Target Lock

Attention is now being given to the Army’s Air Defence Needs

A FORCE Report

The Indian Army’s air defence assets have been long overdue for replacement and now finally efforts towards remedying the existing gaps are being made. The shift towards ‘Make in India’ will also boost efforts to create a viable defence business in the private sector.

The Almaz-Antey’s TOR-1M mobile air defence SAM system can also engage drones and cruise missiles
The Almaz-Antey’s TOR-1M mobile air defence SAM system can also engage drones and cruise missiles

The large Indian land mass and sheer variety of air defence gun and missile systems that need to be acquired makes this a key sector for future growth as far as Indian defence companies are concerned. What is less clear, however, is the amount of technology that will actually be transferred to Indian private sector defence companies when it comes to air defence systems. Surface to Air Missile (SAM) based defence systems are not only costly to develop but also feature a broad range of closely held technologies across missile seeker, propulsion, guidance systems, search and track radars, jamming technology and a list that goes on and on.

Crucially, support and maintenance of these complicated weapons systems will be far superior when supported by Indian companies, than when provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) from its home country to defence public sector units (DPSUs) or the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

The most recent and high profile announcement regarding private sector participation for air defence missile systems, was the announcement of the partnership between Reliance Defence and Russia’s ‘Almaz-Antey’ (though Almaz-Antey has denied signing any partnership agreement) that will offer a range of air defence missile and radar systems to the Indian armed forces. Amongst the systems identified by the two companies are the TOR-1M missile system and radars and automated control systems will also be looked at as future areas of partnership. ‘Almaz-Antey’ Systems already in service with the Indian armed forces, will also be considered for modernisation, repair and deep overhauls once the necessary approvals are obtained. Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani called the proposed partnership as, ‘An important milestone in the strategic relationship between the two countries.’

The TOR-1M Air Defence Missile Complex (ADMC) is mounted on a Russian 9A331 track-chassis combat vehicle and is a short range air defence system that is designed to destroy aircraft, helicopters, drones, guided missiles and other precision weapons flying at medium, low, and extremely low altitudes, in difficult air and jamming environments. If required, the missile system can also be deployed on an off-road truck chassis with the required weight capacity and can even be field deployed in a container or as a fixed unit. The TOR-1M can engage targets up to a distance of 12 km flying at an altitude up to 10 km.

It is also claimed to be able to engage precision weapons such as cruise missiles, smart air bombs, drones, and aircraft launched cruise missiles up to distance of 6 km and up to an altitude of 6 km. It can launch two simultaneously guided missiles at the same time, though only a single target can be engaged. The tracked missile system can travel at speeds of 65 kmph on paved roads and 30 kmph on unpaved roads. The TOR-1M is the successor to the OSA-AKM air defence system from the same company.

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