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Can India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Program Counter Pakistan’s Ababeel MIRV Missile?

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Can India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Program Counter Pakistan’s Ababeel MIRV Missile?


IDN believes that the Ababeel Missile is just a routine Pakistani propaganda bluster to counter the substantive threat India’s Advanced Ballistic Missile Defence program poses its security. Program AD has taken decades to accomplish and mature as a credible deterrence mainly against Chinese belligerence, Pakistan in all likelihood is just an afterthought in this equation for India’s policy makers. How can a country which buys its missiles from rouge suppliers develop such a sophisticated piece of weapon in less than 5 years. Its laughable to even consider its viability. Hence, we at IDN feel that there’s no cause  for concern on this big piece of balderdash

Last month, Pakistan successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile, designed to penetrate India’s developing air defence system. The Ababeel weapon system is designed to deliver multiple warheads in a single flight. Once deployed, they can effectively hit targets anywhere in India. China-provided optical tracking equipment played a critical role in the launch of the Ababeel medium range ballistic missile last month.

Ababeel’s second test, first being in 2017, was conducted from the Sakhi Sarwar range in Pakistan’s Punjab province on October 18 for “re-validating various design, technical parameters and performance evaluation of different sub-systems of the weapon system”, according to Pakistan’s public broadcaster.

In a blog post, Antoine Levesques, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said that Ababeel is capable of carrying independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).

What Is MIRV?

A MIRV is a sophisticated missile technology that allows a single ballistic missile to carry multiple warheads, each capable of being aimed at hitting a different target. This technology is significant in strategic nuclear warfare, as it enables a single missile to effectively target several locations simultaneously.

MIRVs were developed as part of the arms race during the Cold War, primarily to increase the effectiveness of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The concept of MIRV involves launching multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (ICBMs and SLBMs) carrying nuclear warheads.

The United States was the first country to have deployed MIRV technology on an ICBM in 1970. Today, the US, the UK, and France use MIRV technology on SLBMs while China has integrated this technology with its ICBMs. Russia is the only country to have MIRVed both its ICBMs and SLBMs, as per the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

India’s MIRV Program

So where does India stand in the MIRV race? Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing its indigenous MIRV technology. Though New Delhi has not officially revealed its plan, media reports talk of at least two tests of Agni Prime missile with MIRV technology.

Agni-P, the latest but miniaturized version of Agni missiles, reportedly carried MIRVs or its decoys during its first test flight in June 2021 and during pre-induction night launch conducted by the Strategic Forces Command – the authority responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile in India.

However, the South Asian giant has not officially confirmed it. The Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation says India is still seeking this capability.

While Agni-P has a range of 1,500-2,000 km, Agni VI – another missile being developed with MIRV integration – can strike targets up to 9,000 kms and 12,000 kms capable of carrying up to ten nuclear/thermonuclear warheads.

Is Abadeel A Threat To Indian Security?

The short answer is no. But MIRV’s capability to deliver warheads hundreds of km apart, experts say, can overwhelm India’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) – currently protecting capital New Delhi and economic hub Mumbai.

Speaking to IT, former Indian Air Force (IAF) Group Captain UK Devnath said: “Normally, surveillance radar can track multiple missiles. However, with MIRV missiles, the challenge is different. The warheads of a MIRV missile are released late in the missile’s trajectory, during the reentry phase.

This timing means that the tracking radar and its operators have a very limited window to analyze the trajectory of each individual warhead. Consequently, they have less time to react and launch separate anti-missile defenses against each warhead, significantly complicating the interception process.”

However, he believes that Russia-made S-400 batteries – currently deployed along the borders with China and Pakistan – are “perfectly capable of tackling any threat from any Pakistani MIRV missile”.

Former director general of the Indian Army Infantry, Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni (Retd) echoes similar views. “With three mobile batteries (of S-400) in location and two more expected early 2025, the Pakistan Air Force stations feel threatened,” he weighed in.

IISS researcher Levesques says the Russian-made surface-to-air missile defence system “presents an immediate challenge to Pakistan’s ability to penetrate Indian airspace, with the subsonic Ra’ad and Babur land-attack cruise missiles being especially vulnerable”.

India’s ballistic missile defence operates on a two-layered approach, comprising the Prithvi Air Defence Vehicle (PAD) or Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) and the Ashwin Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptors.

The PAD/PDV is designed to engage targets at Exo-atmospheric heights ranging from 50 to 180 kms whereas the AAD system can neutralize threats at altitudes between 20 and 40 kms. Both interceptor types have undergone multiple successful tests.

Why Is Pakistan Developing MIRV?

Islamabad believes that India’s rapid development, test and deployment of land and sea-based missiles defences will give Indian armed forces an edge in nuclear strike capabilities, and deprive Islamabad of retaliation.

Pakistan-based analysts argue that Ababeel’s second test was prompted by the successful test by India of the warship-based “endo-atmospheric interceptor missile” defence system in April this year.

On paper, a BMD system looks like a defensive matter, but it is in actuality an offensive development. In this case, BMD is a cardinal part of the Indian nuclear strategy of launching pre-emptive strikes on Pakistan’s counterforce targets while remaining immune from Pakistan’s retaliatory nuclear response,” Pakistani researchers Usman Haider and Abdul Moiz Khan argue in The Diplomat piece.





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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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