India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Long Range Ballistic Missile Agni-5, which has a strike range of 5,000 km, from a test range off the Odisha coast. The surface-to-surface missile was launched with the help of a mobile launcher from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island, at 9.45 am, Defence sources said. Describing the flight test as successful, a defence press note said “All the Radars, Electro Optical Tracking Stations and Telemetry Stations tracked the vehicle all through the course of the trajectory. All the mission objectives have been achieved.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has congratulated all the DRDO scientists, staff, armed forces and industries for the success of “A5 Mission,” it added. This was the sixth trial of the state-of-the-art Agni-5 which covered its full distance during the test. Unlike other missiles of the series, Agni-5 is the most advanced with new technologies in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, said a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official.
Many new technologies were successfully tested in the Agni-5 trial. Navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reached the target point within a few meters of accuracy, the official explained. “The high speed on-board computer and fault tolerant software, along with robust and reliable bus, guided the missile flawlessly,” he said.
The missile has been programmed in such a way that after reaching the peak of its trajectory, it will turn towards the earth and continue its journey towards the intended target with an increased speed due to the earth’s gravitational pull. The path has been precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system. As the missile enters the earth’s atmosphere, the atmospheric air rubbing the skin of the missile during the re-entry phase raises the temperature beyond 4,000 degrees Celsius, sources said. However, the indigenously designed and developed carbon-carbon composite heat shield continues to burn sacrificially, protecting the payload and maintaining the inside temperature below 50 degrees Celsius, sources added.
Finally, commanded by the on-board computer with a support of ring laser gyro based inertial navigation system, the micro inertial navigation system, fully digital control system and advanced compact avionics, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, they said. Ships located in mid-range and at the target point, tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event. Radars and electro-optical systems on the path monitored all parameters of the missile and displayed in real time, they added.
The first two flights of Agni-5 in 2012 and 2013 respectively, were in open configuration. The third, fourth and fifth launches were from canister integrated with a mobile launcher, in its deliverable configuration that enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch. It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility, sources said.
At present, India has in its armoury the Agni series — Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range. The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015 and fourth on December 26, 2016. The last test was held on January 18, 2018. All the five earlier trials were successful.