Ballistic Missile Defence for India
- Category: Contemporary Articles
- Last Updated: Thursday, 02 July 2009 20:07
- Written by Dr Sanjay Badri Maharaj
- Hits: 51744
Unique among the countries of Asia, Indiafinds itself threatened by two nuclear powers - China and Pakistan. The latter, usingthinly-veiled nuclear blackmail tactics, has embarked upon a campaign of terror againstIndia and considers itself immune from Indian retaliation thanks to its nuclearweapons.
To counter this dual threat, India mustmake a comprehensive ballistic missile defence system one of its major defence priorities.Indeed, an effective missile defence network, covering all major military, infrastructureand civilian targets could render the spectre of Indian cities being incinerated by alunatic regime in Pakistan somewhat less likely and would offer a considerable buffer forIndia when considering the nuclear asymmetry vs. China.
It is no secret - thanks to the everspeculative Indian media - that India has expressed considerable interest in a number ofanti-missile systems and has made some small purchases of ballistic missile defencetechnologies. Moreover, DRDO has often expressed the hope that its Akash SAM could offerthe potential for development into an effective anti-missile system and has confirmed thatit is working on a two-tiered missile defence network.
DRDO efforts aside, it is clear thatimported systems would greatly accelerate Indian BMD ambitions and to this end, India isexamining the Israeli Arrow, the Almaz design bureau's S-300 PMU-1/-2 and S-400 and theAntey design bureau's Antey 2500/ S-300VM.
This article will examine India's variousBMD options and attempt to speculate on an effective combination for the comprehensivedefence of India.
The existing Air Defence Network
India's air defence network has twoprincipal components - the Air Defence Ground Environment System ( ADGES ) and the BaseAir Defence Zones ( BADZ ). The ADGES network provides for wide area radar coverage andpermits the detection and interception of most aerial incursions into Indian airspace. TheBADZ system, however, is far more concetrated with radars, interceptors, SAMs and AAAunits working in conjunction to provide an intense and highly effective defensive barrierto attacks on vital targets.
As this article is primarily focussed onthe deployment of ground-based anti-missile systems in the Indian context, it isworthwhile to examine India's current employment of SAMs. The Indian Air Force deployssome 39 SAM squadrons and numerous MANPADS flights.
Most major Indian airbases are protected byup to one full squadron of S-125 Pechora-1b SAMs. Some of the bases closer to the IB andLoC have additional deployments of OSA-AKM mobile SAMs and nearly all bases have close indefences centred around radar directed 40mm Bofors L-40/70 AAA guns and Igla-1M MANPADS.The BADZ controlling these assets usually has a ST-68/U phased-array radar at its hub,augmented by the surveillance and weapons control radars of the SAMs and AAA units andsupplemented by Indra-1 low-level radars.
Non-military targets, such as cities andcritical industrial sites are also well protected with Pechoras and Bofors AAA guns. Inthe past, India deployed as many as 30 V-750 Dvina launchers in 5 squadrons to defendDelhi alone. Now the Dvinas stand replaced by Pechoras, but the basic concept remainsunchanged.
The Indian army operates several regimentsof Kvadrat, Strella 10M and OSA-AKM mobile SAMs but these are intended for the defence ofthe army's field formations rather than for the defence of targets within India.
With upgrades planned and modificationsundertaken in the past, India's BADZs network is a highly effective and most formidabledefensive system against attacks from aircraft and even cruise missiles. It has, however,only the most limited capability against ballistic missiles - a volley launch of Pechorasmight get lucky against a couple of incoming missile warheads - and even the plannedupgrade of the Pechoras will only add marginally to this capability.
With respect to the ADGES network, this hasa highly effective detection capability against medium and high altitude aerialincursions, but - because of the vast area to be covered - has only partial ( thoughextensive ) low-level coverage. The interceptors it controls and the radars at itsdisposal are largely without missile detection or interception capability.
The heart of the ADGES network is the hugeTHD-1955 radar which, despite its upgrades and excellent performance, is ageing. TRS-2215Dand PSM-33 radars complete the array of long-range 3-D surveillance radars. These arehighly effective in detecting aircraft and possibly even cruise missiles but are almostwithout capability against ballistic missiles. Numerous low-level radars are also deployedwith the Indra series being the most modern. Older radars such as the P-19 and P-15 arestill in service but they must be considered as being near the end of their service lives.
It is now wise to briefly examine theexisting set-up in detail. This may be repetitive, but it is essential for the reader toappreciate the strengths and weaknesses of India's air defences.
