Thursday, December 31, 2009

Isro develops cryogenic engine

Isro’s 2010 space dream should be a technological leapfrog. It will soon launch the GSLV-D3 rocket with an indigenous (Indian) cryogenic stage and engine for the first time in the country’s space history. The space agency has so far been launching GSLV rockets on borrowed Russian technology.
The GSLV launch, if successful, will make India only the fifth or sixth country in the world to launch a rocket with indigenous cryogenic technology. The cryogenic stage is the upper stage of the rocket that will house the cryogenic engine within it.
“Cryogenic technology involves the use of super-cooled liquid fuel to launch heavy rockets like GSLV with the fuel being a mix of liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Launching rockets with liquid fuel of the cryogenic kind has never been easy and Isro will do it this time on its own with the stage and engine developed by itself,” Isro officials said.
Isro achieved a significant milestone recently when it successfully tested the cryogenic stage. The test was conducted for full flight duration of 720 seconds at the liquid propulsion test facility at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The indigenous cryogenic stage now remains to be tested in actual flight - on the GSLV-D3. The ground test has validated the design robustness and performance adequacy for its use in GSLV.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Russia to help make 'Indian Soyuz' for manned flight news

Russia will help India build a manned spacecraft and send an Indian into space by 2020 under a 10-year cooperation programme using the technology it uses to build its Soyuz spacecraft, an official of the Russian space agency Roskosmos said in Moscow on Wednesday.

"The Indian side intends to use the experience of building the manned spaceship Soyuz to advance in building their own spaceship. We will build this spaceship on a similar technical scheme, but it will not resemble Soyuz," Alexei Krasnov, chief of the department of piloted programmes at Roskomos, said.

The spaceship would be smaller than the Soyuz, as Indian launch vehicles are too light to deliver a full-size Soyuz into orbit. "With Roskosmos's appropriate support we will be able to reequip technically and increase the production of the spaceships," Krasnov said.

Krasnov noted, ''It is not surprising that India has turned to Russia for help in its space programme, as we have been cooperating since Soviet times.'' India's first astronaut Rakesh Sharma travelled into space aboard a Soyuz in 1984.

He spent eight days on the Salyut-7 orbital station and did various scientific experiments. Subsequent plans to send two Indian astronauts to space on a US shuttle were scrapped after the Challenger disaster in 1986.

The project is in the early stages at the moment and will take at least a decade to complete, according to Krasnov.

Russia and India have a number of joint space and military projects, including a moon exploration programme and a fifth-generation fighter jet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

DRDO to take up indigenous development of UAV

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will take up the indigenous development of a medium altitude long endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question today that the development would be undertaken against against confirmed Qualitative Requirements (QRs) to meet the requirements of the three Services.

Mr Antony said the UAV had been named Rustom-H. The Indian industry would be the development-cum-production partner for the project, which is expected to be completed in 78 months after formal sanction

Sunday, December 13, 2009

India has credible thermo-nuclear bombs in its arsenal: claims Kakodkar

Dr. Anil Kakodkar, who has recently relinquished charge as Chairman Atomic Energy Commission claimed on Sunday that India had credible thermo-nuclear bombs in its arsenal.“I think that is guaranteed. The Army should be fully confident and defend the country. There is no issue about the arsenal at their command,” Kakodkar said in an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN Devils Advocate programme.

When Kakodkar was asked about low yield of 1998 thermo-nuclear tests as pointed by four leading Indian scientists and international experts, Kakodkar claimed the yield of thermo-nuclear tests was verified, not by one method but several redundant methods based on different principles, done by different groups.

Review was made and “I had described the tests in 1998 as perfect and I stand by that,” he said.

Indian scientists Dr Santhanam, Dr Iyengar, Dr Sethna and Dr Prasad·have raised serious doubts about India’s thermo-nuclear tests of 1998 while Dr Santhanam said “we have hard evidence on a purely factual basis that not only was the yield of the thermo-nuclear device far below the design prediction, but that it actually failed”.

Dr. Santhanam had also said that the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) seismic instruments measured the yield as something between 20-25 kilotonnes which is hugely different from the claim put out by the Atomic Energy Commission that it was 45 kilotonnes.

Kakodkar said the instruments used by DRDO to measure the yield of the tests at that time did not work. “I myself had reviewed this immediately after the test and we concluded that these instruments did not work.”

“Well, let me first of all say that that DAE and DRDO - we both work together as a team. DRDO did deploy some instruments for measurements but the fact is that the seismic instruments did not work. I myself had reviewed all the results immediately after the tests and we concluded that the instruments did not work,” he said.

However, Dr Santhanam had said the Bhabha Atomic Energy Center accepted the DRDO’s instruments.

When asked in an article that Dr Santhanam had written recently on November 15, 2009 for the Tribune, he says: The Department of Atomic Energy - the department to which you were ex-officio secretary - is in fact hiding facts from successive Indian governments, from Parliament and from Indian people, Kakodkar said “well, as I said earlier, we are perhaps unique in giving out the maximum information and that too very promptly - immediately after the tests.”

When asked after raising doubts by senior Indian scientists is there any need to form a peer group to review the data of the tests, he said there was no need for a peer group review yet again.

India successfully tests nuclear-capable missile Dhanush


Balasore: India Sunday successfully tested a nuclear-capable ballistic missile Dhanush from a warship in the Bay of Bengal, an official said.

missile Dhanush

Dhanush, the naval version of the Prithvi missile, was launched from INS Subhadra that was anchored about 35 nautical miles offshore from the test range of Chandipur in Balasore district, 230 km from Bhubaneswar.

The missile, which has a range of 350 km and carries a nuclear warhead of about 500 kg, was fired at 11.31 a.m. All the operations for the launch were carried out by Naval personnel.

"It has met all the mission objectives. All the events occurred as expected and were monitored by the range sensors. It was a text book launch and a fantastic mission accomplished," the official said.

missile Dhanush

V.K. Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister, and director general and secretary, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was on-board the ship during the mission.

Prithvi is part of India's ambitious integrated guided missile development programme launched over 20 years ago.

Dhanush (meaning bow), which was tested several times in the past, is designed and built by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

It was first test-fired on April 11, 2000 from the Chandipur range

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Astrosat all set to be launched next year: ISRO

India’s first science satellite Astrosat is all set to be launched next year, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Madhavan Nair said today.

One more satellite ‘Aditya’ to study Sun’s coronal mass ejection (CME) would be launched in two years while the science mission to planet Mars by 2013, Nair said, addressing a galaxy of scientists from India and abroad and the student community at the Grand Finale function of Bhabha Centenary celebrations, which concluded today.

The multi-wavelength astronomy mission Astrosat on an Indian remote sensing satellite-class satellite in a 650-km, near-equatorial orbit would be launched next year, he said, adding it will be launched by the Indian launch vehicle PSLV from the Sriharikota launchpad. The expected operating life time of the satellite will be of five years.

‘Adiyta’ will be launched in next two years to study the properties of CMEs, that are gigantic bubbles of electrified gas that billow away from the Sun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

India test fires nuke-capable Agni-II in night trial

India has successfully conducted its first night-trial of nuclear-capable Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile from Wheeler island off Orissa coast.

It had been decided to test the nuclear capable Agni-II Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) for the first time during night, defence officials had said in Balasore on Sunday.

"Range integration work in Integrated Test Range (ITR) for the proposed trial has been completed and if final check-up in the sub-system of the missile is found flawless, the mission will be taken up tomorrow," the officials had said.

A special 'strategic forces team' raised by the Army conducted the trial with necessary logistic support by various ITR laboratories and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists.

The indigenous weapon is a two-stage solid propelled ballistic missile and has a weight of 17 tonnes and length of 20 metres. It can carry a payload of one tonne over a distance of 2,000 km.

Agni-II was developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory along with other DRDO laboratories and integrated with Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Hyderabad with the private sector participating in a big way in its production.

The missile is part of the Agni series which included Agni-I (700 km range) and Agni-III (3,500 km range). Agni-I was already inducted and Agni-III is in the process of induction, the officials added.

The missile was already inducted into the services and the strategic command network is in charge of the missiles operation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fresh anti-ballistic missile tests soon

Fresh tests of the endo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile system may be conducted in December-January, VK Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister, said on Wednesday.

"The first phase of the missile defence shield has been going on for years now and fresh tests are likely in December-January," he said at a seminar on fuel cell technology.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), which Saraswat heads, aims to develop interceptors that can destroy intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In phase-II, DRDO will develop missiles to neutralise inter-continental ballistic missiles. The phase, however, is in the design stage.

Hydrogen Cell Technology To Be Feasible For Defence In 5 Years, Says DRDO

Hydrogen Cell Technology will become a feasible alternative for defence purpose in five years, a top Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official has said.

"It will be possible to use hydrogen cell technology for on-board and off board requirements in guns and other defence systems besides electricity requirements of the defence infrastructure," Dr V K Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DG, DRDO, said.

“While the cost of generation of electricity using hydrogen cell is around $3,000 per kilo watt, the cost using traditional fuels is just $30 per kilo watt," said Saraswat on the sidelines of International Symposium on Fuel Cell Technologies - Fucetech 2009.

However, the cost can be decreased by one tenth, when the generation of electricity using hydrogen cell takes place at a big level. The role of Research & Development must be employed to cut the cost of electricity using hydrogen cell.

