NEW DELHI — India’s Agni-V ballistic missile will be tested twice this year before being inducted into the country’s armed forces toward the end of 2014.
The Agni-V, an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to hit targets at distances of up to 5,000 km (3,100 mi.), was test-fired in April 2012.
This year India’s Defense and Research Development Organization (DRDO) will carry out two more tests, “the first most likely in September, which would be followed by a second test at the end of the year,” a DRDO official tells Aviation Week. “These are among DRDO’s high-priority missions. Our aim is to make the missile ready for induction by 2014.”
The second test will be carried out from a tightly sealed canister mounted on a launcher truck, the DRDO official says.
A canister-launch system will “provide the forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport the ballistic missile and launch it from a place of their choosing,” he explains.
The missile was initially planned to be tested in May, but was delayed due to heavy rains.
“The trials are usually avoided when sea is rough and weather is not conducive,” the DRDO official says. “We conduct thousands of tests through simulation in our labs under different conditions. The actual flight trials are to confirm what is predicted in simulation tests matches the algorithms.”
A nuclear-tipped, three-stage missile, the Agni-V was developed by DRDO at a cost of more than 2.5 billion rupees ($48.4 million).
It is 17.5 meters (57 ft.) tall with a launch weight of 50 tons. The missile is powered by solid propellants and can be transported by road.
The successful 2012 test of the missile brought India closer to joining the small group of nations — including the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France — with the capability to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles.
India is also developing the sixth in its series of Agni ballistic missiles that will be capable of carrying multiple warheads. While Agni-V can carry up to three nuclear warheads, Agni-VI will carry up to 10.
India has said its missile program is not directed against any country.
Agni, meaning fire in Hindi and Sanskrit, is a rocket family India has tested since 2002.
In 2010, India successfully test-fired Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000 km (1,250 mi.).