India’s DRDO Successfully Test-Fires Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Interceptor Missile

India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully test-fired the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) endo-atmospheric interceptor missile which will form part of the country’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) shield.

The supersonic ballistic interceptor, also called as Ashwin, was launched from the Launch Complex-IV (LC-IV) of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) facility on the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha at 11.25 am local time.

The interceptor missile was, for the first time, fired against multiple electronically simulated targets, all mimicking the trajectory of a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) launched from 1500 km away. The control and command system then selected one target among the simulated targets to make the interception.

A defence official was quoted as saying by the Indian Express that the missile has demonstrated its killing capability paving the way for its early induction. “Several tests of the missile conducted earlier were against single target. But this one was against multiple targets for the first time. It was an excellent mission accomplished,” he added.

The Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor is a single-stage, solid-fueled anti-ballistic missile (ABM) designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere region at an altitude of around 30 km (19 mi). The guidance system of the missile has an inertial navigation system (INS), mid-course updates from ground based radar and active radar homing in the terminal phase. It is 7.5 m (25 ft) tall, weighs around 1.2 t (1.2 long tons; 1.3 short tons) and a diameter of less than 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in).

The AAD interceptor was successfully tested on December 6, 2007, when it intercepted a modified Prithvi-II missile acting as an incoming ballistic missile enemy target. The endo-atmospheric interception was carried out at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi).

The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme is an initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to protect from ballistic missile attacks. Introduced in light of the ballistic missile threat from mainly Pakistan, it is a double-tiered system consisting of two land and sea-based interceptor missiles, namely the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude (exo-atmospheric) interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for lower altitude (endo-atmospheric) interception.

The two-tiered shield should be able to intercept any incoming missile launched from 5,000 kilometres away. The system also includes an overlapping network of early warning and tracking radars, as well as command and control (C2) posts.

The PAD was tested in November 2006, followed by the AAD in December 2007. With the test of the PAD missile, India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia, and Israel. The system has undergone several tests but system is yet to be officially commissioned.

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