Pakistan has recently bought 50 Wing Loong II armed drones from China. China’s state media has said that it will be a nightmare for Indian ground formations in high-altitude areas as India’s military does not have the ability to respond to the new-age stand-off weapons.
The Chinese media said Indian ground formations would be unable to parry an attack by a large number of armed drones.
While the Chinese crowing about the success of Wing Loong II in African and Asian theatre is a matter to be noted, the fact is that armed drones perform optimally in uncontested air spaces or air dominance. Whether it was the use of drones in Afghanistan and Iraq against insurgents or terrorists, the US achieved success as they were dominating the air space.
Former Indian Air Force chief said “Whether it is Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir or Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the airspace is very closely monitored by radars and hotly contested with fighters. The armed drones will simply be shot down if they cross the lines.”
To ensure that the troops are protected from stand-off weapons.
The Indian Army is using tunnel defenses with huge concrete Hume pipes to provide the defense in case of the first strike on the front-line.
As of now, India does not have any armed drone system with Israeli weaponization upgrade of Heron drone taking the time and the Indian Navy acquiring two US Predators on lease for maritime domain awareness for friend or foe identification.
The Russian S-400 system is expected to be available next year. Defense PSU BEL has come up with an anti-drone radar-based system but it is still to be validated by the users.
However, the supply of armed drones to client state Pakistan by China makes a case for India to acquire weaponized drones as well as anti-drone systems. As the unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to launch air to ground weapons without crossing the LoC or LAC.
Basically, the drones can discharge the weapons beyond the engagement envelopes of the Indian guns or surface to air missiles on the ground.
While the Chinese media and military would derive vicarious pleasure by comparing the Indian army with Armenian, Syrian, or Government of National Accord (GNA) forces in Africa-Asian theatre.
The BEL manufactured medium power radar detects even birds in flight and it is cost-effective to shoot down an infiltrating drone by using L-70 or ZU-23 air defense guns.
After all, a Chinese Wing Loong II drone is one-tenth the cost of a fighter and it does not make sense to shoot them down using US million dollars air-to-air missiles.