Tag Archives: Rajaram Nagappa

North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test

North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test. ISSSP Report No. 04-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, June 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/North-Korea’s-Hwasong-12-Missile-Test.pdf

The available evidence from North Korea’s May 14 2017 launch of the Hwasong 12 missile suggests that it is a two stage missile.

Measurements on the images of the missile are also consistent with an Unha 3 space launcher origin for the Hwasong 12. If this were so it would have a diameter of 2.4 m and use Kerosene and AK 27 as fuel and oxidizer.

A single stage Unha 3 derived Hwasong 12 can also be ruled out based on a performance appraisal of North Korea’s current missile and space capabilities. The two stages appear to have about the same length. The first stage would be very similar to the Unha 3 booster with a propellant fraction of 84%.

The second stage would also use the same engine as the Unha 3 booster but would be a more optimized stage with a propellant fraction of around 87%.

These stages are consistent with what North Korea has already demonstrated through its space and missile launchings.

Though North Korea has so far not tested a thermonuclear device, the length of the Reentry Vehicle (RV) of 5.25 m suggests that it is intended to carry a thermonuclear warhead.

The predicted range of the Hwasong 12 missile with a warhead weighing 650 Kg launched due east with an azimuth of 90 degrees will be 4385 Km. This should allow North Korea to comfortably target Guam even with a heavier warhead.

With a suitable third stage the Hwasong 12 can be converted into an ICBM that can reach the US mainland. One can expect the test of such a configuration in the near future.

Taken together the successful launch of the Hwasong 12 along with the nuclear weapons testing that North Korea is carrying out indicates that North Korea is well on its way towards developing a nuclear tipped ICBM that can reach the continental United States.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com

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Promise of Small Satellites for National Security
Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India
Identification of Uranium Mill Sites from Open Source Satellite Images
Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 at 4:15 pm, Lecture Hall, NIAS




4:00 – 4:15: Coffee/Tea
4:15 – 4:20: Welcome and Introduction of Reports by Prof. Rajaram Nagappa
4:20 – 4:30: Release of ISSSP Reports by Prof. Baldev Raj, Director, NIAS
4:30 – 5:00: ISSSP Reports: A Critique  by Vice Admiral R N Ganesh & Prof. Y S Rajan
5:00 – 5:30: Response by the Authors



Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Nagappa, Rajaram. The Promise of Small Satellites for National Security. NIAS Report No. 33-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/promise-of-small-satellites-for-national-security/

Small Satellites

India is one of the few spacefaring nations having demonstrated capability in both launch vehicle and satellite domains. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) functioning under the Department of Space is the responsible agency and has established the capability to plan and implement end-to end missions. The main thrust of ISRO is aimed at carrying out satellite-based applications for societal benefits.

These include satellite missions for communication, earth observation, meteorology and regional navigation. ISRO also carries out scientific missions, deep space missions and offers commercial launch services. Technology improvements have been steadily incorporated and in the earth observation satellites, better than one metre resolution has been achieved. Because of the dual use nature of space applications, the security services in the country have derived information useful their purpose from the ISRO space programmes. 

Among the launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is operational and has a good track record. The Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) should also be reaching operational status shortly and while the GSLV Mk-3 is still in the development stage. ISRO is a civilian organisation and very rightly prioritizes its mandated tasks. Consequently, the space services currently do not cater to the needs of military space, which are evolving now. Though ISRO has the technical capability, there are capacity constraints in both satellite building and launch services.

Envisaged military space requirements will include exclusive communication satellites, electronic intelligence satellites (ELINT) and constellation of optical and radar imaging satellites for continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) activities. Small satellites are playing an important role in space applications. They are faster to build, are cost effective and better as they benefit from the use of latest technologies. Small satellite platforms can be adapted for military missions involving optical and radar imaging applications with good resolution as also for ELINT operations. Many examples of international practices bear this out. For increasing the launch frequency, a small satellite launch vehicle can be configured using stages of the Agni missiles and/or ISRO solid rocket stages. Such a launch vehicle would be capable of placing a satellite of mass 350 kg in a nearly circular 500 km polar orbit – quite adequate for military space missions.

