The INS Imphal, a guided missile destroyer, serves as a testament to India’s expanding maritime defence capabilities. This naval vessel is outfitted with a range of cutting-edge weaponry that bolsters its combat readiness and adaptability. Among its arsenal are the Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles, which offer comprehensive aerial defence, and the BrahMos anti-ship missiles, providing a potent offensive capability against enemy surface vessels. The ship also boasts RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers, ensuring robust underwater defence. To counter various threats at close range, the ship is armed with the OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun and the AK-630M Close-In Weapon System. Furthermore, advanced decoy systems such as the Kavach decoy launchers and Maareech torpedo-countermeasure systems have been incorporated to enhance the ship’s survivability in combat scenarios. Each weapon system contributes to the ship’s all-round capability against enemy submarines, surface warships, anti-ship missiles, and fighter aircraft. Consequently, the INS Imphal stands as a formidable platform, capable of undertaking a diverse range of tasks and missions across the entire spectrum of maritime warfare.
Anti-Air Warfare: Barak 8 Surface-to-Air Missiles
Equipped with a 4 × 8-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS), the INS Imphal boasts a formidable arsenal of 32 Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles. Each missile, measuring 4.5 m in length and weighing 275 kg (excluding the booster), is a product of collaboration between India and Israel. The Barak 8 is specifically designed to counter any airborne threat, be it aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, UAVs, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or combat jets. Its operational range spans from 0.5 km to 70 km for the single-stage rocket variant and an impressive 150 km for the 2-stage rocket variant. With the LRSAM variant reaching speeds of Mach 2 and the MRSAM variant surpassing Mach 3, the Barak 8 provides an impenetrable shield against aerial threats. Weighing 60 kg, the missile’s warhead is engineered to inflict significant damage upon its target. The Barak 8’s ability to engage targets swiftly and effectively over vast distances enhances the ship’s survivability and combat prowess in hostile environments.
Anti-Surface Warfare: BrahMos Anti-Ship Missiles
The ship is equipped with 16 BrahMos anti-ship missiles, housed in 2 x 8-cell VLS. The BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile with a medium-range and a ramjet engine. The BrahMos-NG variant weighs between 1,200–1,500 kg, while the standard BrahMos weighs 3,000 kg. The length of the BrahMos-NG is 6 metres, whereas the standard BrahMos measures 8.4 m. This versatile missile can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land platforms. With a range of over 500 km for ship and land platforms, and 450–500 km for air platforms, and a maximum speed of Mach 3, the BrahMos equips INS Imphal with a formidable strike capability against enemy surface vessels. Its warhead weighs between 200–300 kg, delivering significant damage to enemy ships. The BrahMos’ high speed and long range make it a powerful offensive weapon, greatly enhancing the ship’s ability to engage enemy surface vessels from a distance.
Anti-Submarine Warfare: RBU-6000 Rocket Launchers
INS Imphal is equipped with 4 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes and 2 × RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers for effective anti-submarine warfare. The RBU-6000, a Soviet anti-submarine weapon rocket launcher with a calibre of 213 mm, provides a robust defence against enemy submarines. With the capability to launch rockets to distances ranging from 350 m to 5,500 m, depending on the ballistic setting, it offers a versatile and powerful means of engagement. Each rocket weighs 113.5 kg and carries a 23 kg explosive warhead, ensuring a significant impact. The launcher is capable of engaging enemy submarines at depths ranging from 10 to 500 m, further enhancing its effectiveness. By enabling the launch of rockets over a wide range of distances, the RBU-6000 greatly enhances the ship’s ability to detect, engage, and neutralize underwater threats.
Versatile Gun Systems: OTO Melara 76 mm Naval Gun and AK-630M CIWS
INS Imphal is equipped with a range of powerful gun systems, including the OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun and the AK-630M CIWS. The OTO Melara 76 mm gun, developed by the renowned Italian defence company Oto Melara, is a versatile naval artillery piece. With a weight of 7,900 kg, it can fire shells measuring 76 x 900 mm, each weighing 12.34 kilograms. This gun has an impressive range of motion, with the ability to elevate from -15° to +85° and traverse a full 360°. Its rate of fire ranges from 85 to 120 rounds per minute, depending on the variant.
The AK-630M CIWS, on the other hand, is a fully automatic close-in weapon system that utilizes a six-barrelled 30 mm rotary cannon. This system provides a reliable defence against various threats, including enemy aircraft, missiles, and small boats.
Both the OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun and the AK-630M CIWS play crucial roles in the gun systems of INS Imphal. The OTO Melara gun boasts a muzzle velocity of 925 m/s and a maximum firing range of 20,000 m, ensuring its effectiveness in combat situations. Meanwhile, the AK-630M CIWS offers rapid and accurate firepower, further enhancing the ship’s defensive capabilities.
Advanced Decoy Systems: Kavach Decoy Launchers and Maareech Torpedo-Countermeasure Systems
The INS Imphal is equipped with state-of-the-art decoy systems, namely the Kavach decoy launchers and the Maareech torpedo countermeasure systems. The Kavach system serves as a distraction for radar-guided missiles, while the Maareech system acts as an advanced defence mechanism against torpedoes. These systems play a crucial role in enhancing the ship’s ability to counter incoming threats. By launching decoys, the Kavach system effectively diverts radar-guided missiles, thereby increasing the ship’s survivability. On the other hand, the Maareech system provides a means to neutralize and distract enemy torpedoes. Together, these systems significantly bolster the INS Imphal’s combat capabilities and ensure its survival in hostile situations.
The INS Imphal, a guided missile destroyer, serves as a testament to India’s maritime capabilities. With its advanced weaponry, it greatly enhances security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The ship’s versatile capabilities against submarines, warships, missiles, and aircraft enable it to operate independently and lead naval task forces. This makes the INS Imphal a powerful and adaptable platform capable of undertaking various maritime missions.
To strengthen coastal surveillance, the Indian Navy has been actively improving its maritime domain awareness. The Indian Ministry of Defence has recently announced the establishment of forty-two new coastal radar stations in 2021. Additionally, a major National Maritime Domain Awareness (NMDA) project has been approved to create an integrated intelligence grid for real-time detection and response to sea-based threats by December 2022.
For the past five years, India has maintained a consistent naval presence in the Indian Ocean, with eight ships patrolling the ocean 24/7. This continuous presence allows India to effectively monitor its coastal waters and respond promptly to any potential threats. The Indian Navy, along with its regional partners, is committed to addressing shared concerns through collaborative initiatives. Diplomatic and cooperative efforts play a crucial role in India’s approach to ensuring security in the Indian Ocean.
The induction of INS Imphal is a significant milestone in the ‘Make in India’ campaign, which strives to foster domestic defence production. This not only strengthens India’s defence capabilities but also diminishes reliance on international manufacturers. The naval defence expenditure has been consistently rising, with a notable 45 per cent increase in 2022 solely allocated for procuring new platforms and equipment. This augmented budget is primarily focused on enhancing capabilities rather than remunerations. These measures collectively bolster maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), ensuring a safer environment for both commercial and defence operations.