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Indian Missile News And Discussion

An old report which was not posted here. Apologies if it's already been discussed.

In Wheeler Island, a perfect mission sparks celebrations

T. S. Subramanian Y. Mallikarjun

Scientific advisor V K Saraswat being given an ovation by fellow scientists after the announcement of the successful launch from the Wheeler Island. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

The atmosphere in the Block House on Wheeler Island turned electric with celebrations on Thursday when it became clear that the Agni-V mission was a resounding success.

Bursts of applause and shouts of ‘DRDO Zindabad, Hip Hip Hooray' filled the air, as young scientists lifted up V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister; Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) DRDO; and V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory and chaired them around.

The mission was so perfect that the missile's re-entry vehicle hit the waters of the Indian Ocean in the targeted area with an accuracy of a few metres. Dr. Saraswat said the entire mission was monitored by three ships stationed down range, telemetry and radars along the coast. The data indicated that the mission objectives were fully met. The fireball created by the explosion of the dummy payload was recorded by cameras onboard the ships

Agni-V is such a versatile missile, incorporating as it does several new technologies, that Dr. Saraswat called it “a technological marvel.” “This missile belongs to the 21st century not only in timeframe but in technological capability.” In terms of deterrence, the missile would be “a game changer,” said Dr. Saraswat, himself a missile technologist.

Mr. Avinash Chander stressed that the three-stage missile had several new technologies that contributed to the mission's success. These included rocket motor casings made up of carbon composites, the motors contoured to suit the missile's shape, high-performance navigation, guidance and control systems and rail/road mobile launcher. All the sub-systems fabricated by the DRDO were fully validated.

“This gives us the confidence to go in for larger number [of missiles] and longer ranges. But a longer range is not the issue. Our main focus is on induction [of the missile into the armed forces],” Mr. Chander stressed.

Mr. Chander, who also acted as Programme Director, Agni-V, said: “With Agni-V, we can reach all targets of interest from deep inside India. The same system allows you to reach the farthest corners where you want to exert your influence while providing sufficient protection for yourself.” Since it could be launched from a road mobile launcher and a canister, it was difficult to intercept the missile and defeat it while being launched.

V.G. Sekaran, Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, said: “A great advantage in the configuration of Agni-V is that we can further enhance and expand its range. We could upscale Agni-III with a range of 3,500 km to Agni-V in a short time. On similar lines, we can go beyond Agni-V. That is the beauty of Agni-V's configuration. Its up-scaling and mobility is high.”

The ASL designed and developed Agni-V.

Dr. Sekaran, the chief designer of the missile, stressed that the rocket motor casings made up of carbon composites gave the missile a better performance.

G. Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, Research Centre Imarat, said the missile's two navigation systems, on-board computers, control actuator systems and mission interface units used the latest technology. During the mission, the on-board computer estimated the trajectory every few milliseconds and made the missile system follow that path. Besides the propulsion, Mr. Reddy said, both the navigation systems worked perfectly, giving accuracy of a few metres.

The most important technology of inertial navigation, guidance and control systems, which went into the missile, was the brainchild of Research Centre Imarat (RCI), its Director S.K. Chaudhuri said. It was redundantly configured with state-of-the-art systems. All the systems were validated by advanced simulation at the RCI.

Tessy Thomas, Project Director, Agni-V Mission, said: “We had an excellent mission, meeting all objectives from the lift-off to the impact. Three stages of guidance, which were new, could meet the mission objectives fully.”
On a different note compared to the minuteman and other missiles our missiles weigh a lot. Is it due to the solid propellants being different from those used by the Russian and American missiles? (Minuteman has a weight of 35 tonnes as opposed our 50 or 55 tonnes depending on long or short tons.) Or is it just the payload which determines our choice of missiles?

Also our apogee is shown as 600 km whereas the other missiles like minuteman reach 1200km before dropping down. Is this a self imposed limitation? The atmosphere above 600 km is sparse and would likely be dealt with by a bigger missile.
The Superpower missiles deploy pure ballistic RVs per SALT treaty. And these RVs are lightweight due to the numerous nuke tests they did to develop the payloads.

India on other hand has heavy payload to be deployed in guided mode. If you make a graphic/picture comparisons of the front ends of the varoius Agonys you get the message. They come with fins, no fins and mid body canards and clean ones too. You need to compare Indian RVs to published experimental bodies that were deployed by the duo.

The book "Lightning Bolts" gives historical data circa 1980s.

Dr Saraswat 8.00 to 12.00 minutes. Talks about guidance systems, CEP of double digits and MIRV, deployment of balloons to counter BMD and Maneuvering warheads. He also hints about how counter-measures to Agni V are also used in BMD. Cat and mouse game.

