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India's Prithvi missile defence exercise

Discussion in 'Indian Defence Forum' started by Abs, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. Abs


    Jan 5, 2007
    +0 / 2 / -0
    India’s technology-defying feat!

    The Indian media needs to do some basic arithmetic before eulogising its scientists​

    On 26 November 2006 India claimed to have carried out a successful missile interception test. The scientific adviser to India’s defence minister in a telephonic conversation with the Hindu declared that India had acquired the missile defence capability and described it as a ‘significant milestone’ in India’s missile defence.

    The press coverage of the event, which was named ‘Prithvi Missile Defence Exercise’, has been highly confusing and self-contradictory as have been the claims by various government officials. For instance, the Indian Express , a prestigious newspaper, reported it as “the coordinated launch of two surface-to-surface Prithvi-2 missiles from two different ranges on the Orissa coast”.

    This statement does not make any sense because a ballistic missile cannot be intercepted with another ballistic missile. The Outlook online reported that the interceptor missile, which officials did not identify, was in anti-missile mode and had inertial guidance, mid-course guidance and active seeker-guidance in the terminal phase. Outlook also seemed to repeat the IE story by saying that various versions of Prithvi range between 150 to 350 kilometres and quoted DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) officials as saying that it was important to validate the capability of interception. Interestingly it also quoted defence ministry officials as saying that, “Notwithstanding the success of today’s interception, we will continue to observe development of the US Patriot-3 as well as other competing systems”.

    To further confound the confusion, the Outlook referred to the fact that faced with failure of the Trishul project, India had been negotiating with the US, Israel and Russia to procure an alternative anti-missile defence system. Now Trishul is supposed to be a short-range, probably 5-10-km range, surface-to-air missile intended to provide point defence especially for the Indian Navy ships. Mixing it up with a ballistic missile defence system does not really stand to reason.

    In another report by AK Dhar, the Outlook says that India has unveiled an indigenous supersonic anti-missile system that, according to Indian scientists, had the capability to intercept the incoming ballistic missiles “thousands of miles away”. This is again an incredible statement. Dhar also stated that the new missile, named AXO, intercepted the target missile at an altitude of 40-50 kilometres. Based on the statements of DRDO officials he also mentioned that the missile is not part of the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme). The missile reportedly has a 30-second response time and can be launched in 50 seconds after the detection of the incoming missile. The missile as per unnamed DRDO officials is ‘completely indigenous’, is 10-12 metre long, has divert thrusters for generating lateral acceleration and can also be used for air defence missions.

    Interestingly, just a day earlier AK Dhar had reported in Outlook that hit by ‘time over runs and technical hitches’ in the production of a surveillance system aimed at providing early warning of incoming missiles, India has sought Israeli assistance. According to the Outlook ‘Elbit Systems Ltd’ of Israel has joined hands with the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Electronics Corporation of India and Tata Power Company Limited to develop this advanced system.

    What should we make of this test and the confusion that surrounds it? Consider:

    India has been trying to acquire some sort of missile defence system and has explored the options of purchasing the Russian S300-V, Israeli Arrow and American Patriot systems at different points in time. It has also been claimed that India’s Akash medium-range air defence missile is being converted into a missile defence system with capabilities somewhat similar to the Patriot system.

    Given DRDO’s record of failures to meet deadlines and targets, huge wastage of resources and tall claims (these facts are recorded by various Indian analysts, including Lt-Gen Raghavan in his book, “Siachen: Conflict Without End”) it is quite possible that this missile interception test has been blown out of proportion as a public relations exercise.

    Given widespread public criticism of its failure to meet the goals set for the IGMDP and especially the dismal failure of the Agni-3 test (the DRDO had been publicising it for the past three years) it is understandable that such undeserved laurels are being claimed. The Indian Defence Minister A K Antony was quick to congratulate the DRDO scientists on ‘yet another achievement’.

