Wednesday, February 27, 2008

India successfully tests undersea launched missile

India today successfully test fired its first-ever undersea nuclear capable ballistic missile off the eastern coastal city of Vishakahpatnam, catapulting it to the select band of five countries equipped with the technology.

The missile K-15, with a range of 700 kms, was test fired from a pontoon immersed in the sea at 1258 hours and eyewitnesses saw the missile rising from the waters into the sky.

"The test firing was successful," sources said as DRDO awaited the final evaluations from warships in the sea.

This was the first full-fledged test of the missile, of which defence scientists had earlier carried out three to four dry runs.

The test was undertaken from a submerged pontoon as India does not have a submarine capable to undertake firing of such missiles, official sources said.

Chief Controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) S Prahlada had said recently that it would need just one test to ratify the missile which would form the main armament of the country's indigenously made nuclear submarine which is expected to enter sea trials late next year.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We have the capability to destroy foreign objects in space: Kalam

The former President and architect of India’s missile programme A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Friday asserted that the country had the capability of intercepting and destroying any foreign object endangering its territory.

The country had achieved “very high” technological capabilities in avionics, guidance and computerisation in particular, to intercept and destroy objects at a height of up to 200 km. “We definitely have the capability of intercepting foreign objects in defensive action,” he told journalists on the sidelines of an international conference on avionics systems that began here.

The successful tests of the Anti-Ballistic Missile and Akash systems in exo and endo-atmospheric regions proved that “we have reliable technology and capability of interceptor missiles.”

The country was doing well in guidance and control systems and efforts were under way to significantly develop “Electronic Counter-Counter Measures.” Emphasis was being laid on miniaturisation for easy carriage of missiles aboard aircraft.

V.K. Saraswat, Chief Controller, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Research and Development (Missiles and Strategic Systems), said the country had the technology to detect the “coming and dangerous” objects. “We have the technological strength to obstruct and destroy them.”

US invites India to join hands for missile defence shield

The American sea-based missile defence system, Aegis, couldn't have got a better marketing push. The system used to shoot down a wayward spy satellite on Wednesday is at the heart of a renewed US invitation to India to join hands in putting together a missile defence shield.

The US has proposed that the Aegis combat management system be installed on seven Indian frigates under a programme code-named Project 17 A.

India's Larsen and Toubro and the Hyundai Heavy Industries have been roped in by American Lockheed Martin to present a joint bid for the Aegis to India.

The shooting down of the satellite was however, the perfect marketing demonstration for the Aegis-based missile defence system.

The flexibility of this system would allow for the integration of Indian missiles on a collective missile defence shield, should New Delhi so decide.

Five other countries have pooled in 85 warships under the Aegis umbrella.

Sea-based missile defences dramatically increase the chances of intercepting an enemy missile. The US is careful not to package it’s offer as a military alliance, an idea India is loathe to.

The US offer extends to a multi-layered missile defence, which also includes the Patriot and the Thaad systems.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DRDO ready to make any weapon within 4-7 years

The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), which is ready to launch underwater missile, is confident of catering to India's defence requirements and ready to make any weapon in a short time.

The advances made by the organisation, and the lessons that it had learnt in the recent past, has equipped it with the knowledge and sophistication to develop and manufacture modern weaponry.

"The DRDO requires minimum four years and maximum seven years to manufacture a new weapon for the armed forces," said Dr. Prahlada, DRDO's Chief Controller (R and D).

Speaking exclusively to Asian News International (ANI) on the sidelines of the DEFEXPO-08, he emphasised that in order to cater to the future defence needs for which more sophisticated and integrated weapons would be required, the DRDO is ready to provide the new weapons in shortest possible time.

"In today's world velocity of technology is high and more types of weapons are required with quicker delivery time," Dr. Prahlada said.

The DRDO is preparing to handle futuristic research by going for collaborative research with its partners and forming joint ventures to develop new weapons systems, he added.

Dr. Prahlada said that the focus of the DRDO would be to concentrate on the development of frontal technology and weapons, to supplement those, which are being manufactured by the Indian defence industry.

"The DRDO wants to concentrate on high end research and development which is strategic in nature in order to meet the demands of the armed forces in a better way," he added.

