India today demonstrated the capability of launching a nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) as Agni-V hit a target over 5,000 km away.
With this, India has joined an elite group of nations which have mastered such technology.
The 5,000 km-range missile gives India the capability to hit targets in China, including Beijing, eastern Europe, east Africa and the Australian coast.
"This launch has given a message to the entire world that India has the capability to design, develop, build and manufacture missiles of this class, and we are today, a missile power," V K Saraswat, Director General, Defence Research and Development Organisation, said.
He said the missile launch was a major milestone in the preparedness of strategic defence of the country.
The Agni-V is 17.5m tall, solid-fuelled, three-stage missile with a launch weight of 50 tons, which includes a 1.5 tonne warhead.
This was the first launch of the missile after the country's defence scientists began work on it three years ago.
"The first flight itself was demonstrated in user deliverable mode," Avinash Chander, Project Director of Agni-V, said, adding that it was indeed a rare achievement to launch the missile in such a short duration.
The missile was launched at 8:07 hours today from a mobile launcher at the Wheeler Island off Orissa coast. It reached the apex at 600 kms and then re-entered the atmosphere to strike a target over 5000 km away from the launch site.
The launch was monitored by three ships deployed in the Indian Ocean and radars were also there tracking the complete trajectory of the missile.
The personnel on the ships spotted a fireball as the missile re-entered the atmosphere on its way to hit the target.
"The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad, roared majestically into the sky leaving behind its trajectory a trail of thin orange and white smoke before disappearing," a defence official at the launch site said
Saraswat said the missile had been achieved despite the stringent export control regimes, which developed countries have imposed on India.
"This shows that self-reliance in the area of this technology is now becoming a reality," he said.
Saraswat said the DRDO would conduct two more validation tests before starting the production of this missile.
The DRDO chief said that barring some electronic components, the Agni V was a completely indigenous product.
"More than 80 per cent of the missile is indigenous, except for the electronic components which we import. Everything has been designed, developed and produced in our industry and our laboratories," he said.
On the road ahead, Saraswat said the DRDO would now develop multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles for anti-satellite system.
"Today, we have done a great event for the country. All the team work that has gone in for the last three years has given a fruitful result," Tessy Thomas, Chief Scientist, Project Agni-V, said.
A senior DRDO scientist said that the missile would be ready for induction into the armed forces by 2014.
"The 5000-plus kilometre range fulfils our strategic needs and moreover we are developing a deterrent capability," former DRDO chief M Natarajan said.
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