India launches Agni 4 strategic missile


India has test fired its new Agni 4 long range ballistic missile, which bridges the gap between the Agni 2 and Agni 3.

The missile was launched from a Road Mobile System on Tuesday from Wheelers’ Island off the coast of Odisha. It reached a height of around 900 km and hit a target in the international waters of the Bay of Bengal.

The Press Information Bureau of India reports that all mission objectives were fully met and that all systems functioned perfectly.

India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) head V K Saraswat told the media that the 20-tonne missile could deliver a one-tonne warhead to a distance of 3,500 km, significantly further than the 3,000 kilometres range of the much heavier, 48-tonne Agni-3 missile.

Saraswat said certain technologies were responsible for the missile’s performance, including composite rocket motors; a state-of-the-art navigation system and control systems that were both lighter and better than those of earlier Agni models.
“No technology control regimes can stop us from making missiles in this class. We need to thank the technology sanctions for enforcing upon us a degree of self-reliance where we no longer need imports,” said Saraswat, referring to sanctions imposed on India by the West.
“We hope to complete the test phase (two launches) in 2012; the user phase (two launches) in 2013; and in 2014 we would offer it for service. We have dramatically shortened the time from development to service,” said the DRDO’s missile controller, Avinash Chander.

The DRDO is currently developing the Agni 5 solid fuelled intermediate-range ballistic missile. It will greatly expand India’s reach to strike targets up to 5,000 km away. Missile tests are expected to begin next month.

Agni 5 has been designed with addition of a third composite stage to the two-stage Agni 3 missile. To reduce the weight it is built with high composite content. The 17.5-metre-long Agni 5 would be a canister launch missile system so as to ensure that it has the requisite operational flexibility and can be swiftly transported and fired from anywhere. Agni 5 weighs around 49 tonnes, one tonne more than Agni 3 even then its range has gone up to far more.

The missile would effectively bring most of China within India’s range, as well as more potential targets to the west and east than its existing weaponry. Any addition to India’s military capability is viewed with suspicion by rival Pakistan and usually touches off tit-for-tat efforts by Islamabad.