India's most advanced intermediate range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-III, which fell into the sea off the Orissa coast without hitting the target, was not a failure as it was a trial run, Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.
Observing that Agni III, capable of hitting targets 3,500 km away, would be fired again, Mukherjee said a 'Mission Team' had been constituted to go into the cause of the missile falling to hit the target. Mukherjee had witnessed the missile's firing from the Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast on Sunday.
Meanwhile, undeterred by the failure of the Agni-III's maiden launch, Defence Research and Development Organisation has said that it would go ahead with more tests after analysing scientific data to pinpoint what went wrong.
"An exhausitive analysis of the missile test launch telemetry data is being conducted by scientists to point out whether the flaw was in design, manufacture or assembly of the country's 3,500 km range missile," highly placed DRDO sources said in New Delhi.
"It is apparent that the separation of the first and second stage did not occur which led to the missile going haywire from target and plunging into the sea, far short of its intended target," they said.
"The telemetry data report on the causes of failure would be tabulated and submitted to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee within two days and later action taken on it," DRDO sources said.
"But, we mean to go ahead with more tests after analyzing the data," DRDO sources said, pointing out: "It was our first experiment with such a long range missile and in the next few days, we will analyse faults in order to rectify them."
Prior to the launch of the missile, DRDO scientists had carried out cold-bed trials of critical components and sub-systems of missile and this would enable pinpointing of the snag. "We have some more new technologies in Agni III. We have been testing them one by one during May and June," the sources said.
K Santhanam, former Secretary DRDO, said that telemetry data examination would be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the failure of the missile. He said the country had to go ahead with more tests as the longer range missile was critical to India's nuclear deterrence.
He said that DRDO had the means to conduct flight trials of various sub-systems and critical components of the missile through multiple telemetry channels. "The organisation also had the necessary simulation facilities to test other systems of the missile. But once all systems have been tested, DRDO would have to conduct full scale tests of all the systems through test launch," he added.
Santhanam said that clearly in Sunday's launch, the separation had failed to take place. "And if the first stage drags on the entire telemetry of the missile goes haywire." He said that DRDO was no stranger to solid fuel technology as many of the earlier Agni range missiles were totally solid fuel.