India to test Interceptor Missile in August as part of efforts to build ballistic missile defence shield

July 11, 2010

India will launch in early August an interceptor called Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile to shoot down an incoming “enemy missile” as part of its efforts to build a credible ballistic missile defence shield.

After the “enemy” missile takes off from its launch pad at the Integrated Test Range, (ITR) Balasore, Orisssa, the AAD missile will pounce upon it midway, lifting off from the Wheeler Island in the Bay of Bengal, about 60 km off Balasore.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has built both the missiles and will launch them. Preparations are progressing apace for the launches.

V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said the AAD interceptor “is not one of the existing missiles,” hinting that it has been newly developed.

The target “is a modified missile” and the interception would take place in endo-atmosphere. But the interception would be at a high altitude in the endo-atmosphere. While the endo-atmosphere is 50 km and below, the exo-atmosphere is above 50 km. Rains had led to the test being postponed from July to August.

Of the four interceptor missile tests so far, the first three were successful. The last one in March 2010 was a failure.

Dr. Saraswat, who is also Director-General, DRDO, said the test-flights of Astra, India's air-to-air missile on Tuesday and Wednesday were aimed at demonstrating its high manoeuvrability, and its control and guidance systems.

“The Astra is meant for destroying aerial targets. It is a gradual process of proving its control and guidance systems. Before we integrate the missile with an aircraft, we should prove all this. [However], we have flown the missile integrated with an aircraft and it was done in Pune,” he said.

The missile was integrated with a Sukhoi-30 aircraft. But the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday took place from the ground at the ITR.

The Astra is about 3.6 metre long and weighs 160 kg.