FIRE WALL

India Today - - STATES - —Amar­nath K. Menon

From the start, Agni was ap­pre­ci­ated as a dis­tinct prod­uct and, sens­ing its strate­gic im­por­tance, sep­a­rated from In­dia’s In­te­grated Guided Mis­sile De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme. Agni-I, with a range of 700 kilo­me­tres, was first test-fired in 1989. Agni-II, an in­ter­me­di­ate range bal­lis­tic mis­sile, was tested in 1999. It has a range of 2,000-2,500 km and can carry both con­ven­tional and nu­clear war­heads. Agni-III, with a range of 3,500-5,000 km, was in­ducted in 2011, al­low­ing strike ca­pa­bil­ity deep in­side neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. Agni-IV was de­vel­oped within a sim­i­lar range but shorter flight time. It can carry a 1,000 kg pay­load. Agni-V, with a range of over 5,000 km, was a for­mi­da­ble ad­di­tion to In­dia’s strate­gic de­fence. Agni’s pi­o­neer, A.P.J. Ab­dul Kalam, would al­ways turn po­etic when talk­ing about it. “Friends, you now have the fire to touch the Agni,” he once wrote in his note­book.

In fu­ture, Agni-V is ex­pected to fea­ture the Mul­ti­ple In­de­pen­dently Tar­getable Reen­try Ve­hi­cle con­cept, with each mis­sile ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing 2 to 10 sep­a­rate nu­clear war­heads. Each war­head can be as­signed a dif­fer­ent tar­get. Al­ter­na­tively, two or more war­heads can be as­signed one tar­get. In­dia is also de­vel­op­ing Agni-VI, with a range of 8,000-10,000 km.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hours be­fore the first test, Kalam got a call from a top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial about US-NATO pres­sure to de­lay the launch.

BHAWAN SINGH

MIS­SILE MIS­SIVE The late A.P.J. Ab­dul Kalam speaks about the Agni mis­sile

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