The Indian Ballistic Missile Defense Program is an initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defense system to protect India from ballistic missile attacks.
Introduced in light of the ballistic missile threat from Pakistan, it is a double-tiered system consisting of two interceptor missiles, namely the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception. The two-tiered shield should be able to intercept any incoming missile launched 5,000 kilometers away.
PAD was tested in November 2006, followed by AAD in December 2007. With the test of the PAD missile, India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an Anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia and Israel. On March 6, 2009, India again successfully tested its missile defense shield, during which an incoming "enemy" missile was intercepted at an altitude of 75 km.
Since the early 90s, India has faced the threat of ballistic missile attacks from Pakistan against which it has fought multiple wars in the past and also from China . With the heightening of tensions in the region, and in response to Pakistan's deployment of M-11 missiles bought from China, in August 1995, the Indian Government procured six batteries of Russian S-300 Surface-to-air missiles to protect New Delhi and other cities. In May 1998, India for the second time tested nuclear weapons, followed by Pakistan with its first ever nuclear test. With Pakistan's testing of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, this threat intensified. India has also developed and tested missile delivery systems.
In 1999, the Kargil War between India and Pakistan became the first direct conflict between two declared nuclear powers. As the war progressed, the first hint of the possible use of a nuclear weapon was on May 31, when Pakistani foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmad made a statement warning that an escalation of the limited conflict could lead Pakistan to use "any weapon" in its arsenal. This was immediately interpreted as an obvious threat of a nuclear retaliation by Pakistan in the event of an extended war. The leader of Pakistan's senate noted that "the purpose of developing weapons becomes meaningless if they are not used when they are needed." Some experts believe that following nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistani military was emboldened by its nuclear deterrent cover to markedly increase coercion against India.
Development of an anti-ballistic missile system began in late 1999, suggesting that India initiated the program in light of Pakistan's eschewing of a nuclear No first use policy and heightened tensions during the Kargil war including a possibility of full scale nuclear war.
India was interested in acquiring the Arrow-II Missile System, which was developed by US and Israel. However, the deal fell through due to US refusal to approve the sale of the missile and the Yellow Citron control system. India and Israel jointly developed the Swordfish Long Range Tracking Radar(LRTR), which is the target acquisition and fire control radar for PAD Missile System. The LRTR radar has the capabiltiy to detect multiple targets. It was reported in December 2009 that the latest upgraded version of Swordfish Long Range Tracking Radar, already developed by DRDO in collaboration with Israel are capable of detecting very small targets in the 600 km (370 mi)-800 km (500 mi) km range and can spot objects as small as a cricket ball. The DRDO plans to upgrade the capacity of Swordfish to 1,500 km (930 mi) by 2011.
Development of the anti-ballistic missile system began in 1999. Around 40 public and private companies were involved in the development of the systems. They includeBharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Astra Microwave, ASL, Larsen & Toubro, Vem Technologies Private Limited and KelTech. Development of the LRTR and MFCR (Multi-function Fire Control Radar) was led by Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE).
Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) developed the mission control software for the AAD missile. Research Centre, Imarat (RCI) developed navigation, electromechanical actuation systems and the active radar seeker. Advanced System Laboratory (ASL) provided the motors, jet vanes and structures for the AAD and PAD. High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) supplied the propellants for the missile.
The two-tiered BMD System consists of the PAD, which will intercept missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes of 50–80 km (31–50 mi) and the AAD missile for interception at endoatmospheric altitudes of up to 30 km (19 mi). The deployed system would consist of many launch vehicles, radars, Launch Control Centers (LCC) and the Mission Control Center (MCC). All these are geographically distributed and connected by a secure communication network.
The MCC is the software intensive system of the ballistic missile defense system. It receives information from various sources such as radars and satellites which is then processed by ten computers which run simultaneously. The MCC is connected to all other elements of the defense through a WAN. MCC performs target classification, target assignment and kill assessment. It also acts as a decision support system for the commander. It can also decide the number of interceptors required for the target for an assured kill probability. After performing all these functions, the MCC assigns the target to the LCC of a launch battery. The LCC starts computing the time to launch the interceptor based upon information received from a radar based on the speed, altitude and flight path of the target. LCC prepares the missile for launch in real time and carries out ground guidance computation.
After the interceptor is launched, it is provided target information from the radar through a datalink. When the interceptors close onto the target missile, it activates the radar seeker to search for the target missile and guides itself to intercept the target. Multiple PAD and AAD interceptors can be launched against a target for high kill probability.
Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) / Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor
LRTR is the target acquisition and fire control radar for the PAD missile. It is an active phased array radar having capability to track 200 targets at a range of 600 km (370 mi). The PAD missile has also been called Pradyumna. The Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is an anti-ballistic missile developed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere (exo-atmospheric). Based on the Prithvi missile, PAD is a two stage missile with a maximum interception altitude of 80 km (50 mi). The first stage is a Solid fuelled motor while the second stage is Liquid fuelled. It has maneuver thrusters which can generate a lateral acceleration of more than 5 gs at 50 km (31 mi) altitude. Guidance is provided by an intertial navigation system with mid-course updates from LRTR and active radar homing in the terminal phase. PAD has capability to engage the 300 to 2,000 km (190 to 1,200 mi) class of ballistic missiles at a speed of Mach 5.
Further development led to the improvement of the interception range to the 80 to 50 km (50 to 31 mi) range. The improved missile will utilize a gimbaled directional warhead, a technology that until now has only been used by the US and Russia. This technology allows for a smaller warhead to destroy the target missile.
