New Delhi: Making India the sixth nation to operate an ICBM missile, the indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni V Ballistic Missile was successfully test fired at around 8:05 AM from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast, the defence forces said.

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China critical on India’s Agni V launch

The launch of the Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-5, which has a range of 5,000 km plus was scheduled on Wednesday but was postponed till Thursday morning due to harsh weather.

Soon after the maiden launch took place, Agni V witnessed a smooth and perfect vertical lift-off from the launcher and analysis was done to assess its health parameters after retrieval of date from all the sophisticated wide range of communication network systems, they said.

DRDO has also placed necessary equipments to collect data on the trajectory and flight of the missile and other necessary data which will be studied further for its future development.

India among the superpowers

Matching the likes of the superpowers: US, Britain, China, France and Russia; India has now registered its presence on the world stage boasting of the most advanced long-range missile technology.

Agni-5 would be India’s answer to China’s Dong Feng-31 and DF-41 which could strike at a distance of 6,000 to 8,000 km. It possesses the capability to bring the whole of China as well as other regions under its strike envelope.

The launch is a significant achievement for the Indian DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) which embarked upon the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Project) in 1983 under the stewardship of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The surface-to-surface Agni V, a three-stage, all solid fuel powered missile, is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km away. It is about 17 metrs long and two metre wide with launch weight of around 50 tonnes. The sophisticated missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.

"The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad roared majestically into the sky leaving behind it's trajectory, a trail of thin orange and white smoke before disappearing," said an eyewitness to the launch, conducted amid light drizzle.

India’s armoury of Agni series

According to sources, the DRDO is planning to conduct more such tests of the missile over the next one year after studying and analyzing the parameters achieved in each subsequent trial.

After achieving successful results from the first development trial of Agni IV, which has a strike range of more than 3,500 km, from the same launch pad on November 15, 2011, preparation for Agni V test had gathered momentum.
   
Scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) associated with this project were busy for a couple of years to test launch the new missile in a possible suitable time.
   
Unlike other missiles of indigenously built Agni series, the latest one- Agni V- is the most advanced version having several new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.    

India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni 1 with 700 km range, Agni 2 with 2,000 km range, Agni 3 and Agni 4, with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
       
DRDO Chief V K Saraswat had recently said the missile was being integrated at various facilities for the test launch. The maiden test-fire was witnessed by military officials, scientists and other agencies which participated in its development.

The Agni missiles will get deadlier once MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) payloads for them are developed. An MIRV payload on a missile carries several nuclear warheads, which can be programmed to hit different targets. A flurry of such missiles can hence completely overwhelm BMD (ballistic missile defence) systems. 

President congratulates DRDO

President Pratibha Patil on Thursday congratulated DRDO scientists for the successful test firing of Inter Continental Ballistic Missile Agni-V with a strike range of 5,000 km. "President congratulates DRDO and its scientists for successful Agni V Test launch," a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said. The 5000 km range ICBM was successfully test-fired today from a range in Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.

(JPN/Agencies)