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India’s Advanced Air Defence missile system destroys target ballistic missile in test

India’s Advanced Air Defence missile system intercepted a target ballistic missile in a successful test on Thursday, December 28, according to media reports.

AAD is indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The target ballistic missile was a modified Prithvi-II launched from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur and was intercepted by an AAD missile launched from Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal. It was intercepted below 30 km altitude, the Hindustan Times reported, while The New Indian Express reported the interception was at an altitude of 15 km.

“The radar of the defense system detected the incoming missile, tracked it and provided the command to launch the interceptor missile.… the interceptor missile achieved a direct hit, paving the way for its early deployment in the armed forces,” an unnamed defense official told the New Indian Express.

“The Fibre Optic Gyro-based INS [inertial navigation system] in the interceptor, onboard computers, guidance systems, actuation systems and the critical Radio Frequency (RF)  seekers used for the terminal phase all performed excellently. The launch has proved the BMD [ballistic missile defense] prowess of the country,” the official added.

The AAD interceptor is a 7.5 metre tall, 1.2 tonne single-stage solid-fuelled rocket launched from a mobile launcher that carries active radars and has a top speed of around Mach 4.5. It is the terminal phase element of India’s multi-tiered ballistic missile defense system, designed to shoot down incoming missiles at relatively low altitudes after they re-enter the atmosphere. It is complemented by the Prithvi Air Defense/Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor designed for mid-course interception, destroying missiles before re-entry, at altitudes of up to 80km. The Prithvi Defense Vehicle, which is designed to operate at altitudes of up to 150 km, is slated to replace the PAD system in the future. It was successfully tested on February 11.

The United States, Israel and Russia are the only other countries to have developed and built indigenous ballistic missile defense systems.

The test came just five days after DRDO test-launched a Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM), Odisha TV reported. Earlier in December, DRDO declared as successful a launch of its Akash surface-to-air missile fitted with an indigenous seeker, and in November, DRDO said it conducted a successful test flight of the indigenously developed Nirbhay long-range sub-sonic cruise missile.

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