Y. Mallikarjun

HYDERABAD: When India test-fires the 5,000-km range Agni-V in 2010, it will be one of the most sophisticated, smart and intelligent missiles of its class, featuring a host of new technologies, including measures to counter a ballistic missile threat.

This surface-to-surface missile, which will have the longest rangeof all Indian missiles, will form a crucial element of the country’s nuclear deterrence programme. With scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) deciding to make it a canister-launch weapon system, Agni-V is expected to provide a major tactical advantage as it can be launched from anywhere in the country.

Talking to The Hindu here, Avinash Chander, director of the Agni programme and of the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) Avinash Chander, who is also the director of the Agni programme, said the design was completed and the first development flight test will be conducted in 2010. Two of the three stages of the solid-propellant missile will be made of composites, making it lighter. While 60 per cent of the sub-systems will be similar to those of the 3,500-km-range Agni-III, the rest will comprise new and advanced technologies like the ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer, which provide navigation and guidance. The gyroscope was developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), sister laboratory of ASL, and is part of DRDO’s missile complex here. This advanced technology was proved successfully in Agni-III and in the recent test-firing of Shourya, the tactical missile. Referring to ring laser gyroscope, G. Satish Reddy, director, navigation, observed “this technology is developed by very few countries and we are on a par with them now.”

Underlining the importance of canister-launch, Mr. Chander said all future Agni missions will have canister launch. Canister had nothing to do with silo or non-silo. V.G. Sekaran, associate director (programmes), ASL, said the Agni-V programme was on schedule. “We are in the development mode and qualification trial will follow.” All the sub-systems will be ground-tested till 2010.