Within three days, India successfully test-fired a second surface-to-surface nuclear weapons capable ballistic missile on Friday — Agni-III was fired for its full range of 3,000 km from the Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.

On Wednesday, the 4,000-km range Agni-IV was successfully launched by the missile technologists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

In Friday’s mission, personnel of the Strategic Forces Command fired Agni-III from a rail mobile launcher at 1.20 a.m. after it was randomly picked up from the production lot. The 17-metre tall missile zeroed in on to the pre-designated target in the Indian Ocean with a two-digit accuracy after a 15-minute ballistic flight. It met all the mission objectives and there was no deviation from the parameters, official sources said. The trial was conducted as part of regular user-training.

The two-stage solid propelled missile reached an altitude of 500 km and withstood scorching temperatures as it re-entered the atmosphere and impacted near the target point. Radars located along the east coast, telemetry stations and electro-optical network tracked and monitored the missile’s performance in real time, while two down range ships recorded the terminal event as the missile impacted the target.

Agni-III, which has already been inducted into the Services, is capable of carrying a payload weighing 1.5 tonnes. It is equipped with an advanced guidance and navigation system to ensure accuracy.

This was the fourth success of Agni-III in a row and the seventh belonging to the Agni series.

In the past five months, all the variants of Agni, from Agni-V to Agni-I, have been successfully test-fired.

V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister; the Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, Avinash Chander; Director, Research Centre Imarat, S.K. Chaudhuri; and Director, Integrated Test Range (ITR), M.V. K.V. Prasad, were present.

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