India conducted the first successful flight test of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor missile from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast.

 

Details

  • India conducted a critical test to validate and showcase its ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities to intercept long-range missiles.
  • The long-range interceptor missile, called AD-1, was successfully tested by the DRDO.
    • The AD-II, which is capable of neutralising missiles of even higher ranges, is also said to be under development.

 

India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Programme

  • India’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme aims to provide an air-defence shield from all types of hostile missiles, even the nuclear ones.
  • DRDO is developing a two-tier BMD system to provide a multi-layered shield against ballistic missile attacks.
  • The two-tier system is intended to destroy an incoming missile, at a higher altitude, in the exo-atmosphere and if that miscarries, an endo-atmospheric interception will take place.

 

Tiers of BMD system

  • Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile —
    • This can intercept and destroy missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes of 50–180 kilometres.
    • It is based on the Prithvi missile. Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor is going to replace the Prithvi air defence.
  • Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile —
    • The second layer is Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception.
    • This is designed to knock down hostile missiles in the endo-atmosphere at altitudes of 15-40 kilometres.
      • Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) is part of AAD.

 

Origin and current status

  • The development of anti-ballistic missiles is said to have started by the DRDO around the 2000s in view of the development of ballistic assets by Pakistan and China.
  • The phase-1 of the programme is said to have been completed towards the end of 2010s.
    • The government, however, has so far refrained from sanctioning the full-scale operational deployment of this system at any vital location.
    • This could be due to the high costs involved, or even strategic calculations that it may provoke Pakistan to go in for a larger nuclear arsenal and countermeasures to defeat the BMD system.
  • The second phase of this programme focuses on the development of anti-ballistic defence systems like the US’s Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence system, which can neutralise intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
    • DRDO had also planned to develop two new ballistic missiles, namely AD-1 and AD-2, in phase 2 of the missile shield development.
    • The AD-1 and AD-2 interceptors can engage intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) / intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).