Delhi may soon get US aerial defence formula against missile threats
Seeking to provide protection to dignitaries including the President and Prime Minister as well as the national capital territory from enemy cruise missiles, drones and aircraft, India is considering an American system under the Delhi Area Defence project. "The National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) is being considered for the Delhi Area Defence project to provide aerial protection to the Capital from airborne threats," government sources told Mail Today.
The programme is being undertaken as the threat perception from incoming enemy missiles, drones and aircraft is on the rise because of their increasing use by terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba. US defence officials have made presentations to the Air Force and other agencies concerned and the proposal is under the consideration of the government, the sources said.
The same anti-missile system is used by the Americans to guard their national capital region in Washington DC and has been in deployment there since 2005. The Indian Air Force has been using the Russian-origin missile systems for giving protection to the national Capital and the vital assets and vital points. The NASAMS is claimed by the Americans to be a state-of-the-art air defence system that can maximise the ability of the users to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle or emerging cruise missile threats.
DELHI, MUMBAI TO GET COVER FROM MISSILES TOO
"It is owned by seven countries and has been integrated into the US National Capital Region's air defence system since 2005. In addition to the US, it is in service in Norway, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands," says the firm which manufactures the missile system for the US government on its website about the air defence system.
Government sources said this programme would be running simultaneously to the indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence shield project under which protection would be provided to key cities such as Delhi and Mumbai from incoming ballistic missiles. Under the DRDO project, the plan is to take down the ballistic missiles coming in from long ranges, up to 2,000 km or more at heights of 30 to 120 kilometres in the air, and the twin-layer system is in advanced stages of development. In the last few years, India has been taking significant steps to improve its air defence capabilities as a number of new mechanisms to take on hostile aerial action have been inducted and many more new systems would be joining in the near future.
India recently started inducting the long-delayed Rs 20,000 crore SPYDER missile systems into the Air Force and some of the systems have already been deployed on the western frontier to thwart any misadventure from the Pakistan side. India has also signed a deal worth Rs 17,000-crore for Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) system with Israel to equip the Army Air Defence Corps to take out enemy planes and drones at ranges of up to 70 kilometres in the air.
The DRDO has also started a programme to develop a Quick-Reaction Surface-to- Air Missile system for the armed forces to bolster the air defence capabilities in both the western and the eastern sector. Indian agencies are considering the NASAMS at a time when defence ties between India and the US are on a high and New Delhi has contracted for military hardware worth over Rs 75,000 crore in the last one decade. The Indian Air Force has acquired various systems from the US including the C-17 Globemaster heavylift aircraft, C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations planes, Apache attack choppers and the Chinook heavylift helicopters in the last seven to eight years. The Navy has also acquired 12 P-8 anti-submarine warfare and surveillance aircraft from the US for looking after its vast maritime zone and replace its Russian Tupolev spy planes.