Following a successful test-firing of its Advanced Air Defense (AAD) system, India says it is likely to deploy its first ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield in 2014.
The indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile, launched from a defense base in India’s eastern state of Odisha, hit an incoming ballistic missile target at around 12:52 a.m. local time Nov. 23, according to Ravi Gupta, an official at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
The 7.5-meter AAD missile struck the ballistic missile — a modified surface-to-surface Prithvi missile fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, about 70 km (43 mi.) away from Wheeler Island — at an altitude of about 15 km (9.3 mi.), Gupta says.
Distant long-range radar and multifunction fire control radar systems were able to detect the missile’s launch and track it through its entire path.
In addition to the live missile and interceptor, the test also featured a simulated intercept of a 1,500-km-range target at 120 km altitude. The simulated interception took place almost simultaneously with the live intercept.
“This has proved the capability of DRDO to handle multiple targets with multiple interceptors simultaneously,” the official says.
Meanwhile, DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat was quoted by the media as saying that the research agency is now ready to convert the BMD system from an experimental system to an operational one that can be deployed on demand. “I am confident we can deploy the phase one of the BMD system by 2014,” Saraswat said.
Previous trials of India’s BMD system took place in November 2006, December 2007, March 2009 and February of this year. India is the fifth nation to develop ballistic missile defense capabilities.
According to a defense ministry official, the Indian AAD is on par with the U.S. Patriot-3 missile defense system, and will be put in place over the national capital, New Delhi. The two-tiered Indian BMD program uses the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) system for intercepts at 50-80 km altitude and the AAD for 15-30 km altitude.
“We have begun some initial work on the third tier. We will try to integrate it with the BMD system once it fructifies,” Saraswat says.