Days after China flight tested an upgraded version of its 10,000-km range Dongfeng-31B missile which can reach most of the US and European cities, India is readying for the first canister-launch of Agni-V missile in a bid to reinforce its nuclear deterrent.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-V can target all of Asia and parts of Africa and Europe. It is part of the Agni series of missiles developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
Defence sources said, the Agni-V test would be followed by trials of two other variants of Agni missiles and indigenously sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay, whose first test had failed last year. Though the test schedules have not been finalised, Agni-V is expected to be launched by end of this month.
“After the developmental test, the DRDO is likely to carry out the first user associate launch of 4,000-km Agni-IV missile and the armed forces would conduct a user trial of 2,000-km Agni-II missile. Both the tests are being planned in November followed by the second test of Nirbhay missile,” the sources informed.
Preparation has begun at Wheeler Island test facility off the Odisha coast for the proposed test firing. In June, the DRDO scientist had successfully carried out the final missile ejection test from a canister in simulated conditions. However, all the parameters would have to be met during the actual launch.
Earlier, the Agni-V missile has been tested successfully twice from mobile launchers. While its first test was conducted on April 19, 2012, second test was carried out on September 15, 2013 from the launching complex-IV of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
According to DRDO chief Avinash Chander, the missile is among the best in its class in the world with advanced ring-laser gyros, composite rocket motors and highly accurate micro-navigation systems and inertial navigation systems. Its accuracy level is far higher than 700-km range Agni-I, 2,000-km range Agni-II and 3,000-km range Agni-III.
If fitted with Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs), under development, with each missile being capable of carrying 2 to 10 separate nuclear warheads, the Agni-V can destroy multiple targets, separated by hundreds of kms. Capable of destroying enemy satellites, this missile flies at a speed of Mach 24.