Integrated Missile Programme to wind up on 31st Dec 08 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 23 January 2008

Integrated Missile Programme to wind up on 31st Dec 08

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, Hyderabad, 23rd January 2008

If India has a Missile Central, this is it. Nestling in the foliage at Kanchanbagh, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, are an array of laboratories with innocuous names like Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), and Research Centre, Imarat (RCI). It is these institutions that came together under Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to begin the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) in 1983.

Now, amidst reports that the IGMDP had closed down, Business Standard was granted full access to the laboratories and scientists of the IGMDP. Dr VK Saraswat, the DRDO’s Chief Controller for Missiles and Strategic Systems (CC-MSS), India’s top missile scientist, revealed for the first time that the IGMDP was likely to close down on 31st December 2008. And the reason for its closure is success, not failure.

Just one missile test must be successfully completed before closure. This summer, the army will evaluate whether the anti-tank Nag missile is fit for acceptance into service. Army sources are optimistic; they say the Nag is close to completion.

Dr Saraswat told Business Standard, “The IGMDP continues, because it has government approval to continue work up to 31st December 2008. Subject to the likely success of the Nag trials, that will be the last date for completing the stated objectives of the IGMDP.”

If the Nag trials are successful, the IGMDP will have successfully developed four out of the five missiles it set out to make, 25 years ago. Those were:

• The Agni Technology Demonstrator (Agni-TD), which was to have a range of 800 km. The army has already accepted the Agni into service, including the Agni-2, with a range of 2500 km.
• The shorter-range 250-kilometer Prithvi missile has been successfully developed, and is also in service with the army. A naval variant, called the Dhanush, has also been produced.
• The 25-kilometer range, anti-aircraft Akash missile has successfully completed Indian Air Force (IAF) testing in December 2007. The IAF confirms that two squadrons of the Akash missile will enter service shortly. The army, though, has refused to accept the Akash.
• The 11-kilometer range, quick-reaction anti-aircraft Trishul missile programme has been closed. This is the only IGMDP missile that will not enter service.
• The anti-tank, fire-and-forget Nag missile, which can strike a tank 4 km away, has already undergone trials in April 2007. Another round of trials will take place in the desert this summer.

While the IGMDP may close down, India’s missile programme has steadily expanded outside the purview of IGMDP. The Agni programme surges ahead, now under the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL). The India-Russia joint venture, Brahmos, produces the most advanced cruise missiles in the world. The Astra air-to-air missile is being developed separately. An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptor programme, that crown jewel of missiles, has already conducted two successful tests.

Despite the closure of the “integrated” missile programme, close integration continues in developing the technologies for this new generation of “non-IGMDP” missiles. Besides know-how inherited from the IGMDP, each laboratory focuses on particular technologies. ASL develops solid propulsion systems and the composite materials that rocket components are made from. The RCI contributes key technologies like inertial navigation systems and the sensors and seekers that go into missiles. The DRDL works in the high-tech fields of liquid propulsion, ramjet systems and aerodynamics.

Driving this quest for indigenous technology development is the experience of international sanctions that stemmed from the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Denied even commercially available dual-use components, DRDO scientists continually reinvent the wheel.

The ASL Director, Avinash Chander, illustrates the broad consensus when he says, “Sanctions on the missile programme are very much alive under the MTCR and other repressive regimes. Most of our labs are on the banned lists. But we have taken this as a challenge… an opportunity to indigenise. And that is why today Agni, with the support of the Indian industry, is truly an Indian missile.”


  1. Mr. Shukla, in your article (appeared in Business Standard) you have noted about the Akash in the box, and I quote, "The army has refused to accept it."

    Please note that the Army has "refused" it only on the grounds of what it says is an inadequate launcher. Its rejection is not of the missile per se. I strongly feel that the absence of this fact in the caption may send an incorrect conclusion or an incorrect "picture" (even though by itself, the caption is factually correct).

    Your article was extremely timely and very informative. It gave an unbiased view of DRDO, and DRDO's view on our missiles that protect, or will protect our security.
    Now the Akash, Nag and Trishul missiles have undergone 20-30 tests each since the year 2000. Perhaps we may "turn the daggers" on the armed forces instead for a change to retrospect why this has happened. The army's English "gentlemanly" and "patriotic" image unfortunately makes this un-reproachable.

