Chronology of Indian Missile Technology
1947: Dr. Vikram Sarabhai establishes the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), which will later become a national center for space research, supported primarily by India‘s Department of Space.
1962: The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), established one year earlier as an extension of the Special Weapon Development Team (SWDT), is moved to Hyderabad to work on missile design and development.
1962: The Indian Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) is established under the auspices of the Department of Atomic Energy.
1963: INCOSPAR establishes the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).
November 1963: A U.S.-produced, solid-propellant Nike-Apache rocket is launched from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station. The launch is part of an international effort under the United Nations. It is later followed by 350 U.S. French, Soviet and British rockets launched between 1963 and 1975.
1964: The Centre National d’ Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for CNES to supply four Centaure rockets with payloads for vapor cloud experiments. For its part, DAE will manufacture in India, under license, the Belier and Centaure types of sounding rockets.
1965: India establishes the Space and Technology Center (SSTC) in Thumba.
1967: The Satellite Telecommunication Earth Center is established in Ahmedabad.
1967: India launches its first sounding rocket, Rohini-75.
1969: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is formed under the Department of Atomic Energy.
1970: India and the Soviet Union sign a MoU on Collaboration in the Organization of Rocket Sounding of the Atmosphere by Soviet Meteorological Rockets at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station.
1972-1982: DRDL establishes missile-related infrastructure, including aerodynamic, structural and environmental test facilities, liquid and solid propulsion facilities, fabrication engineering facilities, control, guidance, FRP, and computer facilities.June 1972: The Space Commission and Department of Space is established and ISRO is brought under the Department of Space.
1975: India launches its first satellite, Aryabhata.
1977: India and France sign a Cooperation Agreement in the Field of Space Affairs.
1978: India and the United States conclude a MoU and an Exchange of Notes Constituting an Agreement Relating to Launching and Associated Services for Indian Satellites.
1979: Bharat Dynamics Ltd. becomes India’s guided missile headquarters.
March 1979: A Centaure-2 type rocket is launched from Thumba, as part of an agreement and program begun in 1974. The rocket carries Bulgarian and Indian equipment for exploration and measurement of in space of proton and electron fluxes.
1980: India conducts the second experimental launch of its SLV-3 after its failed initial launch in 1979, and succeeds in placing the Rohini satellite into orbit.
1982: The Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) successfully launches a Centaure rocket under the joint cooperation of India, West Germany, and Austria.
1983: India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) begins, with more than 60 public and private organizations involved.
April 1984: India and the Soviet Union conduct a joint manned space mission.
September-October 1984: A senior Indian delegation led by the Deputy Minister for Electronics, Dr. Sanjeevi Rao, visits the Soviet Union to purchase high-powered computers for India’s defense and nuclear industry. The Soviet Union agrees to supply its latest-generation “Elbrus” computer system to India after 1986.
1986: India’s Scientific Advisor to the Defense Minister Dr. V.S. Arunachalam announces that scientists at DRDL have successfully developed and tested a high-thrust, liquid-fueled rocket engine that generates a thrust of 30 tons and is capable of lifting a payload to a height of 600 km into space.
1987: After debate since 1985, an interagency group of U.S. officials from the Departments of Defense, State, and Commerce issue a communiquÃ© that India is permitted to purchase from the United States “the Cyber 205, a Cray of approximately the same vintage, a single-processor Cray X-MP or some ‘other machine of equivalent capability.'”
February 1988: India conducts the first test flight of its surface-to-surface Prithvi ballistic missile, under a program headed by the DRDL.
March 1988: India launches its first operational remote sensing satellite, IRS-1A.
April 1988: ISRO signs a cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency.
1989: India conducts a test launch of its first medium-range ballistic missile, called the Agni. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi states “The Agni is an R&D vehicle, not a weapons system. However, the technologies proved in Agni are deeply significant for evolving national security options.”
1991: ISRO and Russia’s Glavkosmos reach an agreement for the supply of engines and cryogenic technologies to India. Under U.S. pressure and sanctions imposed on ISRO in 1992, the agreement will be limited to the sale of seven KhimMach KVD-1 engines, each of which produces 7.5 metric tons of thrust.
1992: India acquires the ability to manufacture liquid hydrogen.
May 1992: India conducts a successful test of the third-stage motor for its PSLV, ignited under simulated high-altitude conditions.
May 1992: India stages its first successful launch of the four-stage ASLV, carrying its SROSS-C satellite into orbit, following two failed attempts in 1987 and 1988.
1993: ISRO signs a cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency.
1994: The periodical Flight International reports that India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) has for the past two years been engaged in designing a ramjet-powered, submarine-launched missile dubbed the Sagarika.
