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In a significant development, the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has come to the rescue with an indigenous alternative after the Indian Air Force (IAF) abandoned plans to procure the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) three years ago. The IAF had initially sought a medium-range, network-centric air defense system jointly developed by Raytheon and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace to bolster the security of high-value assets in the National Capital Region. However, the exorbitant cost led to the shelving of the project, prompting the quest for an indigenous solution.

Enter the Vertical Launch – Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM), a quick reaction surface-to-air missile based on the Astra Mk1 BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile). Initially developed primarily for the Indian Navy to replace its aging Barak-I Point Air Defense System on frontline warships, the VL-SRSAM has now emerged as a viable alternative for the IAF’s air defense needs.

The IAF’s requirement is to deploy Point Defense Interceptor missiles, capable of providing an inner circle of air cover to safeguard high-value assets in the National Capital Region against a wide range of threats, including Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs), Air and Land-Launched Cruise Missiles, Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). To fulfill this objective, DRDO envisions the development of a mobile missile launcher that can be moved on trucks and strategically positioned with a 3D pencil beam surveillance radar to effectively track potential targets.

The VL-SRSAM derives its roots from the Astra Mk1 BVRAAM, which has already proven its mettle in various trials and is a testament to India’s prowess in missile technology. Last year, the missile successfully underwent a flight test from an Indian Naval Ship against a high-speed unmanned aerial target, showcasing its vertical launch capability.

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