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The Indian Navy is currently grappling with a missile procurement challenge, prompting it to consider the induction of the SCALP Naval missile system as a temporary solution. Developed by MBDA Systems, the SCALP Naval missile is a long-range, sea-launched, surface attack, stand-off cruise missile that has been successfully deployed by the French Navy on its Scorpene class submarines. However, this temporary measure may be necessary because India’s indigenous cruise missile program is still several years away from production.

The Indian Navy has unique requirements when it comes to striking offshore targets, including military and economic infrastructures. Long-range cruise missiles are essential for these operations, and the Indigenous Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM) program is seen as a viable solution. However, this indigenous program faces delays, making the induction of the SCALP Naval missile a potentially practical interim measure.

One of the key advantages of the SCALP Naval missile is its compatibility with torpedo tubes, providing the Navy with a versatile platform for launching long-range missile strikes. In contrast, the Exocet SM39 Block 2 anti-ship missiles currently equipped on the submarines offer a more limited range of around 50 kilometres. The SCALP Naval missile, with its extended reach, presents a significant enhancement in the Navy’s capabilities for precision strikes.

It’s important to view the potential purchase of the SCALP Naval missile as a stopgap measure, considering the Navy’s full support for the development of the LRLACM Cruise missile program. However, this indigenous program has experienced repeated delays, creating the need for a temporary solution. The delay in the previous Nirbhay program has further emphasized the Navy’s reliance on the BrahMos cruise missile, which is primarily suited for surface vessels.

The Indian Navy is keen on ensuring that it has the capabilities to strike targets both near and far. While the LRLACM Cruise missile program remains a top priority, the acquisition of the SCALP Naval missile could help bridge the gap until the indigenous solution becomes operational. MBDA has offered SCALP Naval missile to India to be equipped on the Six Kalvari class of submarines since the missile can be launched from the Torpedo tube.

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