Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet tactical Air launched Missile is the newest and most advanced type of Air-to-Air missiles . SFDR which is short form for ‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet’ is a propulsion technology different than that of conventional solid fuelled or liquid fuelled missiles. SFDR tech can also be termed as Air Augmented Rockets or Throttleable Ducted Rocket (TDR) or even Variable Flow Ducted Ramjet (VFDR).
Ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that eliminates the need of oxidizer. A typical rocket or missile, both liquid-fuelled and solid-fuelled have at least 50 percent of its propellant, mixed with oxidizer, which is important for combustion to generate thrust. The end result being a significantly heavier missile. This is where an air-breathing engine, ‘Ramjet’ in this case, comes in to reduce the weight of the missile by instead taking oxygen from the atmosphere for combustion and significantly increasing the range efficiency of the missile. A Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet, if employed in an Air to Air Missile, can give a great boost to a country’s air force superiority.
SFDR tech is currently being employed in Meteor which reportedly has a range of 300 km which significantly exceeds the range of any current conventional Air-to-Air missiles (AAM). Realizing what SFDR is capable of, a number of other countries including India have also started working on this propulsion technology.
SFDR BVRAAM Will help in maintaining the Air supremacy against Pakistan by rendering their Air Power obsolete but also help IAF to achieve parity with PLAAF against their new unknown Long range Air to Air Missile .
The design scheme of SFDR is very similar to that of Meteor BVRAAM with two air ducts, although DRDO’s 250kg SFDR is around 75 kg heavier than 185kg Meteor. The project has already excited Indian military news followers and missile experts have termed it as “Desi Meteor”.
DRDO has successfully test fired an SFDR technology demonstrator missile from Launch Center-III (LC-III) of ITR, Chandipur, Orissa at 12:06 hrs on May 30th using a nozzle-less 450kg booster from ground (shown in Figure 7). The speed of the missile has exceeded Mach 3 in its debut test for validating the propulsion system. More follow-on tests will be conducted in the near future to validate its active radar seeker, max range, maneuverability, kill probability, electronic counter-measures etc.
Maturing of DRDO SFDR missile and its variants is still some years away with Captive Flight Trials (CFTs) hopefully at the end of 2018. Final SFDR Products could differ from the specs provided. The SFDR is indeed a high priority project for DRDO and future requirement for Indian Armed Forces w.r.t evolving threats of India’s unpredictable & unstable neighbors having no respect for India’s sovereignty. The future of missile warfare indeed belongs to air-breathing engines like ramjet, scramjet, scramjet and pulse detonation engine.
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