India's Ballistic Missile Defence system

The Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme, an initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system, is a two-tiered system consisting of two interceptor missiles, namely Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile for lower altitude interception. The two-tiered shield will be able to intercept any incoming missile launched 5,000 km away.

The Ballistic Missile Defence programme aims to provide an effective missile shield against incoming enemy ballistic and nuclear missiles.

A hostile missile needs to be intercepted at boost (launch) point, mid-course (flight through space), or terminal phase (during atmospheric descent).


•Prithvi Defence Vehicle: It is capable of killing an incoming missile with a strike range of around 2,000 km outside the earth’s atmosphere. It will replace the existing Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) which has a maximum interception altitude of 80 kilometers.
The advantage of intercepting an incoming missile at such a high altitude is that the debris would not fall on the ground and there would be no collateral damage.
•Advanced Air Defence: The endo-atmospheric missile, capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms successfully destroyed the incoming missile.

Why need arises?

India’s own indigenous missile defence shield originates from its threat perception from China and Pakistan. Pakistan, with its various short- and medium-range missiles, has the capability to hit major targets in India; and China, with its huge arsenal of solid-fuelled missiles, is the most potent threat to India. The Chinese upper hand in force level and its intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) and medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) that can reach India’s farthest corners increases India’s anxiety.1 Despite the indigenous development of systems such as Akash and Trishul, and the planned acquisition of foreign air defence and limited-range theatre defence systems, it is clear that these systems would not be adequate to address all conceivable threats. As a result, the requirement for comparatively longer range interception technologies to tackle a large gamut of faster missiles in the neighborhood pushed India’s search for systems beyond the realm of indigenous programmes and friendly imports.

Recent initiative

India achieved a significant milestone in the direction of developing a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system by successfully test firing an interceptor missile designed to intercept and destroy hostile ballistic missiles in space. This further enhances India's capability of dealing with a nuclear attack threat.

Practice question:

1)Which of the following statements is incorrect related to Advanced Air Defense Missile?

a)It provides exo-atmosphermic defense system.

b)It is a solid fuel rocket system, capable of Mach 4.5 supersonic flight.

c)The system capable of surface-to-air strikes against aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

d)It is similar to Russian-made S-400 Triumph anti-ballistic missile system.

Ans: a
Exp: The AAD is part of the first phase of India’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) initiative, along with the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) missile. The Prithvi provides exoatmosphermic defense while the AAD is optimized for endoatmospheric performance.
The AAD has been undergoing trials since 2007 and may ultimately serve as a project demonstrator. A full-scale BMD system in India will incorporate technology from both the PAD and AAD systems. The AAD interceptor is a 7.5 meter single-stage, solid fuel rocket, capable of Mach 4.5 supersonic flight. The AAD has an operational range between 150-200 kilometers and uses an inertial navigational aid system with active radar homing.
As a short-range, ground-launched system capable of surface-to-air strikes against aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, the AAD will see some overlap with the more advanced Russian-made S-400 Triumph anti-ballistic missile system.