Naval SCALP – Possible Teeth for IN Scorpenes?

By Sayan Majumdar


New Delhi, 02 January 2007  

The Naval vertically launched derivative of the MBDA SCALP EG/Storm Shadow Conventionally Armed Stand-Off Missiles (CASOM) is scheduled to enter production in 2006 and scheduled to enter service in 2011, to provide the French Marine Nationale (Navy) FREMM Guided Missile armed Frigates (FFG) and Barracuda Class Nuclear powered attack submarines (SSN) a formidable stand-off land attack capability including strategic counterforce punch.

To be launched from Sylver A-70 vertical launcher the MBDA turbojet powered 1,500-kg and 1,000-km+ ranged SCALP/Storm Shadow CASOM pack qualifies as a mini-cruise missile, capable of successful counterforce operations against enemy high value conventional and nuclear infrastructure by conventional strikes alone, yet stays clear from anticipated heavy enemy ground-based defences. Designed to cruise at low-levels to avoid radar detection, it has inertial guidance and navigation followed by TERrain PROfile Matching (TERPROM) navigation with an integrated GPS in the terminal target approach phase of flight.

During terminal phase in combination with passive Imaging Infra Red (IIR) sensors with Autonomous Target Recognition (ATR) system, the missile retains considerable autonomous operations capability over long ranges, while its effective Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented Charge (BROACH) unitary penetration warhead is programmed to inflict maximum damage on impact even on buried and hardened targets.

Recent enhancement programmes of the SCALP EG include the capability to relay target information just before impact, utilization of link-back data-link to relay back battle damage assessment and option for in-flight retargeting capability, utilizing a two-way data-link. In the naval context, these attributes usually associated with launch from airborne platforms, will require the presence of Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) or Over the Horizon Targeting (OHT) platforms.

In the Indian Navy the Scalp EG will provide an invaluable strategic punch to its projected Scorpene submarine fleet, endowing it with a formidable counterforce punch, very much relevant in littoral operations, provided the missile can be launched in encapsulated form from the standard 21-in torpedo tubes.

Indeed sale or transfer of technology of Scalp EG CASOM will create problems in context to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) restrictions, yet the close and mutual trustworthy nature of Indo-French cooperation in the strategic arena may create “wonders”, just like the IAF’s customised Mirage 2000H/TH fleet.

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