Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Agni missile to get multiple warheads

If the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is the heart of India’s nuclear deterrent, the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) in Hyderabad is its limbs and sinews.

The ASL Director, Avinash Chander, takes us through a spotless assembly room, where technicians are bolting sensitive instruments into the nose of a giant Agni-3 missile. It is eerie; before long, this very missile will roar off a launch pad on Wheeler’s Island in Orissa.

It will travel 350 km above the earth, re-enter the atmosphere at a speed of 5 kilometers per second, experiencing temperatures of 3000 degrees centigrade.

But the scientists here are cheerfully confident of repeating last April’s success, and proving the missile’s ability to deliver a one-and-a-half-ton nuclear bomb to within 100 metres of a target 3000 kilometers away.

And that is routine stuff, compared to what India’s Chief Controller of Missiles and Strategic Systems (CC-MSS), Dr VK Saraswat, has divulged to Business Standard.

He says that ASL is now working on new warhead technologies, which will equip the Agni-3 and all future missiles. The new warheads (usually nuclear bombs) will be capable of sneaking through enemy anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defences, fooling enemy radars and dodging enemy missiles.
The Agni’s new warheads, says the DRDO, will include five cutting-edge technologies:

  • They will be multiple warheads (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles, or MIRVs), with each missile delivering several warheads at the same, or even different, targets.
  • Decoy warheads, which will be fired alongside the genuine warheads, so that enemy’s missiles are wasted in attacking decoys, rather than the real warheads.
  • Manoeuvring warheads, which will weave through the atmosphere, dodging enemy missiles that are fired at it.
  • Stealth technologies to make the warheads invisible to enemy radars.
  • Changing warheads’ thermal signatures, to confuse the enemy’s infrared seekers.

The decision to go in for enhanced warhead capabilities stems from growing ABM capabilities with many countries, including India, which has already conducted two successful ABM tests in Nov 2006 and Dec 2007, and plans a comprehensive two-stage ABM test this June.

Dr Saraswat says, “As we are developing missile defences, other countries are also doing that. I’m sure our immediate adversaries will also try, or they will acquire, so our future missiles should counter the threat of interception by anti-missile defences.”

The DRDO is already working on the technologies for these new systems, even though government sanction has not been formally taken.

Dr Saraswat says that, “The government sanction for that is just coming, but practically you can say it is received, because we have been asked to go ahead and the work is already on.”

By 2015-2020, according to current planning, India’s missile force will consist mainly of Agni-3 and Agni-4 missiles, all of them equipped with new-generation warheads.

The 5000-km range Agni-4 is also referred to as the Agni-3+, because it is almost identical in technology to the Agni-3. Its extra range comes merely from reducing its weight by making its rockets from composite materials, rather than the maraging steel, which is presently used. The Agni-4 is slated for its first flight trials in 2009.

The failure of the first Agni-3 flight test in July 2006 is now a distant memory. Avinash Chander is confident that, after two successful tests this year, an army unit will be equipped by 2009 with operational Agni-3 missiles.

The officers and jawans will soon move to Hyderabad, and learn to prepare and launch the missile. The army already has two Agni units: one equipped with 700-km Agni-1 missiles, the other with the 2000-km Agni-2.

The new Agni-3 missiles will all be assembled here in ASL. Unlike every other weapon system, there is no series production line for Agni missiles. Instead, selected Indian partners manufacture individual parts of the missile, which are then integrated in ASL and handed over to the army. Avinash Chander points out that the missile is 100% indigenous, with most of it produced by private industry.

The ASL Director says, “Agni has funded industry to create that infrastructure, so that we get the best of products. We are funding seed capital where necessary, and the money is recovered from the supplies that are made. With infrastructure costs so high, and the production numbers being limited, we invest... and ask the industry to manage the product.”

40 cos involved in making of missile killers

At least 40 public and private companies across the country are closely involved in the making of the indigenous ballistic missile interceptors.

