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Friday, December 07, 2007

This Was a True Interceptor Test

First Worked, But This Test is a Technology Breakthrough

The first test, in November 2006, was, rightly, rigged. The interceptor was programmed with the incoming missile trajectory and the interceptor did its job. And test validated preliminary technology demonstration of missile interception capability.

However, the second test, on December 6, 2007, was the actual thing. It is a technology demonstration of an actual missile interception. There was no rigging. An actual seeker on the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence - AAD 02, determined the trajectory of the incoming missile, a modified Prithvi, and maneuvered into position to destroy the incoming missile at hypersonic speed, about 15km above sea level. Now that is extremely complex.

Source: The Hindu

And DRDO should truly be proud of what it achieved in such as short period with, as usual, limited budget, when compared to other nations pursuing missile interceptor technology.

The target missile, a modified, single-stage Prithvi missile called ‘TGT-04,’ lifted off from Chandipur-on-Sea, Orissa, at 11a.m. Five minutes later, the interceptor missile, named ‘AAD-02’ (Advanced Air Defence), roared off from a mobile launcher at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across the sea from Chandipur.

As the target missile climbed to an altitude of 110 km and had a free fall at a speed of 2.5 to 3 Mach, the AAD-02, speeding at 4.5 Mach, performed intricate manoeuvres and homed in on the target in a head-on collision. The interception took place 25 seconds after the AAD-02 took off. [Interceptor missile test-fired - The Hindu]

And the next test, scheduled for April 2008, is even more complex. Two interceptors, one exo- and one endo-, are to track and intercept the same incoming missile, so that if the exo- misses, endo- can finish the job.

In April next, the DRDO would launch two interceptor missiles to intercept a single incoming target missile in both exo-atmosphere (above 40 km altitude) and endo-atmosphere (below 30 km altitude). However, there would be no endo-atmospheric interception if the exo-atmospheric test achieved a kill. [Interceptor missile scores ‘direct hit’ - The Hindu]

But, beyound exo- and endo-, the ultimate and most complex test scenario would be detecting dumb missiles, or decoys, from real ones to concentrate on the real ones to destroy. If DRDL's Advance Systems Lab can achieve that capability, it would be a truly world beating organization when it comes to missile and anti-missile technology and capability. Now, however, it's kudos to DRDO for a significant achievement.

As has been said before, capabilities matter more in geopolitics then actual deployment. It's a significant geopolitical achievement vis-a-vis our enemies. We can except the Chinese to acquire the technology, by what ever means, soon and deliver it to its all weather friend to the west.