Its the height of tension between India and Pakistan , The two Nuclear & Missile capable neighbours and arch rivals , both of them fears the worst, a decaptive First Strike , though India has a policy of No First Use (NFU) , Pakistan prefers the first strike option and has threatened time and again with a Nuclear Strike if it feels that its existence as a state is at risk.
The threat of rogue elements in the Pakistan Army taking over its Nuclear Weapons and the means to deliver it is a real and ever present danger which lingers in the minds of Indian leadership , the worst fear comes real , reports reaching South Block has credible information that some Rouge Elements of the Pakistan Army has conspired and had taken over few Nuclear Armed IRBM's.
The missile is believed to be already armed because of the heightened Tension and things have gone beyond the control of Pakistan Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) , India had already put her Offensive and Defensive systems in full alert.
The Anti Missile Batteries has been put on alert , The ABM is controlled centrally from a deeply buried underground bunker , The integrated C4ISR system is well connected via redundant links to assets like Long Range Tracking Radar , AWACS , ABM batteries and even Early Warning Satellites , With a hotline to the political leadership , well aware of their responsibilities the men manning it knew very well , if they failed the chances of a nuclear catastrophe over India's cities was very real.
Suddenly 6 blips were detected on the radar screen by the sensitive and accurate long range tracking radar , within seconds based on the signatures the blips were confirmed as 3 Shaheen , 2 Ghauri IRBM and 1 short range Hatf missile flying towards Indian territory ,The time of flight varies between 5 ~ 12 minutes , These targets were further confirmed by the AWACS , ADGES and long range ballistic missile defence radar , while the Shaheen were targetted at New Delhi , the Ghauri were heading towards the economic capital Mumbai with BARC and Western Naval Command(WNC) as their probable targets , The shorter range Hatf were targetted at a premier airfield in Punjab.
Within split second the targets were tracked automatically and the Fire Control radar of the ABM system provided a solution to Intercept the incoming missile , Since there was no way to confirm whether the incoming missiles were nuclear armed or not , the worst case possibility was assumed and it was decided that each Shaheen will be intercepted by 4 PAD (Prithvi Air Defence ) Exo-Atmospheric Interceptors and each Ghauri targetted at Mumbai will be intercepted by 3 PAD system to provide a very high kill probability ( > 99 % ) , The shorter Range Hatf were to be intercepted by twin AAD Interceptor system which is an Endo Atmospheric Interceptor
Upon multi-sensor confirmation an ABM officer on duty command the intercept to be authorized and the computers take over to more accurately determined enemy missile trajectory determine the optimium interceptor salvo size with respective kill boxes to ensure a much higher kill probability. At the right time the Interceptors were fired at the targets ,the targets were intercepted and the incoming missile were destroyed in the air , fortunately none of Ballistic Missile intercepted were Nuclear Armed
The above scenario may just be a fictional account , But the Fact that India is just 4~ 5 years aways from deploying its first indigenous home grown Anti Ballistic Missile system has not gone unnoticed , The achievement has great strategic implication and the achievement is no less significant than the Nuclear test conducted by India in 1998 , as the ABM system were a weapon system of Strategic Nature and once the deployment is complete it has the true potential of changing the Balance of Power in the region
Image via India Today(click to enlarge image)
November 27th, 2006 marks a watershed moment for India as it marks her entry into the league of Nation which has exclusive capability to develop Anti Ballistic Missile System , An Interceptor named Exo-Atmospheric Intercept System ( PAD 01 ) took of from the Interim Test Range in Chandipur with the firing of the interceptor from Plot LC-4 in Wheeler’s Island. The interception took place at an altitude of 50 km * , The Hit To Kill system of the Interceptor intercepted the target missile at a velocity of Mach 9.5 (3.23 Km/sec) .
There was no warhead in the interceptor missile but the interceptor on board active radar tracks the target missile and the high speed of the collision destroyed it completely.The target missile which was a Prithvi Missile was suitably modified to simulate a 600 Km range Ballistic Missile and had a re-entry speed of Mach 6.44 (2.12km/sec) at an altitude of 50 Km.
According to Dr Saraswat the Chief Architect of India's Anti Ballistic Missile Program a "good beginning'' had been made but only repeated tests would prove the system's potency. Many more tests were required to intercept missiles on different flight paths. They were yet to increase the interception capability to over 50 km by changing the range parameters The high closing speed of the enemy missile left very little reaction time. This implied further improvements. "A single successful experiment does not mean deliverance " cautioned the scientist
It takes years of research in this advanced and exclusive field , scientific manpower, backed by advanced industrial capability with expertise in subject ranging from system integration ,aerospace engineering , simulation , propulsion , advanced aerodynamics , computing and a plethora of other allied subjects that goes into the development of advancement anti ballistic missile system
So far only few countries in the world could develop and deploy such a system ,but for India it was not a goal to compete against these advanced countries to deploy similar system , but was born out of necessity to defend itself againt Ballistic Missile threats from neighbouring countries mainly Pakistan and China , to neutralise their offensive capability and to make her own offensive capability potent , hence a ABM system was designed and developed which was very unique to India's needs and requirement considering the length and breadth of the land mass it had to defend against hostile missile and the costeffective nature of ABM system which needs to be deployed in sufficient numbers .