Dr K Kasturirangan, Member Planning Commission has said that public-private partnership between the government research institutions and industry will help in bringing the technology to the market.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

IISc working towards recoverable hypersonic missile

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) along with Indian defence agencies are developing technology to build recoverable

hypersonic missiles which will be half the size of the current missiles. This missile will have the potential of hitting a target over 5,000 km away at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach5) and can also be used to launch satellites at low cost, a top scientist working on the project told ET. No time frame has been announced as yet on when the missile work will be completed. This is of special significance as institutions like the Nasa is experimenting on unmanned projects where they will use hypersonic flights to conduct space exploration.
Missiles which fly at Mach 3-4 (three to four times the speed of sound) belong to the high supersonic class, while hypersonic missiles can fly at more than Mach 5. India’s longest-range missile, Agni III, is capable of hitting targets 3,500 km away and the forthcoming Agni V which has a range of about 5,000-6,000 km is expected to be test-fired in 2010.
“The missile will be much smaller than the current ones. It will be more like an aircraft which can come back to its base after dropping the weapon and need not be huge like the Chinese Dongfeng intercontinental ballistic missile,” a scientist who did not wish to be quoted said. “This technology is not yet available in any other country and it will help better access to space, reconnaissance-strike and global reach.”
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Friday admitted that they were developing this technology, but work was still at its preliminary stage. IISc is working on some parts of this intercontinental ballistic missile which will be made of materials like composites and Titanium. This will prevent it from being detected by enemy radars and observation systems. It is this innovation which has attracted the interest of several US aviation sector majors.

Since it is important to keep the missile cool, it will work on the scram-jet technology where combustion of fuel takes place in a chamber in the missile under Mach 5 flight conditions, which is different from the current system of collecting the air from the atmosphere during the flight to burn the rocket fuel inside the combustion chamber.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp company is also working on flight testing hypersonic hydrocarbon-fuelled and cooled scramjet engine working on Mach 5 flight conditions. (A scramjet consists of a constricted tube through which air is compressed and it has a nozzle through which the exhaust jet leaves at higher speed than the inlet air).
The scientist said that they will also use a technology developed by IISc on this missile that has the potential to increase the range of missiles and satellite launch vehicles by at least 40%. The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium metal to the blunt nose cone of missiles and launch vehicles.
As reported by ET earlier, objects such as missiles fly at hypersonic velocities which are more than five times the speed of sound and encounter atmospheric drag because of friction. The chromium coating works by building temporary heat and pushing the stagnating gas away to create an easier path.
The scientist also said that various Indian defence agencies and the US Airforce have shown interest in this special coating technology which evaporates once the object has re-entered the atmosphere and additional energy is not required to reduce drag.

Captive flight trials of Astra missile carried out

India’s missile programme took a crucial step forward on Saturday with Indian Air Force test pilots carrying out the captive flight trials of the indigenously designed and developed Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM).

A Su-30MKI combat aircraft especially tasked for the trials took off from Air Force Station Lohegaon (Pune) for a 90-minute sortie with the Astra missile. Till Thursday, four sorties, including flying the missile to super sonic speeds and to 7Gs, had been accomplished. Captive trials are mandatory to actual firing of the missile from the aircraft.

The active, radar homing Astra -- India’s first air-to-air missile -- which, at its design altitude of 15 km, will enable fighter pilots to lock-on, evade radar and shoot down enemy aircraft about 80 km away, is part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and has been under development at a number of defence laboratories led by the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory.

Astra can be compared to the U.S.’ AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, France’s MICA (Missile d’interception et de combat aĆ©rien, “Interception and Aerial Combat Missile”) and Russia’s R77 (RVV-AE) missile.

The ground launch of Astra was successfully conducted at Chandipur-on-Sea, off the Orissa coast in September 2008.

Captive flight trials involve the Su-30MKI carrying under its wings at one of its six hard points (stations designated for the carrying of stores) an inert missile (with no explosives but simulating the real missile) which has not been electrically or electronically ‘connected’ to the aircraft’s on-board systems.

Captive or aero mechanical integrity tests allows a verification of aspects such as the mechanical, structural and electrical compatibility between the missile and the aircraft, and whether vibrations, strain, stress, etc. are within design levels.

Only after the missile is proven in captive flight trials can it be fired from an aircraft.

Disclosing news of Phase 1 of the captive flight trails which have come after about four years of planning and certification, senior officials said the trials would cover the entire flight envelope of the Su-30MKI, including attaining the fighter’s altitude ceiling of 18 km and a speed of 1.8 Mach, and undertaking the various complicated manoeuvres that the aircraft is designed for. The trials are likely to involve around 15 sorties.

Russian launcher

Though the missile has been indigenously developed, Astra currently depends on a Russian launcher and seeker head. The seeker is yet to be integrated with the missile’s radar, algorithms, etc.

Officials said Astra has been designed to pull a latax (lateral acceleration) of 40g. (40 times the acceleration due to gravity).

The second phase of the trials -- avionics integrity tests -- are expected early next year and will involve the integration of the missile’s avionics with that of the aircraft, and a dialoguing between the cockpit and the missile. Officials also disclosed that “some guided flights with a seeker to check for guidance will take place early next year.” The actual firing of Astra from the Su-30MKI is expected in July-August 2010.

Astra is to be initially fitted on the Su-30MKI and the Mirage 2000, with the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft and the MiG-29 scheduled to be equipped with it later.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

India’s Missile Programme: Augmenting Firepower

An overview by Dr. Monika Chansoria of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies

09:18 GMT, October 30, 2009 India Strategic | South Asia's feeble political and strategic equations are reflected in the volatility of its security arrangements. The evolution of elements that have been crucial towards galvanizing India's strategic response crucially include its missile programme as an unassailable part of that strategy.
The past decades have witnessed phenomenal surges in missile technology and intrusions into outer space. India, however, did not have a credible missile programme by means of which it could boast of a sturdy arsenal of missile systems of that point. India's missile programme can be stated to be an offshoot of its space programme, beginning 1967. Subsequently, in 1972, Rohini, a 560 two-stage, solid propulsion sounding rocket, was developed and test fired, capable of reaching an altitude of 334km with a 100kg payload. India first launched its small 17-tonne SLV-3 space booster (300km/40kg) in 1979 and thereafter successfully injected the 35kg Rohini I satellite into near-earth orbit in 1980. By 1987, an augmented booster, the 35-tonne ASLV (4,000km/150kg in low earth orbit), which primarily are three SLV-3's strapped together, had begun flight testing.
In what could be described as a 'decisive shift' in missile development plans, the missile capability of Indian armed forces received a major fillip from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) following the launching of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) in 1983. The principal aim was to develop a family of strategic and tactical guided missiles based on local design and development for three defence services. DRDO accorded particular priority to development of sophisticated guidance technology.
The Indian missile arsenal boasts a range of systems and the current thrust areas of the DRDO include Internal Ram Rocket Engines, Multi-target tracking capability, homing guidance using seeker and networking of radars. Concurrently, the DRDO has consistently worked towards enhancing and upgrading the following missile system further:
The Agni missile family
Agni-I is a single stage, solid fuel, road and rail mobile, medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) using solid propulsion upper stage, derived from Prithvi, essentially to prove the re-entry structure, control and guidance. The strap-down inertial navigation system adopts explicit guidance - attempted for the first time globally. Using carbon composite structure for protecting payload during its re-entry phase, the first flight was conducted in May 1989, thus establishing the re-entry technology and precise guidance to reach the specific targets. This shorter ranger missile is specially designed to strike targets in Pakistan.
Agni II is an operational version of Agni I and is an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) with two solid fuel stages and a Post Boost Vehicle (PBV) integrated into the missile’s Re-entry Vehicle (RV) with mobile launch capability test-fired in April 1999. The range for Agni II is more than 2000 km. Quick deployment of the Agni II was possible, by building on the earlier Agni-TD programme that provided proven critical technologies and designs required for long range ballistic missiles. The Agni II missile was last test fired in May 2009. A new variant of the Agni II called the Agni IIIA is presently under development.
Additionally, Agni III, an intermediate-range ballistic missile was developed by India as the successor to Agni II. Intended to be a two-stage ballistic missile capable of nuclear weapons delivery, it is touted as India’s nuclear deterrent against China. The missile is likely to support a wide range of warhead configurations, with a 3,500km range and a total payload weight of 2490kg. The two-stage solid fuel missile is compact and small enough for easy mobility and flexible deployment on various surface/sub-surface platforms. The last development test of Agni III was conducted in August 2009 before being handed over to the army for user trails.
Agni V, believed to be an upgraded version of the Agni III is currently being worked upon by the DRDO. The inter-continental ballistic missile shall have a range of about 5000-6000 kilometres and the first test flight is expected around 2010 end. Agni V would be a three stage solid fuelled missile with composite motor casing in the third stage. Agni V will be able to carry multiple warheads and would also display countermeasures against anti-ballistic missile systems.
Surface-to-air missile
The Trishul (Trident) is a short range, quick reaction, all weather surface-to-air missile designed to counter a low-level attack. In fact, Trishul was one of the longest-running DRDO missile development programme. It can also be used as an anti-sea skimmer from a ship against low flying attacking missiles. The missile can engage targets like aircraft and helicopters, flying between 300m/s and 500m/s by using its radar command-to- line-of-sight guidance. Powered by a two-stage solid propellant system, with a highly powered HTBP-type propellant similar to the ones used in the Patriot, the Trishul has necessary electronic counter-counter measures against all known aircraft jammers. Trishul, with its quickest reaction time, high frequency operation, high manoeuvrability, high lethal capability and multi-roles for three services, is state-of-the-art system providing considerable advantage to the Indian armed forces.
The Akash system is a medium range surface-to-air missile with multi-target engagement capability. It can carry a 55-kilogramm multiple warhead capable of targeting five aircraft simultaneously up to 25km and is said to be comparable to the US Patriot as an air defence missile. It uses high-energy solid propellant for the booster and ram-rocket propulsion for the sustainer phase. The propulsion system provides higher level of energy with minimum mass, compared to conventional solid/liquid rocket motor, which has better performance with minimum weight of the missile. It has a dual mode guidance, initially on command mode from phased array radar and later radar homing guidance with unique software developed for high accuracy. The phased array radar provides capability for multiple target tracking and simultaneous deployment of missiles to attack four targets at the same time, in each battery.
Battlefield surface-to-surface missiles
Another missile under IGMDP development is the Nag, an anti-armour weapon employing sensor fusion technologies for flight guidance first tested in November 1990. The Nag is a third generation ‘fire-and-forget’ anti-tank missile developed in India with a range of 4 to 8 kilometres. Nag uses Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) guidance with day and night capability.

