India's missile programme ends!

That's a happy Dr Prahlada you see in the photo to the right -- DRDO held a press conference this afternoon at the Press Information Bureau to talk, ostensibly, about the recently concluded Akash tests and their induction into the IAF. Instead, journalists walked back with a better nugget -- the somewhat dubiously exhalted Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) has finally been closed. As of December 2007, investments into the gargantuan missile programme finally petered out. News agency PTI had an interesting take -- the programme's been scrapped, yelled the agency's strategic affairs editor in his copy. I think that's a bit of a stretch.

So apart from the Nag, which has time till summer to prove itself to the Army/IAF during Thar desert trials, the Trishul will be bailed with Israeli/French help, the Astra BVR air-to-air missile will involve help from the Russians and possibly the French. Everything else from now on, Dr Prahlada said, would have a tight five-year development schedule with a foreign partner. Smart.

Now the Army has apparently said it doesn't want the Akash because it'll take the chaps at DRDO too long to create credible mobile launchers to carry the Army variant. Secondly, have our people managed to miniaturise the Nag seeker? We'll have to wait and see how the summer trials go. They've got the air-launched version as well to prove -- the one that'll arm the Dhruv and Light Combat Helicopter.

Not sure whether the closure of the programme should be rung out with an requiem or an proud elegy. Either way it was easily one of India's most crucial, expensive, prestigious, protracted and complex weapons programmes. It's led to good things like the BrahMos and AAD-PAD programmes. Hopefully, it's all up from here.

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