NEW DELHI: In a major boost for India's missile strike capabilities, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has said that it can develop a complete hypersonic cruise missile system in the next four to five years which will have the capability to strike its targets at speeds at least double than that of world's present fastest BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
The DRDO testfired the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) on September 7 which is expected to lay the foundation for the development of a hypersonic cruise missile system.
Giving details of the HSTDV testfiring to ANI, DRDO chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy said the cruise missiles are the one which flies at a lower altitude.
"In that cruise missile, we have varieties called Subsonic cruise missile, Supersonic cruise missile and then hypersonic cruise missiles. The hypersonic cruise missiles are the one which actually travels at six times, seven times..eight times..more than that the speed of sound which is approximate about 300+ metre per second on the surface of the earth," he said.
"This one what we have attempted has got a scramjet engine, which works at the hypersonic speed breathing the air in the atmosphere, taking the oxygen in the atmosphere and then burns it and that happens at the hypersonic speed," he added.
Reddy said the scramjet engine developed by the DRDO has been tested for a specific time to see how it is working.
"It has been scramjet vehicle which is the hypersonic cruise vehicle, has been taken to a designated height and released at the specific Mach number and then the engine has been ignited and the engine has been tested," he said.
The DRDO chief said this was the first time that India's premier defense research agency has done such an experiment for a good amount of time and "it has successfully worked and hence it paves the way for us to work on these technologies for longer ranges."
Asked how long will take for a hypersonic cruise missile system to be fully developed, Reddy said, "It will take probably about four to five years for us to work on all these things and realise a complete missile system working for some good amount of range."
On the comparison with the speeds of the further hypersonic cruise missile with the existing BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system, he said it will be at least double of that speed at around six to seven Mach.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is considered to be the world's fastest cruise missile at the moment with speeds of around 2.8 Machs.
Asked about the successful test of the BrahMos on September 30, he said the missile was tested with heightened indigenous content and it has proved itself.
The BrahMos Extended Range Missile can be launched at targets beyond 400 kms and can strike its targets at longer ranges than before. It was earlier used for striking targets slightly less than 300 kms.
Reddy also said India has achieved self-reliance in the field of missile systems and can produce whatever is required by the armed forces within the country itself.
The organization has already conducted around 10 successful missile tests in the last over five weeks including that of the Shaurya hypersonic missile, BrahMos extended-range missile, Prithvi nuclear-capable ballistic missile, Hypersonic missile technology development vehicles, Rudram I anti-radiation missile and the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo weapon system.
"I would like to say one thing, the way the country has evolved itself in the missile system and particularly in the last five to six years...the various developments which are gone through in various tests which are gone through, India has actually gained complete self-reliance in the area of missiles," Reddy told ANI in an exclusive interview.
"We are now able to develop any type of missile system what armed forces want," he added when asked if there was no need for the armed forces to stop imports of missile systems.
The DRDO chief said the private sector industry has also come up to a very good stage as "They are able to partner with us, they are able to develop with us, they are able to develop the system as per our specifications."
Asked about the strength of successful missile tests at a time when India was engaged in a conflict with China in Eastern Ladakh, Reddy said the DRDO was striving itself hard to develop the state of art weapon systems to equip our armed forces.
"As part of that responsibility, DRDO has been working on many weapon systems. Even during the COVID-19 period, scientists have been continuously working on that. All have matured and hence whenever a system is ready, we are going further developmental trials," Reddy said.
He added that as part of that effort, a number of systems have become mature today and they all have been tested in the last one and half month period. "The maturity level of many technologies is such that, we had very successful flights of them," Reddy said.
Asked about DRDO's contribution to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, DRDO Chief said the organisation has started working in many areas to make indigenous system and "now I can very confidently tell that we are strong and we are completely self-reliant in the areas of missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems, torpedos, guns, and communication systems and so on."
He said DRDO scientists are continuously looking at various systems which are being imported now and trying to make indigenous system and a lot of emphases is there to develop system indigenously.
"We are helping the industry in a big way and lifting them up with various systems which they need to develop on their own," he said.
Reddy said that DRDO has "given 108 items completely designed and developed by the industry. We have instituted technology fund to support such industries and we have given our test facilities open to them. Now, we are taking industry partners right from the beginning of the projects."
He said the premier defence research organisation is now focusing on more advance and complex technologies. "We want to make India an advance technology nation meeting the Prime Minister's dream of Aatmnirbhar Bharat," he said.
Rudram missile will give Air Force capability to detect and attack enemy radars: DRDO
The Rudram -1 anti-radiation missile launched from a fighter aircraft would require a few more tests to be completely proven and will provide Indian Air Force with the capability to strike enemy radars including surveillance and air defence systems, said Reddy on Wednesday.
The Rudram-I missile system was successfully testfired recently from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft near the East coast and it hit its intended target successfully there.
"It (Rudram-I) is basically anti-radiation missile launched from an aircraft and when you release it, it will be able to detect any emitting elements and then you will be able to lock on to that emitting element and then it will be able to go on to act on them," DRDO chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy told ANI.
"So, this is what was being attempted in the trial what we have done. It has been released from aircraft and it could detect the emitting elements and that's what it tested. So, that proves the total capability of the air-launch anti-radiation missile and so we need to do a couple of more trials to prove the complete system, technologies under various conditions," he added.
Asked what capability it would provide to the Air Force, he said, "Once it goes to IAF, it will strengthen the force attacking the enemies emitting elements (Radars)."
Asked about the Nirbhay Missile testfiring which did not succeed, the DRDO Chief the Missile has been fire tested earlier and has been successfully completed all the development trial it has gone through.
"We only wanted to increase the indigenous content by incorporating many things including the engine and various other things. So the missile has actually gone off very well, it took off very well.. the separation and many other things. The engine also started functioning very well. After that some snag has come," he said.
Reddy said DRDO scientists are looking into the snag and that must be some one element malfunctioning or something like that.
"Right now, I am not very sure today, a team is looking into it and we should be able to come out of it and will be going ahead with the programme in a very accelerated way," he said.
Nirbhay is a subsonic cruise missile with ranges of around 1,000 km.
DRDO chief on SMART Weapon
Once fully developed, the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo (SMART) weapon system would boost the Navy's anti-submarine warfare capability and allow it to engage enemy submarines from far off distances, Reddy said on Wednesday.
The SMART weapon system was successfully testfired for the first time on October 5 where a supersonic missile was used to launch a torpedo against a simulated submarine as a target and the test was fully successful.
"A torpedo has a limited range capability. The range of torpedo is enhanced through many mechanisms. One of the mechanisms is a supersonic missile assisted release of the torpedo, that is how it is called SMART," Reddy told ANI in an exclusive interview while explaining the capabilities of different missiles tested successfully by India in the last few weeks.
He said a torpedo has been incorporated in the front sections of a missile and it carried the torpedo to the designated point and then opened it up.
"All these operations have very successfully functioned in the very first attempt itself. So, this enhances the capability of the Indian Navy once the system gets fully proven and inducted into the armed forces. The Navy's capability to engage submarines at far of distances is also feasible," Reddy added.
The test was carried out on October 5 from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Balasore off the coast of Odisha.