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Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: ”India’s Indigenous Missile Programme”

Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: ”India’s Indigenous Missile Programme”


GS 3: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology, Defence Technology, Indigenization of Technology


  • Recently, two Indian Army-version Medium Range Surface to Air Missiles (MRSAMs) from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha flight tested from ITR Balasore, Odisha intercepting a high-speed aerial target at long range.
  • The flight tests were carried out as part of live-firing trials against high-speed aerial targets.
  • The missiles intercepted the targets and destroyed those completely, registering direct hits at both ranges.
  • The first missile hit a medium-altitude long-range target and the second a low-altitude short-range one.

History of missile technology in India?

  • At the time of Independence, India did not have any indigenous missile capabilities. The government created the Special Weapon Development Team in 1958.
  • This was later expanded and called the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), which moved from Delhi to Hyderabad in 1962.
  • In 1972, Project Devil, for the development of a medium-range Surface-to-Surface Missile was initiated.
  • A large number of infrastructure and test facilities were established during this period.
  • The development of components/systems for Project Devil formed the technology base for the future IGMDP Programme.
  • By 1982, DRDL was working on several missile technologies under the Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP).

Missiles that India have

  • India is considered among the top few nations when it comes to designing and developing missiles indigenously, although it is way behind the US, China and Russia in terms of range.
  • DRDO is “working on multiple varieties of missiles”. Among the surface-launched systems:
    • Anti Tank Guided Missiles

  •  Nag is the only “fire-and-forget” ATGM meeting all-weather requirements for its range (around 20 km).
  • There is also a Stand-off Anti-Tank (SANT) missile, with a range over 10 km. It has a millimetre wave seeker, which enhances target detection in all weather conditions. Man-portable ATGMs are also available.
    • Surface To Air Missile

  • The short-range SAM system Akash has already been inducted into the Army and the Air Force.
  • Production of MRSAM systems for the Navy is complete, and it is placing its order.
  • The Jaisalmer-based 2204 Squadron of the Air Force became the first unit to get the MRSAM systems in September this year. Technology for MRSAM for the Army is also in a good shape and will be flight-tested soon.
    • AIR-TO-AIR

  • Astra, India’s Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), has been completely tested and is under induction.
  • It has a range of around 100 km, and DRDO is trying to now induct it with more IAF platforms, including the domestically developed light combat aircraft Tejas.
  • A long-range Astra is also being developed, for which initial tests have been conducted. The missile uses solid fuel ramjet technology, which enhances speed, and will have an indigenously-built seeker.

  • Rudram, a New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGRAM), has a maximum range of around 200 km. The missile mainly targets the communication, radar and surveillance systems of the adversary, and was tested from the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet last year.
  • BrahMos, which India developed jointly with Russia, is already operational. It has a 300 km to 500 km range and is a short-range, ramjet-powered, single warhead, supersonic anti-ship or land-attack cruise missile.
  • A supersonic missile-assisted torpedo has also enhanced the Navy’s anti-submarine capability with a range of around 400 km.

Most important Missile System Of India

  • The two most important are Agni and Prithvi, both being used by the Strategic Forces Command.
  • Agni (range of around 5,000), is India’s only contender for an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is available in only a few countries.

Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: "India's Indigenous Missile Programme"_3.1

  • Prithvi, although a short-range surface-to-surface missile with a 350 km range, has strategic uses.
  • India also tested an anti-satellite system in April 2019.
  • A modified anti-ballistic missile named Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mk 2 was used to hit a low-orbit satellite. It put India only behind the US, Russia and China in this capability.

What about hypersonic technology?

  • A hypersonic missile is a weapon system that flies at least at the speed of Mach 5 i.e. five times the speed of sound and is manoeuvrable.
  • The manoeuvrability of the hypersonic missile is what sets it apart from a ballistic missile as the latter follows a set course or a ballistic trajectory. Thus, unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can be manoeuvred to the intended target.
  • India has been working on this for a few years and is just behind the US, Russia and China. DRDO successfully tested a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrated Vehicle (HSTDV) in September 2020 and demonstrated its hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology.
  • According to sources, India has developed its own cryogenic engine and demonstrated it in a 23-second flight. India will try to make a hypersonic cruise missile, using HSTDV.
  • Only Russia has proven its hypersonic missile capability so far, while China has demonstrated its HGV capacity.
  • India is expected to be able to have a hypersonic weapons system within four years, with medium- to long-range capabilities.

What makes India good at missile technology?

  • Missile technology is one field in which India has made very, very positive and substantial progress.
  • Under the IGMP then headed by A P J Abdul Kalam, later India’s President, first came Prithvi, then Agni. BrahMos, at 2.5-3 times the speed of sound, was among the fastest in the world when developed.
  • After the nuclear blast in 1998, cryogenic etc. were not given to us. Kalam and others made it a point that they developed it within the country.
  • The US is leading in missile technology, and China is building up”. India is also “at a very advanced stage” among the top three or four nations.
  • With India’s missiles, today our basic opponent, area of interest is the northern border (China) and the western border(Pakistan).
  • With Agni V ready, India is working on Agni VI and Agni VII, which should have a much longer range.
  • Pinaka rocket systems have also been developed in close coordination with the user agencies.

Where do China and Pakistan stand compared to India?

  • While China is ahead of India a lot of things about China are psychological.
  • According to a Pentagon report in 2020, China may have either achieved parity or even exceeded the US in land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missile capabilities.
  • China’s missile development is definitely a concern for us, but we will definitely evolve. If China strikes a strategic target of India, we will hit back with equal potential, and hit them at the place where it matters the most.
  • China has given Pakistan the technology, but getting technology and really using it, and thereafter evolving and adopting a policy is totally different.
  • Hypersonic missiles are often called “weapons of deterrence” and they “will continue to deter, but if China uses it India will not sit idle.
  • On nuclear capability, although India does not call BrahMos nuclear, it can be used.
  • India’s only nuclear missiles are Prithvi and Agni, but beyond those, tactical nuclear weapons can be fired from some IAF fighter jets or from Army guns, which have a low range, around 50 km.

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