    There are other technical issues as well:

    For instance, the target missile (a modified Prithvi-2) was fired from Chandipur Test range on the coast of Orissa while the interceptor missile was fired from Wheeler Island 70 kilometres away. Going by the claims of the Indian press and officials it intercepted the target at 40-50 kilometres altitude. The press reports also claim that the interceptor was fired 60 seconds after the target missile and interception time was 110-117 seconds. None of this makes much sense.

    It is not possible that the incoming missile moving at supersonic speed had just travelled 50 kilometres in 110 seconds. But even if it was intercepted at a distance of 50 kilometres from its launch site, it means that the missile was still in its boost phase (it had not shed its rocket motor and was in one piece thereby presenting a much bigger target than at the time of re-entry in the terminal phase).

    In actual operational environment it would not be possible to deploy the interceptor so close to the hostile missile-launch position and the radar will detect the incoming missile only when it has appeared above the horizon. Given the minimum required response time it is impossible to intercept a missile in the boost phase, which usually lasts for 60 seconds or so in the case of medium-range missiles, unless the interceptor travels at the speed of light. That is why the US is experimenting with the development of airborne laser systems for boost-phase interception.

    If an incoming missile cannot be caught in the boost phase then it is engaged in the terminal phase which presents its own problems. Firstly, the size of the target and its radar cross-section is greatly reduced – from a launch size of 10-15 metres it comes down to around one metre – and secondly, it comes down at a very high velocity and the time window is only 30-45 seconds.

    Given this, one can have a fair idea of the actual worth of the ‘successful’ Indian interception test.

    The writer is a former Brigadier and currently a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. From thefridaytimes i got this from someone but you need a subscription to view it on the site
  2. Goodperson

    Goodperson SENIOR MEMBER

    Dec 26, 2005
    +0 / 472 / -0
    Their may be confusions when we read technical details from media here is the media link striaight from horses mouth.

    Interview: Vijay Kumar Saraswat

    Chief Controller of Research and Development, India’s DRDO

    Known in India as the father of the anti-ballistic air defense missile system, Vijay Kumar Saraswat began his career at the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with the development of India’s first liquid-propulsion engine for the Prithvi missile.
    Saraswat, who specializes in rocket propulsion, missile technologies, and project and technology management, today is the DRDO’s chief controller for research and development. His future assignments include development of India’s anti-ballistic missile systems, radars, C4I systems and integration of battle management resources into a national authority. For his outstanding contribution to India, Saraswat was conferred with the Padma Shri Award, the country’s fourth-highest civilian award, in 1998.

    Q. Please describe the homegrown ballistic missile defense system. How many missiles will it have for different layers of threats?

    A. Our missile configuration is a three-layered missile defense configuration. We are planning to engage ballistic missiles at the exo-atmospheric layer, i.e., the layer where it enters the atmosphere, and the endo-atmospheric layer, where there is a thermally sensitive atmospheric layer. This configuration gives us the best probability of killing a ballistic missile coming to us. To increase hit probability, we can plan to launch two to three missiles each for exo- and endo-atmospheric.
    The missile that demonstrates our capability to intercept ballistic missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes is called PAD. It is a two-stage missile. The first stage is liquid, and the second is a solid rocket motor with many additional features, which are leading to an interception or engaging the ballistic missiles. For example, it has seeker guidance, divert thruster which can generate a lateral acceleration at more than 5 Gs at 50 kilometers altitude.

    Q. How many missiles in the system?

    A. There are two layers. At each battery there is a multiple launcher with multiple missiles.

    Q. What is the configuration of BMD?

    A. In a typical battery, you have the long-range radars, missile launchers, mission control center and other ground systems.
    The complete network of radars, launch batteries, missile control centers, launch control centers. These are geographically distributed and are connected to a very potent secure communications network.
    The radar is looking at a particular elevation and detects incoming ballistic missiles. This information is sent to the mission control center(MCC), which then decides whether it is a missile interceptor or a satellite or any other projectile, and it does target classification within a few seconds. When the target is classified, the MCC also calculates where the impact point of the target is likely to be and where it is going to fall.
    After the target is classified, the MCC also finds out the trajectory profile and the speed it is going to travel. Based on that, it assigns a target to a particular battery. This is called target assignment.
    Once the target is assigned, the data goes to a particular battery, then control goes to the launch control center (LCC). LCC keeps on getting data from radar directly, and then it decides when to launch the interceptor. This is decided based on the data received from radar, on the speed of target, altitude, flight path. A ground guidance computation is done. It's a very complex computation from ground computation when to launch the interceptor. All this is done in an autonomous fashion.

