In a joint effort with Indian Army, DRDO is planning a series of missile tests from a test range off the Odisha coast this month. While a user trial of nuclear capable Agni-I has been scheduled for April 11, an interceptor missile will be tested on April 19. Besides, 12 rounds of Akash missile have been planned to be tested in the next 45 days.
Sources said preparation was on in full swing at the Wheeler Island test facility for the training exercise of the Army involving surface-to-surface medium range Agni-I missile. The missile will be test-fired by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army from the launching complex-IV of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
“As the missile has already been inducted in the Armed Forces, the test will be conducted by the SFC personnel while DRDO will provide only logistic supports. The missile to be used for the test has been randomly selected from the production lot,” said a defence official.
The 700-km range Agni-I is an antiquated short-range and surface based ballistic missile in the Agni series. Compared to its longer-range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second.
The interceptor missile has the capability to kill an enemy missile at endo-atmospheric level.
The interceptor missile will be tested from the launching complex IV. The missile has been developed under the India’s flagship Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.
Defence sources said as per the programme the interceptor missile will destroy an incoming hostile missile mid-flight over the Bay of Bengal. This experimentation will be to observe the operational effectiveness of the indigenously developed high-speed interceptor missile.
“During the exercise, a Prithvi missile, modified to mimic a hostile ballistic missile will lift off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur and it would be destroyed in the endo-atmospheric region (at an altitude of 15 km) by the interceptor fired from Wheeler Island few seconds later,” said a defence scientist.
Developed by DRDO, the 7.5 metre tall interceptor is a single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with an inertial navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator totally under command by the data up-linked from the ground based radar. The missile weighs around 1.2 tonnes and has a diametre of 0.5 metre.
After both the tests, a series of tests of surface-to-air ‘Akash’ missile has been planned from the Chandipur based test range. The Indian Army and Air Force personnel would carry out at least 12 tests of the missile from April 21.
Akash is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence system surface-to-air missile capable of engaging aerial threats upto a distance of approximately 25 kms. The Army version of Akash is being produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as the nodal production agency with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and some other industries. The total production value of Akash air defence systems cleared for induction by Indian Army and Indian Air Force is more than `23,000 crore.