Scientists carried out a canister-based launch of a 50 tonne dummy missile in a simulated environment at an undisclosed facility near Hyderabad. Sources confirmed to Express that the exercise, termed as MET-2 (Missile Ejection Test), was the second in the series conducted in the last six months. The successful result of MET-2 has given the confidence to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists to go ahead with the critical canister launch of India’s big ticket 5,000 km-plus range nuclear-capable Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni V later this year. The Agni V has been successfully test fired twice in the last two years from a conventional launcher. Mr V G Sekaran, Director General (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO, too confirmed the launch, but refused to give any details. A senior scientist, part of the launch team, said that during Saturday’s mission all interfacing elements of the missile were tested. “The weight and other features (minus the warhead and propulsion system) matched that of an Agni V and the results are really satisfactory. High-speed cameras and onboard telemetry systems captured the sequence that lead to the ejection of the missile from the canister. The dummy missile went to a height of 30 meter and fell apart 15 meter away from the launch point. With this launch, we have proved the maturity in offering a canister-based launch system for a missile weighing 50 tonnes,” the scientist, requesting anonymity, said. Canisterised missiles are normally preferred by the users as they can be transported at ease and also are simple to handle. “The gas generator inside the canister ejects the missile up to about a height of 30 meter and then the motor can be ignited to fire the missile. Hence, we need not add a jet deflector on the launcher. The strength of the surface of the launch pad is not a critical factor either,” he said. In addition to giving the user more flexibility, a canister-based missile offers the option to launch it at a very short notice and with less manpower. DRDO kept the launch activities under complete wraps with the officials refusing to divulge the details of the facility as well. “The launch site is near Hyderabad and it was commissioned a year back. It is now being developed as an exclusive facility for such trials. We are planning to conduct some more missile related tests from this facility in the months ahead,” the official said.
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