India is looking forward to buying the Scalp Long Range Cruise missiles as part of the 26 Dassault Rafale-M fighters on board the Indian indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, according to a report from a reputed media agency. This comes four months (July 2023) after France offered long-range submarine-launched Naval Scalp Missiles for three additional Scorpene submarines that the navy is buying from France.
Last month, on October 28, 2023, India submitted a letter of request (LoR) to the French government to buy 26 Rafale-M fighters for INS Vikrant. According to the report, negotiations are underway between the Indian Navy and the MBDA (a French defence organisation), the SCALP missile manufacturers, for the acquisition of these missiles as part of the weapons package for 26 Rafale-Ms.
What are Scalp Missiles?
SCALP missiles are range fire and forget missiles that carry a warhead of 450 kg that can destroy heavily defended, high-value enemy targets like command-and-control systems, ammunition depots, petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) dumps and bunkers. The submarine-launched variant has a strike range close to 1000 km. It operates on the fire-and-forget principles.
Apart from the air-launched variant is also on offer to the navy for use from the Scorpene class submarines. They have been used in various other battle theatres, such as Iran, Libya, and others. It is known as the Storm Shadow Missile in Britain. It can be used in extreme weather conditions as well, It is also used by the following countries: Egypt, Qatar, India, Italy, Greece, and Saudi Arabia.
What are its Strategic Advantages?
These missiles will give the Indian Navy a significant capability boost compared to the MiG-29K and KH-31 combination. They have a long-range, and they can hit targets 300km away from launch. SCALP Missiles have demonstrated their effectiveness in various wars, with the most recent being the Russia-Ukraine War, where the French-supplied missiles were successful in hitting and destroying a ship and a submarine docked at a naval station and Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters. It does not violate the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), an export control regime
The Indian Air Force already operates SCALP Missiles, bought with the 36 Rafale fighters acquired in 2016. While the IAF launched can carry two scalp missiles, the naval variant can carry only one missile of this category. Once launched, it drops to a low altitude to avoid detection by enemy radars before latching onto its target with the infrared seekers.