In the successful flight of Agni-IV on Tuesday, what stands out is the flawless performance of a range of new indigenous technologies developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and according to technologists in the organisation, they represent a quantum jump in the nation's missile technology prowess.The triumph caps three successful flights of Shourya, Prithvi and Agni-II missiles conducted in September last week and has boosted the DRDO's confidence to go in for the Agni-V's maiden flight in a couple of months.
V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said, “The technologies proven in this mission will give us the necessary confidence to go in for the Agni-V launch [with a range of 5,000 km] in a couple of months.” The DRDO did not use any satellite during Agni-IV's flight. Agni-IV, earlier named Agni-II Prime, flew more than 3,000 km on Tuesday from the Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast.
The spectrum of new technologies incorporated in the Agni-IV mission included fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) or composite casing for the second stage, ring-laser gyros for inertial navigation system (RINS), micro-navigation system (MINGS) as redundancy to improve the vehicle's reliability, a powerful onboard computer system, a multi-channel communication system and advanced avionics. The FRP reduced the missile's weight, enabling it to carry more propellants and to have a better range than Agni-II's 2,000 km.
Dr. Saraswat praised Gundra Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, and his team for developing the RINS, MINGS and onboard avionics, all of which made it “a fantastic flight.”
“Today, we have a missile which is lighter in weight, highly accelerating, manoeuvrable and unmatched. This missile incorporated the type of redundancies seen in manned missions, providing for robustness and reliability,” Dr. Saraswat said.
The other important technologies that contributed to the Agni-IV's success were better stage separation systems, efficient propulsion, high-energy solid propellants and powerful batteries.
Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, and V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, were sure that the new technologies contributed to the Agni-IV's triumph. The missile was road-mobile (it can be launched from a specially designed truck), “which is state-of-the-art for this class of missile,” they said.
The Agni-IV Project Director was Tessy Thomas.
Dr. Saraswat attacked the technology denial regimes that worked against the DRDO developing these technologies. He said, “All the technology denial regimes that worked against the development of these systems were combated by the DRDO by its developing new materials, composite casting for second stage, the RINS and high-speed processing system for the guidance. The terminal accuracy achieved shows the DRDO's strength in the development of long-range missiles. The mission demonstrates that the Indian missile technologists are in a position to handle technologically and managerially complex missions. India has come of age and developed world-class technologies. Technology-denial regimes cannot deter a motivated country like India to achieve self-reliance.”
Mr. Reddy said the indigenous RINS and MINGS, complementing each other in a redundant mode, were proven in this flight. “We used a powerful onboard computer system with distributed avionics structure and a multi-channel, highly reliable communication system, which controlled and guided the missile accurately to the target.”
Dr. Sekaran said the new navigation system was basically software-intensive with a lot of built-in logic and redundancy, which provided the missile's reliability. “These are state-of-the-art systems and some of these new technologies will go into India's new missile systems, including the making of Agni-V.”
Dr. Sekaran called Agni-IV “a good, user-friendly weapon for the Army.” For, it could be integrated quickly and transported on road. In Mr. Chander's assessment, the new technologies would lead to freedom of operation for the Army.