HomeIndian Defenceman-portable air defence missile system: India may soon have its own desi...

man-portable air defence missile system: India may soon have its own desi portable air defence missiles

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India is gearing up to commence ‘user trials’ for its indigenous man-portable air defence missile system, designed to eliminate hostile aircraft, drones, and helicopters at very short ranges. This development comes as the armed forces are currently inducting a limited number of Russian systems to address operational gaps in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, a TOI report stated.

The indigenous very short-range air defence system (VSHORADS), developed by DRDO to neutralize low-altitude aerial threats within a 6-km range, is expected to undergo user trials by April-May, according to a senior defense official. The official highlighted that the 4th generation VSHORADS surpasses existing MANPADS in the Indian armed forces due to its state-of-the-art uncooled imaging infrared seeker.

The defense acquisitions council, led by Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of VSHORADS missiles at a cost of Rs 1,920 crore in January last year. The VSHORADS, with proven upper-range capabilities through developmental tests, is now set for crucial user trials before potential bulk production.

Simultaneously, Indian companies are exploring the development of “laser-beam riding VSHORADS” under the “Make-II” category project, funded by the industry for prototype development.

Despite heightened tensions along the northern borders with China, the armed forces view VSHORADS as a low-cost option for swift deployment, offering close air defense protection in rugged high-altitude areas and the maritime domain. An officer noted their operational versatility and utility, citing their success during the Russia-Ukraine war.

The procurement history of VSHORADS traces back to a tri-Service case initiated in June 2009. However, the selection process saw the Russian Igla-S anti-aircraft missile system chosen over French and Swedish contenders. The initial off-the-shelf purchase followed by technology transfer to Bharat Dynamics for subsequent production did not materialize, leaving the Army critically short of advanced man-portable air defence missiles.As a temporary solution, the Army and IAF resorted to emergency procurement of Igla-S MANPADS over the past three years. The latest contract, signed in May last year, included 100 Igla-S missiles and 48 launchers. While the Army and IAF possess the older Igla-1M systems since 1989, the Igla-S variant boasts an improved interception range of up to 6-km. The success of the indigenous VSHORADS in user trials could mark a significant milestone in bolstering India’s air defense capabilities.

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