Sep 17, 2013 brahmand.com
NEW DELHI (PTI): Inter-continental ballistic missile Agni-5, which can cover entire China and reach Europe with its range of 5,000 km, will be ready for induction in the armed forces in two years, amid assertion by DRDO that it can produce a weapon system with a range of 10,000 km.
Addressing a press conference on a seminar to be held on Monday, DRDO Chief Avinash Chander said all the ballistic missiles in country's arsenal would be canistered to reduce the reaction time, in case of a nuclear attack.
He said by the end of this year or the beginning of the next year, the country's first indigenously-developed nuclear submarine INS Arihant would be carrying out weapon trials as part of its tests towards its induction in the Navy.
"Yes... actually range is least problematic part of the missile. We have full capability to go to any range. If we need a particular range, we can achieve that in two or two-and-a-half years. The issue today is more with the accuracy of the missiles," Chander said.
The DRDO chief was asked if the premier research organisation would be able to provide 10,000 km range missiles if government gives a go ahead to it.
Commenting on the Agni-5 missile, which was successfully test-fired on Sunday for the second time, he said, "The missile would be ready for induction in armed forces in the next couple of years after three to four more successful test-firings from canisters."
He said the Agni-5 along with all other ballistic missiles would be canistered which will help in reducing the response time in case of a nuclear attack.
"It (the response time) will be in order of few minutes from stop to launch and it will be very short. I cannot give you the exact time," Chander said.
India has a 'no-first use' policy for nuclear weapons which means that it needs to have a strong and quick response capability to reply in case of a strike by an adversary.
Asked if there was a need for having missiles with higher ranges than the Agni-5, Chander said, "As on date, we don't think we need those ranges but if needed, it can be done."
On why was India now willing to categorise the Agni-5 as an ICBM whereas earlier it was hesitant to do so, the DRDO chief said world-over missiles with ranges of 5,000 to 5,500 km were termed as ICBMs.
"I do not see why we should be diffident about our strengths and capabilities. Agni-5 is able to go trans-continental and is capable to go these ranges. It is definitely an ICBM. I don't think there is any negative or positive connotation of this term," he said.
Asked if there were any problems with the telemetry and systems of the Agni-5 before its Sunday trial, he said there were issues regarding this but the organisation went ahead with the test as they were not associated with the performance of the weapon system.
On INS Arihant's weapon firing trials including the 700-km K-15 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile, Chander said it is ready for integration with the indigenous submarine and there no issues on it.
Talking about the weapon and the sea trials of Arihant, whose nuclear reactor was activated recently, the DRDO chief said, "They have a full plan of various activities which will include firing of missiles and validation of other systems on board it.
"Arihant has achieved criticality. It is going through of cycle of trials and that is on. That has to be done in a certain time-line and we are on time."
Reacting to queries, Chander said there was no programme such as Agni-6 at the moment.
On the 1,500 km range Nirbhay cruise missile, he said the second test-firing of the weapon system would be conducted by the end of this year.
Chander said a number of changes have been made in DRDO structure as seven clusters have been created with primary objective of enhancing efficiency and performance of the laboratories while reducing the delays in the projects.
He said the trials of the Arjun MkII tank programme were going on and 79 modifications have been validated.