Preparations are moving into top gear for the launch of Agni-II ballistic missile from the Wheeler Island on August 9, 2012. It will be a practice launch for the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army, which (SFC) is tasked with launching missiles that will carry nuclear warheads. The launch will take place from a rail-mobile system on the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast. Agni-II is a surface-to-surface missile that can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne. But in the mission on Thursday, it will carry only a dummy payload. The missile’s range is 2,500 km.

Agni-II, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has already been inducted into the Army. It has two stages and both use solid fuel. The missile is more than 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes.

The SFC is looking forward to launching Agni-II on August 9 after it launched Agni-I missile on July 13, 2012. The flight of Agni-I on that day was flawless. Agni-I has a range of 700 km and it can carry nuclear warheads.

After the spectacular success of Agni-V, with a range of more than 5,000 km, during its maiden launch in April 2012, Agni variants “with different ranges, various capabilities, different platforms and the ability to deploy are getting tested,” DRDO missile technologists said. Agni-IV will also be flight-tested.

BrahMos, India’s supersonic cruise missile, failed in its flight on July 29, 2012. Informed sources said BrahMos developed “some problems” during its flight and “it deviated from its path.” It could not travel its full range of 290 km and fell into the Bay of Bengal. A committee has been set up to analyse the telemetry. “It is not a serious problem in the system. The failure perhaps had something to do with production, with the indigenisation process,” the sources said.

A press release on that day, however, did not mention that BrahMos had failed in its flight. It merely said the 32 flight test of BrahMos took place at 10.30 a.m. from a test range at Chandipur, off the Odisha coast, as part of the development trials. The objective of the mission was to evaluate some of the newer sub-systems which were produced by the Indian industry as part of the product stabilisation, it said. More than 25 such systems were incorporated in the missile. BrahMos, which carries conventional warheads, has already been inducted into the Army and the Navy. The missile travels at 2.8 times the speed of sound.

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