Missile technologists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are reaching Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa for the launch of India's Agni II Prime missile on November 15. The missile will take off from a specially designed truck and, if the flight is successful, it will target an area 3,000 km away in the Bay of Bengal.

The missile engineers are looking forward to the Agni II Prime launch after the successful flights of Shourya, Prithivi-II and Agni-II missiles in the last week of September this year.

However, they are keeping their fingers crossed because the maiden flight of Agni-II Prime in December 2010 had failed. The flight ended abruptly after a problem in the control system of the first stage of the missile, which occurred during the lift-off.

No change

There is no change in the configuration of the Agni II Prime to be launched on November 15 and the missile that failed last December.

The missile engineers said: “We had a problem last time. We have identified the problem and taken precautions to stabilise the whole system. We have introduced a lot of redundancies to take care of the anomalies that may occur during the flight,” they added.

Agni-II Prime is a two-stage surface-to-surface missile that aims at filling the gap in the ranges between Agni-II and Agni-III. While Agni-II can take out targets 2,000 km away, Agni-III can travel a distance of 3,000 km to 3,500 km.

All the three are strategic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. But test flights like these carry conventional explosives. Agni-II Prime is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes. This time it will carry a warhead weighing 800 kg instead of the normal 1,000 kg. “We are aiming to go for range of 3,000 km this time,” a DRDO official said. The Advanced Missile Laboratory, Hyderabad, has designed and developed the missile.

The DRDO has also developed the Agni-V, the most powerful missile in India's arsenal. Agni-V, which will carry a nuclear warhead, can aim at places 5,000 km away. The motors of its three stages have undergone successful tests at a facility at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. Its maiden flight may take place in December 2011 or January/February 2012.

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