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Major cities to get missile defence shield
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
Major cities of the country, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and other “high value targets” will get the anti-ballistic missile defence shield, once the ballistic defence system (BMD) is fully operational within the next three to four years, missile and strategic system chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr V.K. Saraswat said here today.

Encouraged by the two successful tests of the BMD system with the indigenously developed “interceptor missile” hitting a “target missile” last week in Orissa, Saraswat said his scientists needed to conduct some more flight trials to fully validate the objectives.

This process, he said, would be over in the next three years or so following which he was hopeful of providing the protective shield to high value targets and metropolitan cities. This, he said, could happen over the next three to four years.

The successful testing of the BMD has put India into the elite club of countries having the capabilities of such a system. The DRDO missile chief said India could now also shoot down missile fired from ranges varying from 400-3,000 km.

He, however, clarified that the BMD system was a defensive system and given India’s nuclear doctrine specifying “no first use” of nuclear weapons, the BMD was needed more as a deterrent.

Although he did not name Pakistan and China, but said the countries in the neighbourhood had missiles of ranges from 400-3,000 km in their arsenal and the Indian BMD was capable of eliminating them endo-atmospheric (within the earth’s atmosphere) as well as exo-atmospheric (outside atmosphere).

While the interceptor now named “Praduyama” can liquidate the target at altitudes of 50km and beyond in “exo’ mode, the BMD can also hit the target at heights of less than 20 km in “endo” mode as was done earlier this month from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-Sea in Orissa. The DRDO scientists would now focus on conducting simultaneous tests of “endo’ and ‘exo” by launching multiple interceptors on an incoming target, Saraswat said.

As regards the high points of the two tests of the BMD, he said the country now had the capabilities of shooting down a cruise missile traveling at very low heights. Incidentally, the cruise missile is a sub-sonic system while the ballistic missiles travel 2,000 metres in one second and the BMD system can it shoot down in 23 seconds after detecting it with the help of a network of sophisticated radars, Saraswat said.

The BMD system, at present can cover an area of 200 sq km and is comparable of such systems like the Patriot missile system from the US and the Arrow missile system from Israel. “Thus, for Delhi and the NCR (National Capital Region), we would require two batteries,” he said adding the interceptor can also perform many other roles.

These roles included taking on an incoming hostile aircraft at distance of more than 100 km and bolstering the air defence cover of the country with the help of a reliable network of radars, he said.

Incidentally, the US is interested in offering the Patriot missile system to India.

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