DRDO SFDR :- India’s Next Gen Air-To-Air Supermissile
In a major breakthrough in missile technology, India successfully carried out the first test of a new surface-to-air missile with nozzle less booster making its mark as a military superpower in South East Asia region. Indigenously designed and developed by the country’s premier research agency – Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the fastest missile in its class is capable of neutralising fast moving aerial targets.
Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet tactical Air launched Missile is a new breed of an Air-to-Air missile which India has been jointly developing with good friend Russia. SFDR aka Astra-2 is India’s first at Next generation beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) which will incorporate booster-ram jet sustainer propulsion system, which will propel new missile in the sameclass as MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
The missile flew in its intended trajectory at a speed of Mach 3 (thrice the speed of sound) and performed as expected perfectly validating the new indigenous technology. “It was a booster phase test of the missile and the mission was a major milestone for the strategic missile programme. The nozzle less booster and SFDR were tested successfully. We can now master the technology which will boost several next-generation weapon systems,” a defence official told The New Indian Express over the phone from New Delhi.
SFDR BVRAAM Will help in maintaining the Air supremacy against Pakistan by rendering their Air Power obsolete but also help IAF to achieve parity with PLAAF against their new unknown Long range Air to Air Missile .
SFDR stunning performance will be achieved through its unique ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket advanced flight control system will give it extra reach there by allowing it to engage targets at very long ranges. This ‘ramjet’ motor provides the missile with thrust all the way to target intercept, providing the largest No-Escape Zone of any air-to-air missile.
“The SFDR technology will be a legacy leap in our air combat weaponry,” said an Indian Air Force officer embedded with the SFDR development team.The Astra itself is turning out to be a very capable weapon system, even beyond some of our expectations. With SFDR, as they say, the sky is the limit. We are waiting to see what else this technology can demonstrate, especially from air launches and sustained velocity tests, which we will be gearing up for later this year.”
Last year, the Astra missile system also transitioned from a Russian-built seeker to an Indian Ku-band seeker — an enormous leap, considering India’s traditional dependence on Russia for these critical computers that actually guide missiles to their targets. This development will carry forward and be fine-tuned on the SFDR-based weapon, a crucial requirement for the higher performance weapon.
Until recently, a schematics of DRDO SFDR has been found inside DRDO issued documents. The design scheme is very similar to that of Meteor BVRAAM with two air ducts, although DRDO’s 250kg SFDR is around 75kg heavier than 185kg Meteor. The project has already excited Indian military news followers and missile experts have termed it as “Desi Meteor”.
According to Defence Analyst Ranesh Rajan Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet Propulsion Technology is mostly used during the acceleration phase of Hypersonic missile which provides a significant increase in the missile average velocity when compared to conventional liquid fuel ramjets.
Rajan also explains that Ducted Ramjet Propulsion Technology is capable of producing higher thrust levels during acceleration phase due to higher maximum fuel flow rate which results into shorter acceleration time to hypersonic cruise conditions.
Technology Behind SFDR
Conventional Rocket Motor based BVRAAMs have higher burning out rate since it works in the same amount of thrust levels from the moment it is fired, which means it can run out of fuel when it reaches its target in longer range and highly maneuverable targets can outrun the missile in the last phase if missile is fired from a long range.
Ramjets, by contrast, maintain their peak energy state for longer, delivering power throughout the flight, providing a high – though slightly slower – average speed and long ranges over a wide operational envelope, from sea level to high altitude.
Unlike traditional rocket motor,SFDR can throttle its engine during different phases of flight especially while approaching its target it can throttle up and able to maneuver and attack even fast maneuvering targets.
DRDO’s SFDR can be used in a number of missiles, be it AAM or SAM. It’s too early to say what will be the first application of SFDR, but, the logical course of action would be to develop a HVAA (High Value Airborne Asset) killer first and then go for BVRAAMs capable of engaging highly maneuverable targets.
For all its merits, SFDR is not quite suitable for surface to air missiles. XR-SAM is based on already proven AAD or Aswhin interceptor(based on conventional solid rocket booster-sustainer combination).
The SFDR is indeed a high priority project for DRDO and future requirement for Indian Armed Forces w.r.t evolving threats of India’s unpredictable & unstable neighbors having no respect for India’s sovereignty. The future of missile warfare indeed belongs to air-breathing engines like ramjet, scramjet and pulse detonation engine.
The Ramjet powered SFDR is being readied for ground testing. And just hope all goes well with this one and joins the IAF Arsenal in the future.
This Post excerpt has been taken From Various articles and No Man Land Site