India completes its first Floating Test Range (FTR), a platform for launching and observing prototype missiles, which will pave the way for the upcoming anti-ballistic missile test next year, according to recent media reports.
What are the new highlights of the technical performance of the FTR? And what have been the strategic considerations of India to conduct research and development of FTR and carry out anti-ballistic missile test? Here senior military observer Song Xiaojun provides an in-depth analysis for us.
FTR is not that difficult to build
India's new Floating Test Range is actually a 200-meter-long and 60-meter-wide ship with the displacement of 10,000 tons. It is equipped with the state-of-the-art photoelectric missile tracking, S-band radar tracking and telemetry devices, plus offshore launch platform and launch control center. Although only a few countries have the capability to test floating missiles at sea, military observer Song believes that the construction of the test range is not that difficult.
Song: Put simply, the FTR facilitate the missile testing at sea. At present, there are many countries using warship as the platform to launch missiles. And India only uses an offshore platform as the launch station and control center for various tests.
Moreover, the construction of an FTR is actually not much of a challenge for India. The development of the aerospace industry and the entire space missile field in India witnesses a relatively high localization rate. India also has certain advantages in integrating Russian or Israeli anti-missile or missile technology, and even complex technologies. Moreover, considering the missile theory, its industrial chain coverage is not very broad relatively. Therefore, personally I believe that it is not too difficult for India to build an offshore floating test range.
FTR improves the quality and efficiency of India's missile tests
Missile test on land test sites requires wide-range airspace and large-scale personnel evacuation in advance. Besides, the missile range can only be strictly controlled within 300 kilometers, completely incapable to carry out multi-ballistic tests. India's newly built offshore platform will break through such restrictions and help improve the quality and efficiency of its missile tests.
Song: At present, India is advancing its anti-satellite and anti-ballistic missile tests. If that's what India said, it has X-band radar, photoelectric missile tracking system and remote control device, and its technical nodes or key devices of anti-ballistic missile capability are under development, then, it can be considered that India has met the initial requirements for the construction of anti-ballistic missile system.
If India's offshore anti-missile test platform technology is generally mature, which means it can conduct anti-ballistic missile tests at each stage following regular process, then undoubtedly, that can provide perfect technical support for strengthening land-based anti-ballistic missile capability. This is because that the offshore anti-missile test platform has great flexibility and the operating conditions are much more convenient than that on land, which is very helpful to speed up the test of the entire anti-ballistic missile system. So from this perspective, the offshore platform provides very important assistance to the capacity building for the second phase of India's anti-ballistic missile testing.
India's continuous anti-ballistic missile tests will intensify arms races in South Asia
According to this year's plan, the Indian armed forces have wrapped up the first phase of the anti-ballistic missile system test in April, which can protect the security of the Indian capital, New Delhi and its financial center, Mumbai. India plans to launch the second phase of the anti-ballistic missile interception test and other new missile tests next year, so that the anti-ballistic missile umbrella can cover its eastern territory.
Song: India mainly targets Pakistan, which does possess good missile strike capability. If India continues to advance anti-ballistic missile tests, it may aggravate the arms race or missile race in South Asia. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and they will conduct an arms race on missile nuclear weapons, including anti-ballistic missiles. While for Pakistan, it faces big difficulties due to its technical disadvantage and capital restrictions, so, it will very likely to shift emphasis on the missile penetration capability, which will undoubtedly intensify the arms race in South Asia.