Indigenous Helina, Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) pass trials - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 19 February 2021

Indigenous Helina, Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) pass trials

Helina and Dhruvastra are launched from the Rudra – the armed variant of HAL's Dhruv helicopter. They can strike enemy tanks up to seven kilometres away 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 20th Feb 20


An indigenous Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) programme to develop helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) for the military took a major step forward when the Helina and Dhruvastra missiles successfully completed user trials over the preceding week.


There are two versions of the missile: the army version is called Helina, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) version is called Dhruvastra. Their specifications remain identical, but they are named differently since the army and IAF are pursuing them as separate projects.


Both are designed to be launched from the Rudra – the armed variant of the indigenous Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). They can strike and set afire enemy tanks at ranges between 500 metres and seven kilometres.


The first stage of the missile’s development was for the army as a vehicle-mounted ATGM called Nag, which was carried on a modified BMP-2 armoured carrier called the NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier). However, this has a maximum range of only four kilometres and the army asked for this to be developed further into a longer-range missile that could be fired from a helicopter. The result was the Helina – or helicopter-mounted Nag.


In the recent “joint user trials,” five missiles were fired in order to evaluate its capabilities at minimum and maximum range. Missiles were also fired from a hovering Dhruv helicopter, and from a helicopter flying at maximum forward flight speed against realistic static and moving targets. 


Missions were also carried out with derelict tanks as the target. A mission was carried out against a moving target from a forward flying helicopter.


The Helina and Dhruvastra are officially classified as third generation, Lock on Before Launch (LOBL), fire and forget ATGMs. That means that the missile pilot locks her sight cross-hairs onto the target before launching the missile, after which the missile finds its own way to the target. The missile can be programmed to strike the target in one of two ways – direct  hit mode, or else in top attack mode, where it dives down and strikes the tank on the upper part of the turret, where armour protection is thinnest. 


The DRDO says: “The system has all-weather, day-and-night capability and can defeat battle tanks with conventional armour as well as with explosive reactive armour. It is one of the most-advanced anti-tank weapons in the world. Now, the missile systems are ready for induction.”

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