Dr G. Satheesh Reddy is presently the Chairman of the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) and Secretary Department of Defence Research & Development, Government of Ind…
Saurav Jha: Now, some of the most aggressive schedules are from your Missile and Strategic Systems (MSS) cluster. Let us therefore turn to the status of various products under development in this cluster. Firstly, please give us updates on various ground-based air defence systems currently under development viz. QRSAM, MRSAM (Air Force), MRSAM (Army) and LRSAM (Navy)? Also, what are the timelines for the Akash-NG, for which developmental trials are now underway?
Satheesh Reddy: The developmental trials of the QRSAM are complete. It has begun user trials and as part of that mobility trials are currently underway. As you know, this system can track while on the move and launch interceptors from a short halt. We expect induction to happen in 2022.
As far as the MRSAM (Air Force) is concerned, the first production set will be delivered in a couple of months with an additional set being delivered every 3 months subsequently. There’ll be some operational flight tests before delivery.
MRSAM (Army) has begun developmental trials and we expect the first set to be delivered to the user in 2024.
Meanwhile, only two LRSAM sets are left to be delivered to the Navy.
As you mentioned, developmental trials for the Akash NG have commenced. These will be followed by user trials and the system is expected to go into production by 2023. The Akash NG is equipped with a Ku-band seeker and is propelled by a solid-fueled dual-pulse motor.
Saurav Jha: The MSS cluster has also become very active in the arena of air-delivered munitions. One noteworthy development in this arena is of course the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW). When will the SAAW be inducted and will future versions be equipped with an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker?
Satheesh Reddy: The SAAW is headed towards induction this year. The next version will indeed be equipped with an IIR seeker and will begin developmental trials next year. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will be the production agency for the SAAW.
Saurav Jha: Another important air-to-ground system that has been under development is the New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM) or the Rudram-1. What is the status of the same? Have typical developmental challenges related to materials and multi-layer bonding for the radome been overcome?
Satheesh Reddy: Yes, they have been overcome. And the Rudram-1 is slated for induction next year with both passive homing head as well as a MMW seeker.
Saurav Jha: Turning to beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs). Would you like to comment on the status of various Astra BVRAAM family variants?
Satheesh Reddy: Astra MK1 has been inducted into the IAF. Astra MK2 is headed for development-cum-user trials, which will pave the way for its induction next year. The Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet -based Astra Mk3 will enter the developmental trials’ stage next year.
Saurav Jha: Speaking of ramjets, what is the status of the 350 mm liquid fuel ramjet (LFRJ) under development? What is it intended to power?
Satheesh Reddy: Its trials will happen in the not too distant future. It will be used to propel a supersonic target.
Saurav Jha: This year’s Republic Day parade saw DRDO’s various anti-tank guided missiles being displayed prominently. In that context, what is the status of each of the systems displayed during the parade i.e. the NAG, the HELINA, the Man-portable Anti-tank Guided Missile (MPATGM), Standoff Anti-tank (SANT) and the Canon Launched Guided Missile (CLGM)?
Satheesh Reddy: NAG has been cleared for production awaiting orders. HELINA user trials will commence in February 2021. SANT is headed for final developmental trials this year. MPATGM is currently at the user trial stage. CLGM should complete all trials by 2022.