Also notice 11.57. He says for this missile (Agni V) the temperature requirement was more stringent! Are we talking Thermonukes?
A5's micro-satellite launch capability is limited to relatively low to medium earth orbit. Question is what mil or communication sats Indian defense forces have in that orbit, and what they do w.r.t. military capability? (there is no communication function in that orbit; there is only EOS and possibly IRNSS function). Given the much smaller micro-sat weight what fraction of functionality and duty cycle can it accomplish?
[quote name='Arun_S' date='06 May 2012 - 09:26 PM' timestamp='1336357133' post='114814']

Sorry, I missed your post.

Just IMHO following assessment:
  1. Since K15 will be first operation missile to carry the weight of 3rd leg of deterrence, its clear that it will carry deterrence role.
  2. Shourya (land based) on the other hand is special breed, for the great value it brings to bear because it is a hypersonic glide vehicle (and does not need to fly ballistic), it does not need to notify anyone for test or excercise purpose (which is required for BM). Thus will likely be used with conventional warhead to allow caliberated escalation, without risking rapid escalation. And its max range ~1900 km. So useful to interdict Chinese depots in central China/east Tibet. As well as to keep ambitions of gulf nations in check (if need be).
  3. As already reported, PAD was a stopgap and will be superceded. Similarly Prithvi for battlefield will be superceded by BrahMos and Shourys batteries for IA and IAF.
  4. Land based deterrence will be delivered via BGRV/MaRV atop Agni-2Prime, A3, A5, A6 series.


Thanks Arun. I was hoping for this answer. India should clearly demarcate Prithvi. Shourya and Nirbhay as conventional payload assets. The same way they have for Brahmos and Prahaar. Maybe in time, as more Agnis get deployed.
[quote name='Arun_S' date='14 May 2012 - 08:41 AM' timestamp='1336964602' post='114853']

A5's micro-satellite launch capability is limited to relatively low to medium earth orbit. Question is what mil or communication sats Indian defense forces have in that orbit, and what they do w.r.t. military capability? (there is no communication function in that orbit; there is only EOS and possibly IRNSS function). Given the much smaller micro-sat weight what fraction of functionality and duty cycle can it accomplish?


EOS and IRNSS satellites are possibly the only targets of opportunity which will be taken out in a military conflict. Geo-sync satellites being taken out by any country isn't going to be a problem. There will be no satellite left in orbit to worry about after one of them is taken out.

Iridium satellite weigh 680KG and the new generation are being designed to use L-band (Davos deal frame) and Ka-band. These can transmit up to 1.5mb/second. Also the Iridium links provide 1100 simultaneous calls per satellite and are at 780km. Might be a very important factor in future interlinked soldier program. I suppose the threat we are trying to eliminate here is loss of physical telecom infrastructure in a SEAD operation. The military will continue to have a communication link using a few such satellites.Also the launched satellites may not contain a large solar panel and might just be designed for 40 to 50 days of operations with limited fuel on board for change of orbit. These measure could reduce the payload significantly.
[quote name='Arun_S' date='14 May 2012 - 03:11 AM' timestamp='1336964602' post='114853']

A5's micro-satellite launch capability is limited to relatively low to medium earth orbit. Question is what mil or communication sats Indian defense forces have in that orbit, and what they do w.r.t. military capability? (there is no communication function in that orbit; there is only EOS and possibly IRNSS function). Given the much smaller micro-sat weight what fraction of functionality and duty cycle can it accomplish?


He tlaks of A5 sat launch capability in the context of Indian satellites being taken out. This would be in case of all out war for such a move is definitely a defacto declaration of war. Also PRC cant selectively take out the ISRO recon sat/IRS series constellation by themselves as it means dedicating quite few ASAT launches to get them. So why did he say all this? I think the message is for all other players who can take out ISRO sats that Indian can restore sats for communication and quick look recon. I expect they will launch a ~200 kg bird as proof of concept.

Sunderji once asked in an op-ed in 1992, if it was enough to just test a weapon or should India show she is ready to fight a nuke war? Looks like DRDO is giving the answer and that is the latter.
[quote name='ramana' date='14 May 2012 - 09:49 PM' timestamp='1337011881' post='114856']

He tlaks of A5 sat launch capability in the context of Indian satellites being taken out. This would be in case of all out war for such a move is definitely a defacto declaration of war. Also PRC cant selectively take out the ISRO recon sat/IRS series constellation by themselves as it means dedicating quite few ASAT launches to get them. So why did he say all this? I think the message is for all other players who can take out ISRO sats that Indian can restore sats for communication and quick look recon. I expect they will launch a ~200 kg bird as proof of concept.

Sunderji once asked in an op-ed in 1992, if it was enough to just test a weapon or should India show she is ready to fight a nuke war? Looks like DRDO is giving the answer and that is the latter.


