India's successful test to intercept an incoming missile at high altitude has evoked mixed reactions among Chinese military and strategic experts who believe that advances made by India in anti-ballistic missile technology are aimed at strategic deterrence.
India's anti-missile test on Sunday intercepting targets outside the atmosphere is more aimed at "strategic deterrence", as this technology will make its enemies feel the strike power of their missiles is diminished, Wang Ya'nan, a senior editor at Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told state-run Global Times.
The Indian interceptor missile was test-fired from the launch complex-IV on Wheeler Island, just over a minute after the target missile was fired from a ship located nearly 70 km off the Paradip coast.
India is developing a two-tier missile defence system, which will destroy an incoming missile outside the earth's atmosphere, and if that fails, go on to intercept it within the atmosphere.
The missile is capable of destroying an incoming missile with a strike range of around 2,000 km outside the atmosphere.
While some Chinese military experts agreed that India has made progress in missile interception technology, others cast doubt over the significance of the latest launch.
"It's hard to conclude whether India's anti-missile technology has reached a certain level, as they also launched the target missile, so the launch time and ballistic data are all readily available," the daily quoted an unidentified Chinese missile expert.
He said China has developed relatively mature anti-ballistic missile capabilities based on Russia's S300 system which are ready for combat, but India is still experimenting with it.
China bid to sell its Red Flag-9 anti-missile system to Turkey last year in a potential USD 3.44 billion deal, although NATO then exerted pressure on Ankara to abandon the deal, which still hangs in the balance.
Song Zhongping, a former lecturer on missile technology and now military affairs commentator in Beijing, said India's new interceptor missile "could only be similar to the level of Chinese missiles in the 1990s".
He said that the target missile was not advanced and lacks effective evasive techniques which had made it easier for the interceptor to strike the target.
In real combat, however, it is hard for even the most advanced interceptors produced by the US, such as the Patriot missile, to hit Chinese missile targets, another missile expert said.
India has tested seven interceptor missiles in recent years of which six were successful.
The expert admitted China's anti-missile technology is at least 15-20 years away from the US, in terms of the response time,target accuracy and comprehensive information technology.