Marking another milestone in the country’s deterrence capability, India today successfully carried out the maiden canister-based trial of its most potent missile Agni-V, which has a strike range of over 5000 kms and can carry a nuclear warhead of over one tonne.
The missile was launched from a canister mounted on a road-mobile launcher at Wheeler’s Island off Odisha coast. The three-stage, solid propellant “missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 8.06 hours,” ITR Director M V K V Prasad said.
Today’s launch from a canister integrated with a mobile sophisticated launcher, was in its deliverable configuration that enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch. It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility.
Defence analysts said the canister would make 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed scientists for the successful test-firing of ‘Agni V’ and said the missile is a prized asset for the country’s forces.
Congratulating team Agni, Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha, who had witnessed the entire launch operations from the control room, called it “a great achievement”.
“This is a momentous occasion. It is India’s first-ever ICBM launch from a canister and is a giant leap in countryâ€™s deterrence capability,” Avinash Chander, the outgoing Director General of DRDO said in his address to the project team.
Terming it as “a copy book launch” with entire command network functioning in loop, Chander congratulated the entire DRDO community for the tremendous efforts put in by them in making the country self reliant in the area of long range missile systems.
Chander also thanked the DRDO team for demonstrating such a great success on the last day of his work in DRDO.
“I cherished every moment of my service in DRDO and I thank you all for the relentless support given to me all through. I am leaving with a great satisfaction of equipping the country with such advanced missiles. I wish the entire DRDO community a great future,” he said.
Earlier, announcing the success of the mission, V G Sekaran, Mission Director, and DG Missiles and Strategic Systems said, “All mission objectives have been achieved, down range ships have confirmed final splashdown, the mission is a great success and it is a momentous occasion”.
A jubilant Rajesh Kr Gupta, Project Director Agni V, described the success as “historic achievement; a dream fulfilled”.
The ships located in mid-range and at the target point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event. All the radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored all the parameters of the Missile and displayed in real time.
The earlier two flights of Agni V, fully successful were in open configuration and had already proved the missile.
Giving details, the DRDO said, “It was a historic moment when for the first time in India, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) about 17m long and weighing over 50 ton majestically rose from the confines of its canister. At the predetermined moment, having risen to about 20 meters height, it’s first stage motor ignited lifting Agni 5 into the sky.
“The flight continued on its predetermined path during which the second, all composite light weight motor, followed by the third, innovatively designed conical all composite rocket motor propelled the missile into space taking it to a height of more than 600 km,” it said.
The missile, after reaching peak of its trajectory, turned towards earth to continue its journey towards the intended target with a speed now increasing due to attraction of earthâ€™s gravitational pull and its path precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system.
“As the missile entered earth’s atmosphere, the atmospheric air rubbing the skin of the missile during the re-entry phase raised the temperature to beyond 4000 degree Celsius,” DRDO said.
“However, the indigenously designed and developed carbon-carbon composite heat shield continued to burn sacrificially protecting in the process the payload, maintaining inside temperature below 50 degree Celsius,” it said.
“Finally, commanded by the on-board computer with a support of highly accurate ring laser gyro based inertial navigation system, the most modern micro inertial navigation system (MINS), fully digital control system and advanced compact avionics, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives”, it said.
Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor congratulated Chander and the Mission team for the successful launch.
Lt Gen Amit Sharma, who was also present on the occasion, called it “a fantastic achievement.”