In a crucial technological accomplishment, a simulated canister-based launch of a dummy missile weighing 50 tonnes was successfully carried out by scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently.
With the success of the “Missile Ejection Test” (MET), DRDO missile technologists are gearing up to conduct the first canister-based test-firing of 5,000-plus km range nuclear weapons-capable Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V in March-April, 2014.
“We were able to launch canister launch system for the first time”, a top DRDO scientist told The Hindu. All parameters were achieved and the hardware and software applications for the simulated launch were tested. They included the launcher, canister interfacing with other elements. An important aspect was to keep the sealing intact between the missile and gas generator when the latter provided the thrust and ejected the system at high temperatures.
Missile exit velocity, inter-locking of instruments, sensors functioning and the subsequent sequencing of events were some of the crucial objectives that were met successfully. As the missile got ejected from the canister, sensors gave the signal to the computer to commence commands for subsequent events such as igniting the missile’s first stage.
Another top missile technologist, who is closely involved with Agni-V mission, described the MET success as a “very important milestone and a prelude to the main launch.” It laid the foundation and provided core competence to the DRDO for the canister launch system.
India joined an elite club of nations that possess the ICBM launch capability when the maiden test-firing of Agni-V was successfully conducted on April 19, 2012. Soon after the resounding success of the second Agni V mission on September 15 this year, Avinash Chander, DRDO Director General and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, and Director General (Missiles and Strategic Systems) V.G. Sekaran had announced that the next trial would be canister based.Mr. Avinash had also stated that Agni-V would become a quick reaction stop-and-launch system once provided with the canister-thrust capability. It will also impart high operational flexibility to the user.