Missiles: India

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Some characteristics of the medium-range surface-to-surface missile (MR-SAM) developed by DRDO and the Israeli Aerospace Industries; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jul 01, 2016

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.



What are missiles, kinds of missiles

December 4, 2017 :The Times of India

Who has how many ballistic missile systems- US range classes and Russian range classes, as in December 2017
From: December 4, 2017: The Times of India

What is a missile?

A missile is essentially a sophisticated bomb. Once released, a bomb is governed by the laws of ballistics, which means only the force of gravity acts upon it. By attaching a propulsion system, it can be made more accurate and faster. A bomb with a propulsion system is called a rocket. If guided and controlled, a rocket can be made deadlier — and that is what a missile is. Missiles are classified variously based on the launching system. Thus, missiles can be surface-to-surface (SSM), air-to-surface (ASM), air-toair, etc. Based on the working principle, missiles can be ballistic or cruise and classified by range and proposed use — strategic or tactical. Key to modern warfare, missiles can carry tons of nuclear warheads at speeds way higher than fighter planes.

How is a ballistic missile different from a cruise one?

A ballistic missile is used to hit a predetermined target —launched such that it burns most of its fuel to attain the desired velocity in the first phase, also called the boost phase. Such a missile can only be guided during the powered phase of flight. Easy to detect, but it’s almost impossible to intercept it.

A cruise missile, on the other hand, is a small pilotless craft that carries an explosive warhead. It has wings and an engine, but is built more economically. It is steered by inertial navigation system (INS), that’s also used by airplanes. A cruise missile can be made so accurate that it can be aimed at any specific place like a door or a window. Its flight can be guided for a longer period.

India’s Agni and Prithvi are ballistic missile systems while BrahMos is a cruise missile system. Overall 31 countries have operational ballistic missile systems. China has the highest number of different systems, while the US has four.

What are strategic and tactical missiles?

Ballistic missiles are categorised according to their range, which is the maximum distance along the surface of the earth from the point of launch to the point of impact of its payload. Until recently, Russia, US, China, the UK, France and Israel were the only countries with operational ICBM technology. With Hwasong-15, North Korea’s joined this club. With over 5,000-km range, India’s Agni-V also qualifies for this club.

Which countries have the longest range of operational ballistic missiles?

Russia, US and China have many missile systems that qualify for the ICBM range.

Air-launched missiles

2019/ new-generation anti-radiation missile (NGARM)

India tests new missile to take out enemy radars, January 25, 2019: The Times of India

India has tested a new indigenous air-launched missile called NGARM, which is designed to destroy a variety of surveillance and radar targets on the ground after being fired from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter.

This new-generation antiradiation missile (NGARM), with a strike range of around 100-km, is the first indigenous air-to-ground missile to be developed by DRDO, after the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile developed jointly with Russia. “The missile was tested from a Sukhoi-30MKI on January 18 at the integrated

test range at Balasore. The missile, with all systems functioning properly, hit the designated target with a high degree of accuracy in the Bay of Bengal. The NGARM can be launched from Sukhois from different altitudes and velocities,” said a source.

In another test, the DRDO-Navy combine conducted another test of Barak long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) system, jointly developed by DRDO with Israeli Aerospace Industries and Rafael, from destroyer INS Chennai .The supersonic Barak-8 missile system, whose interception range is 70 to 100-km, is in the process of being tested from Indian warships.

Ballistic missile defence (BMD) system

2017:  high-altitude interceptor missile tested

Rajat Pandit, `Star Wars' missile test a hit; two-layered shield possible, Feb 12, 2017: The Times of India

Only 4 Nations Possess This Technology as in February 2017

India took a big step towards an operational two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system by testing a high-altitude interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic missile over the Bay of Bengal.

