Going to France for ring laser gyros as navaid for the Brahmos cruise missile is a ridiculous thing the Indian govt has done. Whether the Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh even understood what he was actually asking for when he requested the French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for technology assistance with the ring laser gyro as guidance system on the Brahmos is doubtful. He would have merely learnt by rote from a note given him by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) before regurgitating it to the Frenchman.
Minister Inderjit was in Paris for the Air Show where the Pakistan Air Force flew its JF-17, the 4- gen aircraft and managed to snag several customers — at a time when the Indian govt is sitting on the sidelines confused and baffled about the best way to proceed on the 4.5 generation Tejas LCA which only needs a determined govt push to get it into IAF squadrons and for it to draw interest from a whole host of states that would be keen to buy it. Incidentally, the states that have shown definite interest in the Sino-Pak JF-17 include Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
Is this junior minister or, for that matter, the Union minister for defence Manohar Parrikar aware that (1) the Agni-prgramme head GV Sekaran-produced ring laser gyro (RLG) the technology base for the country’s Mangalayan Mars probe? If this RLG can get the Indian space vehicle on a “slingshot”course to the distant red planet on the first try, you think it will face problems getting the Brahmos dead on a terrestrial target? (2) the Indian-made RLG outfits both the Agni ballistic missiles and the Shourya and the K-15 boost-glide missiles. (3) the RLGs on ballistic missiles, as experts will tell you, have to have very high axial accelerations capability. On the other hand, cruise missiles (CMs)/boost glide vehicles (BGVs) require a very high lateral accelerations capability in order to pull-off maneuvers by the vehicle. More specifically, for violent maneuvers, the RLG needs to have a very high tolerance which translates into low % error as a function of G’s pulled. Further, in CM’s and BGV’s, the RLG is usually the primary navigation unit, especially in an intense ECM environment such as GPS jamming, spoofing, etc. Equipped thus on the Shaurya and K-15 (both BGV’s), the RLG works just fine. BGV’s are what scares everybody. This is because they are virtually impossible to intercept by any ABM system.
The stories rife in certain GOI/MOD circles that the Indian RLGs have greater axial tolerance but lack sufficient lateral tolerance are, therefore, so much motivated poppycock!
There is visual record of the RLG helping Brahmos prosecute the impossibly difficult S maneuver and punch a hole through a small triangular metal plate on a wall (and the wall itself). The exercise was to simulate an attack on a hypothetical chemical weapons plant on enemy territory. This does not seem like a RLG with an inferior lateral performance. And this video was circa: 2010. The Indian RLGs have been improved since then and ECM jamming might very well have be factored into them. The guys at the Sekaran outfit are damned good. See the video clip and judge for yourself Mr Parrikar and other doubting Thomases! Watch it at
The French item, say, Sagem RLG in contention looks like this:
It is unlikely the Indian RLG performance can be bettered in any flight envelope and is definitely miles better than the French item. In the event, going to France for this technology when a far better and proven technology is available at home seems like suppression of an already developed indigenous capability and wasting national wealth.
P.S.: The person who designed the algorithm for the “Kalman filters” to help the BGVs pull very violent maneuvers and to detect incorrect sensor inputs is a desi who once worked in an Indian R&D dept, was hounded out of it, and is now sought by and works on contract basis with top scientific R&D orgs in Asia and elsewhere. So much for the Indian govt nursing Indian talent for national good!