Indian Air Defences: Sensor Network
The Indian Air Defence Ground EnvironmentSystem employs a three tier detection network. While this system is currently in theprocess of a major modernization program, the basic structure of the ADGES network willremain unchanged. The first layer, rather surprisingly, consists of Mobile ObservationPosts. These remain among the most reliable of the early-warning mechanisms available tothe Indian Air Force.(1) The MOPs consists of two-man teamsequipped with a HF/VHF radio set and field glasses.(2) Thepersonnel in the MOP are very well versed in the visual identification of aircraft as wellas their general direction of flight.(3)
The MOPs are scattered along the borders atrandom intervals, ranging between 25 and 45 kilometres.(4)The MOPs give the first warning of airborne intrusion, the general direction of the attackand, more often than not, the number of aircraft and their type.(5)The MOPs are assisted in this task by personnel from the Indian police forces and RailwayProtection Force who are given some training in aircraft identification.(6)These agencies report via a communications system based on both HF/VHF radio sets as wellas telephone lines. A more advanced communications system based on fibre optic cables andsatellite communications is also available to assist the MOPs in reporting to the radarpicket line.(7)
The radar picket line, which lies about150km behind the MOPs, consists of a number of radar clusters. These comprise three radarstations separated at a distance of the sum of their radii.(8)The equipment issued to these clusters generally comprises one license-made Soviet ST-68/Uand two P-18/-19 radars. These are then flanked by two P-12/-15 radars.(9)The ST-68/U acts as the Control and Reporting Centre ( CRC ).
|P-15 'Flatface' Radar of a SA-3 Pechora SAM Squadron|
Moreover, India has been license producingthe French designed TRS-2215D 3-D surveillance radar for a number of years and has derivedan indigenously built radar - PSM Mk.2 from it. These have probably supplanted most of theolder Soviet-bloc equipment.(10) It should be pointed out,that these radars are all long-range surveillance types with ranges in excess of 300km andgood performance against targets flying at all altitudes - even those employing electroniccountermeasures (ECM) and anti-radiation missiles.(11)
The PSM-33 Mk.2 Radar of the 'Desert Scanners' Unit in Rajasthan.
The ST-68/U is known by NATO as the 'TinShield' radar and has a maximum range of some 350 km with a peak power output of 1.23MW,operating in the S/E/F bands. It is optimised for the detection of low-flying aircraft andcruise missiles employing electronic countermeasures (ECM). The TRS-2215D and PSM-33 Mk.2have surveillance ranges of up to 510km with a peak power output of 660-700KW operating inthe E/F bands and possess a very significant ECCM capability.
|The ST-68 'Tin Shield' Radar equip mobile 'TRU's or Transportable Radar Units in the Indian Air Force.|
These radar pickets are responsible forgiving accurate information on the intruding force to the Air Defence Control Centres(ADCC) located behind the radar picket line. The picket line and the ADCC are separated bya first layer of air defence weapons which are the first to engage the intruders.(12)
The backbone of the Indian Air DefenceGround Environment system is the huge THD-1955 3-D long-range surveillance radar that wasonce in widespread use in NATO. This radar, originally of French design, has been licenseproduced in India for a number of years. This E/F-band radar, though somewhat elderly,still has sterling performance characteristics and is capable of maximum detection rangesof up to 1000 km, though the Indian Air Force usually limits its power to a 400kmdetection range. These form the core of the ADCCs. The THD-1955 has a peak operating powerof up to 20 MW, though its normal operating power is usually 2MW. The radar hascomprehensive ECM/ECCM capabilities and has no real detection altitude limitation. If theradar has one disadvantage it is its sheer size. The Indian Air Force has undertaken toupgrade these radars with digital signal processing and clutter removal techniques.
|Not many pictures of the THD-1955 in IAF service exist. This photograph of a THD-1955 is reproduced from a Sticker Sheet distributed by the IAF.|
ADCCs also keep in touch with the Base AirDefence Zone ( BADZ ) control centres. The BADZ is a scaled down version of the ADGESconfiguration and is geared towards the defence of key air bases and other high valuetargets. The BADZ is limited to an arc of 100km, compared to the hundreds of kilometres inthe case of the ADGES system.
Like the ADGES, the BADZ consists of threelayers. The first of which are the mobile observation posts, followed by a mixed layer ofweapons and their associated radars along with a picket line of low-level radars. Theseare in turn supported by anti-aircraft artillery batteries. This network is controlled bya ST-68U radar.(13) The BADZ provides comprehensive andgap-free coverage over its assigned area of responsibility. Some observers have likenedthe BADZ set-up to the defence pattern of a carrier battle group. Any aircraft attacking avital military target, therefore, not only has to get past the ADGES, but also the farmore formidable BADZ.