    It is true that DRDO's targets of concluding the IGDMP in 1993 were grossly underestimated. However, it is a mistake in estimation and track only --- considering the equivalent time frames and billions of dollars spent on similar programmes by advanced nations, the IGDMP can not only be vindicated, but may infact be termed as an achievement.

    We may also note that the IGMDP also has "spin-offs" in the form of the BMD, the Brahmos and the Astra also. Without the experience accumulated on the back of the IGMDP, India could neither have designed the guidance computers of Brahmos, nor developed the AAD-PAD systems for Ballistic Missile Defence.

    Thank you.

  2. Agreed, Abhiman. In fact, my article mentioned and listed out the spin-offs from the IGMDP into the other missile programmes that are now under way.

    I'm writing four more articles on the missile programme. Keep an eye on Business Standard... and of course on this blog.


  3. Tell me more, Abhiman, about the army's grounds for rejection pls.

    If you don't want to post, you can email to


  4. So, the IGMDP closed coz it was deemed successful??. How many countries have scrapped their Missile Program for that! Maybe we just wanted to get out of the sixth country syndrome and be first with something.

    Nag Anti-Tank Missile: Looking at the range of Missile program, one would incline to belive Anti-tank would be the first one to inducted. Am amazed that we we have successfully intercepted incoming missile, that too with dirict hit, but not yet developed Anti-tank Missile.

    Am I casting doubts, hell no, but wonder why we have not yet deployed Anti-Tank Missile whiose research goes back to Early 1960s.

    Akash: Ajay, I don't know why you have glossed over the fact that most of its components are Israeli based? Probebly due to new defination of "Indegenous".

    Prithvi The single Missile which has been inducted, that too based on liguid fuel. Does it worth Thousands of crore??

    Did Prithvi helped in Brahmos in any way? I doubt.

    Let us see the trials and tarbulation of Nag, to pass any verdict.

    If you don't want to post, you can email

    Thats very classy of you to stop him spamming with reports.

  5. Dear terminator,

    Pity you terminated reading my article before the end. If you had continued, you would have reached the part which said that, while the IGMDP will be closed, the development of missiles is continuing under different programmes.

    The closure of the IGMDP is a purely administrative thing. The IGMDP had limited aims; most were achieved, one has failed. The end-point of the programme having been reached, it has to be closed down. Not difficult to understand.

    Evaluating the programme: if the Nag is a success, four out of five missiles introduced into service would not be a bad score.

    The Prithvi missile is not, as you say, "worth thousands of crores". Don't know where you got that figure; it cost only a few hundred crores to develop. And a lot of the technologies that were developed --- such as navigation systems, re-entry systems etc --- are being used in more evolved forms in newer missiles like the Agni-3.

    You probably scraped your knees a few times while you were learning to crawl. For me to turn around and say today, "twenty injuries... and all you learned was how to crawl", would be a misplaced criticism. The same logic for the liquid fuel. Sure liquid fuel is not a good option... but some technologies, that were first developed on the Prithvi, are useful even today.

    You're also mistaken in your belief that anti-tank missiles use simpler technology than larger missiles. This is not a 1960s... or even a 1980s missile. It's a 3rd-gen fire-and-forget homing missile, which has already achieved 4 km and is heading for a 7.5 km range. That involves really high levels of sensor and propulsion technology.

    And finally, I'm not brushing off Abhiman. A lot of us have access to where the real stuff is happening and we cannot always post on the web. I'm offering him a more restricted forum for continuing the discussion.


  6. bs terminator, you yourself are full of bs when you say:

    Akash: Ajay, I don't know why you have glossed over the fact that most of its components are Israeli based? Probebly due to new defination of "Indegenous".

    there is nothing israeli in the akash at all. i should know, i was associated with the program.

    did prithvi help in brahmos

    of course it did. from the tel technology to a bunch of firms who worked on it. even the modular fire control unit is the same.


  7. Ajai, you should know better than anybody that all the "Indigenous" (the much abused and raped word in DRDO context) stuff is nothing but mere assembeling a part from here and there and claiming credit.

    This is little open in LCA, Arjun development and much hidden in Strategic systems. (The prime example being ATV)

    I very well know that Missile will be continuing, albeit with foreign suiters and this "Indigenous " IGMDP tamasha is getting the boot. Ajai the Missile regime is still there, but there is no need to afraid of Police, since he will also get the roll-call.

    About Anti-Tank Missile, well am referring to the attempts or as DRDO calls learning experiance after each failure, was started in 1960s.

