Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hypersonic BrahMos to be inducted in Indian army in five years

Hypersonic BrahMos Version-2 Cruise Missile, an improved version of Indo-Russian joint venture will be inducted in the Indian army during the next fives years.

Media reports quoting a top defence official in Thiruvananthapuram, state capital of Kerala said the Hypersonic BrahMos Version-2 Cruise Missile is in the process of development at present.

Chief Controller of Defence Research organization (DRDO) and Brahmos Aerospace Corporation CEO A Sivathanu Pillai was talking to mediapersons on the eve of the BrahMos Aerospace Corporation, an Indo-Russia joint venture, taking over the state run-Kerala Hightech Industries Ltd. in Kerala.

This first defence production unit in the state would be a major centre for production of components and integration of the supersonic missile system, he said.

“The full-fledged BrahMos complex will be ready for production and assembling in two to three years time,” he said and added “a lot of orders have come for the missile both from Army and Navy, and with an objective to enlarge its production capacity the BrahMos aerospace have decided to have a second production unit here, other than in Hyderabad. “

The company has the plans to export such missiles. “The decision to select the country for export will be taken jointly by India and Russia,” Pillai said. Referring to the developing of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile programme (ICBM), Pillai said the company has no immediate plans for that. “We are in the process of developing a missile for air-force.”

India's supersonic missile to be assembled in Kerala

Brahmos, the world's fastest cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia, would be assembled in Kerala, an official said here Sunday.

Keltec, a state public sector unit here, would start assembling Brahmos supersonic missile in three years, said A. Sivathanu Pillai, MD and CEO of Brahmos Aerospace, here Sunday. The unit would be renamed as Brahmos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd.

"We are taking over Keltec and tomorrow (Monday) Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan would hand over the unit to the Defence Minister A.K. Antony," Pillai told reporters at the campus of the unit.

"Considering the engineering capability, quality of the workforce at Keltec and the contribution of the staff to the country's space programme, the taking over became smoother," said Pillai, who till 1982 worked as a scientist at the ISRO space centre.

In the first phase, Rs.1.25 billion would be invested at the existing campus. Of this Rs.750 million would be invested by the Brahmos Corp and Rs.250 million each would come from ISRO and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Pillai said that all the existing 225 employees of Keltec would be retained and will be given adequate training.

"In less than three years time the first missile would be ready to be assembled here and by then I am certain that many jobs in this sector would also come up," added Pillai.

The Brahmos can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. Brahmos is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. It has the capability to attack surface targets as low as 10m in altitude and has a maximum range of 290 km.

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE - YEAR END REVIEW 2007

The successful launch of Interceptor Missile (AAD) towards developing a ballistic missile defence system, test flight of Agni-III (A3-02), user trial of Akash Missile by Army and Air Force, Handing over of first batch of land version of BrahMos missile systems to Army and successful conduct of 4th Military World Games were some of the significant events in the Ministry of Defence during the current year. The issue of Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for Indian Air Force, the arrival of first batch of two Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers from UK, Signing of the Agreement with Russia on the Joint Development of 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft, First meeting of Indo-German High Defence Committee, Meeting of the Indo-French High Committee Meeting and approval of Parliament to the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill were some other major events during the year.

INTERCEPTOR MISSILE

The country took a significant step towards Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and joined the elite club of USA, Russia and Israel when an interceptor missile successfully targeted the ‘hostile’ missile off the Orissa coast twice in early December. The Endo-Atmospheric AAD Interceptor missile test fired from Wheeler Island intercepted the target missile at an altitude of 15 km from launch surface at supersonic speed.

AGNI - III

The Agni – III was successfully launched on April 12, 2007 from the Wheeler Island, off the coast of Orissa. The 16 meter long missile weighing 48 tonnes, lifted off successfully from its Rail Mobile Launcher System leaving a trail of orange and yellow smoke. The missile which has a range of more than 3000 kms is capable of carrying a pay load of 1.5 Tonnes.

AKASH MISSILE

Mobility trials as part of user’s trial for Army were conducted at Pokharan during 11 to 29 Jun, 2007 followed by Flyover Trials of Akash Weapon system as part of Air Force User Trials at Pokharan during 15 to 17 Nov 2007. The User’s Trials were also successfully conducted by ITR, Chandipur during 13 to 19 Dec 2007.

BRAHMOS MISSILE SYSTEM

First batch of land version of BrahMos missile systems was handed over to the Army. Installation of multi-missile vertical launcher was also completed on board naval ship INS Ranvir. The missile, capable of firing from underwater, is ready for evaluation test so that future submarines will have BrahMos missiles. Development of air version and its interface with different types of aircraft is in progress.

LIGHT COMBAT AIRCRAFT - Tejas

Till Dec 2007 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has completed 785 flights. The program achieved the most significant milestone, when it successfully test fired the Close Combat Missile R-73. This historic event marked the beginning of weaponisation of Tejas. In September, LCA Tejas PV-1 created another milestone as it made a successful first flight with two 800 Ltrs drop tanks under the wing stations. On December 10, the Tejas LCA programme received yet another major fillip with the first successful flight test on PV-2 using Lightening Laser ranging and Laser spot seeking Pod, which can provide the pilot with day and night picture of terrain.

MILITARY WORLD GAMES

The 4th CISM Military World Games was successfully organized from October 14 to 21, 07 at Hyderabad and Mumbai wherein over 5000 soldier-athletes from 101 countries participated. The Games held outside Europe for the first time had 13 disciplines. Three new world records were set up during the games in swimming, parachuting and sailing. Out of 101 participating countries, 49 countries won medals in one event or the other. India’s performance in the Games was the all time best as it secured 10 medals (2-Gold, 1-Silver and 7-Bronze)

ACQUISITION OF INS JALASHWA

Landing Platform Dock INS JALASHWA was commissioned in the Navy in June this year. This is the first ever procurement of a ship by the Indian Navy from the United States Navy under the Excess Defence Article Programme and through the Foreign Military Sales route of the US Defence Forces. It is capable of carrying over 900 fully armed troops along with thirty vehicles, four landing craft and six helicopters.

