The Indian Navy has joined a select club of nations with the successful test of the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM). With this cooperative mode of engagement, the Indian Navy has achieved a significant milestone in enhancing its Anti-Air Warfare Capability. The missile system will bolster the credibility of the Indian Navy by way of its trans-border military index both in terms of range and precision.
The MRSAM system is based on Israeli’s Barak 8, an operational advanced missile defense system used by Israel’s navy as well as by India’s navy, air and land forces. It provides broad aerial and point defense against a wide range of threats to the marine arena from the air, sea or land. The system integrates several advanced state-of-the-art systems, such as digital radar, command and control, launchers, interceptors with modern RF seekers, data link and system-wide connectivity.
The Indian Navy said, “These surface to air missiles are fitted onboard the Kolkata class destroyers and would also be fitted on all future major warships of the Indian Navy. With the successful proving of this cooperative mode of engagement, the Indian Navy has become a part of a select group of navies that have this niche capability. This capability significantly enhances the combat effectiveness of the Indian Navy thereby providing an operational edge over potential adversaries.”
The trials were undertaken on the Western Seaboard by Indian Naval ships INS Kochi and INS Chennai. Both ships fired their MRSAM missiles, which were controlled by one of the ships to intercept different aerial targets at extended ranges. Both the INS Kochi and INS Chennai are ships of the Kolkata class of destroyers and are equipped with the Israeli-origin ELM-2248 MF-STAR radar system and MRSAM missiles. According to an Israel Aerospace Industries brochure, the MF-STAR radar can track a large number of targets over 450km away.
Cooperative engagement involves using data-links between ships and platforms to have a common picture of a battle situation and taking control of weaponry on multiple platforms. A cooperative engagement system allows navies to respond more rapidly to saturation attacks involving large numbers of low-flying anti-ship missiles. Cooperative engagement revolves around maximising the advantages offered by sophisticated radars such as the MF-STAR.
The successful conduct of the test has been the result of the sustained efforts by all stakeholders over the years. DRDL Hyderabad, a Defence Research and Development (DRDO) laboratory has jointly developed this missile in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
During the tests the interception tests, the Indian Navy assessed the operational force of the MSRAM and how it can be doubled regionally. The tests had also demonstrated the advanced technological capabilities of the air defence system, as well as the collaborations between Indian Navy, IAI, and the Indian local industry.
The MRSAM has been manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) after the trials were carried out the Indian Navy, DRDO, and Israel Aerospace Industries. This air defence system is already in service with Indian air and ground forces as well as the Israeli Navy. January this year, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had signed agreements worth $93 million with the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) to provide the naval version of the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) systems. There is also the provision of complementary systems for the air defence system (ADS) as well as follow-up orders for a range of maintenance and other services for various sub-systems of IAI’s advanced MSRAM ADS in the contracts. Last year, Israel’s major aerospace and aviation manufacturer signed a $777 million deal with India to provide New Delhi with long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) defense systems.
According to Navy sources, besides being fitted on board the Kolkata Class Destroyer, these made in India missile defence systens will also be fitted on seven Indian warships and thereafter all future major warships of the navy. The MRSAM has the capability of providing defence against air, marine and ground threats. It has several systems which include a digital radar, command and control, launchers, and interceptors with advanced homing seekers.
The US Navy has developed a Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) for decades, which it describes as a real-time sensor netting system that enables high-quality situational awareness and integrated fire control capability. The US Navy explains CEC involves the “netting of geographically dispersed sensors to provide a single integrated air picture, thus enabling integrated fire control to destroy increasingly capable threat cruise missiles and aircraft.”
In addition to data from warships, the US Navy’s CEC also collates information from aircraft, satellites and other sensors. The US Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force are navies that are known to have adopted the CEC. These navies use the US-developed Aegis battle management system and Standard Missile series of missiles. The US Navy has also tested CEC for use in ballistic missile defence roles.