Hypersonic Shourya will make its third flight before induction in Army

It will be a busy week from Saturday for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) — it will test-fire three surface-to-surface missiles, which can carry nuclear weapons, from Orissa's coast.

Hypersonic missile Shourya (valour), which can also carry conventional warheads, will be test-fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near Balasore.

This will be followed by the launch of Prithvi-II on September 26, also from Chandipur, and Agni-II on September 30 from the Wheeler Island off Damra.

It will be the third launch of Shourya, which can fly at six-seven times the speed of sound (Mach 6 to 7) at low altitudes. The first launch was on November 12, 2008, and the second was kept a secret. It is the land-variant of underwater-launched missile K-15 that is being fitted into nuclear-powered submarine Arihant. K-15 is already under production.

DRDO missile technologists said the Saturday launch of Shourya would be “a proving trial with the user's [Services'] participation.” Since the first two launches were successful, the missile would be inducted into the Army if this flight too turned out to be a success. There would be no change in the configuration of the missile that can hit targets 750 km away.

Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, said the final version of Shourya was picked up from the production lot for the trial.

A highly manoeuvrable, two-stage missile, it can be launched at different altitudes, and even from a canister. Its manoeuvrability makes it less vulnerable to the present-day anti-missile defence systems.

S.K. Chaudhuri, Associate Director of the Research Centre, Imarat (RCI) in Hyderabad, said the reliability and the final design of Shourya would be tested on Saturday. A test was conducted at the RCI's simulation laboratory under his supervision. “The simulation has shown good results, according to our expectations,” he said.

The sleek, single-stage Prithvi-II is an Air Force version. With a range of 250 km, it can carry warheads weighing 500 kg.

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