India’s Missile Defence Systems

Ballistic Missile Defence System

  • 2-tier missile defence system
  • Aimed at intercepting aerial threat from ballistic missiles that have ranges upto 5000km at altitudes both outside (exo) and inside (endo) the atmosphere
  • 1st layer: Endo
    • The single stage solid rocket-propelled Advanced Air Defence (AAD) low-altitude interceptormissile. (Ashwin)
    • The AAD interceptor missile is primarily designed to intercept enemy missiles in the endo-atmosphere at altitudes of 20-40 kilometers.
  • 2nd layer: Exo
    • Prithvi Air Defense Vehicle known as Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor is designed to destroy missiles with ranges 300-2000 km at exo-atmosphere (about 80km altitude).
    • For higher altitudes upto 150 km, Agni-V-based ballistic interceptors would be used. (because of 5000km range)

Multi-Layered Air Defence System: S-400

Alternatives: THAAD and Patriot

  • India has signed a deal with Russia to acquire S-400 Triumf multi-layered air defence system.
  • S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
  • S-400 layered defence system can intercept all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles up to the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km
  • Capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
  • Note: USA is offering THAAD and Patriot as alternative to S-400 to India.



Barak-8 Long and Medium Range SAM

  • Medium-range surface-to-air missile system being developed jointly by India and Isreal.
  • It will have an interception range of 70-100 km.
  • Part of naval air defence system to be used aboard INS Vikrant (under construction)
  • Maximum speed of Mach 2.

Akash Medium-Range Surface to Air Missile System

  • India has 2 regiments of the indigenous Akash systems which are capable of multi-target engagement.
  • It can strike targets up to a range of 25km and altitude of 18,000m.

Multi-layered Air Defence System for Delhi

  • India is developing a multi-layered air defence system for its cities besides air defence system for tactical battle areas.
  • 1st layer: 2-tier Ballistic Missile Defence System
  • 2nd Layer: S-400 layered defence system 
  • 3rd Layer: Barak-8 long and medium range SAM
  • 4th Layer: Akash medium-range surface to air missile system
  • 5th Layer: NASAMS-2


  • India is acquiring NASAMS-2 from US.
  • NASAMS 2 will form the inner-most layer of Delhi Area Air Defence Plan that has been conceived of.
  • It will be deployed to protect vital assets and people in the National Capital region of Delhi including President’s house, Parliament etc.
  • It renders quick-reaction 3-dimensional protection at low altitudes of 5 km to various types of aerial threats ranging from drones to ballistic missiles.


  • 12 multi-missile launchers to launch both advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles AMRAAMs and Stinger surface-air-missiles
  • Sentinel X-band 3D radars
  • 4 Fire distribution centres
  • Advanced electro-optical/infrared sensor system vehicles.

Hypersonic Missiles

  • Travels at Mach 5 or higher (more than one mile per second)
  • They typically consist of a Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or Scramjet propulsion system to enable such high speeds.
  • Scramjet engine collects oxygen from the atmosphere as it is travelling and mixes the oxygen with its hydrogen fuel, creating the combustion needed for hypersonic travel.
  • India is developing a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)
  • It is an unmanned scramjet (allowing supersonic combustion) demonstration vehicle that can cruise to a speed of mach 6 (or six times the speed of sound) and rise up to an altitude of 32 km in 20 seconds. It has been developed by DRDO.
  • There are 2 types of Hypersonic Weapon Delivery Systems
    • Hypersonic Cruise Missiles (HCM)
    • Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV)


  • They are a mix of the speed of a ballistic missile and maneouvering capabilities of a cruise missile
  • While cruise missiles achieve speeds of 550 mile per hour, the hypersonic missiles aircrafts can reach speeds more than 3500 miles per hour.
  • Capable of penetrating any antimissile defence system currently available that are designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles.
  • Specifically designed for increased survivalibility against modern ballistic missile defence systems.
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