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Army may induct Agni-III missile by next year; one more flight likely

Y. Mallikarjun and T.S. Subramanian

Terminal effects of flight were good and re-entry system worked perfectly: Natarajan

CHENNAI: The Agni-III ballistic missile system may be inducted into the Army by next year.

With its consistent performance for the second time on Wednesday, the path has been cleared for its induction into the Army, according to Avinash Chander, Programme Director, Agni-III.

The missile’s flight trajectory was as per design and all the systems performed to expectations, validating the pre-launch modelling and simulation. The missile was made more robust to withstand severe vibrations and other disturbances.

A special system, called ring-laser gyro-based inertial navigation system, was flown on board for higher accuracy of the flight. The circular error probable was in single digit, indicating the high accuracy of the system, Mr. Chander said.

After the successful flight, M. Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, said from Wheeler Island, “We may have one more flight. We are ready for induction [of the missile into the Army]. It will take some time to manufacture some numbers of the missile.”

The terminal effects of the flight were good and the re-entry system worked perfectly, added Mr. Natarajan, who is also Director General, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“Packaging completed”

V.K. Saraswat, Chief Controller, R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, said: “We have basically completed the packaging so that the missile system is in a deliverable mode to the user-agency…It was an excellent launch. The complete configuration of the weapon system, the Launch Control Centre, the rail launcher and the communication network worked to perfection.”

The radars at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea, Konark, Paradip (all situated in Orissa) and Port Blair tracked the missile from the lift-off till its payload impacted the Indian Ocean, 3000 km away.

“The downrange telemetry signals were picked by ships with radars, stationed 3,000 km away from the launch point,” Dr. Saraswat said. They provided data on the terminal phase of the missile’s flight and its impacting on the waters. “We could see, on the screen of the computers at the Launch Control Centre, the terminal events taking place.”

Even during the plasma effect (which disturbs the communication), data was received. “This means we have continuous data till the end,” said Dr. Saraswat.

With its range of more than 3,500 km, Agni-III can target several parts beyond India’s neighbourhood. Agni-II and Agni-I – have already been inducted into the Army. While Agni-II can target places 2,000 km away, Agni-I has a range of 700 km. All these three missiles can carry nuclear warheads.

The launch was witnessed by Sundaram Krishnan, Adviser to the Defence Minister; Shekhar Dutt, Deputy National Security Advisor, and senior officers of the armed forces. Defence Minister A.K. Antony has congratulated the DRDO team for the successful launch.

Despite an overcast sky, sensors captured the trajectory of the missile well, said DRDO scientists. The radars also captured the missile’s path accurately. It was tracked by an electro-optical tracking system, using infra-red technology.

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