By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore/Hyderabad: This is the gripping love story of anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Nag and its system sweetheart NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier), that went awry. The climax of probably the longest story of India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), will finally unfold during coming Summer. Who will wed Nag? Will it be the NAMICA being re-groomedd by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) or the one being nurtured by Larsen and Tubro (L&T)? Adding twist to the tale is the possibility of the best of both systems being taken and rolled into a single macho carrier.
The wait has put Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) into an emotional spin, considering that the Indian Army had earlier placed its Acceptance of Necessity (AON) for 443 Nag missiles 13 NAMICAs in 2005. The Army had made it clear then that a firm commitment will only be given once all trials are successful and the system is fit for induction. The Army also projected in their perspective plan the need for 7000 Nag missiles and around 200 NAMICAs.
“As a complete weapon system (Nag + NAMICA) a final commitment will be given only after the Pokhran trials in coming summer. After the user trials in 2010, we had accepted Nag as an ATGM, but wanted integration with launcher improved,” Army sources told Express. The electro-mechanical systems of the two NAMCIAs used during trials (both made by BEL) were found to be below Army's expectations in tough dessert terrain conditions, including reliability concerns propping-up.
Work on Nag weapon system began in 1987 and the day version of the missile proved its mettle in 2000. Then the Army and DRDO top brass wanted the missile to have day and night capabilities, which is said to have developed in 2002. Later, the need for dual sensors was felt, including IR sensor for day/night and CCD (charged coupled device) for day. Finally, in 2007, the development of missile was completed along with NAMICA and user trials in phases were held during 2008-2010, until the NAMICA became DRDL's Nag-ging niece. “We have hence decided to go for two companies (BEL, L&T) and the best NAMICA will be selected after comparative studies and re-validation trials. The competitive evaluation of reconfigured NAMICA is possibly the last hurdle before the Army places the order,” sources said.
The upgraded NAMICA boasts of an advanced fire control system (FCS), advanced sighting system for both gunner and commander and compact auxiliary power unit (APU) which operates inside the hull compartment. “The carrier will offer a better launcher drive mechanism, reduced weight, smooth mobility and amphibious capabilities. Earlier the Army wanted eight missiles on the launcher and four in the stowage. Now, this has been reduced to six ready-to-fire missiles on the launcher only,” sources said.
DRDL claims that the missile can hit target up to 4 km in favourable conditions and up to 3 km in adverse conditions. “It is a very potent warhead which can pierce in excess of 850 mm of armour. A new seeker being developed in-house will take the range to 4.5 km, and guaranteed 4 km under all conditions. So far the project has cost over Rs 300 crore and a total of 80 missiles were developed in the pre-production phase by Bharat Dynamics Ltd. Around 50 missiles were used during trials,” sources said.
So will it be BEL, L&T or best of both going to be the winner? In love and war, seldom you get a second chance. Stay tuned!
|To be continued| Copyright@The New Indian Express |
(CRACKING INDIA'S MISSILE CODE is an exclusive series currently on in The New Indian Express. In the days ahead, you will get to read a mix of news-breaks and tech-upgrades on current and futuristic missile programs of India, in addition to some human-interest pieces. Email your thoughts on this long-range series to firstname.lastname@example.org and point out factual errors, if any, that might have crept in despite my best efforts. Thanks Radha Raman for keeping a very close watch on the series.)