India has ramped up its missile prowess by carrying out a series of tests to assess new capabilities over the last few weeks amid the India-China military standoff along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has increased the frequency of testing of a number of missile systems over the past few weeks.
These tests come at a time when both India and China are currently engaged in an intense standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Multiple rounds of diplomatic and military talks have been held between the two countries in recent months to achieve disengagement and de-escalation in the region.
In a crucial breakthrough to enhance India's nuclear prowess, DRDO on October 3 tested an advanced version of the Shaurya missile with a range of close to 1,000 km. The Shaurya is a potent surface-to-surface missile.
Shaurya was not the only missile system to be tested off late since the standoff with China started early May.
As a boost to India's anti-submarine warfare capabilities, SMART (Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo) was tested from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha on October 5.
SMART is a missile-assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo system for anti-submarine warfare operations beyond the range of a torpedo.
"All the mission objectives including missile flight up to the range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, the release of Torpedo and deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM) have been met perfectly," DRDO said in a statement following the successful test.
'BRAHMOS' cruise missile
On September 30, a new version of the Brahmos supersonic surface-to-surface cruise missile with an extended range of 400 km up from 290 km was also test-fired.
After the successful launch, DRDO said it has paved the way for the serial production of the indigenous booster and other indigenous components of the powerful BrahMos Weapon System in recognition of the Atmanirbhar Bharat pledge.
The BrahMos is among weapon systems already deployed in strategic locations, keeping in mind the Chinese threat not just in Ladakh but also other sectors along the LAC.
Su-30 missile capabilities
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is also integrating the missile in Su-30 fighter jets to boost its capabilities. Over the course of the past five months, the IAF has deployed its critical assets to take on any Chinese belligerence over Ladakh.
During his annual press conference on Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the IAF has the capability to strike deep and hard if the need be.
'RUDRAM' anti-radiation missile
Adding to the list of recent missile tests is the new-generation anti-radiation missile 'RUDRAM'. It was tested onto a radiation target located on Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha on October 9.
The missile was launched from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft.
"This gives a great advantage to our fighting forces. If radars are taken away, it will give a free run to our aircraft. Our aircraft can go in and destroy enemy targets, particularly air defence systems," a former DRDO scientist, S Guruprasad told India Today.
In a statement, the DRDO stated, "This is an indigenously developed long-range air-launched anti-radiation missile that can destroy enemy radars and communication sites. The missile is a potent weapon for IAF for suppression of enemy air defence effectively from large stand-off ranges."
"This (RUDRAM) will provide a tacit advantage in the arena of suppression of enemy's air defence, what we call SEAD," Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh added.
As a counter to Chinese deployment of missile systems, India has pressed into action the Nirbhaya surface-to-surface missile with a reach of up to 1,000 km. The DRDO is likely to carry out another round of tests for the Nirbhaya missile in the coming days.
New Chinese missile sites have cropped up in areas bordering Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Ladakh.
The Akash Air Defence system is also in place at sensitive locations to counter any aerial threat.
'AGNI' missile series
While India has been enhancing its nuclear-capable 'Agni' missile series with Agni-5 having a range of more than 5,000 kms, China's nuclear Dongfeng series already has a reach of 12,000 km.
In a recent study, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said China has 320 nuclear warheads while India is estimated to have 150.