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India, Russia ink rocket systems deal

The $500 mn deal would give India a decisive edge over Pak, whose multiple rocket systems lack extended range.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 13:45 IST

After nearly five years of negotiations, India has finally signed a $500 million deal with Russia for Smerch-M 300mm BM 9A52-2 long-range surface-to-surface multiple rocket systems (MRSs).

It willequip two of India's artillery regiments.

Inducting the Smerch systems into service will considerably augment the Army's firepower.

It will providing it the capability to neutralise a variety of targets like massed concentration of armour and troop deployment well beyond the range of any of its present artillery systems.

Another contract for 28 Tangushka M1 gun and missile systems for low-level air defence will be signed before the end of 2005-06.

Artillery officers said that Smerch's induction would give a decisive edge over Pakistan, whose multiple rocket systems lack Smrech's extended range.

Signed on New Year's eve after negotiations were completed in March 2005, the Smerch contract includes 28 wheeled-chassis, 12-tube launchers with logistics supply and fire-control vehicles.

Defence Ministry sources said that the Smerch contract was divided into three stages over as many years, with deliveries to be completed some time in early 2008.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin later this year with the arrival of launchers and 'basic' rockets. This will be followed by the arrival of more advanced version launchers and the guided rockets.

The Smerch version the Indian Army is acquiring is capable of firing six types of rockets to a maximum range of 70 km, including several with a cassette warhead.

This is some 30 km further than the range of the 155mm Howitzers the Army is currently using.

The cassette warheads are capable of carrying a variety of ordnance, which includes cumulative and fragmentation elements like self-homing anti-tank elements or mines, which can be devastating in a battle.

The two systems will arm two artillery regiments with four platforms being kept in reserve.

Four artillery regiments have already been operating around 80 Tangushka M1 systems since the late 1990s.

The Tangushka vehicles, capable of engaging fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters as well as ground targets while being stationary and on the move are equipped with eight 9M311-M1 surface-to-air missiles each.

These can counter land-based targets at ranges varying between 15 metres and six kilometres and between 15 meters and 10 km for airborne objects.

Two twin-barrel 30mm anti-aircraft guns mounted on the vehicle have a three-kilometre range when deployed against air targets and four-kilometre range against those on the ground.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 09:18 IST