India will finally be able to strengthen the eroding defensive shield around its 14 frontline warships, with the Modi government clearing the long-delayed “critical” acquisition of 262 missiles to arm the Israeli Barak-I anti-missile defence (AMD) systems fitted on board them.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening gave the final nod to the Rs 880 crore acquisition of Barak-I missiles, which has been hanging fire for the last six years despite successive Navy chiefs sounding the red alert over this “critical operational deficiency”, said sources.

The Barak AMD systems, installed on aircraft carrier INS Viraat, guided-missile destroyers like INS Mysore and Shivalik-class stealth frigates, are designed to intercept and destroy incoming enemy missiles at a range of 9-km. India had ordered the first Barak-I system for INS Viraat in the late 1990s to counter Pakistan’s acquisition of sea-skimming Exocet and Harpoon missiles. […]