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The Indian Navy’s Kolkata-class destroyers are renowned for their formidable firepower. However, a closer look reveals a lighter-than-expected surface-to-air missile (SAM) count compared to some global counterparts of similar size. While the Navy has remained tight-lipped on the official reasoning behind this, discussions with Navy officials shed some light on the issue. Balancing cost and physical limitations appears to be the key factor.

Offensive systems like the BrahMos missiles, while incredibly powerful, are also large and expensive. This translates to a trade-off – fewer missiles for a higher upfront cost.

The same principle applies to defensive systems. The MR-SAM, a common air defense system on many warships, carries a hefty price tag and suffers from slow production rates.

The Navy’s strategy involves filling these gaps with more affordable and compact Indian-made weapon systems. Sub-sonic cruise missiles and VL-SRAMs (Vertical Launch – Short Range Surface to Air Missile) are prime examples. Not only are these domestically produced options cheaper, but their smaller size allows for a more efficient use of space onboard.

The Indian Navy, in collaboration with DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), is actively developing new weapon systems to further enhance the firepower of its warships. These systems are slated for integration during future refits.

Future warship designs, currently in the planning stages, will incorporate these advancements from the outset. As Indian-made weapons mature and enter mass production, these next-generation vessels are expected to boast heavier armament configurations right from launch.

The Navy is strategically transitioning towards more cost-effective, domestically produced solutions, paving the way for a future fleet bristling with cutting-edge weaponry.

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