Drawing lessons from the Afghan war where US forces had to ferret out the Taliban from caves and bunkers, India's leading defence explosives laboratory in Pune has developed specialised bombs to deal with terrorist hideouts.
While the high-penetration smoke-spewing incendiary ammunition developed by the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) is ready for production, work has been initiated on oxygen-depleting thermobaric warheads.
"The earlier version of the suffocating smoke-spewing incendiary ammunition did not have a high penetration capability. Our latest version can penetrate 9-inch-thick walls and then explode inside, releasing suffocating smoke to ferret out terrorists," HEMRL director A Subhananda Rao said in an exclusive interview with TOI.
Thermobaric warheads, which are used to attack targets inside closed environments such as bunkers, caves or buildings, explode after penetration, releasing a shock effect, flammable gas and sucking out oxygen. HEMRL, which specialises in developing a range of powerful warheads for Indian munitions and propellants for missile systems, has initiated work on thermobaric warheads. "We have already started work on this and will have a project sanctioned," Rao said.
HEMRL has also developed anti-thermal, anti-laser smoke bombs that obscure infra-red signals and enable tank movement behind a smoke cover. These grenades which emit smoke and also provide IR (Infra red) screening effect provide a cover from active and passive night-vision devices, thermal imagers and laser range finders and thereby increase the survivability of tanks and armoured vehicles in the battlefield.
Rao said it would take another two years for the HEMRL to develop the multi-spectral camouflaging flares that mislead anti-aircraft homing missiles by simulating the exhaust emissions and infra red/millimetre wavelengths of the Su-30 and other combat aircraft.
"This is an advanced area and will take us another two years to develop," he said.
Meanwhile, a superior alternative to the conventional tear gas has been developed by the HEMRL, specifically at the request of the Border Security Force. These new non-lethal smoke bombs based on capsicum oleoresins (active chemical in chillies) have been demonstrated successfully and are ready for production.