In a big boost to India’s missile technology, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to test launch the canister version of the 5,000-km range Agni-5 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) shortly. The canister version, in which the 17.5 meter tall, 50-tonne missile is stored in and launched from a hermetically sealed canister made of maraging steel, would make it the missile fully road or rail mobile, giving a great deal of secrecy and flexibility to the country’s strategic strike capability. The alternate to using canister is fixed ground-based silos which are vulnerable to surveillance and attack. The test is scheduled to be held in the first week of February, a top DRDO functionary said. DRDO was earlier planning to test the missile in November last week, but postponed it due to technical reasons. Stated to be India’s most potent weapon, nuclear capable Agni-5’s range covers the entire Chinese mainland, Siberia, Eastern Europe including the Italian peninsula, east Africa, Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Western coast of Australia and South East Asia It was first successfully test-fired in April 2012 from Wheelers Island in Odisha, followed by a second test in September 2013. It is expected to be handed over to the Armed Forces for user trials in about a year’s time and be operational in about two years. Agni-5 is the fifth ballistic missile in the Agni series.