Full article at

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ISRO invites astronauts for manned lunar mission

Post Chandrayaan ISRO invites astronauts for manned lunar mission. Two eligible Indian citizens can grab the unique chance to hitch a ride to the moon onboard ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization)’s next manned spacecraft slated for launch in 2015.

An announcement inviting applications from wannabe Indian astronauts fit physically and mentally, and willing to face challenges was made by Dr TK Alex, director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore.
After the widely lauded success of its maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-I, ISRO had publicized its plans for a manned space mission. Chandrayaan-I was a landmark achievement in that, the mission had confirmed presence of water on the moon.
Indian Planning Commission earmarked $2.5 billion for the mission months ago. ISRO’s Chairman G Madhavan Nair had on several occasions spoken about Chandrayaan-II’s slated 2013 launch. Chandrayaan-II will be a joint mission by India and Russia.
Madhavan Nair had told reports that ISRO is under pressure to consider various International proposals for payloads to be sent onboard Chandrayaan-II. However, he said the final draft of the scientific objectives of the second Chandrayaan mission will be ready latest by March 2010.
Chandrayaan-II will probe the lunar surface beyond analysis of soil samples, according to Nair.

Dedicated communication satellite for Indian Navy

The Indian Navy will get a dedicated communications satellite next year which will ensure robust and secure communications for this youngest of India's defence services. The satellite will help boost the navy's network-centric operations and connectivity at sea, according to defence minister AK Antony.

Antony, who was addressing the Naval Senior Officer's Conference here, said India's growing stature would also lead to increased expectations that it would maintain military balance and security in the Indian Ocean Region. Keeping this in mind, it was important that efforts were made to enhance the navy's maritime domain awareness and that requirements to meet these needs were put on a fast track.

''The launch of the naval communication satellite next year will significantly improve connectivity at sea,'' Antony said.

With the launch of this satellite the Indian Navy would take the lead among the three defence services in having its own dedicated satellite. He assured the navy of the Government's commitment to provide funds to support its modernization programme.

Antony also pointed out that India's geographical location, in a region afflicted by natural disasters, placed additional onus on the Indian Navy to render humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Indian Ocean.

Piracy on the high-seas had also become a matter of international concern, and in this regard he complimented the Indian Navy's bold and affirmative action in deterring piracy attempts off the Gulf of Aden. ''The presence of our ships in the area has instilled a sense of confidence in the shipping industry,'' he said.

The satellite, being built by ISRO, would be placed in a geo-stationary orbit and would provide an overview of about 600 to 1,000 nautical miles of the IOR, which India considers to be its primary area of responsibility in terms of maritime security.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

India's mutliple-warhead system

This one is on the lines of free-market commercials: Ask for one and get at least four free! The difference is that it is not a shirt or a pair of jeans. It's a single rocket capable of delivering multiple warheads - even non-conventional nuclear systems - at different targets.

The country is on the verge of getting one as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is validating technologies that will help India deploy multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) on its missiles.

Currently, the country has missiles that can deliver only one warhead at a time. The defence research establishment has confirmed that it has made significant progress over the past few years in developing an indigenous technology for the single-rocket-multiplewarhead system. In another three-four years, this ultimate war machine will be ready.

The DRDO says the platform for re-entry vehicles would be different from the indigenously developed Agni series of missiles. Since it would be precision device, sources said the guiding system would require a high degree of accuracy to offset even a small circular error of probability or a negligible deviation from the intended target.

Another reason for this overbearing inclination for detail and accuracy is that the destructive potential of smaller warheads on multiple vehicles is low. Hence, these warheads will have to hit the intended targets at the accurate point and optimise the damage. That apart, the scientists will have to miniaturise the size of the warheads and develop a superior guidance system.

The MIRV system is not a new concept. Senior analyst G. Balachandran of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses said the technology was conceived in the early 1960s by the US to enhance the limited capacity of its nuclear submarines carrying ballistic missiles.

It triggered a major escalation of the arms race between the US and Russia (then USSR) in the Cold War period. The Soviets retaliated by developing a similar technology but placing the warheads on larger rockets. This enabled them to put more warheads into one missile.

Eventually, the two countries signed several strategic arms limitation agreements, reducing the number and weight of the warheads.

The Indian MIRV could also kick up a storm on whether it is against the principle of "nuclear restraint" that guides the country's nuclear doctrine.

Senior journalist Praful Bidwai, also an anti- nuclear activist, said the move would "escalate a disastrous arms race with China". In 2002, China successfully tested its first MIRV - to offset the advantage the US enjoyed with its American National Missile Defence System.

Bidwai said China would surely view the Indian development as threat. "It also strikes at the root of the concept of minimum, credible deterrence as multiple warheads on a missile would surely hike the Indian arsenal manifolds." But Balachandran and Air Commodore (retired) Jasjit Singh, who is now the director of the Centre for Air Power Studies, begged to differ.

"Escalation is a condition that the other party denotes on the basis of its perception. If a single missile delivers multiple warheads, it actually reduces the number of launch vehicles," Singh explained.

Prominent strategic analyst K. Subrahmanyam said the multiple warheads would increase the survival chances of the weapons in case of a nuclear attack.

LCA Tejas moves towards IOC with five-week weapons trial

India's ambitious programme to develop a sophisticated light-weight fighter aircraft moved ahead another step with the Indian Air Force conducting a five-week multi-disciplinary trial with two Tejas aircraft at its Jamnagar air base in Gujarat. The trials take the programme closer to achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) - a task that the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which manages the Tejas programme, is committed to achieve by the end of 2010.

"The trials entailed flight envelope expansion in various stores configurations, as well as air-to-ground weapon delivery trials in different modes of weapon delivery," a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official said here today.

According to officials, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) successfully demonstrated its ability to tackle targets designated visually by the pilot. With this phase behind it the LCA will now test its ability to let its on-board navigation and attack computers take on targets that are beyond visual range (BVR).

Defence sources said the five-week trials were conducted by the flight test crew of the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) which included test pilots, flight test engineers and instrumentation specialists.

Officials also said that this, indeed, was the first time that the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has operated away from home base for so long.

The first squadron of the Mark-I LCA, with initial operational capability is scheduled to be inducted by the IAF by December 2010. In all the IAF is slated to induct around seven squadrons of the aircraft in its fleet. While the first two squadrons will be equipped with Mark-I, or IOC aircraft the remaining five squadrons will be the Mark-II version, an upgraded version of the aircraft that will match the likes of Saab Gripen JAS-39 in its capabilities.

The IOC configured squadrons will be equipped with the GE-404 engines while the remaining five squadrons will be equipped with either the GE-414 or the Eurojet 200 engines. DRDO is also in negotiations with various aircraft manufacturers to it in expanding the flight envelope of the aircraft.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Astra air-to-air missile to make its first flight

The Astra, built by the Defence R&D Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, will allow IAF pilots to hit enemy aircraft up to 44 km away, at altitudes up to 20,000 metres. Improving on that will be the Astra Mk II, with a longer range of 80 km.

The Astra incorporates many cutting-edge technologies. Here is how an Astra would take on an enemy fighter: an IAF fighter’s radar picks up the target; the pilot launches an Astra missile. A high-energy propellant quickly boosts the missile to several times the speed of sound. At ranges beyond 15 km, the Astra cannot “see” its target, so the IAF fighter guides the missile, relaying the target’s continually changing position over a secure radio link. Once it is 15 km from the target, the Astra’s onboard seeker picks up the target; after that the Astra homes in on its own.

At this point, the target would start turning and diving to throw off the missile. But the Astra manoeuvres better, and moves much faster, than even the most agile fighters. A radio proximity fuse measures the distance to the target. When the target is within 5 metres, the Astra’s radio proximity fuse detonates its warhead, sending a volley of shrapnel ripping through the enemy fighter.

Most of these technologies have already been proven. The propulsion system, the data link between the aircraft and the Astra, the radio proximity fuse, the onboard computer, the inertial navigation system and other key technologies were developed at the DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad.

The Astra’s seeker is still imported from Russia, but the DRDO hopes to develop one.

