11 April 1999
India’s strategic ballistic missile, the Agni-II was test-fired for the first time on 11 April 1999 at Balasore, Odisha.
In this edition of This Day in History, you can read about the Agni-II missile which is an integral part of the Indian defence structure. Internal security is a part of the UPSC syllabus.
- The Agni missile series is a series of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles with a medium to intercontinental range. These are developed indigenously by India.
- The series is named after one of the elements of nature, fire. It is also the name of the Hindu God of Fire.
- The first missile in the family, the Agni-I was tested in 1989 and built as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
- After its strategic importance was realised, it started being built as part of a separate programme.
- Agni-II, the second one in the series, was first test-fired in 1999 from Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha (in Balasore). The island was then called Wheeler Island.
- Agni-II has an operational range of 2000 – 3000 km (medium-range, hence designated as MRBM – Medium Range Ballistic Missile) as compared to the Agni-I’s 700 – 900 km.
- Agni-II is 20 m long and 1 m wide in diameter. It weighs nearly 18000 kg and has a flight altitude of 230 km. It utilises solid propellants in its two stages. It can carry a warhead of up to 1000 kg. It is also armed with a high-accuracy navigation system.
- It is built to be launched from both rail and road mobile configurations, this makes it really vital as a land-based nuclear deterrent.
- It is a nuclear weapons capable missile and has already been inducted into the Indian Army.
- The Agni-II is envisioned as the backbone of the country’s missile-based strategic nuclear deterrence.
- It has the capacity to reach the whole of Pakistan and most parts of south and southeast China.
- Agni-II was developed by adding on the earlier Agni-TD programme that gave the design and technology required for long-range missiles.
- The missile entered production-phase in March 2002. It was constructed at Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Hyderabad at a cost of Rs.35 Crore per unit.
- As of 2017, 17 such missiles have been made.
- The Agni-IIA is a more advanced version of the Agni-II, and has been renamed Agni-IV.
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