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.