India has accelerated work on setting up an Air Defence command to enhance military synergy and optimally utilise the resources of the armed forces, and it is likely to come up in October, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Air defence refers to protecting the military’s assets from aerial threats such as the enemy’s fighter planes and missiles and the new Command — likely to be headquartered in Allahabad — will control the air defence resources of all the three services. It will be headed by a three-star air marshal, the officials said.
After taking over as the country’s first chief of defence staff (CDS) on December 31, 2019, General Bipin Rawat had asked top officials of headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) to prepare a proposal to create an Air Defence command as part of military’s theaterisation plans.
Theaterisation refers to placing specific units of the army, the navy and the air force under a theatre commander. Such commands come under the operational control of an officer from any of the three services, depending on the function assigned to that command.
The government expects Rawat to bring about jointness among the three services by 2022. One of the key objectives behind jointness, or jointmanship, is the setting up of theatre commands for the best use of military resources to fight future battles.
The air defence systems in the Indian arsenal include the indigenous Akash, the Israeli SpyDer, and Soviet-origin Pechora, OSA-AK and the shoulder-fired Igla. India is also pushing Russia to speed up the delivery of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems following border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh.
India is looking at creating a distinct theatre command for Jammu & Kashmir, and integrating the western and eastern naval commands to create a Peninsular Command, as previously reported by Hindustan Times. India could have up to five theatres to address the country’s security requirements, and the new structures could start rolling out in two years.