During Friday’s test, a real interceptor almost simultaneously destroyed an incoming target missile in endo-atmosphere (inside Earth’s atmosphere), 14.5 km over the Bay of Bengal, and a computer-simulated missile in exo-atmosphere (outside Earth’s atmosphere), over an altitude of 120 km. The test was overseen by DRDO Chief V K Saraswat, who has been piloting the project to develop an indigenous missile shield.
After the test firing, the DRDO said that it was in the position to set up a missile shield for the National Capital Region as early as 2014, but maintained that a few more tests need to be conducted.
DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said that around 12.40 pm on Friday a ballistic missile — a modified surface-to-surface Prithvi missile — was fired from Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore. In less than five minutes of the launch, the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile, was fired from Wheeler Island off Dhamra coast. It destroyed the Prithvi missile after travelling at a supersonic speed of 4.5 Mach. The Prithvi missile had a range of 600 km to 1,000 km.
The interceptor missile was a 7.5-metre-long single-stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator. Simultaneously, DRDO scientists simulated another enemy missile with a range of 1,500 to 2,000 km on the computers which was “electronically destroyed” by another interceptor missile in the exo-atmosphere.
Gupta said, “This is the first time that DRDO has conducted such an exercise to test the efficacy of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.”
Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, said India was ready to deploy the system in the National Capital Region by 2014. He said Friday’s test showed the capability of the BMD system to stop multiple targets.
The next interceptor ballistic missile test for an exo-atmospheric interception will be conducted in January.