India has begun the process of acquiring the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) from the US to fully secure its airspace against aerial threats ranging from drones to ballistic missiles.
A defence ministry source told Times of India, "the US is likely to send the final draft of the ‘letter of acceptance’ for the sale of NASAMS-II to India under its foreign military sales programme, at a cost of over Rs 6,000 crore, by July-August."
Once the deal is inked, the deliveries will take place in two to four years, according to a report published in TOI. The NASAMS-II will be used along with indigenous, Russian and Israeli systems to establish a multi-layered missile shield over the National Capital Territory of Delhi. As per the proposed overall air defence plan for Delhi, the innermost layer of protection will be through the NASAMS. Defence acquisitions council (DAC), chaired by India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, had in 2018, approved the "acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the acquisition of NASAMS-II.
NASAMS-II is an upgraded version of the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace/Raytheon National Advanced Surfaceto-Air Missile System (NASAMS) and features new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers for quicker reaction. The new air-defence system will eventually supplement the long-delayed indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield that is in an advanced stage of development by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
A NASAMS battery consists of up to 12 multimissile launchers, each of which can carry six AIM-120-series advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) or other surface-to-air missiles (SAMs); up to eight AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel X-band 3D radars; up to four Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs); and up to four MPS 500 electrooptical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor system vehicles.
US to offer India alternative to Russian S-400 missile defence system
Meanwhile, the US is working with India to offer an alternative to the Russian S-400 Triumf missile defence system. Upset with India's $5.4 billion Moscow deal, the US has offered Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advance Capability (PAC-3) missile defence systems to India in as an alternative to Russian S-400s. According to a report published in HT, the Trump administration is understood to have made the offer in May, 2019.
The exact cost of a THAAD defence system could not be ascertained, but according to a CNBC report, each unit can cost an estimated $3 billion.