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India test fires nuclear capable Agni-5 missile again

NEW DELHI, Dec 10: Indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-5 has been successfully test-fired from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, according to reports.

The surface-to-surface missile having a strike range of 5,000 km was launched at 1.30 p.m. from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Bhadrak district, said Defence Ministry sources. This is the seventh trial of the indigenously-developed surface-to-surface missile, they further added.

Agni-5 is a three stage missile and is 17 metre tall and 2 metre wide. It is capable of carrying 1.5 tonne of nuclear warheads.

"The missile was launched with the help of a mobile launcher from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal on Monday afternoon," said a defence source.

"It was an user associated trial. Strategic force command along with DRDO scientists conducted it," the source added.

During this trial, the flight performance of the missile was tracked and monitored by radars, tracking instruments and observation stations, said the source.

"The high-speed on-board computer and fault-tolerant software, along with robust and reliable bus guided the (Agni-5) missile flawlessly (during the test)," an official said.

The missile is programmed in such a way that after reaching the peak of its trajectory, it turns towards the earth to continue its journey to the target with an increased speed, due to the earth's gravitational pull, and its path precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system.

As the missile enters the earth's atmosphere, the atmospheric air rubbing its outer surface skin raises the temperature to beyond 4,000 degree Celsius. However, the indigenously-designed and developed heat shield maintains the inside temperature at less than 50 degree Celsius.

Finally, commanded by the on-board computer with the support of laser gyro-based inertial navigation system, micro inertial navigation system (MINS), fully digital control system and advanced compact avionics, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives, the sources said.

The ships located in mid-range and at the target point tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event.

All the radars and electro-optical systems along the path, monitored the parameters of the missile and displayed them in real time.

The first two flights of Agni-5 in 2012 and 2013 were in open configuration. The third, fourth and fifth launch were from canister integrated with a mobile launcher, that enables launch of the missile in a shorter time as compared to an open launch.

The nuclear capable missile is expected to be inducted into India's Strategic Forces Command soon and this was its third successful test this year. The last test was held in June 2018.

Unlike other missiles of the series, Agni-5 is the most advanced with new technologies in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official had said in June 2018.

The missile has a payload capacity of 1,500 kg of high-explosive warhead and once inducted in the military, India will join an exclusive club of countries like the US, Russia, China, France and Britain which have intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities

The missile is being inducted at a time when India's neighbourhood is witnessing evolving security threats.

In its armoury, India currently has Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500-km range.

The first test of Agni V was conducted on April 19, 2012.

Hype around surgical strike unwarranted: Ex-Army Commander

CHANDIGARH, Dec 8: The military leadership must guard against becoming a tool in the hands of politicians. We can’t take military action to suit someone politically,” Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd), the Northern Army Commander at the helm of surgical strikes in September 2016, said, adding that though the action needed publicity to boost soldiers’ morale, the excess hype and political one-upmanship around it was uncalled for.

The veteran was moderating a session on the “Role of cross-border operations and surgical strikes” on Day 1 of the Military Literature Festival organised by the Punjab government at Lake Club in Chandigarh on Friday.

Ruing the political colour given to the action, Col Ajai Shukla (retd), a defence analyst, pointed out that the strikes helped the Modi government burnish its nationalistic image and gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a thumping win in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

The panellists, all former army officers, underlined that cross-border operations are a common form of retribution on the Line of Control. Col Shukla recounted how after the Kargil intrusions were discovered in 1999, Indian troops raided a Pakistani post, killed 12 soldiers and brought back a visitors’ book signed by Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Lt Gen Hooda said the attack on the brigade headquarters at Uri that left 17 soldiers dead was the trigger and their aim was simple. “Terrorists had been targeting military installations since the end of 2013... Walking with the army chief through three inches of ash at Uri, we were clear that we had to go across.” The plan received the go-ahead from none other than the Prime Minister and the national security adviser.

Publicity, Lt Gen Hooda said, was essential at that time. “We were being told that you can’t protect your soldiers, it was vital to boost the morale of our soldiers.” But the excess hype, he admitted, didn’t help. “There were selective leaks to the media, and too much political banter around it.”

Lt Gen NS Brar (retd) pointed out that strikes of this magnitude must achieve a higher strategic objective which these didn’t. Calling them a glorified “ghatak” (lethal) attack, Shukla wondered if it was “all political gamesmanship only directed at the UP polls”.

The panellists were unanimous that it would be fatal to politicise any military act. As Brar said: “A question that bugs me is that what if we had some casualties, some prisoners, would the powers-that-be have taken ownership?”

He warned: “Military action initiated to win an election is very dangerous.”

Hooda agreed: “It’s for the military leadership to resist being used by politicians.”

Later, when asked about Lt Gen Hooda’s statement, army chief Bipin Rawat said, “These are an individual person’s perceptions, so let’s not comment on them. He was one of the main persons involved in conduct of these operations, so I respect his words very much.”

‘Surgical strikes for political capital’: Rahul Gandhi tweets jibe at Narendra Modi

NEW DELHI, Dec 8: A former Army commander’s strong comment against the “constant hype” around military operations prompted a sharp attack on the government from the Congress. Party president Rahul Gandhi complimented the retired army officer for his stand in a tweet but packed in a stinging jab at Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda, the retired officer who disapproved the hype, was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when commandos crossed the line of control to destroy terror camps in Pakistan.

“Mr 36 [sic] has absolutely no shame in using our military as a personal asset. He used the surgical strikes for political capital and the Rafale deal to increase Anil Ambani’s real capital by 30,000 Cr,” Referring to Lt Gen Hooda’s comments, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday tweeted.

While moderating a discussion on “Role of cross-border operations and surgical strikes” on Day 1 of the Military Literature Festival, Lt Gen Hooda had said, “The military leadership must guard against becoming a tool in the hands of politicians. We can’t take military action to suit someone politically,” he said. The excess hype, he admitted, didn’t help. “There were selective leaks to the media, and too much political banter around it.”

In his tweet, Rahul Gandhi lauded Lt Gen Hooda’s comments. “Spoken like a true soldier General. India is so proud of you,” he tweeted.

Speaking about Lt Gen Hooda’s comments, Army chief Bipin Rawat said, “These are an individual person’s perceptions, so let’s not comment on them. He was one of the main persons involved in conduct of these operations, so I respect his words very much.”

GOC Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, said, “Surgical strike is one of the options available to Army. It had a positive effect on country, we’ve been able to curb terrorism to a great extent.”

The army’s surgical strikes in the early hours of September 29, 2016 was a response to an attack on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri on September 18 in which 19 soldiers were killed. India blames the attack on militants who crossed over from Pakistani territory.

 



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