Surface-to-Air Missiles andAnti-Aircraft guns
The backbone of the Indian SAM network isthe S-125 (SA-3b) Pechora medium range SAM. This missile is ageing, but has beensuccessfully upgraded with new ECCM and new seeker heads to prolong its service life. Thecurrent SAM network is estimated to be equipped with up to 30 squadrons of Pechoras and4-8 squadrons of SA-8bs.
The Pechora has a range of around 25km anda ceiling of 18km, though it is possible that the upgrades may have increased the range to32km and the ceiling to 20km. Moreover, the 'Low Blow' radar associated with the systemhas been fitted with TV cameras with a 25km range ( it is possible that these may befitted with effective night-vision devices ) enabling the system to engage targets in anintense ECM environment. It has been reported that India is seriously considering an offerby the Russians to upgrade the Pechoras even further - to Pechora-2 standard. A series oftrials were conducted in India in mid-1999 and an order appeared imminent.(14)
|Low Blow Radar in the background provides Acquisition and guidance to the SA-3 Pechoras Battery in the foreground.|
|The existing Radar coverage is also augmented by the older P-19 Russian radars which are on the verge of being phased out.|
For short-range defence, the IAF operates afew squadrons of SA-8b OSA-AKM. This missile, with a range of 15km and a ceiling of 12km,defends several key airbases along the Pakistani border. Though the SA-8b is still a veryviable missile system, a replacement is nearing service.
Last-ditch hard-kill defences are in thehands of a substantial number of Igla-1M (SA-16) man-portable SAMs and a large number ofanti-aircraft artillery regiments from the Indian army operating license-built Bofors 40mmL-40/70 anti-aircraft guns.
The AA guns are radar directed by a mix oflicense made 'Flycatcher' and 'Super Fledermaus' and the indigenous 'PIW-519' radars. The'Super Fledermaus', though ageing, has been extensively upgraded and now represents a verycapable tracking radar with significant capability against difficult, low-flying targetssuch as cruise missiles. The upgraded radar has a range of 90km and is fitted with a newdigital fire control computer.
In addition, licensed built Dutch'Reporter' radars are used for low-level target detection. This system has a range of 40kmand can track up to 20 targets simultaneously. India is upgrading its Flak batteries withimproved electro-optical fire-control equipment such as laser rangefinders and thermalimagers.
India's 17 fighter squadrons - 2 Mirage2000H, 3 MiG-29, 2 Su-30K/MKI and 10 MiG-21 - are of widely varying quality. The MiG-21sare, in large part, equipped only with short-range infra-red AAMs and have only the mostbasic point air-defence tasks. The MiG-29 fleet is better equipped and carries BVR AAMsbut still lacks effective autonomous operational capabilities.
The Mirage 2000s, though highly effective,are handicapped by ageing radars. India's MiG-21 upgrade will confer a massive improvementin the air-defence capabilities of the aircraft while the Su-30MKI is an interceptor ofunmatched ability in Asia.
The MiG-21 fleet is currently armed withR-550 Magic-2 and R-60 air-to-air missiles - the normal load being 4 R-60s. However, over125 MiG-21bis aircraft are currently being upgraded with new Kopyo radars which bestow theability to fire R-73 and R-77 air-to-air missiles, alongside older R-27s. This confers aquantum leap in the air defence potential of the MiG-21bis and with it the air defencepotential of the Indian interceptor force.
The MiG-29B/S are armed with R-60,R-73 andR-27 air-to-air missiles while the Mirage 2000s carry Super 530D and R-550 Magic-2s.However, the IAF has embarked on a limited upgradation program for its MiG-29s, beingundertaken at Ozhar, which will confer the ability to fire the R-77 missile. Moreover, theIAF has adapted the MiG-29 to fire Super 530D and R-550s, while the Mirage 2000s havecarried out trials with R-27, R-60 and R-73 AAMs. It is not inconceivable that the Mirage2000 fleet may be cleared to fire the R-77 in the not too distant future.
The IAF plans to further modernize itsinterceptor force with Sukhoi Su-30 and its much delayed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). TheSu-30 force is gradually taking shape with twenty-eight out of the 50 aircraft orderedhaving been delivered. It has been reported that a further 10 aircraft are now ready fordelivery. The definitive Indian Su-30MKI possesses a powerful phased-array radar andthrust-vectoring engines alongside a highly sophisticated EW suite. More Su-30s will beobtained to eventually produce a force of approximately 8 squadrons. These aircraft,besides the normal R-73, R-27 and R-77 AAMs, routinely carry long-range versions of theR-27 which enable the aircraft to engage targets at ranges exceeding 130km .
