Air Defense: The Indian Missile Shield

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June 9, 2016: In May 2016 India conducted another test of its ABM (anti-ballistic missile), successfully launching one of the smaller of the two interceptor missile models the AAD (Advanced Air Defense) system uses. That was the twelfth AAD test, of which 75 percent have been a success. The other AAD missile is the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile. This is the larger of the two and is used for high altitude (50-80 kilometers up) interception. The short range AAD missile is used for low altitude (up to 30 kilometers) intercepts. The two missiles, in conjunction with a radar system based on the Israeli Green Pine (used with the Arrow anti-missile missile) provide defense from ballistic missiles fired as far as 5,000 kilometers away. A third interceptor, the PDV, is a hypersonic missile that can take down missiles as high as 150 kilometers and is still in development although one was successfully tested in early 2014. Eventually PDV will replace PAD. India is the fifth nation to develop such anti-missile technology.

In 2014 India conducted a successful of its larger Prithvi ABM missile. This one is designed to intercept missiles (with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers) at altitudes of up to a hundred kilometers. This is a continuation of a longstanding effort to build missile defenses. In late 2013 there was a successful round of development tests of these ABMs that involved intercepting multiple incoming ballistic missiles. As a result of many successful tests in the last few years Indian missile development officials declared that their anti-missile missiles were ready for mass production and deployment. This would provide some Indian cities protection from Pakistani or Chinese ballistic missiles. So far no ABM systems have been deployed although the government says ABM batteries to defend New Delhi and Mumbai could be deployed within a few months if needed.

If the AAD is deployed and works China and Pakistan could only defeat it by firing more missiles simultaneously than the Indians could handle. It's also possible to equip warheads with decoys in an attempt to get the interceptor missile to miss. Israel has technology designed to deal with these decoys and India was attracted to that. But against an overwhelming number of incoming missiles, some are going to get through. Yet if you have a defensive system and the other guy does not, you have a big advantage no matter what.

 


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