News Brief

New Missiles And More: Five Developments From Defence Expo 2020 That You Should Know About

Prakhar GuptaFriday, February 7, 2020 5:13 am IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Defence Expo in Lucknow on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Defence Expo in Lucknow on Wednesday.

The Defence Expo, which is a biannual exhibition of defence equipment and technology, is currently underway in Lucknow. The event, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, began on 5 February and will conclude on 9 February.

By some accounts, this is the biggest ever defence exhibition held in India — multiple developments have already been announced, revealed or reported.

One, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has revealed details about its Naval Anti-Ship Missile (NASM-SR) for the first time. The 55-kilometre range NASM-SR is a helicopter-launched missile. The missile system was sanctioned by the government in 2017 and the DRDO mentioned it for the first time in 2018.

According to a report in Livefist, this anti-ship missile is being developed for the Sea King helicopter operated by the Indian Navy.

NASM-SR specifications (Livefist)
NASM-SR specifications (Livefist)

The programme is currently in its “configuration and definition phase”, the report says. It adds that a longer-range version of the helo-launched missile is likely to be developed later and may have a range of around 150 km.

Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range (Livefist)
Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range (Livefist)

The Westland Sea King helicopters of the Indian Navy, the first of which had landed on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in 1971, currently use the Sea Eagle missiles. Both the helos and the missiles are nearing the end of their operational life.

Two, a new sub-sonic cruise missile will be developed for the Indian Navy. This missile, which will fit in the BrahMos missile launcher (UVLM — Universal Vertical Launcher Module), will have a range in excess of 1,000 km, reports Onmanorama.

According to the report, the project is likely to get sanction within two months and the first trials of the missile could begin by early 2023. The project, it adds, has been designated to the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment.

Three, the same report also notes that the Nirbhay cruise missile project has been “technically closed”. The project will now be called Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM).

“The project has taken a new desi avatar with a renewed outlook and will be now known as the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM). The Indian power plant for ITCM – the Short Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) – is developed by Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) in Bengaluru,” the report says.

Nirbhay missile  at the integrated test range at Chandipur. (DRDO)
Nirbhay missile at the integrated test range at Chandipur. (DRDO)

The project had suffered setbacks due to multiple test-launch failures.

Four, European missile developer MBDA has said that it will offer Naval Cruise Missile (NCM), a ship and a submarine version of the SCALP cruise missile which is part of the Rafale weapons package, for the Project 75-I submarines.

The missile will be “tied to the improved Scorpene submarine that’s vying for Project 75-I”, Livefist reported on Wednesday. This development comes soon after the Ministry of Defence shortlisted two Indian shipyards and five foreign submarine manufacturers for Project 75-I. Under this project, India plans to build 6 new generation attack submarines in India at a cost of over $6.3 billion.

“This very long-range surface attack stand-off cruise missile is designed to attack deep into enemy territory. Given its range, it will provide navies and surface and sub-surface vessels with the ability to maintain a prolonged dissuasive force in theatre unlike an aircraft launched missile,” MBDA has said.

The missile “offers destructive power against key infrastructure targets. Maximum precision and minimum collateral damages are assured thanks to the weapon’s guidance system which combines inertial guidance, terrain matching, and GPS with an imaging infrared seeker to achieve metric accuracies in the terminal phase,” the literature released by the missile manufacturer added.

Five, on the first day of the expo, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced multiple new partnerships aimed at unmanned air systems (UAS).

1) It will enter into an arrangement with Israel’s Elbit Systems “to look at jointly developing an unmanned helicopter system for the Indian Navy”.

2) HAL will tie up with private sector firm Dynamatic Technologies to “build and market” Israeli defence firm IAI’s drones. This may include the advanced versions of the in-service Heron UAS.

3) It will work with Indian private firm New Space Research and Technologies on unmanned systems and swarm technology.

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