India's LCA is slowly moving towardsservice sometime before 2010. This single engine aircraft is a small and highlymaneuverable air-superiority fighter with significant ground attack potential. A newactive-radar homing AAM - the Astra - is under development for this aircraft and has aplanned range of 100km.
To these dedicated fighter defences must beadded India's tactical strike aircraft - all of which routinely carry air-to-air missiles.The Jaguars, MiG-27s and MiG-23BNs can fire a mix of R-60 and R-550 short-range air-to-airmissiles.
Shortcomings of the ExistingNetwork
There is little doubt that the current airdefence set-up is formidable and presents an effective challenge to aerial attacks uponairbases and important installations in India. With upgrades to radars, aircraft andmissiles, this network is likely to remain a viable defence against air and cruise missileattack for the foreseeable future.
However, though India will continue to facea threat from air-attacks, the principal menace comes from short, medium and intermediaterange ballistic missiles launched by Pakistan and China. In time, these will be augmentedby stealthy cruise missiles and represent a clear and present danger to the entirelandmass of India - no target, no matter how far from the borders - is immune from attack.
The current air defence network has manyshortcomings with respect to dealing with these future threats and it is worthwhile tosummarize these shortcomings before looking at what needs to be done to upgrade India'sdefences:
1) At present, SAM defences are confined torelatively short-range defence of point targets. Area defence is almost exclusively thepreserve of manned interceptors.
2) Many of the principal long-range 3-Dsurveillance and GCI radars are ageing. Most of the systems are of 1980s vintage and,despite being upgraded, would provide inadequate detection capabilities against stealthycruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
3) Neither the ADGES nor BADZ system istruly nationwide. Defences are concentrated at targets within aircraft range from Pakistanand China. Defences are wholly inadequate around targets deep within India's heartland andin the South.
4) Neither India's SAMs nor mannedinterceptors has any meaningful capability against ballistic missiles.
5) The entire system is insufficientlyhardened to survive an attack by ballistic missiles. It cannot be ruled out that initialattacks would be aimed at suppressing defences prior to a nuclear strike.
In addition to these fundamentalshortcomings, it is also essential to point out that the ADGES network was designed at atime when the missile threat to India from China was at best existential and, fromPakistan, non-existent. How times have changed !
Now, with reference to the shortcomingslisted above and with a clear understanding of India's air defences, it is now proper toexamine the threat that India now faces from its two nuclear armed neighbours.
The probable characteristics of Pakistan'smissiles are as follows:
|Ghauri-1||claimed 1500km||600-700 kg||10-12 in service|
|Ghauri -2||claimed 2000km||700 kg||tested|
|Shaheen-1||700 km||1000 kg||tested / in service ?|
|Shaheen-2||claimed 2500 km||1000 kg||displayed.|
|Hatf-1||80 km||500 kg||in service|
|Hatf-3||600km||500kg||probably Chinese M-9|
Source: J.Hackett BallisticMissile Threat : India & Pakistan CDISS website - www.cdiss.org:80/column3.htm
With a total stockpile of between 30 and 50nuclear warheads, Pakistan is likely to be able to arm a significant proportion of itsmissile inventory with such weapons. The ranges of Pakistan's missiles in service andunder development would put almost all of India within range.(15)
Given its past history of aggression andits recent history of nuclear blackmail supporting military adventurism and terrorism, thePakistan's missiles and their nuclear warheads represent the critical component of thatcountry's feeling of immunity from Indian retribution. Moreover, they provide Pakistanwith the ability to threaten virtually all of India, thus presenting fresh problems forIndian defences.
Pakistan's missiles are all land-based andso their points of launch and trajectories are relatively easy to predict. However,because of the close proximity of the launch sites to India, the warning time in the eventof an attack could be as little as 5 minutes.(16) Thiswould demand an extremely rapid detection, tracking and engagement system.
With over 600 ballistic missiles andapproximately 400 nuclear warheads, China is a most formidable nuclear power withambitions that extend beyond South Asia. China also possesses a substantial inventory ofair and sea launched cruise missiles, some of which are capable of carrying nuclearwarheads.
