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India Conducts First Test of New Ship-Based BMD System

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Navy successfully conducted a maiden flight trial of sea-based endo-atmospheric interceptor missile off the coast of Odisha in the Bay of Bengal on April 21, 2023. The purpose of the trial was to engage and neutralize a hostile ballistic missile threat thereby elevating India into the elite club of Nations having Naval BMD capability.

Prior to this, DRDO has successfully demonstrated land-based BMD system with capability to neutralize ballistic missile threats, emerging from adversaries.

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO, Indian Navy and Industry involved in successful demonstration of ship based Ballistic Missile defence capabilities.

Secretary DDR&D and Chairman DRDO Dr Samir V Kamat complimented the teams involved in the design and development of the missile. He said that nation has achieved self-reliance in developing highly-complex network-centric anti-ballistic missile systems.


Naval News comments: India’s Sea-Based BMD

The missile and ships involved in the trial were not specified by the Indian MoD. However, a photo tweeted by the Indian Navy revealed that the interceptor is derived from the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile. AAD was developed as a part of Phase-I of India’s BMD program. The photo also indicates that INS Anvesh, India’s first floating test range, was the launch platform.

INS Anvesh with its four ship launch systems. Photo via Indian Navy.

In a secretive ceremony, India had commissioned INS Anvesh (A 41) on March 11, 2022. Built by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the ship is designed to form the building blocks for future naval BMD capability and is primarily intended to take part in Phase-II BMD trials.

To facilitate this, INS Anvesh is equipped with roll damping tanks, missile integration and checkout bay, data processing room and mission control center. To the aft of the ship, four ship launch systems are present along with a 15 ton crane and A-frame for cargo handling. The ship launch systems are developed by Electropneumatics & Hydraulics. These are designed to accept the missile from the checkout bay, secure it during transport and raise it vertically for launch.

BMD Ship launch system
Ship launch system by Electropneumatics & Hydraulics Pvt Ltd. Photo by author.

Phase-II of India’s BMD program involves development of the AD-1 endo-atmospheric interceptor and the AD-2 exo-atmospheric interceptor. The maiden flight trial of AD-1 was held on November 2, 2022. As its development progresses, this missile will also be tested and deployed from naval platforms.

It is likely that the Indian Navy’s missile tracking and surveillance vessel INS Dhruv also participated in the trial.

INS Anvesh

Other than BMD missiles, INS Anvesh is also equipped to test radars, sonars, telemetry equipment and propulsion. It is the Indian Navy’s first medium voltage Integrated Full Electric Propulsion (IFEP) vessel, with a total output of 14 MW produced by diesel generators powering steerable contra-rotating propulsion thrusters. 

Naval AAAU Active Antenna Array Unit
Model of S-band AAAU onboard INS Anvesh by Astra Microwave Products Limited. Photo by author.

The DRDO’s S-band Ship-Borne Radar (SBR) is intended to replace the IAI Elta EL/M-2248 MF-STAR as the primary naval radar of the Indian Navy. MF-STAR is currently fitted aboard Kolkata-class destroyers and Project 15B destroyers (two of which are in service) and will be fitted onboard INS Vikrant and Project 17A frigates. The Active Antenna Array Unit (AAAU) for SBR is being built by Astra Microwave Products Ltd. According to a company representative at Aero India 2023, this AAAU would be delivered in the latter half of 2023. Once built, the SBR would be tested onboard INS Anvesh. The radar is expected to have secondary capability to track ballistic missiles, giving future surface combatants the capability to defeat endo-atmospheric ballistic targets.

INS Anvesh has the following specifications:

  • Length: 118 m
  • Breadth: 20 m
  • Draught: 7.1 m
  • Displacement: 10,300 tons
  • Speed: 18.5 knots
  • Endurance: 45 days
  • Crew: 165 (including scientific crew)