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.

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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.