Defence Current Affairs

BrahMos Missile tested in extreme weather conditions

DRDO has successfully test-fired supersonic cruise missile under extreme weather conditions, as part of the service life extension programme for Indian Army. The missile was fired from a mobile autonomous launcher from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore, Odisha.

Key Facts

During the test missile followed designated trajectory and its key components functioned perfectly. It again proved its all-weather capability, flying in sea state 7, with waves as high as nine metres. Sea state is the degree of turbulence at sea, generally measured on a scale of 0 to 9 according to average wave height.

The test was conducted on the heels of earlier two trials conducted on May 21 and 22, 2018 in which the major sub-systems manufactured indigenously under the ‘Make in India’ campaign were successfully tested to increase missile’s life from 10 to 15 years.

BrahMos Missile

BrahMos is supersonic cruise missile developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint-venture between Russia’s Mashinostroyenia and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It has been named after two rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva (river in western Russia). The missile has established itself as major force multiplier in modern-day complex battlefields with its impeccable land-attack, anti-ship capabilities with multi-role and multi-platform abilities.

Stages: It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant. It is self-propelled guided missile that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift.

Payload: It is capable of carrying warhead of 300 kilogram (both conventional as well as nuclear).

Accuracy: It operates on ‘fire and forget principal’. It is claimed that missile has strike accuracy rate of 99.99%.  It has enhanced destructive power due to large kinetic energy (because of supersonic speed) on impact. It has unique feature of quicker engagement time and non-interception by any known weapon system in the world.

Speed: It has top supersonic speed of Mach 2.8 to 3 (roughly three times speed of sound). It is hailed as world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation.

Range: It was initially capped at 290 km as per obligations of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since India’s entry into this elite club, its range was extended to 450 km and plan is to increase it to 600km.

Launch Variants: It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets. It follows a variety of trajectories like high, high-low, low, surface-skim etc.  It can cruise at altitude up to 15km and terminal altitude of as low as 10 meters.

Induction: It has been already inducted in Indian Army and Navy. The air-launched version of missile was test-fired in November, 2017 for first time from modified Su-30MKI aircraft, making it world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile to be fired from a combat jet against a target.

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Indian Army to resume trials of M777 Howitzer artillery gun

Indian Army is going to resume trials of US-made M777 ultralight howitzer in the Pokhran firing range, Rajasthan. During the trails local ammunition will be used and tentatively 100 to 150 rounds will be fired. The trials will begin after they were suspended in September 2017 following a barrel burst caused by faulty ammunition during firing.

M777 Howitzer artillery gun

M777 is 155-mm, 39-calibre towed artillery gun. It is manufactured by US based BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. It is smaller and lighter, as it is made of titanium and aluminium alloys and weighs just 4 tonnes. It has effective firing range of 24 km.

It can use all types of 155 mm ammunition. It can be easily transported by heavy lift helicopters, which will give Indian Army tremendous flexibility in its operations, especially in high altitude mountainous terrain. It takes only three minutes to come into action and has a pack-up time of just two minutes. It can sit down like scorpene, which makes it difficult to be spotted by the enemy tanks

Significance: Induction of M777 Howitzer artillery guns is expected to add tremendous firepower and much needed operational advantage to the Indian Army as they will be deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, bordering China. It will also give access to state of art technology. These artillery guns are already being used by US, Canadian and Australian armies.

Background

India signed Letter of Agreement and Acceptance (LoA) with US Government in November 2016 to buy 145 M777s through the foreign military sale (FMS) route at cost of $737 million. Of the 145 guns, 25 will be imported while the remaining 120 will be assembled in India in partnership with Mahindra group. Deliveries are slated to commence in March 2019 and will be completed by 2021. M777s deal is the first contract for artillery guns in almost 30 years after Bofors artillery guns induction in late-1980s, which had got embroiled in political controversy due to illegal kickbacks. Bofors guns however had been mainstay for Indian Army for decades and had played important role in Kargil conflict.

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