October 18, 2009

India's Integrated Missile Development Program

Indian missile technology has reached to the apex of success and a state of maturity allowing the country to field systems covering the entire spectrum of land, air and sea-based platforms. It took the masters a period of decades to develop this technological revolution and to bring it the present state of maturity on the basis of active technology denial regimes imposed on India by several countries across the globe. 

Aim and Objectives

It is acknowledged by the countries all across the globe, that India has the most sophisticated and state of the art ballistic and cruise missile programme apart from the internationally recognized status conferred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) upon USA, Russia, UK, France and China. The irony is that a country like India which is a peace lover, embark a programme so markedly militaristic in nature.

The sudden short war with China in the year 1962 as well as the never-stopping military encounters with Pakistan's terrorism planning left India without any options but to evolve their own unique nuclear weapons programme. On a second thought, this nuclearization of India's weapon programme was very much required as we could never forget the timidity that resulted from the nuclearisation of China's weapon programme at the time of Indo-China war. Additionally, the geographical position of India led to the four-fifths of the area of land and sea borders easily accessible to all nuclear-weapon armed powers.

India's full-fledged missile development programme was brought in existence in the year 1958 which endeavored to develop technologically advanced or reverse-engineer missile technology for India. The projects were headed by Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) that aspired to develop in-depth expertise in the allied arena and develop state-of-the-art technological infrastructure in the country.

Some of the best engineers, scientists, technicians as well as masterminds came together to develop indigenously designed missiles that were modern and met all the requirements at the time of war. They planned to produce a series of missile systems and ascertained that these were indigenous as well as high-tech.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

The year 1983 brought a crucial turn in the realm of missile development programme of India, as India launched the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). The plan included development of a series of strategic and deliberate guided missiles. In accordance with these programme two ballistic missile systems namely Prithvi and Agni were developed. Prithvi is a short-range ballistic missile and Agni is a medium range technology demonstrator (TD).

There are plans to develop medium and short-range surface to air-missiles (SAMs) namely Akash and Trishul. Additionally, plans are to produce the third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), the Nag.

Strategic missiles

Prithvi Series

Prithvi-I/SS-150 (Earth) - single-stage, 150 km-range/1,000kg-payload, army-version

Prithvi-II/SS-250- (IAF)-version, 250km-range, payload of 500kg

Prithvi-III/SS-350– Dhanush (Bow)

K-15/Sagarika (Oceanic)- sub-surface version of the Prithvi III, the K-15 or Sagarika

Advanced Air Defence (AAD)- An anti-ballistic missile and its modified stage used in an "interceptor" mode to demolish enemy missile.

Agni (Fire) Series- designed and developed for deliverance of nuclear munitions.

Agni-I- 700-800km-Agni IIrange/1,000kg-payload with an intermediate range

Agni-II- two-stage, 2,000-2,500km-range/1,000kg-payload missile

Both these versions are availed to the Indian Army and have developed two new missile groups.

Agni-III- 3,000-4,000 km-range

About to develop another variant with an extended range of missile to be 5,000 km

Tactical missiles

BrahMos (Brahmaputra-Moskva)

This is an India Russia joint venture that displays India's missile-building technological abilities. This is a multi-platform, 280-300km-range/200-300kg-payload, 2.8 mach supersonic cruise missile.

Nirbhay (Fearless)

This is an indigenously designed innovative cruise missile system which is developed to be a 1,000 kg/1,000 km-medium range, high sub-sonic (0.7 mach) and multi-platform missile launched from land, sea and air. It is 6 meter high with a diameter of 520 mm.

Nag (King Cobra)

This is an all-weather, third generation guided anti-tank missile, fire and forget top attack with 4-7 km range.

Astra BVRAAM (Weapon)

This is an active, radar-homing Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) with 90-120 km range and 150 kg weight.

Akash (Sky)

This is a surface-to-air missile with an intercept range of 30 km, launch weight 720 kg, diameter of 35 cm and length of 5.78 meters.


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