The report surveys the small satellite capabilities to meet military space requirement. Use of available standard small satellite buses is suggested to cut down the development time. Major involvement of industry in both satellite and small launch vehicle realization and integration services is suggested to overcome the capacity constraint. It is also suggested that advantage be taken of mobility and different launch locations to carry out the flight missions.

Advances in Missile Delivery Systems

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2015, Brussels, November 11-12, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS

IISSProf Rajaram Nagappa made a presentation on Cruise Missiles at the Special Session on Advances in Missile Delivery Systems at the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference at Brussels on November 11, 2015. The other speakers on the panel were James Acton, Co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Igor Sutyagin, Senior Research Fellow, Russian Studies, Royal United Services Institute.

The audio of the presentations and the discussions at the panel are available at the IISS You Tube channel. The same is embedded below. For more details see the IISS Website.

Hypersonic missiles: Where the technology leads

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 29, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head-ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsParticipants in this roundtable display consensus on one point: that the world already possesses enough destructive capacity and there’s no need to add more. But whereas Mark Gubrud advocates a ban on hypersonic missile testing, Tong Zhao and I feel that—for better or worse—hypersonic technology is here to stay.

Technology development generally takes the form of an S-curve. Improvements come slowly in the early stages of development. Later, breakthroughs allow rapid improvement. Finally, the technology’s physical limits are reached, only modest improvements are possible, and the curve levels off. Ballistic missiles have reached the last stage. Limits on their performance can be overcome only through the development of new technology—such as hypersonic missiles.

Hypersonics provide, with their speed and promptness of delivery, a means to gain and preserve the military high ground. It is inconceivable that nations already invested in gaining that high ground would agree to a ban on hypersonic testing.

To read the complete article click here

Hypersonics are here to stay

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 9, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head-ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsMy roundtable colleague Mark Gubrud argues for a ban on hypersonic missile testing—an unlikely proposition when the pace of hypersonic missile development is only accelerating.

On June 7, China carried out a fourth test of its hypersonic glide vehicle, the WU-14. The vehicle is said to have traveled at Mach 10; the test reportedly involved “extreme maneuvers.” China has now carried out four hypersonic tests in a span of 18 months—indicating that Beijing accords great urgency and priority to the development of hypersonic technology. Russia is developing its own hypersonic glide vehicle, the Yu-71. The three tests conducted since September 2013 (including a test in February of this year) appear to have been unsuccessful, but the Russians possess the technological wherewithal to field a successful hypersonic glide vehicle eventually. The US military suffered a setback last August in a test of its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. But the United States has a long history in hypersonic technology development, and last summer’s setback will not dampen Washington’s plans.

To read the complete article click here

New technology, familiar risks

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, June 25, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head-ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsHypersonic missiles, if successfully developed, will cover long distances in a short time. Some observers argue that these missiles, in the hands of a nation that intended to overwhelm an adversary’s early warning and missile defense systems, would pose a serious threat to global security and therefore should be banned. This is a contestable idea. The technology surrounding hypersonic missiles is still very much under development—but even if it is perfected, it will not add much to the security threats already posed by deployed weapons systems such as ballistic missiles.

To read the complete article click here

Nuclearisation of South Asia: Implications for India’s National Security

Nuclearisation of South Asia: Implications for India’s National Security, Jawaharlal Nehru University, March 27, 2015

Rajaram Nagappa, Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS

LV Krishnan, Adjunct Faculty, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS

Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS

ICSSR JNUThe Center for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University organised an authors’ conference for an Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) project titled “Nuclearisation of South Asia: Implications for India’s National Security” on March 27, 2015. 

Members of the ISSSP, NIAS presented two papers at the conference. LV Krishnan presented his paper on Evolution of Strategic Nuclear Technologies in India. Rajaram Nagappa and Arun Vishwanathan presented their paper on Evolution of Missile Technologies in India. The papers will be published as part of a forthcoming edited book. 

