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India to buy air defence missiles to secure vital installations

Last updated: 13 April, 2011
New Delhi, April 13 , (IANS) : 13:49 IST

To plug gaps and build up a robust air defence system, India will soon buy a large number of missiles to defend the country's vital tactical and strategic locations and high-security zones from enemy threats and possible aerial attacks, an officer said Wednesday.

Ahead of issuing a tender for the purchase of medium-range surface-to-air (MRSAM) missiles, the defence ministry has this week issued a request for information (RFI) from global and domestic missile manufacturers asking them if they could supply the weapon system within a short time-frame to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

"The defence ministry intends to procure the MRSAM system for the Indian Air Force and the system will be required for air defence of vital areas and points. The MRSAM is required in an early time-frame," a senior IAF officer said here Wednesday.

The MRSAM will be capable of all-weather, all-terrain and day-and-night operation with a 3.5 km altitude ceiling. The system will be capable of engaging multiple targets against all types of targets in a network-centric operations environment.

The MRSAM is required by the IAF to augment its existing inventory of Soviet-vintage OSA-AK and Pechora air defence missile systems.

A surface-to-air missile is a weapon designed to be launched from the ground to destroy incoming aircraft or missiles and is usually deployed in an air defence role as an anti-aircraft system. MRSAMs ideally have a range of 70 km to 90 km to engage its intended target.

The MRSAM is activated with the use of radars and sensors that detect the incoming aircraft or missile and fire the missile as a counter measure.

The IAF's current requirement is for a multifunctional active phased array radar for early warning of a three-dimensional target and linking this information to a central fire control unit to activate the air defence mechanism.

This procurement will be over and above the 18 MRSAM units that India is buying from Israel in a $1 billion deal signed in 2009.

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