Indian Missile Program Updates

Indian Missile Program Updates

Successful test-fire of Agni-Prime Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Agni Missiles

Mains level : India's missile arsenal

A new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-P (Prime) was successfully test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Agni-Prime Missile

  • Agni-P is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles.
  • It is a canisterised missile with a range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km.
  • Many advanced technologies including composites, propulsion systems, innovative guidance and control mechanisms and state-of-the-art navigation systems have been introduced.
  • The missile strengthens India’s credible deterrence capabilities.

What is the upgrade?

  • Agni-P has improved parameters including manoeuvring and accuracy.
  • Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile while improving its storage and mobility.

What are Agni Missiles?

  • Agni class of missiles are the mainstay of India’s nuclear launch capability which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft.
  • The longest of the Agni series, Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km, has already been tested several times and validated for induction.

An arsenal for peace

  • In the last few years, India has also operationalized its submarine-based nuclear launch capability, completing the nuclear triad.
  • This is especially important given India’s No-First-Use policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.

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[pib] DRDO conducts maiden trial of Python-5 Air to Air Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Python-5 missile

Mains level : Paper 3- Python-5 missile

Tejas adds Python-5 in its capacity

  • Tejas, India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, added the 5th generation Python-5 Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) in its air-to-air weapons capability on April 27, 2021.
  • Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on Tejas.
  • The test firing at Goa completed a series of missile trials to validate its performance under extremely challenging scenarios.
  • The trials met all their planned objectives.
  • The missiles were fired from Tejas aircraft of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) Test pilots.
  • The successful conduct was made possible with years of hard work by the team of scientists, engineers and technicians from ADA and HAL-ARDC along with admirable support from CEMILAC, DG-AQA, IAF PMT, NPO (LCA Navy) and INS HANSA.

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BrahMos Missiles and their significance for Armed Forces

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Brahmos Missiles

Mains level : India's missile arsenal

India’s Armed forces are conducting back-to-back tests of various versions of BrahMos missile.

Take a quick look at India’s missile arsenal:

[Prelims Spotlight] Missiles

The BrahMos Missiles

  • A combination of the names of Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, BrahMos missiles are designed, developed and produced by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by DRDO and Mashinostroyenia of Russia.
  • It is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster as the first stage and liquid ramjet as the second stage.
  • The cruise missiles like BrahMos are a type of systems known as the ‘standoff range weapons’ which are fired from a range sufficient to allow the attacker to evade defensive fire from the adversary.
  • These weapons are in the arsenal of most major militaries in the world.
  • The versions of the BrahMos that are being tested have an extended range of around 400 km, as compared to its initial range of 290 km, with more versions of higher ranges currently under development.

Various versions

  • Various versions of the BrahMos, including those which can be fired from land, warships, submarines and Sukhoi-30 fighter jets have already been developed and successfully tested in the past.
  • The earliest versions of the ship launched BrahMos and land-based system are in service of the Indian Navy and the Indian Army since 2005 and 2007 respectively.

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Anti Radiation Missile: RudraM-I

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RudraM-I

Mains level : India's missile arsenal

A New Generation Anti Radiation Missile (NGARM), RudraM-I, was successfully flight-tested by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Try this MCQ:

Q.The RudraM-I recently seen in news is an:

Ans: Anti-satellite missile/ Anti-radiation Missile/ Anti-tank mine/ Submarine Torpedo

RudraM-I

  • RudraM-I is an anti-radiation missile can locate and target any radiation-emitting source like enemy radars, communication sites and other Radio Frequency (RF) emitting targets.
  • It is being developed by Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, as the nodal agency.
  • It is a joint effort involving several DRDO labs, the IAF, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and several public and private sector enterprises.
  • This is the first indigenous anti-radiation missile of the country. It has a range of up to 200 km depending upon the launch conditions.
  • It can be launched from altitudes of 500 m to 15 km and speeds of 0.6 to 2 mach.
  • It can play a key role in neutralizing any jamming platforms of the enemy or take out radar stations thereby clearing a path for own fighters to carry out an offensive and also prevent own systems from being jammed.

How does it work?

