Amid row with China, India moves to boost conventional missile arsenal | India News – Times of

Amid row with China, India moves to boost conventional missile arsenal | India News – Times of

NEW DELHI: India is now stepping on the gas to produce both short- and long-range conventional missiles for major non-nuclear strikes, even as it also separately consolidates the nuclear-triad for strategic deterrence, amid the continuing military confrontation with China.
Development of the Pralay ballistic missiles with a strike range from 150 to 500-km has been completed by the DRDO, while the long-range land-attack cruise missiles (LR-LACMs) and submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) will also be ready for production within a couple of years, top defence sources told TOI.
The surface-to-surface Pralay tactical missiles and the subsonic LR-LACMs will join the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, Pinaka multi-launch rocket systems and other stand-off weapons in the new Integrated Rocket Force (IRF) to be set up in the run-up to the tri-service theatre commands.
The Defence Acquisitions Council has already given the initial nod or “acceptance of necessity (AoN)” for the IAF to induct 120 Pralay missiles, which will be followed by another 250 such missiles for the Army. “All such missiles and rocket systems of the Army, Navy and IAF will be integrated under the IRF for better command and control. This is required especially along the northern borders with China,” a source said.
India plans to keep the IRF and the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which was set up to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal in 2003, as separate entities. So, the SFC will continue to be in charge of the nuclear-capable Prithvi-II (350-km range), Shaurya (750-km), Agni-1 (700-km), Agni-2 (2,000-km), Agni-3 (3,000-km), Agni-4 (4,000-km) and Agni-5 (over 5,000-km) ballistic missiles as well as nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles (called SSBNs) and fighter jets jury-rigged to drop nuclear gravity bombs.
China’s wide array of land-based nuclear as well as conventional ballistic missiles, incidentally, are both under the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), which has around 40 brigades.
With the induction of Pralay, India will jettison its policy of having ballistic missiles only with nuclear payloads. “For India, ballistic meant nuclear till now. But both China and Pakistan have conventional as well as nuclear ballistic missiles,” the source said.
With a quasi-ballistic trajectory that can be shaped to defeat missile defence systems, Pralay is capable of delivering a high amount of explosives with accuracy with its guidance system including a state-of-the-art navigation system and integrated avionics. “Pralay will now go for user-trials, even as commercial negotiations for production take place,” the source said.
The LR-LACMs and SLCMs, derivatives of the original Nirbhay missile, in turn, have to be integrated with their launchers and platforms. Integration of the land-based missiles is expected to be completed in a year or so. The SLCMs, in turn, will be tested first on the Russian-origin Sindhughosh-class (Kilo-class) submarines as per the plan. “These cheaper subsonic missiles have longer ranges than BrahMos,” the source said.
A 800-km variant of BrahMos, whose range has already been extended to 450-km from the original 290-km, is also in the works. Concurrently, preliminary design for a smaller, lighter but equally-capable BrahMos-NG missile has also been completed. “This will ensure fighters other than the heavy-weight Sukhoi-30 can also carry BrahMos,” it said.

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