    Q. Can you tell me the timeframe?

    A. For the 600-kilometer class of system, if a radar has spotted a target, the interceptor will be launched within about 180 seconds. It will be different for 200-kilometer and 300-kilometer missiles.

    Q. What is the speed of the air defense missile?

    A. It is between 4.5 and 5 Mach. The same system has the capability to engage 300-kilometer to 2,000-kilometer classes of ballistic missiles.

    Q. How efficient is it?
    A. Depending upon the area of threat, radars are deployed in that direction. We deploy the radar in such a way that a threat coming from that direction is detected. Once the target missile is detected at a point, a number of batteries are deployed. If a missile is passing through the zone of influence of one battery, that battery will be activated.

    Q. Is this Swordfish radar?
    A. No, it is Long-Range Tracking Radar. It has the capability to track 200 targets at a range of about 600 kilometers.
    It can track the target and the interceptor also. So in this radar, we developed the complete software for doing the tracking and engagement of ballistic missiles.
    Complete software for signal processing transmitter receiver modules, central processing units and complete ground segment — like cooling units, power supplies and the communication network — have been indigenously developed and integrated. Today, we have full capability to manufacture this radar in our country.

    Q. How many radars have you developed in this class? When did this development begin?

    A. We started working on this in late 1999, beginning of 2000, and we completed it in 2004. It has taken almost five years. We had also developed radar for the endo-atmospheric layer. It is called multifunction control radar. This is also a phased array radar. It also has the capability to beat the interceptor guidance, if required.

    Q. How does the MCC work?

    A. MCC is completely a software-intensive system for BMD, and this works on about 10 computers simultaneously. It receives information about the target from different sources. It could be ground-based radars, satellites or our own technical intelligence system. MCC is connected to all the elements of the weapon system through a wide area communication network. It does target classification, target assignment and kill assessment.
    In addition, planning for deployment of radar and other weapon system elements is also done by MCC. It can also simulate all the types of track profiles and also simulates the interception using our interceptors, and then select whether interception will take place or not. It can also indicate how many missiles should be launched to intercept an incoming threat to give an assured kill probability. It acts as a decision support system for the commander.

    Q. What is LCC?

    A. It is the basic hub for launch of the interceptor. After a target has been assigned to a particular battery, LCC starts computing when to launch the interceptor based upon the information received from the radars, about the target. It carries out the checking of the health of the missile. It prepares the missile for launch in real time, carries out ground guidance computation.
    After an interceptor is launched, the interceptor is provided information about the target through an uplink. The target real time data is transmitted through a very robust communication network.

    Q. When will the BMD testing be complete?

    A. It will take more than three years to complete our developmental activities.

    Q. What is Phase II?

    A. The same missile interceptors cannot cover all threats. Threat targets of longer ranges — 2,000 kilometers — will make our phase-II development.
    During Phase I: Endo-atmospheric interceptor is AAD. This interceptor will engage targets at 25 kilometers. AAD is superior in terms of coverage area compared to PAC-3, which is 15 kilometers. You can see the difference. AAD’s equivalent is the Israeli Arrow, which intercepts at 40 kilometers. PAD is 50 to 80 kilometers. America is building a missile, THAAD — Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — that intercepts out to 120 kilometers, but it is still in development. However, a lot of failures have taken place during THAAD development.

    Q. How many missile batteries would you deploy?
    A. Nobody will give information on how many and where we will deploy them.

