M A I N   N E W S

Agni-III up & ready for induction
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 7
Days after China’s underwater nuclear submarine base was made public by photos taken from spy satellites, India flexed its “missile muscle” and fired the nuclear-capable Agni-III from the Wheeler Island off Orissa coast this morning.

This surface-to-surface missile has the capacity to carry a 1.5 tonne warhead and experts have classified it as “China specific”. This is the second successful test of the missile that can hit targets up to 3,000 km. The 17-m long missile was fired from rail-based mobile launcher that makes it possible to be used from any spot in the country.

It also takes India a step closer to join a select band of countries that have such intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) capabilities and for the first time brings distant cities in eastern China and infrastructure within missile range from India.

The last successful test was conducted in April last year. Sources said the missile system was now ready for induction in the armed forces. Agni I and II that travel for shorter distances, have already been inducted in various variants.

Agni-III is seen as a step towards the next generation Agni-IV that is on the design stage. This one has a 6,000-km range and would effectively bring China's capital Beijing and also the European continent into the range of Indian missiles. The DRDO plans to test Agni-IV sometime next year.

Today when the Agni-III was fired there were no glitches as scientists of the DRDO conducted what is termed as a “text book launch”. The missile followed the trajectory with accuracy.

“All subsystems of the missile functioned in a copybook manner giving an outstanding integrated performance of the missile in terms of range and accuracy,” said defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar, minutes after the launch was announced a success.

The missile fired from Wheeler Island the designated target somewhere south of the equator in just 13.2 minutes. It travelled at a peak height of 350 km with a velocity of more than 4,000 m per second. Two Indian naval ships positioned near the target location south of equator confirmed the impact of the missile, said Kar.

Defence minister A.K. Antony congratulated the mission director, Dr Avinash Chander, and all scientists of the DRDO for the successful launch of the missile.



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