Maiden Night Trial of India’s Nuclear-Capable Agni-III Ballistic Missile Ends in ‘Failure’: Report

The maiden night trial of India’s Agni-III nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on Saturday ended in ‘failure’, The New Indian Express reported citing a ‘highly placed source’.

According to the report, the missile tumbled into the sea after the first phase separation.

“The missile traveled around 115 km into its initial flight trajectory when things went awry. It deviated from the flight path forcing the mission team to terminate it midway,” the source was quoted as saying by The Express.

“Though the exact technological fault behind the ‘failure’ is yet to be ascertained, preliminary investigations attributed it to manufacturing defects”, the report said citing the source.

“The test was considered ‘very crucial’ as it was to reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user and its readiness to handle the weapon during night hours”, noted the report.

The missile, carrying a dummy payload, was launched from an auto-launcher at the Launch Complex-IV (LC-IV) of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) located on the Abdul Kalam Island (formerly Wheeler Island) at 7.17 p.m local time Saturday. The missile used in the test was picked up randomly from the production lot.

The launch was conducted by the Indian Armed Forces’ Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with the logistic support provided by the missile’s developer, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The SFC is responsible for the management and administration of India’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.

Agni-III (Fire) IRBM has a strike range of 3,000 km to 5,000 km and is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes. The missile’s Circular Error Probable (CEP) is within 40 meters range.

The missile is powered by a two-stage solid propellant engine. It is 17 meters long with a two-meter diameter and can carry a payload weight of around 2,200 kg.

The missile was inducted into the Indian Armed Forces in June 2011 and is the mainstay of India’s nuclear arsenal.



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