India to test interceptor missile
To speed up its efforts to build a missile defence shield, India will next week test an interceptor with capabilities to destroy enemy missiles in and outside the atmosphere.
"This interceptor missile has the capability to intercept an in-coming enemy missile at 40-km altitude and it can carry a warhead weighing 25 kg," a top Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said here today.
If the test is successful, India will get into an elite league of nations with indigenous capabilities to intedict enemy missiles in both endo-(less than 30-km) and exo-atmospheric (above 40-km) altitudes.
This will be the second time that Indian defence scientists will attempt to intercept an incoming target at altitudes above 40 kms.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists had first carried out such a test in 2006 and last December when they successfully intercepted a ballistic missile in endo-atmospheric altitudes.
The long range anti-missile missile would equip India with capacities that could be put to use in protecting populated areas and vital installations such as nuclear plants, oil and gas wells, airports and seaports.
Provided with a radar system to track incoming enemy missiles, the anti-missile interceptor missile would get automatically activated and could within seconds destroy the enemy missile.
The interceptor missile is an answer from India to the ballistic missile capabilities of Pakistan and China, both possessing arsenal capable of hitting Indian targets south of the Vindhyas.
The in-built guidance system would carry the interceptor missile to the enemy missile, finally destroying it in the exo-atmospheric altitudes, thereby ensuring safety and protection of the vital installations below.
Initially christened the 'Prithvi Air Defence' (PAD) system, the interceptor missile is likely to be renamed as 'Pradyumna', DRDO scientists said.
The missile defence system would be ready for operational deployment after the DRDO scientists carry out a couple of more tests that could take about six months to a year, officials said.
"The test is likely to be conducted at Chandipur-On-Sea off the coast of Bay of Bengal in Orissa. The project's Phase-I will be completed by 2009 but the system would get clearance for operational use only by 2012 or 2013," the scientists said.
Comparable to the Israeli's Arrow-I and the US' Patriot (PAC-3) missile defence systems, 'Pradyumna', if successful, is likely to steal a march over the two international players eyeing the much-awaited tenders from India for such a system.
Whether Pradyumna would be a contender for India's immediate missile defence system needs would be known much after scheduled November 2008 tests of the missile system, DRDO scientists said.