    Q. Who will be the production agency for this?
    A. We have participation of 30 private and public industries for various subsystems of this missile and weapon system.

    Q. Who will build the radar eventually?
    A. Radar will be made by a consortium of Bharat Electronics and many other private industries, facilitating private-public partnership, with DRDO as technology giver.

    Q. And what about missiles?
    A. Missiles and subsystems are also being made by many private industries. It could be government-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd. — the preferred agency — or any other agency.

    Q. What is involved in the development of a missile system?
    A. A lot of different technologies are involved. For example, take the PAD missile. We started developing in the year 2000, and in six to seven years we have launched the missiles — whereas the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program started in 1983 and the first launch of Prithvi was in 1988, Agni in 1989, and we have developed other missiles like Akash and Nag also. One needs to work on various technologies for different systems in propulsion, control, guidance, aerodynamics, structures, power systems, launchers and other supporting ground systems.

    Q. What does this mean?

    A. We have reached the stage of technology development where we have technical maturity and technological qualification leading to subsystem production at identified production agencies. This is a very long, long process.

    Q. What is the effect of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?

    A. When we launched Prithvi and Agni, it had affected the launch of all the missiles and subsystems. The MTCR was a major reason for delay in the 1990s in the development of our missiles.

    Q. How did you overcome?

    A. We launched a program called “Combating MTCR,” and because of that program, we developed all the unavailable materials, components and subsystems indigenously.
    When you do such work, you have to depend on your country’s industries and scientific institutions. When the scientific institutions give support but industries lack the technological base to support this type of program, then we have to develop required integrated circuits, etc. We have to have set up like that and we have to spend money, and it takes time. That way, development of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, we were involved in development of integrated circuits, material, irradiating elements. We spent a lot of money and effort doing that.
    In 1996, the first Prithvi system was delivered. Despite MTCR, Agni-1 and -2 have been done. Akash flight trials were conducted successfully. The Nag imaging infrared seeker has been built. So it is to the credit of the Indian scientific community.
    Now, the Akash air defense system is going to lead to production because this year, we are going for induction of Akash after a few user trials.

    Q. What about the Nag anti-tank missile?
    A. This year, we are going to conduct the user trials of Nag.

    Q. What about the Trishul quick-reaction missile?
    A. Development is completed. We are looking for more variants.

    Q. What about the Dhanush ship-launched missile and Astra beyond-visual-range missile?

    A. Dhanush we have already completed successfully. Astra is an air-to-air beyond-visual-range missile. Ballistic trials of the missile have been completed. Now, we are on to control and guidance flight-trial mode. We expect that by June, control guidance flights will commence. Now it is going per schedule and all the various technological requirements of Astra are being met.

    Q. What are the spinoffs?

    A. Once Phase-II interceptors are developed, these can be used as long-range interceptors of aircraft at ranges of 120 kilometers.
    You see the question which you asked that it has taken 20 years to develop. Now you see it is not taking more than 5 years - 6 years. Even Americans also take time. Their missile program with industrial infrastructure, the cost is very high and they take six to seven years before a missile is launched. This is also time taken for development of PAD and AAD.

    By Vivek Raghuvanshi in New Delhi.

    • Annual budget: $1.2 billion
    • Personnel: 5,000, including scientists working at laboratories throughout the country.
    • Established: 1958
    • Mission: Design, development and production of state-of-the-art weapon systems, platforms and allied products. Under the aegis of DRDO, India produced variants of the Prithvi short-range ballistic missile and medium-range Agni missiles. DRDO is playing a critical role towards India’s self-reliance in weapons and equipment. The government has asked DRDO to concentrate more on core and fundamental research in the future.

    Source: Defense News research

  3. joey


    Sep 28, 2006
    +0 / 24 / -0
    thank you mr brigadier for pointing out the deficiencies of indian media, apparently he has read too much of rajat pandit stuffs, had he been read ts subramanian etc etc article would have been different.

    My point got proved again, on peoples should know which writers they should look into.