AGNI: In February 1994, the Agni was successfully test fired from the interim test range at Chandipur-on-sea, near Balasore, Orissa. Agni is a surface-to-surface intermediate range ballistic missile, consisting of a solid propellant first stage and a liquid propellant second stage joined together by district trusses. While the missile is hurled into space by a solid fuel booster, the liquid-fuelled second stage leads the missile warhead to its pre-designated target. It has a range of 1000 to 2500 km, and a take-off weight of 19 tonnes and a payload capacity of 1 tonne. The length of the missile at the third test was 21 metres, 2 metres more than it was on the maiden test flight in 1989. Agni is capable of carrying a multipurpose payload, indigenously built; one of its unique features is the heat shield of the re-entry vehicle. Made of a carbon-carbon composite, the heat shield is able to withstand temperatures of 5000 degrees Celsius. The heat shield being ablative, it melts and chars and its outer layers peel off, taking away the heat layer by layer.
AKASH: Also launched in February 1994, it is a multi-target surface-to-air missile. Akash was successfully test fired at Chandipur-on-Sea. Its range is 25 km and it can target four to five enemy aircrafts and missiles at a time. Integrated with the indigenously produced Rajendra radar, it is capable of tracking many targets simultaneously. Such integrated rocket technology is better than conventional missile systems. The technology is said to be close to the system of the American Patriot missiles.
NAG: In 1994, the DRDO successfully tested the third generation Nag anti-tank missile. With a range of 4 km, the missile has a ‘fire and forget’ capability—the target sighted, the missile automatically aligns itself to it. It is capable of piercing the most sophisticated of tank armours at the top. It can be launched from a tracked carrier or a helicopter.
PRITHVI: In June 1994, the final user trials of the short-range surface-to-surface missile Prithvi began successfully. Both the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have placed orders for Prithvi, the former—for a shorter-range version. Prithvi can go up to a maximum of 250 km with a 500 kg warhead or 150 km with a 1000 kg warhead (or payload). The warhead consists of cluster bomblets designed to pierce armour or shower lethal metal fragments. The missile is fired from an indigenously developed tetra-mobile launcher. The tactical battlefield support missile is powered with liquid propellant and has the latest on-board computers as well as an advanced inertia navigation system. It is in the same class as the Soviet-made Scud missile except that the latter follows a purely ballistic trajectory and the former’s flight is controlled throughout by an on-board computer. It would be difficult to sport Prithvi on radar or find its trajectory and impact point because of its supersonic speed and limited flight time.
The basic difference between soviet-made Scud missile and Prithvi is that