With the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) massed up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for possible conflict, India has conducted multiple tests of strategic and tactical strike weapons as a signal to China
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
On December 18, 2021 India successfully tested the nuclear-capable Agni-P missile from the Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. The ‘Agni P’ is a two-stage solid propellant short range ballistic missile (SRBM) with dual redundant navigation and guidance system. Agni-P or Agni-Prime is medium range with significant upgrades over Agni missiles already in service with the Strategic Forces Command, in the form of composite motor casing, maneuverable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) along with improved propellants, navigation and guidance systems. It is the sixth missile in the Agni missile series of ballistic missiles. It can be either transported on train or stored in canister.
Earlier on June 28, 2021 the first test of Agni-P was conducted from the same launch site, delivering the warhead in two separate locations. The MIRV and MaRV technology were already on advance stages of development for Agni-VI in 2013. The MaRV carries four delta fins for the terminal phase of the flight to avoid missile defence systems. It is a new class of missile in Agni Series which is half the weight of Agni-III. Both first and second stage of Agni-P are made up of composite material for the purpose of weight reduction, which was mastered during Agni-V project. The missile carries an improved guidance package and propulsion system covering maximum distance of 2,000 km with 1.5 tonne payload. One of the objectives behind its development is to achieve maximum maneuverability against missile defence systems and higher accuracy for precision strike.
Agni-P or Agni-Prime is medium range with significant upgrades over Agni missiles already in service with the Strategic Forces Command
On December 22, 20221, India conducted the successful maiden test of next generation short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) ‘Pralay’ from Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation DRDO), it can strike target at range up to 500 km and carry up to 1 tonne warhead. While most of the indigenous SRBMs are for strategic-strike missions, Pralay as a tactical missile is a game changer since it can carry a big payload to destroy enemy weapons at high altitudes.
According to DRDO, “The missile (Pralay), test-fired off the Odisha coast, has met all its objectives. The new missile followed the desired quasi ballistic trajectory and reached the designated target with high degree accuracy, validating the control, guidance and mission algorithms. All sub-systems performed satisfactorily. All sensors deployed near impact point across eastern coast, including downrange ships, tracked missile trajectory & captured all events. The Missile is powered with solid propellant rocket motor and has many new technologies.” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO and associated teams for this maiden development and flight trial. He complimented DRDO for the fast track development and successful launch of the modern Surface-to-Surface missile.
While most of the indigenous SRBMs are for strategic-strike missions, Pralay as a tactical missile is a game changer since it can carry a big payload to destroy enemy weapons at high altitudes
The project to develop Pralay was sanctioned in March 2015 with a budget of 333 crore. The missile is based on Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) Exo-Atmospheric interceptor missile from Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme. According to media, Pralay, which is a quasi ballistic surface-to-surface missile, has been developed in a way to be able to defeat interceptor missiles. It has the ability to change its path after covering a certain range mid-air. Pralay can be fired from a mobile launcher, and its guidance system includes state-of-the-art Navigation System and Integrated Avionics. The indigenous Pralay can be compared to China’s Dongfeng-12 and Russia’s 9K720 Iskander, both short-range tactical ballistic missiles.
On December 13, 2021, India successfully tested a Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo System (SMART) off the Odisha coast. Developed by DRDO, the next generation missile-based standoff torpedo delivery system was fired from the launching complex IV of Abdul Kalam Island. The missile carried a torpedo and parachute delivery system. The release mechanisms and full range capability of the missile were successfully demonstrated during the trial, the second in the last year. According to a defence official, "This was a textbook launch. The entire trajectory was monitored by the electro optic telemetry system, various range radars including the down range instrumentation and down range ships."
Long range torpedoes can destroy targets up to 50 km and rocket-assisted torpedoes can strike at a range of 150 km, but the supersonic missile assisted torpedoes will have a range of over 600 km. Launched from ground mobile launcher, it can cover a range of distances. The hybrid missile system incorporates technologies of two different weapons making it faster and stealthier. The canister-based missile system consists of advanced technologies, including two-stage solid propulsion, electro-mechanical actuators and precision inertial navigation. Once fired, the weapon system travels like a supersonic missile at a low altitude and ejects the torpedo into water after it comes closer to the target. The torpedo then moves towards the target to destroy it.
Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo System (SMART) weapon system travels like a supersonic missile at a low altitude and ejects the torpedo into water after it comes closer to the target which then moves towards the target to destroy it
Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Secretary of Department of Defence R&D and DRDO Chairman said the system has been designed to enhance anti-submarine warfare capability far beyond the conventional range of the torpedo. "It will further enhance the strength of our Navy and promote self-reliance in defence, harnessing of expertise and capabilities," he said. A number of DRDO laboratories developed various technologies for this advanced missile system and the defence industry produced its various sub-systems.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the teams involved in the successful test of supersonic missile assisted torpedo system and said, “It will enhance the capability of developing futuristic defence systems in the country.” At the moment, SMART is a technology demonstrator.