In a bid to make the 3000-km range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-III fully operational, Indian Army is readying for the second user associate trial of the weapon from a defence base off the Odisha coast next month.
Preparation is on at the Wheeler Island test facility from where the missile has been scheduled to be test-fired in a real time situation on December 18. This will be sixth test of the missile which defence sources said, was all set to go for bulk production after the trial. After four developmental trials in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, this ‘China Specific’ missile was inducted in the Armed Forces in June 2011. While the maiden trial of the missile was a failure, on the rest three occasions, the missile performed as expected. Its first user trial on September 21 last year was also a copy book success.
While the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), a specially raised missile-handling unit of the Indian Army will carry out the test, DRDO will provide all logistic support to track and monitor the missile’s flight path. The test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user associate launch and check the Army’s readiness to use it.
A defence scientist said the missile had been successfully test-fired four times in last six years making it full proof proven missile. “The technologies incorporated in the missile system and software have also performed as expected. After a couple of more user associate trials, the missile will be made fully operational,” he said.
After Agni-III trial, the DRDO has scheduled to conduct third trial of 4000-km range Agni-IV. Even as India adopts a clear-cut ‘no-first-use’ doctrine, it has an active credible nuclear deterrence and is well capable of its own defence with weapons like Agni series missiles, interceptors capable of destroying enemy missiles in both exo and endo atmospheric region, submarine and ship launched ballistic missiles besides a few short range and medium range surface-to-surface and air-to-air missiles.
Agni III is expected to be the mainstay of India’s nuclear deterrence programme when fully operational by providing the country with strategic second-strike capability.