They may have achieved only 35-40% indigenisation in weapons and sensors on their warships so far, but that hasn’t kept the Indian Navy from fancying a future with weapons right out of the Star Wars films.
Lasers and microwaves are directed-energy weapons that discharge concentrated energy beams to destroy targets with minimum collateral damage. While laser weapons onboard warships would enable them to blast incoming targets like missiles and rockets at the speed of light, microwave-based weapons can destroy the enemy’s electronic equipment and communication network through an electromagnetic explosion.
“Fielding directed-energy capabilities may currently be in the conceptual sphere, but it is a critical long-term focus area. This class of weaponry offers significant advantages over conventional naval artillery,” the officer said.
The possession of technology to build such futuristic weapons could help bring India on par with the United States which successfully tested a laser weapon in the Persian Gulf last year. “The navy’s policy and plans wing has identified directed-energy weapons as a key long-term development project. We are sharpening focus on it,” said another officer familiar with the plan.
The US Navy is on track to kick off sea trials of its electromagnetic railgun next year, a lethal weapon that can fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds using electricity. The railgun has been developed by BAE Systems, a defence firm targeting opportunities in the Indian market.