1995-1996: India suspends development of the Agni missile project.
January 1996: India conducts the first test flight of the Prithvi-II surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 250 kilometers, far enough to reach Islamabad.
March 1996: India successfully conducts its third and final developmental launch of the four-stage PSLV, deploying a 1-ton Indian satellite into 500-mile polar orbit.
May 1997: India completes development of two variants of the Prithvi ballistic missile. A 150-kilometer range version with a heavier warhead is ready for introduction into the Army, while the 250-kilometer version with a lighter warhead destined for the air force is ready for user trials.
June 1997: A fewer than a dozen Prithvi missiles are moved close to the Pakistani border. Prime Minister I. K. Gural denies the deployment, but Western officials affirm in November that the missiles were moved from storage to sites near thePakistan border.
August 1997: The Agni missile program is revived in response to Pakistan’s test of the Hatf-III missile in July.
September 1997: India conducts the first operational launch of its PSLV-C1, deploying a 1200-kilogram Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS-1D) into orbit. In reaching 817 km circular polar sun-synchronous orbit, the PSLV was powered by four stages of alternating solid and liquid propellant.
1998: India conducts five underground nuclear tests at Pokhran, ranging in yield from less than 1 kiloton to about 45 kilotons. Defense Minister George Fernandes reportedly says that India will “inevitably” arm itself with nuclear warheads. TheUnited States proceeds to implement sanctions, in place by November 1998, on a large number of research, development, and production entities relating to space and missile technology.
February 1999: Indian Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meet in Lahore, Pakistan. They agree to exchange strategic information about their nuclear arsenals, to give each other advance notice of ballistic missile tests, and to increase efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue.
April 1999: India conducts its first test of the nuclear-capable Agni-II missile. The two-stage solid fuel missile, which can carry a 1,000 kg payload, was successfully fired to a range of 2,000 kilometers.
May 1999: India launches a PSLV and successfully deploys an Indian remote sensing satellite and two other payloads.
July 1999: India successfully tests the Nishant, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to conduct aerial reconnaissance of battlefields.
October 1999: Scientists from the DRDO announce they are developing the Surya, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range exceeding 5,000 kilometers.
April 2000: India tests the medium-range Dhanush missile, a naval version of the Prithvi.
August 2000: India’s Agni-II missile reportedly reaches the operational stage.India’s Defense Minister, George Fernandes, states that re-entry, guidance, and maneuverability have been tested.
February 2001: Dr. Vasudev Aatre, head of India’s DRDO and scientific adviser to the Indian Minister of Defense, announces that India is developing the Agni-III ballistic missile. The Agni-III is anticipated to have a range of 3,500 km, improving upon the “range and capability” of the 2,100 km-range Agni-II.
March 2001: India’s Defense Minister, George Fernandes, announces that the Agni-II ballistic missile is operational and is ready for mass production after its second successful test launch in January. The 2,500 km range missile may be launched from a static launch pad or mobile launcher and offers India a nuclear second-strike capability.
March 2001: The periodical Defense News reports that India and Russia’s Central Scientific and Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics (TsNIIAG) are negotiating the sale of a variant of an electro-optical guided missile warhead originally developed for Scud-B ballistic missiles, which could drastically improve the accuracy of India’s ballistic missiles.
March 2001: India aborts the first attempt to launch its GSLV, when computers detect that one of its four liquid-fueled strap-on booster engines is not generating the required 90 percent thrust.
April 2001: After tracing the March 2001 malfunction to a defective oxidizer line,India’s GSLV successfully launches, setting the 3,000 lb experimental GSAT-1 communication satellite into orbit.
June 2001: According to the periodical Defense News, India successfully launches the PJ-10, also known as the BrahMos cruise missile, developed by DRDO andRussia’s NPO Mashinostryenia (NPOM) under a secret 1998 Indo-Russian accord. The missile has a range of 280 kilometers and may be fired from Indian and Russian mobile launchers, ships, submarines and aircraft.
July 2001: India and France reportedly sign a MoU to co-develop and co-produce battlefield surveillance radars and ballistic missiles, and for India to domestically build Scorpene submarines.
August 2001: According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Indian Army is to create a second missile regiment, the Strategic Rocket Regiment, to induct the Agni-II intermediate-range ballistic missile.
September 2001: U.S. President George Bush lifts sanctions against India andPakistan imposed under the Arms Export Control Act.
December 2001: An unclassified summary of the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) National Intelligence Estimate claims most components required for an ICBM are found in India’s indigenous space program. India could “convert its polar space launch vehicle into an ICBM within a year or two of a decision to do so.” However, the report cautions that while India is striving for self-sufficiency, it still relies “heavily” on foreign assistance. The NIC also states that India will probably not deploy its Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile until 2010 or later.
