staff – the highest rank in the Indian Army.
- Giridhar Aramane, a 1988-batch Andhra Pradesh-cadre IAS officer serving as secretary of the ministry of road transport and highways succeeded Dr Ajay Kumar as the Defence Secretary
- Likewise Vijoy Kumar Singh, a 1990-batch IAS officer, assumed charge as Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare following the retirement of B Anand a 1987-batch Tamil Nadu Cadre IAS officer who was appointed as a member of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
Likewise, some of the other notable international events during the year included:
30th Anniversary of India-ASEAN relations and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in Siem Reap, Cambodia: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended the ADMM Plus in which he called for resolute global efforts to counter transnational and cross-border terrorism. Reiterating India’s vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, he called for the peaceful resolution of disputes while respecting the sovereignty & territorial integrity of all nations. He also announced initiatives for Women in UN Peace Keeping Operations and Marine Plastic Pollution.
India-US 2+2 Dialogue: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar took part in the 4th India-USA 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington DC and discussed ways to further bolster the ties. The Defence Minister also expressed India’s desire for greater investments by US defence companies in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme and co-production of arms and armament in association with US companies.
India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar participated in the 2nd India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo and discussed a wide spectrum of bilateral and regional issues with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defence Minister Hamada Yasukazu. The ministers welcomed the participation of Japan, for the first time, in the “MILAN” multilateral naval exercise organized by the Indian Navy and explored ways to enhance defence cooperation by hosting the first Air Force fighter exercise as well as other bilateral and multilateral exercises like ‘Dharma Guardian’, JIMEX, and Malabar.
India-France Annual Defence Dialogue: France is one of India’s most trusted strategic partners and both countries look forward to celebrating 25 years of their strategic partnership in 2023. To cement this relationship, India hosted the 4th India-France Annual Defence Dialogue in New Delhi. It was attended by the French Minister of Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu. The two sides reviewed the Indo-French bilateral Air Exercise ‘Garuda’ at Air Force Station, Jodhpur and some of the other areas of military-to-military cooperation. The two sides also dwelt upon ways to enhance defence industrial cooperation, future collaborations and co-production opportunities.
Australian Defence Minister’s India visit: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Australian Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Defence Richard Marles met in New Delhi to discuss the existing defence activities and explored ways to enhance further cooperation.
Defence Minister’s visit to Vietnam: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited Vietnam where he held bilateral talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Gen Phan Van Giang. The discussions focused on ways to strengthen the ties with the Southeast Asian nation. Rajnath Singh also presided over the handing over ceremony of 12 High-Speed Guard Boats constructed under the Government of India’s $US 100 million Defence Line of Credit to Vietnam. India and Vietnam share a comprehensive strategic partnership and defence cooperation since 2016. Vietnam is an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision. The two countries have many common areas of defence engagement including defence policy dialogue, military-to-military exchange, high-level visits, capacity building and training programs, cooperation in UN Peace Keeping, ship visits and bilateral exercises. Rajnath Singh’s visit on the occasion of 50 years of India-Vietnam Diplomatic relations holds special significance and consolidates the bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.
Defence Minister’s Mongolia visit: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh became the first ever Indian Defence Minister when he visited Mongolia on an official visit and held delegation-level talks with his Mongolian counterpart Lt Gen Saikhanbayar Gursed. The two ministers discussed ways to improve defence cooperation and global issues of mutual interest. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a Cyber Security Training Centre, at the National Defence University in Ulaanbaatar and laid the foundation stone of an Indo-Mongolia Friendship School – both built with the help of the Government of India.
Joint Military Exercises: The Indian Armed Forces conducting a number of exercises with friendly nations, within the country and abroad in 2022. The domestic military exercises included – Gandiv Vijay, Paschim Lehar, Vayu Shakti and Vijay Prahar. The bilateral exercises included Sampriti (India & Bangladesh), Mitra Shakti (India & Sri Lanka), Kazind (Indo-Kazakhstan), Maitree (India & Thailand), Vajra Prahar (India & US), Yudh Abhyas (India & US), Nomadic Elephant (India & Mongolia), Garuda Shakti (India & Indonesia), Shakti (India & France), Dharma Guardian (India & Japan), Surya Kiran (India & Nepal), Hand in Hand (India & China), SIMBEX (India & Singapore), Shakti (India & France), Harimau Shakti (India & Malaysia), Exercise Vinbax (Vietnam-India), CORPAT (India & Thailand) and Lamitiye at Seychelles Defence Academy (India-Seychelles). Likewise, the Multilateral exercise –conducted by the Indian Armed Forces with more than one partner nation included Rimpac, Malabar, Cobra-Gold, Samvedna, Exercise ‘Vostok 2022’ in Russia; and Ex Khaan Quest featuring 16 military contingents in Mongolia.
