A cannisterised version of  AGNI-V ICBM being test fired from DRDO's Interim Test Range

This is the seventh trial of the indigenously-developed surface-to-surface missile. Agni-5 is a three-stage missile and is 17 metre tall and 2 metre wide. It is capable of carrying 1.5 ton of nuclear warheads. The missile is capable of hitting targets in all Asian countries and parts of Africa and Europe

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 hermetically 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.

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.

Technological Masterpiece

The Agni-5 is the latest and most advanced variant in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine. 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.

"The high-speed onboard computer and fault-tolerant software, along with robust and reliable bus guided the (Agni-5) missile flawlessly (during the test)," a DRDO official said. 

The missile is programmed in such a way that after reaching the peak of its trajectory, it turns towards the earth to continue its journey to the target with an increased speed, due to the earth's gravitational pull, and its path precisely directed by the advanced onboard computer and inertial navigation system. 

As the missile enters the earth's atmosphere, the atmospheric air rubbing its outer surface skin raises the temperature to beyond 4,000 degree Celsius. However, the indigenously-designed and developed heat shield maintains the inside temperature at less than 50 degree Celsius.

Finally, commanded by the on-board computer with the support of laser gyro-based inertial navigation system, micro inertial navigation system (MINS), fully digital control system and advanced compact avionics, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives, the sources said.

The ships located in mid-range and at the target point tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event.

All the radars and Electro-optical systems along the path, monitored the parameters of the missile and displayed them in real time.

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 ton and weighs around 50 ton.

With reporting by New Indian Express and Times of India