3 Dec, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: In yet another indication of the deep but often covert strategic ties between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, it's now clear that there was an Israeli imprint in the incipient ballistic missile defence (BMD) system tested by India last Monday.
The crucial long-range tracking radar (LRTR) used in the Indian "exo-atmospheric" BMD system, which "successfully intercepted" an incoming Prithvi missile on November 27, owes its origins to the Israeli Green Pine early-warning and fire control radar. India had imported two Green Pine radars, which constitute a crucial part of the Arrow-2 BMD system deployed by Israel to counter the threat of Iranian and other missiles, in a hush-hush manner in 2001-2002.
"Other than the basic radar, which we modified to meet our requirements, all the other elements, hardware and software, are homegrown," said DRDO chief controller R&D, V K Saraswat. Since missile defence can take place both inside (endo) or outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere, DRDO will now test an "endo-atmospheric interceptor" in the next four-five months. The "exo-atmospheric" hypersonic interceptor missile tested on Monday destroyed the Prithvi missile at an altitude of 50-km.
The "endo-atmospheric interceptor", in turn, will shoot the "hostile" missiles much closer to earth with a 30-km range. "Our endo-atmospheric interceptor will be similar to the American Patriot-3 AMD system, which has a 15-km range," said Saraswat.
Though the indigenous BMD system is still several years away from becoming operational, as reported by TOI earlier, it will be a "unique" two-tier system once it is ready. The system will have a mix of the two types of interceptor missiles for a kill probability of 99.8%. "A couple of these missile batteries, for instance, should be able to protect Delhi," said Saraswat. "We have made a very good beginning. At least half-a-dozen tests would be required over the next three years before the system can become ready," he added.
DRDO claims to have modified the Green Pine radars, which can detect targets at ranges up to 500-km and can track them at speeds over 3,000 metre per second. The modifications included making the radar capable of tracking intermediate range ballistic missiles.
Ballistic Missile Defense: India makes advances in BMD systems
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
World Peace Herald
Successful test an enormous relief
WASHINGTON — India's successful test of its own anti-ballistic Prithvi missile Monday still leaves the country a long way from fielding its own, home-produced short- and intermediate- range BMD systems. But it wasn't chickenfeed either.
In the test, as the Times of India reported, an upgraded version of the Prithvi shot down a conventional Prithvi at high altitude over the Bay of Bengal. The interceptor was launched from India's Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea and the test rocket from Wheeler Island in Orissa.
The success came as an enormous relief to India's long-embattled and much criticized Defense and Research Development Organization, or DRDO. As we have noted in these columns before, over the past three decades, DRDO has invested billions of dollars into high prestige, ambitious long-range ballistic missile, high-tech light combat aircraft, a new main battle tank and even a touted nuclear submarine with almost nothing to show for it.
We also monitored earlier this year the embarrassing failure of a test of India's ambitious Agni III intercontinental ballistic missile which, if successfully developed and deployed, would give New Delhi the deterrent capability to fire nuclear warheads at any city in China including Beijing.
Rajiv Singh in an authoritative analysis published by the b-domain.com Web site Wednesday gave important details about what wa sine ffect a new Indian-developed ABM interceptor.
"According to DRDO officials, the new missile had inertial guidance in mid-course and active-seeker guidance (i.e. a radar-seeking warhead) in the terminal phase," Singh wrote. "While the first stage of the interceptor was similar to the Prithvi missile, its second stage was a totally new segment. The yet to be named "high supersonic" interceptor missile has been developed by the DRDO as part of an 'exo-atmospheric intercept system' designed to 'hit-to-kill' incoming ballistic missiles."
Singh noted that DRDO officials told reporters the new ABM could detect a target in less than 30 seconds and launching an interceptor at it within 50 seconds. "According to the officials, many technologies, like high-maneuverability of the interceptor missile, were validated in the test. The flight time for nuclear capable missiles launched from Pakistan is a bare 5 to 8 minutes," he wrote.
Monday's successful test was also an excellent omen for A. K. Anthony, India recently appointed defense minister.
Strategic balance of the world has shifted
However, as Singh observed, "Defense analysts at home (in India) adopted a prudent posture with regard to the development. They had sufficient reasons to be prudent given DRDO's patchy track record in developing high-tech defense systems for the country's defense services."
He noted that the DRDO had previously "failed to operationalize the much touted 9-kilometer (5.4 mile) range Trishul and the 25-km (15 mile) range Akash air-defense missiles. These missiles have been undergoing 'successful' tests for as long as anyone can remember."
Nevertheless, as Singh acknowledged, "The successful missile interception test now allows India to stand alongside a few countries, such as the U.S., Russia and Israel, that possess a missile defense capability."
The upgraded Prithvi ABM interceptor appears to rank with the U.S. Patriot PAC-3 system, Russia's S-300 and Israel's Arrow in its intended ability to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. However, the Patriot, the S-300 and the Arrow are all deployed, much tested systems. Even after the extremely positive results of Monday's test, the upgraded Prithvi ABM still clearly as a long way to go to achieve that status.
Indeed, the United States has been trying to sell the Patriot to India as part of the increasingly close strategic weapons cooperation between the two nations. However, so far the Indians have balked at that. Also Singh noted what he called "informed speculation over the years … that India may already have deployed a few batteries of the Russian S-300 system as an interim arrangement."
Given the continuing warm ties between India and Russia, the huge high-tech weapons orders that the current Congress-UPA dominated government and the previous Baharataya Janata Party-led one have both given to Russia and the exceptional enthusiasm for Russian aerospace technology shown for so many years by long-time Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes, that "informed speculation" seems extremely likely.
Singh noted that the Prithvi-I, "first tested in 1988, has a range of 150 km (90 miles) and deploys a conventional or low-yield nuclear warhead for use against troops or armored formations. Its two variants, Prithvi-II and Prithvi-III, with lesser payloads, have an increased range of 250 km (150 miles) and 350 km (210 mil
es) respectively. While the Prithvi-II was first tested in January 1996, Prithvi-III underwent its first test firing in October 2004. The Indian Army has already inducted Prithvi- I and II into service."
At the end of the day, when all the cautions, caveats and qualifiers have been made, a crucial underlying fact remains: India has now shown its capability to home produce an effective anti-ballistic missile prototype. France, Britain, Germany, China and Japan have not yet developed the capability to make one of these by themselves, though Japan will certainly is on a crash program to do so with extensive U.S. cooperation and China is already lavishly supplied with S-300 systems, and possibly others, bought from Russia.
The strategic balance of the world therefore shifted on Monday. India took a very large step indeed and served notice that it has much to give, as well as to receive, in its strategic weapons and BMD cooperation with the United States.