New Delhi: Marking a major step forward in
technology development, India is expected to equip
indigenously-built Dhruv helicopters with missiles in two
years as part of an ambitious missile-development programme.
The guided air-to-ground HELINA, an upgraded version of
Nag anti-tank missile, is being indigenously developed by the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will
be in the final stages and ready for user trials in 2013.
"For the first time, we are developing indigenously a
missile called HELINA for being deployed on the weaponised
version of the ALH Dhruv helicopter," DRDO chief V K Saraswat
said in an interview.
Under the programme, propulsion systems of the NAG
missile have been strengthened and they would be able to take
out enemy tanks from a range of seven to eight kms.
Saraswat said the initial trials of the missile from
ground-based system have been successful and work will now
begin on its integration with the helicopters.
Nag is one of five missile systems developed by the
organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development
The DRDO is also working on development of a number of
new missiles or upgrading the range of the existing ones.
Under this programme, work is expected to begin by the
end of this year on development of short range surface-to-air
interception missile system in collaboration with France.
"Our main thrust in the tactical missile systems is
going to be the Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM)
system... We are trying to work with the MBDA of France on
this programme," Saraswat said.
The missiles, with a range of eight to nine kms, will
replace the Russian-origin Pechora and OSA-AK missile systems
with Air Force and the Army.
"We have not done much in this area (short-range missile
systems)...We are undergoing negotiations (with MBDA) and
hopefully it would be launched by the end of this year," he
India has developed medium and long range systems such
as the Akash Surface-to-Air missile system, but so far it has
not ventured into the domain of similar short range systems.
On the work-sharing arrangements between the two sides
for the programme, Saraswat said, "The design and development
would be totally indigenous and only a few things such as the
production technology and seeker would be from the partners
In the partnership, the DRDO will also seek the
production technology for the mass production of missiles in
the facilities of Public Sector Undertaking Bharat Dynamics
"When you want to produce large numbers, you have to
have an automated assembly line. For missiles, we don`t have
that automation system in our production facilities... What we
are looking at in these new programmes is that production
technologies of BDL are also improved so that the rate of
production can be increased," he said.