The Indian Air Force on Thursday installed a Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile System (MRSAM) capable of neutralizing air threats such as enemy fighters, missiles, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles at a distance of 70 km. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh described this capability as a “game changer” in air defense.
India and Israel jointly developed MRSAM or the Barak 8 air defense system which includes advanced radar, command and control systems and mobile launchers. The missile is powered by a locally developed rocket motor and control system for high maneuverability in the terminal phase.
“With the handing over of the MRSAM system to the IAF, we have taken a giant step towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Autonomous India). MRSAM will be a game-changer in air defense, ”Singh said at the induction ceremony in Jaisalmer.
The system was jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Other companies involved in the project include Israeli company Rafael, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited and Larsen & Toubro.
DRDO chief G Satheesh Reddy handed over the system’s first firing unit to Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria in the presence of Singh.
“The system is capable of hitting multiple targets simultaneously up to a distance of 70 km, even in bad weather. Its success in a series of rigorous tests is proof of its reliability, ”said the Minister of Defense.
A naval version of MRSAM is already deployed on some Indian warships to strengthen their anti-aircraft capabilities. The army has also placed orders for MRSAM but has not yet installed the system. India and Israel have signed separate agreements worth around $ 3 billion over the past four years for advanced surface-to-air missile systems for the three services.
“The MRSAM system was long overdue. His induction will now significantly strengthen the air defense capability of the IAF. The imminent arrival of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia will make these capabilities even more formidable, ”said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), former additional director general of the Center for Air Power Studies .
India is expected to begin induction soon for the S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems ordered from Russia in October 2018. New Delhi has placed an order for five of these missile systems capable of destroying various air threats, including aircraft. combat and enemy missiles, at a distance of 400 km, and expects the first deliveries by the end of the year.
Singh said MRSAM was one of the best missile systems available in the world, and the project highlighted the close partnership between India and Israel in the defense sector. The minister said that the MRSAM project strengthened the defense industrial bases of India and Israel, and was “a win-win situation” for the two countries. It has also led to the creation of new testing facilities and other infrastructure in the country, he said.
Israel has been among the top three suppliers of arms to India over the past five years, according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) in March 2021. The top three suppliers of arms arms of India in 2016-20 were Russia (accounting for 49% of India’s imports), France (18%) and Israel (13%).
Singh said the geopolitical changes have impacted trade, economy, power politics and the security scenario. “In such a situation, strengthening our security and self-reliance has become a necessity, not an achievement. “
The minister said the global scenario is changing very quickly. “Equations between countries also change rapidly according to their interests. Whether it’s the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean region, the Indo-Pacific or Central Asia, the uncertainty is visible everywhere, ”Singh said.
The MRSAM induction ceremony took place after Singh and Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari jointly inaugurated an emergency landing facility for the IAF on the Satta-Gandhav section of the NH-925A near by Barmer. The two ministers also attended air operations at the new landing facility, which supports the landing of all aircraft in the Air Force’s fighter and transport fleets.