India tests missile-assisted system to target submarines at long ranges
The capability will allow India to target enemy submarines at long ranges, officials said. The system is a missile-assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo to strike targets way beyond the latter’s range.Updated: Oct 05, 2020, 21:42 IST
In a significant capability demonstration amid border tensions with China, India on Monday successfully tested supersonic missile-assisted release of torpedo (SMART) from a defence facility off the Odisha coast, the defence ministry said.
The capability will allow India to target enemy submarines at long ranges, officials said. The system is a missile-assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo to strike targets way beyond the latter’s range.
“All the mission objectives including missile flight up to the (desired) range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, release of torpedo and deployment of velocity reduction mechanism (VRM) have been met perfectly,” a ministry statement said.
“This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” it added. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief G Satheesh Reddy said SMART was a “game changer” technology demonstration in the realm of anti-submarine warfare.
Tracking stations (radars, electro optical systems) along the coast and the telemetry stations including ships monitored all the events related to the flight test, the officials said.
Experts said it was an old idea that could find a new application as a land-based delivery system or a ship-borne weapon too.
A rocket or missile-launched torpedo is a weapon delivery arrangement that was introduced decades ago by the Soviet as well as the US navies, said maritime affairs expert Rear Admiral Sudarshan Shrikhande (retd).
He said these were capable of striking at relatively shorter ranges with torpedoes or even nuclear depth charges. He said as ship-borne helicopters improved and maritime patrol aircraft became better equipped with sensors; missile-launched torpedo systems did not find favour as onboard weapon and launcher volumes were prioritised for anti-ship, land attack and anti-air missiles.
“However, if accurate submarine targeting info is available, then a long-range ordnance delivery capability, especially from ashore could be something that will be useful once again. After all, at this moment, land-based anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft that can deliver ordnance at long ranges are amongst the most effective ways to target submarines. So, a supersonic missile capable of a few hundred kms flight can, in theory, drop a capable lightweight torpedo at the best-known position of an enemy submarine,” Shrikhande said.
He said an effective torpedo as the payload was very important. “Ultimately, the deployment of the SMART system would depend on costs and mission needs of the navy,” he added.
India has conducted a series of significant weapon tests in recent weeks.
On Saturday, India tested a new version of the nuclear-capable hypersonic Shaurya missile that has a range of 750 km, days after the extended-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully tested. The cruise missile can hit targets 400 km away --- its range increased from the existing 290 km.
On September 7, India took the first steps towards developing a new class of ultra-modern weapons that can travel six times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 6) and penetrate any missile defence, with the DRDO carrying out a successful flight test of the hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) for the first time.
Only the United States, Russia and China have developed technologies to field fast-maneuvering hypersonic missiles that fly at lower altitudes and are extremely hard to track and intercept.