India on Sunday conducted a developmental trial, perhaps last in the series, of an advanced version of low altitude supersonic ballistic interceptor missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast.
The Advance Air Defence (AAD) missile dubbed as Ashwin was fired at about 11.18 am from the Adbul Kalam Island (formerly known as Wheeler Island) against another ballistic missile, a modified version of Prithvi, paving the way for its early deployment in the armed forces.
Defence sources said the interceptor was launched nearly three minutes minutes after the target mimicking an enemy missile was fired from a warship anchored in the Bay of Bengal. "The tracking systems picked up the target missile, tracked it and provided command to launch the interceptor missile," the source said.
This was 12th test of the interceptor missile. While the local ITR authorities were tight-lipped, a DRDO official on the condition of anonymity claimed that the missile has successfully demonstrated its killing capability. Long range radar and multi-function fire control radar located far away successfully detected the missile from take-off and tracked it through its entire path.
The total trajectory of the incoming missile was continuously estimated by the guidance computer and subsequently the AAD missile was launched at an appropriate time to counter and kill the target missile. The official claimed that the Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) based INS in interceptor, on-board computers, guidance systems, actuation systems and the critical Radio Frequency (RF) seekers used for the terminal phase have performed excellently.
Indigenously developed by DRDO, the AAD interceptor is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants. It is 7.5 metres tall and weighs around 1.2 tonnes. It had a diameter of less than 0.5 metre. The target missile is however fuelled by liquid propellants. It is 11 metres tall and weighs five tonnes.
Its diameter is one metre. The DRDO has developed both high-altitude and low-altitude anti-ballistic missiles. The test assumes significance as India plans to deploy a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield to protect its important cities and vital installations from hostile attacks.
While the first phase seeks to destroy incoming enemy missiles in exo-atmospheric region (outside the atmosphere), the second phase envisages to kill enemy missiles of more than 2,000 km range in endo-atmospheric (inside the atmosphere) region.