An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 02 February 2006

India’s DRDO has undertaken many ambitious projects for the Indian Armed Forces with a mixed bag of successes and failures, which is the norm in science and technology and depends on how the programme is steered. Many programmes steered by bureaucrats received inadequate cooperation from the services. However, DRDO’s surface-to-surface missile programmes originally steered by space technology personnel headed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, and technology and fuels personnel from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had achieved a modicum of operational acceptability.

The Army and more recently the Indian Air Force, have deployed the 150 to 300 km range PRITHVI (Earth) liquid fuelled missiles. The Navy has tested the Naval version of the 300 km PRITHVI christened DHANUSH (Bow) in a vertical launch mode from the OPV INS Subhadra. These ships fortunately possess a large flat and empty after deck on which to experiment. Success came when DRDO collaborated with India’s engineering giant Larsen and Tubro (L&T) to design and manufacture the gyro stabilization system for the launches, which has grid locks,, stabilizers and a release firing panel. The experience later contributed to the BrahMos VLS System which the Indian Navy has adopted for all its Indian built missile ships.

In an interestingly timed development India’s DRDO announced it carried out multiple test firings of the AKASH (Sky) medium range Surface to Air missile system from its test site at Chandipur on the sea on 30th and 31st January, from a BMP chassis. This was just one day before DEFEXPO opened and this domestically developed missile system which has a triple rocket launcher for ripple firing mode, is reported to have hit its flying target successfully. A model of the 700-kilogramme AKASH system with zoom training, and elevation ability, along with the depiction of its firing cycle in auto and manual modes, was displayed by Larsen and Tubro and TATA POWER at their stalls at DEFEXPO 2006.

The product advertised as jointly manufactured by DRDO and L&T at its Powai factory near Mumbai and TATA POWER –– but a close look at the finish and the system indicated that the L&T model with 40 volts DC and brushless technology was superior. It is claimed that the associated radar can track multiple targets simultaneously. The missile has a speed of 600 metres per second and has ability to deliver a 5.5-kilogram warhead up to 27 kilometres in 50 seconds. The message coming out at DEFEXPO is that the manufacturing of systems is better achieved by DRDO when it has collaborated with Indian industry, which is only now coming of age. Products like PINAKA multiple barrel rocket system, sonars and several others were also on display at the show.

It is  relevant that the DRDO had given up on the 1993 designed short range Trishul SAM system and the Navy went in for the Israeli Barak 1 systems for anti missile defence, which have active guidance AMDR radars. The Barak, earlier employed by Republic of Singapore Navy in the region has been proved by the IN. Interestingly the Indian Navy has achieved versatility by transferring the systems from ship to ship making it operationally portable. For Anti Air Defence the IAF have old squadrons of the Pechoras due for upgrade, Iglas and the OSA AKM systems while the Army has the OSA AKM, latest Tanguskas and Iglas. When the AKASH succeeds it will be a feather in DRDO and industry’s cap.

Back to Top

Disclaimer   Copyright