“Today our scientists have made a missile that can destroy an enemy missile high in the sky . Only four to five countries in the world have done this,“ said PM Narendra Modi at an election rally in Badaun.He even took a dig at his political opponents, holding that they would have to travel “very high“ if they wanted proof of the successful test.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was itself gung-ho about its long-delayed BMD system, claiming it would now be possible to deploy the two-layered missile shield to protect a city or strategic installation in two years.

But it had earlier also promised that New Delhi would get the missile shield, capable of tackling missiles with a 2,000km strike range, by 2014 at the latest. Scientists, however, say they are confident of achieving the target this time.

The “exo-atmospheric“ (outside the earth's atmosphere) interceptor missile tested on Saturday , also called the PDV (Prithvi defence vehicle), after all, directly hit the target missile at an altitude of 97km. The test began at 7.45am with the two-stage target missile, mimicking an enemy ballistic missile, being launched from a ship in the Bay of Bengal.

In the fully-automated operation, with long-range radars continuously tracking the target and feeding data about its trajectory to the mission computers, the interceptor missile was then fired from the Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island), off Odisha coast, around 200km away .

“It was a direct hit. Many advanced technologies developed indigenously paved the way for the successful interception. It's a remarkable achievement for the country ,“ said the defence minister's scientific adviser Dr G Satheesh Reddy .

The defence ministry added: “India has crossed an important milestone in building its overall capability towards enhanced security against incoming ballistic missile threats. It has entered an exclusive club of four nations (US, Russia, China and Israel) by developing capabilities to secure its skies and cities against hostile threats.“

BMD systems, of course, are highly complex to develop and deploy (see graphic).

DRDO's experimental two-tier system is designed to track and destroy ballistic missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere. A third layer, in turn, is planned to tackle lowflying cruise missiles, artillery projectiles and rockets in line with the overall aim to achieve “near 100% kill or interception probability.

Low-Altitude Interceptor Missile successfully tested, March 2017

Desi Star Wars shield comes another step closer to reality, March 2, 2017: The Times of India

DRDO Successfully Tests Low-Altitude Interceptor Missile

In yet another step towards an operational two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, India tested on Wednesday a lowaltitude interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic missile over the Bay of Bengal.

The DRDO had tested a high-altitude interceptor missile on February 11 as part of the experimental BMD system, which is designed to track and destroy ballistic missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere for a higher “kill“ probability .

While the test in February involved the “exo-atmospheric“ interceptor missile hitting the target at an altitude of 97 km, the test-firing on March 1, 2017 was against an incoming missile at 15km altitude.

Defence officials said the interceptor missile fired from the Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island) off Odisha coast “successfully destroyed“ the incoming “ene my“ Prithvi missile, which was launched from the integrated test range at Chandipur, at 10.15 am. “All the mission objectives were successfully met. The weapon system radars tracked the target and provided the initial guid ance to the interceptor, which could precisely home in on the target and destroyed it in the endo-atmospheric layer. The complete event, including the engagement and destruction, was tracked by a number of electro-optical tracking systems using infrared imagery . Radars and telemetry stations tracked the target and the interceptor till the destruction of the target,“ the defence ministry said in a statement.

The long-delayed BMD system, which needs an overlapping network of earlywarning and tracking sensors, reliable command and control posts, land and seabased batteries of advanced interceptor missiles, will take at least two years to be ready for deployment to protect a city or strategic installation.

Two layered missile shield

India Today , Security Blanket “India Today” 27/2/2017

Two layered missile shield, ICBM, IRBM, SRBM, AAD, PAD, High-altitude Interceptor; From: India Today , Security Blanket “India Today” 27/2/2017

LRTR (Long Range Tracking Radar): Can detect incoming ballistic missiles 600 km away. Intercepting 5,000 kmrange IRBMs requires LRTRs that can detect incoming missiles at ranges of 1,500 km

PAD (Exo-atmospheric interceptor): Can intercept medium range ballistic missiles up to 100 km altitude. Successful test carried out on February 11; intercepted target 97 km away

AAD (Endo-atmospheric interceptor): Can intercept short-range ballistic missiles upto 30 km altitude. 12 tests till date

