Indian Missile Program Updates

Indian Missile Program Updates

Prithvi-II Missile successfully test-fired

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Prithvi-II Missile

Mains level : Not Much

Successfully test-fire of indigenously developed, nuclear-capable Prithvi-II Missile was recently held.

Prithvi-II Missile

  • The Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile has a strike range of 350 km.
  • It is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads and is powered by liquid propulsion twin engines.
  • It was inducted into the armory of Indian defence forces in 2003.
  • It is a nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled missile.
  • The state-of-the-art missile uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvering trajectory to hit its target.
  • It is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Other variants of Prithvi

  • The Prithvi missile project encompassed developing three variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
  • The initial project framework of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program outlines the variants in the following manner:
  1. Prithvi I (SS-150) – Army version, 150 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg
  2. Prithvi II (SS-250) – Air Force version, 350 km range with a payload of 500 kg
  3. Prithvi III (SS-350) – Naval version, 350 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg

Significance of the test-fire

  • Developed as a battlefield missile, it can carry a nuclear warhead in its role as a tactical nuclear weapon.
  • This is the second such test fire of nuclear capable highly manoeuvrable missile in weeks.

 

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21 Years of BrahMos Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BrahMos Missile System

Mains level : Not Much

On June 12, 2001 the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was first tested from a land-based launcher in Chandipur.

What is BrahMos Missile System?

  • BrahMos is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya.
  • The missile derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers.
  • Beginning with an anti-ship missile, several variants have since been developed.
  • It is now capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets and has constantly been improved and upgraded.

Its capabilities

  • BrahMos is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine.
  • Its first stage brings the missile to supersonic speed and then gets separated.
  • The liquid ramjet or the second stage then takes the missile closer to three times the speed of sound in cruise phase.
  • The missile has a very low radar signature, making it stealthy, and can achieve a variety of trajectories.
  • The ‘fire and forget’ type missile can achieve a cruising altitude of 15 km and a terminal altitude as low as 10 m to hit the target.

Background and development

  • The early 1980s the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme was conceived and led by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.
  • It started developing a range of missiles including Prithvi, Agni, Trishul, Akash and Nag, with a wide spectrum of capabilities and ranges.
  • In the early 1990s, India’s strategic leadership felt the need for cruise and guided missiles.
  • The need was felt primarily following the use of cruise missiles in the Gulf War.
  • An Agreement was signed with Russia in Moscow in 1998 by Dr Kalam, who headed the DRDO.
  • This led to the formation of BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), the Indian side holding 50.5% and the Russians 49.5%.

Tests and induction

  • In 1999, work on development of missiles began in labs of DRDO and NPOM after BrahMos Aerospace received funds from the two governments.
  • The first successful test in 2001 was conducted from a specially designed land-based launcher.
  • The missile system has since reached some key milestones, with the first major export order of $375 million received from the Philippines Navy this year.

Strategic significance

  • Cruise missiles such as BrahMos, called “standoff range weapons”, are fired from a range far enough to allow the attacker to evade defensive counter-fire.
  • What makes the missile system unparalleled is its extreme accuracy and versatility.
  • With missiles made available for export, the platform is also seen as a key asset in defence diplomacy.

Variants of Brahmos

  • Versions currently being tested include ranges up to 350 km, as compared to the original’s 290 km.
  • Versions with even higher ranges, up to 800 km, and with hypersonic speed are said to be on cards.
  • Efforts are also on to reduce the size and signature of existing versions and augment its capabilities further.
  • Versions deployed in all three Armed forces are still being tested regularly, and so are versions currently under development.
  1. LAND-BASED: The land-based BrahMos complex has four to six mobile autonomous launchers, each with three missiles on board that can be fired almost simultaneously. They are described as ‘tidy’ as they have very few components.
  2. SHIP-BASED: The Navy began inducting BrahMos on its frontline warships from 2005. These can hit sea-based targets beyond the radar horizon. The Naval version has been successful in sea-to-sea and sea-to-land modes.
  3. AIR-LAUNCHED: On November 22, 2017, BrahMos was successfully flight-tested for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal. It has since been successfully tested multiple times.
  4. SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED: This version can be launched from around 50 m below the water surface. The canister-stored missile is launched vertically from the pressure hull of the submarine and uses different settings for underwater and out-of-the-water flights.

 

 

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Astra MK-I Air-to-Air Missile: Features, strategic significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Astra AAM

Mains level : India's missile arsenal

The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for the supply of the Astra Mark-1for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

Astra Missile

  • The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).
  • The Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants.
  • The missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • It will be deployed on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
  • BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres.

Range and its Variants

  • While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
  • One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.

Strategic significance

  • The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
  • AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft.
  • It can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing adversary air defence measures.
  • Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
  • Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile
  • The missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.

 

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Indian missile misfires into Pakistan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BrahMos Missile

Mains level : Not Much

India has acknowledged a malfunction led to accidental firing of a missile, which Pakistan says landed in its territory.

Conducting Missile Tests: NOTAM and NAVAREA Warnings

  • Under the pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles agreement signed in 2005, a country must provide the other an advance notification on flight test it intends to take for any land or sea launched, surface-to-surface ballistic missile.
  • Before the test, the country must issue Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) or Navigational Warning (NAVAREA) to alert aviation pilots and seafarers, respectively.
  • Also, the testing country must ensure that the launch site is not within 40 km, and the planned impact area is not within 75 km of either the International Boundary (IB) or the Line of Control (LoC).
  • The planned trajectory should not cross the IB or the LoC and must maintain a horizontal distance of at least 40 km from the border.

Pre-notifications to the neighbours

  • The testing country must notify the other nation “no less than three days in advance of the commencement of a five day launch window within which it intends to undertake flight tests.
  • The pre-notification has to be conveyed through the respective Foreign Offices and the High Commissions, as per the format annexed to this Agreement.

What is the recent case of misfire?

  • Neither country has spelt this out; Pakistan has only called it a “supersonic” missile.
  • Some experts have speculated that it was a test of one of India’s top missiles, BrahMos, jointly developed with Russia.
  • Their assessment is based on information that it travelled 200 km, manoeuvred mid-air and travelled at 2.5 times to 3 times the speed of sound at an altitude of 40,000 feet.
Note:  BrahMos has a top speed of Mach 3, a range of around 290 km, and a cruising altitude of 15 km (around 50,000 feet). It can be fired from anywhere, is nuclear-capable, and can carry warheads of 200-300 kg.

 

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Philippines approves deal for BrahMos Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BrahMos Missile

Mains level : India's missile arsenal and its global competitiveness

In the first export order for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system, the Philippines has approved a $374.96 mn contract for the purchase of a shore-based anti-ship variant of the missile from India.

About BrahMos Missile

  • BrahMos missile derives its name from the combination of the names of Brahmaputra and Moskva Rivers.
  •  They 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 system known as the ‘standoff range weapons’ which are fired from a range sufficient to allow the attacker to evade defensive fire from the adversary.
  • Such weapons are in the arsenal of most major militaries in the world.

Its capability

  • BrahMos missile flies at a speed of 2.8 Mach or almost three times the speed of sound.
  • It is the main weapon system of the Indian Navy warships and has been deployed on almost all of its surface platforms.
  • An underwater version is also being developed which will not only be used by the submarines of India but will also be offered for export to friendly foreign nations.

Various versions

  • 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 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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Explained: India’s Missile Capability

 

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Explained: India’s Missile Capability

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India's missile program

Mains level : Global arms race

The Defence Minister has encouraged scientists to work towards developing hypersonic missile technology after China’s successful demonstration of hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV).

Try this question:

Q. Hypersonic missiles are nothing but weapons of deterrence. Critically comment in context of arms race development for hypersonic missiles.

History of Missile Technology in India

(1) Pre-Independence

  • Before Independence, several kingdoms in India were using rockets as part of their warfare technologies.
  • Mysore ruler Hyder Ali started inducting iron-cased rockets in his army in the mid-18th century.
  • By the time Hyder’s son Tipu Sultan died, a company of rocketeers was attached to each brigade of his army, which has been estimated at around 5,000 rocket-carrying troops.

(2) Post-Independence

  • At the time of Independence, India did not have any indigenous missile capabilities.
  • The government created the Special Weapon Development Team in 1958.
  • This was later expanded and called the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), which moved from Delhi to Hyderabad by 1962.
  • In 1972, Project Devil, for the development of a medium-range Surface-to-Surface Missile was initiated.
  • By 1982, DRDL was working on several missile technologies under the Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP).

What kind of missiles does India have?

  • India is considered among the top few nations when it comes to designing and developing missiles indigenously.
  • However, it is way behind the US, China and Russia in terms of range.
  • DRDO is working on multiple varieties of missiles:

[A] Surface-launched Systems

ANTI-TANK GUIDED MISSILE:

  • Nag has already been inducted into the services. Nag is the only fire-and-forget ATGM meeting all weather requirements for its range (around 20 km).
  • Recently Heli-Nag was tested, which will be operated from helicopters and will be inducted by 2022.
  • There is also a Stand-off Anti-Tank (SANT) missile, with a range over 10 km.

SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILE

  • Short-range SAM system: Akash has already been inducted in the Army and the Air Force.
  • For Akash 1, which has a seeker, the Army has already got the Acceptance of Necessity from the government.
  • For Akash (New Generation), the first tests were conducted in July this year and a couple more trials are to be done.
  • Medium-Range SAM: Production of MRSAM systems for the Navy is complete, and it is placing its order.

[B] Air-launched Systems

AIR-TO-AIR:

  • Astra, India’s Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), has been completely tested and is under induction.
  • It has a range of around 100 km, and DRDO is trying to now induct it with more IAF platforms, including the domestically developed light combat aircraft Tejas.
  • A long-range Astra is also being developed, for which initial tests have been conducted.
  • The missile uses solid fuel ramjet technology, which enhances speed, and will have an indigenously-built seeker.

AIR-TO-GROUND:

  • Rudram, a New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGRAM), has cleared initial tests and some more tests will be conducted soon.
  • With a maximum range of around 200 km, the missile mainly targets communication, radar and surveillance systems of the adversary, and was tested from the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet last year.
  • BrahMos, which India developed jointly with Russia, is already operational.
  • It has a 300 km to 500 km range, and is a short-range, ramjet-powered, single warhead, supersonic anti-ship or land attack cruise missile.

India’s crucial missile systems

The two most important are Agni and Prithvi, both being used by the Strategic Forces Command.

  • Agni (range around 5,000) is India’s only contender for an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is available in only a few countries.
  • Prithvi, although a short-range surface-to-surface missile with a 350 km range, has strategic uses. India also tested an anti-satellite system in April 2019.
  • A modified anti-ballistic missile named Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mk 2 was used to hit a low-orbit satellite.
  • It put India only behind the US, Russia and China in this capability.

What about Hypersonic Technology?

  • India has been working on this for a few years, and is just behind the US, Russia and China.
  • DRDO successfully tested a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrated Vehicle (HSTDV) in September 2020, and demonstrated its hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology.
  • India has developed its own cryogenic engine and demonstrated it in a 23-second flight.
  • India will try to make a hypersonic cruise missile, using HSTDV.
  • Only Russia has proven its hypersonic missile capability so far, while China has demonstrated its HGV capacity.
  • India is expected to be able to have a hypersonic weapons system within four years, with medium- to long-range capabilities.

What makes India good in missile technology?

  • Missile technology is one field in which India has made very positive and substantial progress.
  • Under the IGMP then headed by A P J Abdul Kalam, later India’s President, first came Prithvi, then Agni.
  • BrahMos, at 2.5-3 times the speed of sound, was among the fastest in the world when developed.
  • After the nuclear blast in 1998, cryogenic etc were not given to us by developed countries. Kalam and others, they made it a point that they developed it within the country.

Where do China and Pakistan stand compared to India?

  • While China is ahead of India, a lot of things about China are psychological.
  • China may have either achieved parity or even exceeded the US in land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missile capabilities.
  • China’s missile development is definitely a concern for us, but we will definitely evolve.
  • It has given the technology to the irresponsible hands of Pakistan. But getting technology and really using it, and thereafter evolving and adopting a policy is totally different.

Must read:

Agni V vs China’s Hypersonic Missile

 

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Arms Race towards Hypersonic Weapons

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hypersonic Glide Vehicle, ICBM

Mains level : Hypersonic weapons race

China recently tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile while Russia announced that it had successfully test-launched a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile in early October.

What are Hypersonic Weapons?

  • The speed of sound is Mach 1, and speeds upto Mach 5 are supersonic and speeds above Mach 5 are hypersonic.
  • They are manoeuvrable weapons that can fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
  • A number of other countries – including Australia, India, France, Germany, and Japan—are developing hypersonic weapons technology.

Features of HSWs

  • Trajectory: Ballistic Missiles are long-range missile that leaves the earth’s atmosphere before re-entry, pursuing a parabolic trajectory towards its target
  • Maneuverability: HSW travel within the atmosphere and can manoeuvre midway which combined with their high speeds make their detection and interception extremely difficult.
  • Stealth: Radars and air defences cannot intercept them till they are very close. They can penetrate most missile defences and further compress the timelines for response by a nation under attack.

Types of Hypersonic Weapons

There are two classes of hypersonic weapons:

  1. Hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV): They are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target.
  2. Hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM): They are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines, or scramjets, after acquiring their target.

Where does the US stand?

