India's nuclear-capable Agni-V, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach up to northern parts of China, is prepped for the fourth and final test from Wheeler Island off Odisha. It could be launched from its canister in December-end of early January.
In July, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) chief S Christopher said the final testing was stuck due to a technical snag in the battery of the missile. He had said that the missile will be ready to be tested by the end of the year.
"There were some minor technical snags in Agni-V, which required tweaking of its internal battery and electronic configurations after its last test in January 2015," a source told the The Times of India.
"This will be the final test of the three-stage Agni-V, which will be tested for its full range, before the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) begins its user trials," the source said.
The tri-service SFC will conduct two tests before producing the missile in adequate numbers.
Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will be part of a super-exclusive club of countries with missiles that have range of over 5,000-5,500 km. The US, Russia, China, France and the UK also possess ICBMs.
The earlier launches, April 2012 and September 2013, of the missile were in "open configuration," but the January 2015 test was from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck, which makes it deadlier since the missile is now mobile and can be launched from anywhere. A canister launch means that a gas generator inside the canister ejects the missile up to a height of 30 metres, after which a motor is ignited to fire the missile further.
Agni-V and Agni-IV are deterrents for the current threat perception from China while Prithvi, Dhanush, Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III missiles are meant for Pakistan.
India recently became a signatory to the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime and a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan.