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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Danush SLBM

The precise relationship between the Dhanush and the Sagarika programs remains obscure. Given the evident similarities in their overall characteristics, Dhanush may simply be the new name for the original Sagarika system. However, since the Dhanush is reported by some sources to have a 350 km range, compared to the 250-300 km range of the Sagarika, the change in designation may reflect a design change.

In July 1983, the Indian government authorised an Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) at a cost of INR788 billion for a wide range of indigenously developed and produced missiles, including the surface-to-surface (Prithvi). Development of the Prithvi (Earth), a short-range, liquid-fuelled, missile, began at once and the weapon was first tested in February 1988 with another 12 flights by 1995 and a total of 30 by 1999. Two versions were developed: SS-150 (or Prithvi I) for the Army and SS-250 (or Prithvi II) for the Air Force, the numerals being the planned range in kilometres. A longer range weapon, SS-350 designated P-3, was thought to be under development in 1994 with a solid propellant version, Prithvi III successfully test flown in 2004.

India is developing the Dhanush (Bow, as in "bow and arrow" not the bow of the ship) submarine launched ballistic missile. With a range variously estimated at between 300 km and 350 km, this missile would be later deployed on surface warships. It is unclear whether this missile would be deployed on India's new nuclear missile submarine.

Danush is a medium range indigenously developed ship-launched missile exclusively developed for the Navy. The Dhanush project is sometimes considered the Naval version of the Prithvi, though this may represent a program analog rather than any technological relationship.

Testing of this missile was originally planned to begin in December 1998. A naval version of the SS-250, Dhanush (some sources indicated that Dhanush was a version of SS-150), with a range of 135 n miles (250 km) was launched (unsuccessfully) from the converted Sukanya class offshore patrol vessel INS Subhadra [some reports state INS Subhadra] on 11 April 2000, anchored off the Orissa coast in the Bay of Bengal. The missile flew for only four seconds and broke into two pieces, barely managing to clear the ship. The launch was dubbed a "technology demonstrator" and more missile tests were schedules as part of the program to make this weapon battle-worthy. With the development of Dhanush still at an early stage, the debate on cruise versus ballistic missiles was revived within the Navy.

Further tests were conducted in December 2000, September 2001 and November 2004. In September 2002, after two successful tests, the DRDO declared that Dhanush was "ready for induction after successful trials at sea." In October 2004, DRDO conducted a successful underwater launch of the Dhanush from submerged canisters. In November 2004 it also declared an off-shore flight-test from the INS Subhadra a success. In December 2005 a Dhanush was launched from the destroyer INS Rajput, which had been equipped with a stabilised launcher, and the missile flew 81 n miles (150 km).

There were said to be two versions of the 8.56 meter long Dhanush missile under development. One such version, having a range of 250 km. This short-range missile will be used as an anti-ship weapon. The Indian Navy was apparently seeking another variant of the Dhanush surface-to-surface ballistic missile that is capable of striking land targets within a range of 500 km. The longer-range missile will have propulsion fuel similar to its short-range version.

The Indian Armed Forces conducted a successful test launch on 09 APril 2015 from a navy ship of the Dhanush missile which is capable of carrying a nuclear payload. The launch was carried out by personnel of the Strategic Forces Command at 11:02 local time off the Odisha state coast. "The missile successfully destroyed the target on the water with a high degree of accuracy," India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) reported.

Dhanush is a maneuvering missile and is a naval variant of the Prithvi-II missile. It is one of the five rockets which were designed by DRDO engineers and scientists under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. The missile can hit both land and sea targets and is capable of carrying a 500-kilogram nuclear payload.

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Page last modified: 07-05-2015 19:14:28 ZULU