India has quietly inducted INS Dhruv, a first-of-its-kind, nuclear missile tracking vessel that has capabilities to monitor launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at long range using its primary X-Band and a secondary S-Band AESA Radar to scan for launches in the area. INS Dhruv will also be used to record telemetry data of long-range missiles by India during its developmental phase.

INS Dhruv will also be used to gather electronics intelligence on missile launches made by the rivals in the region so that trajectory data and other missile flight profiles can be studied to improve the effectiveness of the Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.

India has completed Phase-I of its Land-based Ballistic Missile Defence Shield and has started work on Phase-II, which will see the development of the longer-range Interceptors missile. INS Dhruv will play a critical role in the development of the Phase-II of India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Shield, which will also see a larger role of the sea-based element of its BMD program.

DRDO is also developing Technology Demonstration Vessel (TDV) also called “Ship No.20” that is been constructed at Cochin Shipyard Limited. Ship No.20 has a length of 118.4 meters, a width of 20 meters, and a draft of 7.1 meters, and weighing 3,900 tonnes. the ship remained a mystery for a while since it was not as big as INS Dhruv but still was speculated to be a smaller missile tracking vessel that might have been developed as a secondary vessel to back INS Dhruv, but it isn’t.

Older satellite images confirmed that the Ship No.20 doesn’t have large sections for placement of Primary or secondary long-range Radars nor it has enough space on the decks for future installations, but it does have a large crane at the stern of the ship seems to indicate that it will be used to map the floor bed or to test undersea sensors and sonars for other research purposes, but fresh satellite images confirm the installation of LRDE developed Dual-panel LR-MFR (Long Range Multifunction Radar ).

Less has been said of LR-MFR and very little has been written of the radar, but it is often said that the AESA radar has a range of 500km+ and is used to guide missiles to its target. now it is confirmed that the ship also will have four units of a ship-launched canister missile system that has a storage position and a launch position of 90 Degree. Since there is no clarity for what purpose this Ship No.20 will be used, it speculated now that it will be used to test new bread of ship-based Ballistic Missile Interceptors missiles that will be different from its Land-based cousins.

Since Ship No.20 is classified as a Technology Demonstration Vessel (TDV), its role likely will be to test and certify missile defense interceptors against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles that might find their way into next generations of cruisers and destroyer class warships that will be purpose-built to be part of the sea-based element of its India’s Ballistic Missile Defence Shield.

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Article by TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR , cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or