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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bolstering India's Coastal Defences - Navy On The Hunt For New Missiles

Replacing its existing arsenal, near-obsolescence, with more capable systems.


The Indian Navy recently issued a Request For Information [RFI] for acquiring, initially, 15 mobile units of missile systems, that could be placed along the coastline. Such land-based Naval Coast Batteries primarily perform a defensive role against attacking warships & hostile incoming aircrafts. The Navy is looking towards acquiring Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, via this RFI, requiring the missile to, minimally, perform a pop-up terminal phase manoeuvre. A typical missile defence unit normally consists of the launch platforms, operating in conjunction with a fire control radar, a replenishment vehicle, a control centre, guided by dedicated/shared surveillance radars.

Interestingly, the Navy seems open to the idea of considering an all-new system, that is still under development. Such participants would need to furnish details of flight-tests & estimated time for induction. It likely rules out any plans to induct them over a compressed time-line. This could spell good news for indigenous efforts. Given that the Navy requires the missile to have a stand-off distance exceeding 150 kms & warhead to weigh more than 150 kgs, a variant of the BrahMos could, thus, also join the race. The Navy's present mobile Missile coastal Battery consist of the Soviet-era 4K51 'Rubezh' system [NATO Designation: SS-C-3 'Styx'], firing the liquid-fuelled P-15 'Termit' missile. Broached in the RFI is the possibility of license manufacturing them. Acquisition of additional units, by invoking the 'Option' clause, could see such an arrangement being implemented. If so, one would want the Indian private sector to become involved in its execution, considering that the state-owned behemoths like BDL have their plates full with existing work orders.

In light of events that occurred in the recent past, the need for a strong, impregnable defence apparatus on India's Coast assumes greater vitality, that the induction of these missile batteries would go a long way in helping fulfil. Would be interesting to note the kind of responses this RFI invokes.


Also Read: NASR Missile - A Cold War Discard For Future Battlefield Scenario [Hatf-IX]