M A I N   N E W S

N-capable Agni-V clears 2nd hurdle; closer to induction 
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, September 15
India successfully test-fired its inter-continental surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-V from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast today. The missile has a strike range of over 5,000 km and the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead with precision.

The successful testing brings India a step closer to matching China’s prowess in long-range missiles. Beijing’s nuclear missiles can reach targets up to 11,000 km away.

A longer distance firing ability ensures the missile can be fired from deeper within own territory, making it less vulnerable to enemy strikes.

New Delhi is now racing to induct the missile by late 2014 or early 2015. Work is under way to get the missile mobile and fire it using a road-mobile launcher. Agni-V is 17 metres tall and weighs 50 tonnes with three-stage rocket motors to power it on its trajectory. It was first tested in April 2012.

In its second test today, the missile rose to an altitude of 220 km above the earth’s surface when the last of the boosters was jettisoned. It put the “warhead projectile” in place for its final descent. The 1.2 tonne projectile hit the target in southern Indian Ocean after travelling at a speed of 6 km/second (21,000 km/hour).

The carbon composite of the projectile maintained its temperature at 40 °C despite atmospheric friction raising the temperatures to 2,500 °C, official sources said. Classified as an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICMB), Agni-V has the capability of delivering a nuclear warhead with high precision. A few more tests will now have to be carried out before the missile is formally inducted. DRDO spokesperson Ravi Kumar Gupta termed today’s test a success. “Agni-V flew on a predefined path and reached its destination with expected precision.” Defence Minister AK Antony congratulated DRDO scientists for “making the country proud”.

National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon said the event marked a milestone in the long-range missile era of India. The next challenge for the DRDO is to develop a hermetically sealed canister to encase the missile when it is mounted on a launcher-truck.

Chinese missile DongFeng 31-A is road mobile and can hit targets 11,200 km away. The canister-launch system enhances storage, operational readiness, transportability, response time and shelf life.

A road-mobile Agni-V will be able to hit even the northernmost part of China if fired from close to the Line of Actual Control.

The DRDO is currently working on Agni-VI with a strike range of 8,000-10,000 km and technology to evade incoming enemy missiles.





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