India’s top military projects to look out for in 2023 

Here’s a look at some of the critical projects that will give India superior defence capabilities.

India’s top military projects to look out for in 2023 
Futuristic Direct Energy Weapon

India is gearing up for some critical, mega projects in defence and aerospace for building next-generation military equipment. The Indian military has already laid out plans for modernisation, which include procuring next-generation submarines and fighter jets. The government has launched some mega projects in defence such as P75I submarines, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) for fifth-generation fighter jets, Tejas MK2 Multirole Fighter Aircraft (MRFA), and light tank ‘Zorawar’ for the land forces among others. 

These ambitious projects will build advanced capabilities and lay the ground for India’s marine and aerospace industrial ecosystem.

Project 75 (India)

The Indian navy’s P75(I) submarine project is still under discussion. While the project is being pursued under a strategic partnership model, it’s reported that the government is also deliberating to broaden the scope under a different category – Buy and Make in India under the defence acquisition procedure DAP 2020.  

The most critical part of the P75 (I) is the readiness of its air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. While India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an AIP system, it is yet to be sea-proven and deemed worthy to be fitted in a submarine for operational trials.

India’s navy chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar, while addressing a press conference ahead of Navy Day, said the process for Project 75(I) for building next-generation submarines will be through by next year. This project is crucial for the Indian navy to maintain operational viability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

Since P75(I) was unable to meet its deadline of December 31, it has been allowed an extension till the middle of 2023. 

Light tank Zorawar

The government has given the green light to the indigenous ‘Zorawar’ tank to meet the army’s requirement for light tanks. The army needs a light tank under 25 tonnes. The need for a light tank was felt during the India-China standoff at LAC in Ladakh as the army had to deploy much heavier Russian-era tanks – T-90 and T-72 in that terrain. 

It is learnt that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the Ministry of Defence is going to issue the acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the armoured fighting vehicle-Indian light tank (AFV-ILT) under Project Zorawar. According to the plan laid out by the MoD, the light tank will be manufactured under the ‘Make-1’ category of DAP 2020. In fact, this is the first time, an Indian private entity is being given the task of the lead integrator (manufacturer). The Indian army has pitched for collaboration with domestic private players to cut down the long acquisition process.  

The issue of weight and firepower makes the project Zorawar a herculean task. Nowhere in the world, is there a light tank under 25 tonnes with one exception — the Russian ‘Sprut’ tank. The other significant challenge is to incorporate a high degree of advanced autonomous technologies and integrate it with artificial intelligence.  

In addition to a 105mm semi-automatic main gun for firepower, the light tank must have loitering munition and an active protection system with amphibious capabilities. 

Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine (KMGT)

While India is producing propulsion systems for unmanned aerial vehicles and weapon platforms along with long-range weapon delivery systems, like cruise missile systems, what remains is an indigenous marine engine for warships. Global original equipment manufacturers have refused to supply these engines for strategic applications.

So far, India has succeeded in building marine gas engine propulsion by converting the core of its indigenous Kaveri gas turbine. DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) has developed a 12 MW KMGT engine as a derivative of the Kaveri Aero Engine. KMGT demonstrated its performance on a test-bed at the naval dockyard in Vizag.  

The KMGT project is crucial as the navy is planning to build 200 warships indigenously which require such marine engines. 

Project DURGA

DRDO is focussing on new-age tech in the Directed-Energy Weapon (DEW) space. DRDO has initiated a project – Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array (DURGA) II, which is a 100-kilowatt lightweight DEW. 

The DEW is based on energy from lasers, microwaves or particle beams which transmit lethal force at the speed of light (about 300,000 kilometres per second). These are high-precision weapons that can defy gravitational and atmospheric forces. The efficacy of the DEW weapon was recently proven by Israeli Iron Domes. 

Scientists say this weapon system is set to be integrated with sea, air and land-based platforms. Project DURGA will be a key asset to the Indian armed forces in achieving air defence capabilities.

The most challenging part of the project is the complexity of energy generation on such a high scale within that system. While DRDO has tested a 1KW laser weapon which hit a target 250m away, the full prototype of DURGA will be one of the most crucial projects to watch out for in 2023. 

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First published on: 06-01-2023 at 11:14 IST
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