To be Precise

India has a wide variety of land-based precision guided munitions to choose from

Jaison Deepak

Advance armoured vehicle by Bharat Forge with Rafael’s Spike Anti Tank missiles on display at DefExpo
Advance armoured vehicle by Bharat Forge with Rafael’s Spike Anti Tank missiles on display at DefExpo

The modern battlefield is increasingly throwing new challenges at the war fighter such as increasing risk of collateral damage due to proximity of non-combatants, logistical complexities and increasing cost of providing firepower to the troops. Over the years, precision munitions have demonstrated promising potential to mitigate these problems to a good extent over the years. An increase in precision munitions makes sure that civilian casualties are minimised, and far lesser number of munitions are used for the same effects as compared to dumb munitions. As a result, it eases the logistic pressure, costs and lesser barrel wear and tear. Also, insensitive warheads and bi-modular charges enhance the safety, range of the precision munitions while reducing charge wastage. Many western countries and NATO allies have used precision munitions on a significant scale. In the Gulf was previously, and now in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries have witnessed enhanced terminal effects.

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

The Kalyani Group and Rafael established a joint venture to manufacture the Spike anti-tank missile for the Indian market. Although the Spike is touted as the leading contender for the procurement of third generation anti-tank missiles, issues such as vendor situation and high cost of the system have delayed the signing of a contract.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has also been developing and testing a variant of the Nag anti-tank missile called the Prospina with higher resolution seekers based on Focal Plane Array (FPA) detectors from Sofradir (France) and newer variants of the launcher NAMICA built by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). Earlier seekers had experienced difficulty in picking up targets at three-four km in high ambient temperatures of Pokhran summers.

Guided Mortars

Guided artillery shells are a cost-effective way to provide precision fire-power to shorter ranges at the battalion level. The guidance electronics which go into mortars tend to be less expensive than the ones in howitzers as they tend to experience much lower acceleration.

The Orbital ATK XM395 has been successfully proven in Afghanistan by the US forces. It consists of a guidance fuse kit with has a GPS module, controller and fins to improve the Circular Error Probability (CEP) from more than a hundred metres for normal mortar rounds to about 10m CEP or less.

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