Hits target area, dashing across 2,000 km in 700 seconds
Agni-II soared to a spectacular success on Thursday, darting across more than 2,000 km in a flawless mission of 700 seconds.
The Army’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC), tasked with launching missiles that carry nuclear warheads, fired the missile from a platform built on a rail track on the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast.
After lifting off at 8.46 a.m., the missile climbed to a height of 220 km, then flew 2,000 km before hitting the designated target area in the Bay of Bengal with an accuracy of a few meters.
Surface-to-surface Agni-II, produced by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne. But in this flight, it was armed only with conventional explosives. The successful mission established the SFC’s preparedness to launch the nuclear weapons-capable Agni variants on its own, DRDO officials said.
Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat told The Hindu from the Wheeler Island: “We are on track. The country has complete control over the design, evaluation and testing of ballistic missiles. The mission shows the perfection achieved by the armed forces to handle the Agni series of missiles.”
Mission Director Avinash Chander said the flight “most importantly, conveys our preparedness to meet any eventuality, for it was launched by the SFC.” The mission “fully validated our operational readiness to fire the missile.”
Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) in Hyderabad V.G. Sekaran said: “The user [the SFC] is totally confident of handling all the activities required for the launch. Their confidence … shows that the systems are in place. The missile was taken from the production lot and handed over to the user. The mission shows the tapering of our [the DRDO’s] support for the launch campaign.”
Associate Director of Research Centre, Imarat (RCI) in Hyderabad G. Satheesh Reddy said the avionics in the missile — on-board computers, missile interface units, and control actuation, navigation and telemetry systems — functioned to their capability. D. Lakshminarayana was Vehicle Director. Director of RCI S.K. Chaudhuri and Director of the Integrated Test Range M.V.K.V. Prasad were present during the launch.