SOURCE: THOMAS D’SOUZA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
According to recent India media reports, India has shown Interest in acquiring National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) air defence system developed by Raytheon with its Norwegian partner KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace. NASAMS is owned by seven countries and has been used by the U.S. National Capital Region’s air defence system since 2005.
NASAMS is a highly adaptable, medium-range solution for any operational air defence requirement. The system provides the air defender with a high-firepower, networked and distributed state-of-the-art air defence system that can maximize the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving threat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle and emerging cruise missile threats.
So Why does India wants its? When we have Joint, Indo-Israeli developed Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) and soon to be acquired S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia and soon to be operational Indian Ballistic Missile Defence System for Tier-1 Cities?
Well NASAMS is a lower-tier defence additional capability against threats such as cruise missiles, aircraft and drones and know where similar in capabilities to Top-tier missiles like MRSAM and S-400 also is quite cheaper. NASAMS is a combat-proven missile that demonstrated operational flexibility especially in taking down low-cost targets like Subsonic cruise missiles and Armed drones. Use of MRSAM and S-400 Air Defence System will be Overkill to take down such low-cost platforms and most likely will be reserved for High-value targets like AWACS, Fighter jets and Mid-Air refuellers.
But we do have DRDO developed Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QR-SAM) Surface to Air Missile which is based on India’s ASTRA BVRAAM Platform and can also provide lower-tier NASAMS level lower-tier Air defence system, then why another costly import?
Well QR-SAM will be deployed as a short-range ground-based air defence system to improve protection for deployed personnel and also will be part of India’s ” Cold Start ” Doctrine and will be Indian Army’s Strike Corps go to Air Defence System to provide Air protection to its troops. NASAMS scores over QR-SAM due to use of Sentinel radar which is a premier air surveillance and target acquisition/tracking sensor for the U.S. Army Cruise Missile Defense Systems program.
Sentinel radar is a highly mobile, three-dimensional, phased-array, ground-based air defence radar system that operates in the X-band. It automatically detects, tracks, identifies, classifies and reports airborne threats, including helicopters, high-speed attack aircraft, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
NASAMS mostly likely will be acquired as short-term gap fill measure to replace older Russian Air Defence systems and to also allow India to study and develop so that it can be adapted to develop NASAMS like Air Defence System Indigenously by doing further improvisation to its QR-SAM or be used as a stop-gap measure until local development is concluded.
DRDO for long has been rumoured to be working on the development of a Cruise Missile Defense System which can provide lower-tier Air defence system to all major Cities in India instead of requiring the deployment of expensive Top tier Air Defence system which can be deployed to guard high-value targets.
Most of the Sub-Sonic long range Cruise missiles likely to be used against India are cheaper to develop and can be fired in Bulk and in swarm style attack not specifically every time at a high-value targets within its range but that doesn’t mean no Interception should take place, Use of really expensive Higher tier Air defence system like MR-SAM and S-400 will be overkill and also criminal wastage of resources .
lower-tier Air defence system specifically developed to handle threats such as cruise missiles and drones will come as a major boost to India’s Air Defence capabilities and it is unlikely India is going to procure NASAMS Air defence system in large quantities and it is most likely it will be substituted later with Indian made system.