The forthcoming test with a Sukhoi-30MKI is called a “captive flight trial”; it will evaluate whether the Astra can withstand the physical stresses of supersonic flying and high-speed manoeuvring. Early in 2010, a “captive-II flight trial” will check whether the Astra’s avionics are properly matched with those of the Sukhoi-30MKI. The fighter should receive the missile’s signals; and the Astra should receive the aircraft’s commands.

“Matching an Indian missile with a Russian fighter’s avionics has turned out to be a complex task”, explains Mukesh Chand, one of the Astra’s key developers, “But the Astra will be much better integrated with the Indian Tejas LCA.”

Only in October 2010, after all the Astra’s systems are certified airworthy, will a live Astra be fired from a fighter. But the project scientists are confident; in a September 2008 test in Balasore, Orissa, a ground-launched Astra shot down an electronic target, validating many of the most complex technologies.

A drawback in the Astra remains its high weight; even a heavy fighter like the Sukhoi-30MKI cannot carry the missile on its wingtip stations. In comparison with the Astra’s estimated 150 kg, other BVR missiles like the Israeli Derby weigh around 100 kg only.

Nevertheless, the IAF believes the Astra will usefully supplement India’s inventory of BVR missiles. The Russian R-77 Adder, which arms India’s Russian aircraft fleet, faces worrying questions about its reliability. And the R530D missile, carried by the Mirage-2000, is nearing obsolescence.

Agni V scares Dragons

Dispute between India and China has been deepened these days over the unwanted Arunachal issue. And the fight for supremacy in the South Asia has begun some years ago but recent report said that the dragons are scared of India's proposed Agni V missile.
India's Agni series missile Agni V, which is scheduled to to be test-fired in 2011, has scared China.
According to a Chinese newspaper report, the Communist country has been scared of the reach of Agni V.
India's long-range nuclear capable missile Agni V can target any part of China.
The report claimed that Agni V has put China in a fix over its reach.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

India, Russia to launch fifth generation fighter jets

India and Russia will launch the joint fifth generation fighters by year end and have agreed to collaborate to develop heavy lift cargo

helicopters and futuristic infantry combat vehicles.
The path for more hi-tech defence collaboration between Moscow and New Delhi was paved with the signing of the joint defence protocol by Defence Minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov.
The protocol extends military interaction between the two countries till 2020 and this is expected to make the path clear for inking more major defence joint ventures during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in early December.
The protocol was signed here at the end of 9th session of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) after assurances from Moscow that all pending issues like the delivery of aircraft carrier Gorshkov and nuclear submarine Nerpa would be resolved at the earliest.
The protocol provides for completion of formalities by the year end to launch the joint designing, development and production of fifth generation fighter aircraft project.
Besides the development of a state-of-the-art multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) through a joint venture along the lines of highly successful BrahMos JV, India and Russia have also agreed to jointly develop a heavy lift cargo helicopter and futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV).
A joint statement released after the meeting said that India and Russia will collaborate in up-gradation of IAF's main strike fighter Su-30MKI, the older Mig-27 and T-72M1 battle tanks.
It said that the two sides had also worked out the production in India of Main Battle Tanks (MBT) T-90S with full technology transfer.
In his closing statement at the 9th session of IRIGC-MTC - the apex body for coordination of defence cooperation, Antony announced that both sides have agreed to extend their military interaction programme till 2020 and the concrete projects would be identified shortly for signing during Singh's Moscow visit in December.
"On many other issues, including the Admiral Gorshkov project, we have agreed to continue discussions to find mutually acceptable solutions," Antony said expressing confidence that all the pending issues would be resolved at the earliest.

New Delhi and Moscow have also agreed to ink an inter-government pact on after sales and product support, so far the weakest link in defence cooperation with Moscow.
"This agreement should also be signed during the forthcoming summit," Antony said.
Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who is the co-chairman of the inter-governmental commission said, "some extra measures," have been taken to eliminate problems, in an apparent reference to delay in delivery of the Gorshkov and nuclear powered Nerpa submarine.
The Russian Minster said, unlike ties with other countries, Indo-Russian defence ties related to hi-technology.
"Our cooperation has confidently moved from buyer-seller relationship to joint research, development and production of hi-tech weapon systems and platforms," he said.
Describing his discussions and meetings with Kremlin top brass as "constructive, free and frank," Antony said that the two countries now had better appreciation of each others position on various issues.
"Both sides have identified a wide range of areas for future cooperation, including joint research, development and production of defence equipment and systems," the Indian Defence Minister said.

India's Agni-5 can target our Harbin city: Chinese daily

Agni-5, India's latest long-range nuclear-capable missile under development, can target China's northernmost city of Harbin, a leading

Chinese newspaper has claimed amid a slew of strident anti-India articles over the status of Arunachal Pradesh.
"India's Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) has made its forthcoming Agni-5 missile highly road-mobile, or easily transportable by road, which would bring Harbin, China's northernmost city within striking range if the Agni-5 is moved to northeast India," the People's Daily reported.
Harbin is the capital of China's Heilongjiang Province. The paper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, noted that the Agni-5 which has a range of 5,000 km is similar to the Dongfeng-31A showcased during China's National Day Military Parade on October 1 in Beijing.
India is going to test-fire the missile in early 2011, the report claimed.
The report came two days after China raked up its claim over Arunachal Pradesh, questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit there on October 3.
Reacting strongly to the Chinese objection to Singh's visit, India said the comments were disappointing as the state is an inalienable part of the country and such remarks do "not help" the process of talks on boundary issue.
A number of state-run Chinese papers have stepped up rhetoric against India on the boundary issue through their articles.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Indo-Us Nuke Deal: a Strategic and Defense Floodgate

Set against the backdrop of American financial Tsunami, the rise of China and Russia, the predicament of the U.S in Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S policy failures on North Korea and Iran, the Indo-U.S Nuclear deal has profound strategic and defense implications.
The Nuclear deal is going to place India as the de-facto P-6 country in the globe. It is now better placed on the diplomatic plane with excellent relationship with the two strongest military powers of the globe. In the fields of diplomatic, military, trade and technological co-operations, India is to gain the maximum from these rivals. Besides, the agreement has opened up doors of trade, scientific and technological co-operation with the EU countries like France, Germany and Italy. The just concluded agreement with France, for producing medium-range fighter aircraft engine Kaveri, which was under American sanction, points to the immense possibilities. China, rising to the superpower status with a phenomenal speed, must take into account the new-found Indo-US proximity. Pakistan, too, is closely watching the development. The deal has pushed India a step closer to the Permanent Member status of the UN Security Council. Again India's defense relationship with, Israel, which is already the second largest arms supplier to India is set for a new high. Thus India, long isolated from the world of technologies, can now avail of space, military and dual use technologies and enhance its security, knowledge and skill.

Read the complete story at

Missile breakthrough: Agni-V poised for a global reach

The Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) in Hyderabad, which develops India’s strategic (long-range, nuclear-tipped) missiles, has dramatically increased the options for its forthcoming Agni-5 missile by making it highly road-mobile, or easily transportable by road.

Agni Missile

That enables the Agni-5 to reach targets far beyond its stated 5,000-km range by quickly moving closer to the target. In a hypothetical war against, say, Sweden, an Agni-5 launcher, stationed near Bangalore, would be unable to strike Stockholm, 7,000 km away. But moving by road to Amritsar would bring Stockholm within range.

Similarly, moving the Agni-5 to northeast India would bring even Harbin, China's northernmost city, within striking range. From various places across India, the Agni-5 can reach every continent except North and South America.

The Agni-5 will be the first canisterised, road-mobile missile in India's arsenal, similar to the Dongfeng-31A that created ripples during China's National Day Military Parade in Beijing on October 1. India's current long-range missile, the Agni-3, a non-canisterised missile, can only be moved with difficulty from one place to another.

Agni Missile

In many other respects, the Agni-5, which is scheduled to make its first flight in early-2011, carries forward the Agni-3 pedigree. With composites used extensively to reduce weight, and a third stage added on (the Agni-3 was a two-stage missile), the Agni-5 can fly 1,500 km further than the 3,500-km Agni-3.
"The Agni-5 is specially tailored for road-mobility," explains Avinash Chander, Director, ASL. "With the canister having been successfully developed, all India's future land-based strategic missiles will be canisterised as well".

Made of maraging steel, a canister must provide a hermitically sealed atmosphere that preserves the missile for years. During firing, the canister must absorb enormous stresses when a thrust of 300to 400 tonnes is generated to eject the 50-tonne missile.

Canister technology was first developed in India for the Brahmos cruise missile. But it was the K-15 underwater-launched missile, developed here in Hyderabad for India's nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant, which fully overcame the technological hurdles in canisterising ballistic missiles.

Agni Missile

Another major technological breakthrough that will beef up the Agni-5 is ASL's success in developing and testing MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles). An MIRV, atop an Agni-5 missile, comprises three to 10 separate nuclear warheads. Each warhead can be assigned to a separate target, separated by hundreds of kilometres; alternatively, two or more warheads can be assigned to one target.

"We have made major progress on the MIRVs in the last two years," is all that Avinash Chander is willing to say on the subject.

Nevertheless, extensive testing still lies ahead for this highly complex technology. MIRVs will be deployed on the Agni-5 only after another 4-5 years.
While MIRV technology is similar to launching multiple satellites through a space rocket, a missile requires far greater accuracy. A satellite would be considered in correct orbit even it is a kilometre higher or lower than planned.

