The Indian Army successfully conducted a trial of the ‘Agni-I’, a surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). This is a nuclear capable missile.
The missile took off from Launch Complex-IV on Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island) where the DRDO’s Integrated Test Range (ITR) is located off the Odisha coast.
According to the officials, the missile had met its mission objectives. After vertical lift-off, following a pre-coordinated trajectory over the Bay of Bengal, it reached its target, tracked all along by ground radars and telemetry stations and by two naval ships stationed near the target.
As told by a senior defence official, the test was a user trial by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the armed forces. The missile used for the test today was randomly picked up from DRDO’s production lot.
The defence official said that the test was meant to reconfirm the technical parameters set for the Indian Army. Also, the test followed the success of two trials of the Prithvi-II missile.
Agni-I has a strike range of 700 km. As compared to its longer-range cousins Agni-II, Agni-III, Agni-IV and Agni-V, it is shorter at just 15 m and it weighs less with a diameter of 1 m. Its weapon system is powered by both solid and liquid propellant, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second.
According to defence sources, Agni-I can be fired from both road and rail mobile launchers at short notice. The missile weighs around 12 tonnes and can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1000 kg. Agni-I was first test-fired in 1991.
Agni-I has been developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), the premier missile development lab of the DRDO in collaboration with the Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.
The test was conducted and witnessed in presence of army officials and DRDO scientists. Before starting this test, armed security personnel in power boats were engaged to patrol around the Abdul Kalam Island and fishermen were warned not to venture into the sea. Heavy security arrangements were also seen through along the sea coast.
Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-meter liong Agni-I is designed to carry a payload of more than one tonne. Its strike range can be extended by reducing the payload. The last trial of Agni-I was conducted successfully on March 14, 2016 from the same base.