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Agni-III test-fired successfully

T.S. Subramanian and Y. Mallikarjun

Can strike targets 3,500 km away

CHENNAI: India’s credible nuclear deterrence capability received a boost on Wednesday with the successful test-firing of Agni-III ballistic missile, which is capable of striking targets 3,500 km away, from the Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast.

The missile soared into the sky from a rail-mobile launcher at 9.56 a.m., carved a parabolic arc with its stages igniting and jettisoning on time, and a dummy payload splashing 3,000 km away in the Indian Ocean.

The missile climbed to an altitude of 350 km and reached a velocity of over 4,000 metres a second. As the re-entry system plunged into the atmosphere, it worked to perfection, withstanding a searing temperature of over 2,500 degrees Celsius. The entire flight lasted 13 minutes and 20 seconds.

The launch propelled India into a select group of countries such as Russia, the U.S., France and China with the intermediate-range ballistic missile capability.

This is the third flight of Agni-III. The earlier ones took place on July 9, 2006 and April 12, 2007. The April 2007 flight was successful. Designed and developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, it is 17 metres tall and weighs 50 tonnes. It can carry payloads up to 1.5 tonnes.

“Golden launch”

M. Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, called it “a golden launch in the golden jubilee year of DRDO.” Mr. Natarajan, who is also the Director-General of DRDO, said from Wheeler Island: “The entire trajectory of the missile was on the dot. The pressure curve, velocity and altitude were as per predictions. With this, the consistency path of Agni-III gets well-established.”

V.K. Saraswat, Chief Controller, R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, said: “the launch went to such levels of perfection that are beyond our imagination. Our objective has been achieved in its totality.”

Mr. Avinash Chander, Programme Director, Agni-III, described the launch as “a great success, confirming the repeatability of its performance.” Mr. Chander, who is also the ASL Director, said the successful launch proved the capability for “longer range missions.”

Dr. V.G. Sekaran was the Vehicle Director.

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