XR-SAM set to bolster India’s BMD shield
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is in the process of developing the extra-long-range surface-to-air missile XR-SAM, aimed at plugging the operational gaps in India’s overall Air Defence including Ballistic Missile Shield (BMD).
The XR-SAM is designed to intercept incoming stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles within a kill range of 250 km. DRDO is also working on 350 km range XR-SAM to hit the enemy’s strategic flying assets like AWACS, Bombers, and Mid-air refuellers.
Surface-to-air missiles are defensive and designed to intercept incoming threats from the air. Surface-to-surface missiles are offensive and designed to inflict widespread damage of enemy assets, in or near the battlefield or deep within the enemy’s territory.
India’s BMD is a multi-layered defence system with a range of surface-to-air missiles capable of:
Endo-atmospheric interception – within the atmosphere (altitude less than 100 km)
Exo-atmospheric interception – outside the atmosphere (altitude above 100 km)
India’s endo-atmospheric defence shield includes the short-range truck-mounted QR-SAM (25-30 km range) and the Akash systems (30 km range); Medium range missile MR-SAM – Barak 8 (70 to 100 km range); Long-range missile LR-SAM (120 – 350 km range); S-400 (250 km range) and XR-SAM (250 km and in future 350 km range).
The XR-SAM is positioned to complement the Russian-made S-400 and hit targets beyond its range.
As per the DRDO, the Indian Air Force has agreed to induct the missiles once it clears operational trials.
Navy Chief presents a case for a 65,000-tonne carrier
Speaking on the eve of Navy Day, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh expressed concern over the declining budget for the Indian Navy from 18 per cent in 2012-13 to 13 per cent in 2019-20.
Highlighting China’s rapidly expanding Navy and aggressive moves at sea, he presented a strong case for India to expedite the development of the third aircraft carrier after INS Vikramaditya (operating) and INS Vikrant (expected to be commissioned in early 2023).
Admiral Singh stressed India to operate three aircraft carriers in two Carrier Battle Groups (CBG) where two aircraft carriers would be at sea on both sides of the Indian sub-continent. At the same time, the third would undergo service and, at any given point in time.
He proposed India develop a 65,000 tonne CATOBAR aircraft carrier. Presently, India operates only one aircraft carrier – the INS Vikramaditya, a Russian Kiev-class carrier (formerly Admiral Gorshkov). It’s a 44,500 tonne STOBAR aircraft carrier with a 14-degree ski-jump. The ship carries 30 aircraft, including the upgraded MiG-29 fighters, Kamov-31, Kamov-28, Seaking, ALH, Chetak.
India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant (also referred to as IAC-1) is a 40,000-tonne ship in STOBAR configuration with a Ski-jump, designed to carry up to 30 fixed and rotary-wing combat aircraft. The carrier is expected to join service by early 2023.
If the government decides to proceed with the third aircraft carrier (IAC-2), it will boost India’s sea control and security efforts in the IOR.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) develops an anti-aircraft Gun
The Indian Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) announced the development of a 4,000-meter range rapid-fire Air Defence Gun.
The rapid-fire anti-aircraft gun is designed to offer superior protection of ground assets against incoming aerial threats like low-altitude fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, drones, and missiles.
The Indian Army is looking to introduce 938 anti-aircraft guns and 5,05,920 rounds ammunition to replace the Soviet-era vintage Russian ZU-23MM 2B and the Swedish L-70 (40mm) Bofors guns currently operated by the Indian defence forces. Earlier this year, the Indian Army suspended all training with high explosive anti-aircraft ammunition due to several misfires.
The OFB’s anti-aircraft gun development comes at a crucial time. Earlier this year, Pakistan launched an air attack in response to India’s air raid on Balakot in Pakistan to bomb terrorist camps operating there. In a counter move, one of Pakistan’s aircraft succeeded in launching a precision-guided bomb that landed in an army brigade compound but failed to inflict any significant damage.
Since that incident, the Indian Army is keen to expedite the replacement of its ageing anti-aircraft inventory, and OFB’s timely development of the new gun will come as a big relief.
Defence India Start-up Challenge III (DISC) commences at Kochi
The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative for promoting defence equipment just got better with the third edition of DISC beginning at Maker Village, Kochi, on 27 December. Rear Admiral RJ Nadkarni, Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, inaugurated the event.
Several firms are presenting their innovations and expect to bag government grants to take it to the next level. The government offers mentoring and funding to start-ups, guiding them through various stages of development from ideation/prototyping to validation, early traction, and finally, scaling to commercial production.
In the previous two editions, technologies selected for further development included Carbon Fibre Winding, See-through Armour, Individual Protection Systems, Data Analytics for Air Trajectory, Radar IQ Signal Generator, GPS Anti-jam Device, and Illegal Usage of Drones, among several others.