India on Monday successfully test-fired a locally developed anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), Helina, from the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) at high altitude, paving the way for the weapon’s integration with the chopper, the defence ministry said on Monday.
The latest test came on the back of a series of trials conducted at the Pokhran firing range in Rajathan.
Helina or helicopter-based Nag missile, can strike targets up to seven km away.
The fire-and-forget missile, guided by an infrared imaging seeker system, successfully engaged a simulated tank target at high-altitude ranges, the defence ministry said in a statement. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Air Force and the army jointly conducted the test.
According to DRDO, the Helina system has all-weather day and night capability and can knock out enemy tanks with conventional and explosive reactive armour. The missile can engage targets both in direct hit mode as well as the top attack mode.
“In continuation to validation trials conducted at Pokhran, the proof of efficacy at high altitudes paves the way for its integration on ALH,” the ministry said.
“The successful test demonstrates our indigenous weapon building prowess. Now the focus should be on integrating the missile on the helicopter, production and operationalisation of the weapon in the armed forces,” said Air Vice Marshal Anil Golani (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
Helicopter launched anti-tank guided missiles figure on the list of weapons and systems that the government has put under an import ban to boost self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector.
In a renewed push for self-reliance in defence, India last week published a new list of 101 weapons and systems that will come under a phased import ban over the next five years. The military hardware sought to be developed locally ranges from lightweight tanks, naval utility helicopters and mounted artillery gun systems to medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and loitering munitions.
The new list has taken the combined number of weapons and systems under a phased import ban by India to 310. Two similar lists of 101 and 108 weapons and systems were released in August 2020 and May 2021, respectively. Helicopter launched ATGMs figured in the ‘second positive indigenisation’ list and their import was banned from December 2021.
The latest Helina test came four months after India successfully tested the helicopter launched stand-off anti-tank (SANT) missile, which has a range of 10 km.
IAF’s Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters are expected to be equipped with the missile to arm them with the capability to destroy enemy tanks from an improved stand-off range. The existing Russian-origin Shturm missile on the Mi-35 can target tanks at a range of five km.
Nag and Helina are the existing anti-tank missiles developed by DRDO. The Nag missile is launched from a modified infantry combat vehicle, called the Nag missile carrier or Namica.