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By Bulbul Singh

08 Jul 10. India’s indigenous missile defence system has been upgraded to intercept ballistic missiles beyond 2000 kilometres. The missile defence system’s endo-atmospheric test is to be held next month and the first phase of the system is now scheduled to be deployed in 2012.

Currently Indian scientists are developing Phase-I of the Prithvi Missile Defence System (PMD), which will be able to intercept incoming ballistic missiles with a range of 2000 kms, which will be extended to intercept missiles with a range of up to 5000kms. While Phase-I interceptors fly at Mach 4.5, Phase-II ones will have hypersonic speeds.

PMD can hit at a height of 80 kilometers, the exo-atmoshpheric range and in the endo-atmospheric range below the earth’s atmosphere at a height of around 15 kilometers. it is a three-layered missile defence configuration. In a typical battery there will be long range radars, missile launchers, Mission Control Centres (MCC) and other ground system network. The complete network of radars, launch batteries, missiles control centres launch control centres are geographically distributed and are connected to a secure communication network. The MCC is a software intensive system for BMD and works with up to 10 computers. It receives information about the target from different sources and then calculates target classification, target assignment and kill assessment.

“Because the same missile interceptors cannot cover all threats, threat targets of longer range (2000km) will be covered in the Phase-II development,” said scientists, adding that work has also begun on upgrading missile defence systems to intercept missiles with a range of 5000 kilometers.

Both the exo and endo-atmospheric tests have been carried out, and next month will intercept an incoming missile at a height of around 15kms in the endo-atmospheric range.

Next month Indian scientists will test the Israeli Green Pine Radar in endo-atmospheric trials. The exo-atmospheric trials have already been carried out. The radar, modified by Indian scientists, has the capability to track 200 targets at a range of about 600km.

When a target is classified, the MCC calculates where the impact point of the target is likely to be. After the target is classified, it also finds out trajectory profile and speed and assigns the target to a particular battery.

Once the target is assigned to a particular battery, control goes to Launch Control Centre (LCC) which receives constantly updated data from the radar directly and then it decides when to launch the interceptor. This decision is based on the data received from radar, on speed of target, altitude and flight path. The LCC also carries out the health checks of the missile and prepares the missile for launch in real time and carries out ground guidance computation.

After a interceptor is launched, it is provided information about the target through an uplink. The launch of the interceptor is decided on the distance, once a target is identified, the interceptor will be launched within about 180 seconds. The radar for the endo-atmospheric layer system has a multi-function control phased array radar (MFCR).

The system has already been tested for endo-atmospheric and exo-atmospheric test, one to two more tests will be carried out before the system is inducted in the Indian defence forces in 2012.

Sources in the Indian defence ministry said, “India is open to purchase another Ballistic Missile Defence system, in addition to the indigenous PAD system.”

Besides, the Indian defence planers, want to ensure that there are varieties of ballistic missile defence systems to minimise the chances of any multiple ballistic missiles escaping the missile defence system.

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