September 18, 2020
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Racing interceptor
India getting ready to deploy first BMD by 2014

Six years after India conducted its first ballistic missile defence system, the DRDO is now in a position to claim that the missile is ready for deployment by next year or 2014. The latest and the eighth interceptor missile test, conducted on 23rd November, 2012 has exuded new confidence among the DRDO top brass who now wants to move to the second phase of the BMD system.

After the successful test of the BMD system, the Chief of the DRDO V K Saraswat claimed that with the latest launch the first phase of the Ballistic Missile Shield is ready for deployment in 2013 or 2014.

According to Saraswat, phase-1 of the BMD shield will protect strategic assets, political locations and commercial places like Mumbai. Anywhere the country decides, we can deploy the interceptors and engage multiple attackers.

He said long range radars and more powerful interceptors were under development for the deployment of phase-2. The target missile can be fired from a distance of 2000 km and we would be able to engage them in the exo-atmosphere at an altitude of 150 km.

Major success

Avinash Chander, Chief Controller Missiles and Strategic systems of the DRDO, described it as a major step towards the deployment of the missile shield.

According to the Program Director of the AAD, Adalat Ali, the test was conducted in a multiple target, multiple interceptor scenario taking place in two layers-in the exo and the endo atmospheric.

Both the interceptors were in the air simultaneously and the interceptions took place almost at the same time.

The latest BMD test was under the phase-1 which was dubbed as the endo-atmospheric and the target missile, the improvised Prithvi, was shot down at a height of 15 km.

India thus has successfully demonstrated its capabilities and defied the American offer to accept the Patriot PAC-3 and the Russian offer of S-300 and later the S-400, which the Chinese PLA is now deploying to protect its strategic assets.

The DRDO success could not have come without the Israeli assistance which provided two Greenpine radars early last decade for detecting and hitting the target. The Greenpine radar was the most crucial element in the Indian Ballistic Missile Defence program.

However, the DRDO has indeed done commendable job in making the nation self sufficient in this most sensitive and crucial defence technology.  

In present day geopolitical scene when nations especially India’s neighbors are deploying ballistic missiles, tipped with nuclear bombs, it is natural for India to fast track its BMD program.

This is the most complex and expensive defensive weapon system to acquire and maintain and India cannot remain dependent on foreign supplier for its proper upkeep and maintenance.

It is not known if Israel has transferred the technology to manufacture the Greenpine radar to India. India has already entered into a very ambitious joint development plan worth Rs 10,000 crores for developing Long Range Surface to Air Defence Missile (LR-SAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Defence Missile defence system (MR-SAM) with Israel.

However, since Israel has till now proved to be a credible defence supplier India can hope to have a perfectly self–dependable Ballistic Missile Defence force. The BMD systems are proposed to be first deployed in New Delhi and then in Mumbai.

Considering the fast deteriorating security situation in India’s neighborhood and the possibilities of Jehadi elements dominating the security scene in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the deployment of BMD systems would be a must to deter them from any daring act.

Till now Indian missile scientists had demonstrated their ability to kill one missile at a time. But in the new emerging security scenario, the threat perception requires the ability to counter the multiple targets simultaneously.

Out of the eight anti missile tests conducted till now seven has been successful. The first test was conducted in November 2006 which was an exo-atmosphere test and was declared successful.

The target missile was destroyed at a height of 48 km. But another exo-atmospheric test failed. However, the rest of the tests were endo-atmospheric and were successful.

The latest eighth round of BMD test was a step in this direction, which gave the DRDO the confidence to tackle multiple targets at the same moment.

Engaging targets

According to Saraswat, a special feature of intercepting multiple missile target with multiple interceptor was demonstrated successfully. An electronic target with a range of 1500 km was launched and the radars picked up the target missile, tracked it subsequently.

Then it launched an electronic interceptor missile, which destroyed the electronic target missile at a height of 120 km.

All the four missiles were tracked by the radars and all the guidance and launch computers operated in full operational mode for handling multiple targets with multiple interceptors simultaneously.

Saraswat asserted that this has proved the capability of the DRDO to handle multiple targets with multiple interceptors simultaneously. The complex radar systems, communication networks, launch computers, target update systems and state of the art avionics have been completely proven in this mission.

Another DRDO scientist said that the interceptor missile Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile successfully destroyed the incoming ballistic missile at an altitude of 15 km which was a modified version of Prithvi which mimicked the enemy’s ballistic missile that was launched from the Launch complex-3 of Chandipur.

The long range radar and MFC radar located far away could detect the missile from take off and tracked through its entire path.

The total trajectory of the incoming missile was continuously estimated by the guidance computer and subsequently the AAD missile was launched to counter and kill the ballistic missile.

The ring laser gyro based navigation system in target missile, fibre optic gyro based INS in interceptor, onboard computers, guidance systems, actuation systems and the critical radio frequency seekers used for the terminal phase performed excellently.

In fact, India displayed its own version of the Star Wars scenario with the successful simultaneous test of simulated electronic target being destroyed by an electronic interceptor missile.

Now the test of the pudding lies in its successful deployment. India has many important political and strategic sites to defend and the question would arise how many such systems to be deployed nationwide.

Only US, Russia, Israel, China and France have deployed such systems. China is working on a BMD system on the basis of the Russian S-400 as they are famous for reverse engineering.

But the threat India is perceiving is primarily from the rogue elements inside Pakistan, where the army and the Jehadi often work hand in glove.

The BMD system that India has developed indigenously would give confidence to the security managers of the country and give tough response to the enemy threats.