The Union government has decided to hand over Agni missiles to the Indian Army for immediate operational deployment.
The move comes in the wake of the Cabinet Committee on Security decision to raise two specific Agni missile groups -- one for short-range Agni-I and the other for medium-range nuclear capable Agni-II.
The newly created Strategic Forces Command, however, is yet to find its feet.
The army headquarters have named the Agni-I group as 334 Missile Group and the Agni-II group as 335 Missile Group.
The actual raising of these new units, for which army has already earmarked manpower, is expected to begin near Secunderabad, defence magazine Force said.
The army is raising these new units from its own financial resources, hoping the government's financial sanction would be released soon, the magazine said.
The government has also cleared the raising of two new Prithvi groups for the army, which would be named 444 and 555 Missile Groups. The army already has two Prithvi Missile Groups -- 222 and 333 -- already deployed.
The new groups would be operational by beginning of 2005 with the actual raising also to be done at Secunderabad.
The magazine says so far only the 333 Prithvi Missile Group armed with liquid propellant missile was complete and formed part of the newly raised 40 artillery division, which had moved to its permanent location in Madhya Pradesh.
According to defence ministry officials, the new Prithvi missiles would field a solid propellant. The 333 Missile Group is armed with 150 km range liquid-propellant Prithvi missiles capable of carrying a 1,000 kg payload and has two independent sub groups self-contained for independent deployment.
Force claims the government move was to arm the Prithvi missiles with only conventional warheads as a means to degrading enemy theatre and strategic reserves before they could become effective in tactical battle area.