How India Developed Its Missile System

In late 1980s, the Defence Research and Development Lab (DRDL) was working to improve the defence system of India. DRDL worked overtime to develop indigenous tanks and missiles. And, at the same time, India was constantly being monitored by the Western Military Intelligence Agencies.

DRDL had already developed itself in fields of propulsion, navigation and manufacture of substances needed for missile development in the early 1980s. All there high-tech developments were to be put together under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, which included projects like

-Prithvi, (short-range surface-to-surface missile),
-Trishul (short range surface-to-air missile),
-Akash (medium range surface-to-air missile),
-Nag (Anti-tank missile) and
-Agni (Long range missile)

Prithvi was tested successfully in 1988 which led India to the top of the missile manufacturing nations. However, the main goal was to develop a long range missile system Agni, named after fire in Sanskrit. By 1987, a small scale model of Agni was prepared, It was needed to be tested for the effects of friction and wind shear. But at that time, India lacked a wind tunnel for hypersonic test conditions which was necessary to test the same.
The scientists of DRDL contacted a German lab to conduct the tests. However, at the same time, the idea of ‘Club of Elites’ was being discussed among USA, Canada, France, Japan, Italy, Britain and Germany. The aim of this club was to prevent other nations from developing missile systems.

When the team of scientists reached Germany, all the above-mentioned nations ratified Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the scientists were refused from carrying on any tests in the German Lab. It was now India Vs. The World and it was India’s fight alone.

The scientists decided to use Computational Fluid Dynamics, which is a computer simulation of the effects of certain factors on the missile. But, for this, a supercomputer was needed which India lacked as well. To counter this problem, a new algorithm was developed, which was not at all reliable. To test this newly developed algorithm, Prithvi was tested by this algorithm and the results matched with the original test results. The algorithm gained credibility.

Agni was tested on 22nd May, 1989 wherein it carried 1000kg payload and delivered it 800km away. India became the first nation to develop a Long Range Missile System without testing it in a wind tunnel and without the help of a supercomputer. And finally, on 27th June, 2016, India joined the ‘Club of Elites’ – Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which once prevented India to develop Agni. All this due to the efforts of the scientists who refused to give up to the obstacles that came their way.