China's nuclear forces can be summarized asfollows(17):
|Chinese Tactical Forces: End of 2000|
|Delivery Systems||Entry into Service||Range
|Warhead Number and Type||Launcher Number|
|M-9||1988||600||300||Single HE or nuclear||?|
|M-18||1990s?||Single HE or nuclear||?|
|Grand Total||120 |
|1. Nuclear armed.|
|Chinese Strategic Forces: End of 2000|
|Weapon Designations||Launcher Number||Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)
|Warhead Number||Total Yield
|Land Based Missiles|
|Dong Feng-3A (DF-3A)
|40||1 x 2-3.3, or 3 MRV 50-100 kt||40||6-132||16.3-88.7|
|Dong Feng-4 (DF-4)
|20||1 x 2-3.3||20||40-66||31.7-44.3|
|Dong Feng-5A (DF-5A)
|20||1 x 4-5||20||80-100||50.4-58.4|
|Dong Feng-21A (DF-21A)
|48||1 x 0.20-0.50||48||9.6-24||16.4-30.2|
|Dong Feng-31 (DF-31)||0||MIRV x ?||0||0||0|
|12||1 x 0.20-0.50||12||2.4-6||4.1-7.6|
|Xia Class Submarine||1||12 x JL-1|
|120||1-3 x bomb||120||kt to Mt (120 )||120 |
|30||1 x bomb||30||kt to Mt (30 )||30 |
|1. Equivalent megatonnage (EMT) is based on the relative blast effect and is calculated by Y2/3 where Y is the yield in megatons.
2. Assumes 1 Mt nominal average yield (both gross and EMT).
|Chinese Delivery Systems and Characteristics|
|Delivery Systems||Entry into Service||Range
|Warhead Number and Type|
|Dong Feng-3A (DF-3A)
|1971||2800||2150||1000||1 x 2-3.3 Mt, or 3 MRV 50-100 kt|
|Dong Feng-4 (DF-4)
|1980||4750||2200||1 x 2-3.3 Mt|
|Dong Feng-5A (DF-5A)
|1981||13000||3200||500||1 x 4-5 Mt|
|Dong Feng-21A (DF-21A)
|1985||1800||600||1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt|
|Dong Feng-31 (DF-31)||2001?||8000||MIRV x ?|
|New ICBM||2010?||12-13000||MIRV x ?|
|1987||1700||600||1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt|
|Xia Class Submarine||1987||12 x JL-1|
|2010?||8000||600||1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt|
|1965||3100||4500||1-3 x bomb (kt to Mt)|
|1970||400||1500||1 x bomb (kt to Mt)|
As can be seen, China's forces are trulyformidable in the South Asian context. However, set against this must be the fact thatChina's ICBMs are intended primarily to deter the United States while some of its IRBMsmight be diverted against Taiwan. Moreover, though nuclear capable, China does not seem tohave so armed more than 120 of its 335 M-11/-9/-18 series of missiles.
In the ( as yet unlikely ) event that Chinachooses to enter into a confrontation with India, China's India-specific nuclear weaponswould centre around its IRBM forces of over 100 DF-3A, DF-4 and DF-21 missiles. It issuggested that the DF-3As will gradually fade from the scene as more DF-21s come intoservice. However, India must factor in these until further information becomes available.Added to these would be M-11/-9/-18 missiles aimed at targets closer to the Sino-Indianfrontier.
Moreover, China's SLBMs lend a completelynew dimension to the potential threat to India, capable of being launched from a widevariety of locations, thus making defensive preparations even more difficult.
Finally, India must contend with China'sbomber forces. With a mix of elderly H-6 bombers and more modern strike aircraft, Chinacould conceivable equip these with cruise missiles for deep strikes into Indian territory.It is not impossible - indeed it is likely - for China to eventually modify some of itsC-601/-611/-801K air-launched cruise missiles for nuclear warhead delivery. Thus Indiawill have to contend with a Chinese nuclear threat encompassing several delivery methods.This further complicates defensive plans for India.
Ballistic Missile Defence Options:Existing Systems
At present, India's ballistic missiledefence plans have revolved around the evaluation of three distinct systems: the IsraeliArrow, the Russian Antey 2500/ S-300VM and the Russian Almaz S-300 PMU-1/-2. Moreover,India has made tentative requests for information on the American Patriot PAC-3. All ofthese systems have advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering.(18)
The American Patriot system has beeninitially designed as an antiaircraft system. In addition, the absence of a need to coverUS territory against intermediate-range missiles has influenced the spectrum of weaponsagainst which this system can be effective. Considering its relatively poor result againstthe Iraq Scud missiles, the Patriot has been successively updated several times.Unfortunately, these updates have not eliminated the fundamental limitations this systemhas with respect to target engagement velocities (up to 3000 m/s, correspondingapproximately to the ballistic-missile extreme range of 1000 km). It is noteworthy thatthe last Patriot modification could not pass the testing phase for several years. InAugust 2002, after a series of failures, it was officially announced that there would beabout a one-year delay in the start of system manufacturing.
Unlike its competitors, the Patriot doesnot have its own ballistic-missile acquisition aid. During the Gulf War, over-the-horizonradars deployed in Turkey and satellite surveillance systems were used to detect Scudmissiles. The cost of such information support is not generally included in the initialprice of American Patriots. In India's case, the additional problem of US approval must beconsidered. The United States - with typical shortsightedness - has balked at fullysharing ballistic missile defence systems and technologies with India.
