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India’s defence establishment is gearing up to bolster its cruise missile capabilities, with both the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Army playing crucial roles. This move comes amid growing strategic requirements and the evolving international security landscape.

The DRDO plans to conduct fresh trials of the Subsonic Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) for the Indian Navy. This indigenous missile system will enhance the Navy’s offensive capabilities and strengthen its deterrence posture.

The Indian Army, on the other hand, is keen to fast-track the production of land-based subsonic cruise missiles within the next two years. This aligns with the establishment of the Conventional Rocket Force (CRF), aimed at bolstering land-based strike capabilities.

The Army’s urgency stems from the limited-scale production of the Nirbhay missile during the India-China border tensions. While the Nirbhay utilized a Russian NPO Saturn 36MT engine, the Army seeks complete indigenous production for strategic autonomy and long-term sustainability.

The ongoing Ukraine war has further underscored the critical role of cruise missiles in modern warfare. With the potential for a two-front conflict involving China and Pakistan, India recognizes the need for a substantial stockpile of these missiles to effectively counter any threats.

To meet this demand, the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) is exploring the transfer of technology (ToT) for its indigenously developed Manik engine, specifically designed for the subsonic cruise missile program. This move aims to involve private sector companies in production, potentially doubling the manufacturing capacity.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering activating a second production line for the missile system once a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) establishes initial production. This dual-production approach, involving both PSUs and private companies, promises to expedite and expand manufacturing capabilities.

India’s focus on cruise missile development signifies a multi-pronged approach to bolstering its defence capabilities. By pursuing both submarine-launched and land-based variants, leveraging indigenous technologies, and exploring private-sector involvement, India aims to achieve self-reliance and deterrence in the face of evolving security challenges.

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