SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
India has taken up its self to develop a new next generation long range Surface to Air Missile in the class of 48N6 missile (250km) which is part of the S-400 Triumf which India plans to acquire soon to meet its local demands for extra long interception capabilities.
XR-SAM Program was initiated by DRDO a few years back, Yet not much has been shared in the Public domain officially. What little could be gathered from the various media reports is that was suspected that the XR-SAM Program will utilize technology from India’s proven Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) program to develop an interceptor missile capable of targeting fast maneuvering targets in long range.
Defense Analysts for long in India believed that derivate of the homegrown Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile will be used to develop a new missile system which will be part of the XR-SAM Program. Modified AAD missile with conventional solid rocket booster-sustainer combination could have achieved desired long-range interception capabilities and also made perfect fit and sense since missile of similar class too used similar technology.
But earlier this year, DRDO tested a Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) propulsion based missile which will be capable of intercepting highly maneuverable aerial targets, upon which DRDO plans to develop a long-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles could be developed based on the proven technology just demonstrated thus providing building blocks for a variety of missiles.
Use of Ramjet propulsion along with a nozzle-less booster and mention of the future use of the same technology in future surface-to-air missile program was quickly understood as a technology which will find its way into XR-SAM Program. DRDO in its own Annual Report of 2017 as called SFDR as a technology demonstrator program for the development of a new Air-launched Tactical missile which will have a range of 120km at 8 km altitude.
DRDO has clearly also hinted that first program to come out of SFDR propulsion will be the development of an Air-launched Tactical missile specifically developed to take down High-Value Airborne Assets operated by Rivals at long range and nowhere it has been attributed to the development of a new surface to air missile.
Weather DRDO uses SFDR propulsion for development of a new surface to air missile is yet to be seen but with all the merits of the Ramjet propulsion and its advantages in maintaining speed even in the terminal phase, many defense analysts are not entirely convinced that it is quite suitable for a surface to air Interception role and to be used as a mass scaled air defence system due to cost factors over traditional solid fuel missiles .