India seeks to establish a “rocket force” to enhance strike capability

The Indian army is seeking to establish its own “rocket force” to integrate ballistic missiles and cruise missiles equipped by multiple services to enhance the missile’s strike capability.

On November 6th, the “Diplomat” website published an article written by author Saurav Jha-“India’s Coming “Rocket Army“. The article stated that the Indian Armed force is seeking to establish its own “Rocket Army”.

Amiet R. Kashyap on Twitter: "Agni-1 to 5 missiles"  / Twitter

In the opinion of experts, India has successfully developed a variety of ballistic missiles with a range of 100 kilometers to 8000 kilometers, and a number of cruise missiles have also been successfully developed. This has laid the material foundation for India to establish its own “rocket force”. The integration of forces will enhance India’s conventional long-range precision strike capabilities.

It is worth mentioning that India has recently successfully tested the Agni-5 missile again. On October 27, local time, the Indian military successfully tested an “Agni”-5 intercontinental missile with a range of 5,000-8,000 kilometers. This is the first night test firing of the three-stage “Agni-5” missile using solid fuel, and the first test-fired by the Indian Strategic Forces Command since the “Agni-5” entered service this year.

Agni Prime missile
Agni Prime ballistic missile

In June of this year, India successfully tested the “Agni”-P ballistic missile, and some analysts pointed out that the missile will be derived from anti-ship, conventional ground strikes and other models. Even DRDO scientist approved this theory and said it can strike movable target, so we can say that its India aircraft carrier killer ballistic missile.

In September 2021, India’s Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, stated that India was looking to set up a “Rocket Force” of its own. This announcement was in many ways a belated recognition of a stark asymmetry that currently exists in the China-India military balance – the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has the ability to mount a major conventional missile strike campaign against critical Indian military and civilian targets with New Delhi’s response options being limited in comparison.

Agni-V inter continental ballistic missile

Saurav Jha believes that India’s establishment of its own rocket is not only for the deployment of preemptive surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) for deterrence or for firing against opponents when necessary, but also reflects a worldwide trend. That is, using the striking opportunity during a strategic confrontation to attack the enemy’s key targets, such as the command center, air defense positions, troop assembly areas, logistics nodes, etc., these are ground targets that are relatively difficult for the enemy to intercept.

At present, both the Indian Air Force and the Army have their own surface-to-surface missile forces, and the Navy is also equipped with ballistic missile nuclear submarines, and many ships are also equipped with long-range missiles capable of ground attack.

According to the article, in essence, the announcement of the establishment of its own “rocket force” is a clear signal that India will use surface-to-surface missiles on a large scale and accurately during limited conflicts in order to meet the “non-contact” in the future joint combat environment. “The age of war.

India seeks to establish its own “rocket force” to consolidate the missile capabilities of the various services under a single command and control structure so that they can be used optimally and efficiently in a joint force environment, rather than being scattered across various The military services are subject to the plans of the various services. India’s own “Rocket Army” needs more throwing quality and accuracy than other troops, and the integration of existing assets from the current three services can immediately meet this goal.

brahmos missile
Brahmos cruise missile

India has successfully developed a number of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, which has laid the material foundation for India to establish its own “rocket force.”

As the Chairman of the Defense and Development Organization of India (DRDO) recently said: India “is completely self-reliant in missile technology.” For ballistic missiles, this statement is of course correct. From solid-fuel rocket engines to inertial navigation systems (INS), to system-on-chip computers and actuators, India can obtain them from the domestic supply chain.

India began to develop the “Agni” and “Prithvi” series of ballistic missiles in the 1980s. So far, it has successfully developed five types of missiles, ranging from Agni-1 to Agni-5, with a range extending from 700 kilometers to 5,000 kilometers. Among them, the longest-range “Agni”-5 missile has a maximum range of more than 5,000 kilometers. The “Prithvi” series of short-range ballistic missiles have also been continuously improved, which can strike targets within 350 kilometers.

In the view of missile Chinese expert Li Wensheng, the “Agni-P” missile, which was successfully tested in June this year, will play an important role in conventional long-range strikes.

“Because this medium-range ballistic missile will be equipped with a conventional warhead and has a strong precision strike capability, some analysts believe that an anti-ship ballistic missile that can strike moving targets at sea will be derived on the basis of this missile,” Li Wensheng told The Paper ( said, “Therefore, many people call it the Indian version of the’Dongfeng’-21 missile.”

The Prithvi Family: Short Range, Vast Power

If India forms its own “rocket force,” short-range ballistic missiles such as “Prithivi” are likely to be included in the newly formed force.

On June 28 this year, India’s Ministry of Defense reported that India successfully tested a new-generation Agni-P ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The Indian Ministry of National Defense pointed out that the “Agni”-P missile is an improved version of the “Agni” missile with a range of 1,000-2,000 kilometers.

But Saurav Jha pointed out that if missile systems like Agni-P are also added to the sequence of conventional strikes, the ambiguity of its deterrence will be more obvious, and the resulting problems will be more acute, It was developed by the Indian Strategic Forces Command (SFC) to undertake nuclear deterrence tasks.

Currently, India’s nuclear weapons are managed and commanded by the Strategic Forces Command. The report “Development Trends of Global Nuclear Forces in 2020” issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden pointed out that India is currently gradually expanding its nuclear arsenal, and the “Trinity” nuclear force has corresponding weapons development projects. The number of nuclear warheads is expected to be 150, an increase of about 30 from the 110-120 estimated in 2016.

Beginning in 2019, the Indian strategic forces began to organize night launch training of nuclear missiles, and successively organized the first night test firing of the “Agni”-2 and “Agni”-3 missiles to strengthen the deterrence of nuclear forces.

In addition to ballistic missiles, India has also developed a variety of cruise missiles, and the “BrahMos” supersonic cruise missile has been equipped with the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Air Force. The “Nirbhay” long-range cruise missile being developed has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers and can accurately strike farther targets.

Saraswat, a scientific adviser to the Minister of Defense of India and former chairman of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), previously told the media that the “Nirbhay” cruise missile can fly at Mach 0.7 and is designed to carry more than 20 warheads. The experimental cruise missile will use conventional warheads, but the long-range modified version can be equipped with nuclear warheads.

The “Hindustan Times” reported that the “Nirbhay” missile has a range of 1,000 kilometers. The missile has terrain matching and sea-skimming flying capabilities, which will help the missile evade enemy reconnaissance and countermeasures.

Nirbhay cruise missile
Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile

Saurav Jha analyzed that the integration of India’s “Rocket Force” combat capabilities may be limited to ground-launched missiles. The Indian Navy seems to believe that its nature determines that it is a force with a combat platform as its core, and it will not hand over the control of its ship-borne ground attack cruise missiles to the “Rocket Force.” Similarly, it is unclear whether the Indian Air Force is willing to hand over control of its air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) to the rocket, which may be consistent with the Indian Air Force’s combat objectives.

Military expert Han Dong told The Paper that India’s quest to establish its own “rocket force” is part of Modi’s military reform. Since 2017, India has initiated a new round of military reforms, hoping to overcome institutional problems and improve India by strengthening top-level design. The military’s joint combat capability is in order to meet the needs of modern warfare.

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