Talking about weapons systems, which the DRDO will provide to the services in next five years, Dr. Prahlada said that Astra (air-to-air missile) and Air Defence System are ready.

New sonars, heavyweight torpedo, improved Nishant and Lakshya, Radars for all the three services, ground borne and air borne surveillance radar, remotely operated underwater vehicle, heavy torpedo and Aerosat would be ready in next five years, he said.

Dr. Prahlada added that lot of new generation electronic warfare systems -- airborne, ship-borne and helicopter borne -- will be ready soon.

He said that the DRDO has played a vital role in providing strategic defence to India.

The DRDO will be offering Arjun Mark-II the improved version of the main battle tank Arjun to the Army.

He said the focus of the organisation will be to develop satellite based, communication based equipments.

The DRDO is already working on a submarine-launched version of Agni-III, which is to be followed by the Agni-III-plus missile with a strike range of 5,000km, he said.

"If the government wants it, we can extend the range of the Agni-III missile. We have the capability and technology," said Dr. Prahlada.

Speaking of the business enquiries about the DRDO's products during the ongoing DEFEXPO, Dr. Prahlada said many countries have enquired about our products and Indian Government has given the go ahead for exports after meeting the domestic requirements.

"The visitors showed keen interest in small arms, Akash and Nag missiles, modular bridges, short and medium range radars," he added. (ANI)

More hi-tech than Agni, Astra to take flight this year

After being in the doldrums for quite some time, India's first beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile Astra is now finally set to take flight. Defence scientists, in fact, hope to integrate the missile with a fighter jet for full-scale tests later this year.

In terms of sheer technology, the 80-km-range Astra is more complex than even the nuclear-capable Agni series of strategic ballistic missiles. And that is primarily the reason it has remained largely restricted to the drawing board stage till now.

But now, in the wake of closure of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) in December 2007, after a quarter of a century of hits and misses, defence scientists are basically focusing on Astra and four other missile systems.

The other four are the 700-km range K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missile, the 290-km BrahMos supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, the 3,500-km range Agni-III ballistic missile and the long-range surface-to-air missile system being jointly developed with Israel.

"Astra is a very complex missile. We have completed the tests of its navigation, control, airframe, propulsion and other sub-systems. Now, we want to integrate it with a mother aircraft for flight trials," DRDO chief controller Prahlada said. "We have identified three fighters - MiG-29, Jaguar and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft - for integration. But we will have to test it 20 to 50 times, covering the entire flight envelope, before it can become operational," he added.

India requires BVR missiles, fired by fighters to destroy enemy aircraft at ranges beyond 40 km, since the days of dog fights are virtually over now. Being extremely complex, only a few countries like US, Russia, France and Israel have managed to develop BVR missiles till now.

The Indian Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s, for instance, are armed with expensive BVR missiles of French and Russian origin like the "Matra Super 530D" and "AA-12 Adder". India, incidentally, is also importing the Israeli Python and Derby air-to-air missiles.

It was in March 2004 that the government approved the Rs 1,000-crore project to develop Astra, with a 80-km "head-on range", after DRDO conducted test-firing of three prototypes from the Chandipur-on-Sea test range in May 2003. But DRDO will not be able to meet the 2009 deadline for delivery of the Astra missile to IAF. It will only be possible by 2012 or so.

But once operational, scientists hold the single-stage solid-fuelled Astra will be cheaper and advanced than contemporary BVR missiles, capable of engaging and destroying highly-manoeuvreble supersonic aerial targets.

'Lakshya' successfully flight-tested

India's indigenously developed pilot less target aircraft 'Lakshya' was successfully flight tested from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here on Wednesday.

PTA Lakshya, fitted with a digitally controlled improved engine, was developed by the aeronautics development establishment, Bangalore, to perform discreet aerial reconnaissance of battlefield and target acquisition.

Usually the flight duration of the six-feet-long micro light aircraft is 30-35 minutes and after covering three to four laps in the sky it drops to the ground with the help of a parachute.

'Lakshya' had been tested several times earlier and to further check its engine viability and duration enhancement, Wednesday's test was undertaken from the launch complex-2 of the ITR, defence sources said adding, ''it is a routine trial.''

'Lakshya', a sub-sonic, re-usable aerial target system, is remote controlled from the ground and designed to impart training to both air-borne and air defence pilots.

