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India’s indigenously developed missile

December 10, 2007

India defense budget may be just 2.5 percent of it’s GDP (Rs 96,000 crore, an increase of 11 percent over last year in money terms) and out of this the allocation for research and development just Rs 5887.22 crore (6.13 percent of the total defence budget) but the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation) has had a big success this year!!

They have developed a high-speed interceptor missile (a missile which intercepts another midway) and what is creditable is that it’s a completely indigenous development. As they say here:

The AAD used Sunday was a new missile and not a derivative or an update of any existing missile. It was specially designed and developed by (DRDO) for this role, the defence sources said.

This missile, called Advance Air Defence (AAD) was tested on the second of December over the Bay of Bengal and in this mock trial, a simulated electronics target was first fired from Orissa (Chandipur area). One is not sure if this new missile is part of the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) which is for the development of a comprehensive range of missiles. Examples: Agni, Prithvi, Akash, and Trishul, which alongwith some others are in different stages of development and deployment.

However, scientists have been working on developing anti-missile technology for some time. In November last year they had successfully tested an “exo-atmospheric interceptor missile PAD-01” which in a mock trial had destroyed an incoming Prithvi missile at an altitude of 50 km.

The missile launched this month is a is a variant of the one launched last year but Defense sources claim that this newly tested (not yet named) is a totally new missile and not a “derivative or an update” of any existing missile.

Interestingly, India will be building it’s first indigenously-built nuclear submarine by 2009.

A brief overview of military spending in the region
However we do not produce too much of indigenous work and one of the reasons could be that we spend too little on defense. India may be the fourth largest military in the world, but our defense expenditure is very little compared to our neighbours, just 2.5 percent of our GDP. Pakistan’s military budget is around 4 per cent of GDP. China’s military budget is higher, at around $44 billion (believed to be one-third of the actual). China increased it’s military budget by about 18 percent this year. Some rapid arms buildup is going on in China! And why do we have to care about what China is doing? You can read about why India needs to be wary of China here.

Although India has increased defense spends from Rs 86,000 to Rs 96,000 crore, this increase is considered almost nothing as it just about takes care of inflation.

Who in the world spends the most on defense?
Well, it’s no big secret that it’s the United States. It says here:

In 2007, the official outlay by the top 76 biggest national spenders reached USD1.3 trillion dollars with the US alone providing nearly half the global total. Outside the US, around 80 per cent comes from just 20 countries: seven in Europe (UK; France; Germany; Italy; Spain; Netherlands; and Greece); six in the Asia Pacific (Japan; China; South Korea; India; Taiwan; and Australia); three in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia; Israel; and Turkey); two in South America (Brazil and Colombia); and Russia in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Each region has it’s dominant defense spenders. Europe has UK and France. Asia Pacific has Japan and China. The Middle East has Saudi Arabia. And then there’s Russia…

However, when it comes to growth in defense budgets, Asian budgets are believed to be on the rise. At present at least India is not showing any significant growths inspite of a growing economy. L. K. Behera (Associate Fellow, Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses) has given a reason as to why the defense budget is more or less stagnant in an article here:

A perusal of the Defense Services Estimates (DSE) reveals that the Armed Forces have surrendered nearly Rs, 40,000 crore in the past decade…As the Services’ record of spending allotted funds is not displaying any improvement, the Ministry of Finance did not grant more funds…this aspect is the most crucial factor that justifies the mismatch between (India’s) robust economic growth and a relatively lower growth in the defense budget

Well, I hope the services get their act together on this one….and I also hope that the government allocates a higher budget to the DRDO. If we can develop more indigenous technology it means decreasing dependence of foreign powers. It’s not just the cost, but also availability of spare parts at short notice. Not to mention the pride that comes with it all.

(Photo is from the wiki and linked to the original. It is of the Agni missile, not the newly launched missile.)

Note: A blogger friend Vishal sent me the article on the launch of the high-speed interceptor missile. Once I read it, it led me on a an interesting exploratory path. Thanks Vishal. 🙂

Related Reading: Why India needs to be wary of China.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2007 7:07 am

    Good post Nita. Thanks

  2. December 10, 2007 9:54 am

    one more thing… AAD2 is powered by a single stage solid fuel rocket. and since solid fuels are easier to handle and deploy in remote locations as compared to liquid fuels
    so unlike prithivi 1 and 2.. this missile can actually be used by the nation

  3. December 10, 2007 12:24 pm

    Ankur thats coorect that solid fuels are eay to manage but to ignite them and launch them take more time as compared to the one with liquid ones. If you need a quick response then liquid fule based can be very handy , esp considering that hostiel countries are neary by to us, you need a quick resposne. Solid fules are reely good for lon range esp if yr target is 1000 kms. in our case most of the immediate threat is from west and little bit from eat. from north their is threat but for that we wont be using privthi. Prithvi definitely has some value in it.

  4. December 10, 2007 3:07 pm

    i would totally disagree with u.
    the liquid fuels usually involve cryogenic gasses (oxygen/hydrogen) and both of these are not easy to transport or store….
    whats worse that although prithvi claims that it can be launched from the top of the truck.. in reality it will need a caravan of fuel tanks, and cryogenic laboratory to store/refuel and supply the rockets… and this caravan easily shows in the satellite images making it almost impossible to conceal.
    hence all good <500km rockets which need to be transported to the border area to be launched are solid fuel based.
    for rockets or 1000km + concealing is not that important because they r launched from the deep interiors of the country.. but accuracy is important… hence the last stage is always liquid fuel driven.

    and prithivi being short range liquid fuel based is a great museum piece.. a collectors item with little or no military value.