Agni Missile

But each warhead in an MIRV must impact within 40 metres of its target. With such high accuracies, even small nuclear warheads are sufficient for the job.
Strategic planners consider MIRVs essential, given India's declared "no first use" nuclear policy. Even after an enemy has hit India with a full-fledged nuclear strike, destroying or incapacitating much of the strategic arsenal, a handful of surviving Indian missiles must be capable of retaliating with massive and unacceptable damage. Multiple warheads on a handful of Agni-5 missiles would constitute such a capability.

Agni Missile

MIRVs also enable a single missile to overwhelm the enemy's missile defences. Tracking and shooting down multiple warheads are far more difficult than intercepting a single warhead.

Providing each warhead with the capability to manoeuvre, and dodge enemy interceptor missiles, increases survivability further. The MIRV warheads are also being given electronic packages for jamming enemy radars.

Monday, October 12, 2009

India tests nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missiles - Summary

India on Monday successfully test-fired two of its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missiles from a military range in the eastern state of Orissa, defence officials said. The missiles, with a strike range of about 350 kilometres, were fired at five-minute intervals from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipore-on-Sea, India's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"The two missiles aimed at two different targets at about 350 kilometres from the launch point, met all the mission objectives," the ministry said.

Two naval ships tracked and monitored both missiles hitting the targets "very accurately," it said.

Prithvi, which means "Earth" in the Hindi language, is India's first locally built ballistic missile.

It is about 9 metres in length and 1 metre in diameter, and is capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms, including nuclear weapons.

Two versions of the missile have been deployed with India's army and air force. Monday's tests were described as part of the user trials.

Prithvi is one of the five missiles being developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organization which include the intermediate-range ballistic missile Agni, the surface-to-air missile Akash and the anti-tank missile Nag.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prithvi, Agni-II ready for skies

Days after China’s display of military might, India has lined up a series of tests of some of the country’s most sophisticated missiles over the next two months.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will conduct the tests of Prithvi and Agni-II in October. The trials of BrahMos and K-15 will be held in November. And from Monday, the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore will host a three-day target simulation exercise involving pilotless target aircraft (PTA) for the Indian Air Force. Official sources said these tests have nothing to do with China’s display. Preparations for the tests have already begun and scientists are leaving no stone unturned for the successful trials of these missiles, considered as most powerful in the country’s arsenal. Though all the tests are user-trials, the focus will be on Agni-II and K-15 missiles.
``All the four missiles have already been tested successfully from the ITR and apart from K-15, other three have been inducted in the Army. But the fresh trials will gauge the accuracy of these missiles which will be tested with some new technologies,’’ a defence scientist said.
Sources said scientists involved with Agni-II programme are working meticulously to make this mission successful as the last user-trial of Agni-II on May 19 was not up to the mark. While K-15, Prithvi, BrahMos __ all land versions __ will be test-fired from the ITR at Chandipur, Agni-II will be tested from the Wheelers Island off Dhamra coast in Bhadrak district. ``The test range is ready and range integration process will start from Monday for the proposed tests’’, the sources said.
After the trials, DRDO’s next test will be India’s most powerful and longest - 3,500 km range Agni- III missile - early next year.

ISRO seeks Russian spaceship for manned flight

As part of its ambitious manned space flights programme, India has sought a Russian spaceship for sending “space tourists” into orbit, an official said.

“Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has applied for acquiring a spaceship for sending space tourists,” Russian space agency, Roscosmos’ spokesman Alexei Krasnov said. He said the deal would be commercial and two space travellers could fly in the non-reusable ‘Soyuz TMA’ ship to be piloted by a Russian cosmonaut.

Krasnov, however, did not provide details about the deal or the value of the contract. “It depends on the route and duration of the flight, which are yet to be finalised,” he said.

According to Russian media Roscosmos charges about $35 million for a space tourist’s 10-day flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

During President Dmitry Medvedev’s maiden India visit last year, Moscow and New Delhi inked a space accord, under which Russia will help Isro in training Indian astronauts and provide knowhow for building an indigenous spaceship for the national programme of space flights. In April 1984, Rakesh Sharma had travelled into space aboard the Russian Soyuz T-11 spaceship.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stealth frigate INS Kochi unveiled

The second ship of the proposed three stealth destroyer ships under the Rs 8,459-crore Project 15-A was launched by Madhulika Verma, wife of Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Nirmal Verma, at Mazgaon Docks here on Friday. The 6,500-tonne destroyer ship, which will be named INS Kochi, has been designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design.

“Launching the warship is an important milestone in the construction process. Today’s launch has further significance, as this is the first time that a pontoon-assisted launch is being carried out in our country,” Admiral Verma said at the launch ceremony.

The ship is a follow-on of the existing indigenously designed ships from the Delhi class guided missile destroyers — INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai. Once launched, the ship will have advanced stealth features that will make it less susceptible to detection by enemy radars.

Made-in-India 'INS Shivalik' to be inducted soon

Soon, very soon, India will add another lethal punch to its growing ‘‘blue-water’’ warfare capabilities by inducting an indigenously-designed and manufactured ‘‘stealth’’ frigate.
The 5,300-tonne frigate, INS Shivalik, armed with a deadly mix of foreign and indigenous weapon and sensor systems, is currently undergoing ‘‘advanced’’ pre-commissioning sea trials.
Interestingly, apart from Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems, Klub anti-ship cruise missiles and other weapons, the multi-role frigate is also armed with the Israeli ‘Barak-I’ anti-missile defence system. Already fitted on 11 frontline warships like aircraft carrier INS Viraat and destroyer INS Mysore, the 10-km range Barak-I can intercept incoming Harpoon and Exocet missiles, launched from platforms like P-3C Orion aircraft and Agosta-90B submarines which Pakistan has acquired from US and France.
‘‘INS Shivalik is the first stealth frigate to be designed and built in India. It’s a matter of great pride for the country. It should be ready to enter service in Navy in November,’’ said director-general of naval design, Rear Admiral M K Badhwar. The Project-17 to construct three stealth frigates — the other two, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, will be delivered in 2010-2011 — at a cost of Rs 8,101 crore at Mazagon Docks has, of course, been plagued by delays ever since it was approved by the government in 1997.
But now, with the programme on the verge of completion, the defence ministry has approved Project-17A to construct seven more frigates, with even more stealth features, for around Rs 45,000 crore. Navy initially wanted two of the seven new frigates to be built abroad to avoid time overruns. But MoD shot down the proposal, holding that four will be built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and the other three at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers at Kolkata, said sources.
Navy currently has 34 warships and six submarines on order to ensure its force-levels do not dip below the existing 140 or so warships. The new inductions will help Navy strengthen its role as a ‘‘potent maritime force’’ and ‘‘stabilising influence’’ in the Indian Ocean, capable of ‘‘destruction of enemy’’ and deterrence as well as ‘‘coercive’’ and ‘‘peace’’ diplomacy.
The stealth features incorporated in the Shivalik-class frigates, including inclined surfaces, will considerably reduce their radar cross-section. To reduce the noise signature, the designers have gone in for low-noise propellers, propulsion devices and machinery, as also ‘‘vibration damping’’.

'Major discovery' from Chandrayaan mission set to be announced

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are set to make a major announcement in the coming days related to as discovery made by one of the payloads onboard the immensely successful Chandrayaan-1 mission.

The announcement is expected at a media interaction scheduled for Thursday at NASA headquarters in Washington DC. The interaction will also feature Carle Pieters from Brown

who was the principal investigator for NASA's Moon Minerology Mapper (M3) payload onboard the Chandrayaan.

Brown University have declined to comment about the nature of the announcement, merely saying that it would '' a major announcement of a major discovery...'' and would be ''...something great for Chandrayaan. It will mark a major leap for India's space programme."

The Thursday interaction has not been denied by ISRO officials.

It is being surmised that the announcement may be related to the discovery of water on the lunar surface. This was one of the main missions of the prematurely aborted Chandrayaan mission.

Earlier missions to the moon have indicated the likelihood of water existing in the form of ice trapped 18 inches beneath the surface, around the Polar Regions of the moon

India is already preparing for a follow-on Chandrayaaan-2 mission with Russia, which will involve the landing of a rover on the lunar surface to pick up soil samples and relay data regarding its chemical composition back to earth via the Indian lunar orbiter.

ISRO's perfect lift-off: 7 satellites in 20 min

After the loss of the Moon mission Chandrayaan, it was a moment of spectacular success for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The country's trusted space workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), proved its mettle for the 15th consecutive time on Wednesday when it successfully launched the Oceansat-2 spacecraft.
Apart from the 960 kg Oceansat, ISRO also launched six other nano satellites -- four from Germany, one from Switzerland and one from Turkey. All satellites have been placed successfully into their prescribed orbits and are meant to help the Indian fishing community.
'It's a fantastic achievement! ISRO has once again done a job precisely," said G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO.
The Rs 70 crore rocket launched the seven satellites in just 20 minutes, its 16th consecutive success. The big brother on the mission was the 960-kilogram ocean and weather monitoring satellite.
Also piggybacking were six smaller nano satellites from Switzerland, Germany and Turkey, which will test new technologies. Oceansat-2's main purpose is to identify potential fishing zones in the seas by monitoring ocean temperature and algal blooms.
Now, with a constellation of 10 remote sensing satellites already in space, India certainly is a space power to reckon with. With this perfect launch ISRO has put the loss of Chandrayaan behind it, and through Oceansat ISRO is helping the aam aadmi.