Cruise missiles


See graphic

Different versions India Today

2017: test-fired from Sukhoi, boosts precision strike ability

Rajat Pandit, BrahMos test-fired from Sukhoi, a big boost for precision strike ability, November 23, 2017: The Times of India

In a big leap towards inducting thedeep surgical strike capability, the Brah-Mos supersonic cruise missile, which flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, was successfully tested for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet in the Bay of Bengal at about 10.40 am. India will have the formidable precision strike capability to take out terror camps, underground nuclear bunkers, aircraft carriers on the high seas and other military targets from long or ‘standoff ’ distances by day or night in all weather conditions.

The air-breathing missile, after the ‘gravity-drop’ of around 200 metres from the fighter that had taken off from the Kalaikunda airbase, kicked off its booster to attain supersonic speed within seconds and then zoomed ahead to hit the ship or ‘battle practice target’ with pinpoint accuracy to blow it to smithereens at a range of 260 km.

The 2.5-tonne BrahMos-ALCM (air-launched cruise missile) “can also easily go over 400 km”, like its 2.9-tonne land and ship-launched variants already inducted into the armed forces. The BrahMos missile combined with the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter, which has a cruising range of 3,200 km or a combat radius of about 1,500 km without mid-air refuelling, constitutes a decidedly deadly weapons package, as was reported by TOIlast week.

The conventional (non-nuclear) weapon, for instance, can target Chinese aircraft carriers and other warships, or block Pakistan’s Gwadar port by sinking a few ships in the harbour for that matter. “The world-class BrahMos is now capable of being launched from the land, sea and air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India,” the defence ministry said.

The IAF, on its part, said, “The missile’s capability coupled with the Sukhoi-30MKI’s superlative performance gives IAF strategic reach and allows it to dominate the ocean and the battlefields.” It has already placed orders worth Rs 6,516 crore for the BrahMos-ALCM, which takes the total orders for the missiles to Rs 27,150 crore from the three Services till now. “The deliveries of ALCM can begin in early-2018 after an air-to-ground test. It’s a proven missile,” said a source.

PM Narendra Modi, in a tweet, expressed “delight” and congratulated “all those associated with this remarkable feat”. BrahMos Aerospace chief Sudhir Mishra, on being contacted, said his organisation was “committed to continue providing the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile to the Army, Navy and IAF”.

With the IAF having inducted 240 of the 272 twinseat Sukhois contracted from Russia for over $12 billion, 42 of the fighters are to be eventually armed with BrahMos missiles. As of now, with the help of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, only two Sukhois have undergone the structural, mechanical, electrical and software modifications needed to integrate the heavy missile with the fighter for flight trials.

The government has also approved the deployment of Block-III version of the BrahMos land-launched missile, which has “steep dive, trajectory manoeuvre, and top-attack capabilities” for mountain warfare, in Arunachal Pradesh as a deterrent against China, as was earlier reported by TOI.

With India joining the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016, which “removed the caps” on the range of the missile developed jointly with Russia, the armed forces are also testing an extended range BrahMos that can hit targets 450 km away. The MTCR basically prevents the proliferation of missiles and drones over the range of 300 km.

India has also offered the BrahMos missiles to Vietnam, while it has received requests from at least seven other countries from the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East regions. The missile’s ‘live firing’ from a fighter will only whet their appetite further.

March 2018/ successful launch

India successfully flight-tests supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, March 22, 2018: The Times of India


BrahMos is called the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile

At 8:42 this morning, the BrahMos hit its designated target with pin-point accuracy in Pokhran, Rajasthan

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the successful fight test

India successfully flight-tested its precision strike BrahMos weapon, which is called the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile.

At 8:42 this morning, the BrahMos hit its designated target with pin-point accuracy in Pokhran, Rajasthan.

