Indian Pursuit Of Ballistic Missile Defence Program

Some days ago India conducted a successful ballistic missile defence test which was
capable enough to intercept and kill the incoming missile. This shows
that Indian ballistic missile defence program comprising of long range
tracking radar, command and control system and the interceptor, is
maturing at a faster pace. As a result, the South Asian strategic
stability would be challenged as there are diversification of threats
and limited response options, BMD adds value to the complexity of the
region.

India believes in nuclear dominance in the region and aspires to have
extended self defence. It aims to become a global power. The
technological edge that it is struggling to acquire over Pakistan and
China has been to some extent proven by the successful ballistic missile
defence test it conducted on 6th March 2011. Till now India has
conducted six tests out of which four were successful and two failed due
to technological reasons. But now India would proudly be a part of the
elite club of the ‘BMD haves’ which includes United States, Russia and
Israel.

India acquired the system with the technological assistance of United
States and Israel. Indian BMD program has a two-tiered system namely
Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) for high altitude interception and Advanced
Air Defence (AAD) for lower altitude interception. The PAD missiles are
for intercepting ballistic missiles at altitudes between 50-80 km and
the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile is for destroying them at heights
ranging 15-30 km.

India’s future plans include two new anti ballistic missiles that can
intercept Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) namely Advanced
Defence (AD-1 and AD-2) which would be capable of intercepting and
destroying a missile at a range around 5,000 km (3,100 mi)

India justifies its acquisition of BMD by stating that as India has a no
first use policy (NFU) therefore in order to ensure its second strike
capability and to be able to absorb the first strike and retaliate it
needs BMD. This would add value to its deterrent capability. Indian BMD
is theatre missile defence it cannot protect the entire Indian soil but
can only give protection to its some land-based strategic locations. It
has Nuclear submarines INS Arihant which would be inducted in Indian
Navy by 2012 will protect its seas.

Another dimension that adds fuel to the fire is the Indian plan to
accommodate the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) as apart of its BMD program. India
believes that its high-altitude interceptors can indeed serve as
Anti–Satellite weapons (ASAT) which would be capable of destroying low
orbit satellites. India perceives that its space assets are not secure
and are threatened from China, as China possesses Anti-Satellite weapons
therefore it has all the right to acquire ASAT which will ultimately
enhance its security in space. Moreover before a legally binding
framework comes into being which would prohibit the acquisition of
Anti-Satellite weapons India wants to be the part of the club of ‘ASAT
haves’ rather than ‘have-nots’.

DRDO Director General V.K. Saraswat announced during 97th Indian Science
Congress “India was developing lasers and an exo-atmospheric kill
vehicle that could be combined to produce a weapon to destroy enemy
satellites in orbit, kill vehicle, which is needed for intercepting the
satellite, needs to be developed, and that work is going on as part of
the ballistic missile defense program by 2014.”

India is on the road to acquire laser-based anti-ballistic missile
systems called Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs). DEW weapons can kill
incoming ballistic missiles by bombarding them with subatomic particles
or electromagnetic waves. The weapons are capable of intercepting
missiles soon after they are launched towards India. According to DRDO
scientist the DEW laser weapon is capable of producing 25-kilowatt
pulses that can destroy a ballistic missile within seven kilometers. One
of these weapons is the air defense dazzler, which can engage enemy
aircraft and helicopters at a range of 10 kilometers.

The Indian pursuit of BMD and its goal to accommodate ASAT will have
regional implications. It not only provokes Pakistan but also China to
take requisite steps in order to have counter measures to overcome
Indian BMD. As a result of which China conducted successful BMD test in
2010 and is on the road to acquire effective BMD program in near future.

Whereas, Pakistan’s economy does not support it to acquire BMD program.
Pakistan would feel insecure as its counter measure strike capability is
not sufficient and secondly it does not possess any assured second
strike capability. That is the reason that it sticks to First Use policy
to equalize the deterrent equation. It would ultimately engage in
acquiring additional missiles and launchers to devise a much larger
attacking force which would elude the Indian interceptors, leading to
triangular security dilemma in the region.

Moreover Pakistan would improve the nuclear arsenals qualitatively and
quantitatively as it considers the nuclear weapons an integral part of
its defence system which would result in nuclear instability.

This rapid technological inflow, aim to have a comprehensive space
program and western discriminatory approaches to make India a ‘Shining
India’ is very threatening for Pakistan and China also up to an extent.
India has been accommodated into the four export control regimes namely
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group (AG), Wassanar
Arrangment (WA) and Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) would further make
India technology enabler and legitimizing India’s status.

Indian defence and space companies DRDO and ISRO respectively have been
removed from entity list which would provide India hi-tech and nuclear
technology access. India will further pursue its space program and
struggle to get the technological edge over Pakistan and China.

This shows that India would be able to pursue its ballistic missile
defence program and is planning to deploy it in near future and If India
does so it will assure its second strike capability. Although BMD is
defensive technology, highly expensive and technologically uncertain but
its possession fortifies a state to adopt offensive policies. India has
moved from deterrence to pre-emption compelling states to further
improve their response option which destabilizes the strategic equation
of the entire region.