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BDL to take up missile upgradation

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI NOV. 5. Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) plans to double its turnover during the current fiscal in anticipation of a large order for extending the service life of military missiles, diversification into naval and Air Force applications and plans to export components and sub-components of Milan and Konkur-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).

With the help of these initiatives, the country's sole producer of missiles, ranging from the ATGMs to missiles of the guided missile development programme, would be achieving a turnover of Rs. 600 crores a year earlier than originally planned, the BDL Chairman and Managing Director, P. Mohandas, told presspersons here on Tuesday. Maj.Gen. Mohandas' obsession with missiles is well known. He and his fellow officers were at the receiving end of the Pakistani Cobra missiles during the 1971 war to which India at that time had no answer.

Maj.Gen. Mohandas feels BDL's production lines may not remain underutilised for long. The Defence Minister, George Fernandes, had recently stated that over-aged missiles held by the Army, Navy and the Air Force would be refurbished.

Since foreign firms are reluctant to undertake this type of upgradation, BDL reckons itself to be the front-runner. Anti-tank missiles have a shelf life of 10 years and surface-to-air missiles such as the OSA and the Pechora are safe up to 15 years after their manufacture.

"After that they become unreliable. They will be brought back to their original shape,'' the BDL chief said.

The company is closely involved with the Navy and the Air Force, apart from the traditional customers, the Army, and is developing munitions for all the three services. Submarine-fired decoys are being produced while user trials have been held for lightweight torpedoes and production may start soon. Ground trials for `Project CMDS' (counter measure dispensing system) to deflect missiles aimed at aircraft have been completed and field trials will be started soon.

Indigenisation has helped the company supply Milan ATGM to the Army for Rs. 4.20 lakhs against the international price of Rs. 10.65 lakhs and Konkurs for Rs. 4.15 lakhs against the international price of Rs. 6.25 lakhs. By adapting the launcher of an obsolete Russian missile Fagot, BDL has developed the "Flame'' (Flagot launcher adapted to Milan equipment) that is being supplied to the Army for its inventory of Milan missile at a fraction of the international price, he pointed out.

The upgradation of the expired missiles will also result in considerable saving for the Government since the expenditure is estimated at 20 per cent of the price of a new missile.

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