  • Anti-radiation missiles are designed to detect, track and neutralize the adversary’s radar, communication assets and other radio frequency sources, which are generally part of their air defence systems.
  • Such a missile’s navigation mechanism comprises an inertial navigation system — a computerised mechanism that uses changes in the object’s own position — coupled with GPS, which is satellite-based.
  • For guidance, it has a “passive homing head” — a system that can detect, classify and engage targets (radio frequency sources in this case) over a wide band of frequencies as programmed.
  • Once the RudraM missile locks on the target, it is capable of striking accurately even if the radiation source switches off in between.

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Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SMART

Mains level : Indian navy's arsenal

DRDO successfully conducted the flight test of its Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SMART system recently tested by the DRDO is essentially a-

a)Radar

b)Torpedo

c)UAV

d)Missile

What is the SMART system?

  • Torpedoes are self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target but are limited by their range.
  • In the mid-2010s, DRDO undertook a project to build capacity to launch torpedoes assisted by missiles; Monday’s was the first known flight test of the system.
  • This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own.
  • For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.

Why is it significant?

  • SMART is a game-changing technology demonstration in anti-submarine warfare.
  • India’s anti-submarine warfare capacity building is crucial in light of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Assets of such warfare consist of the deployment of submarines, specialised anti-submarine ships, air assets and state-of-the-art reconnaissance and detection mechanisms.
  • The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability got a boost in June after the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech, capable of being fired from all frontline warships.
  • India has been indigenously developing and building several anti-submarine systems and vessels in the recent past.

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Shaurya Missile and India’s K missiles family

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Shaurya Missile

Mains level : India's missile programme

A successful trial of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile was conducted by India.

Shaurya Missile

  • Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 missile.
  • It is a land variant of short-range SLBM K-15 Sagarika, which has a range of at least 750 kilometres.
  • These ballistic weapons belong to the K missile family — codenamed after late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam — which is launched from Arihant class of nuclear submarines.
  • Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, smaller and stealthier than their land-based counterparts; the Agni series.

A look at what this family of missiles is their strategic importance as a nuclear deterrent and their recent tests.

K Family of missiles

  • The K family of missiles is primarily Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), which have been indigenously developed by DRDO.
  • These are named after Dr Kalam, the central figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India.
  • The development of this naval platform launched missiles began in the late 1990s as a step towards completing India’s nuclear triad (land, sea and air-based).

Strategic importance of SLBMs

  • The capability of being able to launch nuclear weapons submarine platforms has great strategic importance in the context of achieving a nuclear triad, especially in the light of ‘no first use’ policy of India.
  • The sea-based underwater nuclear-capable assets significantly increase the second strike capability of a country and thus boosts its nuclear deterrence.
  • These submarines can not only survive the first strike by the adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation thus achieving Credible Nuclear Deterrence.
  • The development of these capabilities is important in light of India’s relations with the two neighbours China and Pakistan.

Try this PYQ now:

What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (CSP 2018)

(a) An Israeli radar system

(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme

(c) An American anti-missile system

(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

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[pib] ABHYAS Air Vehicle

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ABHYAS-HEAT

Mains level : Not Much

Successful flight test of ABHYAS – High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) was today conducted by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the Interim Test Range, Balasore in Odisha.

Try this PYQ:

What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news?

(a) An Israeli radar system

(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme

(c) An American anti-missile system

(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

ABHYAS Air Vehicle

  • ABHYAS is designed & developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), DRDO.
  • The air vehicle is launched using twin underslung booster.
  • It is powered by a small gas turbine engine and has a MEMS-based Inertial Navigation System (INS) for navigation along with the Flight Control Computer (FCC) for guidance and control.
  • The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight. The check out of air vehicle is done using laptop-based Ground Control Station (GCS).
  • During the test campaign, the user requirement of 5 km flying altitude, vehicle speed of 0.5 mach, the endurance of 30 minutes and 2g turn capability of the test vehicle were successfully achieved.

Its uses

  • Abhyas’s radar cross-section (RCS), as well as its visual and infrared signatures, can be augmented to simulate a variety of aircraft for air-defence weapon practices.
  • It can also function as a jammer platform and decoy.
  • The HEAT system is utilized to do away with the post-launch recovery mode, which is time-consuming and difficult in a scenario as the sea.

