Pakistan’s Ababeel Ballistic Missile is believed to be equipped with MIRV i.e. Multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle technology. If Ababeel Missile is actually equipped with fully-operational MIRV capability, will it be a major cause of concern for India? EurAsian Times analyses if the S-400 missile defence system can neutralize the threats from MIRV capable Ababeel?
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What is MIRV Technology
A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) is a missile payload system capable of carrying several warheads, having the capability to hit a different target. The concept is almost invariably associated with intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying thermonuclear warheads, even if not strictly being limited to them.
The advantage of MIRV over a single warhead is that the damage produced in the center of the pattern is far greater than the damage possible from any single warhead in the MRV cluster; this makes for an efficient area attack weapon. The number of warheads makes interception by anti-ballistic systems like THAAD or S-400 quite challenging.
S-400 vs Ababeel Missile with MIRV Capability
Ballistic missiles equipped with MIRVs release their warheads typically in the post-boost phase and reduces the potency of a missile defence system, which relies on intercepting individual warheads.
It works like this, a BMD system has a radar which first traces the hostile ballistic missile, then computer system predicts the path of that missile and based on the report, an interceptor is launched to neutralize the incoming missile mid-air. While the MIRV equipped missile like Ababeel can have multiple warheads, interceptors have a single warhead.
As EurAsian Times reported earlier, India is now set to acquire the S-400 missiles defence system, which is considered the best in the world. This is bound to change the equation in terms of Indian ability to defend against hostile missile attacks.
S-400 can track multiple projectiles and is capable of neutralising almost 30 aerial attacks concurrently. S-400 is mobile and can be deployed within five to 10 minutes as soon as the order is received. The S-400 is comparable to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) of the US. The Almaz-Entente Group, which manufactures the S-400, says that the maximum range of 40N6E is 400 kilometers and it can distinguish its target at a height of 30 kilometers.
Ababeel Missile – Will India be Concerned?
Experts in Pakistan, however, claim that India may not be able to fully defend itself from strikes by Pakistani missiles because of the short distance between India and Pakistan. However, it is evident that India would be able to protect its major cities like Delhi and Mumbai from any possible strikes during a war.
Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) had last year pointed out the development of the Ababeel Missile System that is equipped with ‘MIRV’ capability to defeat the air defence system of India. The NCA had described the attainment of Mirv capability as “technological breakthrough of Pakistan’s capabilities”.
Many experts have expressed scepticism as to whether Pakistan really has MIRV capabilities. According to experts that EurAsian Times interviewed, the S-400 missiles will literally make a “No-Fly Zone” for invading Pakistani fighter jets, however, may not be able to completely eliminate all MIRV warheads. The S-400 kill-rate will certainly be very high, but S-400’s exceptional quality can be overcome by the sheer number of warheads.
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