BANGALORE:India’s longest-ever near-Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V is scheduled to be test-fired from the Wheeler Island (Orissa) in the second week of April. The final stages and payload of the missile are set to move out of the Missile Complex in Hyderabad any time now. Sources tell Express that some major parts, including the motors of the missile, have already reached the launch site.
“The final checks and integration of all stages will be carried out in Wheeler Island. The check-out and launch pad tests will be completed in the next 15-20 days. The new launcher for the missile is ready. Over 200 scientists and close to 300 technicians are working round-the-clock at the Missile Complex and other work centers,” sources said. The missile is parented by Defence Research Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Hyderabad-based unit, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL).
With a range of 5,000-plus-km, the missile when launched, is expected to travel to its target in international waters close to Australia. “The ships meant for tracking, which are normally positioned near the target, are expected to begin their long journey in the first week of April. We expect the sailing time to be between 10-12 days,” sources said.
Agni-V is the first Indian missile with four stages, including three propulsion and one final payload stage (re-entry vehicle). The others in the Agni series (A-2, A-3 & A-4) had only three stages making Agni-V an extremely complex vehicle. “The missile is expected to hit the target within 20 minutes as things stand now. The tentative date for the launch is fixed for April 16 and this is again not final,” sources said.
As reported in these columns earlier, Agni-V can be launched from anywhere in India in any direction at any time.