Stating that India has an active missile shield that has the capability to intercept an incoming ballistic missile, V K Saraswat, the former chief of DRDO and an active member of NITI Aayog, said Saturday that the Russian S-400 Triumf air defence system that India plans to acquire will “complement” the existing system. “The Russian system will complement our ballistic missile defence system,” Saraswat told The Sunday Express on the sidelines of a symposium on “Technologies in Defence and Internal Security” organised at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) on Saturday.
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The deal for buying the S-400 Triumf air defence systems worth $5 billion was announced following talks held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the BRICS summit in Goa recently. These missiles can destroy aircraft, missiles and drones.
“We have a no-first-use policy. Today we have the capability of intercepting missiles at an altitude of 100 kilometres above the atmosphere and 30 kilometres inside the atmosphere. What we do not have is space-based capabilities that will detect the launch of an enemy missile. We need capabilities that can detect the missile as soon as the plumes become visible,” Saraswat said earlier while speaking at the symposium.
The NITI Aayog member said that DRDO through six flights have successfully demonstrated the efficacy of the missile shield. “We need to intercept missiles travelling at a speed of Mach four or five, which is about 1,500-2,000 metre per second. We have to be faster at about 3,000 metre per second. DRDO has done this,” he added.
His said that India began work on its ballistic missile defence systems in 1999 under the leadership of Dr Abdul Kalam. “As a number of countries have developed ballistic missile systems, we need defence systems that have decoys, stealth and can operate from multiple platforms,” Saraswat said.
Status of LCA Tejas
Speaking at the same event, Commodore CD Balaji, director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said that the final operational clearance (FOC) for the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas – that was recently inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF), is expected to get further delayed to middle of 2017. “The LCA has completed about 3270 flight tests…. We are expecting to receive the final operational clearances by the middle of next year,” he said.