India Express Sunday, April 11, 1999

Agni-II missile successfully test fired

NEW DELHI: India today successfully test-fired "Agni-II" ballistic missile with a strike range of 2000-km, exactly 11 months after the Pokhran-II nuclear blasts in May last propelling the country to a select club of nations possessing such weapons. "It was a perfect text-book launch" at 9.47 am from Wheeler island test range in Orissa's Balasore district, Union information and broadcasting minister Pramod Mahajan said here.

The indigenously developed missile is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons. Describing the launch as a "historic feat", Mahajan said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has congratulated the scientists and people of the country for this "great achievement". Ignoring pressures from the United States and certain other industrialised countries, India went ahead with the launch of the longer range version of the intermediate-range ballistic missile ending a five-year restraint period since the country had last tested the 1500 km range "Agni-I" in February 1994. Defence minister George Fernandes and top missile scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam were present at the launch site as the over 20-metre long missile left a trail of thick white smoke as it soared into the sky from the island, close to the Chandipur-on-sea missile test facility. The missile achieved a range of 2,000 km, Mahajan said, adding several naval ships, sophisticated radars and other telemetry equipment tracked the two-stage weapon system for obtaining all the necessary scientific data.