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The Indian Army’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has conducted the fifth successful test launch of its nuclear capable surface-to-surface missile Agni-III from Wheelers Island off the Orissa coast, India.

Conducted as part of routine user trials, the test marks the missile’s first launch by SFC after its induction into service in June 2011, and follows recent successful test firing of a 4,000km range Agni-IV advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missile.

"The test was conducted to evaluate the missile’s enhanced performance in terms of weight and payload capacity, as well as to test its re-entry material."

Launched from a rail mobile launcher, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-built weapon followed its set trajectory during the 15-minute ballistic flight, and reached predefined target point in the Indian Ocean with a two-digit accuracy, reports The Hindu from official sources.

It was tracked by telemetry stations, electro-optic systems and radars situated along the coastline and also by the downrange ships located near the target location during the terminal phase of its flight.

All mission objectives were met, and the data collected from different stations was subsequently transmitted in real-time for online performance validation and range safety through an advanced communication network of DRDO.

According to the sources, the test was conducted to evaluate the missile’s enhanced performance in terms of weight and payload capacity, and also to test its re-entry material.

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By GlobalData

Developed by DRDO’s advanced systems laboratory (ASL) as the successor to Agni-II missile, the Agni-III is a two-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile designed to intercept targets located at a distance of 3,500km-5,000km.

The 17m-tall missile features hybrid navigation, guidance and control systems, as well as advanced onboard computers; it is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing around 1.5t, with a circular error probable (CEP) range of less than 40m.

Image: The Indian Army’s nuclear capable Agni-III missile being launched. Photo: courtesy of Anurag Pandit.