    About to be conducted tests, after 10 years of testing, I don't know what spicy mix DRDO cooked up. Let me guess loooking at thair History-Russian Aerodynamic design, Israeli seeker, Some copenent from licenced Milan production line. This should be one hell of a weapon.

    Alas if this could be the case. We have the best of Spice in LCA, still we are cying hoarse in lack of thrust!!! Surprise for a small Aircraft with Boiler plate of "40% composite and 90% surface area" to have tagged underpowered. Where as the Grippen with same or less thrust is supercruising.

    @ Subbu

    Subbu you worked on Akash and still this .... says lot about "Indigenous" effort.

    Brahmos, the ultimate way of selling a weapon (next only to gift of Gorashkov)without tender, competition and you think without Prithvi, Brahmos would be dud.......way to go.

  8. Mr. Shukla, I post as an enthusiast of military matters only. My references are from the public domain like internet news portals, newspaper reports, TV, blogs etc. I do not claim to have access to "insider" information.

    BS Terminator, the Milan is a 1st or 2nd generation wire-guided missile, that has been licenced produced in India only since 1985. Globally, such missiles are being replaced by 3rd G fire-and-forget missiles, like Nag.

    As per a Feb. 2004 interview by Dr. V.K. Saraswat, the active seekers of Nag were developed indigenously. AN excerpt :-

    Q What is the kind of technological capability that has been built through the programmes and what are the new technologies that are in the making to push the programmes forward?

    Dr. Saraswat : Till the 1990s the big challenge was the meet the range and warhead carrying capacity for the missile.

    Hence, Prithvi today has been produced to reach 330 km, and Agni's newer versions will take it farther. But from 2002-2010 the focus is on accuracy of hit or hit to kill, this requires special technologies such as infrared and RF seekers embedded into the missiles with high precision homing devices.

    The RCI has developed these versions and is ready for tests. For example in Nag, the Focal Plain Array device and an all weather day and night IR seeker have been developed by RCI and the Solid State Physics Laboratory (SSPL), New Delhi.

    It may also be interesting to note that in the same interview, Dr. Saraswat expressed optimism that the Trishul would be the first of the Akash, Nag and itself to enter mass production, as its infrastructure was ready. Excerpt :-

    Q What is the status of the missile development programme?

    Dr. Saraswat : By far Prithvi, the battle-horse of the IGMDP, has been accepted by all the users — the Army, the Navy and the Air Force — and has been inducted. It is being produced by the Hyderabad-based, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a defence public sector undertaking. Agni has also been inducted and is being produced. For the other three missiles — Akash, Nag and Trishul — the production phase is ready.

    The technical difficulties have largely been sorted out with the users. While Akash (medium-range surface-to-air) will go for user trials this year and production in 2005, Nag (anti-tank) is ready for user trial and is likely to enter production late 2005. The versatile multi-role Trishul is set to be the first to get into production as the entire infrastructure is ready at the BDL. The IAF recently came up with suggestions for certain modifications and once they say okay, it can be manufactured in quick time.

    It may be noted that in June 2005, the Akash was test-fired 3 times successfully in 5 days. Those were user-trials for the Army. Prior to that, it was fired thrice on 26 Feb. 2005, and on Dec. 2004.

    As per Dr. Prahlada quoted by the Hindu, June 2005, the 3 trials held upto 21st June 2005 were the culmination of 46 test-firings, besides hoping that all the 3 services would now place firm orders for the Akash. An excerpt from the news report :-

    The development phase of the multi-target Akash surface-to-air missile was completed today when it successfully intercepted a flying target at long range.

    "We have finished all demonstrations and all design parameters are frozen," Prahalada, director, Defence Research and Development Laboratory and Chairman of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), told The Hindu over telephone. Describing it as "Indian Patriot", he said it would be cheaper and as effective as the Patriot missile of the USA. He said that everything worked with clockwork precision as the final and 46th Akash Flight Trial was demonstrated to the personnel of the three defence forces at Balasore in Orissa. The successful demonstration would enable the Army and Air Force to firm up the plans for induction. "We will wait for them to place an order," he added.

    Thus, it is unclear why despite a "string" of successful tests since Nov. 2004, why only one of the 3 services finally made a commitment on the Akash. This after another "marathon" 10-day trials held in Dec. 2007. This may be compared with the "speedy" commitments given to Israel's Spyder and the accelerated trials entertained out to MBDA's Mica and Israel's Spyder throughout 2005-06, and the subsequent negotiations and contract signing --- all in the space of just 1.1/2 years.

