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Floating test range for missile defence system

  • India is building a unique floating testing range — a huge ship — to overcome the limitations imposed by the land mass for carrying out missile tests of varying ranges for the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to protect important cities.
  • The system seeks to engage and destroy incoming enemy missiles at different altitudes in the endo- and exo-atmospheres.
  • The first phase of the programme envisages development of interceptors to annihilate incoming missiles with a range of 2,000 km, while the second phase aims to build such weapons to destroy missiles with a longer range.
  • The system will waylay a ballistic missile and destroy it in mid-air.
  • India has so far conducted 10 interceptor missile tests, eight of them successful. Most of the trials were conducted in the endo-atmosphere, and a few in the exo-atmosphere. The first phase of the system is expected to be deployed after some more interceptor trials in deployable configuration. Official sources told that currently the missile testing range on Wheeler Island posed certain limitations as people needed to be evacuated from the villages every time a trial took place.
  • More important, the range of the missile had to be confined to less than 300 km. Also, different trajectories could not be tested.
  • To overcome these problems, scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) designed the floating testing range — a huge ship with a designated displacement equivalent to 10,000 tonnes.
  • The state-of-the-art range would have many facilities such as a launch-pad, a launch control centre and a mission control centre.

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