India's first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Agni-V, was successfullytest-fired today at 8:07 am from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast. The test launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but weather played spoilsport. Here are the top 10 facts on the missile that has been designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists:
1). India will break into the exclusive ICBM club of six countries including the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China and France once the 50-tonne Agni-V is ready for induction by 2014-2015, although some others say unless India acquires an 8,000 km range missile, it cannot become a part of this club. But DRDO scientists are sticking to their claim.
2). The Agni series of missiles, including Agni-V, is crucial for India's defence vis-a-vis China since Beijing has upped the ante in recent times by deploying missiles in Tibet Autonomous Region bordering India.
3). Tipped to be a game changer by DRDO Chief Dr VK Saraswat, Agni-V will extend India's reach all over Asia, parts of Africa and parts of Europe.
4). Once fired, it cannot be stopped. It travels faster than a bullet and can carry 1,000 kilograms of nuclear weapons. It can be launched using a special canister. Why, it can even be launched from a roadside!
5). With a range of 5,000 km, Agni-V, once validated and inducted into the armed forces after several more tests, will be India's longest-range missile to carry a nuclear warhead. It will have the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead weighing over a tonne.
6). Agni-V will give India the technological know-how to launch many nuclear warheads using the same missile.
7). Agni-V can be configured to launch small satellites and can be used later even to shoot down enemy satellites in orbits.
8). The missile can be launched only after a decision by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
9). Seventeen metres tall, Agni-V's three-stages are powered by solid propellants. The first rocket engine takes it to a height of about 40 kilometres. The second stage pushes it to about 150 kilometres. The third stage takes it to about 300 kilometres above the Earth. The missile finally reaches a height of about 800 kilometres.
10). This is India's first launch of a 5,000 kilometre range missile.