by Hemant Kumar Rout

BHUBANESWAR: India on Tuesday successfully test-fired nuclear capable surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) Agni-I from a defence test facility off Odisha coast for an extended range proving its robustness.

The missile with better re-entry technology and manoeuvrability was launched at about 8.30 am from a road mobile launcher placed at the launching complex-IV located in Abdul Kalam Island.

The test came two weeks after successful flight testing of longest range Inter-Continental Range Balllistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V from the same test facility.

After a vertical lift-off, the Agni-I missile rose into the sky leaving behind a ribbon of yellow smoke. Ground radars, telemetry stations and naval ships positioned close to the intended impact point monitored the course of the missile.

The test was conducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of Indian Army with logistic support from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for a range of about 900 km.

Two naval ships located near the target point tracked the missile in the terminal phase of the flight. “The missile followed the trajectory perfectly and reached the designated target with high accuracy. All the tracking systems along the coast have tracked and monitored the missile parameters,” said an official.

The test was, however, carried out to reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user trial and check the Army's readiness to use it. The missile, which carried a dummy payload, was picked up randomly from the production lot.

Initially the 12-tonne Agni-I had a strike range of 700 km. Compared to it its longer-range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second. It can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1,000 kg. It can be blasted off from both road and rail mobile launchers.

Prior to the test, armed security personnel in power boats were engaged to patrol around the Kalam Island and fishermen were warned not to venture into the sea. Heavy security arrangements were also made along the coast.