A tribute to the Missile Man — Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Jan 26, 2018 · 5 min read

January 26, 1950 was a day of great pride for our nation. It was on this day that the Constitution of India came into effect, and the nation became a republic in the true sense of the word. All of us are aware of the immense struggle of our leaders to bring the nation to a position where it could be called a republic. But that was not all. The big question which prevailed thereafter was the one of development — economic, social and scientific.

If we talk about scientific development specifically, there’s one name which comes to every mind — Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

He was a renowned scientist in the field of Aerospace. During his career as a scientist, he proposed the then Defence Minister, R. Venkataraman for the simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another. The cabinet allocated ₹388 crores for the mission, named the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. The programme was aimed at enabling India attain self-sufficiency in the field of Missile Technology.

Dr. Kalam headed a Missile Study team to weigh the feasibility of the programme. The team included members from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence Production. Keeping in mind the requirements of various types of missiles by the defence forces, the team recommended development of five missile systems. The ambitious, time-bound project brought together the country’s scientific community, academic institutions, industries and the three Services in giving shape to the indigenous strategic missile systems.

Top 5 Missile Systems Under Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP)

  1. Short-Range Surface-to-surface ballistic Missile-Prithvi

The Prithvi missile is a family of tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles(SRBM) and is India’s first indigenously developed ballistic missile. Development of the Prithvi began in 1983, and it was first test-fired on February 25, 1988 from Sriharikota, SHAR Centre, Potti Sriramulu Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh. It has a range of up to 150 to 300 km. The land variant is called Prithvi while the naval operational variants of Prithvi I and Prithvi II class missiles are code named Dhanush (meaning Bow).

Short-Range Surface-to-surface ballistic Missile — Prithvi

Prithvi II missiles were inducted in 1996. Prithvi III class has a longer-range of 350 km, and was successfully test fired in 2004.

2. Intermediate-Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic missile-Agni

The Agni missile is a family of Medium to Intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by DRDO of India and manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Ltd. The initial technology demonstrator version had a range of 1500 km but were based on a solid and a liquid stage,taking a long time for preparation before firing. Learning from this, the production variants of Agni now are solid-fuel based to allow for swift retaliation against adversaries.

Intermediate-Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic missile — Agni

3. Short-Range Low-Level Surface-to-Air Missile-Trishul

Trishul is the name of a short range surface-to-air missile developed by India as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. It has a range of 9 km and is fitted with a 5.5 kg warhead. Designed to be used against low-level (sea skimming) targets at short range, the system has been developed to defend naval vessels against missiles and also as a short-range surface-to-air missile on land. Guidance consists of three different guiding beams, with the guidance handed over progressively to a narrower beam as the missile approaches the target.

Short-Range Low-Level Surface-to-Air Missile — Trishul

4. Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile-Akash

Akash is a medium range surface-to-air missile developed as part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme to achieve self-sufficiency in the area of surface-to-air missiles. It is the most expensive missile project ever undertaken by the Union government in the 20th century. Development costs skyrocketed to almost US$120 million which is far more than the other similar systems.

Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile with an intercept range of 30 km. It has a launch weight of 720 kg, a diameter of 35 cm and a length of 5.8 metres. Akash flies at supersonic speed, reaching around Mach 2.5 (3087 Km/hr). It can reach an altitude of 18 km.

5. Third Generation Anti-Tank Missile-NAG

Nag is India’s third generation “Fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile. It is an all weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km.

Third Generation Anti-Tank Missile — NAG

The missile uses an 8 kg tandem heat-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead capable of defeating modern armour including ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) and composite armour. Nag uses Imaging Infrared (IIR) guidance with day and night capability. Mode of launch for the IIR seeker is LOBL (Lock on Before Launch).

The missiles referred to above are a tiny fragment of the imagination of one of the greatest presidents India has ever seen. He was very plain and simple in his lifestyle but his visionary thoughts were studded with ideas way ahead of his time. It was through these ideas he presented to his nation, the gift of self sufficiency in the field of defence. The Missile Man as he was aptly called, devoted his entire life to the selfless service of the country. He is and will forever be the source of inspiration for the youth of the country.

His death on July 27, 2015 was a great loss for our country. We will always remember him for all the work he has done for our nation. By the means of this blog, I hope to pay a tribute to him, and wish each one of you a Happy Republic Day.

As the nation celebrates its 69th Republic Day, it is our foremost duty as students to promote the development of a scientific temperament in the society. If we want to realize the dream of a scientifically self sufficient nation, it’s we who need to take an initiative.

Jai Hind!

“Learning gives creativity, Creativity leads to thinking,
Thinking provides knowledge, Knowledge makes you great.”

― A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Ankur Ingale, Team Technothlon 2018


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Technothlon is an international school championship organized by the students of IIT Guwahati. Technothlon began in 2004 with an aim to ‘Inspire Young Minds’