India Bets on Fire and Fury

India to acquire new anti-ship missiles and torpedoes to secure its maritime interests

Aditya Kakkar

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on September 28 cleared the procurement of missiles for replenishing the naval inventory including the procurement of Russian Klub missiles that would be equipped on older warships such as the Kora class missile corvettes and the Delhi class frigates. The move indicates India’s necessary interest in acquiring new anti-ship missile systems to secure its naval backyard and remain the net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Rafael Typhoon MLS ER Firing 2

The Indian Navy on August 8 also issued requests to global vendors inviting their interest in supplying about 270 combat, 40 practice, 10 training, 6 dummy and 4 cut section medium range anti-ship missiles. Under the aegis of ‘Make in India’, India will also acquire transfer of technology (ToT) from the selected global vendor. The tender is to be issued during the first half of 2018.

Anti-ship missiles currently deployed on large Indian Navy frigates and destroyers include the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as well as Russian-made Kh-35 and 3M Klub anti-ship missile variants. The Indian Navy also uses American-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles on its submarines and on Boeing P-8I aircrafts.

When asked about naval missile systems, Country Head, India, MBDA, Loïc Piedevache said, “MICA has already been selected by the export market for the naval and ground-based air defence role. In its naval variant, it is housed in a specially designed, compact launch canister that effectively manages the missile’s efflux thus allowing for easy installation on new builds or refits.”

He further said that, “There is definitely a need for an SRSAM capability within the Indian Navy and the MBDA is able to offer a couple of options, one of which is indeed VL MICA. We believe it is important to provide the customer with a choice when it comes to fulfilling a defence requirement. So, in the SRSAM domain we are also discussing a new addition to MBDA’s portfolio, namely the Sea Ceptor system which deploys the CAMM missile and is currently being delivered to the UK’s Royal Navy for its fleet of Type 23 destroyers.

“Both options are equally capable of dealing with the diverse range of threats that navies face today. They are both vertically launched missiles to best deal with saturating attacks but the main difference lies in their respective launch technologies. VL MICA is hot launch while the CAMM uses soft launch technology which sees the missile ejected some distance into the air before the rocket motor ignites. Both missiles are under production but we would like to see these included in the range of activities that could be carried out by L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, the joint venture that was set up between L&T and MBDA in February of this year,” said Piedevache.

Since India is also acquiring a number of naval helicopters, Piedevache commented that, “MBDA has a full spectrum of missile systems to meet all the arming requirements of naval helicopters. For long-range requirements MBDA’s famous and combat prove Exocet AM 39 missile is available, Marte ER provides excellent extended medium range capability, while Sea Venom/ ANL provides unrivalled fire-and forget or operator in the loop ability to engage multiple targets at short to medium ranges in open waters or even challenging littoral environments.”

MBDA’s anti-ship missile is also well integrated with French defence major Naval Group’s Scorpene class submarines such as the INS Kalvari. MD, Naval Group in India, Bernard Buisson said, “INS Kalvari has already displayed good performance during the sea trials and one of the major achievements have been the successful firing of anti-ship missiles (MBDA’s SM 39) and torpedoes already available with Indian Navy. So, to begin with, the submarine is combat ready once commissioned.”

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