December 2001: India successfully test-fires a 250 km extended-range version of the Prithvi missile, developed for the Indian Air Force. The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile is one of the five missiles being developed under the IGMDP. The earlier version of the Prithvi is already in service with India’s Army.
March 2002: India’s Ministry of Defense announces that the Agni-II ballistic missile has entered into production phase and will soon be inducted into the Army.
March 2002: Scientists at India’s LPSC successfully fire an upper-stage cryogenic engine for 12 minutes, the duration it will fire during actual flight. On the same day, ISRO successfully tests an improved variant of the two-meter diameter solid-propellant motor that powers the third stage of the PSLV. Improvements include “optimization of the motor case and nozzle and increased propellant loading.” ISRO plans to use the motor in its PSLV launch later in 2002, which would be the first time that a PLSV will be used to place a payload in geostationary orbit.
April 2002: Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that, according to U.S. intelligence sources and contrary to the claims of Indian officials, the first test of a single-stage variant of the Agni was a failure. The missile flew its anticipated range of 700 km, but the warhead failed to separate.
June 2002: The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions states that India “still lacks engineering or production expertise in some key missile technologies.” The report adds that during 2001 Russia and Western Europe remained the main sources of missile-related and dual-use technology to fill these gaps.
July 2002: According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, Indian defense officials claim thatIndia has acquired two Green Pine radar systems from Israel, but say they have had little success in developing a missile defense capability against a possible Pakistani attack.
December 2002: The CIA in its Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions states that India was among the countries supplying assistance to Libya’s ballistic missile program.
January 2003: India has allocated $1 billion to the DRDO for the development of hypersonic missile systems, powered by an indigenously developed cryogenic engine fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
January 2003: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approves the creation of a Strategic Forces Command (SFC) to manage and administer all nuclear and strategic forces. The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA), comprising of a Political Council and an Executive Council, will be responsible for India’s nuclear arsenal.
January 2003: India reportedly places under its SFC two operational missile groups of the Indian Army, which possess the 150-250 km-range Prithvi and the 2,500 km-range Agni nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
February 2003: According to a DRDO official, India has begun a 10-year development program of a two-stage space vehicle called Avatar that can take-off and land like an aircraft and place a 1,000 kg payload into a low-earth orbit. The vehicle would be capable of performing about 100 re-entries into the atmosphere. According to the DRDO official, the primary function of the vehicle is to act as a “reusable missile launcher, one which can launch missiles, land â€¦ and be loaded again for more missions.”
February 2003: An unnamed official from India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that India has agreed to invest approximately $150 million in Israel’s Arrow-2 anti-missile system. The proposed investment must still be approved by the United States. Aerospace Daily claims that Israel has emerged as the second-largest supplier of weapons and equipment to India.
March 2003: The Times of India reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s dossier on Iraq alleged that India’s NEC Engineers Private Limited had “extensive links in Iraq,” including to Iraq’s Al-Mamoun missile production plant, and had illicitly supplied ammonium perchlorate to Iraq.
April 2003: According to Indian Defense Minister, George Fernandes, India is developing and making efforts to test the Agni-III, a long-range surface-to-surface missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead more than 2,000 kilometers.
May 2003: India conducts the second launch of its GSLV, lifting a 1,800 kg experimental communications satellite. Unlike the first flight, when the GSLV’s Russian-made cryogenic upper stage burned out four seconds too soon, this launch occurred without incident. ISRO announces that once declared operational, the GSLV will “make the Indian space program a self reliant one.”
May 2003: The Indian periodical Vayu announces that with the lifting of “restrictions imposed by collaborators,” India’s Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has been cleared for missile exports. BDL manufactures a variety of missiles including the Prithvi-I and Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missiles.
July 2003: The Washington Post reports that a coalition of pro-India and pro-Israel lobbyists, including the U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), America Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and American Jewish Committee (AJC), have joined forces to gain U.S. approval for the sale of Israel’s Arrow ballistic missile defense system to India.
August 2003: R. N. Agarwal, the former Director of the Agni missile project and currently the Director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), states that the carbon composite content of the new Agni variants will be increased from 35 to 80 percent making them lighter and able travel longer distances. Agarwal says that the Agni’s re-entry heat shield is entirely made up of carbon composite.
October 2003: India clears the short-range Agni-I and medium-range Agni-II surface-to-surface missiles for the Army.
October 2003: Defense News, citing defense officials in Washington and New Delhi, reports that in August India “formally asked” the United States for multiple Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile systems. India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in September also requested inclusion in the U.S.-led global missile defense shield.
