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India developing new missiles Towards destroying hostile missiles

Sandeep Dikshit

`India developing complete suite of air defence missiles'

Missiles to destroy incoming missiles closer to earth's surface on the cardsFirst test will take place in first half of 2007, says DRDO

NEW DELHI: "India is developing a complete suite of air defence missiles to destroy all types of hostile missiles," a top Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said here on Saturday. After successfully conducting a test aimed at intercepting intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) in the exosphere (uppermost layer of atmosphere) last month, India is now working on missiles capable of destroying incoming missiles closer to the earth's surface.

The first test would take place in the first half of 2007. DRDO would then undertake development of missiles with both capabilities.

"The entire project is likely to take three years to complete," said V. K. Saraswat, Chief Controller of DRDO's Missiles and Strategic Systems Division. The shorter-range interceptor missile would have double the range of the American Patriot missiles, he added.

Dwelling on interception by the liquid-fuelled Prithvi missile, Dr. Saraswat said the decision to destroy a missile at a distance of 50 km was undertaken in view of the likely threat perception from IRBMs. Defence scientists were looking at a pack of six missiles to decisively intercept the enemy missile with a kill probability of 99 per cent. They felt two missile batteries would be enough to defend a large city like Delhi or Chennai. The project for developing missile interception capability began three years ago. After several simulations and changes in guidance and control software, the target missile was launched on November 19 this year and intercepted electronically.

This gave DRDO the confidence to conduct a live test a week later. However, the planned launch could not take place because the software to check the health of the subsystems diagnosed the seeker as faulty. "We therefore decided to delay by a day to conduct reconfirmation tests,'' said Dr. Saraswat.

Except for the long-range tracking radar, all other elements were "totally home-grown'' by 35 private and public sector companies. Three million lines of code were written in India for the Mission Control Centre, the hub of software and hardware systems.

A shadow centre was set up to take over if the original centre got destroyed or inactivated.

Transmission links to the interceptor missile were based on jam-proof CDMA technology and multiple data transmission links were set up so that if one was jammed the others could function. In this trial, various data transmission and control centres were spread over a distance of 1,000 km. The DRDO modified the Israeli Greenpine radar to enable it detect IRBM missiles with a velocity of 5 km per second from a distance of 600 km.

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