BALASORE: As the excitement and anxiety grew close to the countdown, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Wednesday postponed the debut launch of Agni-V missile due to bad weather and heavy lightning at the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
Defence sources said the test has been rescheduled and the missile, which was planned to be tested from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast at about 7 pm on Wednesday, is now likely to be launched on Thursday morning.
Programme director of Agni missiles and Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Avinash Chander said the test has been deferred till Thursday due to inclement weather. “We had to postpone the test for safety reasons. We will definitely carry out the test if weather permits on Thursday morning,” he told “The New Indian Express.”
Sources said activities were hampered at the Wheeler Island test facility following a downpour in the evening. Apart from the test range, Dhamra and Chandipur, from where the flight path of the missile will be tracked, witnessed rain accompanied with high-speed wind.
A defence official said they need a clear weather for the test launch as for the first time they are test-firing a nuke-capable missile with 5,000-km strike range. “Along with the weather condition at the test range, we also need a clear weather condition through the entire flight path along the northern hemisphere, where the missile is expected to fall. There was heavy lightning which led us to postpone the test,” he said.
Sources said the DRDO, which has developed this Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), deferred the test, as they did not want to take any chance. The missile would definitely fly in the sky once everything is put in place. It is expected to attain a vertical height of nearly 800 km before following its ballistic trajectory.
The surface-to-surface canister-launched missile, which can carry a payload of 1 tonne, is 17-metre long, 2-metre wide and weighs 50 tonnes. The entire DRDO fraternity is excited about the mission and if the trial is successful, it will club India with a select band of countries in the world to possess ICBM technology.
Though the missile is 17-metre long, sources said it has nearly 7-km wiring and its second and third stages have been built with carbon reinforce composite materials, which can withstand a temperature of over 5,000 degrees Celsius during the re-entry phase.
The test of Agni-V is significant from India’s defence point of view as it can target almost all cities in China, which has posed a major threat for the country. Except the US, the missile, which is later to be developed into a 6000-km strike range, can also hit the target anywhere in Asia, Africa and Europe.