ISRO well on course to launch Chandrayaan-II, says Nair

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is well on course to launch the proposed Chandrayaan-II with an orbiter and lander within the next four years, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said here on Wednesday.

"Preliminary design has been completed and it is on course. By the end of 2013 or early 2014, we can have the launch, he told reporters here after the successful launch of Oceansat-2 and six nano satellites.

"We are going to have an orbiter and lander in Chandrayaan-II so that it will have a soft landing on the surface of the moon" he said.

Nair said some instruments that could analyse the moon surface would also be installed in Chandrayaan-II. He said ISRO would use inputs sent from Chandrayaan-I, whose mission was terminated abruptly last month, for a smooth landing.

To a question on Chandrayaan-I's performance, he maintained its moon mission had been successful and data sent by the satellite, which worked for 315 days, was "very satisfactory".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ISRO announces launch of Oceansat-2 in September

Krishnamurthy, Director of ISRO’s Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre here on Monday.

The integration of the satellite, designed to identify potential fishing zones, assists in forecasting marine trends and coastal zone studies will also provide inputs for weather forecasting and climate studies.

Krishnamurthy said that all pre-launch tests on the functional aspects of the satellite have been successfully completed.

“We are launching a satellite called Oceansat-2 based on the ocean colour and the wind vectors. This scatterometer, which gives us, the wind vectors will provide information on where the fish potential zones are and how these are moving. In a dynamic situation also, the fishermen can get the advisories from the remote sensing information,” he added.

Oceansat-2 would blast off on board India’s indigenous workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota located on the Indian east coast.

This satellite will be an in-orbit replacement to Oceansat-1, which was launched by ISRO in May 1999 to study physical and biological aspects of oceanography.

Oceansat-2 would carry an Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) and a Ku-band pencil beam Scatterometer - for the first time, besides a Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmospheric Studies (ROSA)

Indigenous tank T-90 Bhishma rolls out

The first batch of the indigenously built T-90 Bhishma tanks was on Monday (August 24) flagged off by Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju at the rolling out ceremony held at the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, in Chennai.
The T-90S tank incorporates many new technologies in terms of mobility, protection, fighting capabilities, safety and communication.
The tank is equipped with 125mm smooth bore gun stabilised in Elevation and Azimuth, 12.7mm anti-craft machine gun and 7.62mm co-axial machine gun supported with high accuracy sighting systems and Automatic Loader ensuring high rate of fire.
A significant feature of this tank is its capability to fire guided missile in addition to conventional ammunition using the same main gun barrel. The integrated fire control system consisting of the gunner’s sight, guided weapon system and ballistic computer facilitates accurate firing of conventional ammunitions as well as the guided missiles.
The built in Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) enhances the tank protection, which will save crew and equipment from chemical, biological and radio active (nuclear) attack. New Thermal imagers have been installed in the tank with night fighting capability and the radio communication sets have been upgraded to improve the communication.
According to a release, HVF has plans to produce 100 tanks per year. HVF took up manufacture of T-90 Tanks in collaboration with Russia, which is named as Bhishma. The first Bhishma tank assembled with imported knocked down aggregates was rolled out on January 7, 2004 and subsequently T-90 indigenous tank production commenced in 2008-09.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

DRDO develops Indigenous Unmanned Ground Vehicle

The Indian Army has received its first homemade unmanned ground vehicle, which will be used for surveillance, and to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and mines.

The prototype of the vehicle, which has been developed and handed to the Indian Army for trials, is based on an infantry fighting vehicle, the BMP-II, and has been developed by the state-owned Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment. It is operating under India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The prototype consists of a drive-by-wire system, which includes electromechanical actuators and drives for the driver interfaces, such as acceleration, brake, gear shifting, steering, clutch, parking brake, etc., said a DRDO scientist. The signals from the engine are acquired by a data acquisition card and displayed in the graphical user interface. The vehicle would be a precursor to the development of a future unmanned battle tank.

ISRO completes design of Chandrayaan-2

After its success with its first unmanned lunar arbiter, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has begun preparation for the ambitious Chandrayaan-2, a joint venture with Russia that will have a moon rover supplied by the latter.

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told that the design of the mission was complete and the space organisation would be building the orbital flight vehicle while the '''Lunar Craft' would be supplied by Russia.

ISRO would be building the entire spacecraft that would also have other scientific payloads acquired internationally.

''The landing of the rover would be decided after we analyse the data sent by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Now we are set to build a prototype of Chandrayaan-2 and this would happen next year. We will build upon our success with Chandrayaan-1,'' he said.

ISRO had gained lot of positives from the first lunar mission and received valuable inputs on heat radiation on moon's surface.

Accordingly the thermal design of future aircraft would be made, Mr Nair said.

The high solar radiation had caused malfunction of 'Star Sensor' on Chandrayaan-1 in April this year, after the spacecraft had completed six months in lunar orbit and sent back useful data. This necessitated the space scientists to take the space craft up to 200 km radius from 100 km, effectively reducing its functioning.

The ISRO Chief said 95 per cent of the scientific objective of Chandrayaan-1 mission had been achieved and the remaining five per cent of what was left out would be taken up during the next season starting this October.

The redundancy factor would be the utmost on the minds of the scientists working on Chandrayaan-2 after their good experience with the first mission, Mr Nair added.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ISRO to put Algerian satellites in orbit by 2010

With the US clearing the decks for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch Algerian Satellites with American components, the space agency is planning to put the satellites in orbit by the end of 2009 or early 2010.

The clearance given to launch the Algerian satellites ALSAT-2A and ALSAT-2B -- which have US components on board an Indian space launch vehicle -- comes after the signing of the Technical Safe Guards Agreement (TSA) between the US and India during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to the country.

“Now that the clearance has been given, we plan to launch the Algerian satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre by the end of the year or early next year if the weather permits,” ISRO spokesperson S Satish.

He added that the space agency’s main priority is to launch the Oceansat- 2 in September followed by the GSAT-4 onboard the GSLV in Octobe or November.

The TSA gives an opportunity for the launch of foreign built non-commercial satellite and not the heavy commercial ones which will require India and the US to sign the commercial space launch agreement (CSLA) which is likely to be signed between India and the US during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visit to Washington next month.

ISRO will also launch the Swiss Cube, a mini satellite built by Swiss students later this year; which will be launched by PSLV. The project manager of the Satellite project Muriel Noca along with the Swiss Astronaut Prof Claude Nicollier are currently touring Indian cities, including Bangalore.

The primary objective of developing this satellite is to provide a dynamic and realistic learning environment for our staff in the development of small satellite technology, said Noca.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ISRO eyes mission to Mars; Govt sanctions Rs 10 cr

fter the challenging mission to moon, ISRO today said it has begun preparations for sending a spacecraft to Mars within the next six years.

Government has sanctioned seed money of Rs 10 crore to carry out various studies on experiments to be conducted, route of the mission and other related details necessary to scale the new frontier, said ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair. 

"Already mission studies have been completed.Now we are trying to collect scientific proposals and scientific objectives," he told reporters on the sidelines of a day-long workshop of the Astronautical Society of India here. 

He said the space agency was looking at launch opportunities between 2013 and 2015.

Chandrayaan-I, the country's maiden unmanned moon mission, appears to have fired the imagination of young scientists who have taken to space sciences and ISRO plans to tap this talent for its mission to Mars.

"A lot of young scientists are being brought into the mission, particularly from the Indian Institute of Space Technology, the Physical Research Laboratory, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and other research laboratories," K Radhakrishnan, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said. 

He said the space agency would use its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to put the satellite in orbit and was considering using ion-thrusters, liquid engines or nuclear power to propel it further towards Mars.

ISRO launches beta version of 3D mapping tool - Bhuvan

The common man can now view sharper pictures of any part of the world on their personal computer using satellite images with ISRO today unveiling 'Bhuvan', its version of Google Earth.
Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan launched the beta version of the geoportal at a day-long workshop of the Astronautical Society of India on "21st Century Challenges in Space -- Indian Context."
The new web-based tool allows users to have a closer look at any part of the subcontinent barring sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations.
The degree of resolution showcased is based on points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered upto at least six meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters, an ISRO official said.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ISRO developing 7-satellite constellation to guard the country

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a constellation of seven satellites to give a boost to the country's  security apparatus, a top scientist said here Sunday.

ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair said the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) was being developed "considering security related issues".

Speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, Nair said: "The proposed system would consist of a constellation of seven satellites and a ground support segment. Three of the satellites will be placed in the geostationary orbit and four near the geostationary orbit.

"Such an arrangement would mean all seven satellites would have continuous radio visibility with the Indian control stations. The satellite payloads will consist of atomic clocks and electronic equipment to generate the navigational signals," he said.

"The system is intended to provide an absolute position accuracy of more than 20 meters throughout India and within a region extending approximately 2,000 km around it," Nair explained.

The system will help in tracking infiltration activities across the border and security personnel maintain better surveillance over tough terrains, mountains or deep inside the sea.

