India’s indigenous defence manufacturing company Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) plans to deploy the Long-range Air Defence system (LR-ADS) by 2028-29. DRDO is developing the system under the ambitious Project Kusha. As per The Times of India, India’s LR-ADS is comparable to Israel’s iron dome. While Iron Dome is capable of targeting a range of around 70 km, the Indian air defence system’s range will be around 350 km.
The unique feature of the LR-ADS will be to detect and destroy stealth jets and cruise missiles. India, being heavily dependent solely on the Russian S-400 system for eliminating long-distance threats with a range of 380 km, the indigenous development of the long-range system will be a big leap for India’s Atmanirbhar (Self-reliance) initiative in the defence sector.
Project Kusha- ambitious defence initiative
With the rapidly increasing geological turmoil and conflicts, India, as a rising global power and key regional power, is onboarded for crafting a new chapter for its military self-reliance. The ambition of becoming self-reliant in defence manufacturing, the development of long-range ADS by 2028-29, plans to create a new milestone for India’s story of its defence sector under the emblematic ‘Project Kusha’. The inception capabilities akin to the Russian S-400 missile seem to be a strategic shift in Indian defence capability.
Figure 1: Indian defence manoeuvre
Image source: magzter.com
The announcement and deployment of LR-Surface to air missile (SAM), will be a potential testament to enhance India’s burgeoning technological prowess in the world. The system will be able to detect and destroy stealth technology-installed fighters, aircraft, drones, and cruise missiles, with a maximum range of 350 km. Last month, the Defence Ministry approved the procurement of five squadrons for the IAF at a cost of Rs 21,700 crore. This decision underscores India’s consistent commitment to strengthen its indigenous defence capabilities and efforts to reduce its reliance on imported defence equipment.
Previous surface-to-air missiles by DRDO
DRDO for the first time in 2019 revealed the development of the eXtra Long Range Surface-to-Air missile (XR-SAM) for targeting stealth fighters and ballistic missiles in the terminal stage. As reported by DRDO, XR-SAM is the indigenous alternative to S-400 and Barak. The XR system will bridge the gap between the Medium-range SAM (70 km) and the small-range system. DRDO is planning to deploy the XR-SAM in fully functional mode by 2024. With this new project of LR-SAM, India will be one step ahead of its indigenous capability.
LR-SAM- a defining moment for India’s strategic autonomy
Amid the twin challenges that India faces in its neighbourhood, DRDO’s LR-SAM can be some steps ahead for India’s defence capability. As an import substitution of Russia’s formidable S-400 missile, the inception capabilities of those LR-SAM would suffice India’s defence capability in detecting promptly the stealth technology from a distant position.
Figure 2: LR-SAM missile
Image source: Times Now
Officially, LR-SAM has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2022 as a mission-mode project. The long-range surveillance capabilities and fire control radars will have the designation in the vulnerable areas. The range of interceptor missiles from 150 km to 350 km will provide a comprehensive air defence cover to strategic and tactical locations, especially near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). With the characteristics to detect low-reader but high-speed targets- the LR-SAM is going to create a new history for the Indian defence sector.
While the Indian Army and Indian Navy have their own air defence system, the IAF with the superiority of LR-SAM will be capable enough to guard the country’s airspace. The investment into LR-SAM is not an expenditure to make the country strong enough to fight against the offensive action, but it would be a meaningful investment to the vision of Kautilya- India’s strategic autonomy.