India mulls 5000-km range missile
Buoyed by the string of successes with the intermediate range ballistic missile Agni-III, India is planning to test a missile with 5000 km range soon.
The test of the next series of Agni missiles will propel the country into the select group of nations which have long range ballistic missiles.
Indicating that planning process for the test launch of such a missile was in final stages, Avinash Chander, Project Director of Agni-III, said today scientists were awaiting the government nod for carrying out the test flights which could be anytime by this year-end.
The launching of the 5,000-km range missile would entail strapping third stage booster rocket on Agni-III missiles powered by solid fuel propellant.
Along with longer range Agni missiles, India will also carry out further tests of its special naval missile, an acronym used by DRDO scientists for a submarine launched ballistic missile, and the second test of interceptor missile which will be undertaken by September-October.
On the special naval missile, DRDO Director General M Natarajan said that his scientists were "heavily engaged" in the project, but, at the same time, refused to be drawn out on when India's first nuclear submarine would roll out.
"The Advance Technology Vehicle, as the nuclear submarine project is known, is not my project," Natarajan shot back at reporters when asked whether the DRDO would stick to the 2009 launch schedule for the submarine.
On the interceptor missile, Project Director V K Saraswat said this would give India the capability to intercept any incoming missile.
Dismissing suggestions that the development of such a missile could lead to an arms race, he said it would give India a stronger defence.
"With such a missile in our arsenal, we don't have to match the capabilities of our adversaries. On the other hand, they will have to think twice as anything they fire at us can be intercepted," he said.
Saraswat said it would take three to four more tests to develop a robust anti-missile battery system which could be fielded from the frontline to protect the country's vital assets.
"We are not looking far. If the tests go according to plans, such a system can be deployed in a few years time," he said.
Elaborating on DRDO's future programmes, Natarajan said the primary focus has been the development of strategic systems and technologies.
He said DRDO had concentrated on developing tactical systems such as Akash surface-to-air missile, multi-barrel rocket launcher Pinaka, electronic warfare Samyukta Combat Engineer system and NBC warfare defence system.
DRDO was also developing fuel cell technologies, gas turbine propulsion, ring laser gyros for precision navigations guidance and AB class steel for building aircraft carriers and titanium alloys and carbon composites for aerospace applications.