NEW DELHI — To ensure the early induction of India's homemade ballistic missile defense system, the country's Ministry of Defence has directed the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization to urgently submit a final induction strategy and timeline for the BMD system.

A senior MoD official said the ministry "is even considering to carry out an audit of DRDO claims about the performance of the tests."

Despite tall claims made by DRDO five years ago regarding completion of the first phase, there remains no word from the agency on the project's completion, the MoD official added. DRDO has been developing the indigenous BMD system since 1995.

It was in the wake of the system's delay that India last year cleared the $5 billion purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia; however, the final contract is yet to be inked.

DRDO had earlier said that by 2012 or 2013, the first phase of the BMD shield would be ready to protect New Delhi from hostile missiles with a 2,000-kilometer range. It also boasted that by 2016, the second phase would be operational, allowing the system to kill hostile missiles with a 5,000-kilometer range.

Regarding a potential audit of the authenticity of DRDO's BMD system claims based on a variety of tests, Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general, said: "It is important to know whether the interceptor missile hit the incoming missile during trials because a remote fuze can also detonate the incoming missile, and there is no guarantee whether the incoming missile [was] actually hit by the interceptor missile."

In February this year, a top DRDO scientist said the homegrown anti-ballistic missile Prithvi Defence Vehicle, or PDV, traveling at supersonic speed destroyed a target at an altitude of 97 kilometers in the exo-atmospheric region. The PDV interceptor missile is capable of killing an incoming missile with a strike range of around 2,000 kilometers outside the Earth's atmosphere.

PDV is said to be an upgraded interceptor missile with a range of 50-150 kilometers and is set to will replace the Prithvi Air Defence missile, which has a range of 80 kilometers.

DRDO has successfully test-fired both exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric interceptor ballistic missiles.

India's BMD system consists of a long-range tracking radar developed in partnership with Israeli company Elta. It is based on the company's EL/M-2080 Green Pine radar used in conjunction with Israel's anti-ballistic missile system Arrow.

The second component of India's BMD system is the computerized command and control system that plots and predicts the intruding missile's flight path and assigns interceptor missiles to destroy it.

The third component is the interceptor missiles and includes the exo-atmospheric missiles as well as the endo-atmospheric missiles, which can kill an incoming missile at a distance of up to 40 kilometers.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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