"Formidable Supersonic Cruise Missile BrahMos was successfully flight tested at 8:42 AM today at Pokhran test range, Rajasthan. The precision strike weapon with Indian-made seeker flew in its designated trajectory and hit the target with pin-point accuracy," tweeted the defence ministry

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the successful fight test and said it will be a further boost for the country's security.

Today's flight-test comes on the heels of another major milestone from last November, when the Brahmos was successfully test-fired for the first time from the Indian Air Force's frontline Sukhoi-30 MKI combat jet.

BrahMos has become the preferred conventional precision strike-weapon for the armed forces. The sleek supersonic cruise missile flies at almost three times the speed of sound, at Mach 2.8. The armed forces have already inducted the 290-km range land and warship-based versions of the BrahMos missiles over the last decade.

Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs)

See Agni ballistic missile

N-capable Nirbhay missile 

2016: fails test for fourth time

N-capable Nirbhay missile fails test for fourth time in Dec 2016, Dec 22, 2016: The Times of India

The much-touted `Nirbhay' land-attack cruise missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads to a strike range of 1,000km, failed on Wednesday . This was the subsonic missile's fourth test since March 2013, all of which have more or less failed to achieve test parameters.

The missile had to be destroyed in mid-air after it deviated from its flight path along the coast in Bay of Bengal soon after launch from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore off the Odisha coast around noon on Wednesday . “The test was an utter failure, with the missile veering to the right within two minutes of take-off,“ said a source.

While the missile's first test in March 2013 had completely failed, the second one was dubbed a “partial success“ in October 2014. But the third test in Oc tober 2015 and the one on Wednesday failed miserably .

The DRDO may have come a long way in developing ballistic missiles like the Agni series, which have strike ranges from 700 km to over 5,000 km, but it continues to flounder in the field of cruise missiles. The armed forces already have the supersonic BrahMos missiles but they have been developed with the help of Russia, have a range of only 290 km as of now and carry only conventional warheads.

The Nirbhay , a stealth missile in the making for almost a decade now, was meant to fulfil the armed forces' demand for nuclear-tipped land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) versatile enough to be fired from land, air and sea. The missile was said to be a counter to Pakistan's `Babur' LACM.The real big test for the DRDO will be the impending fourth test of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile, with a strike range of over 5,000 km, in its final operational configuration from the Wheeler Island off Odisha.

Surface-to-air missiles (SAMs)

MR-SAM with multifunction surveillance and threat alert radars

The Times of India, Jul 01, 2016

Rajat Pandit

India took a major step towards plugging some gaping holes in its air defence coverage with the maiden test of a new surface-to-air missile (SAM) system designed to detect, track and destroy hostile aircraft, missiles, helicopters and drones at a range of 70km. The medium-range SAM system, jointly developed by DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries, was tested twice against a Britishorigin target drone `Banshee' at the integrated test range at Chandipur-on-sea off the coast of Odisha. The MR-SAM systems with their MF-STARs (multifunction surveillance and threat alert radars) as well as weapon control systems with data links are designed to neutralise multiple targets simultaneously .

IAF will begin inducting an initial nine squadrons of this land-based MR-SAM -at a cost of Rs 10,076 crore -from 2017-18 onwards.

“During the two tests on Thursday, first at 8.15am and then at 3.45pm, the interceptor missiles directly hit the manoeuvring target drones (mimicking enemy aircraft), destroying them. All mission objectives were met successfully,“ Dr G Satheesh Reddy , scientific advisor to the defence minister, told TOI.

While two “profiles“ at different altitudes in the flight envelope were tested on Thursday , the MR-SAM will require a few more tests before its production can kick off next year. While Israel calls the system Barak-8, India is yet to officially name it.

The Navy , incidentally , has already equipped three of its latest Kolkata-class destroyers with the warshipbased version of the MRSAM. The all-weather air defence system, which is being produced by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics (BDL), has also been earmarked for another 12 under-construction warships, including the 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

See also

Agni ballistic missile

Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)

Missiles, ballistic: South Asia

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