On Monday, India successfully conducted the flight test of a Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Torpedoes, self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target, are limited by their range. In the mid-2010s, DRDO undertook a project to build capacity to launch torpedoes assisted by missiles; Monday’s was the first known flight test of the system.
This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own. For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.
The system also gives flexibility in terms of the missie system’s launch platform, DRDO officials said. A number of DRDO laboratories including Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI), both in Hyderabad; Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) in Agra; and Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL) Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART.
What happened at the test?
It was conducted from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha around noon. DRDO has said all mission objectives including the missile’s flight up to the designated range and altitude, separation of its nose cone, release of the torpedo and deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM) were met perfectly. An anti-submarine torpedo of the lightweight category was used.
The test follows another crucial test two days ago of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile. Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 missile.
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Why is it significant?
DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy said SMART is a game-changing technology demonstration in anti-submarine warfare. India’s anti-submarine warfare capacity building is crucial in light of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.
Assets of such warfare consist of deployment of submarines, specialised anti-submarine ships, air assets and state-of-the-art reconnaissance and detection mechanisms. The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability got a boost in June after the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech, capable of being fired from all frontline warships. India has been indigenously developing and building several anti-submarine systems and vessels in the recent past.
In January, DRDO conducted two successful tests of the K Family’s K-4 missiles. The capability of launching nuclear weapons from submarine platforms has great strategic importance in light of the “no first use” policy of India. These submarines can not only survive a first strike by an adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation. The nuclear-powered Arihant submarine and its class members in the pipeline are assets capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.
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