India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Agni-5

A file photo of Agni 5 missile.

A file photo of Agni 5 missile.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The long-range ballistic missile has a strike range of 5,000 km

Long-range ballistic missile Agni-5 was successfully test fired off Odisha coast on Sunday proving its reliability. This is the sixth successful test of the missile and the second in its pre-induction configuration.

“Agni-5 missile was successfully flight tested today at 0945 hrs from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island [Wheeler Island]. All the radars, electro-optical tracking stations and telemetry stations tracked the vehicle all through the course of the trajectory. All the mission objectives have been achieved,” the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said in a statement.

Agni-5 can carry nuclear warhead weighing 1.5 tonnes to a distance of over 5,000 km and is the longest missile in India’s arsenal capable of reaching most parts of China. With a smaller payload, the range can go up much higher.

The missile features many new indigenously-developed technologies, including the very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS), and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) which improves the accuracy of the missile.

The first test was conducted on April 19, 2012 and after two tests, the missile was tested in canisterised configuration for improving its mobility, reducing launch time and improving safety and storage. The last test and the first in pre-induction configuration was conducted on January 18, 2018. Agni-5 is expected to be inducted into the Strategic Forces Command very soon.

Last month, India celebrated two decades of the Shakti series of nuclear tests conducted in Phokran in May, 1998. India has since commissioned its first ballistic missile submarine completing the triad for nuclear delivery but is still sometime away from operational deployment. So far the Agni series of missiles remain the mainstay of nuclear weapons delivery.

Hitting the target with speed and precision

The missile has been programmed in such a way that after reaching the peak of its trajectory, it will turn towards the earth and continue its journey towards the intended target with an increased speed due to the attraction of earth’s gravitational pull. The path has been precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system.

As the missile enters the earth's atmosphere, the atmospheric air rubbing the skin of the missile during the re-entry phase raises the temperature beyond 4,000 degrees Celsius, sources said.

However, the indigenously designed and developed carbon-carbon composite heat shield continues to burn sacrificially, protecting the payload and maintaining the inside temperature below 50 degrees Celsius, the sources added.

All mission objectives met

Finally, commanded by the on-board computer with a support of ring laser gyro- based inertial navigation system, the micro inertial navigation system, fully digital control system and advanced compact avionics, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives, they said.

The ships located in mid-range and at the target point, tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event. All the radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored all parameters of the missile and displayed in real time, they added.

The first two flights of Agni-5 in 2012 and 2013 respectively, were in open configuration.

The third, fourth and fifth launches were from canister integrated with a mobile launcher, in its deliverable configuration that enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch.

It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility, sources said.

India's armoury list

At present, India has in its armoury the Agni series — Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.

The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015 and fourth on December 26, 2016. The last test was held on January 18, 2018.

All the five earlier trials were successful.


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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 9:53:29 PM |

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