Rajnath: India must develop Hypersonic Cruise Missiles

The defence minister said countries that have done defence innovation are the ones who have bested their enemies and left a mark on history

New Delhi: Amid global concern over China recently testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that India must immediately move towards developing hypersonic cruise missiles to maintain minimum credible deterrence against its enemies.

Mr Singh pointed out that ballistic missile defence systems are getting more and more robust with the passage of time. “In order to maintain a minimum credible deterrence, we have to immediately think about hypersonic cruise missile development. It will be a revolutionary step in our defence sector and we all have to put our efforts into it,” he at a ceremony while handing over five Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed products to the armed forces and other security agencies.

The defence minister said countries that have done defence innovation are the ones who have bested their enemies and left a mark on history. “We should, therefore, strengthen ourselves and be ready to deal with any kind of situation,” he said. The defence minister said it should be ensured that India was a leader when it comes to defence technologies. “We have to obtain those technologies too that are with just a few countries right now,” said Mr Singh.

China had recently tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile which circled the globe before moving towards its target. This could give China a space-based global strike capability and reduce the amount of target warning time prior to a strike.

Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds of at least Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) but are more manoeuvrable than ballistic missiles. These could challenge detection and defences due to their speed and low altitude of flight. A US Congressional Research Service report in October said India had collaborated with Russia on the development of BrahMos-II, a Mach 7 hypersonic cruise missile.

“Although BrahMos-II was initially intended to be fielded in 2017, news reports indicate that the programme faces significant delays and is now scheduled to achieve initial operational capability between 2025 and 2028,” said the report. It said India is also developing an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle programme and successfully tested a Mach 6 “Scramjet” in June 2019 and September 2020.

Mr Singh said that today, in the battlefield, there is a new warrior called “technology”. The way technology’s role has increased in the battlefield is amazing and unprecedented, he noted. Therefore, defence technologies with India must catch up with the future, he added.

The products handed over to the armed forces and the home ministry by the defence minister include an anti-drone system, modular bridge, smart anti-airfield weapon, and the lightweight firefighting suit. The counter drone systems, developed by DRDO, is for detection, deterrence and destruction of incoming drones. Mr Singh also handed over a Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), an air-launched, long-range, stand-off, air-to-surface Smart Bomb, to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari.

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