India strengthens its Ballistic Missile Defence Program with a successful interceptor missile test

  • India successfully tested its Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) last night which is a part of its two-layer Ballistic Missile Defence Program (BMD).
  • PDV, in particular, is a missle that engages targets 50 kms above the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Earlier reports suggest that the PDV could potentially replace the existing combination of missiles.
Tensions are at a precarious point where China, Russia, the United States, Japan and, of course, India are in an arms race to beef up their economic and military arsenals. India’s newest milestone is a successful test of the the Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) off the eastern coast of the country. This is a part of India's two-layer Ballistic Missile Defence Program (BMD).

Originally announced in 2009 as a defence requirement against China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the PDV engages targets in the Earth’s exo-atmosphere. Targets are usually at an altitude that’s nearly 50 km above the Earth’s atmosphere.

India conducted its test at around 8PM on 23 September from Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of the Odisha, a state on the eastern border of India.


India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Program

The PDV and Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) work together to destroy missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes, and the Ashivin Advanced Defence (AAD) is in place to intercept missiles within the atmosphere at heights of 20-40kms.

So, the BMD system, as of now, can allegedly target medium range ballistic missiles that are travelling between the speeds of Mach 3 and Mach 8.


When the PDV was originally tested in 2014, it missed its target though the launch was still considered a success by the DRDO scientists at that time. During the second test in 2017, reports claimed that the target was destroyed at 100kms.

That being said, India is also speculated to have signed a deal for Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced air defense systems, or SA-21 Growlers. The reports also suggest that the S-400’s in combination with the 40N6 surface-to-air missile, will be superior to what the PDV can accomplish.

In a nuclear arms’ competition, BDM systems play a pivotal role in rendering the opposition obsolete. And, while we understand how the missile works, its true test would be in actual combat conditions.


India’s BDM system puts it in an exclusive group with the United States, Russia, France, Israel and China. These are the only countries in the world with a developed missile defence system.