Monday, September 30, 2013

BMD Phase 1 PDV Endo-Atmospheric Interceptor Test in Late November

AAD-05 interceptor during 7th BMD test on February 10, 2012.
DRDO plans the debut test of its new Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Phase 1 exo-atmospheric interceptor PDV missile in the last week of November, according to The Hindu.

During the test, the new PDV interceptor will attempt a hit-to-kill destruction of a target missile launched from a Navy ship, with interception taking place between 125-140 km altitude.

The BMD Phase 1 system is capable of engaging missiles with a range of 2,000 km. In the past, DRDO has used Prithvi missiles launched on a trajectory simulating a 2,000 km range missile as targets. For the upcoming test, DRDO will use a newly developed target missile.

The solid fueled two stage PDV missile replaces the solid and liquid fueled two stage Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile as the endo atmospheric interceptor in BMD Phase 1. The PAD was tested twice - against a Dhanush missile launched from INS Rajput on March 6, 2006 at an altitude of 80 km and against a Prithvi missile on November 27, 2006 at an altitude of 48 km.

DRDO has tested the BMD system a total of seven times since March 6, 2006, not counting an aborted test. The first two tests involved the PAD missile and the subsequent 5 tests, the AAD. The AAD missile was last tested on February 10, 2012.

PDV Capabilities

The PDV is capable of intercepting enemy missiles at altitudes upto 150 km. It features an innovative system to allow the missile to maneuver outside the earth's atmosphere, a dual (active radar and IR?) seeker and a gimbaled directional warhead which can rotate 360 degrees to explode towards the incoming missile in order to destroy it.

Because it is directional, the 30 kg warhead is able to generate an impact equivalent to a 150 kg omni-directional warhead.

At the time of interception, the PDV and the enemy warhead would both be travelling towards each other at 1500 m per second. One of the challenges in exo-atmospheric interception is discriminating the warhead from its separated rocket motor and possibly decoys.

The PDV missile is being developed to be the mainstay of the BMD system.

PDV Test Delays

The first trial of the missile was initially scheduled for late June or early July 2010. On February 14, 2012, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat said the missile would be tested by the end of 2012.

In May 2013, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat told The Hindu that the next test of the BMD would take place in July 2013. It would involve a PDV missile and demonstrate an interception at an altitude of 100-150 km.

BMD Phase 2

Meanwhile, DRDO is continuing to develop Phase 2 of its BMD system which will be capable of engaging missiles with range greater than than 5,000 km.

The Phase 2 system will match the capability of the THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missiles deployed by the United States as part of its missile shield beginning this year. THAAD missiles can intercept ballistic missiles over 200 km away and track targets at ranges in excess of 1,000 km.

The Phase 2 system will require longer range radars (Detection range of 1,500 km as opposed to 600 km for Phase 1 radars), and new hypersonic interceptor missiles flying at Mach 6-7 (As opposed to Mach 4-5 for Phase 1 missiles) with agility and the capability to discriminate against ballistic missile defense counter measures.

DRDO says it has completed design of the Phase 2 interceptor missiles - AD-1 endo-atmospheric interceptor and AD-2 exo-atmospheric interceptor - and trials would be held next year.