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The Formidable Arsenal Created by the Indian Integrated Guided Missile

Development Programme
Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme falls under the ambit of Ministry of Defence with the
objective of developing a range of guided missiles that provides India with a stellar military might and also, serve
as a deterrent for our not so friendly neighbours, like China and Pakistan.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who worked with the ISRO and was closely involved in the development of Satellite Launch
Vehicle, SLV-3, was inducted into the IGMD programme in 1980. Because of the success achieved by India in the
guided missile development programme under his stewardship, he came to be known as the Missile Man of
The programme kick started in 1980 and ended in 2008, when Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO), formally announced on 08 January 2008, that the strategic integrated guided missile
program had achieved its stated objective of developing the missiles listed in the program and the missiles after
having been duly tested, inducted into the armed forces.
Indias prowess with regard to guided missile development came into prominence when Prithvi missile was test
fired in 1988 and Agni missile in 1989.
Meanwhile, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), (an informal grouping was established in 1987 to
restrict proliferation of missile technology to restrict arms race amongst nations) found the potential of Indias
strides into this field gigantic.
Its member countries, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States,
decided to restrict access to any technology that would help India in its missile development program.
In order to counter the move of MTCR, the IGMDP, made a consortium of DRDOs laboratories, industries and
academic institutions to indigenously develop these sub-systems, components and materials. Though, it delayed
the progress of the programme, but India made a slow, but sure ascends towards success.
The Missile Inventory of India

Prithvi Missile System. It is a surface-to- surface, short range ballistic missile. It was test fired on 25
February 1988 from Sriharikota. It has three variants:

Prithvi-I. Range 150 km with a 1000kg payload of Nuclear, High Explosive (HE), sub
munitions and chemical warhead. Missile inducted into service in 1998.

Prithvi-II. Range 350 km with a 350 to 750 kg payload of Nuclear, HE, sub munitions and
chemical warhead. Missile inducted into service in 1996.

Prithvi-III. Range 350-600 km with a 500 to 1000 kg payload of Nuclear, HE, sub munitions
and chemical warhead. Missile inducted into service in 2004.

The naval operational variant of Prithvi I and Prithvi II class missiles are code named Dhanush
(meaning Bow) and are meant for surface targets.

Agni Missile System. These are medium (< 5,500 km range) to intercontinental (>5,500 km range)
ballistic missiles. The Agni series comprises of the following missile variants:

Agni-I. Range 750-1250 km with 750-1000kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, submunitions warhead. Missile inducted into service in 2002.

Agni-II. Range 2000-3500 km with 1000kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions
warhead. Missile inducted into service in 1999.

Agni-III. Range 3500-5000 km with 2000- 2500kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, submunitions warhead. Missile inducted into service in 2011.

Agni-IV. Range 3000-4000 km with 800-1000kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, submunitions warhead. Missile inducted into service in 2014

Agni-V. Range 5,500-5800 km with 1500kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, sub-munitions
warhead. This is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Agni-V was tested in 2012 and
again in 2013. A canisteristed test fire of this missile was successfully conducted from
Wheelers Island at 8.09 an on 31 January 2015. The induction of this missile into the armed
forces will put India into the select club of countries with such a military prowess.

Agni-VI. Range 6000-8000 km with 1000kg payload of Nuclear, HE, penetration, submunitions warhead. This missile is still under development.

Akash Missile System. The indigenously developed Akash missile is a medium range surface-to-air
missile. It has a range of 27 km and an effective ceiling of 15 km. It was successfully test fired from the
Integrated Test Range at Balasore on 19 June 2014. The 700 kg all weather Akash missile can carry a
warhead of 60kg at speeds up to Mach 2.5. It can operate autonomously and simultaneously engage
and neutralise different aerial targets.

Trishul Missile System. This is a short range surface-to-air missile, with a range of 9 km, with a
payload of 5.5 kg warhead. Designed to be used against low-level (sea skimming) targets at short
range, the system has been developed to defend naval vessels against missiles and also as a short
range surface to air missile on land. Though it has been developed and test fired by IGMDP, its
development costs was exorbitant and touched almost US$70 million, so the project has been officially
shut down on 27 February 2008.