Prithvi Air Defense Exercise
The PADE (Prithvi Air Defence Exercise) was conducted on November 2006 in which a PAD missile successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi-II Missile at an altitude of 50 km (31 mi). The Prithvi-II ballistic missile was modified successfully to mimic the trajectory of M-11 missiles.
DRDO plans to test the anti-ballistic shield against missiles with a range of 1,500 km (930 mi). The test will be conducted with a modified Prithvi missile launched from a naval ship and the anti-ballistic missile launched from Wheeler Island. The interception of the target missile will take place at approximately 80 km (50 mi) altitude.
On March 6, 2009 DRDO carried out a second successful test of the PAD interceptor missile. The target used was ship launched Dhanush missile which followed the trajectory of a missile with range of a 1,500 km (930 mi). The target was tracked by Swordfish (LRTR) radar and destroyed by the PAD at 75 km (47 mi) altitude.
On March 6,2011 DRDO successfully test-fired interceptor missile from Advanced Air Defence(AAD) which destroyed a 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified Prithvi, at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal.Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur, received signals from tracking radars installed along the coastline and travelled through the sky at a speed of 4.5 Mach to destroy it.
Advanced Air Defence (AAD)/Ashwin Ballistic Missile Interceptor
Advanced Air Defence (AAD) is an anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 30 km (19 mi). AAD is single stage, solid fuelled missile. Guidance is similar to that of PAD: it has an inertial navigation system, midcourse updates from ground based radar and active radar homing in the terminal phase. It is 7.5 m (25 ft) tall, weighs around 1.2 t (1.2 long tons; 1.3 short tons) and a diameter of less than 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in).
On 6 December 2007, AAD successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi-II missile acting as an incoming ballistic missile enemy target. The endo-atmospheric interception was carried out at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi). The interceptor and all the elements performed in a copy book fashion validating the endo-atmospheric layer of the defense system. The launch was also shown through a video link at a control room of DRDO at Bhawan, Delhi.
The sequence of events of the test was as follows. At 11 a.m. the Prithvi missile lifted off from Launch Complex III at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur Orissa. Radars at Konark, Paradip detected the missile and were continuously tracking it. The target information was sent to MCC for further processing. MCC classified the target, calcuated the trajectory of the missile and assigned the target to a AAD battery located on Wheeler Island, 70 km (43 mi) across the sea from Chandipur.The AAD was launched when the Prithvi reached an apogee of 110 km (68 mi). The AAD with the help of midcourse updates and its terminal seeker manoeuvres itself towards the target. AAD makes a direct hit at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) and at a speed of Mach 4. Radars detected formation of a large number of tracks, signifying that the target had broken into multiple pieces. The thermal cameras located on Wheeler Island also picked up the direct hit through thermal images.
Due to two successful interceptor missile tests carried out by India, the scientists have said that the AAD missile could be modified into a new extended range (up to 150 km (93 mi)) surface-to-air missile that could be possibly named as ‘Ashvin’.
On 15 March 2010, AAD interceptor missile test from the Orissa coast on Monday was aborted, as the target missile deviated from its path and plunged into the sea. The AAD missile was to intercept the target at an altitude of 15 to 20 km over the sea. The target, a Prithvi missile, fired at 10:02 am from a mobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range Complex-3 at Chandipur-on-Sea, 15 km from here, deviated from its trajectory after traveling about 11 km and fell into the sea.
On 26 July 2010, AAD was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off the Orissa's east coast.
On 06 March 2011, India launched its indigenously developed interceptor missile from the Orissa coast.India successfully test-fired its interceptor missile which destroyed a 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified Prithvi, at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal. the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur, received signals from tracking radars installed along the coastline and travelled through the sky at a speed of 4.5 Mach to destroy it.As the trial was aimed at achieving the desired result with precision, the interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars. "It was a fantastic launch. The trial, conducted from two launch sites of ITR off Orissa coast for developing a full fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, was fully successful," he said.
Swordfish is the target acquisition and fire control radar for the BMD system. The LRTR currently has a range of 600 km (370 mi) to 800 km (500 mi) and can spot objects as small as a cricket ball. The DRDO plans to upgrade the capacity of Swordfish to 1,500 km by 2011.
According to scientist V. K. Saraswat of DRDO the missiles will work in tandem to ensure a hit probability of 99.8 percent. Introduction of the system into services is expected to be in 2011.
- Two new anti ballistic missiles that can intercept IRBMs are being developed. These high speed missiles (AD-1 and AD-2) are being developed to intercept ballistic missiles with a range of around 5,000 km (3,100 mi). The test trials of these two systems are expected to take place in 2011. The new missile will be similar to theTHAAD missile deployed by the U.S.A. These missiles will travel at hypersonic speeds and will require radars with scan capability of over 1,500 km (930 mi) to successfully intercept the target.
- India is also planning to develop a laser based weapon system as part of its defense to intercept and destroy missiles soon after they are launched towards the country. DRDO's Air Defence Programme Director V. K. Saraswat says its ideal to destroy a ballistic missile carrying nuclear or conventional warheads in its boost phase. Saraswat further added that it will take another 10–15 years for the premier defence research institute to make it usable on the ground.
In 2009, reports emerged of a new missile named the PDV. The PDV is said to be a two solid stage hypersonic anti-ballistic missile similar in class to the THAAD. The PDV is intended to replace the existing PAD in the PAD/AAD combination. It will have an IIR seeker for its kill vehicle as well. The PDV will replace the PAD with a far more capable missile and will complete the Phase 1 of the BMD system, allowing it to be operational by 2013. Whereupon Phase 2 development will take over for protection against missiles of the 5,000 km (3,100 mi) range class. The first test flight of the missile is expected in 2010. The PDV is designed to take out the target missile at altitudes above 150 km (93 mi).