A slew of tests starting early December saw indigenously developed weapons systems and devices meet key objectives and parameters as India focuses on domestic capabilities in defence production. There was something in these tests for all the three services with the advanced weaponry set to boost capabilities of the army, navy and air force.

What Is The Vertical Launch-Short Range Surface to Air Missile?

Its first trial was held in February this year and the December 7 launch from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off the coast of Odisha was a “confirmatory trial to prove the consistent performance" of the missile known as VL-SRSAM.

The purpose behind the test was aimed at signing off on the “configuration and integrated operation" so as to pave the way for its deployment onboard Indian Navy ships. The test went into the function of all the weapon system components involved, “including the vertical launcher unit with controller, cannisterised flight vehicle… required for future launches of the missile from Indian Naval ships", the Defence Ministry said.

Reports said that the missile has an operational range of 50-60 km and features mid-course inertial guidance through fibre optic gyros (FOG) and active radar homing in terminal phase. The FOG navigation system, DRDO said, has been integrated with satellite based receivers and was “developed in-house to meet the requirements of various projects".

The VL-SRSAM has been designed and developed by DRDO for the Indian Navy and is meant for “neutralising various aerial threats at close ranges, including sea-skimming targets", the ministry had said after the February test, adding that scientists from various DRDO labs were involved in the project like the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI), both located in Hyderabad, and R&D Engineers, Pune.

The ministry said that the missile system will boost the Navy’s defensive ability against aerial threats. The December 7 trial was conducted from a vertical launcher against an electronic target at a very low altitude and all the weapons sub-systems performed as per expectation, it added.

What Was The BrahMos Missile Test?

On December 8, the Defence Ministry said that it had undertaken a test, again at the Chandipur facility, of the air version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The missile — developed as part of a joint venture between India and Russia — was successfully test fired from the supersonic Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet and the “copybook flight" saw the missile follow “the pre-planned trajectory meeting all mission objectives".

The ministry said that the latest test — BrahMos has already been integrated into the Indian armed forces — was “a major milestone in the BrahMos development" as it clears the decks for “serial production of air-version BrahMos missiles within the country". This test of the BrahMos's air version follows one held in July this year.

Several key components of the missile — metallic and non-metallic airframe sections comprising its ramjet fuel tank and pneumatic fuel supply system that are an integral part of the ramjet engine — are “indigenously developed by Indian industry", the ministry said, adding that the test proved the “structural integrity and functional performance" of the components.

DRDO chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy said various labs of DRDO, academic institutions, quality assurance and certification agencies, public sector undertakings and the Indian Air Force were involved in the development, testing, production and induction of this “complex missile system".

According to DRDO BrahMos is a “universal, long-range supersonic cruise missile system that can be launched from land, sea and air". So far, the system had two variants — for anti-ship and land-attack roles, operational with the Indian Navy and Indian Army — and the latest test leads to the induction of its air-launched version. Reports say that the BrahMos missiles can carry a payload of between 200-300kg and have a “range of between 300-500 km depending on which variant and launch platform is used".

Why Is The Extended Range Pinaka Rocket Test Important?

The Pinaka Extended Range (ER) trial announced on December 11 involved testing the version of the multi-barrel rocket launcher system that was manufactured by an industry partner following technology transfer and handholding by the DRDO.

The Defence Ministry said that following a series of tests at Pokhran held over three days, “the initial phase of technology absorption of Pinaka-ER by the industry partner has successfully been completed" and the industry partner is now “ready for series production of the rocket system".

The Pinaka system is jointly designed by DRDO, the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) and the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), both located in Pune. The ministry said that after establishing the performance efficacy of Pinaka ER, DRDO had transferred the technology to the industry and the industry partner manufactured the enhanced Pinaka Mk-1 rockets, which have now undergone performance evaluation and quality certification process.

DRDO says that the Pinaka system features free-flight artillery rockets that have a maximum range of 38km and come with different types of warhead and fuses along with a multi-tube launcher vehicle, etc. It has two pods containing six rockets each and is capable of firing in salvo mode within 48 seconds. A Pinaka Mk-II rocket, too, has been developed with 60km range.

Alongside the Pinaka ER, which is the upgraded version of the earlier Pinaka that has been in service with the Indian Army for the last decade, indigenously-developed proximity fuses for the rockets, too, were tested. A fuse is a device, with safety built in, that detonates a munition’s explosive material. The Defence Ministry said that ARDE has developed different fuses for Pinaka for different types of applications and these have been “developed through dedicated indigenous R&D efforts for the first time in the country".

What Is A Stand-Off Anti-Tank Missile?

On December 11, DRDO joined hands with IAF to test the helicopter-launched ‘Stand-off Anti-tank‘ (SANT) missile at Pokhran. The test of the “indigenously designed and developed" missile was successful and met all mission objectives.

“The release mechanism, advanced guidance and tracking algorithms, all avionics with integrated software performed satisfactorily and tracking systems monitored all mission events," the Defence Ministry said. The missile packs a state-of-the-art millimetre wave (MMW) seeker that “provides high-precision strike capability from a safe distance", it said and allows it to “neutralise targets in a range up to 10km".

RCI, Hyderabad, designed and developed the SANT missile, coordinating for the purpose with other DRDO labs while domestic industries, too, participated in the process. The ministry said that this is the “third in the series of indigenous stand-off weapons to be tested in recent times after long-range bomb and smart anti-airfield weapon" for IAF.

“The indigenous development of various configurations for different applications with advanced technologies is a firm march towards ‘Atmanirbharta’ in defence," the ministry said in a press statement.