Warfare technology in lucid prose

V. Narayana Rao

BANGALORE: Think of war and you feel indebted to the soldiers battling the enemy, often against heavy odds.

Yet, the work of Defence scientists, who quietly build up the vital capabilities go unsung.

Unmasking the men and technologies behind the war machines, a retired founder-director of the Hyderabad-based Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DERL) has ventured to tell a different story through his book: “Reminiscences of a Defence Scientist: A quest for self-reliance.”

For the author, V. Narayana Rao, electronic warfare was a field that required immense focus. He was given that freedom and he dwelled deep in researching a technology that called for the “deployment of highly sensitive receivers capable of operating over large bandwidths that could quickly detect any type of electro-magnetic radiation from radars, missiles and the enemy’s communication systems”.

It was also about nullifying the enemy’s operation through deliberate interference, such as jamming and deception, explained the author in an informal chat with The Hindu recently.

In his book, Mr. Narayana Rao has lucidly illustrated the electronic warfare technology, and how it changed the course of battles from the Second World War to the recent Kosovo conflict.

“During the Second World War, the British developed windows (aluminium foils) to mask its radar tracks and hoodwinked the enemy. Hamburg was destroyed in the bombing that ensued,” he recalled.

Prohibitive costs

India had to acquire the technology quickly. The prohibitive costs of acquiring electronic warfare equipment from the United States, and the supply constraints posed by governments abroad propelled the Defence Ministry to turn to DERL and Mr. Narayana Rao.

“It called for a great deal of development of sophisticated equipment that used antennas, broadband microwave components, high sensitive fast-turning receivers, digital instantaneous frequency measuring devices and a variety of other microwave and radio frequency components and devices,” he said.

Without help

Without any foreign help, DERL embarked on the electronic warfare technology project. Mr. Narayana Rao first set up a large microwave division and antenna divisions for microwave.

As the work went on, new technologies such as hybrid microwave integrated circuit techniques and the use of Anechoic chamber facility enabled the laboratory to make further progress.

Surveillance system

In due course, DERL developed a surveillance system and a pod-mounted jammer for the Indian Air Force, communication system receivers and jammers for the Army and a complete electronic warfare system for the Navy.

The laboratory, along with Bharat Electronics, also developed the Samyukta system for the Army, complete with 26 vehicles which covered the radio and microwave bands.

Mr. Narayana Rao said that most of the electronic warfare systems for the Defence services were developed by DERL before production by Bharat Electronics and other Defence firms.


“The extent of the production orders based on DERL technology is about Rs. 300 crore, and it is likely to go up as more systems get ready for production,” he said.

DERL, according to Mr. Narayana Rao, was also instrumental in developing an indigenous system of cryptography, a secondary surveillance radar to identify incoming aircraft as friend or foe and several types of high power travelling tubes.


Anonymous said...

Battles are fought by soldiers they are won by weapons.....the better equipped kills the less equipped soldier.... investment in research will go a long way in safe future of country....most greatful to the scientists who have struggled against all constraints...thank god for u were there...