Interceptors Success Real and Simulated

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Interceptors Success Real and Simulated

In a demonstration of its growing missile strength, the Defence Research and Development Organization ( DRDO ) on Friday shot down an electronically simulated “enemy” missile and a real attacker missile with an actual interceptor. While the electronically simulated missile, coming from a distance of 1,500 km was “electronically hit” at an altitude of 120 km, an Advanced Air Defence ( AAD ) missile shot out from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast, and pulverised a modified Prithvi attacker missile, coming from Chandipur, at a height of 15 km. The four missiles were in the sky simultaneously and the two interceptions took place almost simultaneously.

The import of this mission’s success implies India’s ability to launch multiple interceptors to destroy several missiles coming in different directions from adversarial countries. The latest success, the seventh out of eight interceptor missions since 2006, signals that India is ready to deploy its ballistic missile defence ( BMD ) shield to protect its strategic and commercial assets.

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A delighted V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and DRDO Director – General, said from the Wheeler Island : “This kind of mission has been done only by the U.S. and Russia. We are probably the third country who can launch multiple interceptor missiles to handle various attackers. This is an important development in our BMD shield deployment.”

Chief Controller ( Missiles and Strategic Systems ), DRDO Avinash Chander also asserted : “Simultaneously taking care of multiple missiles coming from various directions is part of any BMD system. We are happy that our confidence in our capability to do this has been demonstrated by this trial.”

“Memorable day”

Associate Director, Research Centre, Imarat ( RCI ), Hyderabad G. Satheesh Reddy called it “a memorable day for the country’s defence scientists. It was fantastic to see on the monitors two interceptors attacking two targets with different ranges.” The on-board computers, the seeker and the control systems developed by the RCI performed smoothly, he said.

The mission took place like this: an electronic target, simulating an enemy missile coming from a place 1,500 km away, was launched. Radars picked it up, tracked it and launched an electronic interceptor missile which destroyed the digital attacker at an altitude of 120 km in what is called exo – atmosphere.

A real target ( attacker ) missile also blasted off from the Launch Complex III, Chandipur, Odisha, mimicking the trajectory of an enemy ballistic missile. This modified Prithvi had a range of 600 km to 1,000 km. Two radars detected it from its take – off and kept a tab on it. A guidance computer kept estimating its trajectory. When it was classified as a foe, an AAD interceptor took off from Wheeler Island. Armed with a novel warhead, it raced into the sky at a supersonic speed of 4.5 Mach. It pounced on the attacker at 12.52 p.m. at an altitude of 15 km in the endo – atmosphere. The interceptor’s proximity fuse sizzled into life, exploded the warhead and thereby the attacker became a charred wreckage in “a direct hit.” The interceptor had a radio-frequency seeker and its on-board computer guided it towards the target.

Dr. Saraswat said : “The mission’s precision shows that we have a robust system of interceptors, communication network, directional warhead, a potent radio proximity fuse and the seeker. All the major systems performed exceedingly well.” He added, “With this launch, phase 1 of the BMD shield is ready for deployment in 2013 or 2014. Phase 1 will protect strategic assets, political assets [ political leaders’ residences ] and commercial assets like Mumbai. Anywhere the country decides, we can deploy the interceptors and engage multiple attackers.”

Dr. Saraswat said long – range radars and more powerful interceptors were under development for the deployment of phase 2. The target missiles could come from a place 2,000 km away and India would be able to engage them in the exo – atmosphere at an altitude of 150 km.

“Major step”

Mr. Chander called the mission “a major step” towards the deployment of India’s BMD shield. “We are very close to taking it to deployment.” There were only the U.S., Russia, France, China and Israel who had the BMD system and India was the sixth country to have this capability. Programs Director Adalat Ali called it “a multiple target, multiple interceptor scenario [ taking place ] in two layers – in the exo and endo – atmosphere.” The interceptors were in the air simultaneously and the interceptions too took place almost simultaneously, Mr. Ali said.

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