Agni-III Evening Launch Bang on Target
In a major step towards achieving a credible nuclear deterrence and capability to fire long-range missiles at any time, India on Monday successfully test-fired its intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) Agni-III for the first time during evening from a defence base off the Odisha coast.
Defence sources said the indigenously-built highly sophisticated surface-to-surface nuclear capable missile carrying a dummy payload blasted off from a fixed platform of Launching Complex-IV with the help of an auto-launcher in the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island at about 5 pm.
Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DRDO Chief Avinash Chander told this paper that the mission went off successfully as the flight trial met all mission objectives and all the events occurred as expected.
“It was a copybook launch. The parameters set by the user were validated and the event held as scheduled. Terminal phase events were recorded by down range ship deployed near the impact point. Trajectory of the flight was monitored by a widespread telemetry and tracking network spread over land and sea,” he said.
While the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) conducted the trial in full operational configuration, it was the sixth test of the 3,000-km range missile, including two user trials and fifth consecutive success. The test was to reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user and its readiness to handle the weapon.
The missile, a defence scientist said, reached an altitude of 375 km and sustained a blazing temperature of over 4,000 degree Celsius during its re-entry stage before zeroing in on the target in an accuracy of less than 200 metres in around 14 minutes.
“Equipped with advanced high accuracy navigation system and guided by an innovative guidance scheme, the missile took off vertically into space and re-entered the atmosphere to hit the impact point near the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Even though the missile did not carry a live warhead, its nuclear triggering mechanism worked well. Instead of a nuclear warhead, it carried chemical explosives,” he added.
Agni-III can target major cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. It is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes. The missile was inducted in the Armed Forces in June 2011.
An SFC spokesman said such successful training launches indicated the operational readiness to meet any eventuality and also established the reliability of this deterrent component of India’s strategic arsenal.
Prior to the test, a cautionary notice was issued to aviators and mariners to keep away from the area of splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DRDO Chief Avinash Chander said India is capable of launching its long range missiles at any point of time. “We are ready to fire missiles at morning, noon, evening and night. It depends on the air traffic and naval clearance. Monday’s trial during evening was fantastic. The schedule was fixed by the user and it went off very well,” he added.