With China in mind, Agni-V test scheduled for December

TNN

India finally plans to test its most ambitious strategic missile Agni-V, with near ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities, this December after some delay.

With high road mobility, fast-reaction ability and a strike range over 5,000 km, Agni-V would even bring China’s northernmost regions within its nuclear strike envelope if it is ever required.

The armed forces are already inducting the two-stage 3,500-km Agni-III after completion of its developmental and pre-induction trials last year, having earlier operationalised the Pakistan-specific Agni-I (700-km) and Agni-II (over 2,000-km) missiles.

The Agni-V, in turn, is meant to add some much-needed credible deterrence muscle against China, which has a massive nuclear arsenal with missiles like the 11,200-km Dong Feng-31A capable of hitting any Indian city.

For one, it will be quite easy to store and swiftly transport the 17.5-metre tall Agni-V by road since it’s a canister-launch missile system, unlike the earlier Agni missiles. If fired from the North-East, for instance, it would be able to hit China’s northernmost city of Habin.

For another, Agni-V would also carry MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) payloads being concurrently developed. A single MIRVed missile can deliver multiple warheads at different targets even if they are separated by long distances.

“We have tested the three (solid-propellant composite rocket motor) stages of Agni-V independently…all ground tests are now over. The integration process is now in progress. We want to test the missile in December, not let it spill over to 2012,” DRDO chief V K Saraswat told TOI on Friday.

This came after defence minister A K Antony, addressing the annual DRDO awards ceremony, asked defence scientists to “demonstrate” the 5,000-km missile’s capability “at the earliest”.

With a “launch mass” of around 50 tonne and a development cost of over Rs 2,500 crore, Agni-V will incorporate advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerator for navigation and guidance. It takes its first stage from Agni-III, with a modified second stage and a miniaturized third stage to ensure it can fly to distances beyond 5,000 km.

An ICBM, incidentally, usually denotes a missile capable of hitting targets over 5,500 km away, and has largely been the preserve of the Big-5 countries till now.

DRDO is also gearing up for another test of its two-tier BMD (ballistic missile defence) system, designed to track and destroy hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth’s atmosphere, around this August with a new interceptor missile called PDV to add to the existing ones.

Antony, on his part, said, “The interceptor missile development programme has taken India into an elite club of nations that possess the capability to demonstrate and deploy missile defence. DRDO should now also work towards developing a credible BMD for our country.”

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jun 4 2011. Filed under All News, Missile. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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