Most Read in 2014: Top 10 ISSSP Analyses

ISSSP Reflections No. 23, January 1, 2015

As we ring in 2015, a look back at the Top 10 analyses which were popular amongst our readers in 2014 is in order. All of us at ISSSP wish our readers a Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2015 !!

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1 | Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence

Authors: Arun Vishwanathan, S. Chandrashekar and Rajaram Nagappa

Agni V--621x414In an article in the FAS Strategic Security Blog, Dr. Hans M. Kristensen has quoted various statements by scientists of the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) related to modernisation of India’s missile program to arrive at the conclusion that the development and deployment of longer range missiles with multiple warheads and quick-launch capability would “indicate that India is gradually designing its way out of its so-called minimum deterrence doctrine towards a more capable nuclear posture.”

Though the arguments advanced in the paper appear logical and persuasive, they remain anchored in the Cold War logic. The two-party logic cannot be applied to understand the complex dynamic that underpins the relationship between the Sino-Pak alliance and India. Such a caricature of the more complex dynamic tends to misrepresent the realities of the relationship between these countries.

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2 | India and Sri Lanka: Battle Over Fishing  Ground

Author: M. Mayilvaganan

fishermen_301213Fishery resources have always sustained fishermen communities in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, however over time these resources have become the object of “uncommon controversy.” The battle over fishing in the Palk Straits especially for tuna, prawns, lobsters, blue swimming crabs and cuttlefish is a classic political maritime confrontation: a showdown between the state government, India and Sri Lanka which, like past disagreements, snowballs into a major diplomatic row between two countries. With the continuing trend of attacks and arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, the issue is slowly approaching a ‘crescendo’, with no solution in sight.

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3 | Revamping India’s National Security Structure: Agenda for the Indian Government

Author: Arun Vishwanathan

Revamping-India-s-National-Security-Structure-Cover-212x300The 2014 elections for the Sixteenth Lok Sabha saw the Indian electorate delivering a positive, decisive mandate to a single party after a gap of almost three decades. An important area which is in need for urgent attention from the Narendra Modi-government is India’s national security structure. Despite past efforts at reform, India’s national security structure continues to be plagued by absence of coordination, turf battles and paucity of human resources. Many of these problems are symptomatic of systemic ills which therefore require a holistic relook.

In order for India to achieve its national interests it should be able to work in a coordinated fashion. This necessitates a holistic revamping of the existing national security apparatus and its workings. Putting in place a mechanism that develops long-term strategies and coordinates their execution is imperative as is and strengthening the National Security Advisor’s (NSA’s) support structure. In addition, such a revamp should also include reforms to the existing higher defence organisation and intelligence setup. This report will flag some of the important issues the incoming government needs to focus on in order to strengthen India’s national security architecture.

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4 | Russian Intervention in Crimea & Geopolitical Consequences: Legal Perspectives

Author: Himanil Raina

russia-crimeaThe ongoing crisis in Ukraine which has seen the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea has primarily generated two important legal questions. The first one relates to whether Russia has violated international law with respect to the non-use of force, respect for the territorial sovereignty and political independence of Ukraine. The second question relates to the legality of the referendum in Crimea whereby it has chosen to become a part of Russia.

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5 | HATF-IX / NASR Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, Arun Vishwanathan and Aditi Malhotra

Nasr Hatf IX Pakistan Tactical Battlefield Nuclear Weapon Arun Vishwanathan NagappaOn April 19, 2011 Pakistan conducted the first test flight of Hatf-IX (NASR) missile. The Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) described the missile as a ‘Short Range Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile’. Till date there have been three tests of the missile system on April 19, 2011, May 29, 2012 and February 11, 2013.