In 2022 the Indian Army focused primarily on maintaining operational preparedness and dominance along the Line of Actual Control, Line of Control, counter-insurgency operations and other such threats to national security.
Though the situation along the Line of Control has improved significantly in the past couple of years. Pakistan continues to promote proxy war in J&K. A number of terrorist training camps, and launch pads help infiltrate terrorists to cross over to India with the implicit support of Pakistan Army and ISI which also help to finance, recruit, train and equip the terrorists with arms and ammunition to spread terror across the border on the Indian soil.
There were a number of efforts to disturb peace and security along the border areas using drones. Likewise, there were persistent attempts to construct tunnels near the international border for infiltration of armed terrorists as well as smuggling arms, ammunition and narcotics.
This apart, the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir witnessed consistent improvement since the abrogation of Article 370 and there was a significant reduction in incidents of violence, stone pelting and agitations in the Kashmir Valley. As a result, there was a substantial increase in the number of tourists visiting the Valley in 2022 and some 3.65 lakh pilgrims visited the Holy Amarnath Shrine.
In the not-too-distant future, the Indian Army strives to create a self-reliant defence ecosystem under the ‘Make in India’ initiative in association with the private sector, MSMEs, Academia and the R&D labs across the country. The Army’s modernization plan encompasses developing critical combat capabilities and improving the lethality, accuracy and reliability of existing equipment. The Army is evaluating over 140 proposals to induct futuristic as well as modern technologies and platforms like AKASH Missile System, Satellites, Modular Bridges, Utility Helicopters, Electronic Warfare Systems, Surface to Air Missiles, and Towed Gun Systems worth over Rs 2 lakh crore which is at various stages of acquisition.
Likewise, there are 202 projects worth over Rs 1.12 lakh crore involving 338 industries being considered under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ scheme. in progress. To facilitate these projects Regional Technological Nodes have been established at Pune & Bengaluru and a large number of contracts are being awarded to domestic vendors to manufacture ammunition, artillery guns, missile systems as well as advanced Loitering Weapon Systems
To give shape to the Indian Army’s combat potential during war and peace and make it a more lethal force — suitable for modern warfare — the Indian Army formations are being restructured and reorganized in a phased manner as Integrated Battle Groups (IBG) headed by Major General. Each IBG is expected to be an agile and self-sufficient combat formation designed to swiftly launch strikes against the adversary in case of hostilities.
Each IBG is tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain, and tasks it is likely to undertake. Phase 1 of the process is near completion. The IBGs will have infantry, armoured, artillery, UAVs, combat engineers, and signals into one fighting unit to undertake both offensive and defensive tasks. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilize and make a thrust into enemy territory for strikes, the defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points.
Another key result area of the Indian Army in recent years has been to improve Defence Cooperation activities with friendly foreign countries, a number of whom have shown keen interest in engaging with the Indian Army. As of date, the Indian Army is conducting Joint Exercises, training, visits, structured engagements, professional competitions and providing medical assistance to over 110 countries to enhance Defence Cooperation.
On the domestic front, the Indian Army is undertaking various activities in remote and border areas, particularly in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to promote tourism, vocational training; recruitment and adventure activities as a part of its nation-building duties. The idea behind all this is to help in building national unity by increasing — awareness, survivability and employment in the border areas.
The Indian Army has felicitated the launch of Maa Bharati Ke Sapoot Web Portal for granting financial assistance to the families of soldiers who lay down their lives or get grievously injured in active military operations.
Some of the other activities undertaken by the Army in 2022 include various Green Initiatives like Mission Amrut Sarovar (rejuvenation of 75 water bodies), the establishment of solar systems in forward areas, as well as induction of Electric Vehicles (EVs), Fuel Cell Technology and Low smoke kerosene for troops in high altitude areas.
The Indian Navy undertook a number of Mission Based Deployments in 2022 to safeguard the national interest and maintain its presence in areas of maritime importance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in consonance with the vision of ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)’.
In 2022 the Indian Army focused primarily on maintaining operational preparedness and dominance along the Line of Actual Control, Line of Control, counter-insurgency operations and other such threats to national security. Though the situation along the Line of Control has improved significantly in the past couple of years. Pakistan continues to promote proxy war in J&K.
