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The Indian Army Have A New Tank Killer

February 5, 2023
The NAMICA at the Republic Day parade on January 26. Via Indian media.

Asian militaries are deploying new weaponry at a rapid clip. The Indian armed forces are no exception and for their annual military parade at the Rajpath in New Delhi the ongoing theme remained “Atmanirbhar Bharat” with an obvious emphasis on locally made vehicles and equipment. (Of course, India’s sprawling military-industrial sector is still reliant on licensed foreign models.) A welcome appearance was made by a lone Namica or NAMICA tracked vehicle whose role is to field and launch six NAG fire-and-forget NLOS missiles. The NAG is broadly comparable to the MBDA Brimstone and the Rafale Spike ER2 and when added to a pivoting launcher on a protected transporter the resulting system packs a remarkable punch.

India’s state-owned military-industrial sector, which has undergone a wave of privatization from 2021-2022, is responsible for an impressive catalog of anti-tank missiles. The NAG shares almost the same dimensions as its European counterpart the Brimstone and is tailored for whatever mission its end users require. Although the NAG hasn’t been tested on a maritime vessel yet it does have specific land (NAMICA) and airborne variants (HELINA). The HELINA has tested successfully on the Dhruv light attack helicopter and would compare favorably to the AGM-114 Hellfire. Both the NAG and the HELINA are approved for export and are advertised by the Ministry of Defense Production (MDP) along with partner agencies as such. A notable drawback of the NAG is, for a missile with dimensions 150mm x 1,832mm, it only has a 4 kilometer maximum range despite having a top attack trajectory. By comparison, the man-portable MBDA Akeron MP is smaller, lighter but exceeds 4 km in effective range. Even the Soviet vintage Konkurs ATGM, which is wired-guided and controlled through semi-automatic command line-of-sight, covers as much distance as the more advanced NAG.

When it comes to the NAMICA or Nag Missile Carrier the complete system wrapped up its live fire tests in 2020 and the army are now due to receive an undisclosed number. The main advantage of the NAMICA is it combines the hull of the BMP-2 Sarath assembled by OFB Medak with a mature anti-tank missile developed by the DRDO and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, the state-owned manufacturer responsible for NAG production. The result is comparable to the Chinese ground force’s AFT-10 “tank destroyer” that carries box launchers for eight HJ-10 non-line-of-sight missiles. An earlier prototype of the NAMICA did have box launchers for eight NAG missiles but this has been scaled down to six. The NAMICA in its current form does have a few interesting details; a remote controlled weapon station for a machine gun is located next to the commander’s hatch. The vehicle’s engine exhaust is concealed in a rectangular chute or port that redirects its fumes away from the hull.

The Indian Army have decades of experience operating the Soviet vintage BMP-1 and the BMP-2. The BMP-2 Sarath in particular is the most eclectic “family” in the BMP-series made outside Russia and the army operate as many as 2,000 units as infantry fighting vehicles. Thanks to the persistent efforts by OFB Medak it has modified the BMP-2 into an ambulance, an engineering reconnaissance vehicle, a mortar carrier, and an engineering vehicle for CBRNe environments. Although the production of NAMICA launchers is kept away from public scrutiny these weapon systems give the army a serious advantage in future missions. When operating in a theater the NAMIC, whether alone or accompanied by other launchers, is able to track and destroy a multitude targets beyond the line-of-sight. This makes the NAMICA impervious from counter-fire and even detection by the enemy unless drones are employed for battlefield surveillance or tactical radars are directed to locate it.

The NAG will no doubt continue to evolve in the coming years. Its potential applications are broad and eclectic and there’s a strong possibility it’s combined in a multiple launcher configuration with a wheeled armored vehicle soon–the army have these in abundance. The envelope for missiles once classified under the “anti-tank” role has been pushed so far it’s now possible for these to reach targets 20 kilometers and even 50 km depending on how their rocket motors, guidance, and flight characteristics are improved. The NAG is part of this trend and it might be used in combat sooner than anyone expected.

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