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Agni-3 to get a second chance in 2007
A K Dhar in New Delhi | December 28, 2006 13:53 IST
The maiden trial of Agni-III, which was to incorporate many advanced technologies conducted in July 2006 was a dismal failure as the missile crashed into sea just seconds after blast off from the Interim Test Range in Balasore in Orissa.
After undertaking a minute review of the causes of failure of the maiden test flight of Agni-III, DRDO has now planned a re-trial of missile any time during January or early February, defence ministry officials said.
For the defence scientists, Agni-III was not the only failure as Surface to Air Akash and Anti-Tank Nag missiles failed to keep deadlines for user trials and the Trishul missile, in which the DRDO saw potential of turning it into a multi-purpose interceptor, faced near closure.
The failure of the Agni-III was a major dampner to defence scientists as it came even as Pakistan went ahead with a series of successful missile tests of its clandestinely acquired Hatf, Gauri and Shaheen range of missiles in 2006.
It also marked a low point for the missile and defence scientists as it compounded delays and snags in the country's other strategic programmes in the year gone by. The country's much touted indigenous main battle tank Arjun remained to be certified for production by the main user army. As was the country's indigenous programme to develop the Light Combat Aircraft. The LCA christened Tejas is yet to be mounted with weapons, avionics and electronic measures, though its certification date nears.
Unable to develop, the nation's first ever aero-engine to power the LCA on its own, the DRDO scientists now are seeking foreign collaboration to develop the Kaveri engine. Plagued by cost and time over-runs, the DRDO sought and got a yearlong extension for the country's Integrated Guided Missile Programme as it wanted more time for user and flight trials of its surface to air Akash missiles and anti-tank Nag missile.
DRDO scientists continue to blame technology denial for the setbacks in the missile and other strategic programmes, but with the passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal by American Congress, they are hopeful that it would pave the way for transfer of frontier technology to India.
Though the strategic weapons programme had a setback, the modernisation drive in the three services continued in full flow. The navy acquired its three frontline stealth frigates and followed this up by ordering three more from Russia. Naval constructors also broke the ice by cutting steel to pave the way for work to begin on construction of country's indegenious aircraft carrier as well as reopen submarine building lines in Mazagoan docks to commence assembling of French acquired Scorpene hunter-killer submarines.