Indian LR-SAM Barak-8: A Game Changer Against Chinese Nuclear Threat Arising Out of HGV Wu-14

Shailesh Kumar
New Delhi
It was not just a LR SAM (Barak-8) missile which India successfully test fired on the Western Seaboard by INS Kolkata but a full blown system that included Multi-Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar. The MF STAR is used for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile lending capabilities to Indian destroyers to neutralize aerial threats at extended ranges such as threat arising out of Chinese Hypersonic Glide Vehicle, Wu-14, now called DF-ZF. The question, Should India fear of Chinese aerial weapon platform HGV Wu-14?, is finally answered.

With roars, Indian Navy has taken a quantum leap in its Air Defence Capabilities.  "This is a quantum jump in our anti air warfare capability and anti missile defence capability. Not only these missiles have been tested but the associated systems, that is, the radar and weapon control system has also been proven", says Captain DK Sharma, Spokesperson, Indian Navy.
"LR-SAM Barak-8 can intercept and kill any supersonic or even hypersonic weapon either an aircraft or a missile, which has incoming approach. The system encompasses three factors, i) calculator for point of impact, ii) proximity fuze, and iii) mathematically calculated salvo. The missile is so fierce that even if it does not actually touch the target, it can explode and cause damage", explains cmde Ranjit Rai, a leading defence expert.

For Navy the the range of LRSAM is in excess of +45 kilometer that would mean within a range of 75 kilometer Barak-8 can hit a supersonic or hypersonic target with a speed of 2.8 mach. What adds to the beauty is INS Kolkata, first of destroyer class that also carries Special Telemetry System. According to sources, currently LRSAM can hit a target moving in a flat trajectory. However, future versions of LRSAMs can even take care of course corrections.

Indian Navy must have been sure of Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) then only they fired the actual missile today. In first of the tests they must have use a dummy, says a source. The Navy before a missile test issues NOTAM (Notice to Airmen/ Mariners) so they stay away in the safe range. Indian Navy did not specify about the target but a guess-work can put supersonic Dhanush or STICS missile as the best bet.

"The firing trial of the LR SAM has been jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)", Indian Navy said in the press release. However, a source informs that the missile part was being developed by Rafael and DRDO worked on the target.  

Work on the development of LR-SAM was started in January 2006, and was supposed to be delivered to the Navy in October 2012. The program could be running a bit late but it's a fatal delivery to the enemy.

The Navy would use the LR-SAMs on its 4 new Kolkata-class destroyers, 7 proposed Project 17A frigates being built by MDL & GRSE, and the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). "These Surface to Air Missiles are fitted onboard the Kolkata Class Destroyers and would also be fitted on all future major warships of the Indian Navy", Indian Navy says in its release.

What is Wu-14 And How Does It Impact India's Air Defence?

India is no less a military power with capability to fight a two front war! But of late China has start developing mysterious hypersonic weapons which can launch a nuclear attack with a maximum speed 12 times higher than the speed of sound. Chinese mysterious WU-14 Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) which was first flight tested on 9th January 2014, can strike anywhere in the world within one hour and India is no exception.

Strapped on top of a DF-21 intermediate range ballistic missile, launched from Taiyuan Sateellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, the Wu-14 HGV was boosted high into the atmosphere. Wu-14 then traveled at hypersonic speed at 10 mach that is 12,359 kilometer per hour. It then enters space, cruise the distance and then it glided back to Earth at hypersonic speeds leaving no time for any air defense system to scramble.

China again tested the Wu-14 HGV in August 2015 fifth time. China is also believed to be developing a hypersonic scramjet version that can be launched from air or ground.

It has always been a question, should India fear Chinese hypersonic weapons because they are extremely fast and difficult to shoot down? Wu-14 which is now called as DF-ZF can also tear American Air Defence system apart even without giving a chance to react for the threat. Imagine a nuclear bomb approaching India with a speed of over 12000 kilometer per hour. Indian Air Defence is primarily based on Cruise Missiles which at most travel at 3 mach not fully capable of taking on Wu-14, which can reach Bangalore in twenty minutes, and Delhi in less than ten.

China developed Wu-14 or DF-ZF with an aim to attack aircraft carriers. Since more than 70 per cent of Chinese trade route passes through Indian Ocean, China is always apprehensive about the blocking of this route. China fears that in case of any hostility, Aircraft Carriers of both India and America can pose threat to China. India shares a disputed border with China. Defence and strategic experts believe if there would be any war between India and China, it is going to be in Indian Ocean. India currently operates INS Vikramaditya and Indegenous Aircraft Carrier will be ready by 2016. So India had every reason to fear Chinese Wu-14.

Military expert Brigadier (Retired) Arun Sehgal is however of the view point that any hypersonic global strike like of Wu-14 would be considered a nuclear strike and India has retaliation option as per our nuclear doctrine.    

According to defence experts, the complete development of Wu-14 capable of attacking in a range of 2000 to 3000 kilometers would still take about 20 years. But then by this time, Indian LR-SAMs would develop precision counter strike capabilities rendering Chinese Wu-14 a complete knock off. Now with the successful testing of LR-SAM system, Indian Navy has joined an elite club of Navies that have the niche air defence capability, which would provide a fillip to Indian Maritime Operations.

Indian LR-SAM Barak-8: A Game Changer Against Chinese Nuclear Threat Arising Out of HGV Wu-14 Indian LR-SAM Barak-8: A Game Changer Against Chinese Nuclear Threat Arising Out of HGV Wu-14 Reviewed by Shailesh Kumar on 9:54:00 PM Rating: 5
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