DHAMARA, ODISHA, Apr 19:
India today made a giant stride when it test-fired nuclear-capable Agni-V Inter- Continental Ballistic Missile that has brought China within its reach with a strike range of over 5000 km.
The surface-to-surface Agni-V was launched from a mobile platform from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast at 8:07 A.M. That placed India at the threshold of an elite five-member club that possesses ICBMs.
The 17.5 metre-tall and two metre-wide missile with a launch weight of around 50 tonnes, including a 1.5 tonne dummy warhead, blasted off from the island launchpad leaving behind an orange plume.
It rose to a height of 600 km before re-entering the atmosphere to hit a target over 5000 km away in the Indian Ocean, defence sources said.
Earlier, the missile was to be launched last evening but it had to be put off due to bad weather.
The sophisticated missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
This is the first time India has produced a missile that has brought China within its range and it is being considered a big deterrent capability though Government itself does not specifically mention any target.
“We had a successful launch of Agni-V,” Defence Research and Development Organisation chief V K Saraswat said after the three-stage solid propellant missile was test-fired .
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A K Antony and BJP president Nitin Gadkari congratulated the defence scientists on their achievement.
Agni-V 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, Saraswat said.
“It was a perfect launch and the missile hit the pre-determined target and the mission met all its parameters, Integrated Test Range Director S P Dass said.
“We can call it an ICBM as it has the capability to travel from one continent to another,” Dass said.
Three ships located in midrange and at the target point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event, a DRDO statement said.
All the radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored all the parameters of the Missile and displayed in real time, it said.
The high speed on board computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the Missile flawlessly, the DRDO said.
Saraswat said the DRDO would conduct two more validation tests before starting the production of this missile.
“Today, we have done a great event for the country. All the team work that has gone in for the last three years has given a fruitful result,” Tessy Thomas, Chief Scientist, Project Agni-V, said.
“All aspects such as payload, engineering, speed and other mechanisms were integrated in the missile and they performed successfully,” Avinash Chander, Chief Controller Research and Development (Missile Systems) told.
A senior DRDO scientist said that the missile would be ready for induction into the armed forces by 2014.
“The 5000-plus kilometre range fulfils our strategic needs and moreover we are developing a deterrent capability,” former DRDO chief M Natarajan said.
Natarajan said DRDO has developed a missile to meet the country’s strategic needs and identified threat perceptions and this missile answers all those.
Hailing the successful launch of the indigenously developed missile, Prime Minister 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-V 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),” Antony told Saraswat on phone after the test flight of the missile was declared successful.
“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,” Saraswat said.
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,” Chander said.
Preparation for Agni-V test had gathered momentum after India achieved successful results from the first development trial of Agni IV, which has a strike range of more than 3,500 km, from the same launch pad on November 15, 2011.
Apart from Saraswat, who is also the scientific advisor to the Defence Minister, a host of top defence scientists, military officials and functionaries of concerned agencies were present at the site to monitor, supervise and witness the maiden test of the new generation missile.
Top scientists present at the test site said at least 20 laboratories of the DRDO were engaged for several months to prepare the state-of-the-art missile.
About 800 scientists, staff and support personnel had been engaged to make the first ever launch of the Agni-V a success, they said.
Unlike other missiles of indigenously built Agni series, the latest one – Agni V – is the most advanced version having several new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, said a scientist associated with the project.
“The three propulsion stages, developed completely indigenously by DRDO, performed exactly the way they are intended to. The indigenously developed Composite Rocket Motors have performed well and made India completely self-reliant,” the DRDO said. (PTI)
DHAMARA, ODISHA, Apr 19: