A secretive naval ship, known only by its designation, VC11184, has been built by the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL), Vishakapatanam under a classified project which began four years ago.
Details about this ship virtually non-existent as both HSL and Indian navy are maintaining complete secrecy on the missile-range instrumentation ship, which will be India’s most advanced and largest ocean surveillance vessel. The primary objective of this ship will be track incoming ballistic missiles.
The ship was to be delivered by August 2015, but it was stuck in logistical delays. The warship is 175m in length with a displacement of 10,000 tonnes.
The project is being directly monitored by PMO given its strategic implications and importance and is being fast-tracked. Given that India is surrounded by two nuclear-armed nations, China and Pakistan, both of whom have less than favourable relations with India, it will serve to secure a measure of protection to Indian interests.
This ship will constitute a part of India’s overall two layered ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, which has made significant progress. In Feb 2017, India successfully test-fired an interceptor missile designed to intercept and destroy hostile ballistic missiles in space.
India’s BMD consists of a two-tier system which comprises of two sea and land-based interceptor missiles–the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for low altitude interceptions, and the Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for higher altitude interceptions.
The Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is designed to intercept inbound ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere. It is a two-phase missile with the highest deflection height of 80 km. The maximum range of PAD is 2,000 km
The Advanced Air Defence (AAD) is also an interceptor missile capable of intercepting inbound missiles in the endo-atmospheric region at a height of 30 km. It is a single stage missile which is solid fuelled.
Both the missile system share navigational controls. With the addition of the tracking ship, early detection and destruction of hostile ballistic missiles is likely to be enhanced significantly.