India’s nuclear deterrence programme received a boost on Monday when its Agni-IV, a surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 4,000 km, was successfully test-fired from the Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast. The Agni-IV is a strategic missile which can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the missile, did the test-firing. This was the third success in a row for Agni-IV. Its first success came in November 2011 and the second in Sepetmber 2012.
Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and DRDO Director-General, said “the mission went off perfectly well” with Agni-IV reaching a height of about 850 km and achieving its full range of 4,000 km. The success “opens a new missile ready for induction” into the Army, he said.
A team from the Army “participated in the launch and was involved in all preparations for the launch,” he added. The missile would be handed over to the user now and its serial production would start.
Mr. Chander said the success had ramped up the nation's “deterrence to a higher level of preparedness and effectiveness.” The missile was fired from a road-mobile launcher. This meant it “can be moved anywhere in the country and this is its main strength.”
Radar stations at Port Blair, Chandipur, Balasore and Pardip tracked the missile’s entire trajectory including the terminal event, that is, the detonation of the warhead.
Asked whether the missile had a dummy warhead in this flight, Mr. Chander said it carried “the entire warhead minus the nuclear part.” Ravi Gupta, Director, Public Interface, DRDO, said the launch took place at 10.52 a.m. and the flight lasted about 20 minutes. The missile’s terminal event took place over the Indian Ocean.
Agni-IV is a two-stage missile. It weighs 17 tonnes and is 20 metres long. Senior officers from the Odisha Government watched the launch from the Wheeler Island. .
“The state-of-the-art Ring Laser Gyros based high accuracy INS (INS) and Micro Navigation System (MINGS) complementing each other in redundant mode have been incorporated into the missile system in guidance mode,” DRDO sources said.
The sophisticated missile is lighter in weight and has two stages of solid propulsion. The payload, with a re—entry heat shield can withstand temperature of more than 3000 degree Celsius, a defence scientist said.