An IDC Report


New Delhi, 15 December 2006  


On 27th November India's DRDO, much maligned for delays in projects, successfully carried out its first publicly announced test interception of a ballistic missile, using a second missile to shoot down the incoming rocket. It is believed one such trial was carried out earlier. The Target missile at a height of 50 km was the supersonic Prithvi and the interceptor missile, the medium-range and nuclear-capable Prithvi II, which was transformed into a viable defense system. The PAD-01 was launched from Wheeler Island 60 km away and it made proximity impact at 50km. This if transformed into a BMD proper, would push India into an elite club of nations with working missile shields. The DRDO had imported two Green Pine radars from Israel, who use this radar for the warning and command signals to the shooter in the case of the Arrow BMD. Such a system can vastly boost India's defensive capabilities, especially against neighbouring Pakistan which is also nuclear-armed, and had fired a 300 km Ghaznavi missile three days later.

According to the ministry, the first missile, a modified Prithvi II simulating the "adversary's missile," was launched from the Chandipore test range about 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Bhubaneswar, capital of India's Orissa state. The interceptor, also a Prithvi, was fired one minute later from the Wheeler's Island missile testing center. The island is in the Bay of Bengal, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Bhubaneswar.

Defense Minister A. K. Antony was quick to convey "his heartiest congratulations" to the development team, and except for India Today, whose pics we reproduce, the media failed to acknowledge how important this military event was.

In July, India reported a successful test firing of the longer-range Agni II nuclear missile for a full day before acknowledging that the test had failed, with the missile plunging into the sea short of its target. But this time the statement said, the test caught observers by surprise, particularly the use of the Prithvi, which until now had been used only as surface-to-surface missile. A successful missile kill would represent a major advance for India, analysts said.

"The technology is hard and you have to be working for years," said Robin Hughes, the deputy editor of Jane's Defence Weekly. "If they have done that in the first test, it is an exceptional advance in technology." However, the true capabilities could only be known once India revealed further details about the system, he said. Most of the technology was home-grown and was "validated through this successful mission," the defense ministry statement said.

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