  5. December 10, 2007 4:38 pm

    very interesting
    but a confusing write up
    what was the post about defence spending or missiles ?
    looks like a mix of both

    the new interceptor is still quite infant in comparison to what the world has to throw at us – it is most likely some derivative of the slv 3 which is solid fuel based (logical because u have no wait state if u need to intercept incoming missiles) plus can we depend upon it to intercept the chinese m9 /m 18 which will be the mainstay of pak prog
    the ghauri or nodong is a whole different ballgame .

    plus even the us cant counter the topol series that the russians r shifting to
    with their multibillion abm shield

    drdo has its positives in the missile program and other development but it is also a big highly political white elephant shielded by the web of defence establishments. well things fail like say the tank worse is they arent even getting to using efficiently the positive spinoffs from their failures. there is need for some pvt sector participation here

    and finally it come down to balls – as i had stated with ankur in our discussions on the 123 agreement – do our politicians have the balls and speed in decision mkg?
    frankly speaking musharaff does but i doubt if even the bjp has balls or speed forget the congress they cant look beyond appeasement politics.

  6. December 10, 2007 4:53 pm

    plus lets see if they manage by 2009 the much touted atv or sub hope it does work because it is vital if we want to call ourselves a blue water navy
    hope they move faster on the tejas which seems to b out of the news

    china may be a future threat which needs somethin like a surya somethin the govt is still hesitant about – an ICBM
    look at how the americns are freaked out over the strategic chinese icbms
    but immediately we have to attend to the rogue state in our neighborhood and this AAM is a positive step to welcome

    ankur the prithvi packs a mighty punch in short range and we also have a solid p3 – short range
    liquid r gettin a bit obsolete bcause of cruise missiles but it is not something we can expend with – its cheap abit slow but a good tool considering the sea based dhanush configuration wt solid p3
    plus a few dozen p liquids at the border are also good cheap tools .

  7. December 10, 2007 5:44 pm


    yes that’s right Prax it’s about both – defense spending and missiles. Missiles are a defense spend. Sorry to confuse you. 🙂

    p.s I have added half a line at the beginning of the para (However we do not produce too much of indigenous work and one of the reasons could be…) to make it even more clear.

  8. ulag permalink
    December 10, 2007 6:59 pm

    But the question is how much tactical use these missile will have in crucial situations. With Pakistan and China having nukes, an all out war seems impossible. Without such an all out war there will be no need for the deployment of our missiles. Thats the catch of having nukes – MAD(Mutually Assured Destruction). Military engagement with Pakistan will remain solely as minor border skirmishes or low intensity conflicts such as Kargil, not an all out war between the armies like in 1972.
    Its true that China is splurging on its vast military. It would be difficult to engage in a war with them because it would inevitably lead to a stalemate without any definitive victory to either side. Here we have to take note of whats happening on our borders with China where the Chinese military is engaging in muscle flexing. At the end of the day these missile development programs are just that – Muscle Flexing. To show the world that we can defend ourselves if the need ever arises even though we know it wont. But its a sad reality of living in a hostile environment, that such muscle flexing needs to be done, to ensure peace.

  9. December 10, 2007 9:29 pm

    Thanks all of you for responding. the discussion on liquid and solid fuels is an interesting one and I also had read that liquid fuels are better…but both have their advantages and disadvantages I guess.
    Prax, sometimes I do doubt some of the claims of the DRDO, I at time suspect thye exxagerate their claims!
    Ulag, you say and all out war is impossible but nothing is impossible as long as we have crazy things going on in neigbouring countries! While your muscle flexing argument holds true, it can also keep the possibility of war at bay. But actually if we don’t have the arsenel I think china could possibly swallow some of our territory. Just think of how powerful the US is today because it’s the superpower. In another 30 years they say China will be number 1. But China is already acting strange on our borders…what will happen if they become the number one superpower?

  10. December 10, 2007 11:38 pm

    def spend is about a lot more than missiles they’re just a part
    a lot is spent on salaries and basic equipment
    i was confused about the direction ur article took
    nita liquid generally gives better control and flexibility

    on indo pak conflict u cant say there is a MAD(Mutually Assured Destruction) kinda situation but with 1 to 3 minutes of decision making time – things can move very very fast , thats why my arguement
    we have a vast country and can take a first strike from them thats why we go for NFY
    on china it is a whole new ballgame though

  11. December 11, 2007 2:45 am

    So far as I can see, the only long term way to head off the China threat will be through alliances. They seem destined to become bigger than any one country can manage. And so long as they are ruled by dictators, they will be a threat to the democracies.

  12. December 11, 2007 7:28 am


    I agree, I think we need the US for the alliance but in India we have some political parties against it. They don’t have national interest in mind, but want some rhetoric against the ruling coalition. I think in such issues all parties should come together.

  13. December 11, 2007 10:46 am

    Their is already an alliance in making .. US JAPAN ,AUSTRALIA INDIA and Singapore.
    Nita i think you have wriiten about it before. Its vital to have this otherwise INDIA will be having tough times in coming decades

  14. December 11, 2007 11:42 am

    @Vishal Sharma:

    It’s only in the making! In India things remain in the oven for a long long time and one wonders whether we will ever get to eat the cakes!

  15. krenim permalink
    December 11, 2007 9:06 pm

    The dark force is back again 🙂

    FYI most anti missile systems don’t work very well.both the interceptor and the missile fly at mach 20+ and a closing speed of mach 50 gives you literally microseconds to get it right few have so far.

    Add to that the fact that most chinese missile have/will have MIRVs on them and your new ABM has pretty much had it.

    Asian NATO anyone?

  16. December 11, 2007 9:19 pm


    I actually missed this dark force! 🙂
    MIRV’s do send a shiver up my spine but in any case China will crush us, with or without! Our muscle flexing can only affect Pakistan…the Chinese will simply laugh!

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