Balasore: India's homegrown, nuclear capable, long range ballistic missile, Agni-III, may be test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Orissa this week, according to reports that quote official sources. Hectic preparations for the launch are currently underway at launch complex no 4 of Inner Wheeler Island, a new launch site at the ITR Chandipore, reports said.
Agni-III, one of the nuclear capable Agni series missiles (Agni-I & II), is capable of carrying warheads of 1-1.5 tonnes over a distance of 3,000-3,500 km. The 16 metre long, two stage, solid fuel, missile weighs 48 tonnes. While the Agni-I is a short-range missile (750-800 km), Agni-II is an intermediate range version (IRBM) that can cover a distance of 1,500 km.
At 3,000 km, the Agni-III, cannot be classified as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), however, for that involves covering distances of more than 5,000 km.
A previous test of the Agni-III, held last year July, had failed. The fault was identified as a snag in a strapped-on solid fuel booster rocket. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has since said that the fault had been identified and that it would be rectified. It also said that the fault had no bearing on the design of the missile.
Unlike the short range Prithvi series of missiles, the Agni-III has a strategic profile and is capable of being launched from multiple platforms. With an overall diameter of 1.8 metres, the Agni also fits in with a recently tested Indian sub-surface launch system, which has a 2.4 metre diameter launch-tube aperture. The launch would therefore have wider ramifications for the Indian defence services, as the missile could be adapted to various platforms, on the ground as well as under the sea.