Are you talking about a potential Indian three player game in our panchayat spilling over or an Indian two player game with a player or half player not in our panchayat?
Wouldn't the SoC concept used in A5 help in the reduction of weight of electronics on the Sats significantly?
[quote name='vasu_ray' date='15 May 2012 - 06:28 AM' timestamp='1337043027' post='114859']

Wouldn't the SoC concept used in A5 help in the reduction of weight of electronics on the Sats significantly?


SoC makes perfect sense for IMU-INS. For mission computer that will not cut it. In modern times it makes sense that mission computer runs a stripped down RTOS, and abelity to run ADA compliant code.

For sat application SoC will help to some extent. Main power hogging happens due to DSP (image or communication).

Note that even mission computer for missile should be designed for redundency, and SoC is not the best way for that.

It was not long ago that my Yanki-Nippon team used SoC for multi-axis motion control, where people had earlier sunk $$$$ and more $$$$ on treaditional CPUs, and said SoC can't be done. When it was all said and done, there was still 95% CPU cycles in spare. Now that worked for cost sensitive clean room application, OTOH for strategic rockets, there are other softer requirements that more important.
[quote name='vasu_ray' date='15 May 2012 - 06:28 AM' timestamp='1337043027' post='114859']

Wouldn't the SoC concept used in A5 help in the reduction of weight of electronics on the Sats significantly?


This is just my take on the specs released and Dr Saraswat's multiple television interviews and news reports. All of these are connecting the dots. Make what you will of this. The SOC isn't really indigenous. We developed the software for it. This is one of those 20% imports which were specified. Dr. saraswat's definition of the interview posted above is an affirmation. He says indigenous means not susceptible to dual export control. Materials which are not export restricted.

The link below is an example of a standard ppc soc which is used in military hardware. Please note the SOC at the bottom of the page. Yep it's just that small piece of silicon. This soc may or may not be the one used in Agni V. There are many ppc soc's available in military specs for purchase to tailors and vegetable vendors. You can add the rest of the connectors on a printed circuit board with access to sensors other discrete electronics and pretty much do what you want.


Here is another soc based computer that is most probably not used in Agni V. The SOC is just the broadcom chip. The rest are usb port connectors, vga connectors and other stuff.


So really while we can jump up and down, it's really just been programmed with mission computer possibly running a linux based RTOS or some other RTOS that supports a strongly typed language like ADA as Arun points out.There is also confirmation one one of the news reports that the programming of the SOC is indigenous.

Yes SOC isn't very robust as a single mission computer. I believe this is where the other ugly cube comes in on dual redundancy which is on tamsark007'(spelling?) page of INS navigation computer.(Or we have only one SOC linked to the ugly cube of an INS and Laser Gyro). This SOC based mission computer also interfaces with the Laser Gyro which is mems based.

You can even have a fab churn them out for you with VLSI design. I don't think we will go down that route just yet for missiles. Our Fabs can't handle it. We are not going to send out military designs to a fab outside India. There were some rumors on Russian help for Agni V on some news reports. These could be the SOC with Indian VLSI designs out of the Russian fab. I am open to both but I think we have something like BRE440 given that it's stated to be a PPC SOC in some news reports.I am not sure we licensed the PPC instruction set for use in India which will be a dual use item. So a SOC with VLSI design in India only for Agni V i not likely.This also increases the cost of our missile.

On SOC, I have divided opinion on redundancy. A hardened analog computer is very good but has too many points of failure. Maybe we can have a soc and backup INS if soc fails or it could be why we have only dual redundant navigation linked to the same soc. We can't say one way or another based on available information.

As far as satellites go it isn't really all about SOC's reducing power consumption and weight. It does and they are used a lot. However the significant weight issues are based on fuel for orbital maneuvering, power to operate the transceiver module which can transmit signals which are picked up a ka band or l band small dish or even a brick sized or smaller sat phone depending on what equipment you want to keep networked in the military communication equipment. Your imaging equipment on a satellite is an optical camera with a digital multi-megapixal sensor and isn't really a power drain given there is no flash involved.(*chuckle*) The storage can be on flash chips. I am not sure what we use on our satellites now. There is significant weight involved in energy storage and solar panels when the satellite are not facing the sun. Plutonium based batteries might be the answer. Radioisotope thermoelectric generator. They are used in lighthouses in russia with 10 year lifespans. They also power the cassini spacecraft. A small rtg of a few kg should be enough to handle the mission electronic needs for a year or more.

