SOURCE: ABHOY ROY / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The State Department recently cleared the sale of its NASAMS II integrated air defense system to India worth $1.87 billion. While the deal is still to reach the contractual stage with India with the scope of further delays expected from the Indian side due to the steep price of the weapon system but the missiles that have been cleared with the NASAMS II will certainly raise few eyebrows in the regions.
NASAMS II integrated air defense system to India will come with 118 AMRAAM C-7/C-8 missiles which are far more advanced then what has been supplied to Pakistan by the United States for its F-16 fleet. While C-7/C-8 AMRAAMs are basically to be used as an air defense missile system to engage and take-down aerial threats ranging from attack helicopters and fighter jets and will be part of India’s integrated inner circle air defense system.
According to Indian Military officials intended role of the NASAMS II integrated air defense system will be to provide inner protection to the critical infrastructure, major cities, and military installations, but basically, it will be deployed to protect major government buildings like new parliament and PM and President office and their official residents.
NASAMS II is a Short-range mobile air defense system basically for the National Capital Region armed with Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile batteries. What baffling many Indian military think tanks is that why DRDO didn’t object to such a deal when DRDO has 3-4 air defense Missile programs of its own which can be classified as a Short-range mobile air defense system.
DRDO’s Akash Mk1, Mk1S, and Mk2 are all Short-range mobile air defense systems and DRDO is also reportedly in talks with Navy to develop Astra BVRAAM Based Surface to Air launched Point Defence System for its Warships in near future and also successfully developed QRSAM Air defense missile system for the Indian Army, so it doesn’t make sense for India to procure such expensive American system when cheaper alternatives are already available in India.
Not only many in India but also Russians defense ministry found the purchase of such system from the United States little misplaced. Many Indian think tanks are also not fully convinced how American air missile systems procured along with India, Israel, and Russia air missile system with work in tandem when each other in providing complete integrated air defense cover.
Most of the Defense analysts think that purchase of this missile system from the United States is to reward them to allow India to purchase of S-400 from Russia and many also see this as blackmail by the United States to avoid American economic sanctions on the purchase of Russian Arms by India, while some see some also see conspiracies on procurement of AMRAAM C-7/C-8 missiles from the United States and its intended role.
AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles are superior to the AIM-120C-5 missiles which have been provided to the Pakistan Air Force and were used to shot down IAF’s Mig-21Bis flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. It has been told several times that due to the AIM-120C-5 superior range of around 105kms, IAF’s Sukhoi and Mirage fighter jet were pinned down by the PAF’s F-16 and due to poor range of R-77 and Mica BVRAAMs this allowed, PAF the first chance to fire them.
AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles which India is getting with the NASAMS II are the same front-line Beyond visual range air to air missiles which are part of weapons arsenal of America’s front-line fighter jets like F-35, F-15, and F-22. While it will be nearly impossible for India to integrate this missile into any of the Indian fighter jets due to compatibility issues and lack of source code but this has not stopped people from believing that mear access to such advance missile systems can help India develop new Astra based variants in the near future.
Indian Air chief already has called the locally developed Astra Mk1 equivalent to the AIM-120C-5 missiles but AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles not only have longer range but also come with two-way data link and sensor improvement that makes them deadlier than the AIM-120C-5 missiles. Is India planning to study them so has to reverse engineer them or help them develop Astra Mk2 which reportedly is in the pipeline? Well, we might never know for sure.
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