India's longest range missile can take out targets 5000 km away.
Agni-V, India's most powerful ballistic missile with the longest range, is all set to lift off from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast, on Wednesday evening. It can take out targets 5000 km away.
Although it is of the class of an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), the success of the mission will enable India join a select band of nations with capability to design, develop and produce Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Many crucial technologies will be tested during the flight of the missile, whose three stages are being propelled by solid fuel. The test will last 18 to 20 minutes before the missile impacts the target point deep inside the Indian Ocean.
The 17-metre-long and 50-tonne missile can carry a 1.1-tonne nuclear warhead. However, in this mission, it will carry a dummy payload.
A few hundred scientists and missile technologists have been working round-the-clock for the past many days to integrate the sub-systems of the missile, which was uploaded late on Tuesday evening on to the trailer of the road mobile launcher.
V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, told The Hindu, the launch will mark a “historic day.” “Agni-V is a game-changer and a technological marvel. It is a weapon which can perform multiple functions.” It could be used for anti-satellite capability, for putting micro and nano satellites in orbit and carry multiple warheads.
Dr. Saraswat said it was comparable to the missiles of this class developed by the U.S., France, Russia and China. He said the performance of the systems during the phase three and four tests had been good and satisfactory.
Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (missiles and strategic systems), Defence Research and Development Organisation, said: “This is the first time India will have a true deterrence. We had a good deterrence with Agni-III and an upgrade with Agni-IV. But Agni-V gives you a total quantum jump in that capability.”
He said that it could be launched from a canister giving India the “stop-and-launch” capability. It could be stopped on the roadside and launched, providing it great mobility.
V.G. Sekaran, director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, said the missile's second stage motor casing made of carbon composite had led to drastic reduction in the weight. This would lead to higher performance. Describing it as a “user-friendly” missile, he said its footprint was the same as Agni-III. There was tremendous potential for achieving higher ranges, he added.