After testing the over 5,000km Agni V missile, which traveled up to 600km into space during its parabolic trajectory, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) now feels it can fashion deadly anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in double-quick time.
Agni V’s launch has opened a new era in developing space weapons. Apart from adding a new dimension to our strategic defence, it has ushered in fantastic opportunities in, say, building ASAT weapons and launching mini/micro satellites on demand. The ASAT weapon would include marrying Agni V’s propulsion system with the “kill vehicle” of the under-development two-tier BMD (ballistic missile defence) system that has been tested a few times to track and destroy hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the Earth’s atmosphere.
An ASAT weapon would require to reach about 800km altitude… Agni V will give the boosting capability and the ‘kill vehicle’, with advanced seekers, will be able to home into the target satellite.
The government had not given its nod for the ASAT programme. “India does not believe in weaponization of space. DRDO is only contemplating about having the capability. There are no firm plans for offensive space capabilities. The fact, however, remains there is a re-think on the entire issue ever since China shocked the world by using an ASAT weapon to destroy an old satellite in 2007.
Beijing has set a scorching pace in developing advanced ASAT capabilities with “direct-ascent” missiles, hit-to-kill “kinetic” and directed-energy laser weapons. The defence ministry in 2010 had even drafted a 15-year “Technology Perspective and Roadmap”, which held development of ASAT weapons “for electronic or physical destruction of satellites (2,000km altitude above earth’s surface) and GEO-synchronous orbits” a thrust area.
Consequently, apart from directed energy weapons, defence scientists are focusing on “space security” to protect India’s space assets from electronic or physical destruction. Another spin-off from Agni V test is that the DRDO feels it can work towards launching mini-satellites for battlefield use if an adversary attacks the country’s main satellites.
‘The mini-satellites will provide communication, navigation and some sort of GPS to armed forces for a limited time.
Agni-V in itself is a stronger booster shot for India’s dissuasive deterrence posture, bringing as it can the whole of China under its strike envelope. An even more potent missile with MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) warheads is in the pipeline, which is likely to be named Agni-VI.
The govt. has not placed a cap on missile ranges. Agni-V’s ”over 5,000-km range” was sufficient to take care of India’s current threat perceptions. ‘DRDO has no problem in augmenting the range if in the future, threat perceptions change. India is not in a missile race with anyone and is building missiles to mitigate current threats.
Source from India Defence News.