Night User Trial of Agni-I to be Conducted on Tuesday
By Hemant Kumar Rout | Published: 17th February 2014 11:35 AM |
India is heading for a historic day on Tuesday when user trial of an Agni series missile by the armed forces during night will be conducted. Though in 2009, an attempt was made to fire Agni-II in the evening, it had ended in a failure as the missile could not meet the mission parameters.
With logistic support from the DRDO, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army is slated to conduct the much awaited evening trial of 700-km plus range surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-I from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast.
A reliable source told ‘The Express’ on Sunday that the weapon in its operational configuration would be test-fired between 7 pm and 8 pm on Tuesday.
However, defence officials fear that the downpour triggered by an anti-cyclonic system developed in northwest Bay of Bengal may prove a dampener. The test range has been experiencing rainfall since Saturday night and the forecast has been that rain and thunder shower may occur in next 24 hours.
“We can fire the missile as per the schedule if we get a dry weather throughout Tuesday. We are ready and the missile has already been integrated. While the range integration has been finished, the tracking systems have been put on place. The mission depends on the favourable weather condition,” said a defence official.
On November 23, 2009, the first ever night launching of Agni-II ended in failure as the missile failed to achieve the pre-coordinated mission parameters. The weapon faltered just before the second stage separation and behaved erratically deviating from its coordinated path.
Defence sources said there were considerable improvements in its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability since Agni-I’s first trial. As the missile has already been inducted in the Army, this test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user.
This will be a limited stock production (LSP) series test of Agni-I, which has been randomly selected from a bunch of missiles in the production lot. The 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 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants which impart it a speed of 2.5 km per second. The missile weighs around 12 tonnes and can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1000 kg.
The missile was first test-fired on January 25, 2002 and since then several trials have been conducted. It is designed to bridge the gap between indigenously built short range Prithvi, already deployed in the army, and medium range Agni-II that has a range of more than 2,000 km.