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The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has begun work on a next-generation air defence system – the Laser Beam Riding Man-Portable Air Defence System (LPAD). This project signifies a significant advancement in India’s indigenous defense capabilities.

The LPAD program received a project sanction order last year under the Make-2 category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.  This procurement route fosters collaboration between the DRDO and private Indian companies. The project aims to develop and deliver 200 launchers and 1,200 laser beam-riding missiles to the Indian Army, with an estimated value of ?4,800 crore. Prototype testing of the LPAD system is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

The Indian Army’s requirement for 200 launchers and 1,200 LPAD missiles underscores the growing need for robust air defence solutions. These man-portable systems will empower soldiers to counter various aerial threats, including helicopters, drones, and low-flying aircraft.

The LPAD system’s defining feature is its laser beam-riding guidance technology. This innovative approach offers several potential advantages:

  • High Precision:  Laser beam guidance offers exceptional accuracy in tracking and engaging targets, minimizing the risk of collateral damage.
  • Enhanced Maneuverability:  The laser-guided missiles can potentially manoeuvre more effectively to counter agile threats like drones.
  • Warhead Options:  Laser beam-riding missiles can be equipped with warheads for explosive destruction or may employ sub-projectiles/darts that rely on kinetic energy for target elimination.

The LPAD system is envisioned as a multi-missile platform, potentially comprising two missiles per launcher. Additionally, it will incorporate advanced sensor technology, including a thermal imager and a TV camera, to provide soldiers with clear visual and thermal data for target acquisition and tracking.

With prototype testing expected by the end of 2024, the LPAD program is on track for progress.  The successful development and deployment of this system will position India at the forefront of laser beam-riding missile technology, providing its soldiers with a powerful tool to safeguard the nation’s airspace.

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