NEW DELHI — India's Navy has launched a new program to buy short-range surface-to-air missile systems from overseas to replace its aging Israeli Barak-1 air defense systems.
India has made a global request for information to purchase 10 SRSAM systems and 600 missiles at a cost of about $1.5 billion.
Once responses are received in the next two months, the Navy will issue a tender under the Make in India policy's global purchasing category after six months to acquire the SRSAM systems. Under the program, overseas defense companies would need to forge partnerships with domestic companies to carry out 30 percent offsets obligations and include indigenous technology in the SRSAM systems.
An Indian Navy official said the proposed SRSAM system should be capable of vertically launching Mach 3-class active seeker missiles that can provide 360-degree defense coverage to meet all naval air defense applications including the need to carry out multiple simultaneous engagements.
Each SRSAM system will have a command and control system, a fire control system, a command link radar and one launcher to carry between eight and 16 missiles depending upon the size of the warship. The system's is expected to be inducted within the next five years.
According to an Indian Navy official, the foreign companies expected to make a bid are European-wide MBDA; Thales of France; Saab of Sweden; KBP Tula of Russia; Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel; Raytheon of the United States; and Doosan Group and Samsung of South Korea.
Furthermore, domestic companies expected to partner on this project with overseas defense companies include private sector businesses Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, and Reliance Defence and Engineering as well as state-run enterprises Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited and Ordnance Factory Board.
The new SRSAM program also puts a question mark on the SRSAM development and production program, known as Maitri, jointly managed by MBDA of France and India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Maitri was initiated in 2007, and India and France signed in 2103 a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop the Maitri missile system for the Indian Navy. However, the program has remained only on paper due to a lack of funding. A senior Indian Ministry of Defence official said the Maitri project has been put on hold on account of the depreciating Indian rupee.
MBDA has proposed the co-development of a vertical launch Mica missile for the Indian Navy.
"DRDO was not very clear what it will develop in the Maitri project, and its work scope was limited. There is no allocation for Maitri project as of now. However, MBDA can team up with DRDO and bid for the project," the MoD official said.
"DRDO has been pursuing additional separate naval version of the SRSAM for the past 30 years but has failed miserably," according to retired Indian Navy commodore and defense analyst Sujeet Samaddar.
"Indian Navy is also changing its [air defense] AD requirements, and longer-range surface-to-air missiles is one of the options. Indian Navy's AD plans calls for layered defense in depth and mutual support; the outer envelope is with air defense aircraft, the next layer is medium-range missiles, next is a combination of electronic warfare and SRSAM, and finally passive decoys and close-in weapon systems," Samaddar said.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.