Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile

The Indian Army will conduct the first developmental flight test of its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Agni-V, on 18 April 2012, from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, off the Indian coast of Orissa.

A senior Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist said the three-stage solid fuelled missile would be tested with some advanced and indigenous technology, with the support of a canisterised mobile launcher.

Many crucial technologies are scheduled to be tested during the flight of the missile, expected to last between 18 and 20 minutes, before the missile impacts the target point deep inside the Indian Ocean.

According to DRDO, range preparation for the maiden test of the ballistic missile has been completed and full precaution has been taken to ensure a successful launch.

A senior ITR scientist said sophisticated radars and telemetry stations, present in different locations, have been linked up for tracking and monitoring the predetermined trajectory of the missile.

All data concerning performance will subsequently be thoroughly analysed and assessed in preparation for its next trial, the scientist added.

Agni-V, once validated and inducted into the armed forces following additional flight tests scheduled for the next couple of years, will be India’s longest-range ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The Defence Minister’s scientific advisor, VK Saraswat, told The Hindu that the Agni-V is a "game-changer and a technological marvel" that could be used for anti-satellite capability and for putting micro and nano satellites in orbit.

Developed by DRDO, the 17m-long Agni-V is a surface-to-surface missile capable of carrying a payload of 1.1t and with a strike range of 5,000km. However, in this mission it will carry a dummy payload.

Image: Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile, displayed at the Republic Day Parade in 2004. Photo courtesy of: Antônio Milena.