Balasore Odisha, Nov 15 : Adding teeth to its nuclear deterrence, India today successfully test-fired an advanced variant of nuclear-capable Agni-II ballistic missile with a strike range of 3,000 km from an island off Orissa coast.
"The surface-to-surface intermediate range missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher" at 09:00 hours from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 kiloemtres from here, defence sources said.
Christened "Agni-II Prime", the new missile is a two-stage weapon system powered by solid propellant. It is 20 metres long and launch weight is 17 tonnes. It can carry a one tonne pay-load.A Defence Ministry spokesman said in Delhi that from now on, the missile will be called 'Agni-IV'.
Describing the test-firing as "successful", defence sources said the missiles exact performances will be known after all data was collected and analysed from different telemetry and tracking stations as well as naval ships positioned near the terminal point."The indigenously developed new variant of 'Agni-II' series missile would have better accuracy and improved range", sources said.
"While the Agni-II missile has a strike range of 2,000 km and Agni-III can hit a target at a distance up to 3,500 km, this new variant with a strike range of 3,000 km will bridge the gap between Agni-II and Agni-III," they said.In terms of accuracy, "some more improved features have been incorporated in it," a DRDO scientist said.
The first developmental trial of Agni-II Prime, conducted on December 10, 2010, had failed due to some technical problem in the control system. It deviated from its trajectory within seconds of its lift off from the same base and had plunged into the sea.