BALASORE: After the three-day tour of US President Barack Obama, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) here is readying for the first canister launch of India’s longest range ballistic missile Agni-V in full operational configuration. The test is likely to be carried out from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast on Saturday.
Defence sources said, the test was postponed twice -- in December and early January -- due to Obama visit and lack of schedule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was slated to witness the launch along with the Defence Minister.
While the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is yet to confirm Modi’s visit, the organisation is likely to go ahead with its schedule. The DRDO is planning to give a memorable farewell to its outgoing Chief Avinash Chander, who was unceremoniously removed from his post on January 13, sources in DRDO informed The Express.
“As the term of Chander, the brain behind the Agni missiles, ends on January 31, the scientists want to make the date momentous,” said sources.
Meanwhile, preparations for the launch are on in full swing at the Wheeler Island. Over 300 scientists and technical staff from several laboratories including Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) are camping here.
During the test, Agni-V will be fired from a sealed canister mounted on a launcher truck. With a dummy payload, the missile will be pushed out of the canister by a gas generator after which the actual stage separations will occur as per the coordination.
With a strike range of over 5,000, Agni-V is country’s first intercontinental range ballistic missile (ICBM) which is capable of hitting targets in all Asian countries and parts of Africa and Europe. The 17-metre long, two-metre wide, three-stage, solid-fuelled missile can carry a payload of 1.5 tonne and weighs around 50 tonnes.
A canister-launch system gives the forces the requisite operational flexibility to promptly transport the ballistic missile and launch it from a place of their choice. The DRDO is also working on the canister version of other Agni series of missiles including I, III and IV.
A successful launch would push the missile a step forward towards its induction in the Armed Forces signaling the defence organisation to go for its production though it has to undergo two more trials before it is inducted, possibly in two years.
After Agni-V missile is inducted, the DRDO will focus more on multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and manoeuvring warheads or re-entry vehicles to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence manoeuvring systems.