A wide range of Close-In Weapon Systems are available to the Indian armed forces
Guns, missiles, torpedoes and close-in weapon system (CIWS) are a few names in the treasure chest of the Indian Navy. The world’s seventh most powerful navy is also inching closer to adding directed-energy weapons (DEWs) to its inventory. DEWs–divided into high powered lasers and microwave–are expected to destroy enemy missiles, aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles based on electronic circuitry.
A CIWS (pronounced as see wiz) is the last line of defence against any short-range hostile threat above waterline, and to be really solid, experts believe it should be an amalgamation of both missiles and guns. The gunmount of CIWS moves at high speed with precision enabling the system’s defensive capabilities against incoming targets and threats.
While Kashtan is widely used by the Indian Navy, Barak-8 is touted as one of the most “sophisticated” missile system, technically performing the dual role: one that of a CIWS and the other of an air defence. There was a time when India used Phalanx as well. INS Jalashwa, Indian Navy’s amphibious warfare ship, was armed with a pair of Phalanx CIWS at the time of transfer (17 January 2007) from the United States Navy. India purchased the ship for USD48.44 million and commissioned it into its navy on 22 June 2007. And then Phalanx was removed. The Phalanx CIWS on INS Jalashwa (then 36-year-old USS Trenton) was outdated, obsolete and belonged to an older generation—a fact that was pointed out by Cmde Anil Jai Singh.
For any navy, Phalanx is arguably the most cutting-edge CIWS at this point of time. It is a defensive weaponry aimed at shooting down incoming anti-ship missiles and shells. It also has a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor which detects infrared radiation–i.e. heat signatures–and helps the Phalanx in operating against traditional targets like small surface vessels. The US Navy deploys it on every class of surface combat ship, except the Zumwalt-class destroyer and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. Apart from the US, the naval forces of at least 15 other countries use Phalanx.
The Royal Australian Navy says the Phalanx provides its ships with a “rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar guided gun system for defence against anti-ship missiles.” The system takes minimum inputs from the ship and hence, it manages to operate even if the ship is damaged. Raytheon System’s 20mm Phalanx is based on the M61 Vulcan Gatling gun autocannon and has a self-contained search and track radar. It fires 4,500 rounds per minute and weighs about 5,625 kilogrammes.
According to Raytheon, the Phalanx weapon system is multifunctional as it carries out roles usually undertaken by multiple systems: search, detection, threat evaluation, tracking, engagement and kill assessment. “The Block 1B version adds control stations that allow operators to visually track and identify targets before engagement. With an added forward-looking infrared sensor, the 1B variant can be used at sea against helicopters and high-speed surface craft and on land to help identify and confirm incoming threats.” Performing the dual duty, when on land, the US Army uses the weapon system to detect and counter rocket, artillery and mortar systems.
Barak-8, a missile system, is complemented by multi-mission radar, flexible control and command system, and two-way data link. On October 2018, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced it was awarded an additional, USD777-million contract for supply of LRSAM Air and Missile Defense systems (the marine version of the AMD system Barak 8) for seven ships of the Indian Navy. The contract was signed with Indian state-owned company Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
According to the statement issued by IAI, the LRSAM system, part of the Barak 8 Family, is an operational AMD system used by Israel’s navy as well as by India’s navy, air and land forces. “It provides broad aerial and point defence 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 as, digital radar, command and control, launchers, interceptors with modern RF seekers, Data link and system-wide connectivity.”
Barak-8 is an evolved version of Barak-1 system which was already in service of the navies of India and Israel. The high-end product has been jointly designed and developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and IAI. Barak-8 can engage multiple targets at the same time during day and night in all weather conditions.
Kashtan CIWS, a modern naval air defence gun-missile system, can safely be said as one of the most lethal weapons in the navy’s arsenal. It provides defence against anti-ship missiles, anti-radar missiles and guided bombs. It destroys floating mines and kills visible open enemy manpower and firing points on the shore.
Kashtan is designed by KBP and manufactured by Tulamashzavod. It has two variants Kortik-M/ Kashtan-M. The guns used in the Kashtan are the GSh-30K six-barrel 30 mm rotary cannon. Firing can be done either separately by each automatic gun or simultaneously by the two guns. This is dependent on the tasks. It can fire off over 10,000 rounds per minute which is a higher rate of fire compared to other guns used by other CIWS such as the GAU-8 on the Goalkeeper and the M61 Vulcan on the Phalanx. The missiles used in the Kashtan are the 9M311 missiles. In combat mode, the gun mount operation is fully automated, except for the belt filling and loading operations.
European consortium MBDA’s Sea Ceptor is hailed as ‘the next-generation’ air defence system. It made its India debut at DefExpo 2018. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and MBDA Missile Systems Ltd submitted its first bid to the Indian armed forces—offering the latest generation Sea Ceptor naval air defence system, in response to Indian Navy’s RFP for the Short-Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM). Briefing on the update, an MBDA spokesperson told FORCE, “The L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited (LTMMSL) Sea Ceptor offer is currently being evaluated by the Indian Navy. We are fully confident that Sea Ceptor meets the cutting edge requirements of the Indian Navy, and we look forward to demonstrating the system’s capabilities and maturity at a live, at sea, Field Evaluation Trials.” MBDA is jointly owned by Airbus (37.5 per cent), BAE Systems (37.5 per cent), and Leonardo (25 per cent).
The weapon system is in full-scale production for the UK MoD as the principal air defence capability for the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and Type 26 frigates. The then-head of the British Royal Navy First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones in 2018 had remarked: “The Sea Ceptor missile defence system represents a significant technological leap forward and a huge uplift to our warfighting capability. For decades to come, it will deliver an important layer of defence to protect our fleet, including our maritime task groups based around the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, from an intensifying range of threats.”
In response to the question on the key capabilities that Sea Ceptor sets apart from other air defence system, MBDA said a combination of several novel technologies makes it “cutting edge.” “Sea Ceptor combines the cutting-edge technology of a new generation system, while being mature, proven and in-service with a first-class navy. This combination is unique and explains why Sea Ceptor has been so successful in the market in such a short time, and why many navies now trust Sea Ceptor above all other systems to provide short-range naval air defence.”
Explaining Soft-Vertical Launch (SVL), the MBDA said that the SVL enables simultaneous 360 coverage and ensures that none of the missile rocket motor energy is wasted in the launch phase–and so giving the missile greater range and manoeuvrability. SVL technology removes the need for the management of hot gas efflux, which results in a low footprint on-board the ship and enhances safety.
It has an advanced fully active seeker. According to MBDA, the Common Air-to-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) has one of the world’s most advanced, fully active radar seekers. The modern seeker which is capable in all weather conditions, plus the two-way datalink removes the need for tracking radars used in less advanced systems. The combination of exceptional missile accuracy with a high rate of fire against multiple simultaneous targets and the ability to defeat saturation attacks, means that Sea Ceptor provides robust platform and consort defence.