Prithvi Air Defence (PAD)
The Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is a two stage liquid and solid fueled ballistic missile defense high altitude interceptor based on the Prithvi missile. The two-stage interceptor is 10 meters tall, weighs 5.2 tonnes and has a diameter of one meter. PAD is said to have a maximum interception altitude of 80km. The PAD system uses the Prithvi missile in conjunction with Israel’s Green Pine radar to detect, track, and intercept airborne threats.
The BMD system was tested for the first time on 27 November 2006 when an exo-atmospheric hypersonic interceptor missile was used to destroy an "enemy'' Prithvi missile at an altitude of 40-50 km. With the test of the PAD missile, India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an Anti-Ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia and Israel. The second time, on 06 December 2007, an endo-atmospheric interceptor took on an enemy missile at an altitude of 15-km. As of early 2008 it was planned that in July 2008 there would be another test of the exo-interceptor, at an 80-km altitude against a longer range 'enemy' missile [such a test was conducated in March 2009] Then, in September-October 2008, it was planned to test the exo and endo together.
On 06 March 2009 Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a test of its interceptor missile and missile tracking radars for validating the advancements made in the Air Defence program. Modifications made in the interceptor missile PAD 02 provided it with higher energy, an improved guidance and control system and on top of it all, a Gimbaled Directional Warhead with it. Though the interceptor missiles, have been tested earlier, the main aim of thetest was to validate the capabilities of the indigenously developed 'Swordfish' Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). Swordfish is a target acquisition and fire control radar for the BMD system. The missile to be hit will be fired from a longer distance than it was in the earlier test. DRDO would test whether the radar can track the incoming missile from that distance or not.
India inched closer towards its endeavor to put in place its own home-grown Ballistic Missile Defence System as it successfully carried out the third Interceptor test on 06 March 2009 at 1624 hrs from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island in Orissa. The mission control room burst into raptures as the radar display indicated the interception and destruction of the enemy missile by the interceptor. This test achieved all the mission objectives.
A modified Dhanush missile was launched from the naval ship INS Subhadra in the Bay of Bengal. Dhanush was simulating the final phase of the trajectory of ballistic missiles with a range of 1,500 km, such as Pakistan’s Ghauri missile. To mimic the incoming enemy's ballistic missile trajectory, Dhanush missile went to an altitude of 120 Km and was launched from ship about 100 km away from the Orissa Coast. The interception took place at an altitude of 80 kilometers when the missile was in its descent phase and hurtling towards Wheeler Island, off Orissa’s coast.
The Interceptor missile was launched from a mobile launcher located on Wheeler Island Launch Complex. When the interceptor had reached an altitude of 80 km, its homing seeker acquired the target when it was 25 km away. Using this information, the interceptor’s computer guided it towards the target and brought it within a few meters of the Dhanush target. The radio proximity fuse (RPF) of the gimballed directional warhead calculated the distance from Dhanush and the time at which the warhead should detonate. The Prithvi interceptor missile achieved a direct hit-to-kill on the “enemy” missile. It was a direct hit and also a warhead detonation.
After the successful test of BMD system on 06 March 2009, top DRDO scientist V K Saraswat said the Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield was better than the American system. "PAC III is an outdated system. Our Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile is 30 per cent superior in terms of range and capability. AAD intercepts at much higher ranges and altitudes compared to PAC III as it has only 15km range for BMD."
Saraswat said Russia, Israel and France provided assistance in areas where DRDO needed help "bridging technology gap and accelerating technology development." Russia helped India develop the new Radio Frequency Seeker for the interceptor, Israel provided help in developing the 'Swordfish' long-range tracking radar and the French helped with the Fire Control System for the BMD.
Referring to the missile defense interceptor, Avinash Chander, the director general of DRDO, stated: “It is a system to intercept enemy missiles with a range of 2,000 km. The missiles will get intercepted at range of more than 100 km away so that damage to our cities can be prevented.” Chander made the comments at an informal discussion with media personnel on a visit to Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University, according to the Times of India. The DRDO will imitate an enemy attack through firing a missile from a naval ship. The interceptor will then destroy the weapon mid-air through an automated process. The interceptor will be launched from Launch Complex-IV on Wheeler Island.
According to the DRDO, new technologies have been added and modifications have been made in the interceptor missile PAD 02 to provide higher energy, an improved guidance and control system and an integrated a Gimbaled Directional Warhead with it. The new warhead weighed only around 30 kilograms but will generate the impact of a 150 kilogram omni-directional warhead could make. The entire system is fully automated and human intervention is not needed for activation.
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