Watch: DRDO successfully test fires Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile on 4-Aug-2019

The Indian Army felt the need to develop a quick reaction surface-to-air missile systems (QRSAM) because the indigenous Akash air defence system is slower and ineffective while on the move, however it should be noted here that these characteristics were incorporated with a specific purpose and role during its design and development phase and should not be mistaken as an inherent drawback in its capabilities.

The reaction time of Akash is longer and has a radar coverage less than 360 degrees. QRSAMs are needed to defend formations in the forward tactical battlefield area whereas Akash is being used for guarding its assets located in deeper areas inside the country.

Akash is suited for static air defence where the response time may be longer, thus the same may not be suitable for employment in the tactical battle area given the need for quick reaction and speedy engagements. Moreover, it appears that the Army also wants a mobile AD system whereas the Akash may not be as agile and also has a larger footprint.

Since the Trishul surface-to-air system was dumped 10 years ago because of technical failures, the only option was to import a system for quick deployment. After the Trishul system failed, the IAF imported the the Israeli made Spyder by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and subsequently acquired the Akash system as well. The Indian Army has acquired only the Akash.

QRSAM during its second flight test

To address this inadequacy, a tender was issued in 2008 which evinced poor response from overseas defence contractors because of issues relating to transfer of technology, and the technical features of the requirement. Only Rafael had been selected after technical evaluation, and the tender had to be withdrawn because it was on a single vendor basis.

The new QRSAM system was envisaged by the army as a replacement program for its obsolete Osa-AK and Kvadrat missile systems, Indian Army received a go ahead to initiate a global acquisition program for a quick-reaction surface-to-air missiles from the MoD in September 2007. The acquisition program faced multiple issues, including poor response from vendors and re-tendering to avoid single source acquisition. In the meanwhile, a DRDO project to develop quick-reaction surface-to-air missiles was sanctioned in July 2014 with a budget of ₹476.43 crore.

In April 2016, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and DRDO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint development and production of the indigenous Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System (QRSAM). The ministry of defence nominated BDL as the Production Agency for supply to the Indian Army. In 2017, Indian Army's global acquisition program was dropped in favour of an indigenously developed QRSAM. The research agency has also responded positively and accepted the challenge to manufacture a world-class missile system.

Salient Features

The missile has a strike range of up to 30 km and has a capability of engaging multiple targets. The sleek and highly mobile air defence system has been developed for the Indian Army. The indigenously developed QRSAM will eventually replace the 'Akash' missile defence system which is on its way out due to technological obsolescence. A QRSAM is different from normal air defence system, as this is an all-weather network-centric, all-terrain missile with electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars, it can take out multiple threats such as aerial targets, tanks and bunkers. The missile incorporates ‘robust control, aerodynamics, propulsion, structural performance and high manoeuvring capabilities’. The missile is truck-mounted with 360 degree rotatable, electronic-mechanically operated, turret-based launch unit. The missile can travel at the speed of 700-800 metre per second.

Successful Testing

  • The first test firing of the missile took place on 4 June 2017.
  • The second test was conducted on 3 July 2017 Around 100 scientists are working as part of the missile development program led by Developed by Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL). DRDO’s other labs including RCI, R&D Engineers and ITR also contributing to the missile development effort
  • On 22 December, the missile was test fired for the third time. While the test was initially reported to be a success, some media reports indicated that the test failed with the missile being unresponsive after it took off
  • The fourth test took place on 8 October 2018 and was reported to be successful
  • The fifth test was successfully performed on 26 February 2019 from a rotatable truck-based launch unit
  • The latest sixth test was successfully tested on 04 August 2019

Our Bureau