They have already manufactured or assembled parts and sub-systems for the first trial that took place in Orissa on December 6, 2007, according to Dr V.K. Sarswat, Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic System) and Programme Director (Air Defence), Defence Research & Development Organisation

They include Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Astra Microwave, ASL, VemTech and KelTech. “The integrated (and fully-tested defence shield system) will be operational in three years,” Dr Sarswat told a news meet here on Friday.
System development

The development of an intercept-and-destroy defence system got off-the-mark in 1982 and the first phase has proven that it can kill cruise or intercontinental ballistic missiles of the 2000-km class. Over the next two years, “we want to perfect this through some more trials and strengthen the capability further,” said Dr S.Varadarajan, Director, Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (LRDE). It involves sharper radars, faster interceptors for longer ranges and advanced launch platforms.
Key Player

LRDE, a key player in the Rs 2,000-crore programme, has developed two crucial types of radars — the long-range tracking radar and the multi-function fire control radar — in separate tie-ups with Israel’s IAI and French defence company Thales.

According to Dr Varadarajan, 7-10 firm have taken part in radar development and up to 40 in the interceptor system.

The two collaborations, over the last two years, have spawned a number of indigenous radars.

The LRDE “is now in a position to manufacture as many radars as possible” with the industry, he said.

Russia reneging on transferring Brahmos technology

After Russia back-pedalled on transferring technology for the production here of the T-90 main battle tank (MBT), a hiatus seems to have emerged over transferring "total" technology for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that Russia is jointly developing with India.

"We have not got full technology for the transfer of the (missile's) engines," C.G. Krishnadas Nair, a former chairman of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), said at a seminar here that Defence Minister A.K. Antony inaugurated.

"We must have access to total technology. This denial is a serious matter," Nair, who is the founder-chairman of Society of Defence Technologists (SODET), maintained.

"No one should hold the other to ransom," he contended, clearly implying that Russia was holding back the technology for the missile's engine.

SODET brings together technologists of defence public sector undertakings, ordnance factory boards and military inspection establishments.

Nair was delivering the keynote address at the SODET-sponsored two-day national seminar on Defence R&D and Technology Management.

The defence minister refused to be drawn into the issue.

"What can I say? I have only just heard this," Antony told IANS on the sidelines of the seminar.

However, A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO of BrahMos Aerospace that manufactures the missile, disagreed with Nair's contention.

"This is a joint venture. So, there's no question of transfer of technology. Russia manufactures the engines, we manufacture the guidance system and integrate the two," Pillai said.

"Transfer of technology occurs if the technology is purchased," he added.

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia have jointly developed the BrahMos, which is named after the Bramaputra and the Moskova, the two major rivers of India and Russia respectively.

Work on the project began in 1998 and the missile was first test fired on Dec 22, 2004. BrahMos is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster and a liquid propellant ram jet system that gives it a 300-km range.

The Indian Army is currently preparing to operationalise at least one regiment of the BrahMos missile mounted on a mobile launcher. The triple-barrelled launcher is capable of firing the missile singly or in salvos of two or three.

The Indian Navy has also accepted the BrahMos missile system with an advanced fire control system for its warships. Work is also progressing on an Indian Air Force version that will be delivered from the Sukhoi SU-30MKI platform.

As for the T-90, Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor has admitted that Russia's delays in the technology transfer had pushed back its production here.

"Transfer of technology is a complex process due to different perceptions on either side on what exactly this involves. There have been delays but in the long run, the transfer will take place and indigenous production of the tank will commence," he said earlier this.

India had purchased 310 of the tanks in 2001 and was to produce under licence another 1,000 T-90s. However, delays in the technology transfer prompted India to sign a contract with Russia in 2006 for 347 tanks to ensure adequate force levels.

Monday, January 28, 2008

India develops missile defence system

India has developed a two-layered ballistic missile defence system to counter enemy missiles. It has been configured with radars for long-range surveillance, tracking, command, control, communication and interception to destroy enemy ballistic missiles.

The two-layered system, comprising “exo” and “endo” atmospheric interceptors, destroys incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes above 40 km and below 25 km, respectively. The exo-atmospheric interception was successfully tried on November 27 at an altitude of 48 km while the endo-atmospheric high supersonic missile (also called as AAD) was successfully put on trial in the first week of December.

Another trial demonstrating the interception of a live ballistic missile was held on December 6 at an island near Orissa. The interceptors were developed at the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in Bangalore at a cost of Rs.2,000 crore.

