India, a Missile Power

by Oct 23, 2020Defence & Foreign Policy0 comments

With more than 12 test-firings of missiles and systems in the last one and half months, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has demonstrated that no enemy can ever dare to challenge the country’s unity, integrity and growing power. These missiles are testimonies to country’s resolve and confidence in the face of the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

Final user trial of 3rd generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) NAG was carried out on 22 Oct 2020 at 0645 hrs from Pokhran range. The missile was integrated with the actual warhead and a tank target was kept at designated range. This was launched from NAG Missile Carrier NAMICA. The missile hit the target accurately defeating the armour.

ATGM NAG has been developed by DRDO to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions. The missile has “Fire & Forget” “Top Attack” capabilities with passive homing guidance to defeat all MBTs equipped with composite and reactive armour.

The NAG missile carrier NAMICA is a BMP II based system with amphibious capability. With this final user trial, NAG will enter into production phase. The missile will be produced by Defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), whereas Ordinance Factory Medak will produce the NAMICA. It would now be inducted in the Indian Army.

The Nag anti-tank missile has completed 10 successful user trials with the weapon finding and also hitting the target. This would mean that the Indian Army will not have to import this weapon from Israel or the United States for a range of four kilometres. India had to buy 200 pieces of Spike anti tank missiles from Israel as emergency purchases. The Spikes were purchased from Israel following the Galwan Valley clash on June 15.

Similarly, the country is all set to induct Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile into the Indian Army and Navy. This would be done after the 7th trial which is scheduled for next month. The 1,000 kilometre rocket booster missile has a single shot kill ration of more than 90 per cent. The Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile travels at a speed of 0.7 mach. It has not terrain hugging and sea skimming capability which helps it to avoid detection. The sophisticated missile with a strike range of 1,000 km was test launched from a specially-designed launcher last year. Powered by a solid rocket motor booster, ‘Nirbhay’ missile with a turbo-fan engine is guided by a highly advanced inertial navigation system. After the missile achieves designated altitude and velocity the booster motor is separated and the torfan engine automatically switches on taking over further propulsion.

ATGM NAG has been developed by DRDO to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions. The missile has “Fire & Forget” “Top Attack” capabilities with passive homing guidance to defeat all MBTs equipped with composite and reactive armour..

Two days ago, India also successfully test fired the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos having a range of around 400 km. The BrahMos cruise missile travels at a speed of Mach 2.8, nearly three times that of sound. BrahMos Aerospace, an India-Russian joint venture, produces the supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or from land platforms.

On October 19, the DRDO conducted a test of Stand-Off Anti Tank Missile (SANT) off the coast of Odisha.

On October 9, India’s first indigenous anti-radiation missile named Rudram, developed for the Air Force (IAF), was successfully flight tested from a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet off the east coast.

On October 5, DRDO tested the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system. It’s an indigenously developed mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from an existing supersonic missile system — by making complex modifications — which takes the torpedo to a much longer range than its own.

On October 3, DRDO tested another nuclear capable missile Shaurya, which is a land-based version of the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Sagarika or K-15 with a range of around 800 km.

On September 30, BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic Land-Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) featuring an indigenous booster and airframe section along with many other ‘Made in India’ sub-systems was flight tested from ITR. On October 17, the Naval version of the BrahMos was successfully test fired from Indian Navy’s indigenously-built stealth destroyer INS Chennai, hitting a target in the Arabian Sea..

On September 24, a successful night flight test of nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile with a range of around 400 kilometres was tested at the ITR. The test was executed by the Strategic Forces Command of India and monitored by the DRDO and other defence forces.

On September 22, the Laser-Guided Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) was test fired from Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun at a field range in Maharashtra where it hit a target at a 3-km range. The test was repeated for a slightly longer range on October 1. Laser Guided ATGM is a boost to the Armoured Warfare capabilities.

On September 22, again, a flight test of Abhyas, a High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT), was conducted from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) Balasore in Odisha when two demonstrator vehicles were test flown. Abhyas has been developed to be used as a target for evaluation of various missile systems.

On September 7, the DRDO successfully flight tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), which is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with a capability to travel at six times the speed of sound. The flight test of the vehicle is looked at as a boost to the development of the systems built with hypersonic vehicles including both offensive and defensive hypersonic cruise missiles and also in the space sector. The test was conducted at the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.

All the above tests, possibly in the shortest time span ever in the country’s missile-journey, indicate the government’s urgency, given the border situation with China. After all, unless the nation is strong we cannot enjoy the peace.

Our overall missile power cab summarised as below:

Prithvi – Hitting the bulls eye

The first indigenous guided missile to enter arsenal and the first success from the IGMDP had its maiden flight in February 2008 from SHAR the Sriharikota range, since DRDO had no test range of its own. Originally planned as a tactical SS missile for the army, it had to prove its accuracy on ground, literally. India, with its dense population, having no test firing range for a missile of Prithvi class had been keeping the target point in sea. Telemetry data, as is common practice, was used to track flight path and determine accuracy. Insistence by user to demonstrate physically measured accuracy required Prithvi to be fired on ground. The search, led by Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat and overseen by Dr Kalam, led to rediscovery of uninhabited ‘Wheeler island’. Well, that’s another interesting story for another occasion.

