It was a year of happenings for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the armed forces.
Apart from enhancing safety and security of the country, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, modernisation of the Armed Forces, supporting indigenisation and manufacturing of defence equipment were the main features.
The country’s premier agency had achieved many milestones in its strategic missile programme.
Successful flight trials of indigenously developed first long range sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay, Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) and supersonic cruise missile BrahMos from fighter jet Sukhoi-30 MKI besides dedicating Naval submarine INS Kalvari to the Nation were highlights of the year.
While with the remarkable success of 1000-km range Nirbhay trial on November 7, India demonstrated its capability to develop long range cruise weapon systems, successive trials of homegrown interceptor missiles in both exo and endo atmospheric regions strengthened the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield.
Nirbhay, country’s first indigenously designed and developed cruise missile, achieved grand success during fifth trial saving the project from being scrapped after three failures and one partial success.
DRDO also conducted three successful flight tests of its newly developed short range QRSAM. QRSAM is a highly mobile air defence system which can destroy multiple targets at a distance of 25 km.
Though the missile is yet to get a formal name, it is expected to supplement the surface-to-air missile Akash, capable of hitting targets 30 km away.
World’s fastest supersonic cruise missile BrahMos created history on November 22 as fitted with advanced seeker software, the high speed missile was successfully flight-tested first time from frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI marking a major milestone in enhancing the precision strike capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Earlier on March 11, while maiden test of extended-range BrahMos was a copy book success, its Block-III version was successfully test fired on May 2.
The technology upgrade came after India’s full membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which removed caps on the strike range of BrahMos.
The range of the missile has been now enhanced from 290 km to 450 km.
Meanwhile, work has begun to integrate the BrahMos missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft which is expected to fulfil critical needs of the IAF in the wake of evolving security dynamics in the region.
The project is expected to be completed by 2020.
After 15 years in the making, Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), Astra completed its developmental trials this year.
The indigenously built missile capable of detecting and destroying highly manoeuvrable targets, moving at a supersonic speed, will soon be inducted in the armed forces.
The third generation ‘fire and forget’ Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) Nag has also completed developmental trials paving the way for its induction in the armed forces.
The indigenously developed missile equipped with Imaging Infrared Radar (IIR) seeker was flight tested thrice from a range in Rajasthan on June 13 and September 8 and it successfully hit targets under different conditions.
Surface-to-air missile ‘Akash’ was successfully test fired for the first time with a home-made radio frequency seeker against target Banshee.
The missile was successfully flight tested five times between November 28 and December 5.
In July, the DRDO had signed a pact with the Army for developing a medium-range surface to air missile (MRSAM) which will be capable of shooting down ballistic missiles and aircraft.
The missile capable of engaging multiple aerial targets at a range of more than 50 km will be produced in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
On March 2, Navy successfully conducted maiden firing of an Anti-Ship missile from first of the indigenously built Kalvari class submarines in the Arabian Sea.
All six Kalvari class submarines being built in India will be equipped with this anti-ship missile, which has a proven record in combat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the naval submarine to the nation in December describing it as a prime example of ‘Make-in-India’.
DRDO scientists received appreciation for the successful user trial of 4000-km range Agni-IV missile on January 2 but drew criticism for the failures of Agni-II and K-4 missiles on May 4 and December 17.
This year, DRDO and Strategic Forces Command (SFC), a specially raised missile-handling unit of the Army had conducted at least 27 trials of 12 missiles – Agni-IV, Agni-II, PDV interceptor, AAD interceptor, BrahMos, Akash, Astra, Prithvi-II, QRSAM, Nag, Nirbhay and K-4.
The first ever tri-services exercise INDIRA between India and Russia was conducted in October. Another flagship event of the year was the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by all-women crew on Indian Navy sailing INSV Tarini, which was flagged off on September 10 and is expected to return to Goa in April 2018.
INS Kiltan, the third ship of Project-28 Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) Corvette was commissioned on October 16.
This is the first major warship with entire superstructure made of carbon fibre reinforced composite material.
The first DRDO designed and developed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system, aboard Embraer-145 aircraft, was inducted in the IAF in February.
The state of the art Active Electronically Scanned Array-based radar system can detect airborne objects from far off distances and provide early warning to the Air Defence Command and Control Centres.
SPYDER Low Level Quick Reaction Missile system, equipped with Python 5 and Derby missiles, has also been inducted into the IAF.
This system provides a comprehensive response to the saturation attacks with multiple target engagement, thus boosting the short range air defence capability.
Among the indigenously developed air launched weapons, flight trials of 500 kg General Purpose (GP) Bomb was conducted from Su-30 MKI in May besides the thermobaric bomb from MiG-27 aircraft and captive flight trials of Stand-off Anti Tank missile from Mi-35 helicopter.