Briefing the success story of the LRDE, an R and D establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organiastion, the Chief Controller, R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems) and Programme Director (Air Defence) V.K. Sarswat and the LRDE Director S. Varadarajan said that with this, India has joined the elite club of nations in air defence system. Dr. Sarswat said others in the club were the U.S., Russia and Israel.

He said the missile trials will continue for two years and commercial production will start from the third year. The long-range tracking radar and the multi function fire-control radars were developed in collaboration with Israel and France.

On whether India had plans to develop satellite-based and sea-based defence systems, Dr. Sarswat said that since India was a signatory to the declaration against militarisation of space and sea, it would not happen. He said the organisation was capable of converting the two-layered system into a potent defence missile system, with a range of 2,000 km.

The supersonic interceptor missile has several applications. By integrating the sensors for low altitude coverage, the AAD missile can be used for defence against cruise missiles. Its high velocity and manoeuvrability ensure the interception of aircraft over a range of 80 km, he said.

Dr. Saraswat said nearly 50 industries, many of them in the private sector, participated in the development of the system. Trials in weapon-tracking and maritime target detection/imaging radar system were at an advanced stage, he said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Flight test of BrahMos air version next year: MD, BrahMos Aerospace

The flight test of the air version of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile will be conducted next year, A Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive and Managing Director of BrahMos Aerospace has said.

The induction of BrahMos missile into the Army and Navy was under progress and the production capability would be enhanced beyond 100 units a year, if needed, Pillai told reporters in Tiruchirapalli on Thursday.

About 10 countries, including some developed nations, have evinced interest in having the missile. But, no decision has been taken yet to sell the missile to other countries, he said.

A decision in this regard would be made jointly by India and Russia. The priority was to meet the demands of the three forces in the country, he said.

An Indo-Russian team has finalised the preliminary specifications of the system for BrahMos-II with hypersonic speed. The new version would be developed in five years' time, he said.

Pillai, who is also the Chief Controller(Research and Development) of Defence Research and Development Organisation, said the DRDO with four research boards and grant-in-aid schemes, had tie-ups with 200 institutions in the country.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

US Aeronautics major Lockheed Martin eager to join DRDO for missile tech

US Aeronautics major Lockheed Martin is in talks with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to collaborate in the development of a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in the country.

The latest move is in addition to the organisation’s ongoing programmes to develop an indigenous anti-missile system. Just about a month ago, India had successfully tested interceptor missiles.

“We are in touch with DRDO officials. New Delhi could be looking for Washington’s help and that of other nations in building up crucial sub-systems for the BMD,” Lockheed Martin (Air and Missile Defense Strategic Initiatives) vice-president, Dennis D Cavin told ET.

The company is developing the Patriot Advance Capability (PAC)-III anti-missile system for the US. Mr Cavin would fly to India next month to participate in the Defence Expo, and will meet V K Saraswat who is known as the father of Indian interceptor missile programme. “India could be looking at US help to develop ‘hit-to-kill’ technology for its interceptor missiles,” he said.

Dr Saraswat had said that India’s interceptor missiles had used proximity fragmentation in its missile interception programme while Mr Cavin said that US approach was to seek a direct ‘hit-to-kill’ method in destroying incoming missiles. It is possible that New Delhi might be looking at acquiring such a capability for its missile interception programme.

Lockheed Martin is working on the development of a multi-layered anti-missile defence system for the US, of which, PAC-II, III and Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) would form essential components. While, the PAC-II and III systems are being deployed to tackle the threat from air-breathing cruise missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle threats, the THAAD system will take care of threats from Eco and Endo atmospheric ballistic missiles.

The Americans, who have already deployed PAC-II and III systems, are likely to deploy the THAAD system between 2009-2010 to cover the US troops deployed overseas.

THAAD missile system was described by Lockheed officials as the top layer of the proposed US ballistic missile defence system. “So far, 24 flight tests have been carried out, both in Eco and Endo modes, of which 21 had hit the bull’s eye,” Mr Cavin said.

US Army has recently ordered induction of two firing units with the THAAD system, comprising six launchers (each carrying 24 missiles, equipped with battery controlled and a radar station). Though Washington is ready to sell PAC II and III BMD systems to India, it hasn’t yet offered THAAD for India.

Monday, January 21, 2008

India Announces Successful Launching Of Israeli Spy Satellite

India announced on Monday it had successfully launched an Israeli satellite overnight Sunday. Both Indian and Israeli space engineers were present at the launching of the TecSar synthetic aperture reconnaissance satellite, Israel's most advanced satellite yet.