The ISRO chief did not say when the system is expected to be operational.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

BrahMos close to final testing of air-launched version

BrahMos supersonic cruise missileA top Russian defence official said a new takeoff engine for launching of the missile in air and at extreme high altitudes had been developed.
Alexander Leonov, Director of the Russian Machine Building Research and Production Center, said: "we are ready for test launches."
Leonov was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency that the initial test firing of the missile would be undertaken from the Sukhoi-30 MKI, but did not specify the exact dates.
After testing, the IAF would be launch customers for the air launched BrahMos cruise missile, which will make the Indian Air Force, the only force in Asia to have such a capability.
The BrahMos is already inducted in its ship to shore role and land-to-land versions in the Indian Navy and Army.
Leonov for the first time disclosed that Moscow and New Delhi were also "very close" to  designing and testing of the submarine launched version of the BrahMos missile.
India's indigenous nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, which has been launched for final sea trials, could be using the Indian made K-15 nuclear missile. But experts say that its upgraded versions would have facilities to carry BrahMos cruise missiles.
Though Leonov did not directly comment, Russian sources have indicated that the Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine being leased to India this December has the capability to launch underwater BrahMos missiles.

Monday, August 3, 2009

India’s growing military muscle

The recent launch of an indigenously produced nuclear powered submarine once again brought to fore India’s expanding military capabilities and its ambitions to be a global player. Clearly, when the 6,000-ton Arihant along with the other additional two (or four) of its class are commissioned around 2020 it would be a quantum jump in its strategic posture and assets. Acquisition of a nuclear powered submarines forms part of India’s nuclear doctrine that is based on the concept of triad i.e. developing land, air and sea strike capability and adherence to “No First Use” (NFU). Major nuclear powers consider submersible launched nuclear-tipped missiles critical in terms of providing second-strike capability. Submarines are autonomous under water platforms for launching nuclear-tipped missiles and are relatively safe from enemy action as these are practically noiseless and stealth makes it hard to detect by sonar and radar. Thus they are able to achieve both mobility and surprise. And by escaping detection they can survive adversary’s first strike. Nuclear-powered submarines’ distinct advantage over diesel electric ones is their unlimited endurance in remaining submersed and therefore in a state of readiness. This is the major reason why US, France and few other countries have abandoned the production of conventional submarines and only manufacture nuclear-powered submarines.
In terms of technology too, Arihant is a major breakthrough for India. Manufacturing a submarine requires mastery of a broad range of critical technologies ranging from development of a pressurised water reactor, containment vessel, turbines, sonar and sound navigation and ranging systems, electronics, long-wave communication network and systems integration.
In addition India has undertaken a parallel development of missiles to be launched from submarines. India’s defence production has greatly benefited from the support received from Russia in terms of design, production of major assemblies, training equipment and training of personnel. France, Israel and other countries have also assisted in this project and continue to do so. In the longer term India aims at achieving strategic parity against China through the development of its naval nuclear and conventional capabilities.
Induction of nuclear submarines is directed primarily to remove asymmetry with China that has 11 nuclear and 60 conventional submarines and has recently inducted three new nuclear submarines. Meanwhile, in the coming decade India plans to augment its surface ship fleet by an additional 40 ships.
Both India and China aim at expanding their influence in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Gulf and Malacca straits. They want to secure sea lanes by projecting power. United States and Russia are supportive of India’s ambitions.
India is simultaneously modernising and expanding its air force. It plans to induct 126 fourth and fifth generation multi-role aircraft from US, Russia and France to phase out old fleet of Russian MiGs and adding 10 squadrons to the IAF. After initial procurement emphasis is on establishing indigenous production lines. If the recent US offer of sale and co-production of F-18 Hornet E/F series to India materialises it will bring a qualitative upgrading in its delivery systems. With the help of Israel and US, India is also developing a long-range reconnaissance capability and an air defence system. India’s missile capability is set to grow at a steady pace. It has developed both ballistic and cruise missile technology providing it the ability to project power. India is improving range and accuracy of its long range missiles to be able to reach potential targets in China. Pakistan has kept pace with India in both missile and nuclear development and have operational missiles with a range of 2000 km that practically cover most of India.
Critical technologies associated with India’s space program that includes two vehicles the Polar Stationery Launch Vehicle and the geostationary-launch vehicle have been transferred to the missile programmes.
Unlike India, Pakistan does not contemplate having missiles launched from nuclear powered submarine as a part of its nuclear force in the foreseeable future. High cost, non-availability of nuclear submarines and different strategic goals are the main reasons for this. However, if the vulnerabilities of Pakistan’s land-based systems to pre-emptive attack should increase the option of using conventional submarines with Independent Air Propulsion systems procured from France or Germany and fitting them with nuclear-tipped missiles could be an option.
It would, however, be a folly to imitate or be reactive in responding to India’s military build-up. India’s size, population and resources, and its industrial, technological and economic base places it in competition with China and other major players. Prudence demands that we formulate domestic, foreign and defence policies that are commensurate with our power potential and based on well articulated national priorities. This does not imply that Pakistan should lower its security guard that could allow external powers to exploit. What is crucial is to balance resources between development and defence and take a more comprehensive approach towards security, keeping in mind that our immediate threat is internal. Moreover, acquisition of advance weapon systems alone is not sufficient to protect a nation against aggression. We have a classic example of Soviet Union and later of Yugoslavia disintegrating despite their inflated military power. Besides we must learn from the example of Finland and Switzerland that have struggled to stay independent and not accepted the hegemony of relatively very powerful neighbours. Middle level powers like Pakistan have to defend their national integrity and interests through political stability, economic development, national cohesion, astute diplomacy and professionally dedicated military force.

India developing reactor for making hydrogen as tech demonstrator

India has joined the league of countries like South Africa, China, US and Germany which are trying to develop a high temperature

reactor for generating hydrogen on a large scale. Hydrogen can be used as fuel for vehicles, besides other scientific applications in the future.
The technology demonstrator reactor would be ready by 2015 and work is currently in progress on the project, Anil Kakodkar, Atomic Energy Commission chairman told reporters here on Sunday.
Srikumar Banerjee, director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), said the reactor would generate hydrogen by splitting water. The reactor's operational efficiency would be very much enhanced. Already efforts are on in countries to develop such a reactor, he said.
"The programme is on course. Technology development is on, we are developing the reactor design, materials, material processing capabilities. The actual construction of the reactor will take some time," he said.
Kakodkar said India would have sufficient uranium to meet the requirements of the already existing reactors and those in the process of being commissioned.
"By 2012-13, we would overcome the problems for all the reactors currently operating and those that will come on stream. We are looking at launching four 700 Mw units, for which in-principle approval has been granted. We want to get the approvals at the earliest and start construction soon. That is where the new mines will come in handy. We also want to construct another four 700Mwe units," he said.
Uranium production in India was going up, he added. "We earlier had one mill in Jadaguda in Jharkhand. Now we have augmented the capacity there. Simultaneously expansion of mines in Mohudih in Jharkhand and a mill in Tummalapalli in Andhra Pradesh is going on, Kakodkar said, adding that Gogi in Karnataka would be explored for uranium presence.
Also, in a couple of years all the reactors (both operational and the ones that are being commissioned) would reach a plant load factor of 90%. "We are adding capacity for our reactors. Rajasthan V and VI and Kaiga IV will come online in a phased manned this year and next year," the AEC chairman said.
"In terms of production of enriched uranium fuel, we would be able to meet the national requirments," he added.
For electricity production, trhe immediate plan would be to acquire this technology from outside. "While we are building the PHWRs and FBRs and later on the thorium reactors, we would, in parallel, develop the PWRs on the basis of our own strengths." Kakodkar said.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

India built N-sub in Kalpakkam under codename 'PRP'

The secrecy attached to the development of the indigenous nuclear submarine project is almost legendary.
What’s little known is the extent to which the Indian N-establishment went to conceal the research not only from the public but also large sections of the scientific community within the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
For almost nine years, most staff working at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam believed the Plutonium Recycle Project (PRP) in the complex was used only for that purpose, that is recycling plutonium.
But with the launch of INS Arihant on July 25, top DAE officials have finally begun to lift the veil and reveal that they were actually building the core (nuclear reactor and propulsion systems) of the submarine as well as the land-based version of the hull of the indigenous vessel, which served as the technology demonstrator of the main vessel, within the PRP unit. For those in the know, even the term ‘PRP’ denoted the N-sub.
Sunday marked the commemoration of the fifth year since the project attained criticality at the PRP site with a controlled N-chain reaction. Ahead of a briefing by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar, a team of scientists escorted journalists around a gigantic, dark grey-coloured hull of a submarine, which was the land-based version of the hull of Arihant. ‘‘It is a 1:1 model of the submersible. Everything was simulated here before being built on the main submarine at Vishakapatnam,’’ a scientist explained.
Although the idea of an indigenous nuke sub was conceived by Raja Ramanna over two decades back and research undertaken at Barc in Trombay, work on the PRP site in Kalpakkam began in 1999.
Criticality was attained on November 11, 2003, with the land-based version running on a light water reactor, scientists revealed. But Arihant remained shrouded in mystery. Three years later, on September 22, 2006, when the reactor was operational there was still silence.
In fact, going by dates provided now, the first hints of the project’s success came only a year later on September 11, 2007, when former AEC chief P K Iyengar said at a public meeting, ‘‘Indian scientists are capable of making light water reactors. We are constructing one at Kalpakkam for a submarine.’’
Defending the need for stealth, an IGCAR official explianed, “We had to maintain secrecy as this was a project of high national secrecy and security and we did not want other nations to know about this.’’

