Agni III adds teeth to India’s N-deterrence
No other missile in the India's arsenal can strike targets in Chinese city like Beijing and Shanghai, report Soumyajit Pattnaik & Rahul Singh.india Updated: Apr 13, 2007 09:00 IST
The nuclear-capable Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) Agni III, with a range of over 3,000 km, was successfully test-fired on Thursday from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at the Wheeler Islands in Orissa. At 10.52 am, the surface-to-surface missile blasted off from a fixed platform with the help of an auto-launcher and soared vertically into the sky in keeping with its pre-determined path.
A defence ministry spokesman said the 15-minute flight path had validated all mission objectives. The flight was tracked from ground stations at Dhamra, ITR in Balasore, Port Blair and two Indian naval ships. The 16-metre long missile, which weighs 48 tonnes, is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes.
Overcoming its "self-imposed restraint," India had test-fired Agni III for the first time on July 9, 2006, but the missile developed a snag and fell into sea. Its second stage had failed to ignite and separate due to "design and material fault."
The successful test has put India’s credible minimum deterrence on a firm footing, as no missile in the Indian arsenal had the range to strike targets in east Chinese city such as Beijing and Shanghai. It also marks the next stage in the natural progression towards the development of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which will propel India into the big league of nuclear weapon states.
Agni’s earlier variants, the 700-km Pakistan specific Agni I and the 2,000-km range Agni II, are operational and have been inducted into the armed forces. However, Agni II does not offer credible deterrence against China as it can hit targets only in western China. Strategic analysts said India should increase the frequency of testing to establish the reliability of weapon systems.
The ground range instrumentation at the ITR and the radar gave a perfect evaluation of the missile flight-testing against pre-determined parameters.