Kalyani-Rafael rolls out 100th medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) kit - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 13 December 2022

Kalyani-Rafael rolls out 100th medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) kit

It is the Indian military’s first tri-service missile, which will protect naval warships, air force bases and army combat units from airborne attack

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 14th Dec 22


Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems Private Limited (KRAS), on Tuesday rolled out in Hyderabad the 100th kit it has manufactured of the eponymous Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM).


KRAS is a joint venture (JV) set up by Israeli company, Rafael, in partnership with Kalyani Strategic Systems (KSS). They hold 49 and 51 per cent stake respectively. 


The Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has developed this lethal missile for the army, navy and air force, in close partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). 


It is the Indian military’s first tri-service missile, which will protect naval warships, air force bases and army combat units from airborne attacks.


About 20-30 per cent of the MRSAM has been developed by the DRDO, including the missile’s propulsion system that is based on a sophisticated dual-pulse rocket motor, its thrust vector controls, and electrical harness (wiring).


Isreal Aerospace Industries (IAI) has designed and developed the other 70-80 per cent of the MRSAM, including the Elta MF-STAR radar, which is the heart of the system.


On July 11, 2019, the Indian defence ministry awarded KRAS a $100 million contract to build the mid-sections of 1,000 missiles. These will be integrated with MRSAM components built elsewhere into combat ready missile systems by defence public sector undertaking, Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL).


The MRSAM is regarded as one of the world’s most lethal surface-to-air missiles. The naval version of the MRSAM, which is called the LRSAM (Long-Range Surface to Air Missile), protects Indian warships from sea-skimming, anti-ship missiles. It is stored in, and fired from, sealed canisters below warship decks, in order to protect the missile from the corrosive marine environment. 


The LRSAM has been operationally deployed only on three Indian Navy destroyers -- INS Kolkata, Chennai and Kochi. Each carries 32 missiles in “vertical launch unit” canisters. Now the LRSAM is being fitted on four more destroyers being built under Project 15B and seven frigates being constructed under Project 17A.


The IAF version of the MRSAM is mounted on trailers, and is fired from the open at enemy fighters coming in to attack air bases and other high-priority targets. The army version of the MRSAM is mounted on high-mobility vehicles that keep up with tank columns moving cross-country.


All three versions of the missile are identical, except for the software that controls their “self-destruct” function.


The MRSAM is expensive, with a price of Rs 6 crore per missile. But that is considered reasonable by many, given that it shoots down sophisticated fighters costing hundreds of crore; and protects warships that cost thousands of crore.


So confident is the military in the MRSAM that, in September 2016, when the army was planning to strike Pakistan-backed terrorist camps across the Line of Control to avenge the killing of 19 Indian soldiers near Uri, the MRSAM – then still under development – was moved from BDL to protect a particularly vulnerable air force base.


When Indian commandos crossed on LoC on the night of September 28, 2016, the MRSAM was ready for operational use. As it turned out, the missiles were not required.


KRAS will deliver more than 1,000 MRSAM production kits over the next 3-4 years. In case of export orders, the numbers could increase.


Speaking on the occasion, Kalyani Group chief, Baba Kalyani, said: “This delivery is not only a shining example of synergy between India and Israel and the private and public sector but also reinforces our commitment to AatmaNirbhar Bharat as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” 

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