Saturday, August 1, 2009

BrahMos Block-II Land Attack version ready for induction after test firing

Jaisalmer: The Block-II version of the BrahMos land attack cruise missile successfully completed its fourth and final test firing on Wednesday and has now been declared ready for induction. In a test firing at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan, the missile went on to score a "bull's eye" hit on a target 25km away on Wednesday.

The previous test-firing of the Block-II land attack version took place 29 March 2009.

"The missile took off successfully and hit the desired target at Ajasar area range situated 25 km away from launching pad, meeting all mission parameters," defence sources said.

The missile had failed its first test firing, leading to a second test in short order which was a success.

"With this launch, the requirement of Army for the land attack version with Block-II advanced seeker software with target discriminating capabilities has been fully met and this version is ready for induction," defence sources said.

The Block-II version with sophisticated target discriminating software will provide enhanced capabilities to the army, allowing it to select a particular land target among a group of targets.

The launch was witnessed by director general, artillery, Lt Gen KR Rao, along with DRDO officials and other senior army officers. Some other senior scientists were also present during the launch.

The Army has already inducted the earlier land attack version of the BrahMos, with the first battery entering service in June 2007. Each battery is equipped with four mobile launchers mounted on a heavy 12x12 Tatra transporters.

The missile, which takes its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, has a range of 290-km and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead. The BrahMos is unique in being the only supersonic cruise missile in the world.

The missile generates speeds of up to 2.8 Mach, or nearly three times, the speed of sound.

US satellites to use ISRO platform

US satellites to use ISRO platformIndia's technology safeguards agreement signed with US during the recent state visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Delhi will soon yield fruitful results for the space research program of the country. It will enable India to launch smaller satellites for United States at much competitive prices using indigenously developed rockets.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman, Madhavan Nair said, "Space cooperation with the US has been the agenda of the government. The pact will enable US made satellites or with components of US to be launched from India."

He said that the space body is already providing satellite launching services to various nations at very economical prices and more countries to avail the service on mutually agreeable terms. Country has been developing heavier rocket GSLV-MKIII that will help to further reduce the cost of sending a satellite to space.

Mr. Nair, while launching an indigenous GIS mapping software in Ahmadabad, added, "We will have more opportunities to get foreign satellites for launch from India. Prior to the agreement, users had to wait for clearance for every case."

Meanwhile, ISRO will hold a review of country's first unmanned moon mission, the Chandrayaan, in September to set its operations in order.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

India's first nuclear submarine launched; historic achievement, says PM

The wife of the Manmohan Sing breaks a coconut on the hull of the submarine India Sunday joined a select group of five nations with the launching here of the country's first indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered attack submarine, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as a 'historic milestone' in the country's defence preparedness.

The prime minister's wife Gursharan Kaur did the honours of launching the submarine - INS Arihant - at a function here.

Manmohan Singh, speaking at the event, assured that the nuclear submarine was not developed with 'aggressive designs' or to 'threaten anyone', but it was necessary to take all measures to safeguard the country and keep pace with technological advancements in the world.

He also congratulated the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Programme and the people associated with it for designing and building the nuclear submarine, which he said was a reflection of the 'immense technical expertise' and the strength of the research and development organisations in the country.

'Today we join a select group of five nations who possess the capability to build a nuclear powered submarine,' the prime minister said. The other countries are the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.

'The construction of a submarine is a highly demanding task by itself. For the country to develop its first nuclear submarine is a special achievement.

'I congratulate the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Programme and all personnel associated with it for achieving a historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness. Today's launch is a reflection of the immense technical expertise that exists in our country and the strength of our research and development organisations,' the prime minister said.

'We do not have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone. We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems.

'Nevertheless it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide. It has rightly been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,' he added.

The submarine will be commissioned in the Indian Navy after extensive outfitting and sea trials. It is the first of three such vessels to be built in the country and marks a quantum leap in India's shipbuilding capabilities.

He also said the government was 'fully committed to ensuring the defence of our national interests and the protection of our territorial integrity'. 'We will continue to render all support to the constant modernization of our armed forces and to ensuring that they remain at the cutting edge of technology.'

July 26 is annually commemorated as Kargil Victory Day to mark the Indian Army's success in pushing back Pakistani raiders who had occupied the border area in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999 that led to a military conflict in which at least 500 Indians soldiers died.

Indian Navy will also get a Russian-built Akula class nuclear submarine INS Chakra, expected to be commissioned by this year-end.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

India joins elite nuclear sub club

The dream of over a quarter of a century will be fulfilled today when Ms Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, breaks the coconut on the hull of India’s first indigenously constructed nuclear- propelled ballistic missile submarine — called a boomer in popular parlance — at a super- secret Naval base in Visakhapatnam.

At that moment, the 112- metre long black marine monster, now named Arihant ( destroyer of the enemy), will be pulled out of its lair — a covered dry dock, nearly halfa- kilometre long and 50 metre deep — where it has been conceived and grown. The building, called the Ship Building Centre at INS Virbhau, the Navy’s base in Vizag, is at the very end of the harbour.

The Indian Navy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) have expended a great deal of treasure and sweat to reach this point. A year from now, after harbour and sea trials, the Arihant, with a complement of 23 officers and 72 sailors, will join the naval fleet.

What is so special about a boomer? Everything, if you see it from the point of view of the country’s nuclear deterrent.

Because of India’s “ no first use” pledge, our weapons must survive a first strike for retaliation.

So the Arihant’s primary weapon is stealth. It can lurk in ocean depths of half a kilometre and more and fire the Sagarika from under the sea. The key lies in its nuclear propulsion. The nuclear reactor of the sub generates heat to turn water into steam in a generator which, in turn, drives the turbine generators which supply the ship with electricity and drive the main propulsion turbines and propeller. There is no stage which requires air or oxygen.

SUBMARINES can be detected by sonar, or sound ranging, and so not only has the Arihant’s propulsion system given a double shield, its outer hull is covered by thick rubber tiles studded with conical gaps that trap sound.

After the first trial of the steam cycle and turbines, the Arihant will be hooked up to the nuclear reactor. The reactor’s fuel rods are currently locked and sealed.

They will be unlocked and neutrons will be introduced to start up the 85 MW pressurised water reactor. The reactor will work continuously for anything up to 10 years till the fuel runs out.

Then it will be brought back to the dock, the reactor compartment will be cut open, new fuel rods inserted and resealed.

Arihant’s construction got underway in 1998 with Larsen & Toubro machining 13 sections of the hull at its plant in Hazira to a design provided by the Malakit design bureau of Russia. These were then taken in a barge to Vizag and outfitted with their respective equipment — missile launchers, combat information systems, torpedo tubes, ballast tanks, living spaces, sonars, steam generator and turbine and so on. Then they were welded into three distinct sections.

The first contained the sonar equipment, torpedo tubes and control systems. The second section comprised of the combat information systems and an array of electronic equipment, accommodation as well as the ballistic missile launchers. The third section, distinct and specially shielded, comprised of the reactor and the steam turbine and gearings.

Considering that India began its first project for the sub in the late 1970s, you could well ask why it has taken so much time.

The short answer is that we are not as advanced as we think we are when it comes to engineering, metallurgy, and nuclear science.

The first glimmer of this was visible when in the early 1980s the first project ran aground after spending some $ 4 million ( Rs 20 crore). The second project under the auspices of the DRDO worked on different assumptions, but even it has had a rocky ride.

The plan was for India to acquire the drawings of the Russian Charlie II submarine and fabricate it, and at the same time design its own 100 MW reactor. A new Advanced Technology Vessel programme was created. At the same time, in 1988, a Charlie II, renamed Chakra, was leased from the Soviet Union. The idea was to run it till we had made our own.

UNFORTUNATELY, the Soviet Union collapsed and there was no extension of the lease. By then we had created a number of facilities which included a special pier with a 60- tonne crane, radiation safety services, swimming dock, slipway and workshop, but the project remained in the doldrums.

This was the time, in the mid- 1990s, when the ATV organisation realised how much of a long haul it would be. Components and assemblies for nuclear- propelled submarines had to have a very high quality requirement, something the country lacked.

For obvious reasons, precision welding is one of the most important aspects of submarine construction.

More troubling was the fact that the reactor made by the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam could not make grade. Once again the Russians helped, quietly.

They provided equipment for two VM- 5 pressurised water reactors, one of which was assembled and tested at Kalpakkam’s Prototype Testing Centre in 2004. The Russians have also been helping with the design of the Sagarika, the ballistic missile that will be the main weapon of the Arihant.

The big challenge for the engineers was to use the Charlie II design and modify it by adding one more compartment, the one that carried the ballistic missile tubes which increased its length by 10 m or so. But they managed this and earlier this year the reactor and propulsion unit was finally welded to the other two units. Many Indian companies have been involved. The uranium, enriched at around 20 per cent, has been provided by the Indian uranium enrichment facility at Ratnehalli, near Mysore.

India has another nuclear- propelled submarine en route in 2010, an Akula- class Russian attack submarine which differs from the Arihant which is a ballistic missile sub. Such subs are used to hunt down enemy submarines and ships. Curiously, no one seems to know who wants the Akula. The Navy brass insists it is not them. But the country is expected to spend $ 700 million ( Rs 350 crore) to lease it for a period of 10 years. But then this is what keeps the country’s defence purchases booming.