India’s defense research agency is preparing to test its ballistic interceptor missile this week, the country’s top scientist says.

The Advanced Air Defense (AAD) interceptor, capable of destroying any hostile ballistic missile at low altitude, will blast off from Wheeler Island in India’s eastern state of Odisha, says Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Director General V.K. Saraswat.

It is designed to strike an incoming ballistic missile, a modified variant of the Prithvi that will be fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, about 70 km (43 mi.) from Wheeler Island. If successful, the interceptor will pounce on the attacker in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 15 to 16 km, Saraswat says.

DRDO is using variants of surface-to-surface, short-range Prithvi missiles as simulated targets and to intercept incoming missiles in test firings.

Saraswat says the modified Prithvi missile will possess a higher velocity. “We have improved the accuracy of the interception in the endo-atmosphere. The interceptor will be launched in a hit-to-kill mode,” he says.

According to a defense ministry official, the indigenous AAD is on par with the U.S. Patriot 3 missile defense system, and will  be put in place to defend New Delhi.

AAD photo: PIB