India test-fires supersonic interceptor missile


NEW DELHI: India tested a supersonic interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic missile over the Bay of Bengal on Thursday.

The experimental two-tier BMD system is supposed to track and destroy nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth’s atmosphere. Phase-I of this BMD system, with interceptors flying at 4.5 Mach high-supersonic speeds to intercept enemy missiles, is meant to tackle hostile missiles with a 2,000-km strike range.

The Phase-II, in turn, will be geared for taking on 5,000 km range missiles, virtually in the class of ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), with interceptors at hypersonic speeds of 6-7 Mach. The indigenous missile shield, once it becomes fully operational, is supposed to protect cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, Indian media quoted officials involved in the development and testing of the missile.

In the test, the low-altitude or endo-atmospheric Advanced Area Defence (AAD) interceptor missile hit the “enemy” missile (a modified Prithvi missile) at an altitude of 15 km, in the third such successful test this year after a string of failures.

While the interceptor missile was fired from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, the “enemy” missile was launched from the Launch Complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) also based in the island. “It was a direct hit,” said a DRDO official.