Tuesday, August 3, 2021

India’s Latest Anti-Radiation Missile

India took a decisive step in its defence preparedness with the successful test of the new generation anti-radiation missile “Rudram-1” last week. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO, India’s premier defence research and development agency, the new missile is aimed at providing tactical air superiority in warfare. The test was carried out from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur in Balasore district of Odisha on the east coast. The missile successfully hit a radiation target located on Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha, with pin-point accuracy. With this success, India joins a select group of nations to indigenously develop, and test, an air-launched radar-busting anti-radiation missile that should provide a significant boost to its air force’s air defence-suppression capabilities. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the DRDO on successful test firing of the missile, calling it a “remarkable achievement”.

An anti-radiation missile is an air-to-ground missile designed to detect and home in on an enemy radio emission source. Like most weapons in its class, the Rudram-1 features a passive-homing guidance system, in which the on-board radar seeker, homes-in on a radiation-emitting target. Typically, these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communications can also be targeted in this manner. Neutralising or disrupting the operations of the adversary’s early warning radars, command and control systems, and surveillance systems that use radio frequencies and give inputs for anti-aircraft weaponry, can be very crucial.

With a launch speed of up to Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound – Rudram-1 provides the nation’s Air Force with a critical air-to-ground weapon that can take out enemy radars and surveillance systems. The missile is designed to eliminate or suppress radiation-emitting sources such as surveillance radars in enemy territory, thereby clearing the way for effective air strike. Suppression of radar systems will enable India’s jets to carry out missions without having to worry about facing threats from radar-guided surface-to-air missiles.

Because the missile is to be carried and launched from extremely complex and sensitive fighter jets, the development was full of challenges, such as development of radiation seeker technologies and guidance systems, besides integration with the fighter jet. 

According to DRDO, Rudram-1 has been developed for India Air Force’s requirement to enhance its suppression of enemy air defence capability. Equipped with state of art radiation tracking and guidance system, Rudram-1 has already undergone preliminary tests with the help of an operational fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force. It has been designed to be launched from various fighter aircraft currently in the inventory of the Indian Air Force, including Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Dassault Mirage 2000, Jaguar, and Tejas. Rudram-1 can strike any range between 100 to 250 kms.

According to DRDO, feasibility studies on India’s next-generation anti-radiation missile had begun in 2012 with the objective of designing and configuring the missile fully indigenously. In order to do this, the DRDO needed to master the development of crucial technologies including a wide-band passive seeker, a millimetric wave active-seeker, radome for the seekers, and a dual-pulse propulsion system, which was achieved successfully.

After launch, guidance and navigation of the missile towards its target takes place through continuous inputs from sensors and passive homing seeker technology. These inputs are processed by an on-board computer that generates autopilot commands, with a control system steering the missile towards the target.

It is now well-established that modern-day warfare is more and more network-centric, which means it comprises elaborate detection, surveillance and communication systems that are integrated with the weapons systems. In this context the success of India’s newest anti-radar missile is significant.

DRDO is planning to bring further software improvements to handle a larger variety of targets under various operational conditions while developing a separate ground-based variant of Rudram to be launched from mobile launcher.

Script: Biman Basu, Senior Science Commentator

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