JOINT EXERCISES

Indian Army held joint exercises with the Armies of China, UK, Maldives, Russia and Singapore. It was for the first time when the Armies of India and China held joint exercise at Kunming in Yunan province of China. 80 soldiers each from India and China attended this five-day long joint exercise on anti-terrorist operations. The Indian Air Force carried out Joint exercises with the Air Forces of France and Russia. Indian Navy carried out joint exercises with the Navies of USA, Russia, Japan, Oman, Australia, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore

FIRST BATCH OF AJT

The first batch of Two Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft from UK reached India on 12 Nov 07. The Hawk trainers will impart stage-III training to the newly commissioned fighter pilots of the IAF at Bidar in Karnataka from June, next.

FRIGATES FROM RUSSIA

A contract for the acquisition of three follow-on stealth frigates of P1135.6 class has been concluded with Russia on Jul 14, 2006, with the planned delivery of the first ship scheduled in Apr 2011. All three ships are being built at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad. The three follow-on frigates would be fitted with indigenous BrahMos missile system instead of the earlier Club-N missile system

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES

Indian Army conducted expeditions to Mount Everest, Cycle rally from Leh to Kanyakumari, Motorcycle rally from Imphal to Siachen and Car rally from India to Myanmar. The Indian Air Force’s microlight aircraft flown by Wg Cdr Rahul Monga and Wg Cdr Anil Kumar arrived at Air Force Station Hindon on 19 Aug 07 creating a ‘New World Record’ of fastest round the world trip. Indian Sail training ship INS Tarangini had set sail on Jan 10, 2007, for a ten-month odyssey, named ‘Lokayan 07’. The voyage took the ship to 23 ports spread over 16 countries. The ship entered Kochi on completion of the voyage on Oct 29, 2007.

RELIEF MATERIAL TO BANGLADESH

Cargo aircraft of Indian Air Force and 4 Amphibious ships of Indian Navy carried food and relief materials for the cyclone affected people of Bangladesh during November and December 2007.

JOINT DEVELOPMENT OF FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER AIRCRAFT

India and Russia signed a landmark Intergovernmental Agreement for the joint development and joint production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), marking the beginning of cooperation in the development of state of the art new technology major weapon systems. The agreement was signed by the Secretary Defence Production Mr KP Singh and Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Foreign Military Cooperation Mr. Vyacheslav Dzirkaln in the presence of the Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Mr. Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow. The watershed agreement was signed at the conclusion of the Seventh Meeting of the India- Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Military and Technical Cooperation.

FIRST MEETING OF INDO-GERMAN HIGH DEFENCE COMMITTEE

India and Germany have agreed to increase defence cooperation in a number of areas including exchange of expertise in peace-keeping operations, disaster management, etc. In the first Indo-German High Defence Committee meeting held in New Delhi, the Federal State Secretary for Defence of Germany Dr. Peter Eickenboom assured India to provide transfer of technology in armament procurement and joint development of armament platforms wherever possible. Germany has also assured India that it will be an open and reliable partner in all areas of defence cooperation.

INDO-FRENCH HIGH COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE COOPERATION

The 10th Meeting of Indo – French High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCC) was held in New Delhi. The Defence Secretary Shri Vijay Singh and Mr. Thierry Borja de Mozota, Ministerial Representative of the French Defence Minister, headed the respective delegations at the two-day talks. Three sub-committees also met on the sidelines of the HCC. The Sub-Committee on Military Cooperation charted a plan for service to service cooperation activities during the forthcoming year while the Sub-Committee on Strategic Issues discussed matters of mutual strategic interests. The Sub- Committee on Defence Industry Procurement and Research & Technology discussed matters of Transfer of Technology, joint development, production and research.

PROCUREMENT OF 126 MEDIUM MULTI-ROLE COMBAT AIRCRAFT

The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) at an estimated cost of Rs. 42,000 crores for the Indian Air Force was issued to six vendors – Russia’s MIG-35(RAC MiG); Swedish JAS-39 (Gripen);Dassault Rafale (France); American F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin); Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon (Made by a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian firms). The 211-page document deals with various issues relating to initial purchase, transfer of technology, licensed production and life-time maintenance support for the aircraft.

ARMED FORCES TRIBUNAL

Both Houses of Parliament passed the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill. It had taken long years’ of painstaking efforts to get legislative approval for this Bill. The establishment of Armed Forces Tribunal will go a long way in providing speedy justice to thousands of serving and retired Armed Forces personnel.

Missile capability booms, purchase deals slow down

India scaled new heights in missile capability by cranking up production lines in 2007 to almost the pace of China but was bogged down by the slow pace of acquisition of conventional weaponry.

Long-range ballistic missile Agni III and interceptor missiles were successfully test fired and DRDO scientists were upbeat about developing a 6,000-km range Agni IV, marking a watershed in revival and revitalisation of the Integrated Guided Missile Programme which faced hiccups in recent years.

There were five successful trial rounds of surface-to-air Akash missile, which earlier failed to meet parameters, and the Defence Ministry's nod for its induction in the IAF.

The country has begun commercial production of Agni-I and II and 150-350 km Prithvi missiles while Agni IV is expected on the anvil in 2008 but scientists are mum about the talk of a 8,000-9,000 km intercontinental range missile 'Surya'.

A new variety of missiles was tested in exosphere (about 40 km) and endosphere (below 30 km) and there were plans for simultaneous launch of two missiles to intercept a target missile in both exo and endo atmospheric conditions.