The main advantage of the Israeli Arrowadvanced air-defence missile system (ADMS) is its capability to engage tactical missilesup to 50-km altitudes and up to 70-km ranges - even up to 90 to 100 km according tosources. However, the Arrow system is designed to engage Iraq's Scud missiles and Iran'sballistic missiles that are capable of destroying targets throughout Israel, with theirrange not exceeding 800 to 1000 km.
Furthermore, the Arrow, like the Patriot,has been optimised to engage launch vehicles intended to deliver conventional or at theoutside, chemical warheads, while the Pakistan missiles, unlike the Iranian and Iraqiones, are capable of delivering small nuclear warheads that may be imperative tointercept. The Arrow's lower engagement level is 8 km and so, will need additional weaponsystems to be deployed for protecting it against aircraft attacks.
The performance analysis of targets to beengaged by the Patriot and the Arrow reveals that these systems will be able to engageabout 50% of these. In combination, however, the Arrow and Patriot could provide areasonably effective defence against ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 1000km.
As a result of its huge US input, the Arrowmissile is subject to US approval and, despite Israel's willingness to supply the systemto India, the United States Department of State has have given no commitment to approvethe sale of the system to India.
Another major strength of the Arrow systemlies in its superb "Green Pine" missile tracking radar. This system can detectmissiles at ranges of up to 500km and provides considerable warning time to alertdefences.(19)
The Russian S-300 PMU-l system and itsmodification - the S-300PMU -2 - reportedly have similar ATBM capabilities to the PAC-3.The Russian systems feature an enhanced capability of changing firing positions quickly,which is important for their survivability on battlefields.(20)
The Pakistan missiles threatening India arebasically similar to the US Pershing-2 missiles that forced Russia to develop the S-300Vand, further, the S-300VM (Antei-2500). The Pershing-2 had a nuclear warhead with a verysmall radar cross-section and delivery range of up to 2500 km. The Pershing-2 missileswere more difficult to intercept than their current Pakistan counterparts. However,Russian specialists were able to develop systems to engage them successfully.
S-300VM ADMS allows engagement of nearlyinvisible ballistic-missile warheads moving at up to 4500 meters per second and launchedfrom distances of up to 2500 km. ADMS includes a dedicated mobile radar capable ofdetecting a ballistic-missile warhead within 3 seconds and deliver timely data for firingagainst it. The S-300VM has the additional advantage in its capability to "cutout" enemy jammers and command-centre aircraft beyond its engagement range of 200 km.
Yet even the S-300VM has significantshortcomings. The ceiling of the S-300VM is around 30km against aircraft and 25km againstballistic missiles and while its range against aircraft may be great, its published rangeagainst ballistic missiles is only 40km. Moreover, reports circulating in India haveindicated that the S-300VM has failed trials at the Pokhran test range.(21)
The Almaz S-400 is a development of theS-300 PMU family with a staggering range of some 400km against aircraft. It has beensuggested that the ATBM performance of this missile is substantial and could providelong-range area defence against air and missile attack. It is also reported that a furtherdevelopment, the S-500 is in progress.
With all these systems on offer to India,it would seem that India has thus far opted for the Arrow as its first choice with variousRussian systems as a second choice. Moreover, DRDO has embarked upon the first steps ofits own ATBM program.
Indigenous BMD efforts andprospects
Given shortcomings in existing foreignsystems and the reticence of the United States to permit the export of India's preferredchoice - the Arrow - it is not surprising that some effort has gone into developing somebasic BMD technologies in India.
India's first efforts in this field can beseen in the much delayed Akash SAM. This medium range SAM, guided by the Rajendra phasedarray radar and linked to a 150km range Central Acquisition radar will provide a limitedATBM capability to India.
The Akash uses an integral ramjet rocketpropulsion system to give a low-volume, low-weight (700 kg launch weight) missileconfiguration, and has a low reaction time - from detection to missile launch - of 15seconds. This allows the missile to carry a heavier warhead (60 kg). The solid-propellantbooster accelerates the missile in 4.5 seconds to Mach 1.5, which is then jettisoned andthe ramjet motor is then ignited for 30 seconds to Mach 2.8 - 3.5 at 20g. Akash has arange of 27 km, with an effective ceiling of 18 km.
The Akash is capable of engaging aircraftflying at tree-top height. Development is on to increase speed, maximum altitude and rangeto 60 km. A dual mode radar/infra-red seeker is also being developed as is a longer rangeversion of the Rajendra radar, to give earlier warning and tracking of ballistic missiletargets.
