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Armed forces want officers to be hi-tech warriors after B Tech degrees

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The Times of India | Rajat Pandit | TNN | Jul 13, 2017 |

NEW DELHI: Cyborgs like “Terminators”, or even “Ironman” for that matter, may still figure only in the realm of fiction or reel life. But with modern day warfare becoming more and more technology-intensive, the Indian armed forces want to be prepared for battles of the future.  So, with the aim to induct “high-tech” warriors for digitised and network-centric battlefields in the years ahead, the 1.5 million strong armed forces are now slowly but steadily making it mandatory for its new officers to be engineering graduates.  With long-range unmanned combat drones akin to fighter jets, directed-energy weapons like lasers and high-powered microwaves, complex ballistic missile defences, hypersonic missiles, cyber-warfare and the like increasingly becoming the norm, the forces desperately need “tech-savvy” officers at all levels. First, it was the Navy that kicked off the B Tech programme for its cadets who join the tri-Service National Defence Academy (NDA) in Kadakwasla (Pune) after Class XII. And now, the IAF has also made it “compulsory” for all its cadets at the NDA, while the Army has left it as “optional” for now, say officials.
B Tech in applied electronics and engineering was launched for naval cadets at the NDA from the June 2016 course onwards. It began for IAF cadets from January 2017, while the one for the Army cadets is planned to commence from the coming December course onwards.  Around 350-400 cadets join the NDA after clearing the UPSC exam and SSB (Services Selection Board) interviews every six months for the three-year course. “Cadets, apart from undergoing military training and learning leadership skills, used to complete their BSc degree in the three years at NDA till now,” said a senior officer. “Now, they will do three years of the B Tech programme at NDA, without impacting their core military training, and do the fourth year at their respective Army, Navy and IAF academies,” he added.  The Navy was the first service to ensure all its new officers were armed with B Tech degrees, or at least an MSc (applied electronics) degree, because of the unprecedented expansion in warship technology, with state-of-the-art weapon and sensor systems coming into play, as was first reported by TOI. The force has now also taken to short-listing candidates for its direct 10+2 cadet-entry scheme for the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala (Kerala) on the basis of the performances in the Joint Entrance Exam (Main). – Courtesy

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