India plans radars in space to boost missile defence system

March 9th, 2009 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) India is planning space-based radars to overcome the range impediment for its missile defence system, which was successfully tested March 6 and at present can destroy enemy missiles up to a range of 2,000 km only, an official said Monday.
In a step towards indigenising the ballistic missile defence system, premier military research organisation Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has tested its interceptor missile for a third time.

“The interceptor can kill missiles up to 2,000 km class of systems. In phase-II, we are developing above 2,000 km class of systems… At present, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is developing a space-based surveillance system that will help us in phase-II,” chief controller of DRDO’s missile systems and the programme director V.K. Saraswat said.

Airborne radars mounted atop aircraft, which India is acquiring from Israel, will help track missiles above 2,000 km. For tracking missiles of the range of 6,000 km, the interceptors will take help of radars mounted on satellites.

Currently, the radars can cover an area of a radius of 600 km.

“You need much more energy for missiles of higher range. In terms of seeker, the time is very less as the speed of the missiles also increases,” Saraswat added.

India March 6 registered a hat-trick as an indigenous interceptor successfully neutralized an “enemy” ballistic missile at an altitude of 75 km and demonstrated its capability to defend itself against Chinese and Pakistani missiles.

The test was a key element in the efforts of the DRDO to put in place a missile defence shield to protect populated areas and vital installations like nuclear power plants from nuclear attacks.

“The whole process of target classification takes 30 seconds. Then the batteries (of the interceptor missile), which are in hot stand-by conditions, can be launched within 100-120 seconds of target detection,” Saraswat said.

“You cannot buy or borrow a ballistic missile defence system. It has to be homegrown. The US system is developed for their defence. The threat profile of our country is different and the system has to be customised to suit the needs of our country,” Saraswat said talking in reference to the Israeli Arrow system and the American Patriot system courting the Indian defence establishment for possible orders.

The DRDO will be conducting five tests each for endo-atmospheric (below 30 km altitude), exo-atmospheric (above 30 km altitude) and integrated missile defence systems.

“By December 2010, we expect to complete the development of the missile system,” he added.

DRDO expects the ballistic missile shield to take care of threats from existing Chinese and Pakistani missiles. While Pakistan possesses missiles with ranges between 400 and 2,000 km, the Chinese arsenal varies from a range of 300 km to 2,800 km.

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