Letter from the Editor | March 2023

February saw an interplay between three seemingly unconnected events, yet tied together by an invisible string that holds the key to how India prepares for the future war. Chronologically, these were: the annual budget (which gives a broad sense of the focus of defence spending), Aero India 2023 and one year of Russia-Ukraine war.

While the allocations for defence spending and Aero India gave a clue to what the government of India perceives as future threats; its understanding of the Russia-Ukraine war reflects what it thinks would be the complexion of the future war.

Complex connection? To reprise former French prime minister Georges Clemenceau’s words, ‘War is too important to be left to the generals,’ today, war is too complex to be left to the generals alone. In fact, one needs as many scientists as soldiers or maybe, ‘scientist-soldiers’!

The March issue weaves together all these complexities to make sense of where we are heading, as opposed to where we ought to go. The cover ensemble looks at the right lessons that we need to learn from the Russia-Ukraine war, at the same time pointing out how the defence budget has not merely fallen short, but missed the target completely.

The mammoth report on Aero India shows how the aerospace and defence exhibition remain high on projection and propaganda, while remaining low on both technology and trade. Since the coming of the Modi government, the privilege of inaugurating anything now belongs to the prime minister, hence at shows like Aero India & DefExpo a special event has been earmarked exclusively for the defence minister to make up for the loss of the inauguration. This is called ‘Bandhan’ or Ties ceremony. In this, under the defence minister’s benedictory gaze, defence companies—public, private and foreign—sign agreements. Most of these agreements are letters of intent for exploring future possibilities together. Only rarely an agreement for an actual project is signed here. Readers will get a sense of the ties tied during Aero India in our overview on JVs and MoUs.

Given how little understanding there is about defence technology in India, FORCE will soon start a section on future warfare and new-age technologies helmed by Pravin Sawhney, whose recent book The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China has been a pathbreaker in this realm. Readers are welcome to send their warfare and technology-related queries to Pravin Sawhney, who will seek to answer those in his column.

On that note, enjoy the last few days of the fleeting Spring and brace for the heat.



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