Warfare is no longer the domain of the soldiers alone and the wars of future will require every national in every profession to be involved in the war efforts, says Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari.
Delivering a keynote address on the future of air warfare at the 7th National Leadership Conclave of All India Management Association (AIMA), Air Chief argued that now the entire economic, information and technological capability of a nation has to be brought to bear on the adversary. For example, he said, even before the first bullet is fired, a well-crafted narrative can have a devastating effect on the adversary, and a cyber-attack can cripple their command and control structure. ’War does not determine who is right, but only who is left,’ he said quoting an American military leader.
Air Chief Chaudhari pointed out that while air power has conventionally provided the higher ground advantage, the space is now the ultimate high ground. He said that Indian Air Force is trying to shorten its OODA loop, i.e. observer, orient, decide, act, by prioritizing investment in technology and training. The key to having advantage in warfare, he said, is taking the initiative through a shorter OODA capability and keep the adversary guessing.
Indian Air Force is making sure that it has the necessary level of efficiency and integration across the sensors, decision makers and shooters. “We need to be fully networked at all times and we need to use data and AI to keep the OODA loop shortest,” he said.
Drone usage has been doctrinally included by Indian Air Force and the organization is pursuing unmanned combat systems’ integration with the manned systems, Air Chief said. He pointed to the effective use of drones in the most recent wars around the world, including Ukraine’s use of drones against Russia’s forces.
Hypersonic missiles, which have been used in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, are also changing warfare, according to the Air Chief. He said that the high speed of such missiles make it difficult to intercept them. However, he said, IAF is developing countermeasures for such weapons.
Air Chief Chaudhari laid strong emphasis on indigenous production of defence systems, including hypersonic missiles. He pointed out that India has made a headstart in indigenous space and missile programmes. “It is best to remain indigenous and not collaborate even if it takes time,” he said.
He mentioned that now Indian Air Force is directly engaging with the industry and academic for sourcing. He mentioned that IAF organized a competition for development and sourcing of drones and is now working with three suppliers, whose drones have been used during the Beating Retreat show.
Air Chief pointed out that Indian Air Force currently operates 39 different aircrafts with origins in 6 different countries, which makes inventory management a big challenge. Earlier, he said, the focus was on hardware but now it has shifted to software, data and AI. “We are looking at each new conflict and redefining our priorities, but it is difficult to stick to plans because of the new dimensions of wars that are emerging,” he said.
The key to winning future wars, says Air Chief Chaudhari, is to make own networks secure and resilient while interfering with the network of the enemy.
The session was moderated by Mr. Nikhil Sawhney, Vice President, AIMA and Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Triveni Turbine Ltd.
Air Chief expressed interest in collaborating with AIMA in management and leadership development. He said that IAF could learn about managing the millennials from the industry as they think differently from the generation that is leading them.
The session was a part of the day-long National Leadership Conclave being held at Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. The conclave is being live streamed on AIMA’s social media channels.