India demonstrated its Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability on Thursday by successfully launching its most powerful and longest range missile, Agni-V, from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast.
The 17-metre-long surface-to-surface ballistic missile lifted off majestically from a rail mobile launcher at 8.04 a.m. After a flight time of 20 minutes, the missile re-entry vehicle impacted the pre-designated target point more than 5,000 kms away in the Indian Ocean with a high degree of accuracy.
V. K. Sarawat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister told immediately after the success of the mission, “With this missile launch, India has emerged as a major missile power. We have joined a select group of countries possessing technology to design, develop, build and manufacture long range missiles of this class and technological complexity.”
It was a flawless flight and the three stages jettisoned on time. The third stage fired the re-entry vehicle into the atmosphere at perfect angle at an altitude of 100 kms. The pay load withstood the searing temperatures of around 3000 degree Celsius.
This is the first time India has test fired a three-stage, all solid-fuelled missile. Many new technologies including the state of art navigation system and carbon composite rocket motor casings were tested in the missile. All the radar telemetry and electro optical stations along the coast besides three ships tracked the flight trajectory of the missile and final terminal event at the impact point.
The fireball that erupted when the dummy payload hit the waters of the Indian Ocean was recorded by the cameras on board the ships stationed around the impact point. The missile weighed 50 tonnes and is capable of carrying a nuclear war head weighing 1.1 tonne. However, in this mission, a dummy payload simulating the weight of war head was carried.
Defence Minister A. K. Antony congratulated all the scientists in the mission for the great achievement. Avinash Chander Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO called it a major achievement and said no other missile in India has achieved more than 5,000 km range. V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), which designed and developed Agni-V, described it an overwhelming success.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Dr. Saraswat and Mr. Avinash Chander, and congratulated all the DRDO scientists and other employees involved in the mission. “You made the nation proud,” Dr. Singh told Dr. Saraswat.