Submarine launched nuke capable ballistic missile B-05 being test fired from a pontoon

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

by Hemant Kumar Rout

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 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), Spike 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 the 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, 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 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. Six rounds of air-to-air missile Astra fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft between September 26 and October 3 were highly satisfied paving its way for induction.

First test of 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 was integrated with a live warhead, which was able to destroy 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 program 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 both 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 154.4 hectare area.


Agni-V Kalam Island/Odisha Successful
Feb-06 Agni-I Kalam Island Successful
Feb-07 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
Mar-22 BrahMos Pokharan/Rajasthan Successful
Apr-09 QRSAM Chandipur Partially Successful
May 10-18 Spike ATGM Chandan/Rajasthan Successful
May-21 BrahMos Chandipur Successful
May-30 SFDR Chandipur Successful
May-30-31 Pinaka (MK-II) Chandipur Successful
Jun-03 Agni-V Kalam Island Successful
Jul-16 BrahMos Chandipur Successful
Aug-02 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 Sukhoi Su-30MKI Successful
Oct-06 Prithvi-II (Night Trial) Chandipur Successful
Oct-08 QRSAM Chandipur Successful
Oct-30 Agni-I (Night Trial) Kalam Island Successful
Nov-09 Dhanush Ship off Odisha coast Successful
Nov-24 Spike ATGM Pokharan Successful
Dec 5 - 8 Akash, Spyder Suryalanka/AP Successful
Dec-10 Agni-V Kalam Island Successful
Dec-23 Agni-IV Kalam Island Successful