India on Friday demonstrated its capability to intercept multiple missile attacks when an a real interceptor destroyed an incoming target missile in endo-atmosphere at a height of 15 km over the Bay of Bengal and another simulated 'hostile' missile was killed in exo-atmosphere at 120 km almost simultaneously.
This was the first time that missile technologists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted such an exercise to test the efficacy of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system in near deployable configuration against more than a single missile attack.
In less than five minutes of the launch of the real attacker missile, a modifiied Prithvi from Chandipur, the intercepetor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD), was fired from the Wheeler Island. Travelling at a supersonic speed of 4.5 Mach, the interceptor equipped with a unique directional warhead , homed on to the attacker missile and destroyed in a "hit-to-kill" mode at an altitude of 14.7 km in endo-atmosphere at 12.52 pm.The attacker Prihvi missile had a range of 600 km to 1,000 km.
As the AAD came close to the attacker missile, its warhead exploded and smashed the latter to smithereens.
Almost parallelly the radars tracked another incoming missile of range of 1,500 to 2,000 km, simulated eleteronically. It was intercepted too and destroyed electronically by another interceptor missile in the exo-atmosphere.
"We are now in a position to deploy the system"
An elated Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat told The Hindu from Wheeler Island later that the mission showed the capability of the BMD system to engage multiple targets. He said the target missile was completely destroyed in an an outstanding achievement.
"We are now in a position to deploy the system", he said and added the first phase of the two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system to intercept and destory incoming ememy missiles in endo and exo-atmosphere would be deployed by 2013-14. The first phase envisages to provide protection against enemy ballistic missiles of upto 2,000 km range.
He said the maturity of all the BMD technologies was demonstrated in today's mission, including the directional warhead, radio-frequency seeker as also various networks.
According to Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, two major technologies were used for the first time-- an indigenously-built fibre optic gyro-based INS system and a new class of warhead to provide a much higher velocity and better penetration and damage.
He said the next interceptor ballistic missile test for an exo-atmospheric interception of an incoming target missile would be conducted in January next.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony congratulated DRDO scientists on the success of the mission.