India conducts successful test of Prithvi Defence Vehicle

India on September 23, 2018, conducted a successful test of its indigenously designed ballistic missile defence system off the coast of Odisha. With the test, India achieved a major milestone in developing a two-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.

The mission, named Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) mission, aimed to engage targets in the exo-atmosphere region at an altitude above 50km of the earth’s atmosphere. The test was conducted from Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).

Key Highlights:-

1. The mission involved test-firing of an inceptor missile of the coast of Odisha to intercept an incoming ballistic missile off the Bay of Bengal.
2. The test was successful, as both the PDV interceptor and the target missile were engaged successfully.
3. In the automated operation, the radar-based detection and tracking system detected and tracked the enemy’s ballistic missile.
4. The computer network with the help of data received from the radars predicted the trajectory of the incoming ballistic missile. The PDV that was kept fully ready took off once the computer system gave the command for lift-off.
5. The interceptor guided by high-accuracy Inertial Navigation System (INS) supported by a Redundant Micro Navigation System moved towards the estimated point of the interception.
6. Once the missile crossed the atmosphere, the heat shield ejected and the IR Seeker dome opened to look at the target location as designated by the mission computer.
7. With the help of Inertial Guidance and IR Seeker, the missile moved for an interception.
8. All events were monitored in real-time by the Telemetry/Range Stations, at various other locations.

The PDV was first tested in April 2014. The missile interceptor had a “near miss” at an altitude of 120 kilometres. However, in February 2017, the Interceptor missile was successfully test fired from the Abdul Kalam Island.

The PDV is slated to replace the existing Prithvi Air Defense (PAD)/Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor, which has a maximum interception altitude of 80 kilometers. The new two-stage solid-fueled PDV interceptor is fitted with an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker, developed by DRDO, to distinguish between incoming warheads and decoys.

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