Following the Pakistani tests and claims of NASR being a nuclear capable missile, there has been a lot of analysis pointing to the dangers it poses for Indo-Pak deterrence. However, despite the large amount of literature which has come out following the NASR test in April 2011, not much attention has been directed at carrying out a holistic assessment of the tactical nuclear weapons issue. It is this crucial gap that that this report seeks to address.

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6 | China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

Launch of Yaogan 17With the recent launch of the Yaogan 19 satellite China has in place an advanced space capability to identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current 19 satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors. Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

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7 | India’s Pipeline Diplomacy: Case of Lost Opportunities

Author: Sanket Kulkarni

pipe2_070612024522India’s pipeline diplomacy over the past year has been a mixed bag. All the existing cross-border pipeline projects, viz Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Gas Pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline and Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) Gas Pipeline have made some headway. India’s participation in these projects will contribute towards improving its energy scenario. The Government of India has already identified the importance of natural gas as a major contributor in India’s future energy mix.

Currently, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) route is being used to procure natural gas from abroad. But, in comparison to the LNG route, pipelines are considered a more viable method of transporting natural gas. This is because the LNG route needs an elaborate infrastructure, at the supplier’s and receiver’s ends, thereby increasing the costs of energy transportation. Despite the obvious advantages of pipeline projects, the existing proposals face challenges owing to the unique geopolitical and security considerations prevalent in South Asia.

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8 | Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Viswesh R., and Sadhavi Chauhan

seminar coverIn the emerging geopolitical discourse today, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a major centre of geostrategic interest. Accompanying this change in perception is a change in scope, with strategists not just considering the typical Indian Ocean, but also the western, and sometimes even central Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific ranges from East Africa to the western and central Pacific, including Japan and Australia. Asia-Pacific concept reflected a new reality shaped by the rise of China and India, a revitalized Japan, along with the continued primacy of the United States and also signifies the accelerating economic and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean thus creating a single strategic system.

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9 | Evolution of Solid Propellant Rockets in India

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

Solid Rocket Propellant Rocket IndiaHistorical narration of technological achievements is more an exception than the rule in India. The narration in respect of rocket development in the country generally follows this trend with a few notable exceptions covering the developments in the Indian Space Programme. The development of defence rockets has hardly been touched upon. Propulsion forms a major subsystem of the space launch vehicles and missiles, and today, India boasts of a significant capability and capacity in this discipline.

The solid propellant rocket technology in India is essentially home-grown and has found wide application and adaptation in sounding rockets, launch vehicles, and ballistic missiles. While the requirements of solid propellant rockets for the space programme have reached a maturation phase, the requirement of solid propellant rockets for missile applications are diverse in their characteristics, and performance needs continue on a demand and development trajectory.

This book highlights the development of solid propellant rockets and the main solid rocket subsystems used in the space programme and ballistic missiles with emphasis on the indigenous nature of development.

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10 | India Vietnam Cooperation: Implementing India’s Act East Policy

Author: Sadhavi Chauhan

sushma visit vietnamWith the US pivot to Asia challenging China’s regional dominance, global geopolitical rivalry has shifted to Asia. India and Vietnam involved in territorial conflicts with China would be considered as natural supporters of USA’s return to Asia. However, both these countries have adopted a balanced approach making a conscious effort to not get involved. As C. Raja Mohan and Rory Medcalf highlight in their recent paper, “these nations don’t want to put their security at the mercy of the fluctuating relationship between America and China.” Consequently, both the countries have decided to take charge of their security and have been strengthening bilateral ties, in particular, security cooperation.

The recent visit of India’s Minister of External Affairs, Susham Swaraj to Hanoi from 24-26 August highlighted this trend. During her meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Swaraj unveiled a shift in India’s foreign policy from “Look East” to “Act East”. She identified this as a crucial step to escalate New Delhi’s bilateral ties with its South East Asian neighbour(s). In this context, it is crucial to take stock of recent developments in India-Vietnam relations and in light of this evidence, see whether the change in nomenclature is just verbal jugglery or more than that.

