SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The security analysts in India security analyst in India were in for a surprise when Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Nirmala sitharaman cleared procurement of NASAMS II Air defense system from US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program as a part of government’s effort to secure vital Government installation in New Delhi
Indian media reports say that the NASAMS II Air defense system will supplement the indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield that is in an advanced stage of development by DRDO for protection of incoming hostile aerial targets both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere for all Major Cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.
Defense contractor Raytheon which makes this defense system with its Norwegian partner KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace in contrary doesn’t make similar claims that NASAMS II can actually Intercept hostile ballistic missile. Raytheon in its own website calls NASAMS II as a state-of-the-art defense system that has the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle or emerging cruise missile threats.
NASAMS does provide has been integrated into the U.S.’ National Capital Region’s air defense system since 2005 but short range NASAMS is usually seen as the last line of defense systems that pack fairly light warheads and are usually used to intercept small aircrafts like Cessna, Lear Jet, and Beechcraft which can be used to sneak in to attack vital government installations like Parliament etc.
NASAMS air defense system is usually made up of Missiles made up directly from the AIM-120 AMRAAM series of radar guided air to air missiles which have range estimates of up to 25km depending on the variants of the missile used. NASAMS being a modular integrated air defense system can also integrate itself seamlessly into a larger integrated air defense system thus will enable it to engage even in the most challenging of circumstances.
But Security Analysts in India are still not able to understand when local indigenous solutions were available then why this particular system from the united states had to be procured out of the blue when there was no previous hints or even recommendation of this system from the armed forces. Indo-Israeli MR-SAM and Akash-1A and 1S Air Defence Systems both can tackle such low-to-Medium level of Aerial Threats and Two critical air defense system currently under development which are DRDO’s QR-SAM and Akash MK-2 will far exceed the operational performance of the NASAMS.
If the requirement is for short quick reaction aerial defense systems as the last line of defense system, then DRDO could have been tasked to develop a NASAMS type system using baseline Astra Beyond Visual Air-to-Air Missile can be reconfigured to fire from Ground launchers. Astra BVRAAM several times have been tested from Ground launchers in its initial phase and have proved to be quite efficient to be adapted or reconfigured for Ground launcher based Aerial defense system.
The security analysts suspect NASAMS purchase out of the blue at the time when United States was mulling sanctions on India due to purchase of S-400 Air Defense System from Russia was largely done to pacify Americans and also get the Sanction waiver in return. India already has rejected the Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system from the United States and have not shown interest in joining Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defense system designed by Americans even after the repeated request from them.