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What is Ballistic Missile Defence Programme: All you need to know about it

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What is Ballistic Missile Defence Programme: All you need to know about it
Ballistic Missile Defence System that acts as a shield against ballistic missile attacks. (Photo credit: PTI)

New Delhi:
A ballistic missile is a missile with a high, arching trajectory, which is initially powered and guided but falls under gravity on to its target. These are guided only during relatively brief periods. Short-range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth's atmosphere, while intercontinental ballistic missiles are launched on a sub-orbital trajectory. In the early 90s, India faced huge threat of ballistic missiles attack from neighbouring nations. So, to protect the nation from the threat and any kind of attack, it developed Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Program to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system to protect India from ballistic missile attacks.

What Is Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System?

  • It is a missile defence system that acts as a shield against ballistic missile attacks.

  • The purpose is to defend and not attack.

There are two phases:

Phase 1: It has been successfully tested and completed but deployment awaits final official permission.

Phase 2: It is under development.

A BMD Is A Two-Tier Automates System Which Has:

  • An advance radar system, early warning system, integrated command and control centre.

  • Interceptor missile batteries: need to be agile, mobile and strategically located on land and sea.

  • India's BMD is primarily developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with the help of many public and private firms.

There Are Likely Five Possible Configurations of BMD Program:

  • A land and sea-based defence system against all kind of threats.

  • In second configuration, BMD is deployed to protect critical population centres, control and command centres, critical infrastructure centres (including nuclear facility) and major economic zones.

  • Protection is provided to command and control centre, nuclear forces and important citizen population centres.

  • It will provide protection to command and control centres and nuclear forces and the capital in the fourth configuration.

  • The final configuration will involve BMD deployment only around command and control centre and the capital. Its purpose is only for total defence and not able to provide ability counter attack as nuclear forces are left out of it.

Why India Needs BMD?

  • India follows 'No First Use policy'. A robust BMD provides an opportunity to the nation to strike back if a nuclear projectile is launched by an enemy state.

  • India has hostile, nuclear states in its north. It's only practical for the nation to prepare in advance.

  • BMD reduces the incentive for the enemy nation to launch a nuclear attack.
  • An indigenous system would reduce the import bill of defence systems from other nations.

  • Technology developed for BMD can be used in other sectors.


Prithvi Air Defence (PAD): It is an anti-ballistic missile developed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere (Exo-Atmospheric). Based on the Prithvi missile, PAD is a two-stage missile with a maximum interception altitude of 80 km. The first stage is a Solid fuelled motor and second stage is Liquid fuelled.

Advanced Air Defence (AAD): It is an anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 40 km. AAD is a single-stage, solid-fuelled missile with siliconized carbon jet vanes. Guidance is similar to that of PAD with indigenous radio frequency seeker.

Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV): The DRDO is developing a new Prithvi interceptor missile codenamed PDV. It will be a two-stage missile and both the stages will be powered by solid propellants.

Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mark 2: It is a 13 m tall, 18.87 tonnes, three stage missile. Solid rocket motors with flexible nozzles constituted the first two stages, with the Kill Vehicle being the third stage.

Swordfish RADAR: Is the target acquisition and fire control radar for the BMD system.

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