The fourth flight of the Indian long range missile AGNI-3 with a range capability of 3,500 km was tested successfully by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) last month. The missile was launched from the Wheeler Island, in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Odisha. Overall, with a range of 3,500 km, Agni III is considered a potent weapon designed to balance a potential Chinese threat, rather than the Pakistani missiles. Compared to its Chinese peers – CSS-5 and DF-21, Agni III is considered more advanced.
The Indian Ministry of Defense confirmed the missile, tested for the full range, have met all the mission objectives. The two-stage AGNI-3 Missile has a length of 17 meters and diameter of two meters. With launch weight of 50 tons, the solid propellant powered missile carries a payload of up to 1.5 tons, sufficient for carrying nuclear warheads. The recent flight took the missile to an altitude of 350 km.
The recent test is part of the missile’s developmental test plan. Although the Indian Defense Department claims the missile is ‘ready for induction’, more testing and verifications remain to be done. At present Agni III is transported by rail and launched from prepared launch pads. Operational missiles should be able to deploy more flexibly and rapidly – missile stored in containers, and launched utilizing transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) systems yet to be deployed.