DRDO: Indian Defence’s Backbone
A robust and well-equipped military gives a country the ability to withstand invasion and repel unjustified aggression from outside sources, as well as deal with any domestic unrest. It serves as a deterrent and represents the country's military capability and capacity to defend itself against enemy nations. It is consequently critical for any government to provide its military with cutting-edge technology and to modernize its existing arsenal of weapons and monitoring systems. India, too, has to establish a powerful military force that is equipped with all forms of technologically modern defence equipment in order to boost its security and intelligence capabilities, as well as to protect its territorial integrity. Technological advancement has resulted in the development of highly advanced weapons, which are now in the hands of many countries. Ballistic missile systems, nuclear-powered submarines, stealth fighter planes, and unmanned aerial vehicles are only a few examples. Every country needs a strong and modernized defence and security framework to deal with any unexpected event. As a result, in addition to buying new defence items, special attention should be paid to ensuring that the weapons system does not become obsolete in a few years. Furthermore, such items should be able to be upgraded with minimal effort. Any country cannot ignore the need for modernization since it is the key to dealing with any type of unanticipated attack, whether internal or external. The DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) is one such organization that ensures India’s military might always remain modernized and ready for any obstacle that comes in the face of the Indian Armed Forces.
DRDO, formed in 1958 is the Ministry of Defence's research and development division, with a vision to empower India with cutting-edge defence technologies and a goal to attain self-reliance and effective indigenous development and manufacturing of strategic systems and platforms in essential defence technologies and systems, while equipping our armed forces with state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment as per the three Services' requirements. Today, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is a network of more than 50 laboratories dedicated to the development of defence technologies in fields such as aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, missiles, advanced computing, and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems, and agriculture. Among substantial programs, the development of missiles & weaponry, light combat aircraft, radars, electronic warfare systems, and other technologies are now underway, with significant progress already made in several of these areas. The DRDO's pursuit of self-reliance and successful indigenous development and manufacturing of strategic weapons and platforms like as the Agni and Prithvi series of missiles; Tejas light combat aircraft; Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher; Akash air defence system; and a wide range of radars and electronic warfare systems, among others, have given India's military capability a quantum leap, producing effective deterrence and providing important leverage. The ongoing DRDO projects in India are worth almost 7.3 billion dollars – just goes to show the amount of money and faith the government has been putting on DRDO and its products. The successful inventions and developmental initiatives taken up by the DRDO are the following:
Advanced Air Defence Missiles
The Advanced Air Defence (AAD) is an anti-ballistic missile that can intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endosphere at a height of 30 kilometres (19 mi). It's for targets that make their way through the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) in some way. It is a secondary layer that works in conjunction with PAD. The AAD has a range of 150 to 200 kilometres. It can reach a top speed of Mach 4.5. The AAD is a solid-fueled single-stage missile with siliconized carbon jet vanes. PAD with indigenous radio frequency seekers provides comparable guidance. In the terminal phase, it enables the inertial navigation system (INS), mid-course updates from ground-based radar, and active radar homing.
The Agni Systems is a surface to surface missile with range capabilities between 1000 to 2000 km. It's a two-stage solid-fuel ballistic missile with dual redundant navigation and guiding systems.
Akash Surface To Air Missile Systems
The AKASH system is a short-range surface-to-air missile system designed to defend vulnerable locations and points against airstrikes. In Group Mode or Autonomous Mode, the AKASH Weapon System may engage several targets at the same time. It has Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) capabilities built-in. Mobile platforms have been used to configure the whole armament system. AKASH Weapon Systems has been incorporated into the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army and is now operational.
ASTRA is a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) system that can be deployed on fighter planes. The missile is designed to engage and destroy supersonic aircraft with exceptional maneuverability. The rocket can operate in any weather conditions, including day and night. Multiple variations of the missile are being developed to satisfy specific requirements. The Indian Air Force is receiving the ASTRA Mk-I Weapon System, which is integrated with the SU-30 Mk-I aircraft (IAF).
