A look at the Armament Research and Development Establishment, Pune.
Despite the use of modern sophisticated weaponry, conventional armaments have a significant role in India’s Defence system. However, they have to be developed to global standards so as to complement the modern weapons.
The premier organisation in the country engaged in this important domain is the ARDE — Armament Research and Development Establishment, Armament PO, Pashan, Pune – 411 021; Website: http://drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs/ARDE/English/index.jsp?pg=homebody.jsp&labhits =18047.
The ARDE, established in 1958, functions as one of the units of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The state-of-the-art technologies for conventional armaments needed by the three wings — Army, Navy and Air Force — of the Defence system are being developed at this establishment. It also meets the requirements of the paramilitary forces. For enhancing the effectiveness of research, there is continuous interaction with other units in the Defence establishments and with various research and development organisations at the national level. The key factor is self-reliance in the vital field of conventional armaments. This entails continuing research.
The saga of the ARDE is a fascinating journey stretching over half a century encompassing phases such as “know-what,” “know-how” and “know-why” in armament design and development.
The activities cover areas such as research, development, prototyping, test and evaluation and transfer of technology. Sometimes, pilot-plant production will be taken up on a limited scale. More commonly, the technology developed will be transferred to quality assurance and production units for further work. The establishment often takes up advisory roles in respect of induction and adoption of weapon systems from other countries. The other areas of work include piezo-ceramic materials and devices, bat bomb for pest control in agriculture and rubber bullet and baton round for riot control for the police.
From the point of view of an aspiring researcher, there is a rare abundance of facilities at the ARDE, a few of which are indicated below.
Precision-guided Munition Electronics Centre and HILS-Facility: As the name implies, this specialises in precision-guided munition. The centre has three parts — control electronics, guided sensors and hardware-in-the-loop. The facilities include inertial test set-up, precision acceleration test set-up, three-axis flight motor simulator, two-axis linear trial motion simulator, GPS simulator and electronic integration facility.
Prototype Manufacturing Unit: This unit is engaged in the production of prototypes, subsystems, components and test rigs for various armament projects. The designers can see their creative ideas taking physical shapes here.
There are conventional and most modern machinery and equipment to meet the tough demands of innovative devices developed in the establishment. The fine metrology available is a significant plus point of the unit.
Environmental Test Facilities: In India, armaments have to function effectively under extremes of temperature and humidity and at high altitudes during their lifecycle. Necessary tests to confirm that armaments can withstand these environmental challenges are conducted before their acceptance. Apart from exposure to different climatic and other variations, armaments will be subjected to random vibrations. The ARDE has ample facilities for all such tests. Explosive-filled hazardous items also have to be efficiently handled.
Instrumentation: Scientific trials and experimentation are integral parts of developing armament technology. Instrumentation plays a vital role in the testing processes. The ARDE has an array of highly sophisticated testing instruments and equipment to meet all the challenges in this endeavour.
Explosives Engineering Complex: This is a very special area because of the hazards involved in handling explosives. Anything with a potential risk to human life should naturally get special treatment. The handling and processing of explosives have to comply with a variety of safety regulations. The facilities available in the ARDE include magazines, filling, casting, pressing and precision machining of charges and breakdown and assembly rooms to cater for the specialised needs of the design groups.
Pashan Ranges: Armaments will be given the stamp of approval by the Services only after vigorous trials and testing. The Pashan Ranges are being used for the conduct of such technical trials. The Ranges extend over 150 acres of land surrounded by hills on three sides, offering an ideal location.
The facilities include the following: small arms firing up to 1,000-m range; velocity measurement tunnel up to 100 m; sand butt tunnel for firing of high-calibre guns; leaning tower for aircraft seat ejection studies; environment testing for life assessment of armament stores; high-speed photography and video recording; photometric tunnel for measuring luminosity of illuminating stores; and 30-m para-drop tower.
Technical Information Research Centre: Since the ARDE is engaged in research in a multidisciplinary area such as armament development, a centre that provides the latest information on all related areas is essential in the establishment. A well-organised library with books, journals, research reports, encyclopaedias and a digital databank is available for timely information retrieval. Also, there is the Centre for Advance Design Analysis and Simulation (CADAS) to meet the futuristic needs for the design and development of complex armament systems. The Computing and Networking Solutions Division meets the technical and administrative requirements of the establishment.
The ARDE now focuses its activities on the needs of the Navy also in a big way. Formerly, the naval requirements were limited since India had only a small fleet of combat ships and vessels. The country used to depend on import to meet the needs of the Navy. But now the situation is different. India is emerging as a major maritime power in the global scene.
The ARDE has made notable steps of innovation in respect of the specialised design for naval armaments.