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Genesis Of Army Air Defence History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

What happened in Kuwait & Iraq necessitates a review of the attitude towards the army air defence and the country’s entire AD system….. When we ask ourselves, did it work in Iraq, we have the answer, mostly it did not.

Russian Minister of Defence Yazov

NATO defines air defence as “all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action”. They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces wherever they are. However, for most countries the main effort has tended to be ‘homeland defence’. NATO refers to airborne air defence as counter-air and naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare [2] . Missile defence is an extension of air defence as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting potentially any projectile in flight. In some countries, such as Britain and Germany in World War II, the Soviet Union and NATO’s European Command, ground based air defence and air defence aircraft have been under integrated command and control. Nevertheless, while overall air defence may be for homeland defence including military facilities, forces in the field, wherever they are, invariably deploy their own air defence capability generally referred to as Army Air Defence. A surface based air defence capability can also be deployed offensively to deny the use of airspace to an opponent. This is the central idea of this article.


There are two things that make Air Defence (AD) necessary – something to defend and an airborne threat. The threat from air existed earlier than the airplane. There existed a concept of air defence much before the Write Brothers flew the first aircraft in 1903. In August 1861, an American Aeronaut while on his balloon, reported the first anti aircraft fire [3] . This was one of the pioneering attempts in active air defence. The air defence artillery (ADA) began its evolution, when Col RP Davidson of USA built the first automatic AD weapon around 1909 [4] . However, very little work was done in the field of AD Doctrine, as the military leaders were yet to realize the importance of air defence. The substantial air threat encountered in ‘World War I’ triggered the development of dedicated ADA. In 1914, when the Allied air attacks on Germany became more persistent, the Germans exploited this new weaponry and called it Flugzug Abwehr Kanomen or Flak [5] . Sound location and search lights were the main means of surveillance. The establishment of London Air Defence Area (LADA) in July 1917, was pivotal as it was the first step towards centralization & integration of assets like FF units, AA Gun Batteries & Search Light Batteries into one entity.

At the end of ‘World War I’, to facilitate quick demobilization, the AD elements of great powers were broken up. During the inter-war period with the evolution of AF, to control England’s airspace Air Defence Great Britain (ADGB) was formed in 1925. This was the first time AF was integrated for the AD which had two distinct elements: Royal AF Bombing Formations and the Fighting Area. Fighting Area was made up of ten sectors under GOC Ground Troops who would control all ground base elements of AD [6] . The Garrison Artillery was also abolished and its AD units were transferred to Field Artillery. In 1930s the development of radars brought about another renaissance for the AD and fostered induction of surveillance radars and better guns. The Abyssinian Crisis in October 1935 saw the first overseas deployment of AD, when the 1st AD Brigade was deployed in Egypt to protect the English against Italian attacks. The Ground Commander continued to be in charge of the local air defences as he could coordinate allocation of resources, Passive AD (PAD) measures and deception. Procedural Air Control measures were conceived by the Japanese after the US Doolittle Raids on Japan in 1942 [7] . However, at no time were the interceptors and ADA placed under a single commander [8] . The Japanese defeat through air power is one classic example of the enormous price a nation had for inadequacies and poor air defences.

It was Japanese air threat in SE Asia during the Second World War which forced British Government to raise AD units in India. Thus the history of AD Artillery in India began 1939 onwards when a few Indian troops began to be trained in the use of the 3 inch gun as part of the Anti-aircraft (AA) Batteries of Hongkong and Singapore Royal Artillery (HKSRA) and Indian Artillery. From 1941 onwards AA units and training establishments began to be raised in India. [9] The orgaisation of AA units and formations, though akin to artillery for command and control, evolved on the basis of gun density requirement for protection of Vulnerable Points and Areas. During the World War II, the Indian LAA Regiments were awarded for their dedication and acts of valour in the face of the enemy. At the time of partition only two AD Artillery units viz 26 LAA and 27 LAA Regiments came to India while the oldest AA Establishment the 1 Training Battery failed to survive the partition [10] . We have come a long way since then, graduating from ACK ACK (AA) to the Air Defence Branch of Regiment of Artillery, creation of a separate Corps of AD Artillery in 1994 and then renaming it as Corps of Army Air Defence in 2005 [11] . However, a lot of ground still remains uncovered and today in spite of having


