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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Missiles to get smarter & lighter with onboard desi chip

By Anantha Krishnan M 
Express News Service

Bangalore\Hyderabad: Indian missiles are set to go lighter and smarter with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on the verge of launching a System on Chip (SOC) component, to be embedded on to the onboard computer (OBC). The SOC will give a tech advantage to the scientists to either increase the range of the missile or the warhead, depending upon the mission. The processing speed also will go up by 6-7 times with SOC.
A five-member team of young scientists with average nine years of experience are eagerly waiting for the final product, which will replace the PCB-based hardware consisting of various integrated components (IC) on single board.  A missile typically carries huge number of such ICs making the total weight of the OBC close to 4-5 kilograms. The SOC with its power supply unit and connecters will weigh less than 200 grams.
DRDO scientists claim that it will be for the first time India will equip its missiles with such state-of-the-art component, though the US, Israel and China have made inroads in similar technologies. SOC will be a match-box size unit with high computing intense application and very low power requirement. The efficiency of the missile will also be increased by many folds. 
S K Ray, Director, Research Centre Imarat (RCI), tells Express that miniatirisation of systems makes the missile high-performance in nature. “Smaller avionics means, more options for warhead with more propulsion. Ours chips can be used for avionics applications in future too and we have a huge cost advantage having made them indigenously. It will be an integral part of all future navigation and homing guidance seekers,” says Ray. 
DRDO hopes to get the first block of SOCs in December and later test it the on short-range air-to-air Astra missile by mid-2012. Astra – a BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile – will be initially integrated with Su-30 MKI and later on Tejas and MiG-29. 
B H V S Narayana Murthy, Director, Real-Time Embedded Computers, RCI, says that the might of India’s futuristic missiles will largely depend on miniaturization of onboard systems. “The key developing smaller and efficient components and India is in striking distance in achieving this. Tactical missiles will be the biggest beneficiaries and we are now aiming to standardize and offer SOC to more platforms in future,” Murthy said. 
The SOC is a project being undertaken by RCI, jointly with the Advanced Numerical Research and Analysis Group (ANURAG) – both DRDO labs based in Hyderabad. The Real-Time Embedded Computer Directorate under RCI has tasked the SOC development to its Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) wing. Though the Rs 32-crore project was sanctioned in December 2005, with a four-year deadline to deliver the product, sources attribute the slippage of two years to the technology challenges involved in developing low-power SOCs.

                   (To be continued. Copyright@The New Indian Express)
(CRACKING INDIA'S MISSILE CODE is an exclusive series that has gone live in The New Indian Express today. 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 anantha.ak@gmail.com and point out factual errors, if any, that might have crept in despite my best efforts.)

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