Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Future of India’s Missile Development Program

Post Pokhran II, India was fixated with nuclear bombs or warheads. But gradually the policy-makers realized that the delivery systems were even more important than the nuclear warheads because, nuclear bombs will hardly be used in the future wars. But the missiles will and can be used in all the wars. So the policy makers tended towards making an effective command and control system because it is necessary not for nuclear war only but also for conventional warfare to detect and destroy enemy missiles and weapon systems. India, till date has made an astonishing advancement in the field of command and control system. In some ways or the other, it has stridden ahead even of Russia, the US and China. If such a pace continues, India will outperform China in all the missile related technologies and radar systems.

The future holds enormous promises India plans to test launch the Agni 4 missile with a range of 5500 Km. This will cover all the major cities of China within its range. The missile will be much more sophisticated and it will be road mobile to avoid vulnerability. This will be a 3 stage missile with all solid fuel. Furthermore an SLBM of a similar type missile will be developed to integrate it with the indigenous Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), a euphemism for nuclear submarine. This type of SLBM will be the most reliable deterrence mainly against China. Furthermore, several new technologies can be used with such a vehicle.

The submarine version of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile is to be tested soon. The submarine version must be much more lethal in nature than it’s all the versions. The development of an airforce version of the Brahmos which will be integrated with the 7000Km. Sukhoi 30 MKI is also underway. Furthermore, the Indo-Russion Brahmos Aerospace Private Ltd. Plans to field a hypersonic Brahmos running at Mach 8 by 2010. It will be 1000Km. range. Such a cruise missile must be an asset for the Indian military.

India’s indigenous ballistic missile defense system has got a boost with the successful endo and exo-atmospheric tests. Such tests have assumed an unexpected significance in view of the recent anti satellite tests conducted by China and the US. Even the scientists are confident of detecting and destroying not only incoming missiles but also wayward satellites. The former President and missile technologist APJ Abdul Kalam has asserted that India can destroy any foreign object at an altitude of 200 Km.

India, after the US, successfully conducted a hypersonic test. The hypersonic technology can take India on the highest plane of missile technology.

The UPA govt. last year cleared a gigantic Rs. 10,000 crore project with Israel to develop an advanced medium range surface to air (MR-SAM) missile system capable of detecting and destroying hostile aircraft, missiles and spy drones at a range of 70Km. In reality the MR-SAM project is an extension of the ongoing DRDO-IAI project launched in Jan.2006 to develop a supersonic 60Km. Barak NG (Next Generation) missile defense for the navy.

India wants to develop a dedicated aerospace command. But till date, India does not have a dedicated military satellite network. India plans to use the Russian GLONASS (Global Navigational Satellite System) for the purpose. Besides, India is developing its own GPS version- the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite system. ISRO will launch seven satellites to build the system. Besides, the Indo- Israeli space cooperation has reached an unexpected high. With the successful launch of the Israeli spy sat, Tecsar, the bonhomie seems to fructify several projects in the future. India is interested in buying the Israeli radar imaging satellite design. The synthetic aperture radar systems which can look through day and night, rain and cloud are also on the Indian wish list.

The DRDO scientists have succeeded in making light composite materials for making missiles. They will make the missiles lighter and will help the missiles to carry much more warheads. The scientists plan to develop smart, light and miniaturized precision guided missile which will be more accurate and can be carried in aircrafts. Hypersonic vehicles, miniaturized missile systems, nano-technology, very large systems integration and homing guidance have been identified by Research Center Imarat(RCI) as the thrust areas for development of futuristic missiles.

The strategists think the future wars will be network centric, not platform centric. IT will play a major role in future warfare. Hence they have suggested building a network of UAVs, satellites, radars, sensors and so on.

Weapon system like JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions )and UCAVs will necessitate newer types of missiles. Besides, Indian expertise in software will yield sophisticated missiles. Multiple warhead missiles can be made in the future too.

The offset provision and the participation of the private companies in the defense sector in greater number is going to herald a revolution in the Indian defense history.

If the policy planners and strategists follow their course with unwavering resolve, the country, in the field of missile, will be a pioneer. There is no doubt about it. Besides if a direct and fruitful Indo-US joint venture in this field fructifies, India will certainly be a missile superpower.

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