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India tests nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile

India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, 700-km range ballistic missile Agni-I from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast, a day after launching two other short-range missiles. "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-firing of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," S P Dash, the director of Integrated Test Range on the island, about 100 km from here, told PTI.

Fired from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid fuel, roared into the sky leaving behind a column of thick orange and white smoke at about 1305 hours.

"After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.

The missile was equipped with a new navigational technology which helps it to home on to the target. During today's test-launch, the weapon system achieved a precision-hit after reaching a height of 300 kms, defence sources said in New Delhi.

The user of the missile, the Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads of upto one tonne, has already been inducted into the Army.

"The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile," said a DRDO scientist.

The entire trajectory of today's mission was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored close to the impact point.

India had successfully test-fired two nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles Prithvi-II and Dhanush in quick succession from different locations off Orissa coast yesterday.

Dhanush was test-fired from INS Subhadra, about 50 nautical miles from Puri, while Prithvi-II was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the ITR.

Prithvi-II has a range of 295 km while Dhanush, the naval version of Prithvi, can cruise upto 350 km.

On March 22, the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia, was successfully test-launched from INS Ranvir, also off the Orissa coast.

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