Defence Research and Development Laboratory

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Last Updated: July 1, 2003
Other Name: DRDL
Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Subordinate To: Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDL), Ministry of Defence (MoD)
Size: N/A
Facility Status: Active

The Defense Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) is India's premier missile facility. India's Ministry of Defence initially constituted the Special Weapons Development Team in 1958 to undertake the development of first-generation anti-tank missiles. In 1961, the group was expanded to form the DRDL. Although the DRDL was initially located on the campus of the Delhi Science Centre, it was shifted to Hyderabad in 1962. In the 1960's, the DRDL was tasked with the design and development of an anti-tank missile for the Indian army. However, the effort was terminated in 1970 when the Indian government decided to manufacture the SSIIBI anti-tank missiles under license from France.

In the 1970s, the DRDL undertook two additional projects. The first, Project Valiant, involved the development of a long-range ballistic missile. The second, Project Devil, was aimed at reverse engineering the Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile. Both projects were considered failures and came to be viewed by India's armed services and the government as competence-building exercises. Project Valiant was terminated in 1974; Project Devil ended in 1980. However, during the period 1972-80, the DRDL developed the infrastructure and facilities to undertake the design and development of missiles. The Indian government revived the missile program during the 1980's under the rubric of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). The IGMDP was launched in 1983 with the objective of developing five missile systems simultaneously. These included:

  • Trishul: short-range surface-to-air missile
  • Akash: medium-range surface-to-air missile
  • Nag: third-generation anti-tank guided missile
  • Prithvi: short-range surface-to-surface missile
  • Agni-I: intermediate-range surface-to-surface missile (technology demonstrator)

In the 1990s, the missile program was expanded to include the development of:

  • Agni II - Extended-range version of Agni-I technology demonstrator
  • A 700km-range single-stage version of Agni-I
  • Surya: medium-range version of the Agni ballistic missile
  • Dhanush: naval version of the Prithvi
  • Sagarika: short-range cruise/ballistic missile

*There is a controversy whether Sagarika is a ballistic or cruise missile. Some Indian observers believe that the Sagarika is a sea-launched cruise missile. In April 1998, New York Times, citing US intelligence sources, claimed that Sagarika is a sea-launched ballistic missile. However, both Indian and Western sources agree that Sagarika is a program to develop a submarine-launched missile with a stand-off land-attack capability.

  • Astra: beyond-the-visual-range air-to-air missile
  • Brahmos: anti-ship cruise missile as a joint collaborative effort with Russia

The DRDL is involved in all aspects of missile design and development. These activities include "systems design and analysis, aerodynamics, computer, communications, and range systems, advanced composites, flight structures, computational fluid dynamics, solid- propulsion, liquid- and ramjet-propulsion, engineering, instrumentation, and reliability & quality assurance." In the last two decades, the laboratory has established facilities for supersonic wind tunnel tests, hardware in the loop simulation testing, ramjet rocket tests, structural tests, non-destructive testing of composites, computed tomography, alignment checks for missiles, distributed numerical control systems, electro beam welding, heat treatment, instrumentation for static tests, liquid propulsion engine static tests, radar seeker head tests, and propellant storage.

[1] Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Defence Research & Development Organisation,
[2] Dr. N.C. Birla and B.S. Murthy, eds., "Test, Evaluation, and Other Facilities, Indian Defence Technology: Missile Systems (1998: DRDO, Ministry of Defence, New Delhi), p. 194.
[3] A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari, "Propitiation," Wings of Fire: An Autobiography (Hyderabad: Universities Press, 1999).
[4] Indranil Banerjie, "The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme," Indian Defence Review, July 1990.
[5] Raj Chengappa, Chapters 10, 11, 12, 17, 22, and 24, Weapons of Peace: The Secret Story of India's Quest to be a Nuclear Power (New Delhi: Harper Collins Publishers India, 2000; Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, "Equipping the Navy for War on Land," Times of India (New Delhi), 13 July 1998,
[6] "Dhanush Variant for Land Targets Sought," Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 20 April 2000,
[7] "India Developing Improved, Long-Range Agni III Missile," Asian Age (New Delhi), 8 February 2001, pp. 1, 2; in FBIS Document SAP20010208000044, 8 February 2001.
[8] Debabrata Mohanty & Chandan Nandy, "Birth in Russia, Blast-Off in India," Telegraph (Calcutta), 12 June 2001,
[9] "Snags in missile programme," Times of India (Mumbai), 7 September 2001,
[10] K. Santhanam, "Agni-1 and National Security," Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses, January 2002,
[11] Steven Lee Myers, "Russia Is Helping India Extend Range of Missile, U.S. Aides Say," New York Times, 27 April 1998, p. 1.

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