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Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Lalitha Sundaresan and Viswesh Rammohan
To read the complete report in PDF click here

shaheen II Nov 2014 launchA launch of the Shaheen II (Hatf-VI) ballistic missile was carried out by the Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command on 13 November 2014. What is significant about this launch is that it is taking place after a gap of nearly six and half years. The last announced Shaheen-II launch had taken place on 19 and 21 April 2008. The range claimed in those flights was higher at 2000 km.

A related issue is that the launch was conducted over the Arabian Sea and the Notice to Mariners/Airmen issued in advance identified missile launch window and the coordinates of the impact zones. With the available information from open sources an analysis is carried out of this flight and where relevant comparison is carried out with the launch of April 2008.


Based on available information, it would appear that the Shaheen-II launched on 13 November 2014 performed a successful flight. The Shaheen-II flight occurred after a gap of 6.5 years. The range of 1500 km indicated in the press release fits with the announced impact zones. The following questions come to mind:

  1. It is quite likely that the design range of the missile is only 1500 km. NAVAREA warnings for the 2008 flights are non-existent and therefore of it can be surmised that these flights were carried overland from Tilla Range. The 2000 km range claimed for these flights could therefore be overstated.
  2. If this is so, our estimate of the propellant and inert mass of the stage motors should also be wrong. If the propulsion parameters are overestimated by us, it would mean either a) the diameter of 1.4 m of the missile is in error or b) the design is not very efficiently carried out.
  3. Alternately, the propulsion parameters derived are nearly correct and the actual range of the missile is approximately 2133 km. A lofted trajectory was attempted in the November 2014 flight to get a lower range.
  4. Accepted practice is to qualify a missile system for its nominal performance. What is the reason therefore for trying a lofted trajectory, in a developmental mission, especially as there is no range constraint?
  5. The long interval in the resumption of the Shaheen-II flight is indicative of a major technical issue, which may have taken time to resolve.  
  6. The possibility of technical problem is corroborated by a recent report emanating from Hong Kong.
  7. Shaheen-II, unlike the other missiles in the Pakistani arsenal is a two-stage system. Design and performance issues could arise in respect of : (a) sequencing of staging events, (b) transfer of control at the end of first stage burn, (c) vehicle bending modes and structural design, (d) management of vehicle vibration – e.g. issues relating to control system/structure interaction, (e) thermal management of reentry heating to name a few. If the April 2008 flights had brought out any such inadequacies, the planning of the corrective action required, its realization and implementation could explain the long timespan in the resumption of the missile flight. It is possible that remedial action has not reflected in changes to the overall configuration and dimension and therefore is not discernible in the images of the flight vehicle.
  8. The changes may however, have impact on the inert mass of the vehicle and the throw weight, thus impacting the performance.
  9. Procedural issues, lack of priority or financial/resource constraints could also be causative factor for the delay.

In short, the long time gap can only be explained assuming that the Shaheen-II flight of April 2008 exhibited some major anomaly in one or more of the subsystems (e.g. issues relating to staging, control, vehicle flexibility and coupling effects, reentry thermo-structural) and it has taken Pakistan a long time to diagnose, correct (perhaps with Chinese help) and qualify the corrective measures. The corrective measures in turn may have impacted on the inert mass and consequently on the performance. Additionally, if the PSAC has also been incorporated, the development and qualification of such a system would have taken up time, besides adding mass to the missile throw weight.


The Shaheen – II flight. Of 13 November 2014 is analysed. A launch location west of Somniani range is identified and corroborated with assessment of the historical images. The flight over open areas of the Arabian Sea seems to be a logical outcome after the failure of Ghauri flight launched over land in November 2012. The range of the missile has been simulated and matched with the impact location given in the NAVAREA IX warnings. Though a lofted trajectory simulation shows good match with the known impact locations, reasons for justifying such a trajectory is elusive. Reasons for the long gap are difficult to explain in the absence of confirmatory data and can only be speculated to be a combination involving technology issues, correction, requalification and use of PSAC as well as availability of resources and priorities.

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
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