Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) per se are not a new concept and have existed since early time of wars depending upon their need and utility in a particular event. For hundreds of years the intrinsic value of ISR remained unchanged, yet the character has considerably evolved.
Within the South Asian context, India is fast keeping up with the evolving technological advancements. One of the major requirements of the Indian armed forces is maintaining and strengthening its Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. This is the reason that India is actively looking for foreign ISR capabilities while simultaneously working towards indigenized ISR capabilities. In fact, in 2017, Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat realised the need for indigenized ISR capabilities.
States need sophisticated and advanced ISR capabilities for conventional and nuclear deterrence to prevail, both in the times of peace and war. A state cannot win a battle without the right knowledge of enemy’s capabilities and whereabouts. P
eacetime information gathering allows for a vantage point deterring the adversary from engaging into a conflict. Hence conflict avoidance is a highly probable by-product here coupled with a cut above preparedness for future challenges. However, information can only be gathered with the help of surveillance and reconnaissance.
Being prepared during peacetime in all aspects enhances a state’s operational readiness for wartime especially when it is integrated with command and control along with communication. This explains India’s focus on enhancing its ISR capabilities. Availability of battlefield intelligence in the real-time will provide India the capability to read the current situation, broadly define the future course, assess the difference between the two, and envision major actions that link them.
An Indian Multi Agency Centre and National Intelligence Grid play an integral role in synergizing intelligence. India’s ISR capabilities include space-based ones like INSAT, Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, Radar Imaging Satellite, aerial ones like UAVs that include Lakshya, Nishant, Kapothaka, Puma to name a few, and aircraft and helicopters and Airborne Early Warning Radars and Control Systems (AEWACS).