Delhi to get a missile shield

NASAMS in action in Indonesia

Delhi will soon be protected by the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System and will be the first city in India to get its very own missile shield.

India will acquire this system from the U.S. to create an air defense shield around the National Capital Territories, which also includes Delhi. This missile network will utilize Indian, Russian and Israeli missile and gun systems to protect enemy drones, cruise missiles, and aircraft. The missile defense system, also called the NASAMS — II is built by Raytheon, in collaboration with Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, a Norwegian missile manufacturer.

The NASAMS (National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) was first activated in Norway and the U.S. in 2005. This project involved Finland, Spain, The Netherlands, Oman, Lithuania, and Indonesia. It was adopted in the Netherlands in 2008, in Finland in 2009 and Oman in 2013. This missile defense network primarily comprises of the Raytheon Sentinel radar, the Kongsberg fire distribution center and the Raytheon AIM 120-series of Advanced Medium Range Air to Air missiles, if purchased as-is from Raytheon. The network can also be adapted to other missile defense systems.

India will be purchasing the NASAMS -II, the upgraded version of NASAMS and will most probably be linked with the Prithvi, Akash, the new S-400 and the Barak-8 missile systems. In the proposed missile shield to be constructed around Delhi, five layers of missile defense are being considered, as below:

Level 1 — Outermost layer

Purpose — Anti-ballistic missile defense

Units — Advanced Air Defence (AAD) and Prithvi missiles in two phases. Phase 1 is intended for missiles with 2000+km range, Mach 4.5-capable missiles. Phase 2 will protect against missiles capable of Mach 6 and of ranges of more than 5000km.

Level 2 — S-400 layer

Purpose — Anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile defense

Units — Russian-origin Triumf Surface-to-Air missile systems (SAMs) aimed at interception ranges between 120 and 380 km

Level 3 — Barak — 8 layer

Purpose — Anti-aircraft missile defense

Units — Medium and long-range versions of the Barak series of missiles with an interception range of 70–100km

Level 4 — Akash layer

Purpose — Anti-aircraft and close-in missile defense

Units — Akash anti-aircraft missiles, with a range of 25km.

Level 5 — NASAMS -II layer

Purpose — Quick-reaction anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense

Units — Stingers, AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles), CIWS (gun-based close-in weapons systems)

The NASAMS-II layer is flexible and can be adapted either to accommodate the U.S-built THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Air Defence) or the Patriot missile systems. But since India has almost finalized its acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, this will be one of the world’s first hybrid area-specific air defense systems.

The NASAMS — II has been operational since 2007 and is also called the Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System since it was first built to cater to the needs of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in the late 90s. Before this, the Norwegians were using NORSOL (Norwegian Solution), a ground-based radar-tracked air defense system that used 40mm Bofors L70 autocannon linked to the Oerlikon Contraves FCS 2000 mono pulse-Doppler tracking radar and the RBS 70 Man-Portable Air Defence System (MANPADS). This was networked using the NASAMS, the predecessor to the NASAMS — II.

When the NASAMS -II was launched, it utilized the Link 16 NATO communications guidelines and better ground radar. Along with this, it came with the following upgrades:

  1. New radar mounted on a variety of vehicles, connected to create a mobile air-defense network
  2. Broader frequency spectrum, an increased targeting capacity, and variable antenna rotational speeds
  3. Inclusion of GPS in the targeting logic
  4. A new control module that could be mounted on many different types of vehicles
  5. Inclusion of a laser rangefinder, a TV-camera and an upgraded thermographic camera which can be used for passive firing
  6. A detachable control system to increase system survivability
  7. A 12-unit missile magazine per launcher that can accommodate a wide variety of missiles

The NASAMS -II will boost India’s already formidable missile defense capability. The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence program, when launched in 1998, was designed to provide a shield strong enough to protect attacks from Pakistan and China at the same time. In Phase 1 of the program, Delhi and Mumbai were slated to receive missile shields. Several rounds of negotiations between India and the U.S have already taken place, and once the deal has been finalized, deliveries will begin within the next couple of years.

In spite of mounting U.S. pressure, Indian authorities have no plans to scrap the S-400 deal with Russia. A thing to note, however, is that the S-400 is a border defense missile system, whereas if used with the NASAMS-II, it will serve as an area defense system.

With the test of the Nirbhay cruise missile and the co-ordinated tests-launches of the MR-SAM (Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile), the missile shield will soon be linked with aerial, territorial and naval assets to cover the whole nation.

Jai Hind.

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Automobile Engineer. Content Writer. Biker. Defense Enthusiast. Indian.