The history of missile technology in India-
- Mysore ruler Hyder Ali started inducting iron-cased rockets in his army in the mid-18th century.
- By the time Hyder’s son Tipu Sultan died, a company of rocketeers was attached to each brigade of his army, which has been estimated at around 5,000 rocket-carrying troops.
- 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 by 1962.
- In 1972, Project Devil, for the development of a medium range Surface-to-Surface Missile was initiated.
- By 1982, DRDL was working on several missile technologies under the Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP).
- Under the IGMDP, then headed by A P J Abdul Kalam, later India’s President, first came Prithvi, then Agni.
Kinds of missiles in India-
The surface-launched systems-
- Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM):
- Nag has already been inducted into the services and is the only fire-and-forget ATGM meeting all weather requirements for its range (around 20 km).
- Recently Heli-Nag was tested, which will be operated from helicopters and will be inducted by 2022.
- There is also a Stand-off Anti-Tank (SANT) missile, with a range over 10 km that has a millimetre wave seeker, which enhances target detection in all weather conditions.
- Surface-to-Air Missile:
- The short-range SAM system Akash has already been inducted in the Army and the Air Force.
- For Akash (New Generation), the first tests were conducted in July this year.
- Production of MRSAM (Medium range) 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 2021.
- 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 cleared initial tests with a maximum range of around 200 km.
- 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.
Important missiles of India-
The two most important are Agni and Prithvi, both being used by the Strategic Forces Command:
- Agni (range around 5,000) , is India’s only contender for an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is available with only a few countries.
- Prithvi, although a short-range surface-to-surface missile with a 350 km range, has strategic uses.
- India also tested a 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.
India’s hypersonic technology-
- 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.
- India has developed its own cryogenic engine and demonstrated it in a 23-second flight.
- 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.