Nag Missile System. This is a third generation fire and forget anti-tank missile. Nag missile, is an all
weather, top attack missile, with a range of 3km-7 km. Missile uses 8 kg of tandem High Explosive AntiTank warhead, capable of defeating modern armours like Explosive Reactive Armour and Composite
Armour. The user trail of Nag was completed in 19 March 2005.

BraMos Cruise Missile. In 1998, the Government of India signed an agreement with Russia to design,
develop, manufacture and market a Supersonic Cruise Missile System which has been successfully
accomplished in 2006.
It is a super-sonic (higher than the speed of sound) cruise missile that can be launched from submarines,
ships, aircraft or land. At speeds of Mach 2.5 to 2.8, it is the world's fastest cruise missile with a range of
290 km and is about three and a half times faster than the American subsonic Harpoon cruise missile. The
missile was successfully test fired on 09 June 2014 for induction into the Indian Navy.
While the BrahMos is currently surface and aircraft launched weapon, it is being tested for launch from a
submarine, and the sub-launched version is likely to be offered to Vietnam for use on Vietnams Kilos, much
to the annoyance of China.

Shaurya Missile. A Canister launched hypersonic (highly supersonic i.e. above Mach 5) surface to
surface tactical missile developed by DRDO in 2011.

It has a range, between 750 to 1900 km, and is capable of carrying a payload of one ton conventional or nuclear
warhead. It can fly at a very low altitude and prevent detection by anti-missile weapon systems.

Sagarika Missile/K-15. This is a nuclear capable submarine launched ballistic missile with a range of
700 km to provide retaliatory nuclear strike capability to India. The missile is being tested for integration
with INS Arihant.

K4 Missile. India successfully test fired the nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched from an
underwater platform, with a range of 2000km in February 2014. With this India completed the nuclear
triad available with only a few nations of having the capability of launching surface, air and underground
nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Surya Missile System. This is Indias very ambitious plan of developing ICBM with a range of 800012000 km. The missile system is still under development.

Nirbhaya Missile. This will be Indias first all weather, low cost, long range cruise missile. The subsonic
Nirbhay is said to be 6 m in length with a 520 mm diameter, weigh 1,000 kg and have a 1,000 km range
with a speed of 0.7 mach. This missile was test fired for the first time in March 2013 and is in the final
stages of development.

Astra Missile. India successfully test fired its first indigenously developed air -to-air missile, Astra
missile, from a Sukhoi-30 Mk1 combat jet on 24 May 2014.The missile has a range of around 40 km,
which will be extended to 100 km in the next phase. Air Force will have this missile as its future
mainstay missile system and DRDO is aiming to arm the complete fleet of Aircrafts with this missile,
including Sukhoi's and Tejas, Light Combat Aircraft, which is still under development.

Prahar Missile. It is a multi-missile launcher system with a range of 150 km that will have the capability
to fire six missiles from its multi-launcher system. This missile system is also under development.

Difference between Ballistic and Cruise Missiles

A Ballistic missile follows a free-fall or ballistic trajectory to deliver one or multiple warheads at the target end.
Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.
The missile is only briefly guided during the initial phase and most of its trajectory is unpowered and governed by
gravity and air resistance.
The long range ICBMs spend most of their flight out of the earths atmosphere (hence, ballistic missiles can
achieve longer ranges than the cruise missile of the same size) and re-enters the atmosphere in its terminal
phase. The short range ballistic missiles, however, stay within the earths atmosphere.
The initial phase is powered by either a liquid or solid fuel rocket and the flight of a ballistic missile includes three
(a) Boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight.
(b) Midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity, and
(c) Terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target.
Prithvi, Dhanush and the Agni are examples of ballistic missile held with India. Pakistan inventory has ballistic
missiles such as Hatf, Ghauri and Shaheen.
In contrast a Cruise missile is an aerodynamically guided missile that remains within the earths atmosphere,
flying at approximately a constant speed throughout its flight and is used against terrestrial targets.
The cruise missiles are powered by more economical jet engines instead of rocket motors as in the case of
ballistic missiles, which requires large amount of fuel, making the launch vehicles of ballistic missiles larger and
easier to detect and intercept.
The accuracy, and circular error probability of a Cruise missile is better than the Ballistic missile. It is for this
reason that the cruise missiles are used to attack high value targets at long ranges, like ships, command and
communication centres, bridges and dams.

