Sunday, April 27, 2014

DRDO Successfully Tests New PDV Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor

PDV Exo-atmospheric interceptor of BMD Phase 1 Maiden Launch on April 27, 201

DRDO successfully tested its new PDV exo-atmospheric interceptor at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odhisha on April 27, 2014.

The PDV interceptor successfully engaged its target approximately 125-km above the surface of the earth outside its atmosphere. The target, a PAD missile fitted with a second stage, was launched from a ship in the Bay of Bengal at 0907 hrs; it flew a trajectory similar to that of a 2,000-km range ballistic missile.

The entire interception was automated - radar detection of the "enemy" missile, its tracking and trajectory prediction, launch and command guidance of the PDV interceptor towards the enemy missile and the final interception.

Following launch, the PDV initially used its Ring Laser Gyro Inertial Navigation System (INS) and a Redundant Micro Navigation System to fly an interception trajectory using uplinked target location data from ground radars.

Once the missile exited the atmosphere, its heat shield jettisoned and the dome of its IR seeker opened; the IR seeker was automatically aligned towards the computed location of the target location.  For the subsequent interception, the PDV relied on its Inertial Guidance system and target location data obtained from its IR seeker.

The PDV features a maneuvering gimbaled directional warhead.  However, for the maiden test a dummy warhead was used, as the focus of the test was to validate the ability of the IR imaging seeker to discriminate, acquire and track the target. DRDO is in the process of precisely determining how close the interceptor warhead flew to the target missile to ascertain if the target would have been destroyed had there been a warhead on the interceptor.

Avinash Chander, SA to the Defense Minister, told the press, "The mission’s main objective was to track the target missile. We wanted to see the performance of the IR seeker. The warhead in the interceptor missile was not meant to be exploded in this mission. Since we did not fire the warhead, the debris did not fall."

Chander added,  "We have to work out the missed distance between the target missile and the interceptor. Based on that, the hit-to-kill would take place. We are not able to say right now whether the hit-to-kill took place.”

The missile interception was monitored in real-time by the Telemetry/Range Stations, at various other locations.

According to a DRDO press release, the mission was completed and the interception parameters were achieved.

The PDV interceptor has been developed to destroy an enemy missile as its warhead separates from the booster to re-enter the earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 125-140  km.

The test on Sunday demonstrated the PDV's ability to discriminate between the harmless booster and the potent warhead, destroying the later with a hit-to-kill strike.

The two stage all solid fueled PDV replaces the two stage solid and liquid fueled PAD missile as the exo-atmospheric interceptor of BMD Phase-1 system.

With a liquid fueled second stage, PAD wasn't a viable missile defense interceptor, since it required fueling immediately before launch. delaying interception. (Once fueled, a liquid fuel rocket motor must either be used or discarded because of the corrosive nature of the liquid fuel.). Not surprisingly, the PAD has been tested just two times so far, that too in the initial phases of BMD development - On March 6, 2006 and November 27, 2006. The PAD was likely intended to be a technology demonstrator / stop gap missile.

The all solid fueled PDV is capable of immediate launch. It is designed to intercept enemy missiles at altitudes upto 150 km, ensuring that the enemy warhead debris burns up in the atmosphere, causing no ground contamination.

The second stage of the PDV missile is equipped with an attitude control system to allow maneuvering at altitudes up to 150 km, well outside the earth's atmosphere, where aerodynamic control surfaces like fins are ineffective. The kill vehicle of the interceptor reaches a speed of 1,500 m/sec before it impacts the target.

Development of PDV has taken DRDO much longer than planned. DRDO first indicated that it is ready to test the missile in July 2010.

Ballistic Missile Defense Overview

India's Ballistic Missile System is being developed in two phases under a capability based deployment plan.

In the first phase, which is currently underway, DRDO is developing a system for defense against missiles with less than 2,000 km range, like Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles and China's solid-fuel Dongfeng-21 (NATO designation: CSS-5).

In the second phase, system capability will be upgraded to defend against missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km that can additionally deploy decoys or maneuver.

BMD Phase 1 System is a two tiered terminal phase interceptor system comprising of

  1. PAD / PDV exo-atmospheric interceptor missile for intercepting targets outside the atmosphere. 
  2. Advanced Air Defense (AAD) endo-atmospheric interceptor missile for intercepting targets up to an attitude of 30 km . 
  3. 'Swordfish' Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). The Swordfish LRTR has been developed jointly by LRDE, Bengaluru and ELTA of Israel. It is based on the Israeli Green Pine early warning and fire control radar imported by India from Israel in 2001-2002.
  4. Multi Functional Guidance radar that tracks the incoming missile in its terminal phase and guides the interceptor missile onto the target. The DRDO developed the guidance radar in collaboration with French company, Thales.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about India's Ballistic Missile Defense Project at the link below.

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)