Rajendra is a 3-D phased-arraysurveillance/engagement radar developed by the Electronic Research & DevelopmentEstablishment (ERDE). Also mounted on a modified BMP-2 chassis, like the Akash, the radaris capable of tracking 64 targets, engage 4 simultaneously and guide up to 12 missiles.The Rajendra has air surveillance, multiple target tracking and multiple missile guidancefunctions via multi-channel monopulse features. It includes fully digital signalprocessing system with adaptive moving target indicator, coherent signal processing, FFTs,and variable pulse repetition frequency. Rajendra comprises a surveillance antenna arraywith 4000 elements operating in the G/H-Band (4-8 GHz), engagement antenna array with 1000elements operating in the I/J-Band (8-20 GHz), a 16-element IFF array and steering units.The range of the surveillance radar is some 60 km against aircraft targets. (22)
The Akash-Rajendra combination is to belinked to a mobile Central Acquisition Radar with a planar-array antenna. This radar cantrack some 150 targets at ranges of up to 150km. It is as yet unclear as to itscapabilities in the BMD role.
The Akash has been primarily developed tomeet the requirements for a successor to the IAF's Pechora SAM and the army's Kvadratmobile SAMs, however, it should have some limited ATBM capability especially against M-9and M-11 missiles.
Moreover, India has announced plans todevelop a two-tier ballistic missile defence system to deal with incoming ballisticmissiles. The system is to use satellites for communications and a unique two layereddefensive line using surface-to-air missile for any incoming ballistic missile attack.(23)
This will no doubt represent a massivechallenge to India's technological capabilities and significant imports may yet benecessary, but the Akash has demonstrated that the basic skills and technologies have beendeveloped and can be substantially enhanced without too much foreign input.
However, assistance may come from asomewhat unexpected source. During Aero India 2003, the European missile giant - MBDA andBharat Dynamics Limited signed a very promising Memorandum of Understanding to extendco-operation in development and also manufacture of all varieties of missile systemsincluding anti-tank, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles required both by the IndianArmed Forces and those abroad.(24)
MBDA is responsible for development of theAster 30 SAM which has a limited ATBM capability in its basic version and a dedicated BMDversion is under development.(25) Should India make fulluse of the MBDA-BDL MoU, technology from the Aster 30 and its variants - if not the actualsystems - could be used to hasten the development of an Indian ATBM system. It is a goldenopportunity and should not be wasted. Joint-ventures and technology transfers are vitalfor progress on ATBM systems in India - Almaz and Antey would do well to heed this.
India has also been enhancing its ballisticmissile detection capabilities by purchasing two Israeli Green Pine radars and a largenumber of Aerostat radars.(26)
It is possible that at least some ofIndia's existing air defence radars have limited ballistic missile detection and trackingcapabilities, but this is as yet inadequate. The induction of the Rajendra and CentralAcquisition radars should alleviate this shortcoming to some extent. However, theinduction of more Green Pine radars and other shorter range radars with ballistic missiledetection and tracking capabilities is absolutely necessary.
Nonetheless, if India is to deploy aneffective BMD system in the near future - 5-7 years - it is probable that imported systemswould need to be deployed in significant numbers alongside indigenous systems. What thenwould be the most effective combination for India ?
Most manufacturers, in seeking to promotetheir own products, try to exaggerate the capabilities of their individual products. Yet,it has been shown that current BMD systems have shortcomings. As such, only a combinationof systems would provide adequate coverage.
Regrettably, the political aspects of thesale of the Arrow ATBM system are now moving into the realms of the surreal. The Americanpenchant for appeasing Pakistan is staggering and the failure of the US to clear the saleof the Arrow to India - a fellow democracy - does not augur well for future India-USdefence cooperation or indeed for political trust.
An Indian BMD network
Any BMD network for India must be able toprovide defence in depth against a variety of threats from China and Pakistan. As has beenshown, these are sophisticated, of varying ranges and capabilities and can attack targetsdeep within India.
The BADZ system provides the basis fromwhich a BMD network can be developed. At present, principal SAMs - the Pechoras - need tobe upgraded but even this upgrade can do no more than provide a limited ATBM capability.Of course this should be done so that even the ageing Pechoras can provide a veneer ofATBM defence.
However, the SAMs of the BADZ must, in thefuture, be fully capable of ballistic missile defence and anti-aircraft/ cruise missiledefence out to the maximum range of the BADZ surveillance systems. To this end, it issuggested that a combination of Akash/ modified Akash SAMs and S-300VM ADMS systems -augmented of course by short-range mobile SAMs of the OSA-AKM class , AAA and MANPADS -should be deployed to defend every Indian air-base and important target throughout thecountry - including targets in the deep South and Heartland of India.
