New Delhi: It's Mission Successful for India - Agni V, the country's first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), has been successfully test-fired. The missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast at 8:07 this morning. The test launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed due to bad weather. (See First Pics of the launch)
"The mission was successful. The missile hit the target in the Indian Ocean in a perfect way," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief VK Saraswat declared moments after the launch.
The indigenously developed, nuclear-capable missile has a strike range of 5,000 kilometres. It is about 17 metres long, two metres wide and weighs around 50 tonnes. The sophisticated missile travels faster than a bullet and has the capacity to carry 1000 kilograms of nuclear weapons. (10 must-know facts about Agni-V)
Only six countries - including the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China and France - so far possess this technology. India will break into this exclusive ICBM club once the Agni-V is ready for induction by 2014-2015 - after several more tests. (Exclusive: Inside the Agni V missile lab)
Tipped to be a "game changer" by experts, Agni V will extend India's reach all over Asia, parts of Africa and parts of Europe. 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. (Top papers, sites on Agni V | Comments | Tweets)
Agni V can be configured to launch small satellites. It can also be used to shoot down enemy satellites in orbits. Once fired, it cannot be stopped. It can, however, be launched only after a decision by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
After the test flight of the missile was declared successful, Defence Minister AK Antony called the DRDO chief to congratulate him. "The nation stands tall today. We have joined the elite club of nations (who possess the ICBM capability)," the minister reportedly told him over the phone. "The immaculate success of Agni V is a major milestone in the country's missile research and development programme," he added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too called Mr Saraswat and congratulated him for the feat. He also praised DRDO scientists for their "tireless efforts". "The nation stands together in honouring the scientific community who have done the country proud," he conveyed via twitter.
"DRDO and other organisations have worked tirelessly in our endeavour to strengthen the defence and security of our country. Today's launch represents another milestone in our quest for our security, preparedness and to explore the frontiers of science," he added.