December 2003: Indian Defense sources indicate that the BrahMos cruise missile has been configured for launch from submarines. Submarine-to-surface launch is one of the four BrahMos designs, which are anticipated to include air-to-surface, ship-to-surface, and surface-to-surface. The missile was launched successfully from a surface ship and travelled 290 km to its target.
January 2004: India and the United States agree under the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership with India (NSSP) to expand cooperation in civilian nuclear programs, civilian space programs, and high-technology trade, including expanded dialogue on missile defense. This agreement initiates three major steps: removal of ISRO from the Department of Commerce Entity List, removal of export license requirements for items subject to Export Administration Regulations EAR99, and establishment of a presumption of approval for all items not controlled for nuclear proliferation reasons.
February 2004: ISRO chairman, G. Madhavan Nair unveils plans for the Ammonium Perchlorate Experimental Plant to expand ammonium perchlorate (AP) production from 300 metric tons to 800 metric tons by 2005.
March 2004: At the Sixth Joint Technical Group between India and the United States, Indian defense scientists approach the United States about possible cooperation in developing optronics, electro-optics, encryption, and sensor and jamming technologies.
March 2004: India successfully test-fires an “improved” version of its Prithvi-II surface-to-surface ballistic missile with an extended-range of 250 km and “much higher accuracy,” according to a defense ministry official.
September 2004: India conducts the first operational flight of its GSLV, lifting a 1,950 kg spacecraft.
October 2004: India conducts a launch of its single-stage, Prithvi-III missile.
November 2004: India successfully test-fires the 350 km-range Dhanush missile, marking the induction of the system into the Navy. Dhanush is the naval version of the Prithvi-II.
December 2004: The Russian Federal Space Agency says that it will
continue cooperation with India in the development of an oxygen-hydrogen booster for space rockets.
December 2004: India and Russia sign 10 agreements on space, defense, and aviation, including an agreement to jointly cooperate on satellite manufacture and launch under the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). Russia’s Federal Space Agency head, Anatoly Perminov, states that India’s military use of the GLONASS system, which could help improve the accuracy of Indian missiles, has not been ruled out.
February 2005: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam states before Parliament that the BrahMos missile “has been successfully tested … and is ready for induction” intoIndia’s military.
May 2005: ISRO’s four-stage solid and liquid propellant PSLV-C6 successfully propelled two satellites into polar sun synchronous orbit. The Spacecraft Control Centre of ISTRAC at Bangalore will continuously monitor the CARTOSAT-1, which is a cartographic satellite mounted with two cameras with 2.5 meter spatial resolution and 30 km coverage, and the HAMSAT, which is a micro-satellite intended for radio transmission.
May 2005: India’s Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, passes the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Bill, which bans proliferation of mass destruction weapon and missile technology. Once signed by India’s President Abdul Kalam, the bill will become law and will apply to Indians in India and abroad, as well as foreigners residing inIndia.
May 2005: India has reportedly added the short-range Agni-I and intermediate-range Agni-II to its Strategic Forces Command arsenal.
May 2005: Agni program director, Dr. R. N. Agarwal says that the Agni-III, India’s long-range ballistic missile designed to be capable of hitting targets 3,000 to 3,500 km away, will be ready for flight testing by the end of 2005.
June 2005: As part of the “New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship,” signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the United States has offered India a briefing on the Patriot PAC-3 missile system, as well as increased opportunities for technology transfer, collaboration, co-production, and research and development with the understanding that U.S. technology-related sanctions on India will be lifted.
June 2005: India’s VSSC has begun work on its first hypersonic wind tunnel (HWT).
July 2005: A joint venture between Russia’s Mashinostroenie Scientific Industrial Association and India’s DRDO has begun mass production of the BrahMos cruise missile. The Indian Navy has placed the first order for the missile, which is also anticipated to be fielded by the Russian Navy. The baseline version is an anti-ship missile, which also may be fired from air platforms.
July 2005: The United States and India release a joint statement during a visit byIndia’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House. Initiatives to be implemented include signature of a Science and Technology Framework Agreement, establishment of closer ties in space exploration, satellite navigation and launch, and cooperation in the commercial space arena through such groups as the U.S.-India Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation.
August 2005: India’s Defense Secretary Yogendera Narain states that India has acquired a Green Pine radar from Israel for “advanced research,” after three to four years of discussions.
August 2005: The U.S. Department of Commerce removes from the Entity List ISRO subordinates: ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), ISRO Intertial Systems Unit (IISU), and Space Applications Center.
October 2005: India and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretaries sign a
formalized agreement on notification at least 72 hours ahead of ballistic missile tests. Contained within the agreement is a bilateral pledge not to set up any missile test launch site within 40 km of the Line of Control or the international border.