Cruise missiles are designed to deliver large warheads over long distances using ramjet engines with high
accuracy. It is capable of travelling at supersonic or subsonic speeds, has inbuilt navigation system and fly at
extremely low altitude trajectory to avoid detection.
The cruise missiles are overall cheaper, more mobile, accurate and versatile as compared to the ballistic
missiles. However, the ballistic missiles have greater terminal speed and become difficult to be intercepted at that
BrahMos, Shaurya and Nirbhay are examples of Cruise missiles held with India. Pakistan currently has three
cruise missiles, air-launched Raad, ground-launched Babur and sea-launched Zarb.
Differences between: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Drones and Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV)
UAVs are basically planes that do not have a cockpit, hence no pilot. UAVs rely on a pre-programmed flight plan
for remotely sent heading changes. It is the on-board computer of the plane that actually controls it and reacts to
changing conditions in order to reach the desired location.
UAVs are being extensively used for aerial reconnaissance, mapping, etc.
The Indian armed forces has been operating UAVs for more than a decade now, initially the Searcher Mark I, was
obtained, followed by the Searcher Mark II which could operate at an altitude ceiling of 15,000 ft and finally the
Heron, from Israel which can operate at an altitude ceiling of 30,000 ft. Besides the Nishant UAV developed by
the DRDO is also in service.
The indigenously developed Rustom-I and Rustom-II, by DRDO will replace/supplement the Heron UAVs in
service with the Indian armed forces.
The term drone was originally applied to pilotless airplanes used in target practice. These are
machines/vehicles that are piloted through pre-programmed computer software or a remote pilot. Hence, a Drone
can also be called an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
Drones are semi-autonomous vehicles that may be incorporated in larger spacecraft to expand
its launching capabilities.
The subtle difference that has emerged during recent times is that the UAVs are invariably unarmed and
used mostly for surveys, mapping, visual and thermal imaging of a region and other less lethal tasks,
whereas, Drones are generally armed with lethal weapons and have more of military application like
inflicting casualties to militant leaders and destruction of their war waging machinery.
Thus, any flying drone has to be a UAV, but not every UAV has to be a drone.
During his official visit to USA in the last week of August 2016, the Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar,
sought for 100 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), both armed and surveillance versions, worth USD 2 billion to
bolster its arsenal.
Indias primary concern is to keep a hawk's eye on the long porous border with Pakistan and thwart incursions in
the Northeast by the Chinese PLA, and also, monitor the presence of Chinese submarines and warships in
Indian Ocean.
In 2015, the US government had cleared General Atomics' proposal to market the unarmed Predator XP in India,
which can remain airborne for 35 hours at a stretch and is equipped with lethal air-to-air and air-to-ground
The Predator XP can take to the skies in any weather condition, day/night and strike pre-designated targets with
pin-point accuracy from a height of 26,000 feet. Besides, it can provide effective intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (ISR) capability using high-definition radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) coverage along
our borders.

The DRDO is also working on using the American RQ-1 Predator template for the Rustom program and convert a
robust surveillance drone into a combat drone in the form of Rustom-H. The same is underdevelopment and will
have a great deal of mission flexibility.
Lastly, the Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) is a type of UAV with similar basic design and structure. However, in
case of a RPV, the pilot is not really eliminated but just relocated to a remote and safe location.
The RPV still functions like a typical airplane, and the pilot still has a cockpit with all the necessary controls
except that the inputs provided by the pilot are now transmitted to a military satellite which then sends it to the
Therefore, it can still be tasked with missions that are typically done by piloted planes, like surgical strikes on
high value, high risk targets, without any risk to the pilot.
India, while it embarked upon its nuclear programme, had advocated and still maintains its policy of No First Use
and justifies the development of its nuclear and guided missiles capability only for Credible Minimum
Deterrence. India has come a long way since the 1970s and today exhibits a clear strategic vision of it futurist
endeavour in this field.
The Guided missile programme has not only become central to India's 'minimum deterrent' policy, but more
significantly, it is indicative of an independent, self-reliant, and strategically autonomous Indian state.