India Intelligence Report

   Agni-III Test Fails



  • Longer range missile takes off well but booster rockets fails in 2nd stage

  • DRDO says it plans another test with a 3 stage variant soon

  • Tests have been postponed many times for non-technical reasons

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 near future.

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.

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