INDIA TIES UP TO PRODUCE VARIETY OF NUCLEAR MISSILES
By Bulbul Singh
Aug 07. India has taken up the design and development of a variety of ballistic, and nuclear capable cruise missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, and also a hypersonic missile. The missiles are being developed by state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
DRDO officials said work on the design and development of 5000 kilometres range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Agni-4 is in full swing and the first tests are slotted in early 2009, before the ruling government’s tenure ends in mid-2009. The test firing of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile could help boost the prospects of the ruling party.
The Agni-4 would be an extension of the 3000 kilometres range Agni-3 tested this year, and the 2000 kilometres range Agni-2 already inducted in the Indian defence forces. The Agni series of ballistic missiles have already ensured testing of a variety of missile technologies said a DRDO scientist which would make the task of Agni-4 much simpler. Indian scientists in collaboration with Israel are already developing nuclear submarine cruise missiles, including a Land Attack Cruise Missiles with a range of over 1000 kilometres. Though the submarine launched cruise missile is due to induction by 2008, the Land Attack cruise missile will be inducted in the Indian forces by 2010. Israel’s IAI is involved in the submarine launched cruise missile program while ELTA and Rafael are involved in the Land Attack Cruise Missile project.
Israel will also be involved with India in the development of an extended-range air defense missile, Barak. The extended range Barak surface-to-air missile will have a range of 150 kilometres. DRDO of India and IAI of Rafael will be involved in the project. The Indian Navy already has mounted over half a dozen Barak air defense missiles on most of its important sea assts including the aircraft carrier, INS Viraat. The extended-range version of Barak will also have a land variant.
Israel is involved in yet another missile program with India – the development of hypersonic missiles. One of the missiles being development under this project is a hypersonic bunker missile. High temperature materials, thermal protection systems have already been tested by DRDO laboratories.
DRDO is also developing a sub-sonic missile, the Nirbhay. The new missile with a range of 1000 kilometers will have a weight of 1000 kilograms, with a cruise altitude of less then 100 meters, have a length of 6 meters, diameter of 520mm, warhead of 300kgs, and powered by a small turbofan engine.
Nirbhay is being developed alongside the Astra missile in Hyderabad to hit targets beyond visual range. Nirbhay, a terrain-hugging missile can detect ground based radar. This would be a subsonic cruise missile travelling at only 840 kilometres per hour, while BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile.
Scientists said the warheads will have 20 variants. Sources in the Indian defence ministry said that DRDO is now seeking agreements with overseas companies to complete several of the projects. One such project is the Integrated Guided Missile Program undertaken in the early 80’s which includes Agni series of ballistic missiles, Prithvi short range missile, Trishul quick reaction missile and the Akash air-defense missile.
Sources also said that DRDO is developing the Trishul Low Level Quick Reaction Missiles (LLQRM) with the help of MBDA. Under the $500m program, DRDL and MBDA will jointly develop a new generation 35km range LLQRM system which will be a blend of French Mica and DRDO’s Trishul missile system now under development.
The entire program is expected to be completed in three years under which unspecified numbers of prototypes would be developed.
Under this project MBDA will develop an active homing head system, thrust vector c