Air Defence Artillery originated from the Coast Artillery Corps which was created after the Revolutionary War to defend the US coasts against naval attack and bombardment. As the US entered World War I in 1917, Coast Artillery units were detailed as Anti Aircraft Artillery(AAA) units. Weapons for these units were procured from France (75 mm Guns) but there was no doctrine. These units entered World War II beginning with the engagement of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. German V2 Rockets led to the development of US field missile systems. Today AAA refers to the combat group that specializes in anti-aircraft weapons (such as surface to air missiles). In the US Army, these groups are composed of mainly air defence systems such as the PATRIOT Missile System, Terminal High Altitude Air Defence(THAAD), and the Avenger Air Defense system which fires the FIM-92 Stinger missiles. The Air Defence Artillery branch descended from the Anti-Aircraft Artillery (part of the Field Artillery) into a separate branch on 20 June 1968 [12] .


Corps AD/EAC





(100KM/ 55KM)*




PAC 3 (100/ 55)



THAAD (200/ 150)




SLAMRAAM :Surface Launched Advance Medium Range Air to Air Missile MEADS: Medium Extended AD System BSFV: Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle C-RAM: Counter Rocket, Arty & Mortar

Division Air Defence(DIVAD) Units. These are Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) battalions tailor made for the formations they support with each of them having about three to four batteries. Infantry, Mechanised Infantry, Armoured, Air Assault and Air Borne Divisions have their own DIVAD battalions.

Non DIVAD units. These are High and Medium Air Defence(HIMAD) Battalions at both Corps and Echelons Above Corps (EAC) levels equipped with Patriot & THAAD systems. The Patriot Battalions have about five batteries. Patriot is a long-range, high and medium altitude, all-weather Air Defence system to counter Tactical Ballistic Missiles(TBMs), cruise missiles and advanced air craft. The current force of 12 Patriot Bns, 13 Avenger Bns & four AMD Bns is planned to be reorganized into 16 AMD Bns ( equipped with MEADS/ THAAD) & nine SLAMRAAM Bns. The 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) is a one-of-a-kind theater level Army air and missile defense multi-component organization with a worldwide, 72-hour deployment mission. 32d AAMDC consists of two brigades, 11th Air Defense Artillery and 35th Air Defense Artillery; both stand ready to accomplish any mission – anywhere, anytime in support of the warfighting CINC. Recent contingency deployments to Southwest Asia and an intense exercise schedule in Korea exemplify the vital role and mission that the organization plays [13] .

The Army Air and Missile Defence Command (AAMDC) is the Army’s combat organization for planning, coordinating, integrating, and executing AD operations in support of the army service component commander (ASCC), the Army forces (ARFOR) commander, the joint force land component commander (JFLCC). [14] A majority of air and missile defence (AMD) coordination of interest to ADA occurs between the Area Air Defence Commander (AADC) and the JFLCC in most theatres. The JFLCC integrates Army capabilities into joint air and missile defence efforts through close coordination with the AADC. When the AAMDC is in theatre, the AAMDC commander will normally be designated the DAADC and will be the principal integrator for the JFLCC to the AADC on air and missile defence. An AAMDC liaison team works closely with the AADC and his staff and the BCD (Battle Space Coordination Center) to accomplish air and missile defence integration [15] .


