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India initiates long-range surface-to-air missile programme

India seeks to develop long-range surface-to-air missile systems to provide interception capabilities similar to the Russian S-400 Triumf air-defence system (pictured above) recently inducted by the Indian Air Force. (Janes/Peter Felstead)

India has initiated a programme to develop long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) systems for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to strengthen its air-defence capabilities, an official at India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told Janes in early November.

According to the official, the LRSAM programme – termed ‘Project Kusha' – is “in the initial phase of design”.

The LRSAM system will be designed and developed by the DRDO, and it is envisaged to detect and neutralise aerial threats such as stealth fighters, aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to ranges of nearly 350 km, the official added.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has cleared five units of the LRSAM systems – with similar capabilities to the Russian S-400 Triumf self-propelled SAM systems – for the IAF, a recent clipping from the DRDO's newspaper issue said.

According to India's state-owned broadcaster DD News, the programme is valued at over USD2.5 billion, and it seeks to build a three-tiered air-defence system with interceptor missiles capable of hitting at 150, 250, and 350 km.

The IAF aims to operationally deploy the system by 2028–29, DD News added.

The DRDO recently developed the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM), a domestic variant of the Israeli-developed Barak-8 SAM system, in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and several local private and public sector companies.

The MRSAM – already inducted and deployed with the Indian army, air force, and navy – can intercept multiple targets at ranges up to 70 km.


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