The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Sunday conducted a developmental trial of advanced version of low altitude supersonic ballistic interceptor missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast.
The Advance Air Defence (AAD) missile, dubbed as ‘Aswin’, was fired from the Adbul Kalam Island (formerly Wheeler Island) against an electronically generated target, paving the way for its early deployment in the armed forces. The interceptor was launched a few minutes after the electronic target was fired. There is no official confirmation from the DRDO about the outcome of the trial.
Prior to the launch of the most advanced interceptor missile, defence sources said an electronically simulated target with a range of over 1,500 km was launched and the tracking systems picked up the target missile, tracked it and provided command to launch the interceptor missile. This was the 11th test of the interceptor missile and second in 8 months. The April 6 test was a failure and this test was deferred twice, in September and October, as the system was not ready.
While the local ITR authorities are tight-lipped, Director General of DRDO Selvin Christopher did not respond to calls from this paper. However, a DRDO scientist on condition of anonymity claimed that the missile has demonstrated its killing capability.
The scientist, however, claimed that the Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) based INS interceptor, on-board computers, guidance systems, actuation systems and the critical Radio Frequency (RF) seekers used for the terminal phase have performed excellently.
Indigenously developed by DRDO, the AAD interceptor is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants. It is 7.5 metres tall and weighs around 1.2 tonne with a diameter of less than 0.5 metre. The target missile is fuelled by liquid propellants. It is 11 metres tall and weighs five tonnes with a diameter of 1 metre.
The DRDO has developed both high-altitude and low-altitude anti-ballistic missiles. The test assumes significance as India plans to deploy a two-tiered Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system to protect its important cities and vital installations from enemy attack. While the first phase seeks to destroy incoming enemy missiles in exo-atmospheric region (outside the atmosphere), the second phase envisages killing enemy missiles of more than 2,000 km range in endo-atmospheric (inside the atmosphere) region.