In a leap forward to fortify its skies, India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed interceptor missile which destroyed a 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified Prithvi, at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal.
The 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified surface-to-surface 'Prithvi', was first lifted off from a mobile launcher around 0933hours from the launch complex-3 of ITR at Chandipur-on-Sea, 15 km from here.
In less than three minutes, the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur, received signals from tracking radars installed along the coastline and travelled through the sky at a speed of 4.5 Mach to destroy it.
ITR Director S P Dash said the interceptor hit the 'target' missile at an altitude of about 16 km over the Bay.
"It was a fantastic launch. The trial, conducted from two launch sites of ITR off Orissa coast for developing a full fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, was fully successful," he said.
"Detailed results and the 'kill' effect of the interceptor were being ascertained by analysing data from multiple tracking sources," a Defence Research Development (DRDO) scientist said soon after the trial.
The interceptor designed for endo-atmospheric condition (up to 30 km altitude) is a seven-meter long and single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile, equipped with an inertial navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator under command by the data uplinked from sophisticated ground based radars.
The interceptor designed for exo-atmospheric condition is a two stage missile.
As a safety measure, the Balasore district administration had temporarily shifted401 civilian families comprising a total of 3221 people, residing within two km radius of ITR launch pad-3 at Chandipur this morning to the nearby shelter centres.
As the trial was aimed at achieving the desired result with precision, the interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent
tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars, sources said.
This is for the sixth time that DRDO scientists are testing the interceptor missile.
The previous trials were conducted on November 27, 2006, December 6, 2007 and March 6, 2009 from Wheeler Island.
The fourth test which was scheduled in mid-March 2010 was put-off twice. Due to some technical glitches in the sub-system of the missile, the mission was aborted prior to take off on March 14.
The next day on March 15, 2010 the target missile, modified 'Prithvi' deviated from its pre-determined trajectory, which forced the scientists of DRDO to put-off the launch of the interceptor missile in last minutes.
However, the last trial, fifth in its series, conducted on July 26, 2010 incorporating some new technologies to the interceptor missile was a success.