2018: Landmark year for DRDO

The DRDO and armed forces conducted tests of 20 missiles, including two newly developed systems and advanced version of Pinaka rocket.

Published: 31st December 2018 02:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2019 01:35 AM   |  A+A-

Submarine, ballistic missile

Submarine launched ballistic missile B-05 being test fired. (Photo | DRDO)

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: 2018 was a landmark year for the country’s elite Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as it helped enhance the credibility of India’s nuclear deterrence with most of the indigenously developed missiles and weapon systems tasting success during both experimental and user trials.  

The DRDO and armed forces conducted tests of 20 missiles, including two newly developed systems and advanced version of Pinaka rocket. The missiles, which were put to tests, are Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-IV, Agni-V, Prithvi-II, Dhanush, BrahMos, Prahar, Astra, Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM), Stand off anti-tank (Sant) guided missile, AAD and PDV interceptors, anti-tank guided missile Helina, submarine-launched B-05 and Man-Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM).

Induction of submarine launched ballistic missile B-05, maiden trials of new surface-to-air missile, powered by Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) and MPATGM, completion of first deterrence sea patrol by nuclear powered Made-in-India submarine INS Arihant and final pre-induction trial of most potent long range missile Agni-V were significant achievements.

India’s defence preparedness got a boost with the induction of B-05. Kept under wraps for years, the missile was secretly test-fired back-to-back from indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant off Visakhapatnam coast on August 11 and 12 after being inducted in the armed forces. This makes India the sixth nation in the world to have a credible triad of nuclear-enabled missiles that can be fired from land, air and undersea.

While 5,000-km range nuclear capable missile Agni-V was successfully flight tested thrice, including once in depressed trajectory and once in lofted trajectory this year making it ready for serial production, four outstanding night trials of three missiles not only demonstrated repeatability and robustness of the weapons, but also proved the ability of the armed forces to fire the missiles any time and under any circumstances.

Many milestones were achieved as more than 40 tests of the missiles were successful barring the trial of QRSAM from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast. The missile test fired on April 9 failed to deliver desired results. In a major breakthrough in missile technology, the DRDO on May 30 successfully carried out the first test of a new surface-to-air missile with nozzle less booster.

The missile, powered by SFDR, is the fastest in its class and capable of destroying fast moving aerial targets. In a first, supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was test fired with life extension technology from Chandipur range and with Gen-Next new homegrown seeker from Pokhran range on May 21 and March 22 respectively. Both the tests achieved roaring successes. Test firing of Six rounds of air-to-air missile Astra fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft between September 26 and October 3 were highly satisfactory paving its way for induction.  

First test of the third generation MPATGM was conducted from Ahmednagar range in Maharashtra on September 15. The missile, best in its class in the world, is expected to replace second generation French origin anti-tank guided missile Milan and Soviet semi-automatic wire-guided missile Konkur, which are in service with the army.  Indigenously designed and developed guided bombs Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) and Helina were successfully tested at separate firing ranges in Rajasthan between August 16 and 19.

The SAAW integrated with a live warhead destroyed the targets with high precision.  Remarkable test results of Sant guided missile’s air to ground version at Pokhran also boosted the morale of Indian Air Force (IAF). The missile, an upgrade of Helina, has a range of 15-20 km and is guided by an Infra-red Imaging Seeker operating in the Lock on Before Launch mode. It is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world.  

On November 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced INS Arihant, India's first nuclear-powered submarine, to have completed its first deterrence patrol. The 6,000-tonne submarine developed under a highly classified programme proved to be a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform.

In a first-of-its-kind exercise code-named CROSS BOW-18, the IAF conducted tests of combined guided surface-to-air missiles from the Air Force Station at Suryalanka in Andhra Pradesh from December 5 to 8.  Four different classes of missiles - Akash, Spyder, OSA-AK and man-portable infrared homing missile Igla were successfully test-launched during day and night in an integrated networked environment.  

Four consecutive successes during night trials were great achievements for the armed forces this year. The missiles included exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) interceptor PDV, which destroyed the target fired from a ship mimicking an enemy weapon, at an altitude of above 100 km. Three other tests including two of Prithvi-II and one of Agni-I were carried out in just over one month.  Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for setting up a new missile test launch facility in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh also brought cheers for the DRDO. The test facility will be built at a cost of nearly Rs 1,000 crore in the 154.4-hectare area.

Dr G Satheesh Reddy appointed DRDO Chief  Distinguished Scientist Dr G Satheesh Reddy was appointed as Chairman of DRDO and Secretary of Department of Defence R&D in August. From a young navigation scientist and system manager he rose steadily to become Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister for over three years before being selected for the coveted post. He is known for his significant contributions towards indigenous design, development and deployment of diversified missiles and strategic systems, guided weapons and avionics technologies.

He led the design and development of a wide range of tactical and strategic missile systems and invigorated the BMD programme and developed the mission critical technologies for long range Agni-V missile.  Defence Production Corridor  Government of India took policy decision to set up two Defence Production Corridors, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

These would go a long way in making India self-reliant in defence production through ‘Make in India’ initiatives.  All-women crew  It was also a year of another milestone for women empowerment in the country when the first-ever all-women crew circumnavigated the globe in an indigenously built 56-foot Indian Navy Sailing Vessel - INSV Tarini.