On a tangential note India is planning on two fabs of the 300mm process.(The current standard.) They failed in the Hyderabad project in 2009 or so. They even went to the Taiwanese fabs with orders of all Indian military as the carrot for the latest fabs being setup in India in 2009. The fabs were not interested. A few military orders won't cut the die on manufacturing. Since then there has been a new tender with government ready to give a lot of soaps. This is quiet a change from 2003 when we kicked out Intel who moved to Israel. Intel couldn't get global foundries to chip in on the new tender so they are ready to provide advice. The others include an Israeli company with IBM and someone else. A Russian fab is also in the run. So we might see two 5 billion dollar fabs coming up. This is the last line of defense against external threats we are planning to put up. Sanction proof almost all our military products. We are very serious on this as far as I can tell. Just need follow through unlike the Hyderbad fab where the land prices were pushed up and all ugly nonsense happened. We are likely to guarantee power from a nuclear plant or some stable source like some IIT's and air force bases have with direct access to national grid instead of state electricity access. Special concessions may also include tax tariffs on chips imported into India which can be made in these fabs. There is also the possibility of asking electronics manufacturers to use these chips in their devices in India.Lots of tools available.
In case, this was missed,

[url="http://www.defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.asp?get=old&id=933"]DRDO SoC[/url]
[quote name='vasu_ray' date='15 May 2012 - 10:20 AM' timestamp='1337056959' post='114862']

In case, this was missed,

[url="http://www.defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.asp?get=old&id=933"]DRDO SoC[/url]


I am not sure what they mean by indigenous like I stated, VLSI design or just a programmed SOC with BRE440 or something similar. BRE440 is also a programmable SOC. In 200 gm with all the paraphernalia. We can also call it indigenous as the programmed SOC i unlike any other in the world. Have a look at raspberry pi. It's a good SOC which is as good as a 50k computer bought in 2008. The NDTV interview clearly has Dr Sarawat stating the programming is indigenous. I take that to mean the SOC will be equipped with our software nothing more. Also the batches noted could be SOC assembled in PCB's with connectors and endpoints for linking into the rest of the sensors. If it's VLSI it still leaves open the fab. The fab is likely not indigenous. SOC fabs are closer to 300mm and not ones we have. All of this will hopefully be solved in 5 year with two new fabs! Fingers crossed.
High-end DRDO unit in Hyderabad

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Anantha Krishnan M

Express News Service

Last Updated : 06 Dec 2011 11:58:45 AM IST

VIGNYAN KANCHA (Hyderabad): The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to launch its new hi-tech facility at the outskirts of the city.

Housed in a concrete masterpiece built just under four years, the Navigation and Embedded Computer Complex will house some of its discreet and critical missile technologies.

The facility, situated close to the Shamshabad airport and Pahadisharief Dargah and set in a picturesque background of lakes, hillocks and manicured lawns, will be inaugurated by former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on December 9.

Part of DRDO's Research Centre Imarat (RCI), the new Complex will develop navigation sensors like fibre-optic gyroscopes (FOGs), ring laser gyroscopes (RLGs), accelerometers (for accuracy requirements of longrange missiles), resonating gyros and star sensors - all pivotal to missile and military applications.

An advanced very large scale integration (VLSI) and simulation lab for the design of integrated circuit and system on chip (SOC) is also being incorporated into the building.

While DRDO is tightlipped about the details about the new Complex, defence sources told Express that the facility will house gen-next clean rooms of the Class 10- 10000 (parts per million particles) category.

The Complex will also have a limited series production facility, with industry participation on governmentowned- company-operated basis, to manufacture some of the systems and components.

While technologically and design-wise, the Complex is sure to outsmart many of DRDO establishments in India, the icing on the cake is a museum featuring navigation and computer equipment from the latest to those dating back to 100 years.

This Xshaped installation with a tow, is tipped to play a lead tole in DRDO's current and futuristic tactical and strategic missile programmes.

Though the state-of-theart facility will go fully live only in the next four months, it will be yet another fulfillment of Dr Kalam's dream to be on par with world leaders in the art of making home-grown missiles.

The denial of technology stemming from the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) unleashed by the West, forced the lab to derive ways and means to develop FOGs (control grade and inertial grade) for missiles, tanks and aircraft, RLGs for long-range\ long-endurance missiles and flight vehicles.

Missiles to get smarter with onboard desi chips

Anantha Krishnan M

Express News Service

Last Updated : 15 Dec 2011 09:48:28 AM IST

BANGALORE/.HYDREBAD: : Indian missiles are set to go lighter and smarter with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on the verge of launching a System on Chip (SOC) component, to be embedded on to the onboard computer (OBC). The SOC will give a tech advantage to the scientists to either increase the range of the missile or the warhead, depending upon the mission. The processing speed also will go up 6-7 times with SOC.

A five-member team of young scientists are eagerly waiting for the final product, which will replace the PCB-based hardware consisting of various integrated components (IC) on single board. A missile typically carries a huge number of such ICs making the total weight of the OBC close to 4-5 kilos. The SOC with its power supply unit and connecters will weigh less than 200 grams.

DRDO scientists claim that it will be for the first time India will equip its missiles with such state-of-the-art component, though the US, Israel and China have made inroads in similar technologies. SOC will be a match-box size unit with high computing intense application and very low power requirement. The efficiency of the missile will also be increased by many folds.

