Lethal Weapons

The navy has procured BRAHMOS variants and anti-ship missiles

Jaison Deepak

Anti-ship missiles (AShM) have been the lethal choice for naval fire-power. Their use in Falklands, Yom Kippur War and 1971 Indo-Pak war to devastating effect has essentially transformed the way naval warfare has been carried out. The missiles have enabled even the smallest of boats to posses the firepower to damage or even sink large carriers.

Exocet MM40 Block 3

The Indian Navy has been at the forefront of anti-ship missile technology from the time of Operation Trident and Python with the Styx missiles to the current era of BRAHMOS. Now, the navy is procuring subsonic anti-ship missiles and improved BRAHMOS variants for aerial, surface and sub-surface platforms.


Surface Launched

The BRAHMOS, Klub and the Kh-35 are the premier anti-ship weapons on destroyers, frigate and corvettes. The BRAHMOS has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) and produced by BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited (BATL) unit in Kerala.

BRAHMOS missile is increasingly used in vertical launch mode from the L&T-manufactured universal vertical launcher module, as opposed to the earlier inclined launcher used on the Rajput class destroyers. This ensures more ready-to-fire missiles and higher rate of fire. The BRAHMOS is continuously being improved with indigenous seeker and enhanced range which has been relaxed with the signing of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

A variant of the BRAHMOS with 450km had been tested from a ground-based launcher and the 800km test will be conducted this year. Although the tests were from ground launchers, the missile can be adapted for naval uses too. The extended range provides stand-off capabilities leading to enhanced platform survivability dictated by the range of ISR platforms and networking.

The Klub anti-ship missile is being used on the first three Talwar class frigates in the vertical launch magazines and Kh-35 on the Delhi class destroyers, Kora class missile corvettes and missile boats. The Indian Navy is looking to complement BRAHMOS missiles with new anti-ship missiles for ships without a vertical launch system. It wants to purchase 270 combat, 40 practice, 10 training, six dummy and four cut section medium range anti-ship missiles and 24 systems for fitment onboard ships.

Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd signed a joint venture agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries for manufacturing missiles and command and control systems. In last April, Reliance Defence entered into a strategic partnership agreement with South Korean defence major LIG Nex1. The other likely contenders are Boeing Harpoon, MBDA Exocet, Saab RBS 15, NPO Kh-35 and Kongsberg’s NSM. The Harpoon, Exocet and the Kh-35 being already in service with the Indian Navy in different variants could be at an advantage.

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