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India Tests Intercept of Incoming Missile

India has carried out a test in which it used homegrown missile technology to intercept another missile. As Anjana Pasricha reports from VOA's New Delhi bureau, this is a relatively new technology being developed by a handful of countries.

In Monday's test, scientists used India's surface-to-surface Prithvi II missile to target another missile.

Scientists said the "attacker" missile was launched from the Chandipur test range in Orissa state, and the "defender" missile was fired a minute later from an island to intercept it over mid-sea.

Officials called the test a success, and the Defense Ministry said the country has achieved a significant milestone in missile defense.

Scientists gave no details, but say they are analyzing the data.

Defense analysts say the test was carried out to judge the effectiveness of the Prithvi missiles in intercepting enemy missiles from neighboring countries. Both China and Pakistan have missiles capable of hitting Indian cities.

Uday Bhaskar, at the government-funded Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, says missile interception technology is a relatively new area being explored by a handful of countries. He says the test is significant because it demonstrates that India is exploring the same technology, although the development is at an early stage.

"Much of missile defense is predicated on the ability to intercept an incoming missile, and that itself is a fairly technical domain, and many countries are trying to acquire different degrees of proficiency," said Bhaskar. "So, to that extent, I would characterize it as an important step at a technological level. But I would like to underline the fact that this is very nascent."

Defense analysts say other Asian countries, such as China and Japan, are also investing heavily in missile interception technology, after the United States began placing a greater emphasis on missile defense. The United States was the first country to use it in combat, when Patriot missiles were used to shoot down Iraqi Scuds in the first Gulf War in 1991.

India's arsenal of missiles includes several short, medium and long-range missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads. The Prithvi missile, which was used in Monday's test, has a range of about 250 to 300 kilometers.