The satellite was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and some 80 minutes after launching the TecSar began transmitting signals. The satellite that weighs just under 300 kilograms has the ability to create images of objects on the earth day or night,and is not affected by cloudy weather conditions. According to reports, the TecSar satellite is capable of imaging with a resolution of up to 10 centimeters.

According to reports, a decision to conduct the launching from India was decided several years ago during a visit by former Defense Ministry director general Amos Yaron.

The launching is just one more component in the ever increasing cooperation between Israel and India, and there are plans to launch at least two more satellites in the future. The launch of TecSar was the first launch of an Israeli satellite aboard an Indian missile.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

U.S. offers to help India develop missile shield

Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense industry giant, has expressed an interest in helping India develop its own missile defense network, an Indian news agency said on Friday.

India, a nuclear power, announced in December last year a final successful test of the Akash anti-ballistic missile under an ambitious plan to build a national missile shield.

"Our doors are open for cooperation with India in the area of anti-ballistic missile defense," the Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Dennis Cavin, Lockheed Martin's vice president for International Air and Missile Defense Business Development, as saying.

Cavin is expected to visit New Delhi in February to discuss cooperation prospects with Vijay Kumar Saraswat, program director for ballistic missile development at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The company official said India could be interested in missile guidance technologies developed by the U.S. firm. Lockheed Martin's missile defense systems have achieved more than 40 successful ballistic missile intercepts in tests since the 1980s.

Meanwhile, an Indian defense industry source has speculated that Lockheed Martin could be pushing for closer ties with India's military to increase its chances in winning a $10-billion tender on the delivery of 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force.

Principal bidders include Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Russian Mig-35, the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Kalam unleashes his dreams in aerospace

Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam today unleashed an array of dreams in aeronautics and aerospace indsutry at the L.M.Katre memorial lecture he gave at the HAL here under the aegis of Aeronutical Society of India. He said robotics carried out by the scientists and engineers of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg for land and moon applications which has proved beyond doubt that India could greatly benefit from the 'empowered Human resources and a wide array infrastructure created for the purpose.

Dr. Kalam said  "While I was in Carnegie Mellon University, I came to know about the development of Boss – A Robotic car developed by Carnegie Mellon University. This car won the 2007 Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge first place price of $2 million in the autonomous vehicle competition held in November 2007. This is the first time that autonomous (driverless) vehicles traversed suburban roads at speed with real traffic represented by 50 moving cars with human drivers and the 11 race finalists in robot-on-robot competition. The autonomous vehicles in the DARPA Urban Challenge were required to navigate, park, and handle traffic on a 60-mile urban course within a six-hour time limit. The vehicles operated without human guidance and relied only on sensors and computers. The robotic cars also had to obey traffic laws, merge into moving traffic, avoid obstacles, and negotiate intersections. The robotic technology is indeed taking shape and we may see in this decade Robotic Cars in many parts of the world".

He said he also visited and interacted with the Carnegie Mellon - Google Lunar X Prize team, who are developing a robot which will land on the Moon, travel at least 500 meter on the lunar surface and transmit images to Earth by 2012 with the intent of winning a $20 million challenge announced by the X Prize Foundation and Google Inc. This will be the first private off-planet exploration. The result of this experiment will pave the way more robotic landing in Mars and Moon for exploration.

Both these developments give me the confidence that the world is not far off from realizing pilot-less combat aircraft and reusable missile systems. With this introduction let us study the aviation profile.

Aviation History

Human flight is nothing but creativity of human mind and it come after several struggles to achieve excellence. In 1892, a great well-known scientist Lord Kelvin, who was the President of Royal Society of London said, “any thing heavier than air cannot fly, and cannot be flown." In 1903, Wright Brothers demonstrated that man could fly.

Since then, we can see how creative minds have enabled the blossoming of Indian aviation. How that vision of aeronautics can take a real shape now? LCA has been successfully flight tested and is going to production phase. ALH is in production and is entering the export market. Advanced Satellite Launch Vehicles such as PSLV and GSLV are being made in the country. Strategic missiles with re-entry technology and supersonic cruise missiles are operational.

