India’s Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat said that India is “looking at creating a rocket force” as part of efforts to step up on enhancing its military capabilities. this announcement might have come as surprise to many but not many are talking about the cost involved in creating a force for a land-based ballistic and cruise missile inventory. Indian Rocket force will require 50000-70000 personnel and 3-4 ballistic missile brigades with each brigade independently deployed in different sectors of the eastern and western regions. 

Creating a Dedicated Rocket force will require 5-6 times more equipment and personals than what presently we have under Strategic Forces Command (SFC) that till now was in charge of the present Land-based ballistic missiles. More Equipment and personals also mean more funds are required to train and build inventory that often can be more tricky and time-consuming. 

Building Missile Inventory 

India’s land-based ballistic annual production rate has been at its dismal best and annual missile production is still at double-digit numbers and mostly operated by India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) that sparely carry user trials at a rate that seems to be largely been structured to cater to nuclear delivery rather than carrying out conventional strikes. Other than 80’s vintage Prithivi short-range based ballistic missiles, the Agni series of short and long-range missiles have been developed and procured at a rate meant for a nuclear strike. 

India is yet to induct road-mobile tactical ballistic missiles in its arsenal in a big way and for some reason, the Indian Army has avoided inducting them. Shaurya and Prahaar are two road-mobile tactical ballistic missiles that have seen limited induction and to build a Rocket force will require both of these missiles to be inducted in large numbers due to their overwhelming conventional strike capabilities. 

India’s cruise missile largely has been super expensive BrahMos and to carry out saturated attacks India’s Rocket force will require much cheaper alternatives of all sizes and shapes that will require building up of both short and long-range subsonic cruise missiles that are missing due to delays that continue to plague India’s Sub-sonic cruise missile programs.

Training with Ballistic missiles 

Rocket force also requires a great amount of training in military exercises where ballistic missiles are also part of that never happened in India and most of the ballistic missiles in India have been tested from marked test range never from weapons range or in military exercises. PLA Rocket Force alone this year has carried out live drills with 200 ballistic missiles in multiple War exercises over the last few months and space has been picking up in the last few years. 

Can we afford it? 

The last time the Indian Army wanted to establish Mountain Strike Corps to be built a quick reaction force and as well as counter-offensive force against China along LAC but failed to allocate the initial raising expenditure of about Rs65,000 crore as dreams of raising a corps of 90,000 men for the Himalayan frontiers, with two divisions armed with integral air assets like attack and transport helicopters and drones never happened. 

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