The first Soviet AD Units was raised with the est of 1st AAA Regt at Leningrad in 1924. The air def directorate was formed in 1932. In November 1941, motivated by increasing German raids on Moscow & Leningrad, National Air Defence Forces or PVO Strany was formed and in 1948 it became a separate service [16] . The organisation of PVO was very peculiar as it had its separate AD air crafts. The Air Defence Forces formerly the Air Defense Troops of the Nation (Russian: Войска ПВО, Voyska ProtivoVozdushnoy Oborony, Voyska PVO and formerly ProvitoVozdushnaya Oborona Strany, PVO Strany) was the air defence branch of the Soviet Armed Forces [17] . By 1958 separate service , AD of ground troops PVO SV was established which was responsible for AD of army assets. Operating two different ADs, PVO Strany & PVO SV and also two different AFs had its inherent command & control problems. So, in 1981 PVO Strany was reorganised and its name was changed to Voyska PVO (AD Tps). The Army Air Def was made subordinate branch to Voyska PVO and was called the AD of Troops (Voyskovaya PVO). Prior to dissolution of Soviet Union, PVO was the second largest independent service of Soviet armed Forces and it consumed major share of military allocation. [18] On disintegration of the Soviet Union, President Yeltsin signed a new defence policy document in Aug 1998 which established a single system of military administrative division of Russian territory. This replaced the earlier military districts with six integrated strategic areas or Zones. In 1998 the AD was merged with the Air Force (VVS) and by 2003 the RVSN i.e Strategic Missile Force & Army Aviation units were merged with AF. The AF is organised into six Air & AD armies which are operationally under op control of military zone/district commanders. Each zone is divided into AD Districts & Districts are further divided into AD Sectors . Air defence of important areas is under Missile Bdes. Air surveillance and intelligence is responsibility of Radio Brigades. The overall AD system of Russian includes :-

Space defence troops.

AD troops (Strategic).

Army AD Troops.

Naval Anti Aircraft Troops.

D:Documents and SettingsAdm TrgDesktopCapture456.PNG







(25KM/ 15KM)*





SA-10 GRUMBLE (200/ 90)

SA -8 OSA AK/ SA-15


SA-12 GLADIATOR (90/ 15)



SA-17 BUK M2 (42/25)

$ SA-18 IGLA 2/S

ANTEY 2500/ S-300 VM (200/30)


SA-5 GAMMON (200/20)

KS 30/ S-60/ ZU 23 @


Russian AD doctrine is defensive in nature. The anti aircraft fire is coordinated by the AD Sector and AD Missile Brigades are responsible for fire control in a specific sector. The overall AD network is completely integrated with Ranzir CP, Baikal – IE systems and Polyana – 4E systems [19] , for each level, which get inputs from AWACS through compatible & integrated data transfer system. They have developed the S- 300 series & S-400 series of Missiles which are Counter Missile system. The deployment of S-400 began in 2007 and is likely to be completed by 2015. [20] The Russian R & D is now focusing on point AD systems & Counter missile Systems. Russia with the help of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries is developing a comprehensive AD structure which could give depth to Russian Air space.


Armed with a formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons and rapidly maturing delivery capabilities, China has little to worry about in terms of major invasion. Since China is surrounded by potential adversaries, particularly the US Pacific Forces it deploys strong ground-based air-defenses to protect itself against sudden air attacks. The official terms for the PLAAF’s AAA troops is gaoshepao bing/gaopaobing and the SAM troops is dikong daodan bing/didao bing/daodan bing. However, the PLAAF occasionally refers to its AAA troops as first artillery (yipao), and SAM troops as second artillery (erpao), which is often confused with China’s Second Artillery Corps (erpao). [21] 

During the 1950s, the Soviets exported air defence equipment to China. But the Khrushchev-era tensions put an end to that, and over time China proceeded to reverse engineer all of these Soviet designs. On 6 February 1964, during his meeting with Dr Qian Xuesen (‘Father of Chinese Rocketry’), Chairman Mao again expressed his views on the importance of the missile defence capability. According to Mao, missile defence capability should not be dominated by the two superpowers only, and China must also develop its own missile defence weapons, no matter how long it would take. This conversation, later known as “640 Directive”, led to a missile defence system that could defend the country against nuclear-armed strategic missile attacks [22] . Early models SA-2 Guidelines from USSR were reverse engineered and entered service as the HQ-1 and soon after HQ-2 systems. Since the year 2000, HQ-2 remains a major cornerstone of Chinese air defenses [23] . In the 1960s-80s the main strategic adversary was USSR and consequently most air defenses are concentrated in the north of the country [24] . Chinese attempts at indigenous SAMs were somewhat poor even after an injection of Western technologies during the 1970s and 80s. In the 1990s and 2000s the focus had returned to the financial hub of Shanghai (and now Hong Kong) and the Taiwan Straits. PLAAF has upgraded its air defense (non-aircraft) capabilities which involves three of the PLAAF’s branches: SAM, AAA, and radar troops. It is expending tremendous effort establishing an Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) at both the strategic (SADS) and tactical (TADS) levels. [25] SADS Integrates Naval, Space & ABM & TADS Integrates PLAAF & PLA AD as explained in the figure below.

