(The Hindu) : Preparations for the launch of Agni-V in December 2011 are gathering speed, with all the three stages of the missile having been successfully tested at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district.
Agni-V will be India's most powerful missile, capable of targeting places as far as 5,000 km away with a one-tonne nuclear warhead, giving teeth to the country's nuclear deterrence programme. It will be the missile with the longest range in India's arsenal: in comparison, Agni-III has a range of 3,500 km.
“All the three stages of Agni-V have been tested successfully on the ground,” V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said on Thursday from Chandipur in Orissa, after the successful launch of India's new missile, Prahaar. “The integration activity of Agni-V is now in progress. Our team, headed by Avinash Chander, is working hard for launching Agni-V in December. It will be a national mission.”
Mr. Chander is Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He earlier worked as Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, which has designed all the variants of the Agni missiles, including Agni-V.
DRDO rocket technologists said all the three stages of Agni-V would be fired by solid propellants. The missile, 17.2-metre long and weighing 50 tonnes and with a diameter of two metres, will be launched from a road mobile system from the Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa.
In 2007, the DRDO developed a large rocket motor-casing made entirely of carbon filament-wound composite, a crucial step towards building Agni-V. This casing will form the third upper stage of the missile.
The DRDO will launch two more missiles by the end of 2011. In August, it will launch Agni-II, which can target places 2,000 km away. It will be launched by the Strategic Forces Command of the Army, which handles nuclear delivery systems. In September, the DRDO will fire the Agni-II Prime missile, which has a range of 2,500 km. The maiden launch of this two-stage missile failed in December 2010, because of a problem in the control system in its first stage.