New Delhi: The user trials of indigenous developed very short-range air defence system (VSHORADS) to neutralise low-altitude aerial threats within a 6 km range, is expected by April-May 2024. According to a senior defence official, the 4th generation VSHORADS surpasses existing MANPADS in the Indian armed forces due to its state-of-the-art uncooled imaging infrared seeker. The success of the indigenous VSHORADS in user trials could mark a significant milestone in bolstering India’s air defence capabilities.
Designed to eliminate hostile aircraft, drones, and helicopters at very short ranges, this development of India gearing up to commence ‘user trials’ for its indigenous man-portable air defence missile system, comes as the armed forces are currently inducting a limited number of Russian systems to address operational gaps in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, stated a media report.
In January 2023, the defence acquisitions council, led by Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement of DRDO developed VSHORADS missiles at a cost of Rs 1,920 crore. The VSHORADS, with proven upper-range capabilities through developmental tests, is now set for crucial user trials before potential bulk production. Simultaneously, under the “Make-II” category project, funded by the industry for prototype development, Indian companies are exploring the development of “laser-beam riding VSHORADS”.
The armed forces view VSHORADS as a low-cost option for swift deployment, offering close air defence protection in rugged high-altitude areas and the maritime domain. VSHORADS with their operational versatility and utility during the Russia-Ukraine war have proven itself to be an cost-effective option.
Initiated in June 2009, the procurement process saw the selection of Russian Igla-S anti-aircraft missile system. As the initial off-the-shelf purchase followed by technology transfer to Bharat Dynamics for subsequent production did not materialise, as a temporary solution, the Army and IAF resorted to emergency procurement of Igla-S MANPADS over the past three years. The latest contract which was signed in May 2023, included 100 Igla-S missiles and 48 launchers. The Igla-S variant boasts an improved interception range of up to 6 km.