Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rocket Artillery Firepower Being Enhanced









Overall, it has been a mixed bag of success for the Indian Army’s Directorate of Field Artillery over the past decade. On one hand, it acquired strategic force multiplier capabilities (with rocket artillery assets) through its 333 (raised in June 1993 and commissioned in October 1995), 444 (raised in October 2003) and 555 Missile Groups (operational by January 2005), each equipped with a total of 60 liquid-fuelled, conventional warhead-armed, 150km-range surface-to-surface missiles, including reserve rounds) and is now raising its first of two Regiments of the 290km-range BrahMos supersonic, multi-role cruise missile (MRCM). The three Prithvi Missile Groups and the two BrahMos Regiments will form part of the ORBATs of the Indian Army’s two dedicated Artillery Divisions—40 and 41.
Each Prithvi Missile Group is made up of two Sub-Groups that in turn are made up of two Troops. Each Troop has two SS-150 mobile autonomous launchers (MAL). Thus, each Group has 8 launchers and almost 24 support vehicles, with the number of MALs expected to treble to 24 in future. However, in times of hostilities, the missiles will be pre-fuelled (the shelf-life of the liquid propellant is 10 years) before being deployed to their launch sites where only three vehicles—the MAL, power supply vehicle and one Mobile Command Post (MCP)—would be employed. The Prithvi SS-150—officially described by the DRDO as a tactical surface-to-surface missile and by the Army as a battlefield support missile--is fuelled by a liquid propellant (a 50:50 combination of isomeric xylidine and trimethlyamine), with the oxidizer being inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA). The propellant has a 260 specific impulse and was specified by the Army, which required a range fluctuation between 40km and 150km and this could only have been achieved by a variable total impulse best generated by liquid propellants. When it achieved operational status, the SS-150, equipped with a strap-down inertial navigation system, had a CEP of 300 metres, which is now being brought down to 30 metres through the adoption of a ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system coupled to a GPS receiver utilising PY code. Warhead options for the SS-150 include the standard high-explosive unitary warhead (weighing 1,000kg), pre-fragmented, and cluster munitions, an incendiary warhead, and fuel air explosive. Following its launch, the SS-150’s semi-ballistic trajectory will take it to an altitude of 30km following which it will adopt either a steep ballistic trajectory at nearly 80 degrees, or a lift-augmented descent trajectory. As far as the latter option goes, there are six flight-path variations available (which are pre-programmed prior to launch) in order to defeat or confuse anti-ballistic missile defences. It is evident from all this that the SS-150 will, during, hostilities, be employed for massed but effects-based fire assaults against largely static targets like troop concentrations, plus railroad and POL junctions, this being done in order to severely degrade the hostile force’s theatre-level and strategic reserves before they could become effective in the forward tactical battle areas. However, there is currently one critical problem that prevents the SS-150 from being optimally employed: the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not yet answered with clarity the question of whether the SS-150 will carry only conventional warheads or not. Consequently and strangely, the three SS-150 Missile groups remain under the administrative control only of the Army HQ’s Directorate of Field Artillery, but operational command-and-control over them is exercised only by the C-in-C of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC). It is this bizarre state of affairs that requires urgent rectification if the SS-150 is to be employed with devastating and decisive effect against any potential adversary. What has to be recognised is that the SS-150 never had and still has no strategic significance whatsoever as a deterrent in the nuclear context, and must therefore be allowed to become an integral part of the conventional ORBAT of operational theatre commanders, which will enable them to score over their opponents at the operational level.
As for the BrahMos MRCM, the Army plans to employ them for pin-point decapitating fire assaults against formational-level field HQs as well as pre-selected transportation nodes (of both external and interior lines of communications) and probable ballistic/cruise missile launch sites of the adversary. Each BrahMos Regiment will include three Batteries each with four MALs (each with three vertically-launched missiles), three MCPs, one Fixed Command Centre, nine missile replenishment vehicles, and three maintenance support vehicles, and will enable the Army to engage targets for its deep battles over a frontage of 600km. Each MAL carries three vertically-launched BrahMos missiles, and covers a frontage of 600km. The missile launcher’s launch beam is articulated to make the launch cannisters vertical through a high-pressure hydraulic system controlled by an electronic controller. The COTS-based launcher control system (LCS) functions in coordination with the MCP-mounted fire-control system (FCS) and a mast-mounted millimeter-wave line-of-sight secure communications system. Each MAL has a containerised power supply system consisting of 40kVA diesel generating set and 40kVA PTO alternator, a 2 x 7.5kVA single-phase UPS with integral battery bank for 15 minutes back-up power generation, and a 5kVA single-phase diesel generator. The BrahMos MRCM is 9 metres tall, weighs three metric tonnes, and carries a conventional 300kg warhead with 90kg TNT content. It has two stages—a solid propellant booster stage, and a ramjet-powered second stage using liquid propellant. Compared to existing subsonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos is superior by a factor of 3 in terms of velocity, 3 times better in flight range, 4 times better in terms of seeker range, and 9 times superior in terms of kill energy. Billed as a weapon unleashing technological asymmetry in the battlespace, this MRCM is capable of tilting the balance of war in favour of the possessor who can use it imaginatively and decisively. In order to fully optimise the BrahMos MRCM’s operational parameters and ensure synchronised battlespace management in a network-centric warfare environment, the Army is now in the process of fielding the indigenous Command-level Battlespace Surveillance System; Corps-level ‘Shakti’ Artillery Command, Control & Communications System; Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) and its related Division-level Force Multiplier Command Post (FMCP) and Brigade-level Mobile Communications Terminal (MCT); all of which will be used for target acquisition, designation and engagement under near-real-time conditions by the BrahMos MRCM. This in turn will enable a single BrahMos Regiment to launch 36 MRCMs to successfully engage critical targets with pinpoint accuracy within a matter of seconds. Each missile can be pre-programmed to fly multiple flight trajectories through up to eight waypoints permitting turns up to 80 degrees, traverse any type of terrain from sea-level to high altitude, and engage targets whether on forward or reverse slopes of mountains and valleys. The Army on June 21 last year officially received its first Battery of the BrahMos MRCM in the presence of Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the then President and Commander-in-Chief of India’s armed forces; Defence Minister Arakkaparambil Kurian Antony; and Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh, the then Chief of the Army Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. In all, the IA will possess a total of some 250 land-attack variants of the BrahMos MRCMs, including war wastage reserves, by 2017. It was on February 3, 2005 that the Government of India’s Cabinet Committee on National Security had approved the Army’s plans to raise the first of three Regiments of the BrahMos’ MRCM as part of the 40th and 41st Artillery Divisions in the 10th and 11th Five-Year Plan periods (2002-2007 and 2008-2013). For series-producing the MRCM, the sprawling BrahMos Integration Complex (BIC) in Hyderabad was commissioned in early 2004. The BIC today contains dedicated facilities such as standby generators; compressed air facility; inward inspection block; storage facilities for mechanical, electrical and electronic systems, bonded stores fuel filling area, magazine storage areas for propulsion systems and explosive devices, ultrasonic testing and sub-system test facilities, machining shop, and precision co-curing/autoclave facilities. BrahMos Aerospace has created a consortium of 20 Indian and 30 Russian industries since 2002 to undertake production of the MRCM’s intricate precision components and subassemblies, which number more than 2,000. The Indian companies include private and public sector companies, such as Larsen & Toubro, Godrej & Boyce, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, KELTECH and Electronics Corp of India Ltd. While the Indian firms are providing the MRCM’s airframe, launch tubes, wheeled MALs and MCPs, digitised inertial navigation and flight control systems, fire-control system, imaging infra-red seeker, secure two-way data links, and mission software, Russian companies like NPO Mashinostroyenia and GRANIT Central Scientific Research Institute are providing the liquid-fuel ramjet engine, and the SGH active radar seeker for the missile’s anti-ship variant. All these components and sub-systems are finally installed and integrated at the BIC.
In addition to the SS-150 and BrahMos, the Army is also expediting the induction of multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL) like the 9K58 Smerch-M. Deliveries of the first of two Regiments of the 12-tube 300mm, 90km-range MBRL, comprising 36 launch vehicles, were completed last June by Russia’s SPLAV State Research and Production Enterprise, and the procurement of another 18 follow-on 9K58 Smerch-Ms was sanctioned late last month. Deliveries of all 12 THALESRaytheon Corp-built AN/TPQ-37(V)1 Firefinder weapons locating radars worth $142.4 million (Rs9.5 billion) were completed in September 2005. Deliveries of the first 24 of up to 40 weapons locating radars (developed by the DRDO and being built by Bharat Electronics Ltd) will commence by 2010.—Prasun K. Sengupta

