Navy scouts for air defence options for INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya is operational but would be fully combat ready once more fighter pilots are trained for deck operations.

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published:June 18, 2014 2:29 am
A jet takes off  from INS Vikramaditya. A jet takes off from INS Vikramaditya.

The Indian Navy is carrying out feasibility studies and tests to scout for alternative air defence systems for its largest warship, the INS Vikramaditya, that is currently vulnerable to air attacks due to an inordinate delay in the Indo-Israel protection system that was to be installed two years ago.

The aircraft carrier, that demonstrated its capabilities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, does not have any self defence weapons on board, barring a chaff and flare system. It does not even have a close in weapon system (CIWS) to shoot down incoming air attacks at very close range, making it the only battleship of its kind in the world to be virtually unarmed.

Senior Navy officers say the CIWS, an AK 630 system to be manufactured in India, is now likely to be installed between March and June next year when the aircraft carrier will go for its first refit at Karwar. The radar-guided gun and rocket system will provide basic protection to the 44,500-ton aircraft carrier.

The main protection to the ship — a prime enemy target in times of combat — will however be its point defence missile system (PDMS) that will take care of incoming missile as well as aircraft and drone attacks. However, the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) system — a joint collaboration between the Navy, Israel and DRDO — has been running behind time, forcing the Navy to look for options.

“Various studies are on to find what can be provided to the ship. We are looking at different systems that will meet our requirements,” a senior Navy officer said. He added that the systems under consideration include the LRSAM in case it progresses satisfactorily or the Russian STIHL air defence system that had been on offer by Moscow for the past few years.

The top officer, who is directly involved in the project, also said the future Indo-French ‘Maitri’ Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (SR SAM) systems would also be under consideration for fitment on board the warship.

The officer however conceded any sort of missile defence system on the aircraft carrier would take at least three years to be installed, given that it can only be done once the ship is dry docked for its first major refit.

While officials say the carrier will not be vulnerable to air threats due to the mix of warships that will accompany it on all deployments, aircraft carriers across the world carry their own set of air defence systems as the last resort measure against incoming missiles and aircraft. Even INS Viraat has the Barack air defence missile systems as well as anti-aircraft guns for close-in defence.

INS Vikramaditya is operational but would be fully combat ready once more fighter pilots are trained for deck operations.

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  1. R
    Robert
    Jun 18, 2014 at 5:48 am
    Frustrating to the core. This Indian defense is shrouded with inexplicable mystery. Yesterday TOI published a report that stan's nuclear stock pile has far exceeded the Indian stock pile. stan's air force too had musch better aircrafts in numbers and quality. It may have less men, but the proxies joined together , certainly will out number the Indian the 3 Indian forces at least to 3: 1 ratio. Why India is so lethargic in streangthening her armed forces is certainly jig sow puzzle that the nation is unable to put up together. This is a tragedy that successive governments of India inherits. I am sure, even the BJP is now in power, dithering in indecisions to determine the requirements. No governments will wait for contracts to be signed as India. Every time when it is about to be signed, there is cost escaltion. Why is the Aircraft carrier, after much delay compounded with Russia's admant on cost, which resulted in almost more than 2 billon $, is without air defenses? Can any one rationalize this scenario? If any one expects the Indian defenses will be a force to be reckoned, even under the current BJP rule, well it going to be mirrage, mirred with the perplexities and indecisions whether to localize the arms production or to buy them. Rafael air craft is one example, even after the selection, as to the negative aspects as to how Indian defense suffers, easily sucbs to its own inefficiency. Indian procedures beffule every country on earth and very soon no country will come forward to do business with India.
    Reply
    1. W
      wijdan amar
      Jun 18, 2014 at 4:23 pm
      Fourteen major accidents involving submarines and warships in just 10 months could possibly paralyze Indian naval capabilities. The ambitions of becoming a strategic blue-water power, India is expending its naval crew with Russian istance. But that seems impossible given the submarines and warships have completed 75% operational lives.
      Reply
      1. P
        prem
        Dec 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm
        I feel the Indian navy is very poorly trained or the Indian navel crew are unable to understand the high Tec equipment that is used today. I feel they lack the training in Heath and safety. I can say the same for those who are in charged; I feel they don't know how to use the sonar equipment that would stop them running aground. I feel the navy is expanding with out the crews being fully trained people to take in charge. The submarine fleet needs to changed with in the next 5 years. prem
        Reply