Balasore: India on Thursday successfully test-fired the 5000-km range surface-to-surface Agni-V Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of covering entire China and reaching deep into Europe. Agni-V has helped India gatecrash into a small and exclusive club of nations with intercontinental ballistic missile capability.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh congratulated scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the successful launch of Agni-V. "DRDO and other organisations have worked tirelessly in our endeavour to strengthen the defence and security of our country," the Prime Minister said.
Echoing similar views, Defence Minister AK Antony also congratulated the scientists for the "immaculate" success of Agni-V missile launch. "The country stands tall today. We have joined the elite club of nations," said Antony. "The mission was successful. The missile hit the target in Indian Ocean in a perfect way," DRDO chief VK Saraswat said after the successful test launch.
India conducted the maiden test of indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-V Ballistic Missile from the test range off Odisha coast, defence sources said. With over 5,000 km range, Agni V was test-fired at around 0807 hrs from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. The three stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the ITR, defence sources said.
Scientists of DRDO associated with this project were busy for a couple of years to test launch the new missile in a possible time. 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.
The maiden test-fire was witnessed by military officials, scientists and other agencies which participated in its development.
Soon after the maiden launch took place, Agni V witnessed a smooth and perfect vertical lift-off from the launcher and analysis was done to assess its health parameters after retrieval of date from all the sophisticated wide range of communication network systems, they said.
The test-fire of the first of its kind missile, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, had to be postponed at the last moment due to bad weather marked by rains and heavy lightning, the sources said.
The trial of Agni-V demonstrates giant strides taken by India in its integrated missile development programme. "The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad roared majestically into the sky leaving behind it's trajectory, a trail of thin orange and white smoke before disappearing," said an eyewitness to the launch, conducted amid light drizzle.
Agni-V is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and will be crucial for India's defence against China. The missile can carry a pay-load of 1 tonne, is 17 m long, 2 m wide and weighs 50 tonnes. After the missile is inducted into India's strategic forces by 2014-2015, India will acquire a strong deterrent capacity against China.
Agni-V can cover entire China, Eastern Europe, North Eastern and Eastern Africa and even Australia if fired from the Nicobar Islands.
The launch is unlikely to draw the kind of criticism aimed at North Korea after its own failed long-range rocket launch last week.
Only the permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, Russia, France, the United States and the United Kingdom - have such long distance missiles. Israel, too, is believed to posses ICBMs although there is no official confirmation of the same.
The missile has a range of 5,000 kilometres, a marked improvement over India's current missiles which can hit potential enemy targets over a distance of just 3,500 kilometres.
According to DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat the Agni-V missile is among the best in its class in the world with its advanced ring-laser gyros, composite rocket motors and highly accurate micro-navigation systems.
The DRDO plans to conduct more such tests of the missile over the next one year after studying and analysing the parameters achieved in each subsequent trial. On the timeline fixed for fully developing Agni V, Saraswat had said another year of testing would be involved.
Scientists associated with Agni-V project are quite optimistic about its performances, as the trial of Agni-IV, which has a range of 3,500 km, on November 15, 2011 was highly satisfactory in terms of its 'control and guidance' system.
Agni-V added another feather to such class of missiles that India possesses at present. The Agni-I has 700 km, Agni-II (2,000 km), Agni-III and IV (3,000 plus km) range.
However, China with its huge nuclear and missile arsenal which includes the 11,200-km Dong Feng-31A ICBM capable of hitting any Indian city is far ahead in the missile race.
(With additional inputs from PTI)Twitter buzz: Agni-V missile