With 52 labs & over 7,800 scientists, the Defence Research & Development Organisation [DRDO] has delivered more misses than hits over the decades. DRDO's list of successes is short. Its list of failures is much longer. Thus, DRDO’s record in producing weapon systems has not been encouraging as exemplified by the delayed induction of the TEJAS, the mess-up that is Arjun MBT and the virtual rejection of the INSAS rifle by the Indian Army. But leapfrogging on the success achieved by scientists in space-related technologies, DRDO has excelled in producing potent ballistic missiles that have enhanced India’s strategic options.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was set up in 1958 with a vision to "provide our defence services a decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions".

One of India’s flagship biennial military exhibitions – DefExpo 2020 (the other being Aero India) – was concluded recently in Lucknow. A wide range of strategic and tactical weapon systems, defence equipment and technologies developed by DRDO were on display at the DefExpo 2020 which was held in Lucknow from February 05-09, 2020. DRDO highlighted products from its eight technology clusters, Aeronautical Systems, Armament & Combat Engineering (ACE), Electronics and Communication Systems (ECS), Life Sciences (LS), Micro Electronic Devices and Computational Systems (MED & CoS), Missile & Strategic Systems (MSS), Naval Systems & Materials (NS & M) and System Analysis and Modelling (SAM). Technology clusters, each headed by a Director General are entrusted with design and development of systems, products and core defence technologies.

Missile cluster is responsible for the design and development of state-of-the-art Missiles and Strategic Systems required for the deterrence and defence of the nation. India’s first ASAT missile used in Mission Shakti to demonstrate anti-satellite precision strike capability will be on display at the DefExpo. The cluster has developed a wide range of strategic and tactical missile systems. Apart from the strategic systems (Agni and Prithvi missiles), the cluster has developed tactical weapon systems such as the BrahMos family of supersonic cruise missiles, , the Akash family of surface to air missiles, LRSAM/MRSAM family of surface to air missiles, Astra beyond visual range air to air missile and the Nag/Helina family of anti-tank guided missiles. The displays included A-SAT, Astra and the SAAW weapon system. Outdoor missile displayed included LRSAM and BrahMos Mobile Autonomous Launcher. The indoor exhibits included models of Nag, Helina, Astra, LRSAM, QRSAM, NGARM, Akash, Prithvi, and multiple products and technologies such as RLG based INS-GPS, System on Chip, BrahMos OBC & MIU among other highlights.

Deployment Dilemmas

India is at the learning stage for many of the complex technologies required to create an effective ballistic missile defence system for both offensive and defensive purposes. The DRDO has hastened its weapon development and testing program over the last few years, it is however yet to deploy several missiles of critical value to our national security and strategic deterrence.

As an illustration, the Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) air defence system entered service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) only in 2019, which took over 30 years to have been deployed. The DRDO has often complained that excellent systems built by it have been devalued by poor production, notably the Arjun tank, built by the Ordinance Factory Board at Avadi, Chennai.

However, there are notable exceptions to the above, DRDO successfully flight tested the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) ‘Astra’ from Su-30MKI platform. The trails were held from 16th to 19th September 2019. The trials were conducted by Indian Air Force (IAF) against Jet Banshee target aircraft simulating all possible threat scenarios. The five trials conducted during this period tested missiles in different configurations which hit the targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Here is a substantive list of missile still to be deployed by the DRDO:

1K-4SLBMIn Trials
2K-5SLBMUnder Development
3K-6 Intercontinental Range SLBMSLBMIn Development
4Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator VehicleHypersonicDevelopment Trials
5Astra Mk-IIAir-To-AirUnder Development
6Solid Fuel Ducted RamjetAir-To-AirDevelopment Trials
7Anti-Radiation MissileAir-To-SurfaceDevelopment Trials
8Prithvi Defence VehicleHit-To-Kill BMDDevelopment Trials
9Prithvi Defence Vehicle MK-IIHit-To-Kill BMDBeing Tested
10AD-1 (Phase II of BMD)Hit-To-Kill BMDIn Development
11AD-2 (Phase II of BMD)Hit-To-Kill BMDIn Development
12XR-SAMHigh Explosive BMDIn Development
13BrahMos-II [Hypersonic]Cruise MissileIn Development
14BrahMos-ACruise MissileDevelopment Trials
15BrahMos-ERCruise MissileIn Development
16BrahMos-NGCruise MissileIn Development
17NirbhayCruise MissileDevelopment Trials
18Naval Anti-Ship MissileAnti-Ship MissileIn Development
19HeliNa [Nag-Air-launched ATGM]ATGMIn Trials
20Standoff Air-launched ATGMATGMDevelopment Trials
21Man-Portable Anti-Tank MissileATGMDevelopment Trials
22Amogha-I ATGMATGMDevelopment Trials
23Amogha-II [Air Launched]ATGMProposed
24Amogha-III [MANPADS]ATGMProposed
25SMAHO ATGM [Cannon Launched]ATGMDevelopment Trials
26Agni-IPBallistic SurfaceIn Development
27Agni-VIBallistic SurfaceIn Development
28PrahaarBallistic TacticalIn Development
29PralayBallistic TacticalIn Development
30PranashBallistic TacticalIn Development
31Akash MK-IISurface-To-AirDevelopment Trials
32MaitriSurface-To-AirIn Development
33Quick Reaction SAMSurface-To-AirIn Trials
34Long Range SAMSurface-To-AirIn Trials
35Long Range MBRLBallistic SurfaceIn Development
36Shakti Anti-Satellite MissileBallistic Anti-SatelliteDevelopment Trials

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