India plans to operationally deploy its long-range air defence system which can detect and destroy incoming stealth fighters, aircrafts, drones, cruise missiles and precision guided munitions at ranges upto 350km by 2028-2029.
The interception capabilities of the indigenous long-range surface to air missile (LR-SAM) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the ambitious Project Kusha will be comparable to the formidable S-400 Triumf Missile Defence Systems recently inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
After the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in May 2022, cleared the development of the LR-SAM as a mission-mode project, thr defence ministry last month accorded the acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the procurement of five squadrons for thr IAF at a cost of Rs 21,700 crores.
Capabilities of LR-SAM
The mobile LR-SAM with long range surveillance and fire control radars will have different types of interceptor missiles designed to hit the hostile targets at different ranges from 150km, 250km, 350km respectively.
According to a source, “it will be capable of reliable air defence with single shot probability of not less than 80 percent for single missile launch and not less than 90 percent of salvo launch. Meanwhile to provide area air defence cover to strategical and tactical vulnerable areas, the LR-SAM will be effective even against the high-speed targets with low radar cross section as per the DRDO.
“It will be geared to take out fighter sized targets at 250km ranges, with larger aircraft like AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) and midair refuelers being intercepted at 350km, he added.
The firing units of the LR-SAM will be able to interact with the IAF integrated air command and control systems, which is a fully automated air defence network with data links progressively built to integrate a wide array of military radars with each other as well as with civilian radars to plug surveillance gaps in Indian airspace.
While the Indian Army and Indian Navy have their own defence weapons, the IAF is overall responsible for guarding the country’s airspace. From air superiority fighters to ground based missiles, the IAF has several weapons systems designed for the task.
The ground-based systems range from the older Igla, OSA-AK-AM and Pechora Missiles to the newer Israeli low-level Spyder quick reaction missiles of range of 15km, indigenous Akash air defence missiles (25km) and the Barak-8 missiles medium range SAM systems over 70km jointly developed with Israel.
Delivery of Remaining S-400 Units
The Indian Air Force is also hopeful of receiving the remaining two of the S-400 Triumf squadrons over the next one year under the $5.43 billion contract inked in 2018, after the delay due to the Russia-Ukraine War.
The First three S-400 squadrons which destroys at the range of 380km have been deployed in north west and east India to cater for the Peoples Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has been said by many military experts that the Indian S-400 is much better than the Chinese version.
The first squadron has been deployed in Punjab and it has been placed there as it can overlook both Pakistan as well as Ladakh Sector, the second region where it is deployed in in the Chickens Neck more popularly known as the Siliguri Corridor which connects mainland India to the Northeast and it can overlook the Eastern Sector of LAC (Arunachal Pradesh).