India is preparing to conduct a fresh user trial of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-I from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army will carry out the test next week.
Agni-I is the first missile in the country’s most ambitious Agni series. The nuke-capable missile can destroy targets nearly 700 km away.
Sources at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur said preparation for the test had already begun at Wheeler Island launching complex off the Dhamra coast. Missile equipment, motor and all accessories have arrived and work is on to integrate the weapon.
“There were considerable improvements in its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability since Agni’s first trial. This test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user (Army). If weather favours, the test will be conducted on November 7,” a defence scientist, associated with the programme, said.
As the missile has already been inducted in the Indian Army, the test will be conducted by the SFC with logistic support from the DRDO.
This will be limited stock production (LSP) test of Agni-I, which will be randomly selected from a bunch of missiles in the production lot.
The Agni-I is an antiquated short-range, surface-based ballistic missile in the series. Compared to its longer-range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second.
This 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, sources said.
Agni-I can be blasted off from both road and rail mobile launchers.
The missile weighs around 12 tonnes and can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1,000 kg. Weighing less, but having the same thrust, the missile has added acceleration, sources added.
Earlier this year, India had successfully conducted the second developmental trial of 5,000-km range Agni-V missile. Plans are also afoot to test fire 4,000-km range Agni-IV missile in the coming months.
The DRDO had launched the Agni project in 1983 as part of the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and the first test flight of the Agni series was conducted on May 22, 1989 when the 2,000-km range Agni-II was used for the test.