India successfully flight-tested an indigenously built interceptor missile from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast on Sunday, joining the US, Russia and Israel in an elite group of countries to have accomplished the mission. The interceptor, developed under the ballistic missile defence system, destroyed the target, a variant of Prithvi-II mimicking an enemy missile, fired from the integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur on-Sea in Balasore district, about 70 km from Wheeler Island at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal. “The interceptor was fired five minutes after the target was set off around 9:32 am,” said director, ITR, S P Dash. Defence sources said within three minutes of the target’s launch, the missile tracking network, comprising long range and multi-function radars and other range sensors positioned at different locations, detected and identified the incoming missile threat, paving the way for the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile, to zoom through the sky at a speed of 4.5 Mach and blast it. Several scientists and defence officers witnessed the achievement. Defence minister A K Antony congratulated scientists involved in the project. “It was an excellent flight. The interceptor destroyed its target. The trial, conducted from two launch sites of ITR off the Orissa coast, was a success,” said Dash. “It was a textbook launch. All the events and mission sequence took place as expected,” he said. To ascertain the interceptor’s kill effect, detailed results and data from multiple tracking sources were being analysed, sources in Defence Research and Development Organisation said. The success of this test is a major achievement leading towards deployment, sources added.