    References :-

    1)`India's missile programme is spurring industries' — Dr V. K. Saraswat, Director, Research Centre Imarat (Feb 06, 2004)

    2)Akash test-fired for third time in 5 days (June 21, 2005) :

    3)Akash missile test fired (Feb 26, 2005)

    4) Akash test-fired for second time in 4 days (Nov 30, 2004)

    5) `Akash' final flight trial goes without hitch (The Hindu, June 21, 2005)

  9. bs terminator, please go back to your pakistani forums and play with your dingdongs and nodongs and praise Allah for his munificence.

    It is a torture to read through your rambling, illiterate bull sh*t on thread after thread.

    DRDOs success has put enough spice in the bungholes of jerks like you and we can all do without your atrocious english and made up nonsense about indian programs. I am sure you are worthy of a gold star super secret analyst award on your pakistani fora, but spare us please- some of us still have brains and we need to read sanity not rambling vitriol laced bovine faecal matter which seems to be dribbling from your every orifice.


  10. >>Ajai, you should know better than anybody that all the "Indigenous" (the much abused and raped word in DRDO context) stuff is nothing but mere assembeling a part from here and there and claiming credit.

    India, is not Pakistan. 'Nuff said. I have worked on and seen DRDOs inertial navigation systems myself. I know the effort that goes into their efforts. Pakistanis like you need to work for your country not come to this site and rant.


  11. Abhiman,

    I applaud your patience and persistence, but there is a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes and is not reported. The Trishul was scrapped because of a chain of events- its biggest supporter the Navy finally got tired of its guidance problems and moved to Barak. But the guidance issues were licked, The IAF was ok with it, but then without proper multi target capability and short ranged and without passive homing, the Trishul became a victim of what we in the business call brochuritis. Simply put the Israelis made an offer the DRDL couldnt match, not in the same timeframe anyways. And our great Defence Minister announced the programme as a TD- DRDO rushed the trial results to the MOD, but the damage was done.

    The Akash and the Army we all know that the Army and DRDO havent had the most amenable of relationships. Finger pointing aside, the Army has asked for T-72 based Akash systems. The design, review everythings been done, but the chassis have to come from Avadhi, be integrated by the L&T guys at their facility near Chennai while BEL says that the Rajendra-3 (thats on the T-72 btw) is due this year. So the Army basically decided they wont wait for the final radar version and want quick imports. But once thats done, we might still get a few Akashs wise, the systems quite decent.

  12. To Anonymous I may say that as per a news report in FIDSNS last month, the IAF received an undisclosed number of Trishul units. As per another earlier report, the "Maitri" JV between France and India would involve upgrading the Trishul to have an active seeker built by MBDA.

    The following is from the report :-

    Reports suggest that Maitri will try to take forward the work already accomplished under the unsuccessful Trishul LLQRM project.

    the joint development plan would see the MBDA developing the active homing-head and thrust vector control systems for the missile, while the software, command-and-control system and system integration work would be carried out by the DRDL.

    DRDO.. would develop two indigenous radars for the Maitri project.

    As understood by me, the problem with Trishul was "wobbling" as it approached the target (probably due to inability to switch beams very quickly). The Trishul is known to have targeted slower targets like balloons and slow-moving UAVs successfully, but not faster moving targets.

    I agree with your view that the Akash is comparable to the latest SAM systems of its type, globally. The Army needs only a mobile launcher for the same (T-72, as you mentioned). Instead of the "easy way out" of diverting funds to a foreign private firm, the Army can --- just this once --- attempt military project management. It can designate a representative/overseer to monitor the T-72 chassis project. It can accelerate the testing of the Rajendra-3 and advance its integration on the T-72 chassis.**

    Besides, as mentioned by you, the Rajendra-3 is only a year from induction anyway. Subjectively, this does not justify foreign tenders at all, as the time for calling tenders, RFPs, trials, negotiations and contracts will anyway take more than one year, even after the "zeal" shown while entertaining foreign vendors.

    Thank you.

    References :-

    1) Trishul SAM project closed, FIDSNS, Jan 2008.

    2) DRDO to develop quick reaction missile, Maitri, with MBDA, domain-b, 20 March, 2007.

    3)** This is on the pattern of the Pentagon's management of defence projects, unlike "banana republics" like Saudi Arabia, which can literally do nothing more than transfer money to foreign private contractors. The Indian army has done the latter during most of its existence, and has "shirked" from military project management.


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