Production of first tri-service missile set to begin
The Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) is being developed for the Army, Navy and Air Force by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The first batch of components of this missile were rolled out on 16 March paving way for its full scale production. The missile will protect naval warships, air force bases and army combat units from airborne attacks. The components have been manufactured in Hyderabad by an Indian Joint Venture (JV) Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS). The company was awarded a $100 million contract to build mid-sections of around 1000 missiles. Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) will integrate these components with the other components built elsewhere to make combat-ready missiles. The missile can be fired from under-deck canisters on-board Indian warships, with the on-board MF-STAR radar guiding it to intercept incoming anti-ship missiles at ranges out to 70 km. the naval version of the missile is called the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM). The army and air force versions are mounted on trucks for mobility, guarding against enemy fighter aircraft, named MRSAM. The military’s confidence on MRSAM can be understood from the fact that when Indian Army was planning attacks across LoC in September 2016 to avenge the killing of 19 Indian soldiers near Uri, the MRSAM missile, still under development were kept on a stand-by. KRAS is working to fulfil the needs of Indian Armed Forces and is looking forward to achieve export vision of the Indian government. Besides, the company will provide maintenance and repair operations service as well.
DRDO developing DURGA II laser weapon
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is set to work on the concept of directed-energy weapons. It is about to develop a classified project, named DURGA II (Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array), a 100 kilowatt, lightweight directed-energy system. For the project the DRDO is improving various laser-generation techniques using solid state, fibre and chemical lasers for defensive and offensive use. DURGA II will be integrated with land, sea and air-based platforms. Directed-energy weapons are meant to destroy its target using focused energy by means of lasers, microwaves or particle beams. Directed-energy weapons have several advantages. They transmit lethal force at the speed of light, gravity or atmospheric drag does not affect their beam, they are extremely precise, their intensity can be varied depending on the type of target. Drones are a kind of directed-energy weapons that can destroy enemy targets besides protecting vital infrastructure from air and missile attack. There are certain challenges for developing high-power laser weapons, system requires adequate power, a cooling mechanism needs to be developed for the system that gets heated when the laser beam is fired, optoelectronics, optronics, etc.
Indian Navy is ‘Vocal for Local’
Indian Navy has placed several orders with the domestic companies in order to boost the maritime operational capability of the country. Orders have been placed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for fixed wing aircraft, rotary wing helicopters, Aircraft 12 Dorniers, 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH MK III) and 8 Chetak helicopters. The Minister of State, Defence, Shripad Naik informed Lok Sabha about these issues. He mentioned that 6 scorpene class submarines are being built by Mazgaon Dock and Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) under Project-75, however due to COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery schedule of the submarines. The pandemic has also delayed the aircraft deliveries due to supply chain disruptions. As part of its indigenization efforts, 40 out of 51 ships and submarines on order by the Indian Navy are being constructed in Indian shipyards. 6 Scorpene class submarines (Project 75), Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), Vishakhapatnam Class Stealth Destroyers (Project 15B), Kamorta class anti-submarine corvettes (Project 28), Nilgiri Class Frigates (Project 17A), etc. are about to be constructed in Indian Shipyards. Indian Navy began working on Indigenous design of warships in early 1960s and has successfully developed 19 warship designs based on which more than 90 platforms have been constructed. The first indigenous ship INS Nilgiri was the Leander class frigate constructed at the Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai.
Fourth Scorpene Submarine to be inducted by year end
It is expected that the fourth Scorpene conventional diesel-electric submarine Vela will be commissioned into the Navy by year end. The sixth and last Scorpene submarine Vagsheer which is under construction may also be launched by the year end. Vela is undergoing advanced stages of sea trials after being launched into water in May 2019. Vagsheer is in advanced stages of outfitting. The Navy has 15 conventional and two nuclear submarines in service including eight Russian Kilo Class, four German HDW and three Scorpenes. The nuclear submarines include the nuclear attack INS Chakra on lease from Russia and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile INS Arihant. Since INS Sindhushastra which was procured from Russia in July 2000, Scorpene class is Navy’s first modern conventional series in almost two decades. Moreover, India handed over a Kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy last year and this is Myanmar’s first submarine.
Indian Navy has commissioned the Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility (LCU) L58 at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. This is the eighth and last LCU Mark IV Class ship to be developed and commissioned in the Indian Navy. The programme was organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Command and Lieutenant General Manoj Pande was invited as the Chief Guest. The Chairman and Managing Director of Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE) and Rear Admiral VK Saxena (Retd.) from Indian Navy attended the event.
50 sailors and a motivated team of 5 officers will guide the ship, which is indigenously designed and built at the Kolkata facility centre of GRSE. It can carry 160 troops, Main Battle Tanks (MBT), BMPs, Trucks, Armoured Vehicles, etc. and can displace 900 tons. It can sail up to a maximum speed of 15 knots or 28 kmph. It will be used in Search and Rescue, Beaching, Disaster Relief, Surveillance and Coastal Patrol operations in Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The development of this ship has given a major boost to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programme and ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Indian government.