BEL - Waghnak / Vel / Khagantak [Varunastra]
Indian state-owned defence enterprise, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with JSR Dynamics Pvt Ltd (JSR), a Nagpur-based start-up Company, at Aero India 2019 in Bengaluru on 20 February 2019. The MoU aims at leveraging the individual design and manufacturing capabilities of BEL and JSR to develop weapons and light weight cruise missiles, which have business potential in both the domestic and international markets. Anandi Ramalingam, Director (Mktg) at BEL, and Air Marshal (Retd) S.B.Deo, Managing Director of JSR Dynamics Pvt Ltd, signed the MoU in the presence of M.V.Gowtama, CMD of BEL, Directors and other senior officers of BEL.
BEL has, as part of the Government of India’s Start-up India Initiative, been extending its support to start-up Companies. BEL, India’s leading Defence electronics Company, is engaged in the design, manufacture and supply of state-of-the-art Radars, Missile Systems, Military Communications, Naval Systems, Electronic Warfare & Avionics, C4I Systems, Electro Optics, Tank Electronics & Gun / Weapon System Upgrades, Solar Systems, Electronic Components and civilian products like Electronic Voting Machine and Point of Sale device.
JSR is engaged in the design of ground-based and air-based weapons. Among its many products are Glide Weapons, Light Weight Cruise Missiles and allied sub-assemblies and components. The collaborative Indian industry team led by state owned defence firm Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) unveiled an array of new air-launched precision-guided weapons and lightweight cruise missiles in March 2019 at the Aero India show in Bengaluru. The team disclosed the development of a trio of airborne weapon systems, designated Waghnak, Khagantak, and Vel, which are envisioned as low-cost, state-of-the-art, penetration weapons for domestic and export customers. Their unusual development path, fully away from the traditional route has evoked justifiable interest.
The weapons were initially concepts, given that they had no official sanction and aren’t routed through the established DRDO-DPSU route to service entry. These indigenous missiles are under current development and could take some time to mature, but once they enter service, India will be self-reliant in the field of anti-ship missiles. BEL will supply all electronics and guidance subsystems, while the body and control systems are supplied by JSR Dynamics. Air Marshal (Retd) S B Deo designed and developed the missiles.
The Vel is a low RCS platform being developed for launch from a Su-30MKI. It is a light cruise missile which weighs 198 kg and a conventional warhead with a mass of 72 kg. It can achieve range of 297 km for employment against surface targets. The VEL cruise missile is proposed to have a IN/GPS guidance or IN/GPS with Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-Relation (DISMAC). The new weapon will have a passive RF seeker and will be powered by a gas turbine engine generating 90 kg of thrust. A service life of 10 years is envisaged.
The Vel is an instrument to destroy the Ego, which is camouflaged and ultimately the soul is liberated from all its ignorance, achieving Moksha. Tamil Hindus have a very popular God call Lord Murugan the patron God of the Tamilians. The warrior son of Shiva and Parvati, born to kill a demon. His symbols are weapons of war, like the Vel, the Lance or the divine spear which he is always found carrying in his popular avatar, a top a peacock. This Vel was given to him by his mother Goddess Parvati to vanquish the asuras, which embodies her power and energy. This mystic device also symbolizes the Absolute Wisdom which destroys the inner demons of illiteracy, bad karma and sets the soul free. This Vel is also interpreted as a divine protective power to safeguard the world from adversities. This weapon is worshipped independently in some of the temples of Murugan. Just chanting the word Vel, one invokes the blessings of Lord Murugan.
The shining Vel of Lord Murugan signifies the power of wisdom and the blessing of his mother Parvati who wanted her son to be victorious over the demon led by Surapadma. This instrument has exceptional strength and the divine power and is also known by the names of Vira Vel or Sakti Vel. It serves as a protection against cruelty and atrocity in any form. It is believed to dominate over chaos and bring about order, peace and prosperity. It also signifies that Lord Murugan would come to the aid of any devotee who has beckoned him in distress.
Khagantak Long range stand off weapon developed by state-owned BEL ( Bharat Electronics Limited ). The low cost weapon system is able to strike 180 km away with accuracy. The standoff weapon is equipped with both passive & active seeker in terminal stage. The long-range stand-off Khagantak-225-LW concept weapon is expected to have a range of 180 km and weigh 243 kg. The missile will carry a 108 kg warhead and will feature advanced guidance systems and low RCS for greater stealth. It can be used as a guide weapon, which also has artificial intelligence (AI) to recognise the targets. Such indigenous missiles are expected to be a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and reduce dependence on foreign defence manufacturers. JSR Dynamics Managing Director Air Marshal SB Deo said, "The Khagantak missile is a guide weapon with excellent aerodynamic performance and a seeker in the front which has got artificial intelligence to recognise targets."
JSR Dynamics, a private firm based in India, has displayed an indigenous missile called 'Khagantak' in DefExpo 2020. In this four-day event, the Indian defense industry will get a chance to showcase its potential, it will also boost exports. DefExpo India - 2020 theme is "India - emerging hub of defense manufacturing". The focus of this exhibition is the digital transformation of the defense sector. In this exhibition, Uttar Pradesh will be presented as a suitable place for investment in defense sector. With this DefExpo, foreign equipment manufacturers will get an opportunity to work with the Indian defense industry, thereby promoting Make in India.
The name "Khagantak" is a Sanscrit phrase, khagAntaka, composed on "kaH", an Eagle, a hawk, or falcon, and "antaka", meaning destroyer, thus, possibly also meaning a ‘destroyer of birds` or "enemy of birds".
The Waghnak is an Indian copy/variant of AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) but with a different design approach. The Waghnak is a long-range unpowered stand-off glide weapon concept. It is much heavier than the other BEL projects, at 450 kg and includes a 225 kg warhead, in addition to a 225 kg shape charge. The weapon has a streamlined lightweight carbon composite body with fold-out mid-body glide wings and five aft control surfaces to deliver a range of 150 km at a launch altitude of 12,000 m, with a maximum engagement speed of 272 m/s. BEL claims that the composite material helps reduce the Waghnak's radar cross section (RCS) signature and improves operational range.
This weapon will feature IN/GPS guidance with long wave IR. A range of seeker options will be made available. BEL is offering a basic option of Waghnak featuring a multi-band passive RF seeker (1-3, 3-6, 6-12 GHz) with an inertial navigation system (INS)/GPS with long-wave infrared (IR) sensor for terminal guidance, and a tandem warhead (primary: 225 kg penetration warhead; secondary: 45 kg shaped charge) for hard-surface attack. The munition can be configured with only an INS/GPS, semi-active laser (SAL), or medium-wave IR seeker as required. This seems to be a re-named Varunastra [Storm], which was described as a long range anti-ship missile with cruising speed of 850 kmph. This low cost relatively light weight missile is being developed for neutralising smaller ships as a ‘cost effective solution’. The missile weighs 225 kg, has a 108 kg penetrator and blast fragmentation warhead. The missile has very low RCS and a designed range in excess of 270 km.
Confusingly, India;'s first indigenously-built heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo is also called Varunastra. Varunastra weighs around 1.25 tonnes and can carry about 250 kg of explosives at a speed of around 40 nautical miles an hour. They have conformal array transducer which can look at wider angles than other torpedos. Varunastra can be fired from the Rajput class destroyers, Delhi class and all future Anti-Submarine Warfare ships capable of firing heavy weight torpedoes and is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines both in deep and littoral waters even in intense countermeasure atmosphere. The first batch was delivered to the Navy in 2020 and was fitted onto Sindhu class submarines and other navy ships. This will make India one of the eight countries to have such indigenously-designed and built system.