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India successfully test-fired a new air-launched ballistic missile in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on April 23rd. The missile, known as ROCKS (or Crystal Maze 2), boasts a strike range exceeding 250 kilometers and is designed for enhanced air combat capabilities.

ROCKS provides the Indian Air Force (IAF) with a significant advantage by allowing them to engage targets from a safe distance beyond the reach of enemy air defenses. India plans to manufacture nearly 100 units of the missile indigenously through a Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement with Rafael, an Israeli defense contractor. Kalyani Group is a potential candidate for local production.

ROCKS is designed for striking a variety of high-value targets, including stationary and relocatable ones, even in GPS-denied environments. This makes it a versatile weapon for various combat scenarios. The missile can penetrate through protective structures and destroy well-defended underground or air-to-surface targets. It can be equipped with either fragmentation or blast warheads to suit the specific needs of the mission.

The ROCKS missile system gained international attention when it was reportedly used by the Israeli Air Force to neutralize an Iranian S-300 air defense radar system. This successful operation highlights the missile’s effectiveness in real-world combat situations.

The successful test and planned local production of ROCKS mark a significant milestone for India’s defense indigenization efforts. It strengthens the IAF’s offensive capabilities and positions India as a major player in developing advanced air-launched missile technology.

The induction of ROCKS into the IAF’s arsenal bolsters India’s aerial deterrence capabilities. Further developments in this technology could lead to even more advanced air-launched missile systems in the future.