Indian Navy ships and aircraft facilitated enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness, swift Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to secure Indian and international maritime interest in the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Andaman Sea, Malacca Strait and Bay of Bengal. Apart from this, the Indian Navy engaged with friendly navies as the ‘first responder’ and ‘preferred security partner’ across the IOR.
As far as the Indian Navy IN is concerned some of the important developments in 2022 included:
- Exercise Paschim Lehar (XPL) –A large-scale Command level exercise was carried out on the Western Seaboard to test and validate the Navy’s operational and warfighting skills in various conflict scenarios as a ‘Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive force’.
- At least 60 ships, three submarines, and 59 aircraft took part in the President’s Fleet Review – 22 conducted at Visakhapatnam.
- INS Vikrant – the first Indigenous aircraft carrier was commissioned by the Prime Minister who also unveiled the new Naval Ensign, doing away with the colonial past
- INS Mormugao, the second ship of Project 15B will be commissioned in Mumbai
- INS Vagir the fifth submarine of Project-75 started Sea Trials. The submarine is planned to be commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2023.
- INS Vaghsheer the sixth submarine of Project-75 was launched
- Diving Support Vessels – Nistar and Nipun were launched
- The Indian Navy inducted a number of aircraft and helicopters to modernize naval aviation and pave the path for a potent and future-ready Naval Air Arm. These included 16 ALH Mk III helicopters, 4 P8I aircraft, and 3 Multi-role helicopters (MH 60Rs).
- The IN commissioned three new Air Squadrons – INAS 316 at INS Hansa, Goa, INAS 324 at Visakhapatnam and INAS 325 at Port Blair
Indian Naval ships provided Anti – Piracy Patrol in the Gulf of Aden to ensure the safe passage of Indian Flag Merchant Vessels (IFMVs)
IN warships were deployed in the Gulf Region As part of Op SANKALP – Maritime Security Operation to ensure the safe passage of Indian Flag Merchant Vessels (IFMVs) transiting through the Strait of Hormuz.
IN Ships undertook the transhipment of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) material and medical equipment to five nations in IOR as part of Mission SAGAR at the behest of Friendly Foreign Countries and maritime neighbours.
In 2022, the Indian Naval Ships helped intercept a number of heroin shipments in the Arabian Sea as part of Anti-Narcotics Operations conducted in close coordination with the intelligence agencies.
As things stand the Indian Navy undertakes Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) with friendly foreign navy units to enhance inter-operability and imbibe best practices. A total of 47 Maritime Partnership Exercises with 28 countries (USA, Japan, Russia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Oman, Egypt, Malta, Indonesia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Greece, Italy, France, Algeria, Kuwait, Spain, Morocco, Brazil, Australia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Togo, Nigeria, South Korea, Iran, South Africa and Tanzania) were undertaken as on October 31, 2022.
IN provides assistance to friendly IOR littoral nations in maritime surveillance at the request of the host government. In 2022, IN has undertaken joint EEZ surveillance of Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius by deploying IN ships and aircraft.
Exercises with foreign navies
Exercise MILAN – 22 – About 23 Naval ships including 13 foreign ships, and seven aircraft were among the delegations from 39 countries which participated in the Biennial Multilateral conducted at Visakhapatnam
A P8I contingent from the Indian Navy participated in Exercise Sea Dragon – 22 a multilateral Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise at Guam, USA along with the Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from five other countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the USA.
INS Jyoti and INS Kirch participated in Exercise SLINEX with Sri Lankan Navy off Visakhapatnam
INS Kolkata participated in Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX-22) at Doha, Qatar and showcased the ‘Make in India’ drive of the Government.
INS Chennai, INS Gharial along with P8I and Dornier aircraft participated in IMEX – 22 Multilateral Maritime Exercise at/ off Goa. The exercise also involved French, Iranian and Bangladeshi Naval ships and was witnessed by observers from 15 countries
INS Chennai along with P8I, Mig-29K and Dornier aircraft and French Naval ships Mistral, Courbet and Loire and submarine Amethyste participated in Exercise Varuna 2022 an Indo-French bilateral exercise, conducted off Goa in two phases
INS Kora, Sumedha and Bangladesh Navy ships Abu Ubaidah and Ali Haider participated in Exercise Bongosagar conducted off the Bangladesh coast
INS Satpura was along the ships from 28 countries that participated in RIMPAC 22 – biennial multilateral exercise at Honolulu, USA.
