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Hyderabad, Sept. 17

DEFENCE scientists are firming up plans to develop, precision-guided, long-range artillery rockets (100-120 km), which will give the Indian Army more firepower.

At present the country's Multi Barrel Rocket System (MBRS) `Pinaka' has a range of 40 km.

The Russians are offering rockets with range of 70 km, while the US has about 40-50 km, according to Dr A.S. Rajagopal, Director of the Pune-based Armaments Research Development Establishment (ARDE).

The ARDE will be the co-ordinating project leader for the proposed national initiative. The long-range rockets would also carry warhead to give it the lethality, Dr Rajagopal told Business Line from Pune.

MBRS are considered unsurpassable weapons of tactical advantage by the artillery in terms of firepower, manoeuvrability and element of surprise. However, the range and accuracy of these rockets are undergoing changes worldwide, with the growth in materials, electronics, propulsion, warhead and IT.

As a run up to the project, the ARDE organised a `brainstorming' meeting on Wednesday in Pune. The topic was aerodynamic and ballistics aspects in design of spinning long range unguided rockets.

Experts from the Defence Research & Development Organisation laboratories, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology participated.

The meeting deliberated on preparing a road map. Experts also suggested problem areas, suggested which institutes could make specific contributions and sharing of tasks.

Dr Rajagopal said the project was expected to be ready in the next few months. "By the end of the 12th Plan period, we should be able to offer the rocket to the army. Already the technology is available for propulsion, guidance etc," the ARDE Chief said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 18, 2005)
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