The focus was also on developing an indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence system comparable to US Patriot BMD in 3 to 4 years on a top priority as India would have just 3 to 4 minute reaction time in a missile attack, strategists say.

The year saw weakening of the traditional Indo-Russian ties and a shift west with two US-based firms in the running for the biggest weapons tender proposal floated by India.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

IAF to induct indigenous Akash missile

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to induct a squadron-strength of the Akash surface-to-air missile but is unclear about the eventual numbers of the indigenously developed system it will operate.

"We will soon begin the process of inducting the Akash," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major told reporters on the sidelines of a function here where he installed a time capsule relating to the just concluded platinum jubilee celebrations of the force.

"The user trials have just concluded. We are awaiting the report on this, after which we shall initiate the process of inducting a squadron-strength of the missile," Major said.

Squadron strength means the IAF would initially deploy 16 to 18 batteries of the missile that can engage targets at a height of 25 km.

At the same time, Major refused to commit himself to the eventual numbers of the missile the IAF would deploy, indicating he was not too happy with the system that has been in development for almost two decades.

In fact, delays in operationalising the Akash last year prompted the IAF to order the Israeli Spyder missile to plug gaps in its armoury.

The IAF completed the final user trials of the Akash earlier this month with the missile successively scoring a bull's eye on five occasions spread over 10 days.

Major said the IAF was in the process of completing price negotiations for 80 additional Mi-17-1V medium lift helicopters of the kind it already operates, as also six C-130J Super Hercules heavy lift transport aircraft.

"The process is on for both aircraft," the IAF chief said.

The time capsule installed on Wednesday builds on the ones installed in 1982 and 1992 to respectively mark the golden and diamond jubilees of the IAF. All three capsules will be opened in 2032 in the centenary year of the force.

It contains both digital and hard copy versions of the IAF's activities in the past 15 years in a pressurised nitrogen environment encased in a stainless steel shell.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Air Force's Air To Air Missiles - LRAAM, Python 5 - Industry Rumors

'Janes Defense Weekly' reports that India is likely to join in the air-to-air missile (AAM) development agreement between Brazil and South Africa. The issue of co-operation in research-and-development (R&D) had been discussed during recent high-level Brazilian military delegation visits to India. Brazil and South Africa had announced their AAM co-operation efforts in 2005.

India also has an indegineous AAM programme - Astra - which is being developed by DRDO and is said to have looked promising in the trials conducted thus far. Keeping in light of the Indian defence establishments recent "foreign collaboration" mantra, it could be possible that DRDO might jointly develop AAMs with Brazil & South Africa. The new tri-national agreement is reported to involve India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) working in a risk-sharing R&D programme dealing with two projects: a short-range imaging infrared (IIR) missile derived from the South African U-Darter and the Long Range Air-to-Air Missile (LRAAM).

The LRAAM programme would reportedly build on South African design efforts dating back to the 1980s for a 100 km range-class weapon referred to as LRAAAM or Darter-S. A second variant known as T-Darter and incorporating a datalink was also reported. For the collaborative venture, a configuration with a 180 mm diameter airframe powered by a solid-fuel ramjet fed by four air intakes is reported to have been selected. Maximum range would be about 120 km.

A dual-mode RF/IIR seeker was being considered for S-Darter. This remains a possibility for LRAAM, but a scheme involving alternative seekers has been reported: a passive IIR seeker with lock-on after-launch capability and pulse-Doppler radar using an active phased-array antenna. The missile would also have inertial mid-course guidance and a two-way datalink. LRAAM would be fitted with a 20 kg warhead and a laser proximity fuze. It would probably be integrated with the Indian Air Force's Su-30MKI fighters providing a beyond-visual-range capability greater than that associated with the 60 km-range R-77 (AA-12 'Adder') currently used.

However there have also been industry rumors that the Indian Air Force is interested in acquiring the Israeli Python 5 missile, this however is yet to be confirmed from official sources. The Python 5 is currently the most capable short-range AAM in Israel's inventory. It has BVR (beyond visual range), LOAL (lock-on after launch), and all-aspect, all-direction (including backward) attack capability. The missile has an advanced electro-optical imaging seeker that scans the target area for hostile aircraft, then locks-on for terminal chase.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nuclear India moves closer to missile defence shield

India announced a final successful test of the surface-to-air Akash missile before starting mass production under an ambitious plan to build a national missile defence shield.

The missile blasted off from the Chandipur-on-Sea testing site, 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Orissa state capital Bhubaneswar and hit an unmanned flying target, defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP.

"The Akash missile has successfully hit the bull's eye for the fifth time in a row in the past 10 days and the last trial successfully took place today," he said.

The 700-kilogram (1,540-pound) Akash, meaning "sky" in Hindi, can track 100 targets simultaneously with onboard radar, move at 600 metres (yards) a second and deliver a 55-kilogram warhead across 27 kilometres (17 miles) in 50 seconds.

"The missile system has been configured to be part of a futuristic network centric operation," the defence ministry said in a separate statement.

Akash will join forces with a radar-based interceptor missile project which is planned to be ready within three years and provide the national missile defence shield, missile scientists say.

New Delhi government officials report that the Indian-made interceptor missiles have performed better than Patriot air-defence batteries manufactured by US defence group Raytheon.

Friday's final Akash test came a week after India announced plans to increase its nuclear prowess with a ballistic missile capable of hitting targets up to 6,000 kilometres (3,800 miles) away.

India has built a range of ballistic and cruise missiles as a deterrent to the arsenal of China which gave India a bloody nose during a 1962 bitter border war. The border dispute remains unresolved.

The missile development project is also intended to counter the acquisition of newer missiles by rival Pakistan which carried out tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests after India conducted a series of atomic detonations in 1998.