It should also be noted here that every country develops an ABM system to meet her own specific needs and a system developed by one country to meet her needs and threat perception would not necessary meet India's requirement. and since the technology for ABM system are of very strategic nature , Most of these countries are reluctant to share the technology with India an absolutly critical necessity if the ABM system had to be tailored to India's needs . The system developed by DRDO has all the elements which are indigenous except for the Long Range Tracking radar jointly developed with Israel assistance , the software , interceptor , hardware , actuator , sensor and most of the component are home grown developed by DRDO with industry assistance.
The three countries which have such a system are United States,Russia and Israel. Israel got substantial assistance from US in the development of its Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, in effect it makes India the 3rd Country in the world to develop the technologies Indigenously.
But what distinguishes the Indian System from the rest is that it is designed per specific Indian needs against a range of threats and assets it must protect. For eg it would take two batteries of interceptors to defend New Delhi against a missile threat. A battery could fire a salvo of four to six interceptors.
India had always faced threats from Ballistic Missile from its Western and Northern neighbor namely Pakistan and China , Infact China has been instrumental in providing technology to Pakistan in developing her Missile and Nuclear capability. Pakistan has effectively been a proxy state for China for its nefarious design all tuned and groomed towards one goal of undermining and subverting India's Sovereignty and Security.
Missiles like Ghauri, Shaheen I/II & Hatf have either been procured from North Korea and/or China, Mostly these were Direct Procurement or Transfer Of Technology(TOT) arrangements ,all of which openly flouted MTCR Regulation , The Chinese infact went one step further beyond the illegal technology transfer arrangement and have setup a missile factory in Pakistan to manufacture a IRBM class missile indigenously by Pakistan under the brand name Shaheen.
The ABM system developed by India effectively negates the Pakistan's Nuclear/Missile capability but above all and most importantly raises the stakes against China, with IRBM intercept capability of PAD system, China will now have to make more ICBM's to replace the India specific IRBMs which will not go unnoticed to other countries that are in Chinese ICBM range.Consequently the drop in Chinese nuke attack capability will increase Chinese cost, and also increase the number of enemy countries.
India had no option but to invest in research with the ultimate goal of providing a comprehensive defense against Ballistic Missile and giving credibility for her No First Use Policy. It is to be noted here that Pakistan doesn't have a NFU as a matter of policy and hence tentatively likely to use her Nuclear Weapons against India as a first option in future conflict.
The research into the development of Ballistic Missile Defence is a cutting edge one as Intercepting a Ballistic missile would be akin to hitting a Bullet with another Bullet a very difficult and complicated task to accomplish , Added to that are ways and means to Detect and Identify a Ballistic Missile at its early stage of launch preferably during boost phase ,Long Range Early Warning Radar providing long range trajectory tracking capability and Radars which can precisely guide the interceptors to its target and finally the interceptor which has to be Robust , High Speed and which could intercept the Target Missile at very high altitude as possible.
DRDO finally threw open the cover on India's Anti Ballistic Missile System , The system happens to be a very comprehensive one with two new types of Interceptor , a new 1000 Km Range Precise Tracking and Fire Control Radar co-enhanced with Israel assistance and other critical supporting system developed for the first time indigenously for the ABM Project
Prithvi Air Defence Interceptors ( PAD ) (Exo Atmospheric Interceptor ) ( image via IBN ) (click to enlarge image)
The Interceptor being developed consist of two different types , The first interceptor called PAD ( Prithvi Air Defence ) is a Three Stage Exo Atmospheric Missile Interceptor , The interceptor was developed from the Proven Design of Prithvi Surface To Surface Missile. The first stage is a Liquid Stage which acts as a booster , The second stage is a Solid Stage Rocket which carries along itself a Hit To Kill System which also happens to be the Third Stage of the Missile.
PAD HTK Interceptor
(click to enlarge image)
The Hit To Kill ( HTK ) Technology is unique , in the sense that Instead of Blasting a Warhead near the incoming ballistic missile and disabling it , HTK system directly Hits The Target Missile at a very high speed and depends on its Kinetic Energy to destroy the incoming missile.The advantage of the HTK system lies in the assured destruction of the Incoming Target.
HTK system requires a very precise and accurate navigation and guidance radar as even a millisecond delay by the HTK system could effectively mean missing its target and defeating its goal of intercepting it , besides that it also requires development of lateral thrusters for End Game High G manouveres.
Dr Saraswat has also brushed aside the apprehension that the first stage of the missile being Liquid fuel has a drawback he stated "the liquid fuel technology was not a drawback as in the 1950s and 1960s. A liquid fuel missile can be filled at any depot in any part of the country. The liquid fuel technology of today does not impair reaction time or performance. There is no handicap at all. It has an equivalent life of seven years as compared to a solid fuel missile".