S K Ray, director, Research Centre Imarat (RCI), told Express that miniatirisation of systems makes the missile high-performance in nature. “Smaller avionics means more options for warhead with more propulsion. Ours chips can be used for avionics applications in future too and we have a huge cost advantage having made them indigenously. It will be an integral part of all future navigation and homing guidance seekers,” said Ray.

DRDO hopes to get the first block of SOCs in December and later test it the on short-range air-to-air Astra missile by mid-2012. Astra - a BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile - will be initially integrated with Su-30 MKI and later on Tejas and MiG-29.

B H V S Narayana Murthy, director, Real-Time Embedded Computers, RCI, says that the might of India’s futuristic missiles will largely depend on miniaturisation of onboard systems.

“Tactical missiles will be the biggest beneficiaries and we are now aiming to standardise and offer SOC to more platforms in future,” Murthy said.


Maybe VLSI. I am not sure. We will have to wait and watch.
‘Quality our concern'


Interview with Avinash Chander, Chief Controller, Missiles and Strategic Systems, DRDO.


Avinash Chander: “ We are looking at certain game-changing processes, at longer-range capability…. We want to anticipate the future.”

AVINASH CHANDER has a rare distinction. He is the architect of five of India's strategic missiles – Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III, Agni-IV and now the long-range Agni-V. The missiles of the Agni family were developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of which Chander is now the Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems).

As Programme Director, Agni-V, he played a key role in the launch of the long-range ballistic missile on April 19 from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast. The launch propelled India into a select club of countries (such as the United States, Russia, France and China) that have the capability to build missiles that can travel more than 5,500 kilometres.

Chander joined the DRDO in 1972 after graduating in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He obtained his M.S. in Spatial Information Technology from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad. He has made specific contributions to the Agni programme – its management, mission design, guidance, navigation, simulation and terminal guidance.

Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline in Hyderabad on April 21:

India's successful test-firing of Agni-V has generated much interest internationally.

Many countries are talking about it. The fact that they are talking about it and are concerned about it shows the impact it has made and how it is fitting into their policies. That is why I called it a game-changer.

China has reacted in a big way. It says that Agni-V actually has a range of 8,000 km and that India has underplayed it.

Is it true?

No comments.

What made your team confident that Agni-V will succeed in its maiden launch?

Over the years, our missile designs have been robust except in the case of Agni-III, where the first flight was a failure because there was a lacuna in the design itself. In no other flight did we have a real design failure. Yes, there was again some design lacuna in Agni-IV. But the failure of its first flight was for quality-related reasons.

A component failed.

Agni-IV's failure was for quality reasons, but it was not the primary cause. We are now pretty confident of our design strength. We had already tested in Agni-IV the major technologies – such as the composite motors, their conical shape, etc. – that went into Agni-V. But Agni-V had much bigger motors. We had a lot of confidence that our process was well-understood and the missiles' behaviour was well-defined.

We were testing the new navigation system – the ring-laser gyro system – for the first time and we were constantly upgrading and improving it. By the time we went to Agni-V, we had made 20 systems and tested them on ground in various conditions. A lot of data were generated on their performance. Wherever there was a weakness, it was addressed. We had built-in redundancies to take care of unforeseen emergencies. So we were pretty confident that we would have a total mission success.

Our on-board computers went through hundreds of runs in various modes. We tested them in various types of conditions – way beyond the actual missile capability – to ensure that neither the system nor the software would fail.[color="#8B0000"]{Plural? Am I reading SOC + INS dual redundancy being seperate?}



THE LONG-RANGE AGNI-V missile takes off from a mobile launcher on Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha, on April 19. The missile has a 5,000-km range and can target "all potential threat areas".[color="#8B0000"]{If we look at the later part of the interview he talks about perceived threats and being prepared. Khan hint?}[/color]

We now have a system of configuration control and configuration management and an elaborate review mechanism at various stages so that design problems do not slip through. Even with all that, there were occasions when gaps occurred, but in the end we had a rigorous flight review mechanism. This is a practice we borrowed from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). When Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came [to the DRDO from ISRO], he made the Agni programme very rigorous. Multiple teams had to go through every item, re-verification was done, and if there was any problem it was rectified on the spot. That was how we were confident that we had captured all the problems for Agni-V.

Our primary concern was quality. Unfortunately, quality continues to be our concern. If you take a missile of this type, there are hundreds of thousands of connections – components being soldered on the integrated circuit systems. Most of them are made manually in our country. The processes are still not automatic. If any one of these joints fails, the mission fails.[color="#8B0000"]{Explains push for fabs and the resulting ecosystem.}[/color]

There are hundreds of people across the country who have done these components. Although we have instituted a strong quality mechanism in various industries working for us, and we have our own quality control supervisors working there, there is nothing like 100 per cent inspection assurance. That was our primary concern. Ultimately, the product is as good as the weakest element in that chain.

