Wednesday, June 9, 2010

India to Testing New Missile Interceptor (PDV) by End of This Month

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would be testing a new missile interceptor in Balasore by the end of this month, DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat told India Today. "We will have a test in end June or early July and are calling this new missile the PDV and it will have two solid stages," Dr Saraswat said. He revealed that the DRDO would begin ground-testing of AD-1 next year, a missile meant to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The DRDO-developed missile shield uses a system of long range radars and long-range missiles to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The system has been tested successfully three times since December 2006. A fourth test in March this year was a failure. For the test planned in June, the DRDO now plans to replace the PAD-1 or the exo-atmospheric interceptor which has two stages, one liquid and one solid besides a 'kill vehicle' which destroys the enemy missile. It will be tested against an 'enemy' missile 100 km away.


The PDV is a modified version of stage 1 missile interceptors which can shoot down intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) of upto 2,000 km range like Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles. "The PDV will be the mainstay of the defence shield," Dr Saraswat said.DRDO officials say this system will be the backbone of the missile defence shield until Phase 2 missiles are fully deployed. Phase 1 of the system is to be completed and ready for induction by next year.

Dr Saraswat said that the AD-1 and AD-2, extended range missiles meant to shoot down ICBMs, were on the drawing board and would be fielded by around 2012 under Phase 2 of the missile shield. "Ground testing of the AD-1 will begin next year and the AD-1 missile will be test-fired in 2012," Saraswat said. These would be capable of shooting down missiles which have ranges greater than 5,000 km.

Phase 2 is far more challenging because it calls for detecting ICBMs hurtling at twice the speeds of intermediate range missiles. It not only requires bigger interceptor missiles flying at hypersonic speeds of between six and seven times the speed of sound (present missile interceptor speeds are between Mach 4 and Mach 5) but also radars to detect incoming ICBMs at ranges of over 1,500 km as opposed to the current detection ranges of over 600 km.

Phase 2 will be part of the DRDO's attempts at incrementally increasing the BMD capabilities of the home-grown system. The system has been successfully test-fired three times since December 2006-the first test shot of the exo-atmospheric interceptor downed a missile 45 km away; the second test a year later proved the endo-atmospheric or Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor which shot down an incoming ballistic missile 15 km away. A third test in March 2009 shot down a ballistic missile 48 km away. The interceptor used a 'gimbaled directional warhead' or a warhead only one side of which explodes close to an incoming ballistic missile, shattering it.

The DRDO has put into place the building blocks for developing extended range radars of over 1,500 km. The Phase 2 missiles will be in the class of the THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missiles deployed by the United States as part of its missile shield beginning this year. THAAD missiles can intercept ballistic missiles over 200 km away and track radars with ranges of over 1,000 km................Source

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