Sunday, December 12, 2010

After Agni failure, DRDO braces for next mission

BALASORE: Despite yesterday’s failure of the maiden test of  Agni-II + missile, the DRDO is planning to go ahead with their next mission, scheduled later this month. The scientists have started preparing for the development trial of an interceptor missile.
 Defence sources said, the sophisticated advanced air defence (AAD) interceptor will be tested from the Wheelers Island either on December 18 or 19.
"Failure during the tests is nothing unusual. So why should we drop our next mission? The AAD test would be conducted as per the programme," said an official.
 According to the programme, the interceptor missile will destroy an incoming  hostile missile mid-flight over the Bay of Bengal. This experimentation will be to observe the operational effectiveness of the indigenously developed high-speed interceptor missile.
 During the exercise, a Prithvi missile, modified to mimic a hostile ballistic missile with a range of over 300 km, will lift off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur and it will be destroyed in the endo-atmospheric region (at an altitude of 15 km) by the interceptor fired from Wheelers Island off Dhamra coast a few seconds later,’’ said a defence  scientist.
 The scientists are working overtime to make the mission a success as  earlier this year two consecutive attempts made to launch the interceptor had turned futile. During the March 14 attempt snags were detected in the fins of the AAD missile, next day the target missile deviated from the pre-coordinated trajectory for which the interceptor couldn’t get command to be fired.
 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. While two exo-atmospheric tests have been successfully carried out in 2006 and 2008, scientists are working overtime for the success of the fourth AAD test which will boost India and join the US, Russia and Israel in the very exclusive BMD club.
 While the Prithvi is a single stage, surface-to-surface ballistic missile that  uses liquid fuel, the AAD is a single stage anti-ballistic solid propellant powered missile. It is 7.5 metres in length.
 Defence sources said, the exo-atmospheric has the capability similar to the Israeli Arrow-2 system and the endo-atmospheric is considered as similar to the American PAC-3 system in terms of range and altitude of interception.  ‘’The DRDO would have two phases of the BMD systems. While the phase-I interceptors missiles, capable of neutralising 2,000-km range missiles will be ready for deployment by 2011 or 2012, the phase-II missiles which will look to thwart threats from missiles with ranges of up to 5,000 km, are expected to be ready in the next five years,’’ informed a defence official.

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