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Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramjet, Scramjet

Mains level : Indian missile program

The DRDO has successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV).

Take note of close dissimilarities between Ramjet and Scramjet engines.

About HSTDV

  • HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with a capability to travel at six times the speed of sound.
  • The scramjets are a variant of a category of jet engines called the air-breathing engines.
  • The ability of engines to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of the speed of sound gives it a capability of operating at those speeds.
  • Hypersonic speeds are those which are five times or more than the speed of sound.
  • The unit tested by the DRDO can achieve upto six times the speed of sound or Mach 6, which is well over 7000 km per hour or around two km per second.

Its development

  • The DRDO started on the development of the engine in the early 2010s.
  • The ISRO has also worked on the development of the technology and has successfully tested a system in 2016. DRDO too has conducted a test of this system in June 2019.
  • The special project of the DRDO consisted of contributions from its multiple facilities including the Pune headquartered Armament and Combat Engineering Cluster.

Back2Basics: Ramjet V. Scramjet

  • A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor.
  • Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites.
  • A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
  • Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6.
  • However, the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.
  • A scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or Scramjet.

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K-4 Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : K-4 Missile, Circular Error Probability

Mains level : India's missile nuclear arsenal

India successfully test-fired the 3,500-km range submarine-launched ballistic missile, K-4. The test was carried out by the DRDO from a submerged pontoon off the Visakhapatnam coast around noon.

K-4

  • K-4 is a nuclear-capable Intermediate-range submarine-launched ballistic missile developed and tested successfully in the month of January 2020 by DRDO.
  • The missile has a maximum range of about 3500 km.
  • Once inducted, these missiles will be the mainstay of the Arihant class of indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBN).
  • It will give India the standoff capability to launch nuclear weapons submerged in Indian waters.

What’s so special about K-4?

: Circular Error Probability

  • India’s Circular Error Probability (CEP) is much more sophisticated than Chinese missiles.
  • The CEP determines the accuracy of a missile.
  • The lower the CEP, the more accurate the missile is.
  • There are very few countries which have managed to achieve this technological breakthrough.

About INS Arihant

  • The Advanced Technology Project (ATV) began in the 1980s and the first of them, Arihant, was launched in 2009.
  • INS Arihant, the first and only operational SSBN is armed with K-15 Sagarika missiles with a range of 750 km.
  • Given India’s position of ‘No-First-Use’ (NFU) in launching nuclear weapons, the SSBN is the most dependable platform for a second-strike.
  • Because they are powered by nuclear reactors, these submarines can stay underwater indefinitely without the adversary detecting it.
  • The other two platforms — land based and air launched are far easier to detect.

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BrahMos Hypersonic Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Brahmos Missile system

Mains level : India's hypersonic missile arsenal

The DRDO recently carried out two successful tests of the latest variant of the BrahMos missile, one from the land platform and the other from air.

BrahMos Missile

  • An amalgam of the names of the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva, BrahMos is being produced by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by DRDO and Mashinostroyenia of Russia in 1998.
  • The first version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2005, meant to be fired from INS Rajput.
  • It is a cruise missile, meaning it can be guided towards a pre-determined land- or sea-based target.
  • With a capability to attain speeds 2.8 times that of sound (Mach 2.8), BrahMos is classified as supersonic cruise missile.

Recent upgradation

  • A newer version under development is aimed at flying at speeds greater than Mach 5. These are called hypersonic cruise missiles.
  • Besides decreasing the reaction time of the enemy, higher speeds also substantially reduce the chances of the missile getting intercepted.

Why is it special?

  • In November 2017, the Indian Air Force had become the first in the world to successfully air-launch a Mach 2.8 supersonic surface-attack missile of this category from a fighter jet.
  • The recent successful testing of air-platform of BrahMos has further strengthened the tactical cruise missile triad — land, sea and air — for India.

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Varunastra Torpedoes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Varunastra torpedoes

Mains level : Modernising Indian Navy


  • Indian Navy and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have signed a contract recently worth for supply of heavyweight torpedo Varunastra to Indian Navy.

