Amid Sino-Indian Border Tension, India Plans Series of Military Tests and Trials in the New Year 2021 Boosting Nation’s Defence

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New Delhi: In a move aimed at boosting the nation’s defence amid the tension along the Sino-Indian border on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and continuing menace of terrorism in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir encouraged by Pakistan, India has a series of military tests and trials planned for 2021, including that of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield, an Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system for submarines, and drones, besides a number of missiles, including a BrahMos with an 800-km range.

One of the key systems to go under trial in the coming year would be the AIP, which is aimed for integration with India’s fleet of six Scorpene submarines during refit, sources said.

The trials for the indigenous AIP, which will allow conventional submarines to stay under water for a longer duration is to begin in the first quarter of the new year, the sources added.

Another important trial that will take off is the one for phase 2 of the BMD, which aims to secure the country from all kinds of incoming missiles, including nuclear, and flying objects, through a multi-tier defence system. Phase 1 of the programme was completed last year.

Also on the agenda is the full-fledged trial of the indigenous Rustom 2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2021, after much delay.

The current stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh has brought to light India’s dire need for indigenous drone systems against a country that has become one of the world’s largest exporters of armed UAVs.

The early part of 2021 will also witness fresh trials of the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) Nirbhay, which has a range of 800-1,000 km.

The maiden trial of the 800-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, meanwhile, is scheduled for mid-2021. The 400-km variant of this missile was successfully tested earlier this year.

Even as developmental trials take place, the services will continue with their firing exercises and re-validation of the missiles in their arsenal, the sources said.

The Coronavirus pandemic led to a lull, but the pace picked up after September. Among the major tests in 2020 was that of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) on September 7.

India is only the fourth country in the world after the US, China and Russia to have the technology. The successful trial paved the way for the country to develop missiles that can travel at six times the speed of sound.

This was followed by a test-firing of the nuclear-capable ‘Shaurya’ missile on October 3, and the supersonic missile-assisted release of a torpedo on October 5.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also successfully conducted three flight tests of its indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Dhruvastra from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha in July. This is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world.

Meanwhile, the indigenous Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Uttam, has completed 100 hours of testing with additional 25 hours on Tejas aircraft for air-to-air mode and its sub-parameters.

On October 9, the new-generation Anti-Radiation Missile RUDRAM was successfully tested on a radiation target located off the coast of Odisha. The missile was launched from a Su-30MKI fighter aircraft.

The year 2020 also saw the Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) achieve a major milestone on November 13, with a direct hit onto a Banshee pilotless target aircraft at medium range and medium altitude.

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