The Strategic Forces Command of the Army on Thursday fired Agni-1, the surface-to-surface missile, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) on Wheeler Island, off Damra village on the Orissa coast.

The flight was successful with the missile travelling its full range of 700 km. Fired at 10.20 a.m., the missile followed its trajectory and reached the designated target area in the Bay of Bengal.

Agni-1, which can carry nuclear warheads, is a product of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), a DRDO facility at Hyderabad, developed it. The Strategic Forces Command is in charge of the nuclear delivery systems.

Avinash Chander, ASL Director, said “the launch went off perfectly well and it was a fantastic flight.” Radars, telemetry systems and electro-optical systems set up on the coast tracked the missile and monitored its health. Ships stationed near the target area witnessed the terminal event of Agni-1's flight. “It is one of the regular flights done by the Strategic Forces Command to see the readiness of the strategic deterrent. They do the flight to check whether we are ready for any eventuality,” said Mr. Chander, who is also the Programme Director for the Agni series of missiles.

All the mission requirements were done in real time as per the desire of the user (the Army). The missile was picked at random from among the production series and launched.

The launch operations were supervised by Project Director J. Chattopadhyay. The flight was witnessed by V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, and S.P. Dash, Director, ITR.

Agni-1, which has been inducted into the Army, is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants. Its re-entry system is made of carbon composites to protect its payload (nuclear warhead) from the intense heat generated when the missile re-enters the atmosphere. The missile weighs 12 tonnes and is 15 metres long. It can carry a one-tonne payload.

The DRDO is planning to launch a series of missiles in the coming months.

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