After a successful user trial of Prithvi-II ballistic missile culminating its on-going strategic training exercise by Strategic Forces Command (SFC), the DRDO is readying to carry out the third developmental trial of nuclear capable Agni-IV missile from a defence base off the Odisha coast next week.
Earlier, it was planned to be test-fired in December. Defence sources said the test would be conducted from the Wheeler Island either on January 18 or 19. This test is significant as its success would pave the way for its user associate tests from next year in a bid to induct the missile in the Armed Forces.
The indigenously built 4,000-km range surface-to-surface intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), first of its kind in the world in terms of technology, has many unique features and can also defend anti-ballistic defence systems.
Preparation is on in full swing at the test facility from where the missile would be launched. “The missile components are being integrated and the range is being readied for the test. As both first and second trials of the missile in 2011 and 2012 were flawless, this time we too hope to get a copybook success,” said a defence official. The Agni-IV weighs less compared to its sibling Agni-III which has a strike range of around 3,000 km. While Agni-III weighs about 46 tonnes, Agni-IV is only 17 tonne.
The two missiles have separate identities and will complement each other when required during the time of crisis. Though it is said that the Agni-IV is a modified version of the Agni-II Prime strategic missile whose first test ended in failure, DRDO during the maiden test of Agni-IV claimed that there was no missile as Agni-II Prime and it was basically Agni-IV.
However, this missile can carry warhead upto one tonne with re-entry heat shield. The two-stage solid propelled missile is 20 metre tall. While Agni-III is launched from rail mobile launcher, Agni-IV can be fired from both rail and road mobile launchers, which gives it more flexibility and wide range of operational success. A scientist said Agni-IV would bridge the gap between Agni-III and Agni-V. It is designed to increase the kill efficiency along with a higher range of performance. The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that include indigenously developed ring laser gyro and composite rocket motor.
Compared to the Pershing missile of the US in terms of technology, the Agni-IV has many cutting-edge technologies which can meet global standards. The DRDO is planning to induct the missile by end of next year.