India successfully test-fired a locally developed Helina anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) from the HAL Advanced Light Helicopter at high altitude, paving the way for the weapon’s integration with the chopper. The latest test came on the back of a series of trials conducted at the Pokhran firing range in Rajathan. Helina can strike targets up to seven km away. In continuation to validation trials conducted at Pokhran, the proof of efficacy at high altitudes paves the way for its integration on helicopter. Now the focus should be on integrating the missile on the helicopter, production and operationalisation of the weapon in the Indian Armed forces.
HELINA (Helicopter-launched Nag) is air-launched version of the Nag with extended range. It is launched from twin-tube stub wing-mounted launchers on board HAL Rudra helicopters and HAL Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Nag missile (Cobra), also called “Prospina” for the land-attack version, is an Indian third-generation, all-weather, fire-and-forget, lock-on after launch, anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) with an operational range of 500 m to 20 km. Development of the Nag is part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), run by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
It is structurally different from Nag and is guided by an infrared imaging seeker (IIR) operating in the lock-on-before-launch mode for target engagement. The first ground launch of the missile to check lock-on after launch (LOAL) capability were conducted in 2011 during which the missile was locked onto a target and launched. While the missile was in flight, a second target was chosen for the missile to hit, which the missile destroyed. This demonstrated the capability of the missile to lock onto and hit a target while in mid-flight. In the ground-launched LOAL test, the missile was launched in the general direction of the target.
On approaching the target, images of the area ahead were sent from the missile to the operator via a two-way, radio frequency, command-video data link. The operator identified the target in the images and updated the new target location into the seeker, after which the missile homed in on the target and destroyed it. It supports both top attack and direct attack functionality. HELINA completed all kind of user trials as of 20 September 2021. The Indian Army is ready for the missile acquisition which is expected to cost under ?1 crore. The initial demand is of 500 missiles and 40 launching tubes.