LAPAN is Preparing Military Medium Rocket with 400 Km Range

Dr Soewarto Hardhienata leaved TNI Combat Training Centre in Baturaja, South Sumatera, at 13:30 pm, Nov 8, 2010 with a heart relieved. Half an hour earlier, four rockets that included in a joint project from several important institutions, including the Institute of Aviation and Space Agency (Lapan), where he worked as Deputy Head of Aerospace Technology, successfully re-tested.

All rockets reaching 14 kilometers and a diameter of 12.2 inches can be launched and hit the targets on that weekend. This success not only makes the project seen brighter in front of the cabinet members in attendance list, including Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Minister of Research and Technology Suharna Surapranata, but also become an important milestone.

“This is the first time given Lapan rocket warheads,” said Soewarto. Previously, Lapan-made rockets tended only for research purposes. There is no rocket actually utilized. Following recent successful trials, the Defense Ministry also announced it will put a rocket named Han R-122 in combat ships of Indonesia and is targeted by 2014 must be produced up to 500 units.

This rocket-making project is relatively fast, only about three years. “This is due to collaborative project, so that it is fast enough,” said Dr. Timbul Siahaan, Head of Research and Development Center of Science and Technology Agency in the Ministry of Defence.

Several state agencies already have the technology. Lapan has the rocket technology, Pindad has decades of experience in the manufacture of warheads and PT Dirgantara Indonesia has the facilities and experience to make a torpedo. Everything is joined together. “If from the beginning (the study itself), will not be enough time,” said Timbul.

Rocket R-Han 122-which means a diameter of 122 millimeter – defense rocket is a derivative from LAPAN RX-120 rocket. Lapan rocket is slightly enlarged with a simple reason. “Military standard rocket is rocket-122,” said Soewarto. One of the rockets used in Indonesia is rocket that launched from RM-70 Grad, rocket launchers made in the Czech Republic.

In the military world, a rocket with this size referred to artillery rockets because of its function exactly like a cannon: sweep enemy troops. In next class are intermediate and intercontinental-range rockets. A number of countries in Asia not only Japan, India, or China, but also Iran and North Korea-have been able to produce rockets reaching hundreds of kilometers. Indonesia is currently in early stages of development and its target in 2014 has been producing long-range rocket that not only could carry a bomb into other continents, but also a satellite into space (see “Four More Years”).

Rocket R-Han 122 does not have its own control and without the navigation system. To steer when launched, personnel must calculate the launch angle. Accuracy is also not the point, but the area with a radius of about 500 meters. When flying, the rocket will blast while rolling. This makes the rocket reach farther and directed.

With this system, the rocket R-Han 122 undergoing a long trial. The initial stage, after designs, as usual testing ground to test the system driving force. Only then do the actual test launch. “About 25 times of test launch,” said Soewarto, “all successful.”

The tests have been run on Pameungpeuk near Garut, Lumajang in East Java, and Baturaja, Palembang. At trial in Pameungpeuk and Lumajang, rockets launched towards the sea. Unfortunately, while testing in Lumajang, there was an accident though not by the rocket R-Han 122. The accident injured two people residing in huts around the launch field. “For this rocket (R-Han 122), we had no problem,” said Soewarto.

Subsequent trials conducted in Baturaja, Palembang. As rocket artillery, rockets were loaded real explosives. The test must be done with ground targets. “That should test warheads, could not be at sea,” said Soewarto. They chosed Baturaja because the place is spacious, 23 thousand hectares (= 230,000,000 m2), so it is relatively safe if there is a problem. The trial was also successful.

However, this team was not satisfied with the coverage is only 14 kilometers. The team has developed the R-Han 122 with a range of 23 kilometers, nearly two-fold farther from RM-70 Grad rocket. Further coverage will be achieved with a simple way: redesigned fuel load. In the present version, the fuel has a length of one meter. In subsequent versions, up to two meters in length. This longer version has been tested on land. “It will be tested soon fly in the near future,” said Soewarto.

Another project is already waiting. “We are developing R-Han 200,” said Siahaan. The rocket that size, according to Soewarto, able to reach about 40 kilometers.

Four More Years

Although an important part in the project R-122 or R-Han Han 200 has raised prestige Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan), the main concentration of these rocket scientists institute is to create rockets that could send a satellite into space. Lapan target in 2014: can produce rocket named RPS-01 to send a satellite. “So far stages (towards it) go well,” said Dr. Soewarto Hardhienata, Deputy Head of Aerospace Technology Lapan.

The rocket consists of four levels. The top level of the RX-320 rocket which was manufactured and successfully tested Lapan. Three levels below it originally planned to consist of the RX-420 all plus two booster rockets (booster) in the left-right. RX-420 was successfully tested last year and became the largest rocket made in Indonesia.

But a number of calculations made Lapan then tried to remove a pair of those boosters. One reason: the complexity of the calculation. If the power of two rockets were not really the same, the trajectory can be chaotic. Instead of using rocket with diameter 420 millimeters, LAPAN enlarges it to 550 millimeters. “Next month is a static test of the RX 550 in Pameungpeuk (near Garut),” said Soewarto.

This is very great progress, considering since 1960s until 2006, Lapan likely to stop making rockets. They concentrate on matters such as remote sensing. During that four decades, Indonesia stops rocket technology at diameter of 250 millimeters.

Not only from being able to bring the satellite, this four levels-rocket reaching nearly 400 miles can be converted into military rockets. “The pay load can be replaced with warheads,” said Soewarto.

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