Artillery: Pakistan Has A Secret Weapon Called DRDO

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January 25, 2017: India, noting that neighbor Pakistan had by in 2010 developed a locally designed and produced cruise missile ordered DRDO (its state owned weapons development organization) to develop a similar weapon for India. This should have been a simple, straight-forward task as this was mostly old tech. But the new Nirbhay cruise missile will not work and four failed tests later and India is under pressure to drop the program. Instead the DRDO was given until mid-2018 to make it work, or else. If the past is any guide the “or else” will be another extension and more money.

This is very disappointing to many Indian, who thought developing a cruise missile would be something the chronically inept could not screw up. After all cruise missiles have been around for a long time. The first one appeared during World War II as the German V-1 "Buzz Bomb". This was a 2.1 ton jet powered robotic missile with a 250 kilometer range and a .9 ton warhead. Starting in mid-1944 Germany went on to use some 10,000 V-1s against Britain and about 40 percent got through to cities, causing lots of damage and 24,000 casualties.

In the early 1980s the United States reinvented the buzz bomb as the “Tomahawk” using more recent tech. This modern cruise missile was a 1.5 ton, jet powered robotic weapon with a range of 1,500 kilometers and a very accurate (pre-GPS) guidance system. These cost less than a million dollars each and the U.S. has since improved the design and produced over 7,000 Tomahawks so far, mostly for the navy to use on ships. The Indian Nirbhay was to be a virtual clone of the original Tomahawk, which worked fine with what was essentially 1970s technology. Other countries have done this, but the DRDO has a history of promising much and delivering nothing on time, on budget or in working order.

Meanwhile the 1.5 ton Pakistani Haft VII cruise missile has a range of 700 kilometers, was first tested in 2005 and entered service in 2011. Haft VII uses a three missile transporter/erector/launcher (TEL) designed for "shoot and scoot." That means that the launcher can quickly launch a missile, return the missile canister to the horizontal position and move out of the area. This is because radars and other sensors can quickly spot where a missile is launched vertically, and attack the missile transporter. With a range of 700 kilometers, Hatf VII is based on the American Tomahawk cruise missile. Pakistan collected a lot of information on Tomahawk after several of them crashed in Pakistan in 1998 during a mass cruise missile attack on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Hatf VII has been adapted for use from aircraft and ships.

India is envious and, with DRDO in the way, frustrated. What India needs the most is a new DRDO, but that has proved more difficult than getting DRDO to actually produce functional weapons (which is occasionally does, sort of).

 


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