For the last decade, the biggest unease for Indian defense was its dependence on foreign countries for paramount equipment. Being the most determined armed forces, this dependence was something that became the reason for pulling back on many grounds. There are many instances when India has had to tone down its demands because of the geopolitical upheavals. All that was needed was determination and a robust policy for encouraging domestic production. Fortunately, this is happening, and the consequences are generating a wave of optimism for the nation.
DRDO surprises again
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has made significant progress in its defense sector with the successful testing of an air defense system similar to Russia’s S-400. The newly developed Very Short Range Air Defense System (VSHORADS) was launched twice at the Chandipur Integrated Proving Ground on the Odisha coast, marking a significant milestone for the country’s defense capabilities. The successful demonstration of this system represents a major step forward for India’s defense sector and enhances the country’s ability to defend against aerial threats. The achievement highlights the growing expertise of DRDO in developing advanced defense technologies that can match global standards.
During the testing, the missile was launched from the ground with a man-portable launcher. This implies that the missile can be easily launched from a short distance. This will prove to be advantageous in the Himalayan mountain range bordering China and the desert near the border of Pakistan. The system can shoot down a plane, fighter, helicopter, jet, missile, or drone from a hostile country from a short distance.
Features of VSHORADS
The VSHORADS, developed to match the capabilities of the Russian S-400 system, represents a significant advancement in India’s defense capabilities. At 20.5 kg, the system is relatively lightweight and measures 6.7 feet in length and 3.5 inches in diameter, making it highly portable and maneuverable. With the ability to carry weapons weighing up to 2 kg, it can effectively neutralize airborne threats with a high degree of accuracy.
The VSHORADS has an impressive range, starting at a minimum of 250 meters, which makes it ideal for short-range threats, and it can extend up to 6 km, ensuring effective coverage for larger areas. The system can achieve a maximum speed of 1.5 mach, or 1800 kmph, making it capable of intercepting targets that travel at high speeds.
It must be noted that India and its biggest defense partner, Russia, have concluded a deal on the S-400. In October 2018, India inked a deal with Russia to procure five S-400 missile systems in a phased manner. The 2 squadrons were delivered until last year and have been deployed and started to patrol in the Ladakh sector, as well as West Bengal’s delicate Chicken’s Neck Corridor and the entire northeastern region.
But it took almost a year to procure the third squadron because of the limitations of dealing with dollars. In the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, sanctions were imposed on Russia that led to delays. Last month, India received that last squadron, which is now deployed at the border with Pakistan in order to tackle aerial attacks on Punjab and northern Rajasthan.
Why does India need the S-400 and systems like that?
While India was dealing with Russia, DRDO was looking to develop its own system. In a way, this is a depiction of the mindset that the Indian defense sector and manufacturers are working with. The geopolitical situations can always create a challenge that could compromise India’s defense needs. So,it was necessary to simultaneously develop our own equipment that can compete at global parameters, especially the S-400. The ultimate threat to Indian borders comes from Pakistan and China. While China has a diverse arsenal of missiles, Pakistan has frequently collaborated with China to develop its missile fleet. So, India has immense challenges from both its borders, and hence it needs the most advanced anti-missile defense system. And it is undeniable that the S-400 is one of the best missile defense systems in the world. Interestingly, it has become more important to have S-400 type squadrons because China too uses Russian S-400.
Currently, India is using many other missile defense systems, like the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile, which can intercept exo-atmospheric missiles among others. The indigenous VSHORADS development is going to be a strengthening factor for the Indian Air Force, which last year received the indigenous MR-SAM and Akash missile systems as well as the Israeli Spyder quick reaction surface-to-air missile systems. The Indian Air Force has significantly improved its air defense capabilities in recent years.
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