India's missile scientists are gearing to conduct an interceptor missile test on February 10 as part of the plans to deploy a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.
This will be the seventh interceptor mission. The exercise is meant to test the capability of the system to kill incoming ballistic missiles with a range of 2,000-3,000 km. Of the six exercises held to date — the first was in November 2006 — five have been successful.
The proposed operation would be closer to the deployable configuration of the system for endo-atmospheric interception, according to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials. During the upcoming mission, the interception of the target missile is planned at an altitude of 15 km in the endo-atmosphere. Four of the interceptor missile tests conducted so far have been in the endo-atmosphere, two in the exo-atmosphere.
Soon after the modified surface-to-surface target missile, Prithvi, is launched from Chandipur, an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile will take off from Wheeler Island to intercept and destroy the incoming projectile, which, after reaching a height of 100 km, will start descending.
Upon Prithvi's launch, the Long-Range Tracking Radars near Puri will start tracking the target. A little later, the Multi Functional Radars located near seaport town Paradip will detect and track the missile and provide data for the guidance computer. This will compute the flight path of the target missile and launch the interceptor at the right time. The interceptor computes the optimal path for the missile to hit the target. In the terminal phase, the radiofrequency seeker will track the target and enable the interceptor to home in on to the target.