Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM)

Source: By Man Aman Singh Chhina: The Indian Express

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on 27 March 2022 conducted two successful flight tests of the Army version of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.

What kind of flight tests were carried out today for MRSAM?

The tests were part of the live firing trials against high-speed aerial targets. The missiles are reported to have intercepted and destroyed the targets. The first launch was to intercept a medium-altitude long-range target and the second launch was for providing capability of a low-altitude short-range target. These tests were user trials by the Indian Army.

What is a MRSAM?

The MRSAM is a surface-to-air missile jointly developed by DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for use by the Indian Army. The missile will replace the ageing Air Defence systems of the Army. The MRSAM weapon system comprises multi-function radar, mobile launcher system and other vehicles. It has Army, Navy and Air Force variants.

The mobile launcher can transport, place and launch eight canisterised missiles. These can be fired either in single mode or in ripple firing mode in a vertical firing position.

The missile’s management system uses the radar to track and correctly identify the target, calculates the distance from it and gives all the information to the Commander for a decision to be made on interception. The missile itself is 4.5 metres in length with a weight of around 275 kg. It is equipped with fins and canards to stabilise its flight and provide it manoeuvrability.

How is the MRSAM powered?

The missile is powered by a solid propulsion system coupled with a thrust vector control system. The missile can move at a maximum speed of Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound). It can engage multiple targets upto a range of 70 km.

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Second P-8I squadron INAS 316 ‘Condors’

Source: By Man Aman Singh Chhina: The Indian Express

The Navy commissioned its second P-8I aircraft squadron – Indian Naval Air Squadron 316 – on 29 March 2022 at INS Hansa, Goa.

Why has the new squadron been named ‘Condors’?

INAS 316 has been christened ‘Condors’ after one of the largest flying land birds with a massive wingspan. The insignia of the squadron depicts a ‘Condor’ searching over the vast blue expanse of the sea. ‘Condors’ are known for excellent sensory capabilities, powerful and sharp talons and large massive wings symbolising the capabilities of the aircraft and envisaged roles of the squadron.

Which aircraft will the new squadron operate?

INAS 316 will operate the Boeing P-8I aircraft, a multi-role Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare (LRMR ASW) aircraft, that can be equipped with a range of air-to-ship missiles and torpedoes. The aircraft is a potent platform for maritime surveillance and strike, electronic warfare missions, search and rescue, providing targeting data to weapon platforms, providing time-critical surveillance information for Indian Army and IAF, and is also the platform of choice for detecting and neutralising enemy ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The squadron has been specifically commissioned to be the home for the four new P-8I aircraft procured under the Option Clause contract and to ‘Deter, Detect and Destroy’ any threat in the IOR. These aircraft have been operating from Hansa since 30 December 2021, and the squadron is integrated with full-spectrum surface and subsurface naval operations.

Which other squadron flies the P8I?

The Indian Navy’s first P8I squadron is INSAS 312, the ‘Albatross’. It was in 2016 that the aircraft was inducted into this squadron. It is based at INS Rajali at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu. However, the first P8I was received by the Indian Navy in 2013 and it took part in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner Flight MH 370 in 2014 in the Indian Ocean region.

When did India sign a contract for the purchase of P8I aircraft?

India had originally signed a contract for 8 aircraft with Boeing in 2009, followed by an order of four more. Armed with Harpoon missiles, the P8I can carry out missions across the vast area of the Indian Ocean and help the Indian navy maintain an effective check on the seas under its influence. The aircraft can also be used for surveillance over the land and has been in operation in Ladakh during the stand-off with China and also on the Indo-Pak border.

Does the Indian Navy have any other long-range surveillance aircraft squadrons?

The Indian Navy also operates an IL-38 Squadron, INAS 315 called ‘The Winged Stallions’. This squadron is based in Goa. It was raised in 1977 with the IL-38 aircraft which received a mid-life upgrade in 2009.