Thursday, December 5, 2013

DRDO Breakthrough in Canister Launch Technology, Agni-V Canister Launch in March-April 2014

Agni-5 second test on September 15, 2013. Photo Credit: DRDO

On December 5, 2013, The Hindu reported that recently DRDO successfully carried out a “Missile Ejection Test” (MET) using a dummy missile weighing 50 tons. Following the breakthrough, Agni-V would be launched from a canister in March-April, 2014 for its third test.

The MET validated critical newly developed technologies such as launcher-canister interface and effective sealing between the missile and gas generator. The missile exited the canister at the correct velocity and the inter-facing instruments, electronics and sensors worked perfectly. As the missile cleared the canister by 15m, the sensors accurately signaled first stage ignition to the missile computer.

Placing the missile in a hermetically sealed canister facilitates long term storage (10 years) without any maintenance.  DRDO has committed to make canister launch a feature of all its new land based strategic missiles, starting with Agni-V.

DRDO has designed a canister that can eject the 50-tonne missile 50 m in the air and fire the first stage. The missile canister is made of maraging steel allowing it to withstand the 300-t to 400-t shock generated when the 50-ton missile is ejected out.

In September 2012, ASL director of, Dr V G Sekharan, told Business Standard, "The gas pushes the Agni-V out, like a bullet from the barrel of a gun. In less than half a second, the 50-tonne missile clears the canister by 15-m, and that is when the rocket motor can safely ignite. In 30 seconds, the Agni-V breaks the sound barrier and, in 90 seconds, it has left the atmosphere."

The canister could be carried on railcars or on a 12x12 road-mobile truck. Carrying the missile on a road-mobile launcher gives more flexibility as it can be launched from any patch of level ground. The Agni-5 is tailored for road-mobility. The mobile launcher for Agni-V is being produced by the private industry.

Canister technology was initially developed for the naval variant of Brahmos missile. The technology was completely mastered during the development of the K-15 / Shourya missiles. However, canister launch technology doesn't scale well.. In order to develop a 50-t missile canister launch capability, the DRDO has set up a facility for MET  at Shamirpet near Hyderabad.

For additional details on the Agni-V please visit the link below

Agni-V LRBM - IDP Sentinel