The first development flight of the long range Agni-V missile would be conducted in December this year, DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“The first development flight of Agni-V will be in the month of December this year... Agni-V will take us to a level of 5,000-km plus class of missile systems which meets all our threat requirements,” Mr. Saraswat, who is also Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said.

He was interacting with reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of Golden Jubilee celebrations of Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a premier DRDO lab working in the area of physiological development of soldiers of the armed forces.

Replying to a question on whether DRDO is planning to develop Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), Mr. Saraswat said, “We are not developing any ICBM. Our threat perception today is not requiring development of any ICBM.”

He said that the country possesses the capability to develop longer range missiles.

“Whether it is a 5000-km range missile or a 10,000-km range one, it requires the same technology. Only the magnitude of the rocket motor, the size of the rocket motor, or the diameter of the missile changes. But the science and technology remains the same,” he said.

On the recent test firing of Prithvi-II missile, Mr. Saraswat said it was a training launch carried out by the Strategic Force Command (SFC).

“Missiles like Prithvi-II and Agni-III are already inducted in the armed forces. Forces have already taken certain number of these missiles. Now as part of the total programme, from every batch of production, they take one or two missiles to validate its production worthiness and second thing is that they train their units,” he said.

“Every time a new unit (of the forces) comes, it has to be trained. So what you are seeing today are the training firing of these missiles. Yesterday’s firing of Prithvi-II was also a training launch carried out by the SFC. Similarly, all the previous firing were done as part of that,” Mr. Saraswat said.

On weapon trials of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas which is going on at a firing range in Pokhran, Mr. Saraswat said, “Yesterday LCA fired a laser guided bomb which had a direct hit on the target under heat conditions in Pokhran. It was the first such firing from the aircraft.”

He said the aircraft is expected to get the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) from the IAF by 2012.

On development of Mark-II version of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun, Mr. Saraswat said the tank would be equipped with advance and modified systems such as an integrated gun capable of firing anti-tank missiles and a display system to show several functions to assist the soldier.

“Missile firing capability in Arjun Mark-II will be completely unique. It will be capable of firing laser guided missiles with pin-point accuracy. The missile will be integrated with the MBT and it would be capable of defeating the tank’s armour,” he said.

Arjun Mark-II will have several different capabilities, for example, a different kind of gunner sight and panoramic sight along with an integrated display, which is not there at present, Mr. Saraswat said.

“The integrated display has got multiple functions like target detection, it can see how the missile is going to be located and function for firing different weapons. The display will also show if the tank is moving through an amphibious area,” the DRDO chief said.

On systems to ensure improved performance of soldiers operating the tank, he said, “The internal ergonomics will undergo required changes. All the systems will have to go for a reorientation mode. We have also made some new devices like human cooling system.”

Indian Army has ordered 142 MBT Arjun Mark-II which would be ready for commissioning within a couple of years.

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