The Automated Air Defense Command and Control System [IBACS] identifies targets, evaluates threats, allocates forces, and guides fighters. It also commands surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and antiaircraft artillery (AAA), and it includes tactical air defense systems (TADS) and fixed radars. A sector operations center is linked with three TADS, various air bases, AAA sites, SAM units, radars, and ground and naval units [26] .






HQ 9 (90KM/ 30KM)*

TOR M1 ( SA-15)

HQ -15 (SUPER S-300 )(200/25)


SA-10 GRUMBLE (200/ 90)

S-300 PMU

HQ -7 (FM -80)

HQ 16 (SUPER TOR M1 (35/20)

HQ-12 KS 1(50/ 25)

HQ 64 (LY -60)

HQ 17 (30/17)

HQ -2 B(90/20)

QW-3/ TY-90

HQ 18 (400/35)

PL-9/ HQ 61 A


MANPADS ( QW [27] 1,2,3 & HN 5)

QW [email protected]


14.5MM/ 23 MM/ 25MM/ 35 MM/ 57 MM/ 85MM GUNS.



The Chinese AD Doctrine post 2006 follows an Active AD Strategy with offensive and defensive character. Its deployment follows ‘Three Strike or San Da’ concept which is a three ring layered deployment which is Key Area/ Key Point centric. Overall the country’s AD posture follows a front light and rear heavy pattern with institutionalized Passive Air Defence (PAD) measures. Despite significant improvement in military C4I, Chinese ability to control sophisticated military operations still lags behind current western standards and its varied AD equipment are yet to be battle tested.


Since most of our discussions all these years have been Pak centric, the readers would be familiar with its AD organization and setup. However, I wish to bring out certain salient aspects which are some recent developments:-

Pak AD Studies (AADS 2000) and Study by HQ 4 AD Division in Jan 2008 has led to development of ‘CLIAD’ (Comprehensive Layered & Integrated Air Defence) Capability. This has ushered in era of variety of SAM’s which are planned to be a mix of Western (30%) and Chinese (70%) equipment to be employed as under :-

Combat Zone. It would primarily consist of RBS -70, FIM-90 (Chinese) and a variety of SHORADS (Short Range Air Defence Systems).

Communication Zone. Low and Medium Altitude AD Systems (LOMAD) consisting of BAMSE (Sweden) and KS 2/ LY 60 D (China).

Rear Areas. HIMADS comprising LD 2000 (China) and Phalanx (US). Both these systems are also capable of tackling all forms of missile threat.

It has already authorized integral AD Regiments to its Infantry & Artillery Divisions and is reorganizing the existing units to absorb new equipment thereby increasing the density of AD in Combat Zone.

Redefining the Mission Of Army AD.

Existing Mission. To provide ground based air defence to operationally critical assets/areas in harmony with visualized land air operations, nullifying or reducing the effectiveness of hostile air attacks and surveillance

Redefined Mission . “Provide AD cover against Low, Med and High alt air threat to national and tri Service VAsIVPs and field formations during defensive and offensive ops”

In the new mission Pakistan is not only looking to cover its air defence in all the spectrums but is also seeking for a better integration between the air defence forces with the other ground forces.

“Integrated AD concept implies provision of terminal def to PAF bases, CZ, VAs of national imp and create cone of AD wpns in specific areas of CZ in harmony with own air-land ops in order to cause max attrition on adversary’s (Indian) air force”.

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