Trial firing directed through satellite-based data link signals maturity of network centric warfare architecture
The Indian Navy on May 17 declared a significant scaling up of its network centric warfare and stealth capabilities by controlling the firing of missiles by two warships from a third one in a different location.
Firing of Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (MRSAM) by two Kolkata class destroyers INS Kochi and INS Chennai was controlled by INS Kolkata through a secure data link off India's western seaboard. The Indian Navy termed it a "cooperative engagement firing" trial. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel's IAI, who have jointly developed the MRSAM, were also involved in the trial firing.
Sources indicated that the warships INS Kochi and INS Chennai - separated by at least 100 nautical miles - went "quiet" for this trial firing by switching off their radars and radio communications. Multiple aerial targets were picked up at "extended ranges" by the radar of the INS Kolkata from a third location, which then passed the firing instructions to the silent destroyers. Warships are difficult for an adversary to detect if these switch off their radars and stop emitting signals. The "cooperative engagement firing" achieves stealth, deception and surprise.
The success of this firing trial also validates advances in the Navy's network centric warfare capabilities, the effective use of secure data links through dedicated military satellites.
"The Indian Navy achieved a significant milestone in enhancing its Anti Air Warfare Capability with the maiden cooperative engagement firing of the MRSAM," Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma announced in a statement, which confirmed. "This capability significantly enhances the combat effectiveness of the Indian Navy thereby providing an operational edge over potential adversaries," he added, confirming the involvement of Israeli IAI in the firing trial. Only a handful of navies across the world have this niche capability.
"The successful conduct of the test has been the result of sustained efforts by all stakeholders over the years. DRDL Hyderabad, a DRDO lab, has jointly developed this missile in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries," the spokesperson added. The MRSAM has been manufactured in India by the Defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
Earlier termed the Long Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (LRSAM), the MRSAMs are fitted onboard the Kolkata class destroyers. All major Indian Navy warships of the future will also be armed with this missile, which provides an envelope of protection at sea against aerial threats and enemy missile attacks on Indian warships.