Aerospace Today

India during the last 40 years has progressed tremendously in space, missiles and multiple aircraft programmes. From the successful launching of SLV-3 in July 1980, India steadily progressed to operational capabilities with PSLV and GSLV for Remote Sensing and Communication satellites. India is self-reliant in space technology and can offer competitive launch service. The fruit of space research has started reaching the people enabling development of the nation.

In the missile programme, Prithvi and Agni are operational. The emergence of BRAHMOS – an Indo-Russian joint venture Supersonic Cruise Missile is a break-through to obtain a unique capability for long-range precision strike. The missile programme has given strength to the nation and BrahMos has demonstrated its world leadership and the availability for export. NAL flight-tested the 14 seater SARAS and HAL has successfully productionized the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The ALH is a unique multi-role, state-of-the-art, cost effective helicopter and will be a workhorse of the Indian aviation in the coming years. DRDO’s Lakshya and Nishant are unmanned aerial vehicles and are in production. Su-30 MKI’s avionics and MiG series of aircraft upgradation have demonstrated nation’s capabilities to design advanced aircraft systems. India has achieved core competencies in the design and development capability of aeronautical systems such as military aircraft and helicopters as well as aerospace systems such as launch vehicles and satellites. This all round capability of design and development of airborne systems is an adequate foundation for us to build on to develop our own 150 seater passenger jet.

Friday, January 18, 2008

India developing undersea nuclear weapon

harbour is a secret, completely enclosed facility known only as the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC).

Inside this dry dock, nearly 50m below ground level, is a cylindrical black shape, which is as tall as a two-storey building and at 104 m in length, is longer than the Qutub Minar lying on its side.

Technicians working on it confess to a surge of national pride: India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine or SSBN is arguably its greatest engineering project.

For over a quarter of a century, the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), smaller than the USS Alabama from Crimson Tide, has been among the most highly-classified government programmes, if not the most delayed.

Officials still refuse to confirm the existence of the project or the sea-based ballistic missile. A decade after India came out of the nuclear closet in the sands of Pokhran, it has moved some tantalising steps closer to realising the third and possibly the toughest of the three legs of the triad enunciated in its nuclear doctrine: a sea-based deterrent or a secure underwater platform for launching nuclear weapons.

“Things are developing as per schedule,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently said of ATV. Early last month, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta was the first government official to not only confirm its existence but also lay down a timeframe: “It is a DRDO project and a technology demonstrator. It is somewhere near completion and will be in the water in two years.”

The admiral had reason to feel confident about the project. Just last month, an 80MW nuclear reactor, smaller than a bus, was pushed into the hull of the submarine and successfully integrated—a milestone in the project approved by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1970.

By April 2009, the submarine will be launched and will begin sea trials before it is inducted into the navy. The goal is to field a fleet of three SSBNs by 2015, one in reserve and two on patrol, each carrying 12 nucleartipped ballistic missiles


Possibly the last “gift” to India from the now-extinct Soviet Union, it was designed with Russian assistance in the late ’80s. Based on an entirely new design, the 6,000 tonne submarine (not the elderly Charlie class N-sub as thought earlier) will make India the world’s sixth nation to operate a “boomer”.

Part of the acceleration in the programme has to do with the rapid buildup of Chinese nuclear forces. China operates 10 nuclear submarines, and in the past year, has fielded as many as three new Jin-class SSBNs, each carrying 12 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). “Given the growing military asymmetry with China, India’s need for a reliable nuclear deterrent that can survive a first strike has never been greater,” says strategic expert Brahma Chellaney.

Click here to enlarge
ATV is in line with India’s nuclear doctrine enunciated in 1999, which calls for its nuclear forces to be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. The doctrine calls for high survivability against surprise attacks and for a rapid punitive response.

A nuclear submarine that can remain submerged almost indefinitely and cannot be detected underwater, therefore, meets all these criteria and offers an almost invulnerable launch platform for nuclear weapons.

For a country like India with a no-first use policy, it is vital because it prevents a potential adversary from launching a crippling first strike that can knock out all nuclear weapons (see box). It also allows India to inflict considerable damage to the aggressor.

“One submarine carries at least 12 missiles with Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles, which could mean as many as 96 warheads. When such a submarine goes out to the sea, that many missiles are removed from our own territory. The enemy’s targeting of that many sites gets neutralised,” says Rear Admiral (retired) Raja Menon.

ATV, with its suitably muted acronym, was a euphemism for a longdelayed project. Shrouded in obsessive secrecy for decades, it has been under the direct supervision of the prime minister, who also chairs ATV’s apex committee.

Monday, January 14, 2008

India to set up its first UAV technology centre

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to set up the country's first dedicated facility for testing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technologies near Chitradurga in Karnataka.

Chitradurga lies close to Bangalore - home to a large number of defence and aerospace establishments - which weighed heavily in the DRDO's decision to set up the facility there. It is expected to cost Rs billion ($216 million) and become operational in the next five years.

It is envisaged that the centre will be used to test small, micro, flapping-wing and long-range UAV designs. Significantly, the Chitradurga range is expected to be involved in the development of India's first medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV. The DRDO has to date developed two UAVs - Nishant and Lakshya - both of which have entered production. Lakshya, an aerial target system, is being used for DRDO missile tests.

The Nishant, meanwhile, can fly continuously for up to six hours and photograph potential targets, including at night. The DRDO is developing an improved version of the Lakshya.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Akash set for induction in defence forces: DRDO official

Akash, an indigenously developed medium-range surface-to-air missile system, has successfully completed test trials and is all set for induction into the defence forces, a top scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said today.
"We expect the clearance from Defence Acquisition Council in a couple of months. Once we get the go-ahead, the production will commence and the first set of missile systems will be delivered in three years time," Chief Controller, R&D, DRDO, Prahlada told reporters here.

The Indian Air Force has already initiated the process, while the Army was expected to move the file soon, he said.

The DRDO, which has developed the state-of-the-art multi-directional and multi-target missile with a range of 25 kms, is hopeful of getting Rs 5,000 crore worth business over the next years from Air Force and the Army.

"After conducting seven successful flight tests for accurate guidance and consistent performance, we have conclusively demonstrated that Akash meets all the requirements. We are ready for production," he said.

Along with Bharat Electronics and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, several private organisations would be involved in production of the missiles.

"Once we get the go-ahead, the first two squadrons of missile systems will be delivered in three years and the subsequent systems will be upgraded depending on the requirement of the users," Prahlada said.

Conceived in 1984 by former President A P J Abdul Kalam when he was the head of DRDO, the Akash project was originally scheduled for completion in 12 years but it took 21 years to come to fruition. PTI

India developing ballistic missiles to destroy IRBMs, ICBMs

By 2010 India will have an indigenous ballistic missile defence system to intercept and destroy intermediate ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), a top defence official said here Monday.'We are developing a robust anti-missile defence system that will have high-speed interceptions for engaging ballistic missiles in the 5,000 km class and above. We have recently demonstrated the capability to handle such targets up to 2,000 to 2,500 km,' Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief controller V.K. Saraswat told IANS on the sidelines of the 95th Indian Science Congress.With an advanced integrated ballistic missile defence (BMD) system India joins the exclusive club of Israel, Russia and the US in developing and possessing the technology to attack and defend itself from any adversary in the region or beyond.'With our avowed policy of 'no-first use' with respect to nuclear weapons, we may not go on an attack mode despite having the capability to hit targets at 3,000 km and beyond with Agni-III and its upcoming variants.'At the same time, as our birthright is to defend the country and its interests, we will be self-reliant to ensure we are not attacked. Our BMD is designed to intercept the enemy even at high altitudes and long distances and destroy it before it could enter our region,' Saraswat said.The advanced BMD is at a design stage and will go on trial in 2009-2010. With all the elements of the system such as the long-range tracking radar, the multi-function fire control radar, the very intelligent and potent mission control centre for deciding the launching of the interceptor, the BMD will be able to detect IRBMs and ICBMs of any country and destroy on target.'The first anti-missile defence system, which was successfully test-fired Dec 6, 2007 from the integrated test range in coastal Orissa, demonstrated our capability to intercept targets at 45 to 50 km (exo-atmospheric) as well as at 15 to 20 km (endo-atmosphoric) altitudes and disintegrating them.'With this capability, we have protective missile cover in the western region and northeastern region,' Saraswat said.India is surrounded by countries in and around the region possessing various ballistic missiles that could be fired from any direction.The tracking and fire control radars were developed by state-run DRDO in collaboration with Israel and France. With the development and production being taken up concurrently, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in Bangalore has been commissioned to roll out more radars for short, medium and long range use in association with the private sector.'LRDE has a full-fledged facility at Kolar to assemble and calibrate the radars required by the defence forces,' Saraswat said.Under the integrated guided missile programme, DRDO plans to test fire Agni-IV intermediate range missile in mid-2009. It will be able to hit targets in the range of 5,000-6,000 km.

