In a significant boost to India’s Air defence and deterrence capabilities, the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) on November 2, 2022, conducted a successful maiden test flight of the Phase-II Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor – AD-1 missile.
The Missile can intercept long-range ballistic missiles and aircraft in both low exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric areas.
The indigenously-developed missile has an advanced control system, navigation, and guidance algorithm to precisely guide the vehicle to the target.
While congratulating the DRDO team, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the missile a unique type of interceptor with advanced technologies available to very few nations in the world.
The interceptor missile will provide great operational flexibility to the armed forces as it can engage many different targets, taking the country’s BMD capability to the next level.
Ballistic Missile Defence Programme of India
The Ballistic Missile Defence Programme (BMD) aims to develop a multi-layered defence against the threat of hostile ballistic missile attacks. It was launched in the late 1990s and further got intensified in the aftermath of the Kargil war.
As per the BMD programme, DRDO is developing, under two distinct phases, a two-layered shield against hostile missile attacks. Under Phase-I of the programme, which envisages the interception of up to 2000 km range ballistic missiles in both the endo-atmosphere(within earth’s atmosphere) and exo-atmosphere(outside earth’s atmosphere) in the altitude range of 15-25 km and up to 140 km, respectively, the DRDO has so far carried out several tests. With all tests successful, Phase-I is now ready for operational deployment.
The first interceptor missile under Phase 1 was successfully tested in 2006, giving India a major technological leap in developing a technology-intensive Ballistic missile system.
By 2020, India had successfully completed all the requisite trials of phase 1, and the IAF and DRDO were ready for its deployment.
The Indian BMD system consists of a Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for interception at higher altitudes (50 to 80 Km) and an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude interception(15 to 30 Km).
Under phase II of the BMD program, the DRDO aims to intercept longer-range missiles of 5000 km range at a higher altitude of up to 400 km. The recent test was the maiden test in this direction.
Why India needs a BMD Program
With nuclear-powered adversaries in its neighbourhood and the threat that both China and Pakistan pose to India, it is the rationale for India to have a dedicated and credible missile defence capability.
As nuclear weapons and missiles continuously increase in India’s neighbourhood, and the policies followed by India’s adversary clearly indicate towards fast-paced nuclearisation of South Asia.
Pakistan, who have resorted to terrorism in targeting India, given that India would not retaliate to Pak-backed terrorism in fear of nuclear fallout, makes it the rationale for India to have a BMD capability.
The growing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan (controlled by its Army) and the fast-paced modernisation of nuclear and conventional missiles of China pose an unparalleled threat to India’s security.
Having a credible BMD system makes the adversary aware that a nuclear first strike can be nullified and makes the intended result of a first strike impossible. This best serves the deterrence capability of a nation, particularly India which adheres to a no-first-use policy. This also gives India space to survive the first strike so that it can retaliate it.
A credible BMD system also supports India’s cold start doctrine. The cold-start doctrine of India aims to allow Indian armed forces to launch an attack on Pakistan, under the nuclear umbrella preventing a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan.
Keeping in mind India’s no first use of nuclear weapons, a dedicated missile defence system will help India to deter its adversaries as well as will give India a space to launch a retaliatory strike in an all-out nuclear war.