Source : Indian Defence Analysis
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DRDO’s Lab DRDL is developing a new missile called Supersonic TARget (STAR). It will primarily used as a supersonic target for testing various air-to-air and surface to air missiles.
The most distinct feature of this missile is going to be its propulsion. It will have a booster followed by a Liquid Fuel Ramjet engine (LFRJ) just like BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The Liquid Fuel Ramjet engine has inherit advantage of having higher endurance and range. The booster will be used to take the missile to a higher speed where Ramjet engine can commence the ignition. Riding on the success of BrahMos missile, STAR can pave way for developing smaller missiles based on same technology.
This seems to be an attempt by DRDO to build 100% indigenous missile & master the Ramjet Engine technology used in BrahMos.
There has been reports of STAR undergoing wind tunnel tests by DRDO at NAL’s 1.2M Trisonic Facility. The development of the missile is expected to be complete by 2023-24 followed by trials.
Naval Application of STAR
This missile has huge potential and application for Naval platforms. The interception of supersonic missile from warships is very challenging. The STAR missile is planned to be used for training the NAVAL defence system against against latest anti-ship missiles such as MBDA’s Exocet. The second stage powered by a ramjet engine is capable to replicating sea skimming flight characteristics of BrahMos missile. An anti-ship missile derived from STAR missile is also a fair possibility.
Ground/Arial application of STAR
STAR can also be launched from arial or ground-based platforms. It can be used to train the Air Defence systems of army & air force against interception of supersonic missile.
The missile can be launched from a ground or ships using a catapult-launched system and has a range between 55-175 km. The missile has RCS between 0.2 – 1.9 meter square which will assist in training the air defence system in intercepting targets with varying range. The reported shelf life of the missile is 10 years. STAR will have speed ranging from 1.8-2.5 Mach.
STAR as Anti-AWACS & Anti-Radiation Missile
Considering the fact that Ramjet engine enables the missile to have higher endurance and range, the STAR technology can be effectively used to develop Anti-AWACS & Anti-Radiation missile. DRDO has planned to develop a version of STAR missile for LCA Tejas Mark1A and Mark-II which can be used as Anti-AWACS & Anti-Radiation Missile.