Panjrath Writes: The successful test firing of the PDV Interceptor fired at a target missile ‘developed for mimicking a hostile ballistic missile approaching from more than 2000 km away’,[i] on 11 Feb 17 is a landmark achievement. The Press Information Bureau (PIB) release stated, “with this commendable scientific achievement, India has crossed an important milestone in building its overall capability towards enhanced security against incoming ballistic missile threats. It has entered an exclusive club of four nations with developing capabilities to secure its skies and cities against hostile threats.”[ii]
The import of this technological success is particularly relevant when viewed in the context of recent developments related to missile technology by both China and Pakistan. Pakistan recently claimed to have successfully carried out the first-ever test of its nuclear-capable Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) from a submerged platform[iii], though the claims were later refuted by some analysts[iv]. More disconcertingly, there were reports by US intelligence agencies that China had successfully tested a new version of the Dongfeng DF-5C missile using 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs[v]. The credibility of these capabilities & claims notwithstanding, there is no denying the fact that India faces serious missile threat (both nuclear as well as conventional) from both its major adversaries who are not only vigorously pursuing their respective indigenous missile development programmes, but also colluding with each other to a great extent.
Therefore, this successful test of the Exo-Interceptor as part of the first phase of Indian Ballistic Missile Defence BMD Programme is a definite shot in the arm for the security establishment. This must be carried forward to an effective deployable configuration, not only for the protection of our major towns and assessed ‘counter value’ targets for the adversary, but also to provide an effective shield and requisite survivability to our nuclear & conventional forces when deployed the field i.e the ‘counter force’ targets for the enemy during hostilities. For this, it is necessary to work relentlessly to achieve similar success in associated technologies. Towards this, an effective missile surveillance and monitoring network as also an efficient, robust and survivable Command & Control set up for the BMD are indispensable.
Further, given the wide spectrum and range of nuclear delivery vehicles being developed by the adversaries as part of their overall conflict management strategy, we must also endeavour to quickly empower our conventional forces to be ready to fight dirty in a Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment. It is also time to think unconventionally so as to develop capabilities and solutions, both kinetic and otherwise to deal with the persistent sub conventional conflict, suitably garnished with regular nuclear sabre rattling, being waged by Pakistan.