Borders to Go Hi-Tech

The BSF has issued tenders for modern equipment such as OFC-based Intrusion Detection Systems and Night Vision Devices

Rohan Ramesh

Border Security Force (BSF), the guardians of India’s international borders, and India’s first line of defence, is planning to modernise. The unceasing intrusions from across the border from Pakistan, and the challenges that the force faces in curbing smuggling and trafficking on the eastern borders, have called for acquisition of advanced equipment for the 2.5-million strong elite force. It is tasked with guarding India’s international borders with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar.

BSF personnel monitoring the border

The BSF, which is the largest border guard force in the world, has come a long way. From a few battalions when it was raised in December 1965, it now has 186 battalions with a sanctioned strength of 257,363 personnel including an air wing, marine wing, artillery regiments, and commando units.

Headed by a director general, the BSF by itself would be the 18th largest armed force in the world in terms of number of personnel. This puts it ahead of the Japanese Defence Forces (JDF) and many European armies including that of France and Germany.

The most onerous responsibility of the force is in Kashmir, where it guards along with the army a stretch of 360 kilometres of international border from Paharpur in Kathua to River Chenab in Akhnoor, and north of Chenab to Kargil, a distance 760 kilometres. It also guards the borders in Kutch, with its marine wing guarding Sir Creek in the Arabian sea, and Sunderbans in the east.

It successfully completed the task of erecting a fence on the border with Pakistan, and is busy setting up electronic sensors to make the fence inviolable.

Its main duties are to provide a sense of security to the population living in border areas, prevent trans-border crimes including ingress and exit of aliens, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the army in ensuring that the borders are inviolable. It has on its own fought insurgents in Manipur successfully over the past few years.

Its other tasks include fighting the Naxal menace in affected states, helping the state governments in internal security duties when called upon, and also helping in the conduct of elections. It is also deployed to help civil authorities in coping with the effects of disasters, and contributes substantially to UN peace keeping forces.

But the BSF’s mandate is not static border protection alone. In war time, the BSF is expected to hold the ground in less threatened sectors, as long as the BSF can deal with the enemy, without the army having to step in. And the BSF is tasked with protecting vital installations against attack by enemy paratroopers, with the army providing support.

Given its vast and onerous responsibilities, the force requires considerable technical and infrastructure support, including advanced weapons, troop conveyance craft, and advanced electronic equipment for effective border management.

The force has now put out requirements for such equipment including advanced Night Vision Goggles, OFC-based Intrusion Detection System, Flexible Fibre Scopes, Fibre Optic Scopes, Handheld Thermal Imagers etc. The BSF headquarters has put out tenders for some of the equipment, while finalising QRs for others.

The sub-group of technical experts constituted by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) way back in 2012 to develop Qualitative Requirements (QR) of a range of equipment including ‘Digital Night Vision Goggles – Communication Interface/Advance Version for the BSF held its third and final meeting on March 26, 2019 and finalised the QRs.

The QRs are state-of-the-art and likely to be tweaked further after receipt of comments by the stakeholders and vendors.


Night Vision Devices

The QRs for Night Vision Devices (NVDs) are detailed and extensive. They include specifications that include digital communication interface, hands-free operations, ergonomic user-friendly design, ability to locate and identify targets at night time and in low visibility conditions, no blinding or blackout during live firing or flash bang, high quality monochromatic view, quick compensation for change in altering light conditions, secure and encrypted video transmission to command centre or team for critical mission decisions, full digital night vision sensor system for image capturing, besides detailed requirements of Diopter Adjustment, Light Sensitivity, Wearability, Operating Conditions, Operational Life etc.

Besides the NVDs, the BSF has also published on its website the QRs for other equipment needed by it.

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