I shall cite a simple case. We purchase components from our vendors. When we were mounting one such component in a package, our inspectors found that it was different from what we had envisaged. It was a fake component.


Totally fake. It was not from the source we wanted. It was not of the same quality. It did not match the shape of the component we had ordered. But it had the same batch number. So that is the level to which you should make sure that you do not have any problem. We are steadily trying to improve. Today, we have a better quality control system.

We have created a Strategic Services Quality Assurance Group, dedicated to the Agni class of systems. But at the industrial level, it has to be much, much better. That was the only concern we had [when we launched Agni-V].

You can simulate vibration, shock and acceleration one at a time. You cannot simulate all of them together. But when a missile is in flight, all of them happen together. That is the most critical environment.

Besides, there are so many components that are operating for the first time. [color="#8B0000"]About 75 per cent of the failures happen owing to a collection of failures. About 15 per cent of failures occur owing to single-shot systems – some weakness somewhere in a system, such as the rocket motors' separation system, which is not testable.[/color] The Americans have also failed in some of the anti-ballistic missile trials because the missile's separation system did not work. They are single-shot systems. [The failure in the U.S. happened] not in the missile which was used as an interceptor but in the missile that was used as a target. Hardly 5 per cent of the failures occur because of design lacuna. We put in a lot of hard work for two years. [color="#8B0000"]{Interesting failure analysis data. So 75% of failure are due to accumulated failures of quality control and 15% are due to critical failures on very important place. ISRO data on GSLV will be interesting if we can get it.}[/color]

How did you achieve this quantum jump in range – from Agni-III's 3,000 km to Agni-V's 5,000 km?

We went through various steps. One was that we had to make the upper stages lighter. That was the first and most critical factor. We decided to make both the second and third upper stages of composites. That gave us a major benefit in terms of weight. In Agni-III, both the first and second stages were metallic.

Having made the composite stages, we found that they were coming out better than the metallic stages, strength-wise and property-wise. So we could operate at a higher pressure. So you do not have losses due to gravity, and the losses are reduced. We then went through a total philosophy change. Up to Agni-III, we ignite the upper stage first, then separate the lower stage so that there is no problem of separation.

We decided to leave behind that culture of space vehicles. We now put big retro motors, which create a thrust of four tonnes each – totally 16 tonnes of thrust – just to separate the stages so that no dead weight is passed on to the upper stage.[color="#8B0000"]{So they fire retro motors on the previous used stage to take out the used stage and leave the upper stage with no dead weight. This also ensures that there are no separator segments left on the upper stage which create drag. The upper stage it's one smooth body and lighter.The motors are on the first stage for second stage separation so any additional weight is on the first stage which is discarded so the performance penalty of carrying these separation motors is shed at every stage. Also an equal and opposite thrust from the retro motors during separation pushes the two stages apart and imparts some additional velocity to the upper stage during separation. Very nice.}[/color]

Correspondingly, we decided to make the mission stronger so that there are no interfaces and the separation is clean. We studied and created extensive models to simulate them on the ground in all types of disturbed conditions in wind tunnels. With all that, we could remove the inter-stages altogether. The weight we had reduced by making the upper stages of composites was fed back into the third upper stage. The weight did not increase overall, but the total energy increased considerably. To reach the 3,000-km range, you need a velocity of five kilometres per second. To reach the 5,000-km range, the velocity has to be more than six kilometres a second. [color="#8B0000"]{All composite three stage will hit 7/8 kilometers per second on separation?}[/color]

That was our approach to the repackaging of our vehicle. We made major modifications in the upper stage. V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory [ASL], DRDO, played a primary role in showing us how to repackage the payload structures so that the weight comes down by 1,000 kg.

How did the payload structures lose weight?

The payload structures had become much lighter; the weight was almost 60 per cent less than what it was earlier. It was a very elaborate exercise. We went to all the stages to see how to lose weight, how to repackage, how to reduce length, what technologies are needed for these, what was the modelling needed, and so on. That was how we could pack practically the same weight – from Agni-III, 48 tonnes in weight and 17 metres in length, to Agni-V, 50 tonnes in weight and 17.5 metres in length, but from a range of 3,000 km to more than 5,000 km. We wanted to make sure that all these capabilities were first proven in Agni-IV. We removed the open inter-stage. We had a closed inter-stage. We had composite motors. We had a compact payload. Of course, there is a vast difference between Agni-IV and Agni-V payloads. But the basic system was the same. But Agni-V had much more visibility and we wanted to make sure that all the elements of Agni-V were good. Agni-IV as a system did its job. [color="#8B0000"]{Is this a thermonuke hint? compact payload as opposed to compact payload structure? Also he shied away from answering the question directly on why the payload structure was lower in weight and repeated the earlier answer with the addition of composite motors."}[/color]

What are your future plans for Agni-V?

