Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another trial of nuke-tipped Agni V next month

India is readying for the second developmental trial of 5,000-km range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-V which put the country in the elite club of six nations including the US, the UK, China, France and Russia, having intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.
 Defence sources on Tuesday said the missile, considered as a “game-changer”, had been planned to be test-fired from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast any time in the third week of May. A successful launch of the missile would be another step forward towards its induction in the armed forces, possibly in 2015, though it has to undergo two more trials in the next couple of years.
 The missile was first tested successfully on April 19 last year. While the preparation for the second test has already begun, officials are busy fixing the schedule and logistic issues since the missile has to traverse across the Indian Ocean. “Though the Union Cabinet has already given a go-ahead for the mission, the exact date of firing has not been fixed yet,” said a source. As the missile has the striking capabilities close to intercontinental range, prior to the test, an official said, India will have to alert a number of countries including Indonesia and Australia along with the international air and maritime traffic within the test zone.
 Sources said a group of scientists associated with Agni-V missile would arrive here on Saturday to oversee the launch preparation. The DRDO is contemplating to conduct the trial by the end of next month as its chief and Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister V K Saraswat, who was instrumental in the success of missiles like Prithvi, Interceptors and even Agni-V, is retiring on May 31. The officials are also awaiting a warship from the Indian Navy to place the Israeli radar acquired recently.

 The surface-to-surface canister-launched missile, which can carry a payload of 1.5 tonne, is 17-metre long, 2- metre wide and weighs around 50 tonnes. Initially tested for a single warhead, Agni-V would also feature Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) with each missile being capable of carrying two to 10 separate nuclear warheads. “Each warhead can be assigned to a different target, hundreds of kilometres from each other and two or more warheads can be assigned to one target. This technology is under development,” said the official.

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