India to develop anti-missile defence system by 2010

India will develop an indigenous defence system to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles by 2010, a defence official said.

The system was currently being designed and would go on trial from 2009, said V.K. Saraswat, the chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

It would be capable of detecting, intercepting and destroying intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles from any country, he added on the sidelines of a science conference that ended Monday.

"We are developing a robust anti-missile defence system that will have high-speed interceptions for engaging ballistic missiles in the 5,000-kilometre (3,000-mile) class and above," he said.

India had recently shown it was able to handle targets in the class up to 2,000-2,500 kilometres, he added.

The country would join Israel, Russia and the US in developing and possessing such technology once the system is rolled out.

The defence system's tracking and fire control radars have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Israel and France, he said.

Nuclear-capable India also plans to test-fire in mid-2009 a missile capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 6,000 kilometres, Saraswat said.

A missile with a range of 3,000 kilometres was successfully test-fired last year from Wheeler Island off the eastern coast.

India has fought three wars with Pakistan and one with China since independence from British rule in 1947.

India to test 5000 km range missile in 2009

India is slated to conduct trials of the next version of the ballistic missile with a strike range of more than 5000 km and the sophisticated hypersonic plane in 2009.

It will also develop long-range, high speed interceptors that can strike down missiles fired from deep within the enemy territory.

The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) chief controller of R&D in missile systems sciences, V K Saraswat speaking at a plenary session in the 95th Indian Science Congress on Monday said that plans are afoot to build a floating test range to launch missiles in the next three years.

“ We are encouraged after our successful launch of Agri III. The next version of the long-range ballistic missile has been tentatively named as Agni III Plus and defence scientists are currently working on its design’, said Saraswat He said the DRDO will also test its indigenously developed hypersonic plane, which can be used as a reusable missile launcher. The vehicle, one which can launch missiles, land back and be loaded again for more missions, is expected to be capable of at least a hundred re-entries into the atmosphere. The hyperplane, which is likely to be the size of a MiG 25 fighter aircraft, will be able to take off from a conventional airfields.

According to Saraswat high speed interceptors – AD-1 and AD-2 - would be for engaging 5000 km class targets.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

India, Israel to focus on joint R&D in defence

There may be a few hiccups, political or otherwise, along the way but India and Israel will now 'further intensify' their already robust defence ties, which saw New Delhi do military business worth over a whopping $7 billion with Tel Aviv since the 1999 Kargil conflict.

From man-portable miniature UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and advanced radars to missile systems and electronic warfare suites, the two nations have decided to focus on more and more joint R&D projects rather than just continue with a mere buyer-seller kind of relationship, said sources.

This came at the end of the Indo-Israel joint working group (JWG) on defence, co-chaired by defence secretary Vijay Singh and his Israeli counterpart Brigadier-General (retired) Pinchas Buchris, on Monday and Tuesday. India, of course, is already Israel's largest defence customer, with purchases worth $1.5 billion in 2006 alone, displacing even the US to the second spot with $1 billion.

The strategic ties with Israel, which even includes regular intelligence-sharing for counter-terrorism, are however kept largely under wraps due to the domestic and international sensitivities involved.

"India will spend around $30 billion in defence purchases over the next five years. With its expertise in high-tech sub-systems, avionics, radars and missile systems, Israel is very keen to work with India in several areas," said a source. The Israeli delegation assured India that the huge 'Phalcon' AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) project, worth $1.1 billion, was now progressing on schedule after being hit by some delays.

The first of the three Phalcons, which will act as potent "eyes in the skies" to detect enemy air intrusions as well as direct fighters in aerial combat, will now arrive in India towards August-September.

"Israel will get the refurbished IL-76 aircraft, with more powerful engines, from Russia later this month for integration of the Phalcon early-warning radar and communication system on it," said the source.