They have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their 1947 independence and came close to a possible nuclear conflict following an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 by gunmen Delhi said were backed by Islamabad.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

India tests nuclear-capable Akash Missile twice today

India tested its surface-to-air nuclear-capable Akash missile twice on Wednesday from a test range off the east coast, news reports said. Two multi-target missiles, each carrying a live warhead, were test-fired from an offshore range about 230 kilometres from Bhubaneswar, capital of eastern Orissa state, IANS news agency reported quoting defence sources.

This was the fourth time the missile was being tested in a week.

The missiles targeted a flying object dropped from a pilot-less aircraft flown from the test range a few minutes earlier.

The Akash (Hindi for "sky") missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization, India's military research wing.

It weighs 650 kilograms, has a range of 25 kilometres and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 50 kilos. The missile uses an integral rocket propulsion system and has low reaction time.

Akash is part of India's integrated missile development project which includes the intermediate range ballistic missile, Agni, surface-to-surface missile, Prithvi, and the anti-tank missile, Nag.

Akash faced initial development snags and the latest tests are part of fine-tuning before it is inducted into the Indian Air Force, defence sources said.

India adds oomph to its space race

NEW DELHI - An event that will substantially enhance India's space and missile capabilities has gone almost unnoticed. After struggling for decades, India has for the first time successfully tested an indigenously developed cryogenic engine that enables efficient and effective delivery of heavy communication satellites as well as nuclear payloads via long-distance ballistic missiles.

The cryogenic engine uses liquid oxygen and super-cooled hydrogen that improves a rocket's thrust and power. To date, the cryogenic technology has been restricted to an elite "cryo club" of China, Russia, Europe, Japan and United States.

The engines are required to launch the geo-synchronous satellites that are used in communications, and it's a lucrative business that India will now be in a position to exploit.

On the military front, the cryogenic-propelled motors will be tested on India's long-range Agni atmospheric intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) . The other option is liquid-fuel engines, but such technology is not considered adequate for quick-launch military action and long-distance delivery of big payloads.

On the space front, the cryogenic engine will replace the Russian-supplied upper stage of India's three-stage geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicles (GSLVs), capable of launching heavy payloads for civilian purposes.

The cryogenic test was conducted last month for the full flight duration of 720 seconds at the state-run Liquid Propulsion Systems Center in the southern coastal state of Tamil Nadu.

According to the state-controlled Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) chairman, G Madhavan Nair, the cryogenic engine for the next mission of GSLV (GSLV-D3) in 2008 is being prepared and going well.

The cryogenic upper-stage project was initiated by the ISRO in the 1990s after Russia dropped plans to transfer the technology to India due to pressure from the US.

However, with the US as a new strategic ally in the Asian region, India's efforts will become easier. It goes without saying that India now has Washington's tacit approval, in keeping with its efforts to balance China in the region.

Cryogenic technology will also allow the ISRO to compete in the lucrative international market for the commercial launch of satellites, in competition with China, Europe and Russia. The ISRO is looking at at least two commercial GSLV and three to four Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) payloads every year.

Cryogenic-propelled motors are also critical for an entirely new class of launch vehicles called the GSLV Mk-III, which will take communication technologies, such as distance education, weather forecasts and mapping, to the next level of speed and resolution. The government has approved Rs25 billion (US$532 million) for the launch of a 4,400 kilogram satellite.

Unlike the state-run Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) that has been criticized for its inefficiency and slow implementation, ISRO is one government agency that has delivered remarkably well despite international sanctions, a factor which has enabled India's missile program to progress.

Missile capability
Thus, it is no coincidence that almost simultaneously with the test of the cryogenic engine, New Delhi has also announced that it is ready to test a 6,000 kilometer nuclear-capable ICBM, the Agni-IV, next year. The missile will have the capability of destroying targets deep within China and it can be stationed in southern India, placing it out of range of all of Pakistan's known missiles.

There is speculation that India is developing an ICBM named "Surya" with a 10,000 kilometer range, thus bringing Europe in range, though the plans are unlikely to be revealed before the India-US nuclear deal on civilian nuclear cooperation is finally sealed.

India has already developed short, medium and long-range ballistic attack missiles, Akash, Prithvi and Agni, capable of delivering nuclear payloads. According to some defense experts, India now has the capacity to test a range of nuclear military technology in an efficient manner, almost on a par with the best in the world and it is far ahead of neighboring Pakistan.

Indeed, there has been a flurry of activity on the missile development front in India over the past few weeks. India has accelerated its ballistic missile defense (BMD) program and recently successfully tested an advanced air defense (AAD) "interceptor" missile over the Bay of Bengal, on the eastern coast. India thus joined an exclusive three-country club of the US, Russia and Israel that possess such capability.

The new "endo-atmospheric interceptor" put down a simulated electronic missile and a week later struck down a live modified Prithvi ballistic missile. According to experts, India's interceptor missile could surpass the American Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system.

India's focus on the BMD is largely due to perceived threats from Pakistan, given the volatile domestic situation and threat from Islamic militants.

Close on the heels of India's AAD test, Pakistan test-fired its indigenously developed low-flying, terrain-hugging cruise missile Hatf VII (Babur). The 700 kilometer range missile with near stealth capabilities can hit targets deep inside India. The missile has been previously tested.

In reaction from India, Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj, general officer commanding-in-chief of Southern Command, said though the US was constantly monitoring Islamabad to check any missile threat fitted with nuclear warheads, India is not taking any chances about the arsenal falling in the hands of rogue elements.

Two days after Pakistan's test-fire, India reviewed its surface-to-air nuclear-capable multi-target, 25-kilometer range Akash missile at Balasore in Orissa province. The missile can carry a 50 kilogram nuclear warhead was tested to hasten its use in the India Air Force.

India is also likely to be ready with the 40-80-kilometer range air-to-air missile, Astra, by 2011, making it the sixth country possessing the lethal deterrent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DRDO’s Advanced Air Defence missile - A Smashing hit

The DRDO’s Advanced Air Defence missile propels India into a select group of countries with the ability to intercept ballistic missiles.

