Vol. 6 No. 1 February 1998ISSN: 0971-4413 
Bulletin of Defence Research & Development Organisation



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

Technologies Established


.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

Mortar is a good fire power weapon with quick action and operation capability. The indigenously developed 51 mm Mortar provides the Infantry Platoon a man-portable weapon capable of achieving more than double the range of existing 2 inch Mortar without increase in weight. Its improved accuracy and lethality gives quick neutralising fire power, provides effective smoke screen, and illuminates targets for direct fire weapons. The use of notched coil technology makes the weapon more effective; the physical and performance characteristics match with the contemporary weapon of its class available worldover. A large quantity of weapon and its family of HE, smoke and illuminating ammunition worth few hundred crores has been produced by the Ordnance Factories.

Illuminating Ammunition

Effective illumination of an area for night operations in the battlefield enhances operational capability of the Army. DRDO has perfected the technology of illuminating ammunition and has developed a veriety of illuminating ammunition for the Indian Army. These include 51 mm/81 mm/120 mm Mortar launched ammunition and 105 mm Indian Gun launched ammunition. The reliability and performance of indigenously developed illuminating ammunition is superior to the international standard. A dedicated Ordnance Factory has produced world class illuminating ammunition worth hundreds of crores.

 APDS & FSAPDS Ammunition

For effectively destroying well-protected tanks and ICVs, the kinetic energy projectiles, viz., Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) and Fin Stabilised APDS (FSAPDS) have been successfully developed and productionised. New technologies have been developed for the plastic driving band, aluminium alloy sabot and heavy alloy penetrator. Such projectiles have been developed for tank guns in calibres of 105 mm, 120 mm and 125 mm. By establishing production of these ammunition in the Ordnance Factories, a substantial amount of foreign exchange has been saved.

5.56 mm Family of Small Arms

For meeting the present day tactical requirement of the Indian Army of a light weight, compact and better fire power small arms, a family of Small Arms in 5.56 mm calibre (INSAS) and its family of ammunition have been developed. The family comprises Rifle (fixed and folding butt) effective up to 400 m, Light Machine Gun (fixed and foldable butt) effective up to 700 m, and Carbine effective up to 200 m range. The hallmark of the system is a large number of common components between the weapons of the family, all firing the same common ammunition. The ammunition with its superior ballistic design has better penetration capability than standard NATO rounds at ranges more than 500 m. The extensive use of plastic material for furniture items and heat resistant hand guard fabricated out of special composite material are the technologies exclusively developed for INSAS. The INSAS family of weapons is soldier friendly as it reduces logistics and simplifies training. The bulk production of weapon and ammunition has been successfully established at a number of Ordnance Factories. DRDO design has resulted into over Rs 5000 crores of production programme over a period of 10 years and this is a step forward towards self-reliance mission of the country.

Power Cartridges

To protect the precious lives and use the armament effectively, all combat aircraft are provided with crew escape aid systems along with the systems to operate the armament at a desired level of confidence. Power cartridges employed to operate these systems at the highest degree of operational reliability have been successfully developed and productionised. The technological capability of development of power cartridges of almost all inservice combat aircraft has been fully indigenised, resulting in substantial saving of foreign exchange.

Mine Anti Personal Inflammable (MAPI)

Several types of mines are in vogue to deter hostile forces access through land. A similar system, MAPI has been developed to prevent enemy’s approach through waterways. MAPI, a self-contained system, comprises five sub-systems—a container (mine body) filled with gelled fuel, fuze, anchor, and a firing device. It can be deployed in ditch-cum-bunds/canals. On initiation, the gel floats on the water and catches fire creating very high intensity heat generated by the flames. The system has been accepted by the Army after successful evaluation trials; its production is under establishment.

Sea Mine Gold Fish

After successful development and introduction of Limpet Mine for the Indian Navy, the Indian Sea Mine, Gold Fish has now been developed for harbour defence. It is laid on the sea bed and functions on acoustic and magnetic influences of the target. The mine electronics based on complementary metal oxide semi- conductor (CMOS) technology are designed in modular form for the ease of servicing and maintenance during storage. The electronics allows extensive programming of different modes of deployment, influence selection, influence levels and timing parameters. It can be laid well in advance and arms itself after preset time. Due to its dual principle of working, it is very effective and can cause primary damage to the target. The Mine after successful trials has been introduced into the Indian Navy.

Explosive Reactive Armour

For providing adequate protection to the battletanks against attack by HESH, kinetic energy (KE) and shaped charge warheads, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) has been successfully developed which has now been accepted by the Army. The technologies involved in making the panels have been successfully transferred to the Ordnance Factories

105 mm Field Guns

The 105 mm Indian and Light Field Guns (IFG/LFG) are high performance guns meeting the conflicting requirements of mountain, plain and desert warfare. The LFG is a close in weapon, designed to provide the necessary range, mobility and fire power required in the present day battlefield scenario. A unique feature of LFG is its light weight which makes it capaple of being helilifted for quick deployment in mountain terrain. This has been achieved by using high strength alloy steel. The optimised design provides a compact, robust and small profile iDEALly suited for cross-country mobility.

Solid Rocket & Gun Propellants

With the humble start of manufacturing conventional gun propellants, propellant technology has grown manifold. The technology for the Triple Base Propellants with high calorific value and high force constant has been established and the variants produced as required. Low vulnerability propellants have also been evolved.

For rockets and missiles, a spectacular success has been achieved in the development of solid propellants. Cast and extruded double-base propellants, high energy high strength propellants, nitramine propellants, etc meeting the most stringent requirements are now possible to be produced due to complete mastery on the technology established for this purpose. The technology for producing propellant grains with diameters ranging from few millimeters to few meters has already been established. Quantum jumps have also been achieved in characteristics like specific inpulse and burn rates.

Other Important Armament Systems inducted into Services




Air Force

75/24 Pack HowitzerLIMPET/Advanced LIMPET Mines68 mm Arrow Rocket
Bar Mine30 mm Naval AmmunitionCluster Weapon
122 mm Grad RocketCartridge Submerge Ejector Signal250 kg/450 kg HSLD Bombs
PZT materialsVT Fuze for 76.2 mm Naval AmmunitionFuzes (Tail and Nose) for Aircraft Bombs
81 mm/120 mm Mortar Training DeviceMRECM and SRECM Rockets
Charge Line Mine ClearingAnti Submarine RGB-25 Rocket
Influence Mine
Bomb 120 mm Screening Smoke
Ammunition for Automatic Grenade Launcher
Armament for MBT Arjun
Time and Proximity Fuzes
Bund Blasting Device

.Technologies Established

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.

Smart Weapons

Significant innovations have made the frontal and side armours of the AFVs heavily protected. DRDO has successfully demonstrated several technologies for the development of Smart Munitions having the capability to defeat the armour of any AFV from its vulnerable top. These include:

  • Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP)—A copper liner serving as antenna for the sensor in the search mode and forming a single projectile in the attack mode
  • Detonator Arming Safety Device for activating EFP
  • Efficient capsule ejection system
  • Highly compact MMW sensor
  • Rotatoil parachute for stabilising the sub-munition and scanning the ground target

    The system can be suitably developed for launching from various types of platforms. The technology has been validated for 120 mm Mortar. It can however be adopted for platforms like High Calibre Howitzer/Field Guns, multibarrel rocket systems, Prithvi missile and aircraft carrier bombs.