Thursday, 19 April 2012

India on Thursday passed the Agni Pariksha to emerge as a regional super power with the successful test-fire of 5000 km-plus Long-Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM), Agni-5 that can carry multiple nuclear warheads to hit targets in all of Asia, parts of Europe, Australia and Africa

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: India on Thursday passed the Agni Pariksha to
emerge as a regional super power with the successful test-fire of 5000
km-plus Long-Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM), Agni-5 that can carry
multiple nuclear warheads to hit targets in all of Asia, parts of
Europe, Australia and Africa.

Agni-5, the new generation missile developed indigenously by the
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was successfully
test-fired from the Integrated Test Range on the Wheeler Island in
Odisha at 8.07 am on Thursday. The missile was originally scheduled
for test-fire at 7.30 pm on Wednesday but heavy lightning in the
region raised safety concerns forcing the DRDO to put it off by a few
hours to Thursday morning.

With Agni-5, dubbed as “game changer and technological marvel”, India
blasted its way into an elite club of nations that possess LRBM
capable of carrying multiple warheads. This paves the way for India to
develop the next series of missiles that qualifies India for the
Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tag. Agni-5 falls a little
short in range to qualify India for the ICBM club. China is the only
country in Asia to possess 5,000 km plus range missiles. Agni-5 can
hit a number of places at a time, as it carries many warheads.

The successful test-fire has created a credible nuclear-capable
deterrent vis-à-vis China. The Centre hailed the test as a success and
said the designated target had been hit. The Agni-V can hit all of
China including Beijing. The missile travelled in a southeastern
direction and hit its target in the southern Indian Ocean.

When asked about the road ahead beyond the Agni-V, a senior DRDO
official said that
there was currently "no proposal for an Agni-VI with even further
range" and said it was up to the Government to decide on any fresh
project. China has the ability to launch ICBMs with a range up to
13,000 km.

There was a measured official reaction from China, which said the two
countries are not
rivals and enjoy "sound" relations. "China has taken note of reports
on India's missile launch. The two countries have a sound
relationship," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin in
Beijing.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony
congratulated DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat, programme director Avinash
Chander and other top scientists including woman scientist Tessy
Thomas for the success of the project. There was much jubilation and
cheering among DRDO scientists at the test-range once the missile was
launched successfully.

Dr Saraswat said "all mission parameters had been met" and that India
had emerged as a "major missile power", with only six countries
(including the US, Russia,
France and China) which have this capability. "All the re-entry
conditions were perfect. The missile travelled through the re-entry,
got converted into a fireball and finally (hit the target)...And all
the payload parameters which result in the detonation of the warhead
took place," he said.

"This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has
the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of
this class, and we are today a
major missile power," he added.

Dr Saraswat admitted that at least two more tests of the missile would
be carried out
for validation before the missile is inducted into the Indian Army.
The expected date is 2014. Agni-V is a three-stage, all solid fuel
powered missile with multiple independent targetable re-entry vehicle
(MIRV) which means the missile can target several areas simultaneously
with a one-ton nuclear warhead. The missile is 17.5-metre long missile
weighing 50 tonnes.

"The missile has been achieved despite the stringent missile control
regimes, which developed countries have imposed on us and that shows
the self-reliance in the area of this technology is now becoming a
reality," Dr Saraswat said.

"It was a perfect launch and the missile hit the pre-determined target
and the mission
met all its parameters," Integrated Test Range Director SP Dass said.
"We can call it an ICBM as it has the capability to travel from one
continent to another,” he added.

Senior DRDO women scientist Tessy Thomas, who played a crucial role in
the Agni-V project, said years of hard work, had paid off.

While the Agni-V is officially categorized as an LRBM, DRDO scientists
said that the
successful launch of a missile with a range of over 5,000 km is an
ample demonstration of the capability to launch an ICBM. Missiles with
a range of above 5,500 kms are usually referred to as ICBMs.

While there were media reports in the past few years that the
Government is keen to
cap the missile-range to 5,000 kms, DRDO sources insisted that no
policy in this regard had been officially laid down. The Agni-I, II,
III and IV missiles with ranges of 700 kms, 2,500 kms, 3,000 kms and
3,500 kms respectively had been launched in previous years.
The Agni missiles up to the Agni-III have already been inducted in the
armed forces.

"The missile followed the entire trajectory in copybook style
perfection as the three stages of Propulsion dropped and fell at
appropriate intervals into the Bay of Bengal. The three propulsion
stages, developed completely indigenously by DRDO, performed exactly
the way they were intended to,” DRDO spokesperson Ravi Kumar Gupta said.

The indigenously developed Composite Rocket Motors performed well,
signifying the country's stride and complete self-reliance in this
complex propulsion technology. Ships located in midrange and at the
target, point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event.
Radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored in real
time all the parameters of the Missile.

A DRDO official release added that missile's "very high accuracy Ring
Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern
and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) ensured the Missile reach
the target point within few meters of accuracy".

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