India Studying NATO Offer On Joining Mssile Defence Shield Programme

 The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) invitation to India
in the first week of September to be a partner in its ballistic missile
defence (BMD) programme is being analysed, according to V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

“We are analysing the report. It is under consideration,” he said on
September 30 after the successful launch of the Agni-II ballistic
missile from the Wheeler Island on the Orissa coast.

India has so far conducted six interceptor missile tests as part of its
quest to establish a credible shield against ballistic missiles launched
from adversarial countries. Of these, five interceptor tests, including
the first three in a row, were successful.

The first interceptor missile test took place in November 2006.

These six tests featured a missile launched from the Integrated Test
Range (ITR) at Chandipur on the Orissa coast, mimicking the path of a
ballistic missile coming from an “enemy country” and an interceptor
launched from the Wheeler Island destroying the incoming missile in
mid-flight.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is the author
of India’s BMD programme and Dr. Saraswat is the programme’s architect.
He is DRDO Director-General.

 Ballistic Clash
A top DRDO official had
described an interceptor destroying an incoming ballistic missile in
mid-flight as “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”
After
three successful test-flights of Shourya, Prithvi-II and Agni-II
missiles, all surface-to-surface missiles, on September 24, 26 and 30,
the DRDO is getting ready to launch Agni-II Prime from the Wheeler
Island. “The two stages of Agni-II Prime, their rocket motors and the
re-entry vehicle are ready,” the DRDO Director-General said.

Tessy Thomas, Project Director, Agni-II Prime, said: “We are flying”
the Agni-II Prime in the first week of November and that “everything is
ready” for the launch. The two-stage missile has a range of 3,000 km. 
It
will lift off from a road-mobile launcher, that is, a huge truck. Ms.
Thomas was confident that a problem in the control system of Agni-II
Prime in its maiden flight in December 2010 would be overcome this time. 
The DRDO is also busy with the maiden launch of
the Agni-V ballistic missile in December. The three-stage,
surface-to-surface missile can take out targets 5,000 km away.

On schedule

“Agni-V
is on schedule. We will launch it as announced by the Raksha Mantri
[Defence Minister A.K. Antony] by the end of this year,” said Avinash
Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO. “All
the sub-systems have been tested.” 
Both the Agni-II Prime and Agni-V can carry nuclear warheads.

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