India’s indigenous nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-V, which can reach targets as far as Beijing, has been stuck due to a technical snag with its battery and not because of any other considerations, DRDO chief S Christopher said.
The problem is solvable and the next test-firing of Agni-V is expected by the year-end, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief added.
Asked about the much-delayed fourth test of Agni-V, Christopher said: “It has been delayed because of a technical snag,” adding: “There is a problem with the battery.”
Asked about the timeframe for the next test, the DRDO chief said: “Our colleagues have said the issue can be resolved. We will do a test before the end of this year.”
The DRDO chief also dismissed reports that the test was postponed due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.
“The reasons for delay are only technical,” Christopher said.
Earlier reports had said that the fourth test of Agni-V was scheduled for December 2015, was postponed to January 2016 and then to March, but was rescheduled due to the prime minister’s visit to the US.
Modi was in the US from June 6 to 8. This was his fourth visit to the US after assuming office two years ago.
The missile was first tested in April 2012 and then in September 2013.
The last test was carried out on January 31, 2015, from a mobile canister, under then DRDO chief Avinash Chander, widely known as the man behind the Agni series of missiles, on the last day of his tenure.
In the canisterised launch, a gas generator inside the canister ejects the missile up to a height of about 30 metres. A motor is then ignited to fire the missile onwards.
Soon after, DRDO sources had told IANS India planned for at least three more tests, and aimed at handing over the missile for user trials by mid-2016.
The Agni-V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) that started in the 1960s and was once overseen by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who later rose to become the Indian president.
Agni’s earlier versions, which have been inducted in the armed forces, can reach anywhere in Pakistan and parts of western China.
Agni-V is a three-stage missile designed to carry an over one-tonne warhead. Its 5,000 km range gives it the farthest reach among all Indian missiles.
India joined the US, Russia, the UK, France and China, which boast ICBM capabilities, when it first tested the Agni-V in 2012.