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

to prasun

i wnat to know r prithvi missiles ready to fire missiles like solid fuel missiles

or they need to fill up the liquid fuel first and then fire cuz it takes almost 2 hours to fill up the misiile and those 2 hours r deadly late

Prasun K Sengupta said...

As I said in the article, the missile can be fuelled days, months or even years before its usage. The fuel has a 10-year shelf-life. There's no need to put fuel into the missile just before launch. It can even be done six months before the missile is fired. So relax. They are ready-to-fire missiles whenever required.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

i want to know how many missiles r in service

i mean exact number of missiles

like how many prithvi-150
how many prithvi -250

how many agni-1 and agni-2 missiles have been commissioned

i just want to know the numbers

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Well, only the PM or RM can reveal those figures with authority during question-hour in Parliament. But what I say say with certainty is the the IAF has no SS-250 missiles that it promised take for its two squadrons, which have not yet been set up. Why? because the IAF wants Prithvi SS-250 to have greater accuracy, i.e. a CEP of 10 metres, which has not yet been possible to achieve.

Anonymous said...

to prasun

is prithvi works with US gps or russian GLONASS for PY codes

or will US allow its gps for PY codes i think russia agreed to allow PY codes of their glonass thats y india joined that

one more question

what about range of pritvi-250
and what is prithvi 350 and what r the ranges of these two missils

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Prithvi will work only with GLONASS PY code because India has a bilateral agreement with Russia (which has agreed to do so because the Prithvi SS-150/SS-250 does not violate any of the MTCR guideleines), and not with the US. Therefore India cannot access the US PY codes from NAVSTAR. But India's own Gagan GPS satellites that will be deployed for regional constellation coverage will give India her own PY code accuracy.
Prithvi SS-250 will be covered by me in a separate article. But prototypes of this missiles have been fired out to 310km to date.
There's no Prithvi 350 as such. It is called the Dhanush. There is another solid-fuelled variant of the Prithvi SS-150 which is used as a target for the PAD-1/AAD anti-ballistic missiles.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Kindly take note that ALL the BEML-built TATRA vehicles shown above feature left-hand drives. Apparently BEML must have forgotten to include the RHD modification in the technology-transfer agreement with TATRA!

kannan said...

Plz throw light on status of artillery contract. I think after cancellation of 700 pieces bid, nobody is capable of fulfilling requirements of army's GSQR. What the hell were they thinking? By the looks of things, our strategy is area suppression dominated by long range MBRL (improved pinakas+smerch)and pakis are concentrating on howitzers in numbers. right? If we use long range MBRLS for duels with pakis in LoC,wont this be treated as escalation by international community. Do we have adequate howitzers to do the job, heard longtime ago that Soltam have upgraded all small calibres to 155mm. Is that enough?

Anonymous said...

Dear Prasun sir,

you said:

Russia’s SPLAV State Research and Production Enterprise, and the procurement of another 18 follow-on 9K58 Smerch-Ms was sanctioned late last month.

How about PINAKA MBRL? Why not PINAKA rather than Smerch Ms?


_MKK

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Kannan: Will do a separate analysis of the farcical towed howitzer competitive trials very very soon.

To Anon@3:03AM: The 214mm Pinaka MBRL will begin entering service early next year. Am doing a separate story describing its capabilities and future growth potential.

Anonymous said...

Dear Prasun sir,

Entering service next year?

The first PINAKA regiment was raised in early 2000. Sometime last year I remember TATA and LT winning a contract to produce more PINAKA which were to be delivered within 6 months.

I think you got your facts mixed up.

_MKK

Anonymous said...