Although I would also add that in the final configuration it would be highly desirable to have an all solid first stage because of its advantage being compact ,can be containerized and would require less of logistics overhead.
It should also to be noted here that only US has developed the HTK technology for its Missile Interceptors , Both the Russian S-300V/Anetey-2500/S-400 and the Israel Arrow 2 ABM uses Warhead To Do its final kill.
It was found during the Gulf War I that many Scud ballistic missiles intercepted by the Patriot Missile (PAC 1 ) did not yield result in the form of assured destruction of Scud in air , as the incoming Scud Missile would at best get deflected by the Warhead Blast near it and would still fall on the ground and cause damage , So a HTK system was deemed absolute essential for the assured destruction of Incoming Ballistic Missile.
The DRDO Interceptor called PAD-1 is the first test of this Interceptor system ,The PAD is designed to intercept a missile in its “terminal phase” as it descends on its intended target on the surface at at altitude of 50 km. The AAD Interceptor — that the DRDO is preparing now for a test in three to four months — is designed to intercept at a max altitude of 30 km from the surface with a minimum interception altitude of about 10 km.
The ultimate goal of the DRDO is to further develop the PAD interceptor so that it can intercept a Target Ballistic Missile at a very high altitude of 80 Km. The Interception altitude between 50 ~ 80 km will also give the Interceptor Missile multiple chance to Hit Its Target incase a miss occurs during the first hit . For eg when 4 PAD Interceptors are fired at an incoming Ballistic Missile it gives it a Kill Percentage of more than 99 %.
AAD Endo-Atmospheric Interceptor
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The Second Interceptor being developed by DRDO called AAD is an Endo Atmospheric Interceptor and which is to be tested in the next 4 ~ 5 months is similar to American Patriot PAC-3 Missile , But the Indian interceptor will be able to intercept the target at twice the altitude of Patriot PAC 3 missile which would be about 30 Km , The Patriot PAC 3 has a maximum range of 20 Km and can intercept at a max altitude of 15 Km.
The Indian AAD interceptor would have speed in Hypersonic Domain or greater than Mach 5 ( Mach 1 = 340.29 meters per second )
GreenPine Long Range Tracking & FireControl Radar
The Radar system co-enhanced with Israel assistance is a Green Pine derivative , Green Pine is an Electronically Scanned Active Phased Array Radar which is a Long Range Tracking and Fire control Radar for Israel's Arrow 2 ABM system.
The Indian derivative of the co-developed and enhanced radar has a phenomenal range of 1000 Km and DRDO suitably modified the Israeli Green pine radar to enable it detect IRBM missiles with a velocity of 5 km per second from a very large distance of more than 600 km.
The most notable aspect of the November 27th test as Dr Saraswat explained was the mission was in complete weapon system configuration with Weapon System Radars LRTR, MFCR, MCC, LCC, MCT, TUT, Fusion Computer and CHAYA systems , All the elements were interconnected through redundant communication links, He went on to add we have the systems in place to track and intercept the targets now. For every target (missile) we need four missiles. Each missile would cost Rs 6 crore. Now the country is in a position to produce 200 missiles in a year,” he pointed out.
Some of the Acronyms of the mentioned systems are
MFCR- Multi Function Control Radar
LRTR- Long Range Tracking Radar ( GreenPine Derivative )
MCC- Mission Control Center
LCC- Launch Control Center
TUT- Target Update Transmitter ( Provides real time Updates of the Target Missile to the Interceptor )
MCT- Mobile Communication Terminal
Fusion Computer- Fuses all the Data from Multiple Sensors and Presents it as a Single Intelligent Tactical Picture
CHAYA- The Hindi meaning for it is "Shadow" ( Perhaps alternate/redundant Command & Control Center )
Except for the long-range tracking radar jointly developed by Israel, all other elements were "totally home-grown'' by 35 private and public sector companies. Three Million Lines of Software Code were written in India for the Mission Control Center, the hub of software and hardware systems. A shadow centre was set up to take over if the original centre got destroyed or inactivated. Transmission links to the interceptor missile were based on jam-proof CDMA technology and multiple data transmission links were set up so that if one was jammed the others could function. In this trial, various data transmission and control centres were spread over a distance of 1,000 km.
Its been a long learning curve for India , Since a decade back or so when they started work on a Anti Ballistic Missile Program , many countries had offered their system , with Russia even agreeing to build a comprehensive system based on S-300 Interceptor covering the entire country, The US lately chipping in with PAC 3 system with a carrot to dangle on future approval for the Arrow System.
But DRDO has excelled them all and has finally developed a home grown system which is Technically far Superior to what was offered and has been designed from groundup to meet India's specific needs.
Hats Off To DRDO for this magnificent achievement .
* Please note that at 50Km altitude the atmospheric properties are:
Local temperature: -3 degree C (the air warms up again)
Pressure & Air density: 0.08 % of sea-level
The supersonic air drag is just 0.07% of that at sea level.
Credits : India Today & IBN for the Image & BRF for Technical Data
Thanks to Arun for providing valuable suggestions and necessary correction