The first phase of the defence system can destroy enemy missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km
As part of a bid to secure major cities of the country from external attacks, India’s missile technologists will, for the first time ever, conduct a crucial, high-altitude interceptor missile test in the exo-atmosphere.
The exercise is part of the developmental trials for the first-phase of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, designed to tackle incoming enemy missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km.
India plans to deploy in two phases a home-grown, two-tiered (interception in endo and exo-atmosphere) BMD system to protect major cities.
In the first phase, the BMD system seeks to intercept and destroy incoming enemy ballistic missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km. The second phase would aim at targeting missiles with a higher range of 2,000-5,000 km.
The first-ever high-altitude interception at around 125-140 km has been proposed, missile scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said.
Critical simulation tests were being carried out by scientists in the run-up to the major trial, to be held in the last week of November.
How it functions
Both the interceptor missile, the PDV, and the target missile would be totally new, two-stage missiles and equipped with advanced technologies.
Once the target missile is launched from a ship, the attacker missile, carrying a dual seeker, would try to waylay the incoming missile, destroy it in a “hit-to-kill” mission. Both missiles would be travelling at a speed of around 1500 metres per second at the time of interception.
However, one of the challenges during the trial, the scientists said, would be for the interceptor to discriminate between the booster and the payload once the first stage of the target missile gets separated.
Earlier, DRDO missile technologists have carried out exo-atmospheric interception at altitudes of 47 km and 80 km. So far, six of the seven interceptor missile tests conducted by DRDO have been successful. While two were in exo-atmosphere, the remaining took place in endo-atmosphere (above an altitude of 50 km).
DRDO scientists said that while endo-atmospheric interception had been validated in earlier tests, some more trials needed to be conducted before deploying the first phase of BMD system. They said the design of the interceptor missile for the second phase had been completed and the trials would be held next year.