Gentle folks of BR!
Take a step back to see a larger picture, if I may say so. What I understand from the technical gurus is the following are essential for an Indian Theatre Missile Defence System (ITMDS).
(i) Space based assets for detecting launch of Ballistic Missiles (BM) at its origin (in the first phase) and possible destruction of the said missile at its boost phase from Space (second phase) - the latter I believe is what "Star Wars" of Reagan era.
(ii) Radar assets to cover and track incoming missiles from its launch thro' to its rentry with an integration to any interceptor system that allows for real time guidance
(iii) Interceptor systems that are multiple in terms of taking out the incoming missiles at different kill zones viz. at boost phase, ex atmosphere before re-entry,on re-entry and during terminal phase. The interceptors should be capable of eing launched from different platforms
We will get back to the above in a short while.
Now this test has surprised many just as the Shakti tests. Much like the Shakti tests, the timing and test itself was a surprise. In shakti tests, the biggest surprise was the "chotus" - that was a really surprise to many as it proved the extent and depth of Indian nuclear capability beyond doubt. (he likes of ramana and kgoan will know what iam talking about).
Similarly there is a surprise here in this test as well. The surprise is in the area of radars and in the realtime integration of hardware and software. There are innovations in hardware too.
Let us also understand what this test is not. By this test we have not got a an ABM sytem and it does not constitute the ability of operational ITMDS. The GoI or DRDO has not claimed this. With this test India has gained the capability
to build an ABM system. The key technologies that need to be mastered have been proved to a significant extent. This is the real import of this test. There needs to be a lot more things happening before we can have an operational ITMDS.
Let us try and see what are the principal things in that regard. First, the rationale for an ITMDS stems from the DND. We have NFU as a policy. Which means second strike capability must be assured. Which in turn would require an effective ITMDS to ensure the survivability of our nuclear assets and delivery systems. The following therefore becomes crucial and integral components for building an effective ITMDS
(i) Space based technologies for monitoring and tracking of ballistic missile launches from security zones
(ii) Radar and Interceptor technologies for tracking and bringing down of incomings
(iii) Operationalizing the ITMDS in terms of command, control, assets and delivery systems across the services as part of the strategic forces.
Now if you look at the initiatives of the GOI it does indicate that clear programmes exists in all the areas that are listed above. Why do I say this? Consider the following for starters
(i) The AirForce chief going on record in creating an Aerospace command. The ISRO program to test re-usable launchers (will come in handy in placing mil sats at low orbits); the Divya Drishti programe for integrating real time communication to battle theaters, the cartosats and high resolution imagery may also lead to the first dedicated mil sat. IIRC there was a mention somewhere that ISRO had such plans. All this indicate that the Space assets for defence is definitely on the agenda.
(ii) The likes of SivathanuPillai have gone on record that the next stage will be the developments of radars and anti missile missiles right after one of the Brahos tests. The programme for sea based launches (Sagirika/Dhanush) with possible undersea launch capability, the further development program for Rajendra series of radar, the acquision of Green Pine and other systems all indicate that there are several programmes running in building the required radars, interceptors and launch platforms.
(iii) From an operational standpoint, the setting up of an Aerospace Command in the AF, the ATV programme and extensive program of naval launch capabilities of ballistic and cruise missiles in the IN, the operational missile groups in the Army conducting their own launch and testing of Pritivi in the recent times all indicate to these operational aspects being addressed.
Above all, consider the time line. By all accounts the present test is a result or a milestone of 5 years of work. Now look at the time when the then GOI came out with a statement somewhat welcoming the US ABM initiative. It does seem to me that the GOI was already on course in this journey and it was in India's interest not to be against this initiative.
There is also another important implication. In all the key technology areas where foreign technology is not going to be forthcoming, India is going to build the capability themselves. Just like the 3 stage nuclear plan, India is ready with plans for all key areas. This does not stop us from collaboration. Just like the J18 deal, India will be ready to collaborate but only on certain terms. India is quite prepared to work and build the capability otherwise on its own. This is what I call the "Kalam Principle". Although it predates him and he himself is a product of this philosophy, for convenience I use this term since he articulated in WOF.
Not many of the think tanks have grasped this point about India. They will be surprised time and again if they have not. India does not do things in pursuit of some pre-determined self image or because of the personal agendas of scientific establishment as the likes of George Perkovich and others claim.
So what next? I had already indicated some events. Like an Oracle
I have no intention of upseting bradmins and crow eating gurus. They are far more valuable to the forum than a rambler like me.
Let us see what are the implications in the near time. Watch out for offers of "cooperation" and deals that will involve CRE by back door. Also watch out for articles by think tankers. One group will degrade the tests and capability - just like Wallace et al after Shakti andd the other will casitgate India for accelerating an arms race in South Asia (group funded by Pakistan and China - Cohen, Albright can earn some money). Technology denials to India under some provision or the other to stop a fully Indian ITMDS and some technology proliferation to ensure better survivability of nuclear strike capability (eg. Submarine launch capability for Pakistan) by US/West and China.
So there it is folks, yet another rambling commentary on things important and otherwise. Till the next ramble, take it for what it is worth.