Agni-V catapults India into elite ICBM club
Deployment likely in 2015
The missile, which can hit any target in China and different parts of Europe, from any where in India, will be ready for induction into the armed forces after undergoing three or four more flight tests over the next two years.
The successful launch of the indigenously designed and developed missile from Wheeler Island, Odisha by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has now provided the capability to Indian scientists to design ICBMs with a range of 8,000 km.
The maiden flight of Agni-V after getting postponed by a day due to inclement weather on April 18, 2012 set a new milestone in the country’s integrated missile system as all technical parameters met desired expectations.
One of the most notable features of Agni-V is its three-stage propulsion. The Indian scientists used this indigenously designed technique for the first time. All the other missiles, including Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III and Agni-IV have two-stage solid fuel propulsion. The three-stage system gives the missile more reach, better accuracy and greater speed. All these three factors met the desired standards during the test.
The flawless auto-launch of the 50-tonne, 17-metre long missile with two-metre diameter and one tonne dummy payload, started at 08:07 hours. The weapon system followed the entire trajectory in copybook perfection and the three stages of propulsion dropped and fell at appropriate intervals into the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.
The indigenously developed composite rocket motors performed well in the second stage before the missile re-entered atmosphere with temperatures exceeding 5,000 degrees Celsius. This signified the country’s stride and complete self-reliance in this complex propulsion technology. The missile climbed 600 kms before re-entering the atmosphere.
Indian Navy warships with DRDO scientists on board to analyse the performance of the missile were located in mid-range in the Indian Ocean and at the target point somewhere near the Fiji Islands. Radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored in real time all the parameters of the missile.
A number of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in this mission like the redundant navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS). These systems ensured the missile reach the target point within few metres of accuracy. The high speed onboard computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the missile flawlessly.
DRDO chief V K Saraswat, Missile Programme Director Avinash Chander and Agni missile inc-charge Tessy Thomas and Strategic Forces Command chief Air Marshal K J Mathews besides top scientists witnessed the launch from the command post at Wheeler Island. Twenty laboratories of DRDO and more than 800 scientists and support staff worked in this mission for the last four to five months.
Briefing reporters after the launch, Saraswat said Agni-5 had a smooth and perfect vertical lift-off from the launcher and a thorough analysis was done to assess its health parameters after retrieval of data from the wide range of sophisticated communication network systems.
He also said the DRDO will conduct two more validation tests before starting the production of this missile adding “this launch has given a message to the entire world that India has the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of this class, and we are today a missile power.”
“All aspects such as payload, engineering, speed and other mechanisms were integrated in the missile and they performed successfully. The missile achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve in this mission. This missile from the drawing board to launch pad has happened in about three years,” Avinash Chander said.
Hailing the achievement of scientists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it represents another milestone in India’s quest to add to its security preparedness. Defence Minister Antony described the maiden test flight of Agni-5 as an “immaculate success” and a “major milestone. The nation stands tall today. We have joined the elite club of nations (to possess the ICBM capability).”
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and National Security Advisor(NSA) Shivshankar Menon also congratulated the DRDO for the successful launch.