Domestic missile defence shield a step closer

India took another step towards developing a two-tiered ballistic missile defence shield-—which has long been in the making—by testing a supersonic interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic missile, over the Bay of Bengal.

The experimental two-tier BMD system is supposed to track and destroy nuclear tipped ballistic missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth’s atmosphere.

Phase-I of this BMD system, with interceptors flying at 4.5 Mach high-supersonic speeds to intercept enemy missiles, is meant to tackle hostile missiles with a 2,000-km strike range. Its Phase-II will be geared to take on 5,000-km range missiles, virtually in the class of intercontinental ballistic missiles, with interceptors at hypersonic speeds of 6-7 Mach. The indigenous missile shield, once fully operational, is supposed to protect cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.

In the test on Thursday, the low-altitude or endo-atmospheric Advanced Area Defence interceptor missile hit the “enemy” (a modified Prithvi missile) at an altitude of 15 km, in the third such successful test this year. While the interceptor was fired from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, the “enemy” was launched from the Launch Complex-III of the Integrated Test Range also based on the island. “It was a direct hit,” claimed a DRDO official.

DRDO is working on adding a third layer to the BMD system, which will tackle low flying cruise missiles, artillery projectiles and rockets.

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