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Research and Development

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is a agency of the Republic of India, responsible for the development of technology for use by the military, headquartered in New Delhi, India.

It was formed in 1958 by the merger of Technical Development Establishment and the Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation.

DRDO has a network of 52 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronic and computer sciences, human resource development, life sciences, materials, missiles, combat vehicles development and naval research and development.

The organization includes more than 5,000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel.

DRDO started its first major project in surface-to-air missiles (SAM) known as Project Indigo in 1960s. Indigo was discontinued in later years without achieving full success. Project Indigo led to Project Devil, along with Project Valiant, to develop short-range SAM and ICBM in the 1970s. Project Devil itself led to the later development of the Prithvi missile under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) in the 1980s.

IGMDP was an Indian Ministry of Defence program between the early 1980s and 2007 for the development of a comprehensive range of missiles, including the Agni missile, Prithvi ballistic missile, Akash missile, Trishul missile and Nag Missile.

Naval research and development :

DRDO, BEL and the Indian Navy have developed and productionized a range of Sonars and related systems for the Indian Navy's frontline combat ships.

These include the:
  • APSOH (Advanced Panoramic SOnar Hull mounted),
  • HUMVAD (Hull Mounted Variable Depth sonar),
  • HUMSA (Follow on to the APSOH series; the acronym HUMSA stands for Hull Mounted Sonar Array),
  • Nagan (Towed Array Sonar),
  • Panchendriya (Submarine sonar and fire control system).
Other sonars such as the airborne sonar Mihir, are in trials, whilst work is proceeding apace on a new generation of sonars. Sonars may be considered one of DRDO's most successful achievements as the Indian Navy's most powerful ships rely on DRDO made sonars.


DRDO is currently engaged in developing multiple torpedo designs. These include a lightweight torpedo that has been accepted by the Navy and cleared for production. Other projects include the heavy weight wire-guided torpedo called the Varunastra and the Thakshak thermal torpedo suitable for use against both ships and submarines. 

The electrically powered Varunastra is now stated to be also in production. The DRDO also developed and productionised a microprocessor controlled triple tube torpedo launcher for the Indian Navy as well as a towed torpedo decoy.

Shyena is an advanced experimental torpedo developed by the Naval Scientific and Technological Laboratory, India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) wing. Development was started in 1990.

Other projects

These have included indigenisation of various components (for instance, adsorbent material for submarines, radar components, naval ship signature reduction efforts and materials technology).

DRDO has played a significant role in the development of warship grade steel in India and its productionisation.

DRDO has also assisted private industry in developing EW trainers, ship simulators for training and health monitoring systems for onboard equipment.

Other equipment for the Navy includes underwater telephone sets, and VLF communication equipment, for the Navy's submarines.

DRDO's IRDE has also developed optronic fire control systems for the Navy's and the Coast Guard's ships.

Information command and control systems :
DRDO's labs have been part of projects to develop sophisticated command and control systems for the Navy, such as the EMCCA (Equipment Modular for Command and Control Application) which ties together various sensors and data systems.

The EMCCA system gives commanders on the ship a consolidated tactical picture and adds to the ship’s maritime combat power.

Missile systems:

Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP)

The IGMDP was launched by the Indian Government to develop a local missile design and development ability, and manufacture a range of missile systems for the three defence services.

The IGMDP has seen significant success in its two most important constituents- the Agni missile and the Prithvi missile systems, while two other programs, the Akash SAM and the anti-tank Nag Missile have seen significant orders.

The Trishul missile, a program to develop a tri-service short range SAM faced persistent problems throughout its development, and was shut down in 2007.
IGMDP ballistic missiles
  • Prithvi: The Prithvi missile are a range of SRBMs produced for the Indian Air Force and Army; a variant for the Navy has been deployed on Sukanya class patrol vessel. Another submarine launched variant known as the K-15 is under development. The Prithvi is an extremely accurate liquid fuelled missile with a range of up to 350 km. While relatively inexpensive and accurate, with a good payload, its logistics footprint is high, on account of it being liquid fuelled.
  • Agni missiles: The Agni are a range of MRBMs, IRBMs, ICBM meant for long range deterrence. The Agni-III is the newest version and has the longest range of up to 5,500 km (3,418 mi). The Agni-I and II have been productionized, although exact numbers remain classified.
First trials of the Agni-III saw problems and the missile test did not meet its objectives. The second test was successful. Further tests of the Agni-III are planned to validate the missile and its subsystems, which include new propellant and guidance systems, a new re-entry vehicle and other improvements.

Akash SAM :

The Akash is a medium range surface to air missile system consisting of the command guided ramjet powered Akash along with the dedicated service specific launchers, battery control radar (the Rajendra Block III), a Central Acquisition radar, battery and group control centers..The Akash project has yielded spinoffs like the Central Acquisition radar and Weapon Locating radar.

