A surface-to-surface Agni-V missile is launched from the Wheeler Island off Odisha. (Reuters/DRDO/Handout)
India on Thursday conducted a successful test-fire of its indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-V ballistic missile with a strike range of over 5,000 km from a test range off Odisha coast.
"The mission was successful. The missile hit the target in Indian Ocean in a perfect way," chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), VK Saraswat said.
The three stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Wheeler Island near here at about 8:05am, defence sources said, describing the successful trial as a milestone in India's missile programme.
After the maiden launch, the Agni-V witnessed a smooth and perfect vertical lift-off from the launcher and thorough analysis was done to assess its health parametres after retrieval of data from all a wide range of sophisticated communication network systems, they said.
Agni-V decoded. Courtesy Reuters
The test-fire of the first of its kind missile, which was originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, had to be postponed at the last moment due to bad weather marked by rains and heavy lightning for safety reasons, sources said.
The successful trial of Agni-V, considered by many to be having the features of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), demonstrated giant strides taken by India in its integrated missile development programme.
Only the United States, Russia, France and China possess the capability to operate an ICBM at present.
"The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad roared majestically into the sky leaving behind its a trajectory a trail of thin orange and white smoke before disappearing," said an eyewitness to the launch conducted amid light drizzling.
The surface-to-surface Agni-V is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km away. It is about 17 meter long and two metre wide with launch weight of around 50 tonnes. The sophisticated missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
Preparation for Agni-V test had gathered momentum after India achieved successful results from the first development trial of Agni IV, which has a strike range of more than 3,500 km, from the same launch pad on November 15, 2011.
Apart from Saraswat, who is also the scientific advisor to the defence minister, a host of top defence scientists, military officials and functionaries of concerned agencies were present at the site to monitor, supervise and witness the maiden test of the new generation missile.
Top scientiests present at the test site said at least 20 laboratories of the DRDO were engaged for several months to prepare the state-of-the-art missile.
About 800 scientists, staff and support personnel had been engaged to make the first ever launch of the Agni-V a success, they said.
Unlike other missiles of indigenously built Agni series, the latest one - Agni-V - is the most advanced version having several new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, said a scientist associated with the project.
India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni-I with 700 km range, Agni-II with 2,000 km range, Agni-III and Agni-IV with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
Thursday's succsessful trial has put India into an exclusive club of nations possessing such long-range ballistic missile technologies.
Saraswat had recently said the missile was being integrated at various facilities for the test launch at an appropriate time.
DRDO plans to conduct more such tests of the missile over the next one year after studying and analysing the parameters achieved in each subsequent trial.
Regarding the timeline fixed for fully developing the Agni-V, Saraswat had said another year of testing would be required.
Vote: Is Agni-V a gamechanger for India? | Fire power: Why Agni V is important for India