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India successfully tests interceptor missile

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Interceptor ballistic missile defence system was successfully flight tested off the coast of Orissa on Sunday.. Photo: PTI.

BALASORE, ORISSA (PTI): Fortifying its defence, India Sunday successfully test-fired indigenously developed interceptor missile, capable of destroying incoming hostile ballistic missile, from a test range off Orissa coast.

The 'hostile' target ballistic missile, a modified surface-to-surface 'Prithvi', was destroyed at an altitude of 16 km over the Bay of Bengal during the test firing, Integrated Test Range (ITR) Director S P Dash said.

The target missile first lifted off from a mobile launcher around 0933hours from the launch complex-3 of ITR at Chandipur-on-Sea, 15 km from here.

In less than three minutes, the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur, received signals from tracking radars installed along the coastline and ripped across at a speed of 4.5 Mach to destroy the 'hostile' missile.

"It was a fantastic launch. The trial, conducted from two launch sites of ITR off Orissa coast for developing a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, was fully successful," Dash said.

"After the launch of 'target' and 'hit' missiles from their launch sites, detailed results and the 'kill' effect of the interceptor were being ascertained by analysing data from multiple tracking sources," a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said soon after both the missiles roared in to the skies leaving behind a thin white ribbon of smokes.

"While the interceptor designed for endo-atmospheric condition (up to 30 km altitude) is a seven-meter long and single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile, equipped with an inertial navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator under command by the data uplinked from sophisticated ground based radars, the interceptor designed for exo-atmospheric condition is a two stage missile," sources said.

The interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.

This is for the sixth time that the DRDO scientists are testing the interceptor missile.

The previous trials were conducted on November 27, 2006, December 6, 2007 and March 6, 2009 from Wheeler Island.

The fourth test which was scheduled in mid March 2010 was put-off twice. Due to some technical glitches in the sub-system of the missile, the mission was aborted prior to take off on March 14.

The next day on March 15, 2010 the target missile, modified 'Prithvi' deviated from its pre-determined trajectory, which forced the scientists of DRDO to put-off the launch of the interceptor missile in last minutes.

However, the last trial, fifth in its series, conducted on July 26, 2010 incorporating some new technologies to the interceptor missile was a success.

As a safety measure, Balasore district administration has temporarily shifted 401 civilian families, a total of 3221 people, residing within two km radius of ITR launch pad-3 at Chandipur Sunday morning to the nearby shelter centres.

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