The stage is set for the first developmental flight test of Agni-V, India’s most potent strategic missile with a range of 5,000 km, from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha Coast this evening.
The three-stage, solid propelled missile was taken to the launch pad in the early morning to conduct range readiness checks. It was later shifted to another shelter and the vehicle will be brought back to the launch pad a few hours before the launch.
The Flight Readiness Review meeting and Launch Authorisation Board are scheduled to meet later in the day to give the final nod for the launch of the missile at around 19.00 hrs. The tiny Wheeler Island has been a beehive of activity for more than 20 days with a few hundred missile technologists and scientists working at frenetic pace for meeting the scheduled deadline.
The success of the mission will propel India into the club of nations possessing technologies for developing Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), although Agni-V is of the class of an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). Agni-V’s range could be further enhanced to become an ICBM to meet the country’s strategic requirements.
V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO have described Agni-V as a game-changer and asserted that it would significantly enhance the country’s strategic Defence capability.
The 17-metre tall missile weighs 50 tonnes and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a 1.1 tonne payload. However, the missile will carry a dummy payload in this developmental flight.