The Advanced Air Defence interceptor missile taking off from Wheeler Island.

THERE was applause at first, followed by five minutes of silence as missile technologists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scanned the consoles in front of them. After 25 seconds of tension, a deafening applause broke out in the Mission Control Centre (MCC) on Wheeler Island, 17 kilometres from Dhamra on the Orissa coast. The atmosphere turned electric as the young men and women missile technologists went delirious with joy. Full-throated cries of “DRDO zindabad”, “Three cheers to DRDO” and “Hip, hip hooray” filled the room as vigorous handshaking and warm hugs added to the celebratory mood. “Gentlemen,” announced V.K. Saraswat, Mission Director, “many nations have done the interception in exo-atmosphere [between 40 km and 75 km above the earth]. But a direct hit in endo-atmosphere [at an altitude of 15 km to 30 km] is something fantastic. It is unbelievable…. It is phenomenal.”

On December 6, 2007, when the DRDO’s interceptor missile called Advanced Air Defence (AAD-02) scored a direct hit on an incoming, modified Prithvi missile, it propelled India into a select group of three countries with the ability to intercept ballistic missiles. The countries that already have this capability are the United States, Russia and Israel. According to Saraswat, the modified Prithvi missile that played the role of attacker “mimicked” the trajectory of M-9 and M-11 ballistic missiles, “which are with our adversaries”.

The sequence of events was as follows. At 11 a.m. the single-stage “attacker” Prithvi missile lifted off from its mobile launcher (a Tatra truck) in Launch Complex III at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, near Balasore, Orissa. At once, radars at Konark and Paradip, both in Orissa, swung into action, located the target missile while it was climbing and communicated information about its velocity and position in real time to the MCC. The MCC, in turn, classified the target missile as a ballistic missile and assigned the task of intercepting it to the AAD-02 launcher battery located on Wheeler Island, 70 km across the sea from Chandipur. The MCC quickly calculated the trajectory of the incoming missile and where it would impact. This information was conveyed from the MCC to the AAD-02 launcher battery through a mobile communication terminal, which is a bank of sophisticated computers located on a massive truck.

After the attacker missile reached its apogee of 110 km, the command for the interceptor, AAD-02, to lift off was given. The interceptor erupted into life five minutes after the attacker lifted off. The interceptor was equipped with inertial navigation, control and guidance systems. More importantly, it had on board a radio-frequency seeker. Acting as the “eye” of the interceptor, the seeker calculated the velocity, position and direction of the “enemy” missile. The seeker conveyed all this information to the computers on board the interceptor, and the computers instructed the interceptor to manoeuvre itself towards the target. And before one had time to clap, the AAD-02 homed in on the target and made a direct hit at an altitude of 15 km. The attacker was shot down during the terminal stage of its flight. The interception took place when the target missile was in free fall at a speed of about Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound) and the interceptor was travelling at more than Mach 4.

An ecstatic Saraswat, who is Chief Controller, DRDO R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), called the mission “a dream come true”. He said: “The data received in real time from the radars demonstrated the formation of a large number of tracks, signifying that the target had broken into multiple pieces and that the debris was tracked by the radars. The thermal cameras located on Wheeler Island also picked up the direct hit through thermal images. The achievement of a direct hit against a high-speed target demonstrates the capability of the AAD missile system to intercept targets up to a range of 2,000 km. It also signifies the development of complex guidance, control, navigation and propulsion systems; radars, seekers, computer, command, control and communication systems; robust communication networking; software development; and so on.”

Saraswat summed up the significance of the mission thus: “The successful interception certainly confirms the capability of India to defend itself against incoming ballistic missiles. We can assure the nation today that the DRDO has the technology to develop a potent missile shield for the country.”

 

M. Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, compared the interception to “hitting a bullet with another bullet” and attributed the success of the mission to the “pioneering work” done by young DRDO professionals. Natarajan, who is also Secretary and Director General, DRDO R&D, watched the lift-off of both the target and attacker missiles and the interception live on a video link provided at DRDO Bhavan, New Delhi.

Avinash Chander, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, described it as “a tremendous mission and a tremendous moment”. He added: “What we have achieved today is something unheard of. I don’t think any country has been able to launch a missile and hit it the first time…. The interceptor crossed the target missile at the correct point. The target missile went into fragments thereafter.”

The target missile was a modified, single-stage Prithvi, fuelled by liquid propellants. To suit the requirements of this mission, the control system of Prithvi was modified so that it could reach an altitude of more than 100 km. The modified Prithvi was 11 metres tall and weighed five tonnes. Its diameter was 1 m. Its launch, in this instance, was carried out in an independent manner by the Army, which already has Prithvi-I and Prithvi-II missiles. The interceptor was, however, “a totally new missile”, 7.5 m tall, weighing 1.3 tonnes and with a diameter of 0.5 m. It was fuelled by solid propellants.

While Saraswat was the Mission Director at Wheeler Island for the interceptor missile, D.S. Reddy was the Vehicle Director. For the “attacker” missile, Lieutenant General (retired) V.J. Sundaram was Mission Director-Coordinator.

The successful interception confirms that India has taken the first few decisive steps forward on the road to acquiring a ballistic missile defence shield. The interception in the endo-atmosphere was carried out as part of the DRDO’s quest to build a two-tiered ballistic missile defence shield. On November 27, 2006, India’s interceptor missile called Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) intercepted an incoming Prithvi-II missile at an altitude of 50 km. That was also a direct hit.

On December 2, 2007, AAD-01 intercepted a simulated electronic missile at an altitude of 15 km above the Bay of Bengal. The electronic missile was launched from Chandipur and the interceptor from Wheeler Island. That is, electronic signals that mimicked the trajectory of an enemy ballistic missile were sent. And the interceptor, which was a real missile, took off, manoeuvred itself close to the electronic trajectory and extinguished the “enemy missile” by “proximity killing” (as opposed to a “hit to kill” or a direct hit).

