BALASORE/NEW DELHI: The euphoria belonged to more than 800 scientists who toiled for months in 20-odd laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). A billion eyes, other than India’s, watched as the country flexed its missile muscle on Thursday bringing back memories of Pokhran.
With the takeoff at 8.07 am from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast, and then hitting the target in the Indian Ocean some 5,000 km away, the maiden Agni-V launch was a dead-hit.
Amid China’s concern over India’s inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities, the DRDO successfully conducted the maiden trial of the new generation missile. The indigenously built missile blasted off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) from a mobile launcher. The mission control room went into raptures as the missile rose majestically into the sky, spewing thick yellow and white smoke and travelled in the pre-coordinated projectile.
As the nuclear capable ICBM Agni-V hit its splash point in the Indian Ocean, it marked a giant strategic leap for India as it became the sixth nation in the world capable of delivering nuclear warheads across continents.
For a country that has a stated “no first use” policy for nuclear weapons, the missile has added more muscle to its “dissuasive deterrence posture” by bringing the whole of Asia and most of Europe within its striking envelope. The success of the surface-to-surface missile has altered the global geo-political scenario. Asia now has two developing neighbouring countries with ICBM capabilities.
The political brass too hailed the launch. “Today’s successful Agni-V test launch is another milestone in our quest to add credibility to our security and preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science,” PM Manmohan Singh said while congratulating the scientists led by Dr VK Saraswat, the DRDO Chief.