Thursday, March 31, 2011

India To Test Fire Barak Missile This Year

The first test flight of the Indo-Israeli long-range, surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM), also called Barak-2, will be undertaken this year, says a senior official at India’s defense research agency.

The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the prime developer of the project, says the missile, at an estimated cost of 26.06 billion rupees ($581 million), has reached its final stage. “We expect to carry out the test flight soon,” the official adds. The test flight of Barak-2 will be one of 11 missile tests scheduled by DRDO this year. It had been expected last year. According to the DRDO official, more than 70% of the content in the missile will be indigenous.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the key partner of the program, says the missile is designed to be used as a point-defense system on warships, defending against aircraft, anti-ship missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. The missile can hit targets at a range of 70-100 km (37-62 mi.).

The first test of the missile was held in Israel last May. The LR-SAM will equip the three guided missile destroyers of the Project 15A class, which are likely to join the Indian navy in 2012.

IAI officials say the missiles, which are mounted in an eight-cell container and are launched straight up, are undergoing simulated tests in Israel. The radar system provides a 360-deg. coverage, and the missiles can take down an incoming target as close as 500 meters (1,640 ft.) from the ship.

Along with the indigenously built Akash SAM (Aerospace DAILY, March 28), the LR-SAM fills a longer-range requirement of the Indian defense system, and both types will complement each other.

A second variant, called the Medium-Range SAM (MR-SAM), is also being developed for the Indian air force (IAF) at a cost of about 100 billion rupees. The project, signed in 2009, is expected to replace all the IAF’s aging Soviet-made Pechora SAM missiles.

A high-level defense team from Israel visited New Delhi two weeks ago and had detailed discussions with senior military and DRDO officials on the missile program. Israel has become one of the top defense suppliers to India, after Russia. Indo-Israel defense cooperation underwent a strategic shift recently when New Delhi decided to spend a major chunk of its defense budget on purchases from Israel.

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