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The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) decision to locally produce the Rampage, a long-range supersonic air-to-ground precision strike missile, has raised questions about India’s indigenous defense capabilities. Defence Anaylts Ranesh Rajan believe this technology could have been developed domestically by the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

According to anonymous DRDO officials, the organization possesses the technological know-how to create a missile similar to Rampage. They point to the rejection of Pinaka-III, a proposed 150km range artillery rocket system with a 300mm caliber, as a missed opportunity. Rajan argue that adapting Pinaka technology for air launch could have provided a domestic alternative to Rampage.

The source further alleges that the Army’s interest in long-range artillery only arose after the Galwan Valley clashes with China, who deployed similar systems near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This resulted in the DRDO undertaking development of new 150km and 300km range Pinaka variants. Notably, the DRDO claims the technological capability exists to adapt these systems for air launch, but the IAF hasn’t expressed such a requirement.

The Rampage’s local production highlights a potential gap between the DRDO’s capabilities and the military’s immediate needs. While domestic development fosters self-reliance, it can be a lengthy process. The IAF’s decision to procure the Rampage might reflect a need for a faster solution.

Moving forward, India can strive for a better balance. Streamlining communication between the DRDO, Army, and IAF can help prioritize indigenous development while ensuring the military has the necessary equipment to address evolving threats. Additionally, focusing on core technologies and fostering a robust domestic defense ecosystem will be crucial for India to achieve self-sufficiency in the long run.

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