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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

DRDO braces up for a series of tests

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which is planning a series of missile tests in the next few months has a host of challenges before it to fit into the defence requirements of the country in the light of the heightening tension in and around India.Sources said, at least five different ranges and variants of missiles are likely to be tested by the defence scientists and Indian Army in the first quarter of the year. 

The missiles to be tested from the integrated test range (ITR) off the Orissa coast are India’s longest range Agni-III, Agni-II, an interceptor, Shourya (the land version of submarine launched ballistic missile K-15) and BrahMos.

Shourya Missile

While 2000 km plus range Agni-II missile is scheduled for trial between January 6 and 9, the 3500 km range Agni-III will be test-fired by this month end.The three other missile tests will be conducted one after another to gauge their accuracy and performances, said a source at the ITR in Chandipur-on-sea.

Defence analysts feel the scientists have to come out credibly to hold high the reputation of DRDO and to fit into the shoes of eminent defence scientists like APJ Abdul Kalam. ‘’Challenges are many and it is yet to see how it comes over the failures of the preceding years.

Success and failures although tread along, keeping in view the defence requirements of the country, people have got a zero tolerance level as far as failures of the DRDO is concerned,’’ they remarked.‘’While BrahMos and Shourya will be test fired from the ITR at Chandipur from a silo launcher, the Agni variants will be tested from the Wheelers Island off Dhamra coast in Bhadrak district.

During the advanced air defence (AAD) interceptor test, a Prithvi missile, modified to mimic a hostile ballistic missile with a 300 km -1,000 km range, will be fired from the Chandipur base and will be intercepted by another missile fired few seconds later from Wheeler Island,” said a defence scientist.

Defence sources said, the 2000 km plus range Agni-II missile, which was first tested in 1999 has a length of 21 meters, a diameter of 1.3 meters and weighs 19 tonnes. Having South China as the main target, the missile is designed to carry a one-tonne weapon. 

The Agni-III has a range of over 3,000 km and is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads. ‘’India is now developing Agni-V having a strike range of 5000 km which will probably fly in the air early next year,’’ said a source.Apart from its long range missiles, the DRDO is now focusing on the ballistic missile defence (BMD) system. 

As part of the project it has already developed two interceptors – exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) and endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere).‘’While the exo-atmospheric PAD has been tested twice, the second test of the endo-atmospheric AAD interceptor will be conducted this time,’’ the source informed.Similarly, the newly developed 600-km range ‘Shourya’ ballistic missile, which can be fired from underground silos unlike the Prithvi and Agni missiles will be tested for the second time.It is meant to boost the country’s second strike capabilities.

Significantly, Shourya missiles can remain camouflaged in underground silos from enemy surveillance or satellites till they are fired from the special storage-cum-launch canisters. (Original News)