What Went Wrong with Agni-I Missile? - The New Indian Express

What Went Wrong with Agni-I Missile?

Published: 21st February 2014 08:21 AM

Last Updated: 21st February 2014 08:21 AM

Postponement of first night trial of nuke capable ballistic missile Agni-I following technical snags in the system raised eyebrows of many. Defence experts pointed fingers at the faults in the inertial navigation system (INS).

After an abortive mission on Tuesday, the 700-km range missile was ready for the test from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast on Wednesday evening. But the officials of the strategic forces command (SFC) were forced to put off the test for indefinite period reportedly due to some technical glitches in the missile system.

The test was considered ‘very crucial’ as it was supposed to give a technical push to the country’s defence programme and prove the capability of launching the missile from any terrain anytime.

Defence sources said the snag was detected a few seconds prior to the take off. “The countdown was going on smoothly, but the system shut down 18 seconds prior to take off,” said an official.

DRDO and Army authorities, however, declined to divulge the details about postponing the mission. “The test was deferred due to a technical snag. Work is on to rectify it and hopefully the test will be conducted soon,” an official told this paper on condition of anonymity.

Defence experts claimed the missile system developed snags whenever an Indian INS was used on it. “It flies well with the Russian INS, but the Army has been insisting DRDO to use the Indian system and prove its reliability,” they said.

However, it was not for the first time that the faults were detected in Agni missile. On August 29, 2011 defence authorities had to put off a user trial of 2000-km range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-II for an indefinite period.

Defence experts have criticised the DRDO for the recurring failures. They said the faults are chronic and the scientists seem to have failed to rectify it permanently. “If the missile behaves like this during user trials, what will happen during the time of crisis? Can we afford to hold the country into ransom security-wise?”

Agni-I missile, which has a length of 15 meters, a diameter of one meter and weight 12 tonnes, can carry a payload of around 1000 kg. This missile has been developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and some other DRDO laboratories.

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