There are three stages of missile development. The first is design. As far as Agni-V is concerned, we have crossed that phase.

THE VEHICLE-MOUNTED CANISTER that was used for the medium-range Shourya missile, at the DRDO's Research Centre Imarat in Hyderabad. The canister-launch capability of Agni-V will be tested soon.

The next stage is proving the canister-launch capability. We have done the canister-launch for smaller missiles.

Like Shourya.

We have done for BrahMos also. The ASL is the laboratory which developed the canisters for both BrahMos and Agni-V. The gas generators that propel the missiles out of the canisters are made in the ASL. These technologies are available. They are being upscaled.

For instance, if I need five or ten tonnes of thrust there [for BrahMos or Shourya], I need 300 tonnes of thrust here because the mass is so much higher. That is upscaling. We know how to do it. So we will be doing missile ejection tests [from a canister]. We have set up a facility for that at Shamirpet, Hyderabad. We will take our canister to that facility, put a dummy missile inside with a small full-scale booster, and eject it. That small motor will push the missile out and you can recover it. It may be damaged. We have to do three or four tests in that condition to establish all the parameters of launch. What is the kind of vibration and shock that are caused? What is the time that the missile takes to come out of the canister? How much heat is transferred to the canister? And how much energy is lost? All these have been modelled. We have to validate these models by experiments. No other way is possible. That is the first priority.

These experiments will start in May/June. The launchers are already getting ready in the industry – the road-mobile, canister-launch system.

Private industry is making the road-mobile launcher with the launch platform.

They are making the launcher to our design. All our products are Indian. The road-mobile launcher will be delivered in May. The canister is ready. The integrated test will start in June. We are aiming for the missile launch by the end of this year. Or maybe by the beginning of next year, because we have to do a number of tests and evaluate them. If everything goes well, yes, by the end of this year.[color="#8B0000"]{ I guess we will have Agni IV road mobile launch sooner than the Agni V launch. The other parts of the interview hints at Agni IV being everything on Agni V but in a smaller payload configuration. Agni V is definitely MIRV. It's also likely that we are talking about an accelerated thrust in our missile program. We want the capability now. Chinpanda afoot?} [/color]

A road-mobile, canisterised launch in final, user configuration will take place next year.

The full, final version in all aspects will be tested in the early part of next year. We want to complete all trials by the end of next year.

How many trials will you do?

We need two or three trials from the canister. If two perform very well, we may take a decision to go ahead. Then the production will start. From the production chain, the user will pick some missiles and launch them to validate the production process and then the induction will start. Totally, we will have six more tests before Agni-V is inducted [into the Army].[color="#8B0000"]{ So twelve tests in total including Agni IV or maybe fewer tests if Agni IV tests indicate all is well.}[/color]

Tests by the user?

Tests by the user will be along with our team. That serves a dual purpose – to train the user in operating the system and to validate the production process.

So there will be six tests, including the user trials.

Yes. It is not user trial. It is called pre-induction trial. The user is part of all our trials. Right from the first test, the user is involved – what we are getting, what the performance of the missile is, etc. Every test is a user trial in that sense. Canister trials will happen from June onwards. By December, the canisterised flight will take place.

V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said recently that the DRDO would not cap the Agni programme. So, will we go in for a missile beyond 5,000 km even though we don't need one?

Dr Saraswat very clearly said there was nothing like a static threat perception. Threat is a dynamic scenario. If tomorrow India's trade requirements[color="#8B0000"]{Hint of planning on civil nuclear supply vulnerability and global deterrence requirement? We are ready to protect our commerce and economic thread is a serious enough threat?}[/color] go beyond distant regions and it feels threatened by somebody, its requirements will change. The DRDO does not wait for the threat to become a reality before it starts the development. That is why it is a perception. We have to develop capabilities to meet futuristic threats. That is why there is nothing like capping a programme.

[color="#8B0000"]{lack of political will is clear. There is more to be tested but no go from political masters.}[/color]

A programme, by definition, is for a limited duration. After we deliver Agni-V, that programme is over. We will work parallely…. MIRV [Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle] is definitely a technology we want to develop and we are going to develop it. We will be creating that capability. Similarly, we will be creating manoeuvring warheads, another capability that is a must. It will give you the ability to target places with high precision, with nuclear or conventional warheads. {So open discussion on these warheads.It's already done.}

So the role of a missile changes, the threat perceptions change, the dynamic geopolitical situation changes. So there is nothing like capping or not capping a programme. You never cap technology. New programmes evolve as the need arises, but technology development will be a continuous process.

In fact, the future will require intelligent warheads because the capabilities increase for intercepting ballistic or cruise missiles…. Everybody is developing defences against these weapons. It may take time. But it will happen. So we have to upgrade our weapons. We have to go three steps further – two steps to catch up and one to overtake. In warfare, unless you are better than the best, you cannot win the war.

