New Year 2017 began on a happy note for the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with the flight-testing of India’s long-range, strategic ballistic missile, Agni-IV, turning out to be a “grand success” on Monday.
The SFC, which is entrusted with the launching of nuclear weapon delivery systems, fired the missile around 12 noon from a road-mobile launcher positioned on the Abdul Kalam Island, off Damra village on the Odisha coast. The two-stage, surface-to-surface Agni-IV can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne over a distance of more than 4,000 km. But on Monday, the SFC fired it for a range of about 3,100 km only, informed sources said. The missile impacted in the Indian Ocean.
Agni-IV had been tested twice earlier for ranges between 3,000 and 3,500 km instead of its full range of more than 4,000 km. The DRDO conceived, designed and developed the Agni-IV.
Asked why the missile is repeatedly tested for a range that is much lesser than it is capable of travelling, sources said the SFC had its “own requirements and they will fire the missile according to the requirements.”
Besides, the SFC would like to test Agni-IV for its capability. “The SFC has its programme in testing the missile for a lesser range. They are sticking to it,” the sources said.
On Monday, the missile carried “normal explosives to test the sequence of the flight,” the sources added. Radars and range systems tracked it.
The latest victory, coming in the wake of the spectacular success of the Agni-V mission on December 26, 2016, confirmed India’s nuclear deterrence capability for, both the missiles can cover the entire area on the other side of the border. Agni-V can carry a nuclear warhead weighing 1.5 tonnes over a distance of 5,000 km and plus.
Agni-IV has already been deployed by the Army. It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes. Solid propellants power its two stages. It had been flight-tested five times earlier — in 2011, 2012, twice in 2014 and in 2015. All the five missions were successful. This is the sixth success in a row.