March 28, 2011by Michael Listner THE SPACE REVIEW
Note: This essay is based on an article previously published March 8, 2011, at Examiner.com.
The March 7 edition of The Hindu reported that India performed a test of the interceptor missile portion of its ballistic missile defense system on March 6, 2011. The test, the sixth of the series, was reportedly a success and a validation of the technology to be integrated into India’s defense system.1
The target missile, a modified Prithvi, was launched at 9:32 a.m. from Launch Complex III of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Orissa. The modified Prithvi mimicked the trajectory of a ballistic missile with a 600-kilometer (324-nautical-mile) range. Radars at different locations tracked the modified Prithvi, determined its trajectory, and passed the information in real time to Mission Control Centre (MCC) to launch the interceptor. The interceptor used a directional warhead to maneuver the interceptor to the modified Prithvi before exploding. As part the announcement, V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director-General, stated this latest success demonstrated India’s capability to effectively neutralize satellites belonging to an adversary.2
While not the primary purpose of the test of India’s ABM program, Sarawat’s statement reflects India’s interest in anti-satellite (ASAT) technology, and it has reportedly put together the necessary components to acquire such a capacity (see “India’s missile defense/anti-satellite nexus”, The Space Review, May 10, 2010). The question remains that, even with the necessary technology to acquire an ASAT capacity, does India now have a proven capability?