By Elton Gomes
On Sunday, India was successful in conducting an interceptor missile test off the coast of Odisha. In doing so, India has achieved a major milestone in developing its two-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system, sources from the Indian defence said.
The interceptor missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, which was earlier known as Wheeler Island of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), at about 8.05 pm, sources said, news agency PTI reported.
Known as Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), the missile was originally introduced in 2009 as a defence requirement against China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The PDV is known to engage targets in the Earth’s exo-atmosphere. These include targets that are usually at an altitude roughly 50 km above the Earth’s atmosphere.
The test comes at an uncertain time in geopolitics, as China, Russia, the United States, Japan, and India look to enhance their economic and military arsenals.
Why is the missile launch important, and what does it aim to do?
In an automated operation, radar-based detection and tracking system helped in detecting and tracking the enemy’s ballistic missile. With the help of data received from radars, the computer network predicted the trajectory of the incoming ballistic missile. The PDV missile was fully primed and took off once the computer system gave the lift-off command. Guided by high-accuracy Inertial Navigation System (INS), which is supported by a Redundant Micro Navigation System, the interceptor moved towards the estimated point of the interception, sources told PTI.
What is the PDV mission?
The PDV mission is mainly used for engaging targets in the exo-atmosphere region at an altitude that is above 50 km of the earth’s atmosphere, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said.
When the PDV was originally tested in 2014, it missed its target, but DRDO scientists still termed the launch as successful. During the second test in 2017, reports claimed that the target was destroyed at a distance of 100 kms.
India’s efforts in developing a homegrown ballistic missile defense system
In a nuclear arms’ competition, Ballistic Missile Defence Program (BMD) systems play a vital role in weakening the opposition. Although India will be happy with the results, the true test of the interceptor missile would be in actual combat conditions. India’s BMD system places it in an exclusive group with the United States, Russia, France, Israel, and China.
India has been banking on its efforts to develop a homegrown ballistic missile defence system and has been largely successful in its attempts. On August 2nd, India tested its Advanced Area Defence (AAD)/Ashvin Advanced Defense interceptor missile against decoy targets for the first time.
Franz-Stefan Gady of the Diplomat opined that this was the first test of the new indigenous imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, and such a technology was developed to assist interceptors in distinguishing between warheads and decoy targets. This capability is has become increasingly necessary as countries like China and Pakistan develop multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) and multiple reentry vehicles.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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