Agni II test fired
India on Friday successfully tested the over 2,000-km Agni-II ballistic missile, in an important step towards bolstering the country’s nuclear deterrence position. The “user trial” of the surface-to-surface missile, which is designed to carry a nuclear payload of 1,000-kg, was conducted by the tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast at 9.30am. Coming after three failures of Agni-II missile in 2009 and 2010, the launch was a morale booster for defence scientists and armed forces. The real test will, however, come in December-January when the first-ever launch of India’s most ambitious strategic missile Agni-V is planned. With a proposed range of 5,000-km, Agni-V will have near ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities and is intended to give India’s “dissuasive deterrence posture’’ against China some much-needed muscle. The only ballistic missiles which can be said to be operational at present are the short-range Prithvi missile (150-350 km), the 700-km-range Agni-I, and the Agni-II to a certain level. As for the test on Friday, the two-stage missile, equipped with a high-accuracy navigation system and guided by “a novel state-of-the-art command and control system, was propelled by a solidrocket propellant system. “The missile reached an apogee or peak altitude of 220-km and hit the target, all along being tracked by radar, telemetry and ectopic systems, as also two ships located near the target point,” said the official.