Varunastra

  • Varunastra was basically a ship-launched, electrically-propelled underwater weapon equipped with one of the most advanced automatic and remote-controlled guidance systems.
  • The weapon system uses its own intelligence in tracing the target. It is the only torpedo in the world to have a GPS-based locating aid.
  • It is seven to eight metres long, weighs 1,500 kg and has a diameter of 533 mm.
  • The anti-submarine electric torpedo when fired can travel at 40 knots, or 74 kmph.
  • The operational range is 40 km and it can carry a warhead weighing 250 kg.
  • The weapon has been jointly developed by the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NTSL), Visakhapatnam and the Bharat Dynamics Limited -BDL (Hyderabad).

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AKASH – MK 1S Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Akash MK 1S

Mains level : India's missile arsenal


  • DRDO has successfully test fired AKASH-MK-1S missile from ITR , Chandipur.

AKASH Mk1S

  • AKASH Mk1S is a surface to air missile which can neutralize advanced aerial targets.
  • It is an upgrade of existing AKASH missile with indigenous Seeker.
  • The Akash weapon system has combination of both command guidance and active terminal seeker guidance.
  • The medium range multi-target engagement capable missile was developed as part of the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) other than Nag, Agni, Trishul, and Prithvi missiles.

Specifications

  • The supersonic missile has a range of around 25 km and up to the altitude of 18,000 metres.
  • The missile uses high-energy solid propellant for the booster and ramjet-rocket propulsion for the sustainer phase.
  • Several variants of the missile — Akash MK1, Akash-MK2 — with improved accuracy and higher ranges are under development by the DRDO.

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[pib] High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ABHYAS, HEAT

Mains level : Not Much

  • DRDO conducted successful flight test of ABHYAS – High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from Interim Test Range, Chandipur in Odisha.

High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT)

  • HEAT offers a realistic threat scenario for practice of weapon systems. It is designed for autonomous flying with the help of an autopilot.
  • It is designed on an in-line small gas turbine engine and uses indigenously developed MEMS based navigation system for its navigation and guidance.
  • The performance of the system was as per simulations carried out and demonstrated the capability of ABHYAS to meet the mission requirement for a cost effective HEAT.
  • The flight test was tracked by various RADARS & Electro Optic Systems and proved its performance in fully autonomous way point navigation mode.

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India successfully test-fires Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: QRSAM and its specification

Mains level: Developing missile arsenal


News

  • India has successfully test-fired two indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM) from a test range off the Odisha coast.
  • The trials were conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Launch Complex 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.

About QRSAM

  • This missile has been developed to replace the ‘Akash’ missile defence system, and has 360-degree coverage, light weight, high mobility and shorter second reaction time as compared to ‘Akash’.
  • It also uses solid fuel propellant and has a stated range of strike range of 25-30 km with capability of hitting multiple targets.
  • It is capable of hitting the low flying objects.
  • It successfully demonstrated the robust Control, Aerodynamics, Propulsion, Structural performance and high manoeuvering capabilities thus proving the design configuration.
  • Radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry and other stations have tracked the Missiles and monitored through the entire flights.

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Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MRSAM

Mains level: Army’s need for new types of equipment and their development in India


News

  • India displayed its latest surface-to-air missile system, called the MRSAM, in a parade held on 26 January to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

About MRSAM

  1. The new missile system is developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
  2. The MRSAM provides the armed forces with air defense capability against a variety of aerial threats at medium ranges.
  3. The missile launcher and the command post would be made in India, with the rest of the complex system – including the missile itself – to be made in Israel.
  4. IAI will reportedly supply India with 2,000 missiles capable of intercepting enemy aircraft and missiles within a 70-kilometer range.
  5. The proposed MRSAM, to replace the old Pechora missiles which currently in service of Indian Defense Forces.

Combat Capability

  1. The MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced rotating phased array radar and a bidirectional data link.
  2. The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather conditions.
  3. The MRSAM surface-to-air missile is powered by a dual-pulse solid propulsion system developed by DRDO.
  4. The propulsion system, coupled with a thrust vector control system, allows the missile to move at a maximum speed of Mach 2.
  5. The weapon has the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously at ranges of 70km.

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