 

Informed sources warned that although these two tests, in the exo-atmosphere and the endo-atmosphere, were successful, what India had today “is only an essential module for a possible ballistic missile shield” and that it would take several more tests for India to have a credible ballistic missile defence shield.

Although Israeli and French radars were used in the mission on December 6, what was amazing was the highly sophisticated software developed by DRDO’s young software professionals. Natarajan, who took pains to emphasise the importance of the high-end software developed by the DRDO’s young team, said, “This is hard core engineering-related software, not BPO [business process outsourcing] software. It shows the significant capability of networking massive software linked to hardware actuation.… If you can do this for a missile, you can do it for civil aviation.”

Saraswat, who traced the evolution of these two interceptor missions, said they began as a concept in 1997 when A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (then DRDO chief and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister) asked whether it would be possible to intercept a Prithvi missile with an Akash missile (while Prithvi is a surface-to-surface missile, Akash is a surface-to-air missile).

The project itself began in 1998. There were discussions as to whether Akash could be modified, but it was decided that Akash would not do as an interceptor. After the radars were chosen, the interceptor had to be configured. Marathon discussions took place on whether the interceptor should be fashioned out of Prithvi or Agni-1.

“The whole process was difficult because the technologies were complex, starting from the choice of radars,” Saraswat said. It was a difficult journey setting up the radar stations, indigenising the radars, developing the mission control software, and so on.

 

“Imagine, if we did not have the radars, we would not have known that the actual interception had taken place,” he said.

Several DRDO units and private industries contributed to the mission. The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad provided the mission control software. The Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, another DRDO unit, provided the navigation, electromechanical actuation systems, the seeker on board the interceptor, and so on, all of which ensured the direct hit. The ASL provided the motors, jet vanes and structures for the two missiles.

The High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune, also a part of the DRDO, supplied the propellants for the missiles. The ITR at Chandipur and Wheeler Island, headed by S.P. Dash, its Director, provided the range. Saraswat praised the ITR for the quality of its instrumentation. Programme Air Defence carried out the configuration of the AAD-02 missile. Indian Air Force personnel did a marvellous job of manning the radars. Several private industries, such as L & T and Vem Technologies Private Limited, Hyderabad, also made important contributions to the mission.

The DRDO has now set its sights higher. It wants to take up “the harder challenges” of engaging an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), launching two missiles in the exo-atmosphere and the endo-atmosphere against a single target missile, and so on. A happy Saraswat asserted, “Today, the DRDO is in a mission mode with Agni-III, Air Defence, Astra and is preparing for the short-range surface-to-air missile, which is in the conceptual stage, that can be used by all the three services. In this, we have not included the on-going programmes such as BrahMos, Akash and Nag.”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

India looks forward to induct nuclear capable Akash missile in IAF

India is looking forward to induct the indigenously developed surface-to-air nuclear capable ‘Akash’ missile into the Indian Air Force (IAF), as only few tests are left to be carried out before the final decision is taken on it.
On Saturday, the ‘Akash’ missile was successfully test fired, for the third consecutive day, from Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea, about 15 km from here.
In the second week of November, field trials of Akash were also conducted in the deserts of Rajasthan that had impressed the top officials of the IAF, according to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The medium range missile with a range of between 27 to 30 kms has yet to be inducted by the IAF, and there were media reports earlier claiming that the IAF’s top brass were not satisfied with the missile system, as they found instances when parts of missiles fell from the main body.
The recent field trials have put to rest such kinds of speculations.
In August this year, answering to a question in Lok Sabha, Defence Minister A K Antony clarified that the IAF has not declined the induction of Akash missile.
Development of Akash missile is a part of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), and the missile system was expected to be inducted by the Indian Army and the Air Force by 2003.
As on July 31, 2007, an amount of Rs. 492.41 crore (5 billion approximately) has already been spent on development of Akash, which has a launch weight of 720 kg, a diameter of 35 cm and a length of 5.8 metres.
It can fly at supersonic speed of around 2.5 Mach and can reach an altitude of 18 kms.
The missile is supported by multi-target and multi-function phased array fire control radar called ‘Rajendra’ that has a range of about 60 km.
The first test flight of the missile was conducted in 1990, and since then many development and field trials have taken place

India set to answer Pakistan's cruise missiles

Today is the 36th anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War. But the military threat from across the border is still very real in the wake of the recent cruise missile tests by Islamabad. India is now launching an unprecedented programme to defend itself from a cruise missile attack.

Clearly worried by a series of cruise missile tests by Pakistan, India’s new missile defence programme will perhaps be the world's first missile defence programme focused solely on intercepting cruise missiles.

The technological breakthrough has been created with an advanced air defence missile, which is India's fastest and the most maneuverable.

"Our studies have indicated that this will be able to handle a cruise missile intercept," says Dr VK Saraswat, Chief, Missile Programme

Pakistan's declaration that its cruise missiles will be nuclear capable have muddied the waters. Cruise missiles are more difficult to detect than ballistic missiles, which are the traditional delivery systems for nuclear weapons. Cruise missiles thus create the possibility of a stealth nuclear attack, which complicates the business of deterrence. India is acquiring airborne radars like AWACS to ensure detection of cruise missiles in order to stay on top of the threat.

"Cruise missiles fly at low altitudes. Ground-based radars are not able to detect it. So, you need airborne sensors," says Dr VK Saraswat, Chief, Missile Programme.

One of the biggest Confidence building measures (CBMs) of the Cold War was the agreement not to nuclear tip cruise missiles. With such an assurance unlikely in the sub-continental context, the next big thing in missiles is interception.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ashwin: New Surface-to-Surface Missile In The Offing?

