New Delhi: India is planning to furnish indigenously-built Dhruv helicopters with missiles in two years time as part of an ambitious missile-development programme.

The guided air-to-ground HELINA, an upgraded version of Nag anti-tank missile, is being indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will be in the final stages and ready for user trials in 2013.

"For the first time, we are developing indigenously a missile called HELINA for being deployed on the weaponised version of the ALH Dhruv helicopter," DRDO chief V K Saraswat said.

Under the programme, propulsion systems of the NAG missile have been strengthened and they would be able to take out enemy tanks from a range of seven to eight kms.

Saraswat said the initial trials of the missile from ground-based system have been successful and work will now begin on its integration with the helicopters.

Nag is one of five missile systems developed by the organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

The DRDO is also working on development of a number of new missiles or upgrading the range of the existing ones. Under this programme, work is expected to begin by the
end of this year on development of short range surface-to-air interception missile system in collaboration with France.

"Our main thrust in the tactical missile systems is going to be the Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM) system... We are trying to work with the MBDA of France on
this programme," Saraswat said.

The missiles, with a range of eight to nine kms, will replace the Russian-origin Pechora and OSA-AK missile systems with Air Force and the Army.

"We have not done much in this area (short-range missile systems)...We are undergoing negotiations (with MBDA) and hopefully it would be launched by the end of this year," he

India has developed medium and long range systems such as the Akash Surface-to-Air missile system, but so far it has not ventured into the domain of similar short range systems.

On the work-sharing arrangements between the two sides for the programme, Saraswat said, "The design and development would be totally indigenous and only a few things such as the production technology and seeker would be from the partners (MBDA)."

In the partnership, the DRDO will also seek the production technology for the mass production of missiles in the facilities of Public Sector Undertaking Bharat Dynamics
Limited (BDL).

"When you want to produce large numbers, you have to have an automated assembly line. For missiles, we don't have that automation system in our production facilities... What we
are looking at in these new programmes is that production technologies of BDL are also improved so that the rate of production can be increased," he said.