Medium Range Surface to Air Missile Firing Trials Conducted by Indian Navy

The Indian Navy conducted the first firing test of an MRSAM naval air defence missile employed in the full Joint Task Force Coordination (JTC) mode. JTC implements the MRSAM ‘Cooperative Engagement’ operating mode which sets the system apart from other air defence systems. The recent trial comprised two complex scenarios involving multiple platforms and several simultaneous targets.

On the recent test, conducted on 15 May at India’s western seaboard, two destroyers, INS Kochi and INS Chennai detected multiple targets using their MF-STAR radars and launched several missiles at those targets. What was different was that only one of the ships controlled the engagement, intercepting different aerial targets at extended ranges by the missiles fired from both ships using the systems’ JTC mode. The test demonstrated the ability of MRSAM to operate wide area air defence, distributing assets and control over different platforms and locations. Previous MRSAM firing trials were conducted on a single platform, in the stand-alone mode.

The new engagement capability derives from the network-centric architecture of the Barak 8 system and its MF-STAR 360ยบ radar system that harness multiple sensors, launch platforms, and effectors into a single air defence system. By fitting a data-link to each interceptor, missiles can be updated via data-link after launch by any network member. With this capability, Barak-8 missiles can receive target updates on their mid-course, with updated target information, re-tasking the highest priority target, until the missile enters the terminal engagement. This capability maximises missile utilisation and battle economy. It enables a single ship to orchestrate the air defence mission or allocate missions to other vessels when required.

MRSAM Surface to Air Missiles (also known as Barak 8) are fitted on-board the Kolkata Class Destroyers (Kolkata, Cochi, and Chennai) and would also be fitted on all future major warships of the Indian Navy. The test was carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries. Bharat Electronics (BEL) is the prime contractor for the Indian MRSAM system.

Cooperative engagement involves using data-links between ships and platforms to have a “common picture” of a battle situation and taking control of weaponry on multiple platforms. In addition to the target hard-kill, such capability also improves the battlegroup’s resilience against jamming.