If everything proceeds as planned, then the first strategic military-industrial joint sector partnership between India and Israel will soon witness its first success with the maiden test-firing in India of the Barak-2 surface-to-air missile. The Barak-2, also known as Barak-8 in Israel, will be available from 2013 in two versions--the 70km-range vertically-launched medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) variant for the Indian Navy, and a 120km-range long-range (LR-SAM) variant for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Both variants are presently being co-developed by a consortium of entities that include India’s Hyderabad-based Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) on one hand, and a consortium of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and TATA Advanced Systems, called NOVA Integrated Systems Pvt Ltd. The MR-SAM variant is also likely to be inducted into service by the Indian Army in future. The MR-SAM’s critical design review was completed by early May 2008 and its DRDL-developed two-stage pulsed rocket motor was successfully test-fired earlier the same year. The first six sets of these rocket motors were shipped to IAI by the DRDL in July 2008 for further test and integration activities. Series production is due to begin in 2011 at the Hyderabad-based facilities of BDL and NOVA Integrated Systems. From the Indian side, the principal R & D players for both variants of the Barak-2 are the DRDL, Hyderabad-based Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), and the Bangalore-based Electronics R & D Establishment (LRDE). Israeli companies participating in the joint venture are the MLM and ELTA Systems business divisions of IAI. While IAI/MLM is responsible for developing the guided-missiles along with the DRDL, RCI and ASL, IAI/ELTA will co-develop along with the LRDE and BEL the command-and-control system and related fire-control system (for both variants of the Barak-2).
It may be recalled that India and Israel inked the Barak-2 MR-SAM’s joint five-year R & D contract--valued at US$556 million--on January 27, 2006, following 17 months of exhaustive negotiations. For extended ground-based long-range air defence India’s Cabinet Committee on National Security on July 12, 2007 approved a $2.47 billion project to co-develop the LR-SAM variant. Subsequently, on February 27, 2009 India signed a $1.4 billion procurement contract with IAI for the Barak-2 LR-SAM, and this was followed in April the same year by a $1.1 billion contract for procuring the Barak-2’s naval MR-SAM variant. In January 2009, TATA Advanced Systems and IAI entered into a military-industrial partnership for creating Nova Integrated Systems and pumped in an initial investment of $200 million. IAI held 26% and TATA 76% in the joint venture. NOVA Integrated Systems subsequently acquired an initial 30 acres of land at the Aerospace and Precision Engineering Special Economic Zone (being developed by the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corp) in Adibatla, near Hyderabad, with work on infrastructure development taking off in August 2009. Current plans call for the Indian Navy to install between 36 and 48 Barak-2 MR-SAMs on board each of its three Project 15A Kolkata-class guided-missile destroyers (DDG) now being fitted out at Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Ltd, as well as on board each of its seven planned Project 17A guided-missile frigates and the four Project 15B DDGs. On the other hand, the Barak-2 LR-SAM’s launch customer will be the IAF, with the Navy opting for this missile for installation on board its first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier that is now being fabricated at Cochin Shipyard Ltd. The IAF has already committed itself to procuring an initial batch of nine Barak-2 LR-SAM squadrons.
The vertical launch cell modules for the Barak-2 MR-SAM are now being developed by Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubro Ltd, with an eight-cell module weighing 1,700kg. The Barak-2 will make use of a novel nose-mounted dual guidance system: an active phased-array radar for guidance over the final 30km terminal phase of its flight; and a miniaturised, gimbal-mounted imaging infra-red seeker using an indium antimonide staring focal plane array operating in the 3 to 5 micron wavelength band. During the initial fly-out phase of flight, the Barak-2’s seeker window will remain covered with a two-piece clamshell protection shroud. Metal bladders installed in the shroud will be inflated to eject the protective shroud before the combined seekers initiate target acquisition. High agility will be maintained through a tungsten jet-vane system for thrust vector control, combined with advanced electro-pneumatic control actuation systems and electro-pneumatic control actuation systems. The Barak-2 will also have a 60kg pre-fragmented warhead that in turn will use a laser-based digital proximity fuze. Service ceiling of the MR-SAM variant will be 16km, and 24 such missiles will be able to simultaneously engage 12 airborne targets. During its boost- and mid-course guidance phases, the SAM will use an integral data link to receive guidance cues from the shipborne EL/M-2248 MF-STAR S-band solid-state active phased-array multi-function surveillance, track and guidance radar developed by the ELTA Systems subsidiary of IAI.
For the IAF’s ground-based LR-SAM variant, command-and-control plus fire-control will be provided by a containerised system weighing only 1,300kg. Target search and tracking will be performed by a ground-based version of the MF-STAR, known as the EL/M-2258. On the other hand, the MR-SAM variant for the Army will make use of the motorised EL/M-2084 active phased-array multi-mode radar. Weighing about seven tonnes, the MF-STAR uses four flat, lightweight antenna arrays. For weapons guidance, the MF-STAR supports different operating modes, including mid-course guidance for active air defence missiles and illumination enslavement for semi-active air defence missiles, thus making dedicated guidance radar systems redundant. The radar also incorporates an automatic splash detection and measurement mode to support naval gunnery in maritime security and close-in defence roles. Current plans call for the Indian Navy to procure 500 Barak-2s, with the Army expected to procure up to 1,500 missiles. The IAF will be acquiring about 1,000 LR-SAMs.—Prasun K. Sengupta