Indian Army and DRDO collaborate to develop tank-killer Nag missile

Despite differences running b/w the Army and DRDO, the two are trying cooperate in the development of world-class tank-killer missile.

What are the problems?

The problem with the DRDO’s anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), Nag (Hindi for cobra), is its range and weight. Currently, the Nag accurately hits its targets out to 4 km, the range that the army asks for. But in extreme heat, especially in summer afternoons in the desert, the missile cannot strike a target beyond 2.5 km. The seeker of the missile cannot work in high temperatures. The DRDO is trying to develop a seeker that can work through the hottest desert temperatures.

The Army is unhappy with the 40 kg weight of the missile. It has demanded for about 30-35 kg.

The Army is ready to buy 13 Nag carriers (NAMICA, being developed by BEL and L&T), and 443 Nag missiles in the current form. These will be positioned in regions of Punjab, where close-set villages, groves and electricity transmission cables do not allow visibility beyond 2.5 km. It will order larger consignment only after DRDO demonstrates better performance with an efficient Seeker.

What is the exigency of these missiles?

  • The delay in the development of the missile is a disappointment to the army. Indian infantry formations is urgently looking for a capable ATGM to tackle Pakistani tank forces that now have potent Ukrainian T-80 and Chinese T-85 tanks.

How does the missile function?

  • With the help of thermal imaging telescopes, the Nag missile pilots scan the battlefield for enemy tanks. After having set up an enemy tank, the Nag pilot locks the seeker onto it. Instantly, a digital snapshot of the target is taken, which funtions as a reference image. As the Nag heads towards the target, at 230 m/s, the seeker takes repeated snapshots of the target; each one is compared with the previous image. The deviations are translated into corrections to the Nag’s control fins, which automatically guide the missile onto the target. The missile is also called as “fire-and-forget” missile as it eases the pilot of the need to expose himself to enemy fire after launching the missile.

What are the other types of “Fire and Forget” missiles?

  • Only a few countries carry these kinds of sophisticated missiles.

– FGM-148 Javelin is manufactured by American companies, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

– The Spike is built by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The Javelin and the Spike are lighter, “man-portable” missiles that can be carried by an infantry soldier, whereas, the Nag is heavier and more powerful missile that operates from vehicles and helicopters.

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