Reliable sources told this paper that a team of scientists and technologists will arrive on January 25 at Wheelers Island test facilities of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) from where the indigenously built missile will be tested. Around 150 technologists, including at least 80 scientists, will be engaged for range integration.
“We have received confirmation letter for range configuration. The work will start soon. As for the first time a missile with a strike range of more than 5,000 km is being tested from the range, the range will be configured to provide optimum data for validation,” said an official.
Earlier, missiles with a range of 3,000 to 3,500 km have been tested from this island and the tracking systems have tracked the missiles successfully. This time more tracking radars and telemetry systems will be placed to track the long range missile.
Besides the existing radars at Chandipur, Dhamra, Puri and Mahakalpada, one radar will be placed at Andamans and another X-band radar in a ship which will track the missile till its point of impact. If required, another radar will be positioned at Visakhapatnam, said the source.
Chief Controller for Life Sciences and International Cooperation at DRDO W Selvamurthy said the maiden test of Agni V is on schedule. “We are planning to test the missile in full operational configuration by the end of February. If it doesn’t happen, it will definitely be in the first week of March,” he said informing that all the three stages of the missile have been successfully tested at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district.
The 17.2 metre missile having launch weight of nearly 50 tonnes and diameter of two metres will be launched from a road mobile system. All its three stages would be fired by solid propellants. It is expected that with a one-tonne nuclear warhead, the missile would give teeth to the country’s much-touted nuclear deterrence programme.
Scientists headed by Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister (SA to DM) VK Saraswat and Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Avinash Chander are leaving no stone unturned for the launch.