The Indian Army is working on a number of key tech-driven projects, including a battlefield surveillance system and another initiative that will bring in “multi-domain spatial awareness” on a single GIS platform to make itself more potent and efficient, sources said.
The Army is observing 2023 as the ‘Year of Transformation’ and these projects aim to “reshape and re-engineer” the functional processes and bring in a “quantum jump” in its capabilities, they said.
Among these projects is the Army’s Battlefield Surveillance System or ‘Project Sanjay’ which seeks to create a number of surveillance centres for the field formations.
‘Project Sanjay’ will enable the integration of a “large number of sensors” and a provision to enable an integrated surveillance picture to commanders and staff at all levels, “besides completing the sensor-shooter grid by integrating it with the ACCCS (Artillery Combat Command and Control and Communication System)”, sources in the defence establishment said.
The ambitious project has “come of age” with the completion of “extensive validation” carried out in multiple terrains over a “protracted period”, they said.
The trials were conducted in plains, desert areas, and finally in mountainous terrain during August-October last year, a source said.
BEL Ghaziabad is the project’s system integrator, and they have succeeded in meeting the Army’s aspiration in full. The contract with the supplier is now being progressed further for delivery of these surveillance centres for the field formations by December 2025, he said.
Army Chief Manoj Pande, during an interaction at an event held here recently, spoke about the transformation steps taken by the Army going forward, adding that it has laid down five domains in which this transformation will take place in the future.
“We have taken a number of transformation initiatives so that we become a more modern, more technology-driven, self-reliant and a battle-worthy force to be able to not only carry out our mandate more effectively, but also to be able to meet future security challenges in a more effective manner,” he said.
Sources in the defence establishment said the Army is observing the year of transformation to set itself on a course to become a “future-ready, technology-driven, lethal and agile force”, which establishes itself as an “iron cast pillar of national power”.
The other key project the Army is working on is SAMA (Situational Awareness Module for the Army).
The Army’s Combat Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) has been re-designed as the Army Information and Decision Support System (AIDSS), which will integrate inputs from all operational and managerial information systems.
The in-house decision support system which has been developed is called SAMA, the sources said.
The SAMA has been developed in conjunction with BISAG-N and has successfully integrated inputs from ACCCS and three other platforms.
The application has been designed to present a “comprehensive battlefield picture” to commanders at all levels based on authorisation and roles. SAMA is being fielded this month for field validation in a corps zone, the source said.
The sources said the transformation envisaged in the force is in sync with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, and its endeavour to be a “net centric force” through the infusion of technology.
“Our aspirations today are aligning with realities that exist in the country today,” the source said.
The other key projects include E-Sitrep (Situational Reporting Over Enterprise-Class GIS Platform), ‘Project Avgat’ (Army’s Own Gati Shakti), and ‘Project Anumaan’ on meteorological data, the sources said.
Situational reporting is the keystone of all operational correspondence that happens on a perpetual basis, and this is the lifeblood that keeps the operational staff working. This workflow has matured over the years, however over the last few months it has undergone a “major transformation,” they said.
“Commencing June this year, the situational reporting would start happening on an enterprise-class geographic information system platform configured for the Army’s operational needs, with a state-of-the-art spatial visualisation, temporal and dynamic querying and analytics custom-built for commanders and staff as per authorisation rules. The system will be first operationalised in Army’s Northern Command in June 2023 and the balance Commands will migrate to the new system later,” the source said.
On ‘Project Avgat’, the sources said, “inspired by the PM Gati Shakti”, the Army has emulated the platform’s design and has begun its own initiative to build a similar project that will bring in “multi domain spatial awareness on a single GIS platform”.
The concept will be operationalised in a “phased manner” and in the first phase the project will bring together inputs from the operational domain, logistic inputs of selected nature, satellite imagery data, topographic and meteorological inputs on a common platform and “the system is expected to be fully operational towards the year-end”, they said.
PM Gati Shaki is designed as a national master plan for multi-modal connectivity, a digital platform to bring 16 ministries together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
For ‘Project Anumaan’, the Army has entered into a partnership with the National Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), with an MoU signed in November last year.
The Army will help NCMRWF with the collection of observations along northern borders and will receive in the near future customised products for higher resolution weather forecasts for its components along the northern borders, the sources said.
On ‘Project INDRA’, they said, the application has been developed to manage a database of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and other personnel which are spread across 47 Record Offices, corresponding to regiments, arms and services.
INDRA stands for Indian Army Data Repository and Analytics. The application enables the collection, compilation and extraction of data and information for statistical analysis to various stakeholders, as per their role and charter.
“The compilation of data for statistical and analysis purposes became a challenge. A central data repository has already been created at the IHQ of MoD (Army) in June 2022,” the source said.
On ASAAN (Army Software for Agnipath Administration and Networking), the sources said, the application is currently in use with effect from January 1, 2023, for the first batch of Agniveers who have joined the training centres.
Also, with the introduction of e-office, the use of digital signatures in day-to-day correspondence has increased from near zero in October 2022 to several thousand every month in 2023, they said.
This is part of the Army’s efforts to go paperless in its working and improve efficiency, another source said.
“Proliferation of digital signing helps both e-office and paperless office objectives. Since October 28, all officials in DGIS (Directorate General Information Systems) are only signing digitally, and have found no difficulty in migration from ink signatures,” he said.
“Now it’s becoming trendy, and a dozen directorates are trying to emulate,” the source said.