India: Breakthrough in missile technology

In a major technological breakthrough that will drastically reduce the weight of missiles and enable them to reach longer ranges with heavier payloads, DRDO scientists have developed composite rocket motor casings.

Only the United States, Russia and a European consortium have achieved a similar feat. Faced with denial of advanced technology by the Missile Technology Control Regime, the scientists from DRDO’s Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, developed it in four years.

ASL Director Avinash Chander told The Hindu here on Friday: “This is a major breakthrough, which provides us the key technology to go into longer missions with lighter weight.” The first large composite motor with carbon filament winding was realised after it was subjected to “full qualification and static tests.”

Metallic casings

Most of the missiles today had metallic rocket motor casings made of maraging steel or other varieties of steel. With weight being a critical factor, the trend world over was to move over to composite carbon filament wound motors. “Our aim is to have as low a weight as possible,” Mr. Chander said.

Pointing to the advantages of CRMC (composite rocket motor casing), he said they would reduce the weight of a rocket casing by 40 per cent, enabling the missile to take heavier payloads. The payload equivalent to the weight reduced could go up or the range of the missile could be increased. Or a combination of both could also be achieved.

Other major benefits include cost reduction by half compared to metallic casings, better performance and long storage due to non-corrosive nature of the material.

The flight trial of a missile with the CRMC would “happen shortly.” K. Jayaraman, Director (composites), ASL, said the development of the CRMC in four years by the ASL was much shorter compared to the development of similar technology elsewhere in the world.
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