Prasun,
waiting for your Pinaka MBRL story.
THansk in advance.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

The Pinaka Regiment you are referring to was in fact a Test & Evaluations Unit. The fully equipped Regiment that will be part of the Army's operational ORBAT will be commissioned with all its MBRL assets next year. The defintive version of the Pinaka was not ready until 2006 for user-trials. All that was delivered to the Army's Test & Evaluations Unit were pre-production prototypes. No MBRL can be delivered by any OEM (Indian or foreign)within six months of contract signature. The minimum specified time-period is 18 months as series-production-tooling and long-lead items take a minimum of 14 months to be fabricated and tested.

Max said...

@Prasun

This article says 6 months. See: ( http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Tata,-L&T-bag-orders-for-Pinaka-rocket-launcher/1662/ )

And why should it take so damn many months to make such a system? more than a year? it's just some hydraulics mounted on a truck fitted with rockets! Even a fighter jet doesn't take so long to produce. HAL makes several Sukhois and Dhruvs etc. every year!

Can we hear something on the ARDE's plan to develop a long range MBRL on par with the Smerch? Or please include it in your article coming up on the same.

Thanks

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Max: If I'm not mistaken, Ajai in BROADSWORD had a few months ago done a detailed report of the on-going industrial spat between L & T and BEML regarding the Pinaka MBRL's final assembly. It is a truly damning report and the MoD should be ashamed of such a state of affairs. Regarding production of weapons from raw materials it does take time for the production line to churn out the weapons as the desired levels of QC take time to achieve. For instance, although the licenced-production of T-72M1 MBTs was inked in the early 1980s, it was only in 1988 that the first locally-assembled (from Soviet-supplied raw materials) was rolled out. Same goes for aircraft as well. The ones of imported design were and are being licence-assembled by HAL, not being built with India-sourced raw materials as yet (this applies specially to the Su-30MKI. That's what explains the long lead-times taken to produce the Tejas LCA's LSPs and to complete the development cycle of even the HJT-36 IJT. Lastly, some of the advanced navigation systems for the Pinaka MBRL are being outsourced from abroad and were ordered only last February (this year). These items will be delivered only early next year.
Am doing the article on the new MBRL being developed by the ARDE. It will be almost identical to the Smerch-M in terms of firepower performance. Cheers!

Max said...

@Prasun

OK.. I'll read our article and comment. Please don't make it be like the "alleged ATV article" you told me about ages ago.. :-)

LOL

Max said...

typo

*your article

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Max: Cut me some slack here yaar. The ATV article will appear along with related info on the Akula-2 SSGN and related shore-based establishment reqmts. Patience my friend.

Max said...

@Prasun

No worries mate.. Take your time and keep up the great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Prasun,
Any idea hoiw the indigenization of the SU30 MKI is going on. how many #'s have been inducted in IAF to date. A while back there was a story that even the front wheel tyres are imported from Russia!
Thanks

Prasun K Sengupta said...

It depends on what is meant by indigenisation. Does it mean ToT for licenced-assembly from fully knocked-down kits? Does it mean producing the airframe, engines, accessories out of India-sourced raw materials? Does it mean procuring avionics off-the-shelf from foreign and Indian vendors, with HAL only assembling them and then installing them on the aircraft? Does it mean the various foreign vendors setting up workshops within India to undertake complete MRO activities in India, but choosing to import the critical components of the various LRUs (especially for avionics)? The problem here is the Govt of India and HAL have not yet spelt out with clarity on what constitutes indigenisation.

Regarding the tyres, the problem has been the industrial litigation between Dunlop India and MRF Tyres. MRF had already bought over Dunlop India a few years ago but the takeover was the subject of a litigation case that only recently got resolved. Now MRF Tyres looks set to mass-produce the tyres for not only military aircraft, but for commercial airliners as well.

Anonymous said...

Prasun,
I should have specified what I meant by indeginization. I meant building an aircraft from raw material sourced from Indian companies. Indian comapnies having the knowhow to build these components and yes including tyres. The only reason I ask is because SU 30 MKI is our frontline fighter as the MRCA and LCA are still a few years away from operational roles.
Thanks