An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 26 November 2003

We reproduce below an input from a very knowledgeable ‘defence analyst’ commenting on the Barak firing reported by the media recently:


"Analysis By A Defence Analyst

November 22, 2003

The Indian Navy’s latest Rs 1000-crore Barak anti-missile defence programme, acquired from Israel, received a setback last week when it failed to hit its decoy target off the Mumbai coast. Highly placed sources said the Barak defence system was tested twice from the Navy’s indigenous showpiece, guided missile destroyer INS Delhi. The Barak missiles’ test target was a Russian surface-to-surface missile with a deactivated warhead. However, rather than destroying the Russian target, the missile is said to have taken off and plunged straight into the Arabian Sea. The same thing happened in the second round of tests.

In reply to a detailed questionnaire from The Sunday Express, the Navy spokesman said: ‘‘We have no comments to offer.’’ But the fact is that Israeli manufacturers Rafael and Israeli Aircraft Industries and Navy officials in Mumbai are working overtime to fix the problem.

The Navy has contracted for at least eight Barak systems at the cost of over Rs 1,000 crore. The proposal for purchase of Barak was moved by then CNS Admiral Sushil Kumar and then Western Naval Commander Madhavendra Singh during the Kargil war to boost India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat’s air missile defences.

The only tested Barak system is on the Godavari-class guided missile frigate INS Ganga. The vertically launched Barak is designed to counter sub or missiles such as Exocet or Harpoon (currently in Pakistan’s inventory) within a range of 10 km. The system has an eight-missile launcher, currently used by the Israeli, Singapore and Chilean Navy. Another problem area the Navy is working on is to integrate the Israeli Barak system with its Russian radars and other systems. Top defence officials call it a ‘‘temporary’’ problem.”


The Rafael IAI brochure shows the Barak to be a small 98 kg missile, 2175 mm long with a 22 kg warhead. It is controlled by a powerful X and Ka band immune track guidance radar and 8 Barak missiles are cannisterised in a  vertical launch unit (VLU). It is world's most compact system and easily installable.

We wish to reiterate that the government and MoD should be more open in providing authentic information to the lay public, as the media pick up small strands of information (which perhaps they do not understand!) and blow them out of all proportion. Missile firings are akin to target practice and if sometimes you do not hit the target it is not the end of the world. Therefore to impute that the entire purchase of a system was suspect because it once failed to hit a target is to be naive to say the least.

It should be understood that AA Missile Defence Systems are the most difficult to maintain and require the most accurate electronic tuning of different systems to achieve 100% accuracy. It requires constant practice in peacetime to be ready for the ultimate test during war. In any service around the world, missile firings are conducted regularly and in the past the Indian Navy is known to have had very good results.

In USA and Europe AA firings have failed at times and even the Shtil system fitted on board INS Talwar did have initial hiccups. All professional armed forces carry out missile firings, learn lessons and then correct any mistakes so that they are ready for war.

This should be clearly understood and therefore the media analysis above, which appeared recently, should be taken with a pinch of salt!

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