Thursday, April 19, 2012

India Successfully Test-Fires Agni V Missile: Country Joins Elite Club of Nations

India successfully test-fired country’s long-range surface-to-surface Inter-Continental Ballisitic Missile (ICBM) -- Agni-V -- from the launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast on April 19. The missile can carry a pay-load of 1 ton and is capable of reaching deep into Asia and Europe. It is a move that would bring the emerging power into a small club of nations with intercontinental defense capabilities.
Only the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom – along with Israel, are believed to have such long distance missiles.
Most Advanced Version
The Agni V, a three-stage, all solid fuel powered missile with multiple independent targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV), is designed to be the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni series. It is powered by solid rocket propellants and can be transported by road. India has tested several missiles in the past few years as part of its program, which started in the 1960s.
With a planned range of 5,000 km (3,100 miles), the Agni V will traverse 2,000 km more than any Indian missile has ever done. The present launch will see the missile first power its way to a vertical height of 500 km in the atmosphere before following a ballistic trajectory that will see it splash down in the Indian Ocean way beyond Indonesia.
A commercial jetliner would take over six hours to traverse such a distance. But Agni V, traveling at 24 times the speed of sound and 30 times faster than a commercial jet, will traverse that distance in just 18 to 20 minutes. In doing so, it will become not just the longest range ballistic missile in India's strategic armory but also its fastest. Most importantly, Agni V would put most of China's major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, within Indian missile range.
Building Long-Range ICBMs
The test of Agni V would give India the capability of building long-range ICBMs or missiles that can reach targets of 8,000 km or more.
With a warhead weight of 1,500 kg (1.5 ton) Agni V will ultimately be capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads giving it deadly strike capability.
Agni V would be a significant step up from the range of Agni missiles that India currently has in its armory. The latest missile will have higher payload capability, a specialized booster and a new set of road-mobile launchers. The smaller versions of the missiles like Agni-II and Agni-III are rail-mobile which poses limitations in transportation especially when keeping these hidden from overhead satellites and prying human eyes.
Agni I goes to 700 km and Agni II, 2000 km. Both these are primarily meant to target Pakistan, giving India a capability to strike its neighbor from any part of the country.
Agni III and Agni IV are missiles in the 3,000 km class meant for China and other regional neighbors. The distance though is a limitation as these classes of missiles would be unable to strike many of China's strategic cities or locations. So the need for Agni V.
Avinash Chander, DRDO's Chief Controller R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), said, "There are many firsts we are incorporating in Agni V, these include two all new composite motors that would propel the missile to distances bordering ICBM capabilities."
At 17 meters in height, Agni V is almost 5 stories tall and has a diameter of two meters - similar to that of the giant main sewage pipelines that are laid in most Indian cities. Agni V is short and squat as compared to India's space rockets.
Almost three years in the making, Agni V is a three-stage rocket that, has one of the most highly developed guidance systems that the DRDO has ever built to enable it to strike targets at great distance with stunning accuracy.
While the first stage motor is similar to the one used in Agni III, the second and third stage motors are brand new and built of light composite materials that are being flight tested for the first time. It reduces weight and gives the missile greater punch.
Although the first launch would be from a static harness at the Island, Agni V would have tremendous road mobility once it is fully developed. These include a canister launch which means that it gives India "stop and launch" capability from any part of the country. Once India successfully test Agni V, the country would have broken the barrier of long range ballistic missile systems.
Facts About Missile
* With a range of 5,000 km, Agni V will traverse 2,000 km more than any other Indian missile
* Traveling at 24 times the speed of sound, Agni V will traverse 5,000 km in just 20 minutes
* If successful, it will give India the capability of striking all major Chinese cities, including Shanghai
* The technology being used in Agni V will ultimately give India the capability to build ICBMs.

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