15th Nov, 2011
India has successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Agni-IV ballistic missile from Wheeler Island, off the coast of Orissa. The intermediate-range rocket has a reach of 3000 km, which can be extended by another 500 km with a better propellent and optimised payload. Its range puts it between the already deployed Agni-II (2000-2500 km) and Agni-III (3000-3500 km) ballistic missiles. Originally named Agni-II Prime, the DRDO renamed it Agni-IV in the wake of advanced avionics and major design revisions incorporated into the missile system.
"The successful launch of new generation strategic missile Agni-IV that has a designed range of 3,500 km achieved all mission parameters, which included a range of 3,000 km", announced DRDO spokesperson Ravi Kumar Gupta. The missile had apparently achieved a perfect trajectory with an apex of about 900 km, before accurately homing in on its target in the Bay of Bengal. The Agni-IV achieved all test objectives, which included the remarkable feat of sustaining re-entry temperatures of over 3,000 degrees Celsius.
The ballistic missile has been outfitted with a two-stage, solid propellant based rocket motor. The indigenously developed composite engine has been deployed for the first time in this surface-to-surface system. The weapon also incorporates weight optimisation techniques to extend its range over that of the Agni-II. For better reliability, it includes a redundant architecture employing a distributed avionics system. The missile is 20 metres long, with a launch weight of 17 tonnes. This includes a 1-tonne payload that can accept conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
I guess we can expect a retaliatory missile test from the other side of the border soon enough.