Led by lieutenant commander Vartika Joshi, the captain, the crew comprising lieutenant commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi, and lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta completed their 254-day circumnavigation of the globe on May 21.  Mid-air refuelling  India joined the elite group of nation which have developed the Air-to-Air refuelling system for military class aircraft when Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' successfully completed mid-air refuelling trial by wet (actual) engagement, transferring 1,900 kgs fuel from IAF IL78 mid-air refuelling tanker on September 10.

Portable Diver Detection Sonar (PDDS)  DRDO is involved in the design and development of a PDDS system that is capable of detecting small targets such as divers and diver delivery vehicles in and around harbours. It will be deployable and retrievable as and when required. While PDDS deployment system has been developed, field evaluation of the deployment system will be by early 2019.  

Advanced Light Weight Torpedo (ALWT)  ALWT is an anti-submarine torpedo launched from ship, helicopter or fixed wing aircraft. It has dual speed capability and endurance of 25 km at low speed (25 knots) and 12 km at high speed (50 knots). Discharge test of 70 kw battery was conducted with full torpedo assembled. Static test was conducted at sea off Vizag to prove operation of recovery aids used in ALWT - STRS, IPRS, Noise maker and BSAT.

The automated electrical firing of it from single tube launcher and dynamic sea trials were conducted wherein torpedo made the full run as permission sequence.  Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) - TAPAS BH  Medium altitude long endurance multi-mission UAV TAPAS-BH is being developed with an endurance of 24 hours to carry out the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles for the three Armed Forces.

It has been designed to operate at 30,000 ft above mean sea level altitude and is capable of carrying electronic warfare and electro-optic and synthetic aperture radar payloads. As many as 63 taxi trials and 25 user configuration flight trials have been completed so far.  New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM)  DRDO is involved in the design and development of NGARM having a range of 100 km. AKU-58 launcher after suitable modification will be used for missile integration on Su-30 MKI aircraft. Successful static firing of integrated P-I & P-II rocket motor was conditioned at high and low temperatures in June and July respectively.

Captive flight trials were also successfully conducted in September.  Other developments  Maiden flight of indigenously developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) integrated on LCH has been conducted successfully by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on January 31. The flight was of 20 min duration and engagement of this system was flawless throughout the flight. Third submarine of the Scorpene/Project-75 (Karanj) was launched by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited on the same day.

Flying high

Date        Name of Missile                  Test facility                     Result

Jan 18         Agni-V                         Kalam Island/Odisha        Successful
Feb 6          Agni-I                           Kalam Island                      Successful
Feb 7          Prithvi-II                      Chandipur/Odisha              Successful
Feb 20        Agni-II                         Kalam Island                     Successful
Feb 21        Prithvi-II (night trial)   Chandipur                      Successful
Feb 23        Dhanush                       Ship off Odisha coast        Successful
March 22    BrahMos                      Pokharan/Rajasthan        Successful
April 9        QRSAM                       Chandipur                         Partially Successful
May 10-18  Sant                              Chandan/Rajasthan         Successful
May 21       BrahMos                      Chandipur                 Successful
May 30       SFDR                           Chandipur                 Successful
May-30-31 Pinaka (MK-II)            Chandipur                 Successful
June 3         Agni-V                         Kalam Island              Successful
July 16       BrahMos                       Chandipur                 Successful
Aug 2        AAD                               Kalam Island              Successful
Aug 11-12 B-05                              INS Arihant               Successful
Aug 16-18   SAAW                         Chandan                   Successful
Aug 19      Helina                            Pokharan                  Successful
Sep 15-16   MPATGM                    Ahmednagar/Maharashtra    Successful
Sep 20      Prahar                             Chandipur                 Successful
Sep 23      PDV (night trial)            Kalam Island              Successful
Sep 26      Astra                              Su-30MKI                  Successful
Oct 6       Prithvi-II (night trial)     Chandipur                 Successful
Oct 8       QRSAM                         Chandipur                 Successful
Oct 30      Agni-I (night trial)        Kalam Island              Successful
Nov 9       Dhanush                         Ship off Odisha coast     Successful
Nov 24      Sant                               Pokharan                  Successful
Dec 5 - 8   Akash, Spyder               Suryalanka/AP             Successful
Dec 10      Agni-V                           Kalam Island              Successful
Dec 23      Agni-IV                          Kalam Island              Successful


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  • Rabia

    India is spending huge amount of its defence budget without thinking what kind of bloodshed it is doing in Kashmir and how it is enforcing other states in South Asia for arms race. Pakistan surely has all the potentials to maintain balance and develop arms but as a peace loving country it has no such desire of more arms rather it believes in maintaining status-quo with its nuclear armed neighbour and long awaited disputes to be resolved peacefully.
    1 month ago reply
    • Suhas M Prabhu

      Hi Rabia
      1 month ago reply
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