India, Israel Trust Jointly Developed Air Defence Solutions

Issue: 3/2022 Photo(s): By IAI
(Left) MRSAM successful trial at sea; (Right) IAI’s and DRDO’s advanced MRSAM.

The ability of a nation to defend its territorial airspace is a cornerstone upon which its sovereignty rests. It is therefore not surprising that governments invest tremendous resources to establish and maintain air defence systems. But the effectiveness of these systems is ultimately dependent upon their ability to create an accurate and up-to-date air situation picture - a task made increasingly difficult as new threats multiply.

And with the emergence of new, highly sophisticated aerial threats, investments in air defence capabilities are growing at a rapid pace. Maintaining one of the world’s largest military forces, India is heavily invested in the air defence modernisation, fielding new systems, modernising older weapons and replacing obsolete systems with modern, state-of-the-art capabilities for all three defence branches – Air Force, Navy and Army.

One of the largest air defence programs in India is the MRSAM, jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The MRSAM, acquired in multiple orders as a common defence building block, is active in all armed forces in India – the Indian Navy, Air Force, and Army. The MRSAM provides an integrative solution that includes an advanced, fully digital Phased Array Radar, a command and control center, mobile launchers, and highly energetic interceptors with advanced RF Seeker.

With plans to extend the missile’s range to 150 km (ER version) the combined fire unit operating two missile ranges, could quadruple its area coverage in the future, as the ER will be able to seamlessly work with MRSAM units. Using the same interceptor strapped to a booster, the ER missile will more than double the intercept range reaching 150 km, while keeping same set of sub-systems and spares to enable a most efficient life cycle cost. This range extension may be used by all three services, already operating the current 70 km MRSAM. The Indian Navy also modernises many of its air defence capabilities with MRSAM, fielded with indigenously built vessels. In this application, vertically launched MRSAM is designed to engage the most challenging threats, from saturation attacks by supersonic sea skimming missiles or highly maneuverable, high flying targets.

In March 2022, IAI and the DRDO successfully completed a series of trials that resulted in four successful interceptions by the jointly-developed MRSAM Air and Missile Defence System. The interceptions were carried out in an operational setting against various scenarios, at different interception ranges, interception heights and challenging angles. The systems were operated by India’s Air Force and Navy, alongside DRDO and IAI engineers.

The system was tested in India by both Israeli and Indian officers together with engineers and experts. As part of the trial, two interceptors were launched from a portable land-based system and two others from a naval-based system, operated from Indian Navy ships. The threats were detected by the system’s radar, acquired by the interceptor, and successfully intercepted. All the system components completed the trial successfully, as planned.

IAI has always been one of the main pillars in supplying strategic and advanced equipment to India, providing cutting-edge technology for land, maritime, aerospace, and homeland security. In the recent decade, IAI entered into more and more strategic collaborations with local Indian firms, both PSU and private, in order to integrate strategic state-of-the-art systems for India’s Ministry of Defence in various fields, and in accordance with the ‘Make in India’ policy.

Designed to defeat all types of aerial threats with efficient and versatile air defence capability, the MRSAM provides military forces the tools to establish a comprehensive network-centric, multi-layered air defence – designed to defeat today’s threats and are prepared to meet future challenges and provide the Indian armed forces optimal defence.