This might sound like a preposterouslyexcessive deployment, however, India can no longer assume that only targets close to theIB, LoC and LAC will be attacked. India's two potential adversaries have the means toattack in depth and as such India must defend in depth.
Cost is an important factor in any decisionand there is little doubt that any extensive BMD system would be very expensive. However,set against this are the following factors:
1) The intial investment for BMD would belarge but maintaining and upgrading the system would represent relatively modest costs.
2) It is likely that any comprehensivesystem could remain in service for several decades without the need for replacement.
3) BMD cannot be seen in isolation. MostBMD system would also dramatically enhance India's defences against air-breathing targetssuch as aircraft and cruise missiles.
The BADZs can at best provide pointballistic missile defence - because of the short ATBM ranges of the S-300VM and Akash -and as a result, it would be necessary to consider the deployment of an additional layerof longer range systems - a combination of S-400 and Arrow ( if it is made available )systems being the preferred choice. The latter two systems being particularly useful inthe defence of India's population and industrial centres as they facilitate engagements atextreme ranges and altitudes.
In other words, India's BMD requirementscannot be served by only a single system but by networking and integrating a variety oftypes. The Akash and its derivatives alongside the S-300VMs ( and modifications/ upgradesthereof ) will form the backbone of the BMD network - supplementing and then supplantingSAMs in the existing BADZ network and expanding that network to cover all airbases andVital Areas / Vital Points ( VAs/ VPs ). To add additional defences to cities, Arrow andS-400 systems must be considered.
In total, some 400 launchers - S-300VM,S-400 and Arrow - might be needed, besides some 200 Akash. This would represent a colossalexpenditure and a massive upgrade of India's current land based air defence cover. Yet, itmust be emphasized once more that the threat has increased to such proportions that thecurrent 120-180 odd Pechora launchers are wholly inadequate to meet future requirements.An alternative would be to wait for Indian versions similar in capability to the S-300VM,Arrow and S-400 to be developed. But does India have that much time ?
1. S.P.Baranwal, Military Yearbook 1990-1991 ( New Delhi : Guide Publications, 1991 ), p.246
2. J.Baranwal, SP's Military Yearbook 1992-1993 ( New Delhi: Guide Publications, 1993 ), p.748
3. ibid p.SS 13
4. ibid p.749
6. G.K.Tanham & M. Agmon, The Indian Air Force: Trends &Prospects ( Santa Monica: RAND, 1995), pp.47-48
7. S.Basu, 'Battle Eyes in the Desert' in the Hindu Weekly Edition: 26August 1995, p.16
8. J.Baranwal, SP's Military Yearbook 1992-1993, p.SS 13
10. B.Blake,Jane's Radar and Electronic WarfareSystems:1995-1996,(Surrey: Jane's Info.Group, 1995),p.17
11. For a more detailed discussion, see Jane's Radar & E.W.Systems as well as the Indian Air Force section of SP's Military Yearbook 1992-1993,pp.738-758
12. Baranwal, SP's Military Yearbook 1992-1993, p.749
14. The Pechoras, after their periodic upgrades, may have a verylimited capability against M-11 type missiles. The IAF would not want to rely on thislimited defence, but it does present an interesting twist to India's SAMs.
15. It is curious to note, however, that relatively few of Pakistan'smissile tests have demonstrated the range capabilities claimed by Pakistan. It is alsovital to note that the Ghauri series are effectively North Korean Nodong missiles withChinese guidance packages while the Shaheen series are Chinese missiles of modified M-9and DF-3A classes.
16. In comparison, the warning time in the event of a Soviet attack onthe US was approximately 30 minutes.
17. See http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq7-2.html
18. 'How Can Indian Cities Be Protected Against Pakistan Missiles ?',VAYU Aerospace Review: VI/ 2002, pp. 18-19
19. Jane's Land Based Air Defence, ( Surrey, Jane's Information Group,1998 ), pp. 256-257
20. Ibid, pp. 133-134
21. Ibid p. 139
23. 'India developing ballistic missile defences to counter missile attacks', Press Trust of India: February 9th 2003
24. 'MBDA and Bharat Dynamics Limited Signed a Strategic Memorandum of Understanding': MBDA Press Release: February 14th 2003
25. Jane's Land Based Air Defence: 1998-99, pp.108-110
26. 'India gets missile tracing Israeli radar', Press Trust of India:June 28th 2002 see also 'India asks Israel to speed up supply of AerostatBalloons', Press Trust of India: June 1st 2002
All Photographs copyright of Jagan Pillarisetti