INS Anvesh undergoing sea trials in the Indian Ocean Region

Sea trials of India's first floating missile test range (FTR), INS Anvesh, are set to begin this month with the ship expected to be commissioned in the next two months. Built by Cochin Shipyard and designed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the nearly 9000 tonne ship will be used to test missiles up to range of 1500 kilometers deep inside the Indian Ocean without the threat to population or sea traffic as well as land mass limitation.

India is expected to commission at least four ships this year with ballistic missile tracking ship INS Dhruv being handed over to National Research Technical Organization (NTRO) on September 10. Stealth guided missile destroyer INS Vishakhapatnam and diesel attack submarine INS Vela, fourth of the Kalvari class, will also be commissioned by the end of the year.

Once commissioned, the FTR INS Anvesh will bring futuristic missile projects up to speed as it will provide for a ready-made safety corridor without going through the tedious exercise of issuing NOTAMs to ships and aircraft flying in the area. While the DRDO missile testing site at Wheeler Island off Odisha is under the scanner of the adversaries, the FTR will also allow discreet testing of missiles and torpedoes 400 to 500 nautical miles into the sea.

While only a select group of nations operate FTRs, the DRDO has specific plans to use the vessel, equipped with electro-optical missile tracking, S-band radar tracking, telemetry devices apart from a launch pad, control and mission control center, for testing its phase II of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor missiles. The phase II of the BMD envisages intercepting and destroying enemy missile up to range of 2000 kilometers by kinetic force with the FTR allowing live testing of the interdictor missiles and not computer simulations.

The FTR will also allow for live missile and torpedo firing by the Navy as well as surface-to-surface tactical missiles with the Indian Army.