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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Agni

Agni-II

AGNI- II is a two stage, all solid motor missile having a range of about 2000 km with a payload weight of one tonne. Authorization for the development of the longer range Agni-II was given by the BJP-led coalition government in March 1998. The Agni-II uses a solid propellant second stage replacing the liquid propellant Prithvi short range missile used as upper stage of the Agni-TD [Technology Demonstrator]. It can be launched within 15 minutes as compared to almost half a day of preparation for the earlier version of the Agni. Another major development is a highly mobile platform for it to be transported secretly by rail or road anywhere in the country. The far more accurate terminal navigation and guidance system that the Agni II incorporates, which constantly updates information about the missile flight path using ground-based beacons, improved accuracy by a factor of at least three over that of the Agni-I.

On 11 April 1999 India successfully test-fired the Agni-II ballistic missile, with a range of 2000-km. The missile was launched from the IC-4 pad at Wheeler Island, a new launch site on the Orissa coast in Balasore district. Splashdown was 2,000-2,100 km. (1,250 mi.) down range in the Bay of Bengal, on a trajectory designed to simulate a range of 2800-3000km. The test had been in preparation since January 1999, but India delayed it in the hope of extracting concessions from the US. Pakistan responded on 14 April 1999 with a test firing of its Ghauri II missile from the Jhelum region in northeast Pakistan.

After the successful Agni-II test, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said the Agni missile was ready to go into production, though he didn't specify the production or deployment schedule. The cost of the Agni missiles is estimated at Rs. 20-35 crores [$4.5 million to $8 million] per copy. It was anticipated that India may deploy several dozen of these missiles. Agni-2 has a theoretical ability to hit a target 3000km away with a 1000kg payload, and it is suggested that- a 200 kiloton 'boosted-fission' warhead has been designed for the Agni system. Should this be reduced to a 15-20 kiloton system, the payload could be reduced to as little as 250kg.

On 17 January 2001 India successfully test-fired an enhanced version of its intermediate-range Agni II ballistic missile, in the final operational configuration, from its eastern coast. It was the second test of the upgraded version of the original Agni, a two-stage, solid-fuel missile with a 1,250-mile range. With this launch of AGNI-II limited production of the missile commenced and its induction was planned during 2001-2002.

On 07 March 2001 the Rajya Sabha was informed that the production of the longer-range Agni II missiles, and the intermediate range missiles, would begin in 2001. Defence minister George Fernandes said the missile, with a range over 2,000 km, would be configured to be used with any type of warhead. He said the second test firing of the missile recently had met all parameters and that the weapon was capable of carrying a payload of 1000 kg.

As of April 2001, the Government of India stated that, based on the technologies developed under Agni technology demonstrator project, Agni-II had been successfully developed, flight-tested and has entered into limited series production. At that time, the Agni-II missile was planned to be inducted into the Armed Forces during 2001-2002. This was stated by the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh in reply to a question by Mr Shankersinh Vaghela in Lok Sabha. On 31 May 2001 the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, said the production of Agni was expected to begin next year [ie, in 2002]. Speaking to MPs of the defence consultative committee, Mr. Singh said the Agni II, which has been successfully tested in April 1999 and January 2000, was ready for nuclear production.

In April 2002 it was reported that the 2,500km range Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) had been inducted into a specially raised missile unit of the Indian army. Just how many would be produced by Bharat Danamics and Bharat Electronics is uncertain, though commentators had spoken of an arsenal of about 25 of these missiles.



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