NEW DELHI, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Bent on becoming a regional superpower, India is pursuing ways to develop laser-guided anti-ballistic missiles.
Dubbed direct energy weapons and developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization, the new weapons are intended to kill incoming, hostile ballistic missiles "by bombarding them with subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves," the Defense News Web site reported.
In a planning document written earlier this month, India's Defense Ministry said it would place what it called its highest priorities on direct energy weapons for the next 15 years. Trials of the weapons are expected within the coming years should scientists stay on schedule with the development program.
Indian scientists say they have already begun testing. The defense dazzler was reported to be one of the first weapons put to test, engaging enemy aircraft and helicopters within a range of 6 miles.
This system alone, Defense News reported, will be inducted into the country's defense apparatus by 2012.
"Lasers are weapons of the future. We can, for instance, use laser beams to shoot down an enemy missile in its boost or terminal phase," The Times of India recently quoted Anil Kumar Maini, who heads the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization's Laser Science and Technology Center.
The direct energy weapons are capable of producing 25-kilowatt pulses that can destroy intruding missiles. They are said to be considered by the Indian navy for deployment on submarines and destroyers. They may also be mounted on combat aircraft and transport planes.
India's designs come amid efforts to establish a defense shield capable of knocking down hostile ballistic missiles.
Should India succeed, it will join Israel, Russia and the United States in both developing and owning such defense technology.
Although manufactured domestically, the system's tracking and fire control radars have been developed with Israel and France.
Bent on bolstering its military might, India announced plans recently to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012.
In recent months, for example, it inducted a long-range nuclear-tipped missile into its armed forces, unveiling, also, a defense spending budget spiked by 24 percent since last year.
The moves have Pakistan fretting, with leading officials billing India's drive a "massive militarization."
The Times of India reported that laser-based weapons would comprise one component of a wider India missile defense network now under development. The newspaper noted, however, that the country's Defense Research and Development Organization is known to make claims regarding technology that it cannot ultimately produce.