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DRDO to test interceptor missile

This endo-atmospheric interceptor missile will be engaging a Prithvi simulating hostile missile, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2006 20:31 IST

Buoyed by the success of its new missile tentatively dubbed 'PAD' which successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi missile off the Orissa coast on November 27, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) scientists are busy setting the stage for the launch of yet another interceptor missile. This one’s called `AAD.’

The 'PAD,' with a speed of 1,600 metres per second, had intercepted the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile and blown it into smithereens at an altitude of 50 km, signalling that India had the basic building blocks for an exo-atmospheric intercept system.

The 'AAD', an endo-atmospheric interceptor missile will engage a Prithvi, simulating a hostile missile but within the atmospheric limits, at an altitude of 30 km.

Dr VK Saraswat, chief controller, R&D and programme director (air defence), DRDO, said on Saturday the `AAD’ would be tested within four months. "The intent is to develop exo and endo-atmospheric intercept systems for achieving hit-to-kill probability of 99.8 per cent," said Saraswat, the high-flying DRDO scientist steering India’s ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme.

While the two-stage `PAD’ uses the propulsion system of the Prithvi, the newest missile is not "Prithvi-derived and is an altogether new interceptor missile."

Making a presentation on the November 27 test, Saraswat said the country had developed the technology required to configure a BMD system and "a very good beginning” had been made.

“The test validated many technologies, hardware and software that went into building long-range tracking radars (LRTR), new generation missiles, terminal guidance systems, communication systems and missile control systems,” Saraswat said.

Scientists had been working on the exo-atmospheric intercept system for “almost five years.” Saraswat had no qualms admitting that “experiments do not mean deliverance and at least half a dozen tests would be required before making any commitments could be made on when the system would be ready for users.”

If the DRDO is to be believed, the basic elements for the BMD system have been developed indigenously. Except the LRTR, which is a modified Israeli Green Pine radar. “We have ruggedised the radar and produced most of its components. More than 30 private firms helped us in developing software and hardware for the interception systems.”

Saraswat brushed aside suggestions that Indian BMD system was a derivative of the American PAC-3 or Israeli Arrow-2 ballistic missile defence systems.

The modified Prithvi used as a target for the November 27 test had an in-built reaction control system and when the missile came down it simulated the trajectory of a 300-km class missile. The target for `AAD’ will remain the same.

Email Rahul Singh: rahulsingh@hindustantimes.com