In the next three to four months, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be launching a series of missiles “both in the ballistic missile defence area and the strategic side,” according to V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.
These will include Prithvi and Agni missiles, and an interceptor missile which (the interceptor) forms part of India’s quest to build a ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield. An advanced version of Prithvi-II was already successfully test-fired on October 12.
Dr. Saraswat, who is also Director-General, DRDO, said: “These are major activities. They are all planned in the next three to four months. All these missiles have to undergo validation, verification and training for the user [the Army]. This is the main purpose of these missions and they will give you confidence in the reliability and robustness of the systems.”
Under the BMD shield, the DRDO will fire an attacker missile which will be ambushed in its flight path by an interceptor missile. This would be an “endo-atmospheric mission wherein we are extending the altitude of interception to 30 km.,” he said.
The DRDO had already successfully intercepted an incoming “enemy” in the endo-atmospheric region at an altitude of 15 km. on December 6, 2007. The DRDO was now going for an interception at an altitude of 30 km.
Dr. Saraswat described it as “a difficult mission because the same interceptor missile has to perform manoeuvres at higher altitudes where the density of the atmosphere is low.” So the manoeuvres became difficult.” Certain modifications, therefore, had been done on the interceptor missile.
The DRDO was also integrating “a unique directional warhead” developed by its laboratories into the interceptor. “It is called P-charge [projectile charge] warhead which can penetrate thick steel and cause damage with a high hit [repeat hit] density. That means the number of holes you create per unit area is very high,” he explained.
This mission would validate the DRDO’s new command, control and communication software which was being upgraded to monitor “space-objects such as satellites and to discriminate between actual threatening objects and decoys,” he added.
The DRDO is developing a new Prithvi interceptor missile codenamed PDV. It will be a two-stage missile and both the stages will be powered by solid propellants. It will have an innovative system for controlling the vehicle at an altitude of more than 150 km. “We expect to have trials of this early next year,” the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister said.