Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) once said, DRDO today can make any type of missile systems that Indian forces wishes to acquire. Today most of the missile systems in the inventory of Indian Armed Forces are either home grown or produced indigenously with increasing Indian content. One of the decencies that Indian navy has seen in past is homegrown submarine launched cruise missile.
Why a Next-Generation Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (NGSLCM) is needed?
India currently operates a wide variety of cruise missiles like Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, KH35, Klub, Harpoon and Exocet. When it comes to the submarine launched cruise missile the variety remains. Missiles like Exocet and Harpoon are medium to short range anti-ship missiles. Brahmos however cannot be launched from submarine as the diameter of Brahmos cruise missile is 0.6 Meters which makes it submarine incompatible. The current submarine fleet of Indian Navy can launch missiles via torpedo tubes. Thus, the diameter of the missile system becomes crucial. A torpedo tube is usually 533 MM (21 Inches). Thus, a submarine launched cruise missile should have a smaller diameter than that. This will allow additional encapsulation and baseline missile to fit into this narrow tube. One alternate approach is to have a vertical launch system-based submarine called as SSG (Submersible ship guided).
Need of SSGN
The SSG (Submersible ship guided) have vertical launch system which allow launching of larger diameter cruise missiles. Larger dimension results in larger range and these missiles carry larger payload. Indian Navy currently do not operate any SSG, thus most of the anti-shipping and land attack role will be carried out by the SSK. These SSK use smaller torpedo tube launched cruise missiles. Thus, the firepower offered by these missile systems is limited.
Probably P75 I could be Indian Navy’s first set of SSG if the design chosen to have a VLS. Though the Kilo class, Type 209 and Scorpeen will be still dependent on tube launched cruise missiles.
What we know about NGSLCM?
The information available on this project is limited. Although, based on the information available one can say the missile system will be around 350-400 MM in diameter and 4-4.5 Meters long. It will be equipped with next generation active radar homing seeker developed indigenously. It will be capable of performing in dense electronic warfare environment. Thus, its chances to evade the countermeasures will be high.
More details on speed and range are yet not available. Though since the missile system will have dimensions like Klub, Harpoon or Exocet. The range and speed are believed to be similar. Also, the weight of the warhead will be comparable to missiles of similar class. Currently details on propulsion system are not known, however the missile will likely feature two stages. The first stage will be solid rocket booster while second stage will be a turbofan sustainer.
|Name of the Missile||Harpoon||Klub||Exocet|
|Range||280 KM||200-300 KM*||70-200 KM|
|Weight||691 KG||1300-2300 KG**||780 KG|
|Length||4.6 M||6.2M-8.9M**||6 M|
|Diameter||340 MM||533 MM||348 MM|
*Klub missile with larger ranges are available but not for export as per MTCR.
** Klub missile has various variants with different sizes
Why NGSLCM is crucial?
The NGSLCM will help Indian Navy to consolidate the wide range of missile, resulting in better logistics and inventory management. The missiles like Klub, older blocks of Harpoon are mediocre capability missiles. Latest block of Harpoon and Exocet is a fairly capable missile systems but these aren’t futuristic missiles.
NGSLCM will not only help Indian Navy to consolidate wide variety of missile systems of current inventory, but also it will offer better & futuristic capabilities. Thus, it will enhance the capabilities of Indian Navy significantly.