Israel ship missile test for India

Israel has tested a ship missile defence system designed to protect India's navy and offshore platforms in the presence of Indian military scientists, marking the final stage of a nearly decade-long joint development programme.

By SUJAN DUTTA
  • Published 28.11.15
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New Delhi, Nov. 27: Israel has tested a ship missile defence system designed to protect India's navy and offshore platforms in the presence of Indian military scientists, marking the final stage of a nearly decade-long joint development programme.

The Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) that will arm two carrier battlegroups of India's navy is now scheduled for a test-firing and interception from the INS Kolkata, one of the latest destroyers, in about a month, a navy source told The Telegraph.

The LR-SAM test and its declaration as a successful example of India-Israel defence cooperation comes as New Delhi and Tel Aviv are working out a calendar of events with a visit by Narendra Modi as the highlight. President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel and Palestine last month.

The success of the LR-SAM programme has the potential to bring India-Israel defence cooperation almost on a par with India-Russia ties as exemplified by the BrahMos cruise missile joint venture between New Delhi and Moscow.

The Kolkata class of warships will be armed with at least 32 LR-SAMs each. Each of the 47 warships on order by the navy in Indian shipyards will be armed with the LR-SAM, also called the Barak 8 or the Barak NG (next generation). The system may provide missile shields for India's offshore oil rigs too.

In Thursday's firing and interception test, the Israeli naval ship Lahav, a Sa'ar 5-class corvette positioned just south of Haifa in the Mediterranean, fired a Barak 8 and destroyed a fast-moving, jet-powered drone at 7am, The Jerusalem Post reported today.

The Post also uploaded video footage of the test on its website. It was the first time the missile had been launched from a ship, Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit, Israel's navy chief of staff, said.

The Barak NG has a range of around 100km, meaning it is designed to detect and intercept missiles and aircraft within that distance.

The system's advanced digital phased-array radar, dubbed Barak Adir, is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, the primary contractor, which signed a joint development pact with India's Defence Research and Development Organisation in 2006.

Successive Indian naval chiefs have since then rued the tardy progress of the programme, seen as a necessary shield for two carrier battlegroups that India wants to operate. Over the years, the navy has commissioned warships without the air defence system but with silos that were ready for the missile.

The missile itself is made by Israeli firm Rafael. Beginning with the INS Kolkata, the navy expects to arm all its frontline warships with the Barak NG. The Israeli navy has set a similar schedule for itself.

Sharvit described the drone as a challenging target to hit, adding that the Barak Adir radar had no trouble detecting and tracking it before firing a Barak 8 at the target.

"The introduction of this missile system will significantly enlarge our defensive range, which until now has been close-range," he said. "It will enhance our naval superiority," the Post quoted Sharvit.

The missile deploys its own electromagnetic sensor as it approaches the target, guiding it on its last phase. The Barak 8 radar can track multiple targets simultaneously, an Israel Aerospace Industries spokesperson said.