DRDO tests Agni P missile for second time, can hit targets at 2,000 km


The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Saturday successfully tested an advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island test facility off the Odisha coast, the defence ministry said.

The new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile, named Agni P, can strike targets at a maximum range of 2,000 km and will further strengthen India’s credible deterrence capabilities, officials said.

“Various telemetry, radar, electro-optical stations and ships positioned along the eastern coast tracked and monitored the missile trajectory and parameters. The missile followed a textbook trajectory meeting all mission objectives with high level of accuracy,” the ministry said in a statement. This was the second test of the missile — it was earlier tested in June.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for the successful flight test. It is a canisterised missile with a range between 1,000 and 2,000 km. It comes with significant advancements in technology including composites, propulsion system, and guidance and control mechanisms.

The other variants of the Agni missiles developed by DRDO include the 700-km Pakistan-specific Agni-I, the 2,000-km range Agni-II, the 3,000-km range Agni-III, 4,000-km range Agni-IV and the 5,000-km range Agni-V missile.

The Agni P test came a week after India successfully tested a new locally-developed anti-tank missile and concluded a series of tests of extended range rockets also developed indigenously, weapons that will inducted into the armed forces shortly.

The weapons successfully tested on December 11 were the helicopter launched stand-off anti-tank (SANT) missile and Pinaka extended range (ER) rocket systems.

SANT has a range of 10 km.

The IAF’s Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters are expected to be equipped with the missile to arm them with the capability to destroy enemy tanks from an improved stand-off range.

The existing Russian-origin Shturm missile on the Mi-35 can target tanks at a range of five km. The other weapons on the gunship include rockets of different calibre, 500 kg bombs, 12.7mm guns, and a 23mm cannon.

The existing anti-tank missiles developed by DRDO — the Nag and Helina — have an effective range of under five km. While the Nag missile is launched from a modified infantry combat vehicle (called the Nag missile carrier or Namica) and has a range of four km, the Helina or helicopter-based Nag is for mounting on the Dhruv advanced light helicopter and can strike targets up to five km away.

The new Pinaka rocket system has longer range with reduced length compared to the earlier variant. While Pinaka Mk-1 rockets have a range of 36 km, the ER variant can hit targets more than 48 km away and has been developed as per the requirements of the Indian Army.

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