Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ballistic and Air defence for Delhi ready; Bangalore next?

BANGALORE: Indian version of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) is ready. Under Phase-1 deployment, the National Capital Region (NCR) will come under the safe shield of programme Air Defence (AD). Sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirm to Express that the entire gamut of operations will be linked to the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in Delhi.
“India’s network-centric warfare capabilities will come to the party with AD cover for NCR first. Once, this module is operational, we can replicate the same to other Indian cities. We have submitted a detailed
programme to the government in this regard,” sources said.
In Phase-II deployment, cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata could find a place, though the specifics have not been yet finalised. “Missile launchers, radars, interceptors and network systems have all being readied for NCR. India will now be among the league of nations with BMD capabilities,” sources said.
Surrounded by hostile neighbours possessing nuclear capable ballistic missiles, the threat perception to India has been brainstormed and assessed periodically by New Delhi. The AD system detects an incoming missile hundreds of kilometres away and destroys it outside the atmosphere, and any leakages will be dealt with at lower heights before it could do any significant damage.
Giving the technical challenges of AD, sources said: “We have to detect the missile and should possess the ability to track it at distances of several hundred kilometres. We need to give adequate reaction time to the control centre to analyse the threat, and to interceptors to be launched to take on the incoming missile before it reaches the target. We have the radars now and the plan for improved longer ranges is in progress.”
The size of an incoming missile payload could be just two to three metres and it comes at a speed of approximately 5 km/sec, giving very few seconds to the weapon systems to react. This requires very accurate prediction of incoming missile position as well as control of interceptor path. “The coverage has to ensure adequate number of radars, a highly integrated, network-centric system which can process the inputs from various radars, predict the path of the incoming missile and decide when the interceptor has to be launched,” sources said.
“The coverage is for an entire area consisting of several hundred kilometres and not for a specific building. However, the deployment ensures that key assets are at the centre of the covered area providing highest protection,” sources said.
Once the NCR module is deployed, similar modules can be adopted covering other important regions, and eventually the entire country. “All modules are interlinked in overlapping fashion to generate net worked AD system. Satellites are needed only for time synchronisation of different stations across the country,” sources said.
In future, a need would arise to detect the launch of a ballistic missile thousands of kilometres away, sources said, and added that this would be done by satellites having very high sensitive infrared detectors to detect the plume from boosters of missiles and provide early warning to the AD systems in the powered phase of the potent target.
“It would be possible to use high energy weapons to destroy these systems during launch. These are areas where the country needs to look forward and take a technology initiative to close gaps in defence capabilities,” sources said.
The deliverable version of an endo-atmospheric interceptor missile (protection range or down range will be approximately up to 30 km, and kill altitude approx 20 km) is all ready to be flight-tested. The missile is part of the twin-layered ballistic missile defence that is being developed by the DRDO which engages the enemy missile in the endo-atmosphere.
The interceptor missile is primarily designed for engaging short to medium-range ballistic missiles (SRBM/MRBM) with ranges up to 2,000 km. It has also got the capability to engage quasi-ballistic missiles of medium range. The performance in terms of the kill zone and lethality of this missile is significantly higher than contemporary missiles like PAC-3.
Later this month (January), the complete deliverable version of this missile will be flight-tested from Wheeler’s Island against an SRBM launched from Chandipur. A significant research has gone into development of highly sophisticated onboard algorithms to enable DRDO scientists in predicting a near hit-to-kill performance in the next mission.

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