Come 2019 and India would inscribe its name in golden letters on the global nuclear map as one of the few countries having a robust Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability. This would take it a step closer to become the military super power in the South East Asia region.
Sources at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed ‘The Express’ that the country’s longest range most potent nuclear-tipped ballistic missile Agni-V, which completed its pre-induction trial on Monday, would be finally handed over to the Armed Forces early next year.
Once the most powerful and game-changer weapon system is inducted, India will be the eighth nation in the world after the US, UK, Russia, China, France, Israel and North Korea, which have ICBM capabilities.
In a precursor to the long-cherished dream, defence sources said, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army successfully conducted the last phase pre-induction trial of the missile from a defence test facility off Odisha coast.
This was for the first time that the indigenously developed missile was test fired in a lofted trajectory from the Launching Complex-IV of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island at about 1.30 pm. The missile blasted off from a hermitically sealed canister covered nearly 2,041 km.
“The missile was flight tested as part of its induction phase trial. The mission ended in a high note as it validated all parameters. The weapon system has been tested in different modes. This was with lofted trajectory to determine whether it is following the perfect flight path with close to zero error. It was tested in a depressed trajectory in 2016,” said an official.
Agni-V is the most advanced weapon in its series as it has highly accurate ring laser gyro based inertial navigation and most modern micro inertial navigation system with advanced compact avionics. Of seven tests of the missile so far, three trials were conducted this year.
A symbol of DRDO’s technological excellence and India’s strength, the missile fired in deliverable configuration flew on a predefined path and reached its destination with expected precision. “The consecutive successes have proved that the system is matured. Now the missile is ready for induction and mass production,” the official added.
Even as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been insisting that the missile has the capability to deliver nuclear warheads 5,000 km away, defence strategists believe the missile can travel beyond 8,000 km and its actual range is not being disclosed for obvious reasons.
The missile is capable of hitting targets in all Asian countries and parts of Africa and Europe. With a wiring of around seven-km, the 17-metre long, 2-metre wide, three-stage, solid-fuelled missile can carry a payload of 1.5 tonne and weighs around 50 tonne.