WHEELER ISLAND (ODISHA): Thursday was a red-letter day for India. With the maiden test-firing of 5000-km range Agni-V missile from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast, the country joined the elite club of six nations including US, UK, China, France and Russia having intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.
The indigenously built missile blasted off from the launching complex-IV of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) from a mobile launcher at about 8.07 am and went off majestically leaving behind huge white and yellow smokes. The test was put off on Wednesday due to bad weather.
Claiming the test a ‘spectacular success’, DRDO chief and Scientific Advisor to Minister of Defence V K Saraswat told ‘The New Indian Express’ that all the mission parameters had been fully met and the missile covered the entire flight path as expected.
“The technologies have been proven and the entire performance vehicle demonstrated. The missile’s first phase got separated after 100 seconds followed by second and third stages. The stage separations were clean and precise. The injection parameters, which include velocity, altitude and attitude of the missile, were also validated. The missile attained a vertical height of 600 km before following the real time ballistic trajectory and hit the pre-designated target in Indian Ocean as coordinated,” he said.
Sources said the scheduled test was postponed on Wednesday evening due to heavy lightning and the missile was made vertical for the test at about 6.30 on Thursday. The surface-to-surface canister-launched missile, which can carry a payload of 1 tonne is 17 meter long, 2 meter wide and weighs 50 tonnes.
Though the missile is 17-meter tall, sources said it has nearly 7-km wiring and along with the payload its second and third stage have been built with carbon reinforce composite materials which withstood a temperature of over 5000 degree Celsius during the re-entry phase.
Programme director of Agni missiles and Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Avinash Chander said the payload sustained the high temperature as expected and continued to explode as coordinated. “It proved all parameters in the user deliverable mode. It is a marvelous achievement for us and I am proud of my team. The missile will be inducted into the armed forces after a few more developmental trials,” he informed.
Chander who is also the mission director of Agni-V said the DRDO was forced to put off the test on Wednesday as the entire mission team was trying to get full data throughout the flight path and due to bad weather condition and heavy lightning it could not have been possible.
The test of Agni-V is significant in India’s defence point of view as it can reach all most all cities in China, which has posed a major threat for the country. Except America, the missile, which is later to be developed for a 6000-km strike range, can also hit the target anywhere in Asia, Africa and Europe.
What makes the missile more effective is that it can Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MITRV) capable of delivering multiple warheads at different targets at long distances. The missile took nearly 15 minutes to reach its target area in Indian Ocean.
Saraswat said India is now a missile power and we are proud of our scientists and technical staffs who made the system perfect. “It is a landmark achievement. We all are highly excited for the successful launch of this long range missile,” he added.
Agni-V will give India the technological knowhow to launch many nuclear warheads using the same missile and it can be configured to launch small satellites. The missile has the capability to shoot down enemy satellites in orbits.
“We had a rare achievement as from the drawing board to the launch pad, it took nearly three years, the fasted period for any long range missile programme in the world, to achieve this success,” Chander added.
Prior to the test a Notice To Airmen (Notam) was issued to coordinate the flight operations throughout the expected flight path of the missile. Hundreds of scientists and technologists including the armed forces officials witnessed the test launch from the Wheeler Island. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony have congratulated the DRDO scientists for the immaculate success of the Agni-V and making the nation proud.