India tested the intermediate ballistic, 2-stage, solid propellant, nuclear
weapons capable, 3500 kilometer Agni-III missile but reports suggest that a
design flaw caused a snag and scientists say they have identified the error and
will to retest the missile soon. Apparently, the missile uses the same
propellant used for the earlier version, Agni-II, a missile capable of hitting
targets 2000 kilometers away. This test failed because a booster rocket of the
missile failed to ignite.
To accommodate the longer distance in the 3rd version, the missile had a
bigger diameter without a change to the propellant composition known as impulse
composition. However, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)
say that it is ready with a 3-stage prototype ready for another test in the
The Agni-III is the most sophisticated missile of the Integrated Guided
Missile Development Programme which started in 1983 to provide the defense
forces a wide range of arsenal at the same time not limiting the nation to a
third country’s whims to supply technology. Although ready in November 2004,
the testing of this version has been postponed many times for a variety of
reasons, only some of them are technical.
India has been under intense pressure from the US not to test this version.
The policy makers were also wary of “offending” China and put it off because of
increased interaction between the two nations. The nation plans to induct it
into the defense apparatus by 2008.
For such a strategic program to succeed, India needs to separate its interests
from those of its partners and neighbors. Research and development cannot be
started, stopped abruptly, and restarted again at the whims of a politician or
bureaucrat. It is a process that needs strategy, architecture, timeline,
planning, focus, deadlines, and dedication. A stop and restart approach to any
technological development will de-motivate scientists and engineers working on
the products as they will not know what is expected of them.