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Built with Israeli know-how & an Indian touch, new MRSAM system is key addition to Army arsenal

DRDO carried out 2 successful tests of the Army version of the Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile on 27 March, paving the way for its induction into the force.

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New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out two successful tests of the Army’s version of the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha, on 27 March, paving the way for its induction into the force.

The success of the tests will be a cause of major relief to the Army, which has been engaged in a standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for two years now.

In September 2021, the DRDO had, in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, successfully handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) a version of the MRSAM that was customised to its need.

The Army’s version of the MRSAM has been jointly developed by the DRDO and the Israel Aerospace Industries, and is reflective of growing India-Israel defence collaboration.

The Army’s version of the MRSAM resembles the Israeli Barak-8 missile in many ways, but there are specific technological tweaks and adaptations to cater to India’s specific needs, which reflect the successful indigenisation of this defence technology.

The Barak-8 enables a 360-degree defence against aerial threats. This includes the ability to hit jets, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Its completely circular attack range makes it a powerful and unique tool for any military to possess.


Also read: Why Pralay quasi-ballistic missile, tested by DRDO today, will be a ‘game-changer’ for Army


What is the MRSAM?

The MRSAM is intended to replace the outdated air defence systems currently being used by the Army. It will allow the Army to get aerial protection against fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, guided and unguided munitions, and cruise missiles.

It’s composed of a mobile launcher system — built to store, transport, and launch eight canisterised missiles or missiles that can be launched at short notice, either individually or simultaneously — and a multi-function radar, which enables seamless identification and monitoring of target.

The combat management system then uses this information from the radar to calculate the distance from the target, which is relayed to the operator or launcher for suitable action.

The MRSAM is also loaded with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, placed at the head of a missile, which enables the detection of moving targets in extreme weather conditions.

All these help the MRSAM to have an estimated range of 70 km, providing the Indian army with the ability to hit far-away targets accurately. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2, which is twice the speed of sound.

Defence sources told ThePrint that the MRSAM is among the most advanced missiles in the world in its class. Its manoeuvrability and countering systems put it in a league beyond most others in its range, they said.

Booming India-Israel defence collaboration

India’s collaboration with Israel on medium- to short-range missiles isn’t limited to the MRSAM for the Army.

On 31 March 2007, India and Israel signed an agreement to collaborate on MRSAM for the IAF. Eighteen squadrons were supposed to be delivered at the cost of Rs 10,000 crore. Delivery was scheduled for 2013. However, it only started to be delivered last year.

In 2017, the Israel Aerospace Industries and India signed a $2 billion deal to jointly develop the MRSAM systems for the Indian Army. The MRSAM has since been developed in conjunction between the Israeli manufacturer and the DRDO.

All the three services — the Army, Navy, and IAF — have either inducted, or are in the process of inducting, the MRSAM.

Atmanirbhar push

Defence sources told ThePrint that best practices and knowledge from India and Israel were used to develop the MRSAM for the Army.

Specifically, talking about India’s ‘atmanirbharta‘ push, sources said, the ground systems for the missile — including the launchers of the MRSAM — have been made completely indigenously.

Another significant indigenous aspect of the missile is the thrust-vector mechanism placed at the missile’s rear, which was the result of several years of research and development, the sources added.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


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