BHUBANESWAR: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is gearing up for the final developmental trial of India's most potent long range nuclear capable ballistic missile, Agni-V, from a defence base off Odisha coast in the last week of December.
Defence sources said the trial is significant as it will be the first test of a long range missile after the country joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a multilateral export control regime enacted by 35 countries to prevent proliferation of the missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology.
The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which has the capability to deliver both conventional and nuclear payload over 5,000 km away and hit targets in all Asian countries and parts of Africa and Europe, is scheduled to be test fired on December 26. This would be a canisterised version test of the missile developed indigenously by DRDO.
Though the test window is yet to get international clearance, scientists have started preparations for the crucial trial of the nuke-tipped powerful missile at the Abdul Kalam Island test facility off Dhamra coast.
Since the success of the trial would pave way for the weapon system's induction in the armed forces, plans are afoot to fire the missile in its full operational configuration so that it can cover the intended strike range.
"The Integrated Test Range (ITR) is going to celebrate its raising day on Sunday. Thereafter, the preparations for the test will continue in full swing," said a defence official.
While the Agni-V missile is ready to go into a series of production, the DRDO has started focusing on multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and manoeuvring warheads to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems.
Considered a game-changer, the 17-metre long, two-metre wide, three-stage, solid-fuelled missile can carry a payload of 1,500 kg. It weighs around 50 tonne.
Meanwhile, a team of scientists including former DRDO chief Avinash Chander, Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) Tessy Thomas and Director of Research Centre Imarat (RCI) BHVS Narayan Murthy visited Abdul Kalam Island on Wednesday and took stock of the situation.
Since the 5000-km range missile has to traverse the Indian Ocean, all logistic issues are to be fixed. A number of countries including Indonesia and Australia will be alerted and the international
air and maritime traffic within the test zone controlled for the test.
Initially scheduled for November last year, the final experimental trial of the missile was reportedly deferred at least four times owing to non-availability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was
invited to witness the fire power. DRDO chief Selvin Christopher, however, had attributed the delay to technical reasons.