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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Agni-V: India in elite club

The Agni-V missile successfully lifts off from Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast, on Thursday morning.  — PTI
The Agni-V missile successfully lifts off from Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast, on Thursday morning. — PTI
India on Thursday blasted its way into an elite club of nations by successfully launching its over 5,000 km-range nuclear-capable Long-Range Ballistic Missile Agni-V off the Orissa coast, thereby signalling it has intercontinental ballistic missile capability and giving the country a credible nuclear-capable deterrent vis-a-vis China. The government hailed the test as a success and said the designated target had been hit.
The Agni-V can reach all of China, including Beijing, and most parts of Europe and Africa are within its range. The missile travelled in a southeastern direction and hit its target in the southern Indian Ocean.
Asked about the road ahead beyond Agni-V, a senior DRDO official said there was currently “no proposal for an Agni-VI with even further range”, and it was up to the government to decide on any new project. China has the ability to launch ICBMs with a range of over 10,000 km.
There was a measured reaction from China, which said the two nations are not rivals and enjoy “sound” relations. “China has taken note of reports on India’s missile launch. The two countries have a sound relationship,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokes-man Liu Weimin in Beijing. PM Manmohan Singh and defence minister A.K. Antony congratulated DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, programme director Avinash Chander and other top scientists, including woman scientist Tessy Thomas, for the project’s success. There was much jubilation and cheering among DRDO scientists at the test-range after the successful launch.
The DRDO chief said “all mission parameters had been met” and that India was now a “major missile power”, with only six countries having this capability. “All the re-entry conditions were perfect. The missile travelled through the re-entry, got converted into a fireball and finally (hit the target)... All the payload parameters which result in the detonation of the warhead took place,” he said. “This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of this class, and we are today a major missile power.”
Top DRDO scientists said at least two more tests of the missile would be carried out for validation, after which it is likely to be inducted into the armed forces by 2014. Agni-V is a three-stage, all-solid fuel-powered missile with multiple independent targetable re-entry vehicle, and can target several areas simultaneously with a one-ton nuclear warhead.


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