Two successful interceptor missile tests carried out by Indian scientists as part of the country's ballistic missile defence program in the first week of December has led to development of a new surface-to-surface missile that could be possibly named as 'Ashvin'.

The endo-atmospheric interceptor missile AAD, the missile used to engage the approaching 'enemy' missile at a height of around 15 kms from the surface of the earth could be used as a surface-to-surface missile in the days ahead.

The AAD, which is 7.5 mts long and has a solid rocket propeller with siliconised carbon jet vanes, has a range of over 150 kms and could achieve a maximum velocity of 1400 m/s.

The USP of this AAD is its high precision INS system, faster on board computer with advanced technologies like RF seeker, agility and the capability to launch the missile in any direction in autonomous mode.

The December tests have validated that the AAD could also be used as an Extended Range Surface-to-Air Missile, beside being used as a ballistic missile interceptor.

Dr V K Saraswat, who is the team leader of the ballistic defence programme, was also involved with the development of the India's first surface-to-surface missile Prithvi I and Pritnvi II (Dhanush).

"The AAD could be used to target aircraft," Dr. Saraswat said, adding that its successful launch has opened up a 'new era' with the development of supersonic interceptor missiles that can be used for defence against Cruise missiles.

He said that the AAD part of the missile defence programme is completely independent from surface-to-surface missile programme and that it is purely a spin off of the entire project.

Prithvi I is India's first indigenously developed tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and has already been inducted into the Army.

The single stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi I with maximum warhead mounting capability of 1000 kg has a range of 150 km. It has an accuracy of 10- 50 metres, while the AAD is precise to 0.5 mts.

Prithvi II (Dhanush) is the Air Force version of 250 kms range and capacity to carry a payload of 500kg, while Prithvi III is the naval version of 350 km range with a payload of 500 kgs.

Defending the idea of having a ballistic defence program, Dr. Saraswat said that threats of ballistic missile exists along with the proliferation of these threats, and added since India has a no first use policy, it becomes inevitable to protect the country from any future missile attack.

"The program shows the defensive position of the country and not an offensive position," he added.

India can now develop missile systems faster: top scientist

India is now in a position to develop missile systems at a "much faster rate" as high levels of synergy have been reached with private industry, top Missile scientist Dr VK Saraswat said here on Friday.

"The standard cycle for development of a missile is in the range of 3 to 7 years. But the country is now capable of delivering it much early as the basic building blocks for producing and deployment of long-range missile are in place," Saraswat said on the sidelines of a conference on advances in sensors for aerospace applications.

Saraswat's remarks assume significance in the backdrop of Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) engaged in development of a wide range of missiles ranging from surface to surface Prithvi, Agni, surface to air Akash and sea faring Danush missiles.

He also reiterated that the stage is set to develop next level of ballistic missile, Agni-IV, capable of hitting targets up to 6,000 kms.

"We are at the designing stage of Agni-IV. It will be much better than Agni-III in terms of performance envelop. Whenever the country wants it, we will deliver," Saraswat, Chief Controller (R&D), Missile and Strategic Systems said here.

"The trials for it will be conducted after completing the review of configuration and designs," he said but declined to give any time frame for testing the missiles, which would have almost Intercontinental reach.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

India is the third biggest defence spender in Asia

Since the last hard copy edition of Jane's Military Communications was published, global spending by governments on the military has continued its upward trend over a ten-year period monitored by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). According to that organisation's Yearbook 2007, published in June, worldwide military spending in 2006 reached USD1,204 billion in current dollars, a 3.5 per cent increase on the previous year, and some 37 per cent up over the decade from 1997.

Four countries highlighted by SIPRI at the forefront of the worldwide defence spending growth trend were China, India, Russia and the USA. SIPRI calculated that China's 2006 military spending reached some USD49.5 billion, overtaking Japan (USD43.7 billion) to become the biggest military spender in Asia, and the fourth biggest in the world in 2006. In this analysis India was the third biggest spender in Asia, with USD23.9 billion. Meanwhile the USA spent USD528.7 billion and Russia an estimated USD34.7 billion (all the preceding figures for 2006 were expressed in 2005 dollars). SIPRI believes China and India were the largest importers of weapons worldwide, while the USA and Russia were the largest weapon suppliers.

Some of the reasons for the heightened defence spending profiles of these particular four countries are generally not in dispute. China's increased defence commitment is a reflection of the country's (so far) rapidly growing global economic heft and its bid to establish itself once and for all as a bona fide 'superpower'. Much the same could be said of India. The Moscow government, on the back of the growing influence deriving from its considerable energy and mineral resources, is trying to reclaim the superpower status that has progressively diminished from the late 1980s onwards. Russia also harbours growing suspicions about the intentions of the USA and NATO in Middle and Eastern Europe, and of the USA and its allies in Central Asia and the Middle East. For its part the current US administration, post 11 September 2001, perceives itself to be under threat from a variety of terrorist groups and consortia in various parts of the world, and is engaged in active hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The levels of defence spending by China, India, Russia and the USA seem likely to increase over the immediate term.

In March of 2007, China's National People's Congress announced plans to increase official defence spending during Fiscal Year 2007 by 17.8 per cent to CNY350.92 billion (around USD46 billion). In practice, though, a number of observers estimate that the true figure could be substantially higher. For example, the US Department of Defense (DoD) report, entitled 'Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2007', which was published in May, cites Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) estimates that the true figure could be between USD85 billion and USD125 billion, and accused Beijing of failing to comply with international standards for reporting military expenditures. In any event, even considering the official Chinese figures the country's defence spend has more than doubled since 2001, and Jane's forecasts that the trend will continue, rising a further 50 per cent by 2010. (Jane's Defence Industry (JDI), July 2007)

In the case of India, defence spending is forecast by Jane's to increase from USD23.6 billion in 2006 to USD33.2 billion by 2009. (JDI, August 2007).

