BHUBANESWAR: India on Wednesday test fired a variant of Prithvi-II missile from a defence test facility off the Odisha coast. The missile would be used as a target weapon system (incoming enemy missile) for a trial of home-grown advanced air defence (AAD) interceptor missile scheduled later this week.
The indigenously developed surface-to-surface medium range ballistic missile was fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea at about 10.25 am.
Sources said the trial of the target missile was a mock test to gauge its performance and actual interceptor test has been planned in next couple of days. “On a few occasions earlier, the interceptor could not take off as the incoming missile fell short of target or developed snags. This test was a precursor of the actual test to avoid any such technicalities,” an official said.
As per the coordinated programme, the interceptor missile will be test fired from the Abdul Kalam Island against the variant of Prithvi-II, which would mimic an enemy missile.
“The Prithvi-II variant will be launched from the LC-III and a few minutes later, the interceptor missile would lift off from the launching complex-IV of the Kalam Island after getting requisite command from the tracking radar,” said a defence official.
The official said the missile integration is finished and it is ready for the trial. “Final round check ups are on. The scientists are leaving no stone unturned to make the mission successful,” he said. The interceptor missile’s test is crucial as it would pave the way for its induction in the armed forces. Since the border is tense post surgical strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan, deployment of interceptor missiles is imminent to provide aerial protection to Indian metros from hostile attacks.
India has a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system capable of tracking and destroying hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth’s atmosphere. With the two variants of the weapon system, it is a part of the BMD club of US, Russia and Israel. The DRDO in the first phase has developed two-layer BMD system which is capable of killing enemy missiles fired from 2,000 km away. “The development phase-II anti-ballistic missiles, capable of destroying inter-continental ballistic missiles fired from 5,000 km away is underway,” sources said. Earlier, eight in endo-atmospheric region (below the altitude of 40 km) and three in exo-atmosphere (above an altitude of 80 km) tests have been successful. The missile was last tested against an electronic target on November 22, 2015.