Varients: Army, Navy, Air Force (Tactical), SFC (Strategic) Range: 150 km, 250 km, 350 Km Payload: 1000 kg / 500 kg Guidance: Inertial Navigation System (INS) Propulsion: Liquid propellant, with Thrust vectoring Accuracy: single digit (meters) Launch platform: Road mobile, Ship.

Agni Series

Reentry into the atmosphere – a different ball game. Key technologies indigenously mastered to protect payload from high temperatures e.g. over 4500K in case of Agni 5 (Temperature of oxy-hydrogen flame, for comparison is 3000K), high g shock, etc. Thus, Agni was the only technology demonstrator (and not development of missile) project under the IGMDP, unlike the other four – Prithvi, Akash, Nag and Trishul being systems development projects. Aim was to develop and demonstrate reentry technology. All missiles in Agni series are powered by solid propellants, are equipped with strapped down inertial navigation system and SOC (system on chip) based onboard computer (OBC) and have two digit accuracy (in meters): Agni 1: 700 km, road mobile Agni 2: 2500 km, two stage. Rail mobile Agni 3: 3000 km, Two stage, Road mobile, Agni 4: 4000 km, Two stage, Road mobile Agni 5 the game changer: Reaching out to where it matters. Range in excess of 5000 km, three stage, road mobile. Launch from canister is quantum jump in capabilities with advantages of faster response, safer storage, less maintenance, longer shelf life and camouflage. Three test launches, all perfect including one from canister held on 31st January 2015 proved “Agni 5” as a potent and reliable weapon delivery platform system with needed reach, as well as the new technologies evolved and mastered make Agni-5 the most contemporary and state of the art missile.

Underwater Launched Strategic Missile

BO5 On 27th January 2013, the fully indigenous ballistic missile capable of being launched from submarine, underwent last of the preproduction trials from an underwater test platform innovatively designed and built for testing such systems. In addition to complexities associated with surface launched counterparts, the underwater launched ballistic missiles involve many more. Considerations of safety of submarine and its crew, above all, demand missile system to have safety and reliability of extremely high order. Difficult but achieve successfully.

Long Range Cruise Missile

Nirbhay, a thousand kilometer class cruise missile under development by DRDO, had its second test flight on 17th October 2014 from the Integrated Test Range in Balasore. Meeting all mission objectives, Nirbhay, powered by a turbofan engine and guided by an advanced navigation system, maintained its flight path with single digit accuracy (meters). Capability to fly very low following a flight path chalked out to dodge enemy radars and loitering near the target to strike at the optimum moment, are among key advantages of this class of cruise missiles.

Akash SAM based Air Defence System

Just as Agni-5 is a game changer in terms of strategic empowerment and technological strength, Akash air defence systems is a game changer for India’s R&D and industrial strength in terms of taking complex, cutting edge technologies from lab, through industry, to the battlefield, especially when mass production of a giant system of systems in multi-lab, multi-industry multi-user environment. Unlike common perception of simply being a surface to air supersonic missile, Akash is a highly cost effective relative, fully integrated, mobile, multi-directional, multi-target air defence system with advanced Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM), offering point defence as well as area defence in a fully autonomous mode of operation allowing automated management of air defence functions such as programmable surveillance, target detection, target acquisition, tracking, identification, threat evaluation, prioritization, assignment and engagement; with option of integration with other air defence command and control networks through secured communication links. All the hardware including RAMjet engine based power pack, advanced phased array radar cross country launchers and other vehicles, software, algorithms, design test and evaluation facilities were designed developed and realised as one of the key elements of “Panchtatv IGMDP”. Akash system employs command guidance scheme with missile guided till intercept. The missile itself being high manoeuvrable can take care of high performance air targets, such as tactical strike aircraft, bombers, high altitude reconnaissance airplanes and armed helicopters. It can operate between altitudes around 30 m to over 18 km with a wide no escape zone and slant range of over 25 km covered within 35 seconds. With orders worth about Rs 23000 crore from our own Army and Air Force already under execution, more in the pipeline, Akash system with is low cost and high performance has huge export potential.


Shining example of International Collaboration BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture of DRDO with “NPO Mashinostroyenia” of Russia formed in February 1998, amalgamated the strengths of two organizations to rapidly develop and manufacture the world’s first ever cruise missile that is supersonic throughout its flight range of about 290 km (restricted due to MTCR). In a test firing without the warhead, the missile had smashed a through hole across the target, a discarded ship, with its shear kinetic energy. It’s vertical launch, target discrimination capabilities combined with steep diving even at supersonic speeds make it a unique and deadly weapon. Already inducted in our Navy and Army, the aircraft launched Air Force version is going to be inducted soon.

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