It has already been inducted into Indian Air Force since 2000, the sources said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

India to test submarine-launched missile

Buoyed by the success of the ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme, India's defence scientists will test-fire an indigenously-developed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) later this month, an official source said Friday.

However, since the Indian Navy does not have a submarine capable of firing an SLBM, the test firing of the Sagarika missile Feb 24-25 will be conducted from an underwater launcher positioned in the Bay of Bengal.

"For the test, an underwater launcher will be positioned 50 metres deep in the sea, eight km off the coast," a source at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) told IANS.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the missile has twice been test-fired but without success as its trajectory deviated while in flight on both occasions.

"Scientists are more cautious this time and are leaving no stone unturned for its successful launch," the source said.

The success achieved last year with exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) and endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere) anti-ballistic missiles, as also and the surface-to-air Akash missile had encouraged DRDO scientists to test the 700-km range Sagarika nuclear-capable missile that has been developed with Israeli assistance, the source added.

Powered by a turbojet, the missile can carry a 500 kg payload. It is 8.5 metres long and about one metre in diameter.

"This missile is a variant of the Dhanush and an advanced clone of Prithvi's naval version. The difference is that it can only be launched from a submarine," the source said.

However, a test-firing in actual conditions is still a while away as Russia is yet to respond to the Indian Navy's request for loaning an Akula-class submarine that is capable of launching SLBMs. The navy's Russian-made Kilo-class submarines and the German-designed HDW submarines do not have the capability to fire such missiles.

The Sagarika is said to be comparable with the US Tomahawk missile.

Friday, February 8, 2008

India said mulling missile-shield work with U.S.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, has been told India may be ready to look into possible U.S.-Indian collaboration on ballistic missile defense, a top company official said Wednesday.

"I would not be surprised if over the next couple of months we begin to have some exploratory discussions with various members of the government and with Indian industry," Richard Kirkland, Lockheed Martin's top executive on South Asia, said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Indian missile-defense cooperation with the United States could complicate relations with China, Russia and Pakistan.

Until now, India's policy has been to develop its missile shield domestically, closing a potential multibillion-dollar market to Boeing Co, Lockheed, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp -- the biggest players in the emerging ground, air, sea and space based U.S. missile defense system.

But this may be changing in line with a "watershed" Indian decision made formal last week to buy Lockheed's C-130J military transport aircraft, Kirkland said in a telephone interview.

India signed a deal with the United States on January 31 to buy six C-130Js worth about $1 billion, a shift from its previous heavy reliance on Russian transport planes.

"This kind of puts us in a new environment," James Clad, deputy assistant U.S. secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said in an interview Tuesday of the C-130J deal. "With this sale, India is telling us it's ready to buy top-quality U.S. equipment on its merits."

More than 50 U.S. companies doing defense-related work are now represented in India, which is shaping up to be one of the world's biggest arms importers, Clad said.

The United States has been eager to boost strategic ties with India as a precaution against China's growing military power.

Nicholas Burns, the No. 3 U.S. State Department official, wrote in the November/December issue of the journal Foreign Affairs that that in reaching out to India, the United States was betting on democracy and market economics rather than "despotism and state planning," an apparent swipe at communist-ruled China.

Nathan Hughes, military analyst for Statfor, a private intelligence firm specialized in geopolitics and security, said any major expansion of U.S.-Indian strategic ties would anger archrival Pakistan; Russia, long a key military supplier; and China.

"The United States has lots of things India wants. Russia still provides the defense equipment that India needs," he said. "India just can't turn on a dime."

Kirkland said bolstering India's missile defenses could be done relatively quickly by "blending in", for instance, mobile radar and other sensors or command and control elements.

Washington already has held technical talks with New Delhi on missile-defense capabilities such as Lockheed/Raytheon Patriot Advanced Capability-3 antimissile batteries, said Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.

Indian embassy officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Kirkland said he was "extraordinarily bullish" on Lockheed Martin's chances to win India's potential $10.2 billion market for 126 multirole fighter jets. He called it "the largest single competitive fighter purchase that has been around for 30 years" since a combined European F-16 purchase in the mid 1970s.

