One of the greatest threats facing India today is the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the region. India’s nuclear-armed bellicose neighbors, namely China and Pakistan, have significant cruise and ballistic missile capabilities. China and North Korea continue to proliferate on a wide scale and could increase in the long run as the technology is transferred. A rogue nation like Pakistan make these investments because ballistic missiles provides it with the means to project power both in a regional and strategic context and a capability to launch an attack on India from a distance. However, there are several reasons to doubt that Pakistan will ever launch a ballistic missile at India. Perhaps the most important relates to attribution – a missile launch could be easily detected, and retaliation would be swift and brutal at least as far as the purpose of the Modi government in Delhi is concerned.
DRDO’S ADVANCED AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM
India has initiated a demonstrable indigenous capability in Theater Ballistic Missile Defense development, a step to predominantly protect India from enemy ballistic missile attacks. The Advanced Air Defence (AAD) “Ashwin” Missile defence technology being developed, tested by DRDO is designed to counter ballistic missiles of varying ranges namely short, medium, intermediate and long. Since ballistic missiles have different ranges, speeds, size and performance characteristics, the AAD system has an integrated, “layered” architecture that provides multiple opportunities to destroy missiles and their warheads before they can reach their targets. Due to a realistic threat perception from its chief adversaries Pakistan and China, the need for a comprehensive and convincing protective cover became imperative.
HOW IT WORKS
The AAD interceptor comprises the lower tier, and the higher-altitude, two-stage Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) interceptor currently comprises the upper tier. Like the U.S.Patriot system, both of these Indian systems intercept ballistic missiles in the so-called terminal phase, in which the incoming missiles are descending toward their target. The AAD interceptor uses an explosive warhead to destroy the target missile as the interceptor approaches it. In contrast, most U.S.missile defense systems, including the Ground-Based Mid-course Defense and sea-based Aegis systems, rely on “hit-to-kill” interceptors that destroy a target solely via impact. India first tested the AAD interceptor in December 2007 and has subsequently conducted 8 successful tests.
On 23 November 2012 the AAD missile test for the first time was tested in a hit-to-kill mode. During the test, the target missile (modified Dhanush missile) was simulating the final phase of the trajectory of ballistic missiles with a range of 1,500 km, such as Pakistan’s Ghauri missile. At the end of over five minutes of heightened suspense at the Launch Control Center (LCC) on Wheeler Island, the Prithvi interceptor missile cut into the path of the incoming “Enemy” missile, knocked it out and also pulverized it with its new manoeuvrable warhead. Before this test, DRDO had mostly tested, near-miss or zero-miss acquisition of targets. With this system, an ABM missile blows itself up some nine meters from its targets. However, the hit-to-kill capability will enable the interceptor to directly destroy hostile targets. DRDO has indigenously developed key Radio Frequency seeker technologies and sophisticated digital processing software.
Testing must account for the ever-changing
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