The Akash system cleared its user trials with the Indian Air Force in 2007. The user trials had the Akash intercept flying targets at ITR, Chandipur. The Akash missile successfully hit its targets in all of the tests.

The Indian Air force has since been satisfied with the performance of the missile and ordered two squadrons of the Akash, with a squadron having eight launchers

The Indian Air Force placed an order for an additional six squadrons of the Akash SAM in 2010, with an order of 750 missiles (125 per squadron).This order makes a total of a 1000 Akash SAMs on order for the Indian Air Force for eight squadrons.

In June 2010, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) placed an order of the Akash missile system, valued at INR12,500 crore (US$2.8 billion). Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) will be the system integrator and nodal production agency for the Akash Army variant.

Trishul SAM :

The Trishul  is a short range SAM meant for the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy. The Trishul project relied on equipment already in service with the Indian services, to drive down logistics costs, and reduce program development costs and development time.

The Air Force variant separated the missile launchers on Kolos Tatra trucks, locally manufactured by India's BEML. The Naval variant was the most ambitious, with a flight control system with an integrated radar altimeter to intercept sea skimming missiles.

Due to the Trishul's persistent development problems the Indian Air Force, the Indian Army and the Indian Navy began upgrading their existing short range SAM systems or purchasing replacements.The Indian Air Force has since procured batteries of the SPYDER SAM system and the Indian Army is upgrading its OSA-AKM/ SA-8 systems with Polish assistance. The Indian Navy has also moved on to the Barak SAM system.

The Trishul program was effectively closed down in 2006 It has been reported that key technologies developed in the program may be utilized in future systems. It has been reported that the experience gained from the Trishul program will be utilized for a brand new SAM known as the Maitri, which will be codeveloped with the European MBDA missile agency.

Nag anti-tank missile :

The Nag Anti-tank guided missile (Snake in English) is a guided missile system intended for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. The Army will deploy the Nag on ground based launchers and from helicopters, whereas the Air Force will rely on helicopter based units. The Nag has an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker and has a top and direct attack capability, with a tandem warhead.

The Army's land missile carrier and launcher,known as the Namica carries several ready to use Nag missiles within, and four Nag missiles in an extendable launcher above the turret. The Namica has its own FLIR based sighting and fire control unit.

The Air Force and Army will also use their Advanced Light helicopters (HAL Dhruv) and the LCH (HAL Light Combat Helicopter) as Nag carriers. The ALH's will be equipped with IRDE (DRDO) developed HELITIS (Heliborne Imaging and Targeting systems) with a combination of a FLIR, Laser range finder, in a stabilized turret for target acquisition and designation. The thermal imager is likely to be imported, but the gimballed turret, stabilization, laser range finder and associated electronics have been designed in India and will be manufactured locally.

Brahmos missile :

Launched as a joint venture between India's DRDO and the Russian NPO, the BrahMos program aims at creating a range of missile systems derived from the Yakhont missile system. Named the "BrahMos" after the Brahmaputra and the Moskva rivers, the project has been highly successful.

The Indian Navy has ordered the BrahMos Naval version, both slant launched and vertically launched, for its ships, with the Indian Army ordering two regiments worth of Land launched missiles for long range strike, and an air launched version is in development for the Indian Air Force's Su-30 MKI's and the Navy's Tu-142 long range aircraft.

The DRDO has been responsible for the Navigational systems on the BrahMos, aspects of its propulsion, airframe and seeker, plus its Fire Control Systems, Mobile Command posts and Transporter Erector Launcher.

Shaurya :

The Shaurya missile is speculated to be the land version of the submarine launched K-15 Sagarika missile, although DRDO officials have reportedly denied its connection with the K-15 program.

Similar to the BrahMos, Shaurya is stored in a composite canister, which makes it much easier to store for long periods without maintenance as well as to handle and transport.

It also houses the gas generator to eject the missile from the canister before its solid propellant motors take over to hurl it at the intended target.

Sagarika :

The K-15 Sagarika is a nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of 750 kilometres (466 mi).Sagarika can carry a payload of up to 500 kilograms (1,102 lb). Sagarika was developed at the DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad.

This missile will form part of the triad in India's nuclear deterrence, and will provide retaliatory nuclear strike capability. The development of this missile (under the title Project K-15) started in 1991. The Indian government first confirmed Sagarika's development seven years later (1998), when the then Defence Minister, George Fernandes, announced it during a press conference.

The development of the underwater missile launcher, known as Project 420 (P420), was completed in 2001 and handed over to the Indian Navy for trials.

The missile was successfully test fired six times, and tested to its full range up to three times. The test of missile from a submerged pontoon was conducted in February 2008.

Prahar missile:

It is a short range liquid fuel balistic missile currently under devlopment .It has a range of about 150 Km. 

It was test-fired successfully on 21st July 2011 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur .


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