The successful launch of the first canister version of Agni-V, India's longest distance ballistic missile today marks a significant leap in the country's missile technology and fire power.
The launch versatility achieved and the repeated successes demonstrated by defence scientists considerably bolster India's nuclear deterrence and preparedness. With a range of over 5,000 km, the missile can carry a nuclear warhead to reach targets in China and across most of Europe, say defence scientists.
Once inducted, the defence forces will soon be able to launch the inter-continental missile with nuclear edge from different locations with higher road mobility. Today's launch from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha is the third flight of the Agni-V
Avinash Chander, the Chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and one of the key architect's of the Agni programme, described Agni-V as a ‘game changer'.
It was a befitting moment for Chander, who retires today on high note of personal and departmental achievement on the missile technology front. This is especially after the manner in which his contract as DRDO Chief and Secretary Defence R&D was abruptly terminated by the Narendra Modi Government had raised controversy and sharp reactions from sections of the scientific community.
As Programme Director of the Agni for more than a decade and brain behind the Agni-V version, he has been guiding its technology developments and successes. "It was a scene of joy and happiness at mission control centre on Wheeler Island where DRDO scientists bid an emotional farewell to Avinash Chander".
The DRDO chief reportedly expressed satisfaction, lauded the support and contribution of the missile scientists and happiness over being able to deliver systems, technology and capability for advanced missiles to the nation.
Agni-V is a three-stage, solid-propelled, road mobile missile, with a launch mass of 50 tonnes and is capable of delivering a payload of one tonne.
Project Agni-V started in 2009. Its two launches (April 19, 2012 and September 15, 2013) were carried out in hot launch configuration. Both missions were successful and the DRDO announced that the mission and system design of Agni-5 were proven.
The thirrd launch today is a Canisterized Version (Cold Launch) from a Road Mobile Launcher. It gives the flexibility of launching the missile from land anywhere in the country. It incorporates some new technologies related to inertial navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.
The Agni family starts with the Agni-1 with a range of 750 km which has been inducted into the defence forces. The other versions from Agni-II to Agni-V provide the country with multiple options. In the integrated guided missile development programme launched in 1983, Agni is the crown jewel, while Prithvi, Akash, Nag and Trishul are the other missiles with different strike capabilities and roles.