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Defence Research In India

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was established iii 1958 to provide a solid base to the national security system.
  • DRDO formulates and executes programs of scientific research, design and develop new weapons required by the Armed Forces.
  • Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was launched in 1983 in which the following missiles have been developed:


The Agni missile is an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) developed under the IGMDP by India. It was first tested at the Interim Test Range in Chandipur in 1989, and is capable of carrying a conventional payload of 1000 kg or a nuclear warhead. It consists of one (short range) or two stages (intermediate range). It is rail and road mobile. It is powered by solid and/or liquid propellants. Agni-III, the third in the Agni series, has a range of 3,500 km- 5500 km. The Agni I has a range of 700—800 km while the Agni-II as a range of 2,000—2,500 km.


The Prithvi missile is the tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). It was India’s first indigenously developed ballistic missile. Development of the Prithvi began in 1983, and it was first test-fired on Feb 25, 1988 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. Variants of Prithivi
  • The Prithvi missile project encompassed developing three variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, outlined in the initial project framework of the IGMDP.
  • Prithvi I - Army Version (150 km range with a payload of 1000 kg)
  • Prithvi II - Air Force Version (200 km range with a payload of 500 kg)
  • Prithvi III or Sagarika - Naval Version (350 km range with a payload of 500 kg)


The Dhanush is a Naval variant of the Prithvi short-range ballistic missile intended for launch from surface ships. The Defence Ministry has said that the 8.53 metre-long and 0.9 meter wide Dhanush, with a strike range of 350 km and payload capacity of 500 kg, would “soon be operationalised” in the Navy.


Akash is a medium range surface-to-air missile with an intercept range of 30 km. It has a launch weight of 720 kg, a diameter of 35 cm and a length of 5.8 metres. Akash flies at supersonic speed, reaching around Mach 2.5. It can reach an altitude of 18km. It is propelled by a solid fuelled booster stage.


Trishul is a short range surface-to-air missile. It has a range of 9 km and is fitted with a 5.5 kg warhead. Designed to be used against low-level (sea skimming) targets at short range, the system has been developed, to defend naval vessels against missiles and also as a short range surface to air missile on land.


Nag is India’s third generation “Fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile. It is an all-weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km. Separate versions for the Army and the Air Force are being developed.


The Shaurya missile is a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile for use by the Indian Army. Capable of hypersonic speeds, it has a range of 600 km and is capable of carrying a payload of one-tonne conventional or nuclear warhead. The Shaurya missile provides India with a significant second strike capability. Shaurya missile is a land version of the under-water launched K-15 missile, Sagarika.


BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia who have, together formed the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. Its operational range is 290 km. The acronym BrahMos is perceived as the confluence of the two nations represented by two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. It travels at speeds of Mach 2.5 to 2.8 and is the world’s fastest cruise missile. A hypersonic version of the missile is also presently under development.

Other Developments

  • The expertise and technology developed through the IGMDP is also used in the new Anti ballistic missile called the Exoatmospheric interceptor system which successfully intercepted a Prithvi-II ballistic missile.
  • India became the fourth nation in the world to acquire such a capability and the third nation to develop it through indigenous effort. In Dec 2007, India successfully tested the Endoatmospheric version which destroyed a modified Prithvi-II missile at 15 km altitude with text-book perfection thereby completing what is known as Multi-layered Theatrical Wide-area Air Defence system that can successfully target and destroy all kinds of Aerial threats from low flying cruise missiles, supersonic short-range, intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles at altitudes of 15 to 50 + km at any angle and azimuth.

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