Six IN Ships (Sahyadri, Kadmatt, Kavaratti, Jyoti, Sukanya and Ranvijay), one submarine and aircraft (P8I, Mig-29K and Dornier) participated in the JIMEX 22 with Japan Maritime Defence Force (JMSDF) ships Izumo and Takanami off Visakhapatnam.
INS Satpura participated in Exercise KAKADU – 22 in Australia along with naval ships from 15 countries.
INS Shivalik, INS Kamorta as well as Japanese, US and Royal Australian Navy ships and aircraft participated in Exercise Malabar 22 in Japan.
Long-range operational deployments
INS Sahyadri, Jyoti, Kamorta and Kadmatt were deployed in South East Asian countries.
INS Kochi, Chennai and Aditya were deployed in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea for the conduct of bilateral exercises with regional navies.
INS Sumedha was deployed to the Java Sea, Australia and South East Asian countries
INS Satpura was deployed in South East Asia and Western Pacific countries for the conduct of bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional countries.
INS Tarkash was deployed in the Atlantic Ocean, Western and Eastern Africa conduct bilateral and trilateral exercises with regional navies and undertook maiden Joint Patrolling in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) with the Nigerian Navy. The President of Brazil visited INS Tarkash in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ships of the First Training Squadron were deployed for Long Range training deployment to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea littoral countries
Eight IN ships were deployed in seven foreign ports in six continents, to hoist the National Flag, and commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Assistance to foreign governments
An IN Dornier has been handed over for a period of two years to Sri Lanka and was formally inducted by SLAF on 15 Aug 22 at Colombo.
A US ship made a port call at Kattupalli for Voyage Repair Availability (VRA). This was a maiden visit by a US Naval ship to India.
INS Nireekshak was deployed at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka to provide Diving training to Sri Lankan Navy personnel.
Indian Air Force
In 2022, the IAF continued to modernise its airfield infrastructure and upgrade its navigational aids in association with M/s Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to enhance operational capability and facilitate the operations of military and civil aircraft even in adverse weather conditions.
In 2022 the IAF launched MEHAR BABA COMPETITION-II to boost the growing indigenous drone industry. The aim is to develop indigenous technology for a ‘Swarm drone-based system to detect foreign objects on aircraft operating surfaces’. The competition is named after the legendary Air Commodore Mehar Singh – affectionately also known as Mehar Baba.
As far as the Indian Air Force (IAF) is concerned some of the noteworthy developments in 2022 included:
- The IAF received all 36 Rafale aircraft from France in 2022. As things stand today both Rafale Squadrons are fully operational.
- The IAF continued to train harder in association with the Air Forces of friendly foreign countries to learn from their experiences and best practice.
Exercises with foreign Air Forces
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force of Oman participated in Ex Eastern Bridge VI at AF Station Jodhpur
IAF participated in Tactical Leadership Programme at Egyptian Air Force Weapon School in Cairo, Egypt
Four SU-30 MKI and two C-17 aircraft of IAF and the Malaysian Air Force participated in Exercise Udara Shakti – the first ever fighter exercise with Malaysia.
IAF participated in Ex Pitch Black 22 in Australia to showcase their air to air refueling skills
IAF conducted Joint flying exercise with UK’s Royal Air Force.
IAF and French Air & Space Force (FASF) participated in Ex Garuda-VII at AF Station Jodhpur
IAF conducted ‘Samanvay 2022’ Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise at Air Force Station, Agra along with representatives from ASEAN member countries.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief:
Three IAF MLH, one ALH Dhruv and one Cheetah along with teams from the Army, NDRF and State police helped in evacuating 35 pilgrims stuck due to breakdown of Deogarh Ropeway in Jharkhand.
Two IAF MI-17 and one Chinook helicopters helped to airlift the eight Cheetahs brought to India from the Kuno National Park, Namibia in September.
IAF flew around 220 sorties for casualty evacuation at the behest of various State authorities.
IAF celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Chetak Helicopters which completed 60 years of service to the nation under the aegis of IAF Training Command at Air force station, Hakimpet.
To reduce the carbon footprint in accordance with the Government’s initiative for Green mobility, the IAF plans to induct Tata Nexon Electric vehicles to gradually replace its present fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles.
-The writer is a seasoned media professional with over three decades of experience in print, electronic, and web media. He is presently Editor of Taazakhabar News