Lockheed is tailoring an F-16 Fighting Falcon proposal to meet Indian requirements, including an advanced radar known as active electronically scanned array, he said.

Proposals are due March 3. Also in the race are Boeing, which is offering its F/A-18 Super Hornet, Russia's MiG-35, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Saab KAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, until August the Pentagon's top arms-sale official, said the C-130J sale augured well for closer U.S.-Indian defense ties overall.

"I think every sale helps all U.S. companies looking to enter the Indian market," he said. "It helps build trust and confidence."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Israel set to use Indian rockets to launch 'spy' satellites

Israel will continue using Indian carrier rockets to launch its military satellites into space despite objections from Iran, The Indian Express quoted an Israeli source as saying on Thursday.

"Since we have limited capacity to launch rockets, we are looking for partners in this regard, and India is a natural partner since we have such good relations," a senior Israeli diplomat said.

Israel and India signed in 2004 a space cooperation agreement that envisions India's participation in a variety of Israeli military satellite projects.

On January 21, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a PSLV rocket carrying an Israeli-made Tecsar spy satellite into orbit from India's Shriharikota space center, prompting an angry reaction from Tehran.

Iran urged India earlier this week not to allow its space technology to be used "for spying on friendly countries."

According to military experts, the 300-kg Tecsar, reportedly Israel's seventh satellite, is a highly-advanced model capable of monitoring movement on Earth irrespective of light or weather conditions.

It could be used primarily to spy on Iran in light of Tehran's controversial nuclear program and recent advances in missile technology.

Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic missile is believed to have a range of at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), putting Israel in range.

On Monday, Iran successfully launched a research rocket into space, raising suspicions that the Islamic Republic might be close to developing long-range ballistic missiles which could potentially deliver nuclear warheads, targeting Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

Monday, February 4, 2008

BrahMos-2 will see design, development of hypersonic missiles: CEO

India has embarked on project BrahMos-2, which will see the design and development of hypersonic missiles, according to Dr A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BrahMos Aerospace.

The project launched jointly with Russia, under BrahMos, will see more than 20 Russian institutes and industry and a bigger number of Indian industry participating.

The hypersonic missiles, will fly at Mach 5-7 speeds ( one Mach is equivalent to velocity of sound or 330 metres per second), Dr Pillai told Business Line here.
Different versions

Already joint teams from India and Russia have started working on designing different versions of the missiles. The project will be of five-year duration.

Both the Indian and the Russian Government have assured adequate funding and support, he said.

The initiative has come in the wake of the superb success of the BrahMos project, launched in 1999. The supersonic BrahMos missile developed with speeds of Mach 2.8 has already got orders from the Indian Navy and Army.

Production facilities are being geared up to meet the orders from India as well as future exports, Dr Pillai said.
On multiple platforms

BrahMos missile is now available for launch from multiple platforms which include ship to ship, land to ship and land to land.

Further, the submarine version is ready but the platform (submarine) was not ready. Similar was the case with the Air Force.

Efforts are on to use the TU 142, a reconnaisance aircraft with he Navy for trials soon.

Ultimately, this version would be integrated with the Sukhoi SU 32 aircraft, the BrahMos Chief said.

Earlier, Dr Pillai received the 16th Dr Y. Nayudamma Award from the Chairman and Managing Director of the KCP Group, Mr V.L. Dutt at a function in this coastal town on Saturday.

Mr P Vishnumurthy, President of the Nayudamma Trust, read his citation and listed the activities. Mr Ratheish Nayudamma, Managing Director, AP Tanneries Ltd, recollected Dr Nayudamma’s contributions to leather technologies and indigenous technologies on the occasion.

In his annual lecture, Dr Pillai said, the country had to focus on emerging as a globally-competitive, technology power. It had the manpower and wherewithal to do so in the near future.

Giving an example of the contribution of Dr Nayudamma, he said in leather technology, the country had emerged as a major global power with export of $2.5 billion. However, China has overtaken us with $4 billion and that too by getting help from Indian technology. We should strive to get back the leadership by increasing exports to $7 billion by 2010, he added.

Dr Pillai felt that the near future would see the convergence of info-bio nano technologies. Luckily, India has the potential, but needs a concerted and big mission projects to be at the forefront of these technologies, which will shape our future.