Our next step will be to build intelligent warheads which will have the capability to assess the risks and take active or passive action or counter-measures. They will be the warheads of tomorrow, and work has to start now. It may take five or ten years. There is tremendous work that needs to be done to develop state-of-the-art weapons with multiple capabilities.

China has said that India has a long way to go to match its capability. I cannot comment [on it] because I do not know the Chinese capability. But we know that technology-wise, we have the capability and the knowledge for converting technological capability to build further on it.


ARCHITECTS OF THE Agni-V mission, (from left) Avinash Chander; V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad; and V.K. Saraswat, DRDO chief and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, against the backdrop of the missile, two days before its launch.

Agni-V has been developed in three years. MIRV may come in two and a half years from now. We want to make that process faster and faster. We have instituted fantastic measures to make it happen – how to make industries respond faster, how to make design-culture faster, how to make in-house quality products, and so on. So we are attacking the problem at various levels. Agni-V is one example of that process happening. We were able to do it in less than three years after the project was sanctioned. No other weapon has been developed in three years.[color="#8B0000"]{Privatization of production.}[/color]

There is a perception that Agni-V need not be road-mobile because it is a strategic weapon, which will never be used. It is more a deterrent.

India is a peace-loving nation. It has never taken an offensive action except when it was threatened. In such a situation, you have to make sure that whatever be your deterrence measures, you are well protected. In today's world, with the way the precision and yield of weapons are going up, it is very difficult to store missiles in static sites. Fifty years ago, we kept the missiles in hardened silos. At that time, the missiles used to land with a CEP [circular error probability] of a few kilometres. Today, they have a CEP of 100 metres. With 100 metres, the kind of defences that you will want is so massive that it will be impractical to have them.

So what is the way out? It is that you should be mobile. When a target is static, it is most vulnerable. A moving target has better chances of survival.

A road-mobile missile has many avenues to go. In a city like New Delhi, where hundreds of thousands of vehicles are moving, it is not easy to keep track.

When does the Army want a canisterised Agni-V from now?

A canister gives you the best advantages. You can stop on the roadside on the highway, launch from there and go away. You can stop the traffic for five minutes on either side, launch and go away. Your ability to move, your options to launch and your operational flexibility increase manifold. You have a reduced reaction time. Everything is already prepared. Just make the missile vertical in three minutes, and the launching takes another few minutes. So you stop, launch and go off. That does not give the enemy a chance even if he detects you. He does not know from where you are going to launch. Only when you have made the missile vertical for launch will he realise that you are going to launch it. The boost-phase destruction that people are talking of, that is, the missile getting destroyed before it takes off, will not be possible if you have a short reaction time as in a canisterised launch unless you have a space-based radar weapons system. Today, it is non-existent and is not likely to be developed in the next couple of decades at least.

{Boost-phase bmd was considered.So space based radars with loitering attack craft? or Weapons in space ? 20 years away.}

You say that Agni-V can reach the farthest corners where you want to exert your influence…

[color="#8B0000"]{ICBM only. All composite will be also be tested in this mix with heavy payload. Surya is here? }[/color]

I need not stress the strategic significance of Agni-V. You can see from the responses of others what the strategic significance of this mission is.

As far as we are concerned, its primary significance is that you have strategic depth. With Agni-V, you can target all potential threat areas. You can go close to the border areas or thousands of kilometres away from enemy countermeasures and launch this missile. That is the most important strategic significance.

The fact that it can reach large parts of the globe has its own impact – of your acceptance, and more importantly, your arrival as a missile power. We were at the receiving end of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Irrespective of these technology denial regimes, we can do what we need to do. If we can do 5,000 km with all these regimes, we can do anything. We have to set ourselves a goal and we can achieve it. That is for strategic missiles. We are looking at tactical missiles also. We are looking at certain game-changing processes, at longer-range capability, much better kill capabilities than we had thought of earlier. We want to anticipate the future.[color="#8B0000"]{Interesting he talks about tactical missiles. 300km range or Counter-force missiles?}


We want to be prepared. In those preparations too, we want to make the user a partner because these will be systems which will neither be made nor be available anywhere else. That is the class we are graduating to. This confidence has come from Agni-V and other systems.

Our strategic programme will be further strengthened to assure minimum credible detterents – our triad of the delivery system will be fully functional. Electromagnetic and high power microwave devices will be deployed in our missile defence system.

BARC put out these statements in 2010. Was this just Arihant or does it extent to the Missile payload.
Note the operative word "will be" meaning was not fully functional earlier, even not by 2010.
It seems like we are just a few stages behind the US in the field of BMD. So radar range needs to be upgraded and targeting longer range missiles. The US is currently experimenting on how to intercept MIRVs. Could we reach that stage in 4 years?

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