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Missile groups

New Delhi, Sept. 23: The army is raising two new “missile groups” that will be put in charge of the Agni I and Agni II missiles, variants of which have been tested successfully by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The army has a two-group already — the “222” and the “333” missile groups — that were deployed for the first time during Operation Parakram, the 10-month-long military stand-off with Pakistan in 2001-2002.

A defence ministry spokesman said the Agni missile variants had been cleared in user trials and were now ready to be inducted by the army.

After the government created the Nuclear Command Authority early this year, the operational charge of such nuclear-capable weaponry was to vest with the Strategic Forces Command. But the Strategic Forces Command is still being structured.

A new 334 missile group would be armed with the short range (upto 700 km) Agni I and the 335 missile group with the Agni II, capable of a range of 1,500 km.

The 334 missile group will have the Agni I which is a single-stage solid propellant missile capable of carrying 1,000 kg payload, with the actual warhead about 700 kg. The missile was first test-fired on January 25, 2002, and for the second time a year later after which the government took the decision to start limited production.

The Agni II came into being after the 1998 Pokhran tests and is a two-stage solid propellant rocket motor with a strapdown inertial navigation system and has achieved a range of 2,000 km carrying a 1,000 kg warhead.

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