Skip to main content

'Enemy' ballistic missile to be downed in space next month

Next month, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will attempt to shoot down an incoming “enemy” ballistic missile in outer space, well before it enters the earth’s atmosphere.
DRDO chief V K Saraswat has told Business Standard a newly developed Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) interceptor missile is to be launched from Wheeler Island (off Odisha’s coast, 150 km from Bhubaneswar), travelling 110-150 km into space, where it will destroy an incoming missile, fired earlier from a naval warship in the Bay of Bengal.
This comes on the heels of the DRDO’s successful November 23 test of its Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, which destroyed an incoming target missile at an altitude of 15 km. Together, the AAD and the PDV missiles, with their radars and control centres, will form a two-layered anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defence system to protect strategic targets such as Delhi by 2013-14. While the AAD missile performs endo-atmospheric (inside-the-atmosphere) interceptions of enemy ballistic missiles, the PDV will conduct exo-atmospheric (outside-the-atmosphere) interceptions.
Next month’s test will feature a brand-new target: A two-stage version of the Dhanush missile, launched from a naval vessel 300-350 km from the interceptor location at Wheeler’s, and soaring to about 150 km. This target missile would mimic the trajectory and speed of an enemy ballistic missile fired from 1,500 km away, such as Pakistan’s Gauri and Shaheen projectiles. So far, target missiles, fired from Chandipur, just 70 km away, could only mimic enemy missiles fired from a range of 600 km or less.
“Firing range limitations make developing targets as much a challenge for us as developing interceptors. We have developed a boosted, two-stage version of the ship-launched Dhanush missile, which makes it into quite another system, taking it to a greater altitude that will mimic the actual terminal conditions of a 1,500-km class enemy missile,” explains the DRDO chief.
The brand-new PDV will intercept the incoming target at a 110-150 km altitude, far higher than the 50 km-high interceptions the exo-atmospheric Prithvi Air Defence interceptor has been doing so far. The PDV will carry a new Indian electro-optic seeker, to work in tandem with the radio frequency seeker the PAD has traditionally carried. An electro-optic seeker provides greater accuracy and reliability than a radio frequency seeker in homing the interceptor on to the target.
The PDV will be a solid-fuel missile, to be powered by a sophisticated new “pulse motor”. This will provide surges of propulsion during the missile’s later stage, increasing its manoeuvrability when very close to the target.
Intercepting the target at longer ranges provides several advantages. First, the target is travelling slower — some two km per second at 150 km, compared with 2½ km per second at 50-km altitude. Second, the target missile can be engaged before it enters Indian airspace, so that the debris falls into enemy territory. Finally, a longer flight time gives the interceptor more time for navigation, and the seeker can see better.
The PAD has been test-fired only twice, compared with the four test-firings of the AAD. DRDO insiders say with the PDV under development, there was no incentive to waste effort on the PAD. Now, the PDV could well undergo a phase of intensive testing.
Alongside the actual PDV launch at an actual target missile, the test next month will also feature up to six simulated targets, forcing the radars and command systems to respond. “We can launch six interceptors simultaneously, some endo-atmospheric and some exo-atmospheric, to handle such an attack,” says Saraswat.
Meanwhile, DRDO is working on Phase-II of the anti-ballistic missile defence programme, capable of downing enemy inter-continental ballistic missiles fired from up to 5,000 km away. DRDO says the Phase-II shield would be deployed by 2016.


Popular posts from this blog

LCA's Naval version prepares to roll out

India's first indigenous Naval Light Combat Aircraft, the LCA (Navy) NP1 is scheduled to roll out from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) design hangar on July 6.The Defence Ministry has said that the aircraft will be an important milestone for the prestigious Naval Program of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore.The Chief of The Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma would be the Chief Guest at the function.'Roll-Out' is a significant milestone when the aircraft is brought out of the build hangar, where the aircraft is actually assembled part by part, ready for the phase of systems integration tests leading to Ground runs, taxi trials and flight.Once the ground based tests are completed, the NP1 is expected to fly by the end of this year and the NP2 is likely to fly by the end of 2011.The aircraft, with state of the art technologies and punch, is designed to operate from the future Indigenous aircraft carriers the Navy…

Intercontinental ballistic missiles well within reach

Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) is the deceptively bland name that obscures from public view the Defence Research & Development  Organisation’s (DRDO’s) most glamorous laboratory. At the DRDO missile complex here in Hyderabad, ASL develops the ballistic missiles that, in the ultimate nuclear nightmare, will carry Indian nuclear weapons to targets — thousands of kilometres away. Foreign collaboration is seeping into many areas of R&D, but ASL’s technological domain — the realm of strategic ballistic missiles — is something that no country parts with, for love or for money. No foreigner would ever set foot in ASL.
But Business Standard has been allowed an exclusive visit. The erudite, soft-spoken director of ASL, Dr V G Sekharan, describes the technologies that were developed for the DRDO’s new, 5,000-kilometre range Agni-5 missile, which was tested flawlessly in April. He reveals nothing except restraint stood between India and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that…

GSLV Mark III with crew module launched successfully

India successfully launched its biggest ever rocket on Thursday, including an unmanned capsule which could one day send astronauts into space, the latest accomplishment of its ramped-up space programme.
The rocket, designed to carry heavier communication and other satellites into higher orbit, blasted off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the test mission as "yet another triumph of (the) brilliance and hard work of our scientists."
"This was a very significant day in the history of (the) Indian space programme," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman KS Radhakrishnan said from mission control as fellow scientists clapped and cheered.
ISRO scientists have been riding high since an Indian spacecraft successfully reached Mars in September on a shoe-string budget, winning Asia's race to the Red Planet and sparking an outpouring of national pride.
Although India has successfully launched lighter satellit…