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By Bulbul Singh

17 Apr 06. India’s homegrown Sagarika missile program, currently under development has been changed from a ballistic missile program to a Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) program. The earlier conceived Sagarika missile in the 1990’s was a submarine launched 300 kilometers ballistic missile program.

Sources in the Indian defense ministry say help is being sought from Israel to build the new Sagarika LACM missile. An arrangement has already been made between the Indian defense research laboratories, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which is developing the Sagarika program and an unknown entity of Israel to carry out further development on the Sagarika project.

Additional funds have also been made available for the Sagarika project which is expected to test launch its missile by 2008.

Sctechy details are available on the current status of the Sagarika missile which has a LACM variant. The Indian defense ministry’s public stance is that the Sagarika is delayed whereas sources in the defense ministry say the missile has been given a new range and it is a different Sagarika program then what was conceived in the 1990’s.

The Sagarika missile will be mounted on the homegrown nuclear submarine Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) which is also in the final stages of development with integration of major sub systems being carried out. The ATV project is expected to roll out in 2011 and initially two submarines are expected to roll out costing around $800m each.

Sources in the Indian Navy say the ATV project is privately being called as the Sagarika, BrahMos and Popeye program indicating that the Sagarika LACM will be mounted on the ATV along with the homegrown anti ship supersonic cruise missile BrahMos. Popeye is a reference to an Israeli missile which was tested from a submarine.

Sources in the Indian Navy indicated that the Sagarika cruise missile could be built on the lines of the Israeli Popeye Turbo missile which was first tested in May 2000 from two German-built submarines The missiles were launched from vessels off Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean and hit a target at a range of about 1,500 kilometers.

The change in the Sagarika program follows developments in Pakistan which test fired its 500 kilometers range Babur cruise missile last year.

Besides Israel, India’s DRDO, Hyderabad based Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), India’s private sector Larsen & Toubro, the Kolkata-based Electronics Research and Development Centre, Hyderabad-based Research Centre Imaraat, Pune-based Explosives Research and Development Laboratory are involved in the development of the Sagarika LACM

The Sagarika missile program began in the early 1990s with an initial funding of around $250m and so far only four test flight trials have been held of 300 kilometer range missile from India’s missile testing range at Balasore in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

The Sagarika LACM will have a length of 5.86 meters and a launch weight including payload of 5600 kilograms and has a strapped navigational system with advanced guidance systems. DRDO will also use in house ram jet technology enginein the Sagarika LACM.

Sources say besides Israel help is also being sought from Russian scientists in the Sagarika LACM project which is likely to cost around $ 1 billion including the initial investment of around $ 250 million in the 1990’s when the program was conceived and the latest change in format of the Sagarika project. Ends

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