Ajai Shukla in the Business Standard reported on 15JUL12:
The problem with the DRDO’s anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), christened the Nag (Hindi for cobra), is its range. For most of the day and night, the Nag unerringly strikes its targets out to four kilometres, the range that the army demands. But in extreme heat, especially in summer afternoons in the desert, the missile cannot pick up targets beyond 2.5 kilometres. Once the temperature cools, the Nag’s seeker differentiates again between the target and surrounding objects (or ground clutter).
Dr Avinash Chander, the DRDO’s missile chief, told Business Standard, “Even in the worst conditions, the Nag is 100 per cent accurate out to 2.5 kilometres. Except when the temperature is really high, it is also accurate at four kilometres. By the year-end, we will develop a seeker with higher resolution, which will be accurate at four kilometres in any conditions.”
“While we must have a range of four kilometres for the open desert, the reduced 2.5 kilometre range is acceptable for developed terrain like the Punjab. We will buy 13 Nag carriers and use these to familiarise ourselves with the system. And, in Phase II, we will order the four kilometre missile in bulk quantities,” says a top general who decides such contracts.
The Army has decided to buy 13 Nag carriers (NAMICA, being developed by BEL and L&T), and 443 Nag missiles in the current state. The Army budgeted 335 crore for the first batch of Nag in 2010-11 fiscal year.
The DRDO will source an improved focal point array from France’s Sofradir in order to mitigate the issues with the hottest desert temperatures. This news comes as Hyderabad-based laboratory, Research Centre Imarat (RCI), has announced the development of a seeker to deal with the extreme heat of the desert
Shukla goes on to note issues with the Nag’s weight. The Army is unhappy that the missile has weighed in at 40 kilos, instead of the 30-35 kilos that the Army had specified. This, senior officers say, makes reloading difficult. The DRDO has been asked to make it lighter.
The DRDO, however, argues that weight should not be an issue since it the Nag is carried on, and fired from, a vehicle, the NAMICA. Says Avinash Chander, “I don’t see why an extra five kg should be an issue. If the Nag were a man-portable, shoulder-fired missile, weight would be crucial.
But we will bring the weight down gradually. The Mark II Nag will be about 35 kilos, and we will continue to reduce weight.
Initiated in 1983 by then DRDO boss, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the IGMDP set out to develop five missiles: the Agni and Prithvi ballistic missiles; the Akash and Trishul anti-aircraft missiles; and the Nag ATGM. Only the Trishul will have failed to enter frontline military service.