By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
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.
Since the project inception, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has so far conducted six successive trials. "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 prepared a detailed programme and submitted to the government in this regard,” sources said.
In Phase-II deployment, cities like Mumabi, Bangalore and Kolkotta could find a place, though the specifics haven't been yet finalised. "Missile launchers, radars, interceptors and network systems have all being readied for 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 with varying ranges, the threat perception to India has been brainstormed and assessed periodically by New Delhi. The AD system detects an incoming missile hundreds of kilometers away and destroys it outside the atmosphere and any leakages will be dealt 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 kilometers. We need to give adequate reaction time to the control center to process and analyse the threat and to the interceptors to be launched and 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 meters and it comes at a speed of approx 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 processes the inputs from various radars, predict the path of the incoming missile and decide when the interceptor has to be launched,” sources said.
DRDO claims that these technologies have been developed and demonstrated to Tri Services Command. “The coverage is for an entire area consisting of several hundred kilometers and not for a specific building. However, the deployment ensures that key assets are at the center 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 networked AD system. Satellites are needed only for time-synchronization of different stations across the country. Once the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System is operational by 2014, we will not dependent upon satellite constellation of other countries,”
Sources say that in future a need will arise to detect the launch of a ballistic missile thousands of kilometers away. This will 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, thus providing more time for reaction. “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 aprox up to 30 km and kill altitude will be up to 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 2000 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 a SRBM launched from Chandipur.
A significant research has gone into development of highly sophisticated onboard algorithms to enable the DRDO scientists in predicting a near hit-to-kill performance in the next mission.
(Copyright@The New Indian Express. This artilce appeared in Express on 02 Jan 2012. Regular updates will resume on the blog from today. Stand-by for 2 reports on Navy and DRDO in the coming days.)