Anti-runway and anti-tank missiles successfully tested by DRDO - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 20 August 2018

Anti-runway and anti-tank missiles successfully tested by DRDO

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 20th Aug 18

The defence ministry on Sunday announced the success of two major new weapon systems developed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO). One is a precision-guided bomb, launched from fighter aircraft to incapacitate enemy air bases up to 100 kilometres away. The second is an anti-tank missile, fired from helicopters to destroy enemy tanks as far as seven kilometres away.

The indigenously designed and developed guided aerial bomb – named the Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) – was launched from Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters at Chandan range, in Rajasthan. The ministry stated “The weapon system was integrated with live warhead and has destroyed the targets with high precision.”

The SAAW is basically an extremely accurate bomb and is termed a precision-guided munition (PGM). After its release from an aircraft, a sophisticated “inertial navigation system” on the bomb, which is preconfigured with the coordinates of the target, guides it precisely to its target – typically an enemy airfield up to 100 kilometres away.

Striking the airfield’s runway precisely with a single bomb is more economical than using traditional free-fall bombs, which are less accurate and must therefore be released in large numbers to be assured of incapacitating the target airfield.

Another major advantage of the SAAW is that, after releasing it at a safe distance from the enemy airbase, the aircraft can return home safely without exposing itself to the intense anti-aircraft defences surrounding most air bases.

“A total of three tests with different release conditions were conducted during 16 to 18 August and all the mission objectives have been achieved,” said the defence ministry.

These were the eighth round of developmental trials the SAAW has undergone. It is now regarded as ready for induction into the IAF’s arsenal.

Separately on Sunday afternoon, in “summer trials” in the blazing hot Pokhran Range, an indigenous Dhruv helicopter launched a HELINA anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at a tank target seven kilometres away, successfully striking and destroying it.

HELINA is the acronym for “helicopter launched Nag” missile, a heavier and longer-range version of the vehicle mounted Nag missile, which has a range of four kilometres.

The missile is locked onto its target through a telescopic sight just before it is fired. After it is airborne and is flying towards its target at 200 metres per second, it is guided by an “infrared imaging seeker”, that homes in on the target’s heat signature. 

That means the HELINA has overcome a problem that has delayed it for several years: locking onto the heat signature of a tank target in summer, when the surrounding environment is also very hot, making the target’s heat signature merge into the surroundings.

“It is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world,” claimed the defence ministry today.

The HELINA is likely to be eventually fitted onto the eponymous Light Combat Helicopter that is being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.


  1. This is good, when wil these begin to be inducted into IAF.
    Can we have a swarm of say TAPAS UAV carrying one or two accompanied and controlled by a one or two LCA or Sukhoi and launching a number of stand off weapons ? This will be force multiplier for cash strapped govt and fighter strapped IAF.

    It is good HELINA has passed tests, we do not have to import anti-tank missile and LCH should go for certification.
    Have we any plans to locally develop (of have developed ?) air to ground rockets for LCH ?

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