Agni II test by Strategic Forces Command proves reliability
Well, the Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) was tested from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha today and this happens to be the third successful training launch of this missile by India's Strategic Forces Command (SFC). This launch will certainly go a long way in burying the ghost of the two infamous failed launches of 2009 that had made some doubt in varying measures either the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO's) design capabilities or the quality of India's missile production line. This third successful launch in a row by the intended user i.e the SFC of a production stock missile of course lays to rest such apprehensions. Reliability is after all a religion in the realm of strategic deterrence.
SFC launches are typically dubbed as a 'user training exercise' by the Ministry of Defence because that is precisely what they are. Such a launch is different from developmental flights conducted by DRDO, naturally. Instead in an SFC launch, Army units designated to operate the missile conduct the proceedings with DRDO staying in the background providing mostly logistical support in the form of telemetry and electro-optical tracking.
The unit launching the missile evaluates its performance by simulating deployment conditions to the extent possible and of course gains training experience through an actual launch. This third launch by the SFC could therefore mean that a significant number of Agni-IIs are now available to it and are being operationally deployed, because it is likely that different units come in for these training exercises to wheeler Island.
At any event, this launch does indicate that the production of the Agni-II has indeed stabilized and is providing the SFC with a degree of reliability that it may find comfortable. As for the performance of the missile itself, DRDO says that it reached its pre-designated target with the accuracy of a few metres. If 'few' implies a circular error probable of less than 10 metres than that is rather impressive. DRDO further states that 'all the systems, Propulsion, Control, Actuators, On-Board Computers, Missile Interface Units and the Navigation, Guidance systems functioned fully to the perfection'. This is good news since there were reports that one of the tests in 2009 had failed due to a control related problem.
Meanwhile the Agni III has also gone into production earlier this year and there were reports that an Agni III test is scheduled for this year as well. Here's to seeing a chocolate brown coloured Agni-III lift off from Wheeler Island before the end of this year!
Regardless, enjoy the video of this morning's launch.
More about Saurav Jha
Saurav Jha studied economics (and debated politics) at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He writes and researches on global energy and security issues and is a regular contributor to publications such as World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written for Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. He is the Consulting Editor of Geopolitics magazine. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, was published in March 2010 to excellent reviews. He is presently working on The Heat and Dust Project, a quirky travelogue, based on an intense budget journey through India, co-authored with his wife Devapriya.
- + China's GDP deterrent is patent rubbish
- + China's likely escalation option against India: Rapid Reaction Forces
- + India's Nirbhay cruise missile unveiled by DRDO
- + Trends in missile development in India: an interview with DRDO's missile man Avinash Chander
- + India's ballistic missile shield: DRDO: 2, Enemy missiles: 0
- + The Shale Gas Revolution in America: An Opportunity for India
- + Guest Post 3: 'Dragon on the High Seas' by Rahul M
- + Guest Post 2: 'The Indian missile shield: nothing to be baffled about' by Mihir Shah
- + Is Rahul Gandhi a defence enthusiast?