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By Bulbul Singh

The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security, the highest decision taking body has approved the purchase of $400 million worth of defense equipment immediately, which includes the acquisition of 54 Short Range Ballistic Missiles for the Indian Air Force, 12 homemade Intermediate Jet Trainers, and 11 interceptive boats for India’s Maritime force.

The Short Range missile can carry a nuclear payload. The Indian Air Force plans to buy over 300 of these short range ballistic missiles.

The short range ballistic missiles, Prithvi for the Indian Air Force, will be built by the state owned Hyderabad based Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The Prithvi surface to surface missile meant for the Indian Air Force will have a range of 250 kilometers. The Prithvi missile is a dual engine, road mobile liquid fuel missile. Sources in BDL say the Prithvi missile to be manufactured for the Indian Air Force will have advanced guidance systems and increased payload from 750 kilograms to 1000 kilograms making it possible for the carrying of a nuclear warhead. The increase in payload would be possible by using boosted liquid propellant to generate higher thrust-to-weight ratio added the sources.

The sources also revealed that two Prithvi liquid engines are a version of the Russian V-755 engine used in some air defense systems and the fuel used is a mixture of Xylidiene and Tri-ethylamine. The missile has a diameter of 1.1 meters, and is 9 meters long.

An Indian Air Force official however said they are looking for a solid fueled missile over the liquid fuel missile like Prithvi as the liquid fuel must be launched prior to launch giving some time lapse compared to the solid fueled missiles of Pakistan.

An official of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which designed and developed the Prithvi missiles said, DRDO is also working on a solid fuelled missile, but refused to give details.

The Cabinet Committee on Security also approved the production of 12 Intermediate Jet Trainers to be manufactured by state owned Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, sources in HAL said, the prototype of IJT currently under development have yet to be completed.

HAL officials however denied any delay in the development of Intermediate Jet Trainer and said a contract has been signed with U.K’s Smith Aerospace for integration of the Integrated Avionics Systems for IJT which will include a mission computer, head up display, HUD repeater, rear data entry panel, attitude and heading reference system and air data computers.

The Indian government approved the Intermediate Jet Trainer in 1999 as a replacement of the ageing Kiran aircraft trainer with the Indian Air Force.

Though the IJT was initially developed based on the French engine, Snecma’s Larzac but last year the Indian government contracted to buy the Russian AL-55 engine.

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