|Vol. 6 No. 1 February 1998||ISSN: 0971-4413|
In the current scenario of no use of nuclear weapons, the defence systems are strongly biased in favour of conventional armament. The end of Cold War has given a clear signal that in the future the key to success lies in the enhancement of precision of conventional armament, be it the internal security operation, domestic/international terrorism or low intensity conflict. The emphasis of Defence R&D on the development of conventional armament during the last fifty years showed the vision of policy makers in the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
Conventional Armament Design & Development
Coordination Between Organisations
Armament Research Board
Armament Systems Inducted into Services
|.||Conventional Armament Design & Development |
India has a long history of design and development of conventional armament. The oldest laboratory in DRDO, Proof & Experimental Establishment (PXE) at Balasore is an armament laboratory, which has celebrated its centenary only a couple of years ago. The R&D activities in armament commenced at the erstwhile Technical Development Establishments a decade prior to the Independence. The Post-Independence Era saw further strengthening through the estab- lishment of three new R&D labs in the area of weapons and ammunition, high explosive materials, and terminal ballistics. In the initial stages, these four laboratories, viz., Armament Research & Development Establishment, High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory and PXE took up the R&D work with the limited objective of import substitution and development of simple conventional armament systems. The main products developed during this period were the 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle and 75/24 Pack Howitzer.
Moving from the limited mandate of import substitution and product improvement to major system design, in seventies, the armament laboratories developed the Indian Field Gun (IFG), gun/mortar ammunition of various types, mines and fuzes, and upgunned T 55 MBT. In the eighties, the emphasis shifted to the design and development of complex systems like the 5.56 mm Family of Small Arms (INSAS), Arjun MBT armament along with 105/120/125 mm FSAPDS ammunition, Light Field Gun, Light Platoon Mortar and its ammunition, advance versions of VT fuzes, Limpet Mine, Indian Sea Mine, High Speed Low Drag (HSLD) Bombs for aircraft, etc. The current decade of nineties is witnessing the maturity of R&D in armament with the development of high challenging and complex systems like Multibarrel Rocket Launcher Pinaka, Smart Munitions, Long Range Gun Projectiles, Air Defence and Field Artillery Systems, stand off Bombs for aircraft, etc.
|.||Coordination Between Organisations|
The most outstanding feature of the armament R&D activities in India is the intense interaction of the R&D laboratories with the Ordnance Factories and DGQA establishments. These three organisations have functioned as a cohesive team and the armament products required by the Services have been taken from the stage of inception to mass production in a synergic mode.
Self-reliance has been the basic objective of armament R&D activities in India. The quality of the product design compares favourably with the best available in the world. Some technologies like illuminating ammunition, FSAPDS shots and gun/rocket/missile propellants even surpass the performance of the contemporary design in many respects. The technologies pertaining to conventional armament have come to a matured level and the country has achieved self-reliance in this area.
The Government has recently announced that there would be no further need to import ammunition. This indeed is a great tribute to the constant efforts made by the armament group of laboratories. It is noteworthy that of the total production value from the Indian Ordnance Factories, 70 per cent is based on the design provided by the armament group of laboratories which amounts to more than Rs 5000 crore. It is a landmark achievement indeed.
|.||Armament Research Board|
In the pursuit of acquiring self- sufficiency in critical armament technologies within the stringent time frame, Armament Research Board, with the basic objective of pooling the scientific talent available in DRDO, sister organisations like Indian Space Research Organisation, Department of Science & Technology, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research, etc, and academic institutions and industry has been constituted. It is aimed to provide the necessary launching platform for coordinating a gamut of research activities related to armament technologies in the country. It will enable the armament group of laboratories to meet the demands of the nation for the sophisticated and state-of-the-art conventional armament.
|.||Armament Systems Inducted into Services |
A large number of armament systems have been productionised based on DRDO design and inducted into the Services. Some important ones are briefly described here.
Infantry Platoon Mortar & its Ammunition
Other Important Armament Systems inducted into Services
Besides armament systems designed, developed, produced and inducted into the Services, a number of critical defence technologies have also been successfully developed during the last few decades. The notable ones are: Fuel Air Explosive (FAE), PZT Material, Smart Weapons, Solid Incendiary, Gatling Gun, Propellants and Explosives. The most recent technology of Smart Weapons is briefly described here.