The test-flight of Agni-IV, India's most advanced long-range missile was “a stupendous success” on Tuesday, with the missile covering a range of more than 3,000 km in 20 minutes of fluent flight.
This was the longest range mission flown by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) so far. Agni-IV, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, was earlier called Agni-II Prime. The first flight of Agni-II Prime in December 2010 was a failure.
As the Sun shone on the tiny Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast, Agni-IV lifted off majestically at 9 a.m. from a specially designed truck, accelerated to a height of 900 km, sliced across a distance of 3,000 km and accurately reached the targeted area in the Bay of Bengal. As it plunged into the atmosphere, its re-entry systems withstood a searing 3,000 degrees Celsius. Several radars and electro-optical systems along the Odisha coast tracked the vehicle.
The two-stage Agni-IV, which weighs 17 tonnes and is 20 metres long, carried an 800-kg payload of conventional explosives. However, it is designed to carry a 1,000-kg payload.
In this mission, the DRDO used a host of new technologies for the first time. Agni-IV “has opened a new era” for India in the class of long-range missiles to carry strategic [nuclear] warheads for the armed forces and “provides a fantastic deterrence,” DRDO missile technologists asserted. “Strategically, it can cover the whole area on the other side of the border [China],” they explained.
V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, called it “one of the most stupendous missions.”
The launch had put India in “a different league” because “the kind of technologies we used in this flight are different from those we had developed in the 1980s and 1990s.”
Dr. Saraswat, who is also the DRDO Director-General, said: “I will say that India does not need any foreign assistance for surface-to-surface missiles of this class.”