The atmosphere in the Block House on Wheeler Island turned electric with celebrations on Thursday when it became clear that the Agni-V mission was a resounding success.
Bursts of applause and shouts of ‘DRDO Zindabad, Hip Hip Hooray' filled the air, as young scientists lifted up V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister; Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) DRDO; and V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory and chaired them around.
The mission was so perfect that the missile's re-entry vehicle hit the waters of the Indian Ocean in the targeted area with an accuracy of a few metres. Dr. Saraswat said the entire mission was monitored by three ships stationed down range, telemetry and radars along the coast. The data indicated that the mission objectives were fully met. The fireball created by the explosion of the dummy payload was recorded by cameras onboard the ships
Agni-V is such a versatile missile, incorporating as it does several new technologies, that Dr. Saraswat called it “a technological marvel.” “This missile belongs to the 21st century not only in timeframe but in technological capability.” In terms of deterrence, the missile would be “a game changer,” said Dr. Saraswat, himself a missile technologist.
Mr. Avinash Chander stressed that the three-stage missile had several new technologies that contributed to the mission's success. These included rocket motor casings made up of carbon composites, the motors contoured to suit the missile's shape, high-performance navigation, guidance and control systems and rail/road mobile launcher. All the sub-systems fabricated by the DRDO were fully validated.
“This gives us the confidence to go in for larger number [of missiles] and longer ranges. But a longer range is not the issue. Our main focus is on induction [of the missile into the armed forces],” Mr. Chander stressed.
Mr. Chander, who also acted as Programme Director, Agni-V, said: “With Agni-V, we can reach all targets of interest from deep inside India. The same system allows you to reach the farthest corners where you want to exert your influence while providing sufficient protection for yourself.” Since it could be launched from a road mobile launcher and a canister, it was difficult to intercept the missile and defeat it while being launched.
V.G. Sekaran, Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, said: “A great advantage in the configuration of Agni-V is that we can further enhance and expand its range. We could upscale Agni-III with a range of 3,500 km to Agni-V in a short time. On similar lines, we can go beyond Agni-V. That is the beauty of Agni-V's configuration. Its up-scaling and mobility is high.”
The ASL designed and developed Agni-V.
Dr. Sekaran, the chief designer of the missile, stressed that the rocket motor casings made up of carbon composites gave the missile a better performance.
G. Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, Research Centre Imarat, said the missile's two navigation systems, on-board computers, control actuator systems and mission interface units used the latest technology. During the mission, the on-board computer estimated the trajectory every few milliseconds and made the missile system follow that path. Besides the propulsion, Mr. Reddy said, both the navigation systems worked perfectly, giving accuracy of a few metres.
The most important technology of inertial navigation, guidance and control systems, which went into the missile, was the brainchild of Research Centre Imarat (RCI), its Director S.K. Chaudhuri said. It was redundantly configured with state-of-the-art systems. All the systems were validated by advanced simulation at the RCI.
Tessy Thomas, Project Director, Agni-V Mission, said: “We had an excellent mission, meeting all objectives from the lift-off to the impact. Three stages of guidance, which were new, could meet the mission objectives fully.”
R.K. Gupta was the Project Director for Agni-V.