HELINA (Helicopter-based NAG) is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system that is installed on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The system is capable of operating in all weather conditions, day and night, and can defeat combat tanks with both conventional and explosive reactive armor. In both direct hit and top attack modes, the HELINA missile can engage targets. The Indian Army has accepted the HELINA Weapon System (IA). The Indian Air Force is receiving a DHRUVASTRA variant of the HELINA Weapon System (IAF).
Man Portable Anti Tank Guided Missiles
The Indian Army's infantry and Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) will use this missile. An Ejection Motor is used to propel it 'Softly' from a canister. For homing on to the target, it employs a cutting-edge IIR seeker. Control Flight Tests have been completed, and Guided Flight Tests (with IIR Seeker) are scheduled for the man-portable missile, which is fired using a tripod and has a maximum range of about 2.5km.
The QRSAM (Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System) is a short-range surface-to-air missile system devised to defend moving armored columns from aerial attacks. The complete armament system is built on extremely mobile platforms and can provide air defense even on the move.
The AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) Communication Support Measures system has been built effectively by the DRDO. Surveillance of communication signals in the V/UHF bands, interception, analysis of voice and data signals, direction finding and location fixing of communication threats, identification of threats through signal database correlation, and real-time reporting are all capabilities of the system. In the microwave band, it can also intercept and record wideband signals. Indigenous ESM & RWR Systems have been installed and performance evaluated on the AEW&C platform. The system is currently being used by the IAFs Netra Aircraft.
Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA)
The Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar is a multimode, solid-state active phased array fire control radar with a scalable architecture that can be adapted for a variety of fighter aircraft types. Wide-band RF front end, ultra-low antenna side lobes, frequency and waveform adaptability, jammer suppression, Low Probability of Intercept, and Non-Cooperative Target Recognition are all aspects of the radar. It can track numerous targets with great precision and fire missiles in interleaved Air to Air, Air to Ground, and Air to Sea modes enabling all-terrain operations.
3D Surveillance Radar for Indian Navy – Revathi
The Indian Navy's 3D Surveillance Radar is ship-borne. The radar is equipped with a digital receiver and a programmable signal processor that provides excellent resolution, accuracy, response, and information availability. The radar can detect up to 150 targets automatically, including IFF (Mk XI) association tracks. Antenna Rotation Rates (ARR) of 6, 12, and 24 RPMs are available. The radar is equipped with ECCM capabilities.
During its 6 decades spanning legacy, DRDO has developed a list of noteworthy technologies, but it wasn't without a price. Its failure archive runs larger than its successes and among the key contributors to that are the state's lethargic revenue commitments, inadequate manpower in crucial areas, lack of accountability for extensive delays & cost overruns, and the resulting self-doubt within its stakeholders. The fact that India is one of the biggest importers of defense equipment, doesn't serve as that much of a motivation either. There's still a long way for us as a country & for DRDO as an agency to achieve self-reliance in defense manufacturing.
However, in a welcome strategic pivot, India's defence establishment has been opening up for collaborations with the private sector, increasing FDI limits in defense production from 49 per cent & most recently, DRDO has also been dabbling into widening its export base by clocking about ₹70k Crores so far during the current fiscal year.
Increased domestic defense manufacturing is urgently needed to meet the needs of the armed forces while simultaneously decreasing the burden on the government's coffers. As evidenced by recent border confrontations with Chinese soldiers and growing tensions along the northern borders, India must also acknowledge that in times of crisis, it cannot always rely on emergency acquisitions of defense weapons. In my opinion it's now the appropriate time for them to step up on their efforts to indigenize and contribute more towards an ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT initiative of producing more fighter jets for both the Air Force and Navy to replace the depleting fleet of aircrafts that have been operational and be more combat ready for the modern warfare with advanced technology pliable and upgradable at a reasonable cost in these ever polarized times around hostile neighbors. It can also open the doors for India to export more defense products than it imports, eventually improving the economy and helping improve our defense budget.
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