Indian ABM System: Options For Pakistan – Analysis


India has become the fourth largest country in the world which has developed its Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) System. This would not have been possible without the assistance of both USA and Israel. ABM intercepts the incoming ballistic missile and destroys it in the air or to be more precise it is a missile for missile defense. Although it is a highly expensive project, but the probability of destroying the incoming missiles is also not hundred percent. India has developed two-tiered ABM system namely Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) and Advance Air Defense (AAD). To begin with, Pirthvi Air Defense (PAD) is known for intercepting at the high altitude between 50-80 km while the latter is for destroying incoming missiles at the low altitude 15-30km.

Currently India has conducted six tests of ABM but out of these six tests only four were successful. India achieved ABMs capability by legitimizing its ‘No First Use Policy’. However on the other side Pakistan has not started its ABM program yet. With the development of Indian ABM system the deterrence stability between India and Pakistan has been destabilized. This development encourages India for a limited war such as Cold Start Doctrine and surgical strikes.

As mentioned earlier ABM project is very expensive and this is one of the main reasons for Pakistan’s economy not being able to sustain this type of project. So instead of developing ABM system a wise move for Pakistan should be to seek economical effective measures against Indian ABMs. However in counter measure efforts there are some alternatives through which ABM system could fail. To begin with there are four ways, ABMs could be a source of failure during any crises situation. Firstly, multiple independent target-able re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) type missiles can fail to it. The reason being that ABM has only one rocket which is programmed to hit only one warhead of the incoming ballistic missile but there are multiple warheads in MIRVs type technology.

The single rocket of ABM cannot destroy the entering of multiple warheads at wide space range. MIRV technology is much cheap than ABM which could make it practically non-workable.

Secondly, the enemy’s ABM could be fail if the other side is equipped with advance technology to jam their radars. In this scenario, one can jam the opponent’s radars before launching the ballistic missile. Thus when enemy’s radars would be jammed failing to detect and intercept the ballistic missile, then one can achieve their objectives.

Thirdly one can launch many balloons with the ballistic missiles. When this ballistic missile re-enters in enemy’s space, then a number of balloons would be open in the atmosphere and the enemy’s radar would not be able to intercept the actual warhead. The reason being that the enemy radar will show various dots on screen, and it would be very difficult to intercept and destroy the actual warhead.

Fourthly in the event of war one can launch many missiles in a go. This situation can create confusion for enemy and its radars and ABMs will not be able to intercept and destroy each missile. In the context of nuclear war, if one missile could successfully explode on the enemy’s soil one can achieve one’s objective of inflicting the unacceptable damage to enemy.

Besides this, there is the fact that the accuracy of ABMs to intercept and destroy the incoming missiles is not hundred percent accurate. It means that in the event of war the chances of failure of ABMs are something that one cannot deny. In this context we can observe that India has conducted six ABMs tests. However out of these six tests, four were successful and two failed. Also Indian ABM system does not cover India as a whole as it covers only important strategic areas such as its strategic facilities.

As mentioned earlier Pakistan’s economy is weak to afford technology like ABMs for its security but what it can do is that it can take cost-effectively measures against Indian ABMs. In this regards, the Army Strategic Force Command, which holds the missiles and nukes, announced in 2004 that Pakistan has shown interest in building multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). This leads to many analysts and thinkers who are of the view that Pakistan has achieved this capability. Pakistan has developed its MIRVs capability for Shaheen II ballistic missiles and is currently working on Shaheen III ballistic missiles. Pakistan is equipped with a sufficient quantity of missiles that can blind the enemy’s radar with balloons technique and burst on enemy’s soil like shower. Pakistan has developed nuclear capability namely ‘Babur Cruise Missiles’ which cannot be detected through radar and it is easily successful in hitting its targets. Moreover the Babur Cruise missile technology can be launched through submarine.

The current condition of Pakistan’s economy does not allow it to opt for such an expensive ABMs project. However Pakistan already processes counter measures in the form of MIRVs, which can be counted towards the strongest counter measure against ABMs. Due to the development of MIRVs by Pakistan it has processes a strategic advantage compared to India and majority of the strategic locations of India are insecure. India acquired the ABMs system of ‘No First Use Policy’ but acquiring the capability of MIRVs technology by Pakistan has made its ‘First Use Policy’ more potent. In the presence of MIRVs, the Indian Aircraft Carrier would also become extremely vulnerable. Compared to technology India still has an edge over Pakistan. So in order to deter the war or maintain deterrence stability, Pakistan would have to maintain ‘First Use Policy’.

According to various Indian officials’ statements, India will complete its project of nuclear submarines INS Arihant in 2012. Keeping in view the advancement of Indian warfare technology, Pakistan should also adopt the way of nuclear submarine. The nuclear submarine gives the surety of second strike capability and works also as a source of maintaining the deterrence stability in the region.

M. Suleman Shahid

M. Suleman Shahid is a Research scholar at the Strategic & Nuclear Studies Department, National Defence University Islamabad, and may be reached at [email protected]

6 thoughts on “Indian ABM System: Options For Pakistan – Analysis

  • August 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Enough is enough, now both india-Pakistan should stop arms race, and take steps toward arms control.

  • October 1, 2011 at 10:39 am

    absolutely kiddish Piece of Writing. The author even does not know that when ever the radar traces a missile, its speed, kinetic energy and signature are locked on. spreading balloons with Missiles gives an impression what Pakistani scientists are upto. They cannot make missiles on their own. rather they can dream of attacking India with balloon.
    Talking about MIRV technology, Agni-V has this technology capable of striking beyond 5000kms. and since India having a second strike capability means in case of successful interception of enemy missile by BMD, pakistan would be vulnerable to Indian counter strike.

    • October 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Dear vaibhav! your comments are more hawkish without logic

  • August 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    I think Pakistan should better focus on problems inside it. The way things are going it is already a failed state.Nuclear weapons have never saved anyone, sound economy is the only way out for Pakistan.

  • January 4, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Kashmir and the water are the main Indo-Pakistan , matters to take the country to nuclear war,we request the both country to solve these two issues to save the
    sub continent from the destructive nuclear war.

  • January 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Clouds of nuclear war between India and pakistan over Kashmir are hovering ,if this issue is not resolved to satisfaction of all the stake holders.The stake holders are pakistan , India and Kashmiris.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *