After the recent successful trial of the homegrown interceptor missile at high altitude, India is now planning to deploy by late 2018 the anti-ballistic missile system to protect its metros from hostile aerial attacks.
A senior defence official said, radar sites have been selected to deploy the Phase-I two-tier interceptor defence system to provide an effective missile shield against incoming hostile projectiles both conventional and nuclear around New Delhi in the first phase. The decision to implement the system in other metros and other critical asset locations will be taken this year after a couple of more trials of the system is accomplished in a coordinated manner.
The milestone ballistic missile defence system provides a two-layered shield – ‘exo’ and ‘endo’. What this effectively means is that the system provides protection both against ballistic missiles that are outside (exo) as well as inside (endo) the earth’s atmosphere. In the March 1 test, the endo-atmospheric missile, capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms successfully destroyed the incoming missile. All the mission objectives were successfully met, says DRDO.
The interceptor is a 7.5-meter long single stage solid rocket-propelled guided missile. It is equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator. The interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.
In its current iteration, India’s BMD is a two-layered system. Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is supposed to tackle incoming missiles at ranges of 80-120 km (exo-atmospheric interception). On the other hand, the advanced air-defense (AAD) mainly consists of Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) that can intercept incoming missiles at ranges of 15-30 km (endo-atmospheric interception). If the PAD system is devised for mid-course interception, the AAD is a terminal phase interception system which can only counter incoming missiles after their entry into the atmosphere. In their present configuration, these systems are designed to counter missiles with range close to 2,000 km traveling at speeds ranging from Mach 3 to Mach 8.
It consists of few important components. At first there is SwordFish Long Range Tracking Radar , which is the target acquisition and fire control radar for the PAD missile. It is an active phased array radar having capability to track 200 targets at a range of 600 km. ‘Swordfish’ Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). The Swordfish LRTR has been developed jointly by India and Israel. It is based on the Israeli Green Pine early warning and fire control radar imported by India from Israel in 2001-2002.
Two Radar site has been selected to deploy Phase-I two-tier fully automated Ballistic Missile Defence to provide an effective missile shield against incoming enemy ballistic and nuclear missiles Countries Capital New Delhi and Commercial Capital Mumbai in the first phase.
Swordfish long-range tracking AESA radar specifically developed to counter ballistic missile threat will be deployed just of New Delhi in an area called Roopnagar which will be able to monitor a Short/Medium Range Ballistic Missiles launch from Northern-west areas of Pakistan, while a Second radar site will in Khoa area to provide Radar cover to Mumbai.
After successful implementation in Delhi and Mumbai, the system will be deployed to cover all other major cities and vital installations in the country. The interceptors can destroy incoming ballistic missiles launched from more than 2,000 km away. The missiles will work in tandem to ensure a hit probability of 99.8 per cent.
Why India Wants a BMD System
Many factors have motivated India’s quest for missile defense. First, Pakistan’s inclinations to pursue low intensity conflicts and foment terrorism under the shield of its nuclear arsenal have made India extremely uncomfortable with the strategic situation in the region. The Kargil War, 2002 attack on the Indian parliament and 2008 Mumbai attacks were symptomatic of this strategic imbroglio. Many in Delhi hope missile defense will provide India a space for limited wars against Pakistan.
Another motivating factor was the fear that there could be an unintended launch of a ballistic missile, especially given Pakistan’s vacillation between being ruled by a trigger happy military and being overrun by jihadi extremists. Lastly, India also realized that a limited BMD, especially to secure its political leadership and nuclear command and control against a first strike, would augment the credibility of its second-strike nuclear posture.
The DRDO has two phases of the BMD systems. While the phase-I interceptors are now ready for deployment, the phase-II missiles, capable of thwarting threats from enemy missiles with ranges of 5,000 km, are expected to be ready in next couple of years.
Meanwhile, the DRDO is developing a laser-based BMD system. The new interceptor can travel at the speed of sound and kill incoming missiles in less than one minute. It will have the flexibility to be fired from both airborne and seaborne platforms.
‘’We have already test-fired exo and endo interceptors separately. Preparation is on to test the two simultaneously at different targets before their deployment. Thereafter, we will go for the test of laser-based BMD system,’’ the officer added.
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