National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) is designed for mid-range air defence and can be deployed to engage aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and UAVs

by Rahul Bedi

India’s MoD approved in early July the USD1 billion acquisition of an upgraded version of the NASAMS air-defence system for use by the IAF. Source: Kongsberg

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the USD 1 billion acquisition of an upgraded version of the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace/Raytheon National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) – commonly referred to as NASAMS II – for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to bolster the country’s air defences over the federal capital New Delhi.

Defence sources told Jane’ s that the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, “quietly” cleared the procurement of an undisclosed number of NASAMS batteries in early July via the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme as part of the government’s ‘Delhi Area Defence Plan’ against attacks by enemy aircraft, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The sources said the new air-defence system will eventually supplement the long-delayed indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield that is in an advanced stage of development by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The DRDO had claimed in 2011 that the BMD shield would be in place above Delhi and Mumbai by 2014; but the system is still undergoing periodic testing to validate its capability to track and destroy incoming hostile aerial targets both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

A NASAMS battery consists of up to 12 multi-missile launchers, each of which can carry six AIM-120-series advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) or other surface-to-air missiles (SAMs); up to eight AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel X-band 3D radars; up to four Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs); and up to four MPS 500 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor system vehicles.