On 19 April 2012, India conducted a successful test-fire of its indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-V ballistic missile with a strike range of over 5,000 kilometers from a test range off Odisha coast. The 3 stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range in Wheeler Island near Dhamara in Odisha state and was fired at a target in the Indian Ocean. Indian official hailed the launch, stating that Indian had joined a small number of major world powers with such capabilities.
India developed a 5000 km range variant of the Agni. More importantly it has what is called the MIRV capability which is the ability to carry more than one warhead and being able to engage with multiple targets. Agni V would be a three-stage, all composite, solid propellant fuelled and advanced version in the Agni Class of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles. Most of the systems for the Agni V would be from Agni III. "We've started the design work on Agni-V. 5,000 km is what the country needs and that's what we're working on," says Agni Program Director, Avinash Chander, said in May 2008. "The development process has already begun and in the next two years, the design should be ready", said Mr Chander.
In February 2009 it was reported that a senior official of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said that India was likely to fire its Agni-V ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 km by the end of 2010. "We should be able to do something before December 2010," DRDO chief M. Natarajan said. After the successful test of the 3,500 km range Agni-III in May 2008, scientists were working on the first and second stage of the missile to increase its range to 5,000 km. "We will be working on capitalising the first and second stages," Natarajan explained. The government has not considered an 8,000-km range ICBM. Agni-V, for which the government has sanctioned around Rs 2,500 crore, is likely to have solid propellants.
The work on the nuclear-capable Agni-V basically revolves around incorporating a third composite stage in the two-stage Agni-III, along with some advanced technologies like ring laser gyroscope and accelerator for navigation and guidance. Defence scientists want the Agni-V to be a canister-launch missile system to ensure it has the requisite operational flexibility to be fired from any part of the country.
On 19 April 2012 India said it had successfully test-fired a new missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Beijing - announcing itself as a major "missile power." Indian media showed video of the long-range Agni-V missile in-flight after its launch from a test range in the eastern state of Orissa. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the country's scientists for contributing to the country's "self reliance in defense."
Ministry of Defence reported 19 April 2012 that India’s maiden Long Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM) AGNI-V (A-5) was successfully flight tested. The flawless auto-launch of the missile started at 08:04 hours. Piercing the thin cloud cover, the missile took off from the launch pad at Wheeler’s Island in Odisha at 08:07 hours and started rising exactly the way it was designed for. The missile, with a range of more than 5000 kms, followed the entire trajectory in copybook style perfection as the three stages of Propulsion dropped and fell at appropriate intervals into the Bay of Bengal.
The three propulsion stages, developed completely indigenously by DRDO, performed exactly the way they were intended to. The indigenously developed Composite Rocket Motors performed well, signifying the country’s stride and complete self-reliance in this complex propulsion technology. Ships located in midrange and at the target point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event. Radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored in real time all the parameters of the Missile.
A number of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in this A-5 Mission. The redundant Navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) ensured the Missile reach the target point within few meters of accuracy. The high speed onboard computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the Missile flawlessly.
The Vice-President Shri M. Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister Shri AK Antony and National Security Advisor (NSA) Shri Shiv Shankar Menon hailed the launch of the Agni-V. Dr Singh and Shri Antony spoke to DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat and Programme Director Shri Avinash Chander and greeted the DRDO Scientists on the A-5 success. Air Marshal K.J. Mathews, Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Forces Command (C-in-C, SFC), who witnessed the launch, said that the success of Agni-V is a historic event for India. Dr V.G. Sekaran, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Dr S.K. Chaudhari, Director, Research Centre IMARAT (RCI), Shri A.K. Chakrabarti, Director, Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Shri S.P. Dash, Director, Interim Test Range (ITR), Shri Guruprasad, Director, Research & Development Engineers (R&DE Engineers, Pune) were present during the launch operations. Shri R.K. Gupta, Project Director guided the team of Scientists and employees of DRDO during the launch activities.
The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony described the maiden test flight of Long Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM) Agni-V as a great moment for India and its scientific community. Shri Antony spoke to DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat and Project Director Shri Avinash Chander immediately after the event and congratulated the entire team for the immaculate success. Shri Antony said the achievement was a major milestone in the country’s Missile Programme and it reminds him of the untiring efforts of numerous unsung scientists of DRDO who had "worked relentlessly years together to bring the nation to this threshold". Shri Antony also spoke to former DRDO chief Mr M. Natarajan and fondly remembered his contribution to various projects of the organisation.
India's Defense Research and Development Organization chief Vijay Saraswat told Indian media that the country now has missile capabilities that match with the world's elite military powers. "The successful launch of Agni V missile is a tribute to the sophistications and commitment to national causes on the part of India's scientific technological community," said Singh. "I congratulate all the scientists and technologists who have been associated with this important project and I sincerely hope that in years to come our scientists and technologists will contribute a lot more to promoting self reliance in defense and other walks of national life."
When asked about the launch at a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China and India are not competitors, but partners. He said both sides should work together to deepen strategic cooperation, promote mutual development and maintain peace and stability in the region. China's communist party newspaper, the Global Times, responded to India's test launch with a warning of its own, saying "India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China" for the foreseeable future.
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