  • The US has active hypersonic development programs.
  • It is said to be lagging behind China and Russia because most US hypersonic weapons are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead.
  • It is in process of developing prototypes to assist in the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts and mission sets.

Hypersonic program in India

  • HSTDV program: India is developing an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) program.
  • Capacity: India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 13.
  • In-operation: The DRDO has successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020 using the demonstrated scramjet engine technology.

DRDO has validated many associated crucial technologies such as:

  1. Aerodynamic configuration for hypersonic maneuvers
  2. Use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at the hypersonic flow
  3. Thermo-structural characterization of high-temperature materials
  4. Separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities has been validated

Conclusion

  • There are rising tensions between the US, China and Russia worsening the geopolitical situation worldwide.
  • The focus for hypersonic weapons is only set to accelerate more countries to invest significant resources in their design and development.

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Agni V vs China’s Hypersonic Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hypersonic Glide Vehicle, ICBM

Mains level : Hypersonic Glide Missiles

Though inducted over three years ago, India’s foremost Agni 5 ballistic missile was tested for the first time after reports that China had tested a new hypersonic missile.

What is the Agni 5 missile?

  • Agni 5 is India’s long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, which can hit a target with a precision that is 5,000 km
  • The nuclear-capable missile is India’s contender for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
  • Its range puts almost the entire China within the missile’s target range.
  • Though the government has claimed that it has a maximum range of around 5,000 km, several reports suggest that it can hit targets as distant as 8,000 km.
  • The nuclear capable missile can carry a warhead of around 1,500 kg and has a launch weight of 50,000 kg, making it one of the most potent missiles in the country.

Note: Officially an ICBM needs a missile to have a range of at least 5,500 km.

History of Agni Missiles

  • India began testing the Agni series of missiles in 1989 with the first test for Agni 1, an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile, with a range of around 1,000 km.
  • At that time only the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, France and Israel, had IRBM technology.
  • Since then, DRDO labs have continued to work on it, bringing the latest available Agni 5 to its present capability.
  • In addition to the IRBM-capable nations, only North Korea and the UK have ICBM technology at the moment.

Why is it important for India?

  • The success of AGNI missiles is in line with India’s stated policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that underpins the commitment to ‘No First Use’.
  • What makes Agni 5 agile is that it is a “canisterised” missile. It means that the missile can be launched from road and rail platforms, making it easier for it to be deployed and launched at a quicker pace.
  • The canisterisation also gives the missile a longer shelf life, protecting it from the harsher climatic conditions.
  • While India is among the handful of nations with ICBM capability.
  • The next generation of the missile, Agni VI, under development, is expected to have a range of around 8,000 km.

What is a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle that China tested?

  • HGV is nuclear capable missile, which circled the earth before moving towards its target, missing it by two dozen miles.
  • It is launched by a rocket which moves in the Earth’s lower orbit, at more than five times to 25 times the speed of sound.
  • The vehicle is capable of carrying nuclear payloads, which gives the launching country the strategic capacity to attack almost any target across the world.

How is HGV different from an ICBM?

  • A hypersonic glide vehicle orbits the earth at a lower height, and is manoeuvrable as compared to ICBM.
  • The ability to change track or target, mid-trajectory, along with the speed, makes them tougher to track and defend against.
  • The manoeuvrability provides them in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned.
  • They possess ability to fly at unpredictable trajectories, these missiles will hold extremely large areas at risk throughout much of their flights.

Which countries have hypersonic technology?

  • Apart from China, the US and Russia are working on the technology.
  • France and India are working together for gaining the capability.

Concerns about China developing such technology

  • China might have left the US behind in hypersonic capability.
  • It is being perceived as a Sputnik moment (first Russian space mission widely envied by the US).
  • A hypersonic attack could occur with very little warning time. The unpredictable trajectory would give them an advantage.

Another concern: Increasing Proliferation

  • Globally the main concern is that once the technology is successfully established by even one country, it would lead to a larger race for the capability and its eventual proliferation.
  • The more that hypersonic missiles proliferate into the hands of additional nations, the more paths develop for crises.

 

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DRDO tests Akash Prime Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Akash Missile

Mains level : NA

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested a new version of Akash Surface to Air missile Akash Prime from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha.

About Akash Missile System

  • Akash is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
  • It is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
  • It can target aircraft up to 50–80 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.
  • It has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles.
  • It is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

Upgrade in Akash Prime

  • In comparison to the existing Akash System, Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency (RF) seeker for improved accuracy.
  • Other improvements also ensure more reliable performance under low temperature environment at higher altitudes.

 

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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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