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Last Updated: May 17, 2007 - 8:46:52 AM
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India successfully tests Agni-III ballistic missile
Apr 12, 2007 - 5:58:58 PM

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[RxPG] Balasore/New Delhi, April 12 - Trailing a plume of orange and yellow smoke, India's nuclear capable Agni-III ballistic missile, designed and developed by its scientists, soared aloft Thursday to mark a major milestone in the country's efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in rocket technology.

Agni-III, an intermediate range ballistic missile -, lifted off from a rail mobile launcher system on the Wheeler Island military facility - a new launch site of the Integrated Test Range - at the Chandipur defence base - off the Orissa coast at 10.50 a.m., the defence ministry announced.

'Agni-III has confirmed India's strategic capability for a minimum credible deterrence,' Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a congratulatory message to the scientists involved in its development.

The 16-metre long missile weighs 48 tonnes and has a range of more than 3,000 km with a 1.5 tonne payload that makes it capable of striking targets as far away as China.

'The trajectory of Agni-III was computed by the onboard computer system based on the launch and target coordinates. During the flight, the missile had no communication with the ground systems and was fully 'intelligent' to reach its designated target,' a defence ministry statement said.

Among those who witnessed the launch were M.M. Pallam Raju, the minister of state for defence, and M. Natarajan, the head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation - that developed the missile.

'The entire flight of approximately 15 minutes validated all mission objectives, primarily to establish the performance of the two-stage propulsion system and the flexible nozzle control system developed by DRDO scientists for the very first time,' the statement said.

Ground stations in Orissa and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as also two Indian Navy ships in the Indian Ocean, tracked the flight.

Speaking after the launch, Natarajan made a specific reference to the high degree of self-reliance achieved with Agni-III as most of its sub-systems have been developed within the country through synergy between DRDO, public and private sector industries and the academia.

'With this success, the design team is happy that the problems faced in the previous attempt on July 9 last year have been fully understood and solved,' the ministry statement said.

During that launch, the second stage of the rocket had failed to separate and the missile plunged into the Bay of Bengal well short of its target. DRDO scientists later attributed the failure to a 'material-related fault', besides problems with the protective heat shield, design and propulsion.

According to mission director Avinash Chander, Thursday's test had proven many of the technologies developed by DRDO.

These included the flexible nozzle controls of the rocket motor during the powered phase, the specially developed composite propellant for the rocket, guidance and control systems with inbuilt fault tolerant avionics, and the withstanding of the severe aero-thermal environment experienced during the re-entry phase, as also coordinated mission management.

Agni-III is the most advanced of the Agni series of missiles. Agni-I is a 750-800 km short-range missile while Agni-II has a range of more than 1,500 km. Both these have already been inducted in the armed forces.

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