Information warfare is an emerging area. It relates to computer virus attacks, precision attacks on command and control nodes and soft and hard skill capabilities to significantly degrade or paralyse the information structure of the adversary.
“Although there is a chance of hackers doing some damage, they cannot affect equipment because they have stand-alone computerised systems integral to the weapon system and equipment. However, anything on a network or dependent on satellite-based functioning can be affected," say officials in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Exploitation of technologies by developed countries is bringing about profound changes in the operational concept of warfare. Use of satellites, high altitude aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sensors and digital communications in high intensity conflicts have brought in the new paradigm of information warfare. Countries that can leverage cutting-edge technologies in the development of weapon systems will have the strength to leapfrog obstacles they may encounter during war.
Presently, the IAF is in the process of acquiring technology for communications and computer networks. It plans to use a multi-sensor command and control constellation (MC2C) based around the use of radars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), and aerostats.
"Of all the three forces, the Navy and Air Force take the cake when it comes to IT implementation”, say officials in the Army.
Agrees Air Commodore NK Chibber, secretary general, Pacific Telecommunication Council (PTC) India Chapter, "Though we have still not reached the stage being totally computerised, many of our air systems are fully automated thanks to usage of IT." To counter such attacks, many Indian agencies are working on IT-based defence systems. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing’s (C-DAC) Networking and Internet Software Group (NISG) at Pune is working on the development of core network security technologies, which include C-DAC’s Virtual Private Network (C-VPN), a crypto package (C-Crypto) and prototypes of e-commerce applications. Besides, DRDO has been successful in integrating security mechanisms in the Army Radio Engineering Network (AREN) and Army Static Switch Communication Network (ASCON).
Recently, a study team was formed at Air HQ which analysed various communication needs of Air Force and proposed a solution which is scalable, reliable and secure. The team interacted with user directorates and command HQs to assess their bandwidth requirements. Based on these interactions, the team proposed an architecture for IAF Wide Area Network (WAN) project which is scalable and highly reliable to meet both peace and wartime needs of IAF.
While India’s defence forces are increasingly using IT, the pace of IT-enablement definitely needs to be speeded up. And cooperation between the private sector and the defence sector is a must, especially when it comes to India’s software sector.