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China-specific Agni III to be tested

The China-specific nuclear capable missile Agni III will be flight-tested any time between February 6 and 8. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to conduct the test at the Inner Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast. Sources at the defence base in Chandipur said the surface-tosurface missile, with a strike range of about 3,500 km, would be test-fired in full operational stage.

“Massive preparation is on with more than a hundred scientists camping at the test range. The first test of the missile in 2006 was a failure, though its second trial in 2007 and third in 2008 were successful. Its proposed trial in 2009 was put off for unknown reasons,” the source added.

Agni-III is a new system and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. It will be propelled by solid fuels, facilitating swifter deployment compared to missiles using both solid and liquid fuels.

“The ballistic missile will require two or three more tests before it can go for limited series production (LSP) trials by the armed forces. However, two more years will be required for its operational deployment. Its successful test will propel India to go for the maiden test of 5,500 km range Agni-V missile, which is being developed now,’’ a scientist said.

Agni-V has been designed keeping in view the credible minimum deterrence against China. The ongoing work on Agni-V revolves around incorporating a third composite stage in the two-stage Agni-III, along with some advanced technologies like ring laser gyroscope and accelerator for navigation and guidance.

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