India plans ICBM (Agni IV) next year

India is to launch a 5,000-km nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) next year, even as it has developed a credible missile shield that is superior to the American Patriot anti-missile system, defence scientists said today.
Both are homegrown systems and make India one of the very few countries in the world possessing the technology to manufacture them.
“Yes, the launch of the Agni-IV (ICBM) is on the anvil. We also plan further tests of the (3,000 km) Agni-III,” Mr VK Saraswat, chief controller (R&D) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told reporters here.
“The launch of Agni-IV is scheduled for June (2008), with another launch planned towards the end of the year,” said Mr Saraswat, who is also the programme director of the DRDO’s air defence project.
DRDO scientists had in April successfully testfired the Agni-III intermediate range ballistic missile, saying at the time they could extend its range to 3,000 km. A decision on the extended range “was left to the government”, DRDO chief Mr M. Natarajan had then said.
Agni-III builds on its predecessors, Agni-I that is a single stage 700-km missile, and Agni-II that is a two-stage 2,000-km system. These two have already been inducted into the armed forces. Agni-III’s induction is some three years away.
Speaking about the ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, Mr Saraswat said this would be ready for deployment in two to three years. The system comprises two elements ~ an exo-atmospheric (above the atmosphere) interceptor missile that can engage targets at a height of 50 km and an endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere) supersonic interceptor that can eliminate targets at a height of 15 km.
The first, a modified Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile, was tested in November 2006 while two trials of the new Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor were conducted in the first week of this month.
“This is what makes our BMD system superior to the Patriot that cannot engage targets beyond 15 km. We can go much higher,” Mr Saraswat said of the system that has been eight years in development.
Giving details of the AAD tests, the scientist said that on 6 December, a Prithvi missile modified to “mimic” a hostile ballistic missile was fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea in Orissa, some 230 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, at about 11 a.m.
The new interceptor was fired from Wheeler Island a little over two minutes later. “The endo-atmospheric interceptor impacted with the (incoming) missile at 15 km altitude at high supersonic speed, exactly as designed,” Mr Saraswat said.
“All the elements of BMD system such as long range tracking radar, multi-function fire control radar, mission control centre, launch control centre, mobile launcher, mobile and multi layer communication system, and data links to the interceptor participated in the mission,” he added.

India test fires nuke capable missile

On the heels of conducting trials of interceptor missiles, India today revived its surface-to-air nuclear-capable Akash missile programme by carrying out its fresh test firing near Balasore.

The multi-target missile with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 50kg was test fired from a mobile launcher, defence sources said.

The missile targeted a flying object using Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) ''Lakshya'' as support system, they said, adding the PTA was flown at 11.36 hrs and ''Akash'' missile test-fired at around 11.55 am from the ITR.

For the next ten days, a series of test firings of the missile would be carried out to pave the way for its induction into the Indian Air Force.

IAF had not been satisfied by performance of the missile in earlier test firings and this had led to Government clearing a deal to procure ground-to-air missiles from Israel.

The trial was carried out to fine-tune the sophisticated missile, though Akash has undergone several tests earlier as part of the country's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGPMD), sources said.

The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) at Hyderabad, the nodal agency which designed the missile, has also approved its ''flight consistency'', they said.

The 5.6-metre-long missile weighing about 700 kg uses an integral ''Ramjet'' rocket propulsion system and has a low reaction time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

India to have missile defence system in 3 yrs

The first tests of India's home-grown anti-ballistic missile system have been successful and the country expects it to be ready for military use in three years, its top missile scientist said on Wednesday.

India is also designing Agni IV, a new version of its longest-range ballistic missile, which will be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hit targets more than 5,000 km away, V.K. Saraswat said.

The announcement came days after defence scientists said they had conducted a successful second test of an interceptor missile that destroyed a supersonic missile at an altitude of 15 km on the country's east coast.

India needed a missile shield as it had a policy not to use nuclear weapons unless it became a victim of a nuclear attack, Saraswat said, adding that this made India the fourth country after the U.S., Russia and Israel with such a capability.

"Suppose tomorrow there is a missile taking off somewhere in our vicinity, I do not know whether it is coming with a nuclear tip or a conventional warhead," he told a news conference.

"If I keep quiet and wait for it to fall on my city and then start sending my own deterrent missile, by the time a lot of damage is done," he said. "It is essential you have a system which will first take on that kind of a threat.

"Because we have a ballistic missile defence system ... a country which has a small arsenal will think twice before it ventures," he said in an apparent reference to old rival Pakistan.


MILITARY BALANCE

India's indigenous missile programme has built short- and long-range missiles, including one that can hit targets deep inside China.

It has fought three wars with Pakistan and was on the brink of a fourth in 2002, and also fought a brief border war with China in 1962. Both China and Pakistan have their own missile arsenals that are capable of reaching almost all of India.

While China does not have a known anti-ballistic missile system, Indian scientists said its anti-satellite missile tested in January could easily be modified to meet this need.

Although India's relations with both neighbours have been largely peaceful in recent times, New Delhi says its defence forces, the world's fourth largest, have to be modernised and deterrents put in place to ensure stability.

New Delhi has been in preliminary talks with the United States to consider its Patriot PAC-3 air missile defence system and with Israel for its Arrow system.

But with those deals expected to take years to materialise, if at all, India was pursuing its own programme, experts said.

Saraswat said Israel and France had initially provided a few of the technologies needed for the anti-ballistic missile system which could also be used against cruise missiles.

The project was started in late 1998, months after India and Pakistan conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests, he said.

"We have to do more flight trials ... to establish reliability and repeatability," Saraswat said. "So I expect three years time for it to come to that level."

Asked if the new system would alter the military balance in the region, he said: "It is a defensive posture of our country, not an offensive posture. It doesn't alter the balance.

"It is just my capability to defend myself."