Agni ballistic missile

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Agni missile department

Amarnath K. Menon , Fire Wall “India Today” 21/8/2017

Named after one of the five elements of nature, Agni Missile series is the most sophisticated and lethal in the series of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles which were developed by India. From the start, Agni was appreciated as a distinct product and, sensing its strategic importance, separated from India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Agni-I, with a range of 700 kilometres, was first test-fired in 1989. Agni-II, an intermediate range ballistic missile, was tested in 1999. It has a range of 2,000-2,500 km and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. Agni-III, with a range of 3,500-5,000 km, was inducted in 2011, allowing strike capability deep inside neighbouring countries. Agni-IV was developed within a similar range but shorter flight time. It can carry a 1,000 kg payload. Agni-V, with a range of over 5,000 km, was a formidable addition to India's strategic defence. Agni's pioneer, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, would always turn poetic when talking about it. "Friends, you now have the fire to touch the Agni," he once wrote in his notebook.

In future, Agni-V is expected to feature the Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle concept, with each missile capable of carrying 2 to 10 separate nuclear warheads. Each warhead can be assigned a different target. Alternatively, two or more warheads can be assigned one target. India is also developing Agni-VI, with a range of 8,000-10,000 km.

ARMED AND READY

Agni-V is the most sophisticated and lethal in the series of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles being developed by India. It can strike targets more than 5,000 km away and carry a nuclear warhead of over 1 tonne. On induction, the missile will put India in a super-exclusive club of countries with ICBMs, alongside the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain.

Agni I: 1998

India Today.in , The Radiant , fiery weapon of the gods “India Today” 15/12/2016

The Agni missile was not India's first ballistic missile. That distinction belonged to the Prithvi short-range ballistic missile first tested in 1988. But over the years, the Agni, now the name for a family of missiles of various ranges, has come to be the mainstay of India's strategic arsenal, capable of carrying nuclear warheads to targets over 5,000 kilometres away. The missile was first test-fired on May 22, 1989. An 18 metre long, 7 tonne Agni missile with a range of 2,500 km was successfully launched into the Bay of Bengal from the interim test range in Chandipur, Orissa, in 1983. It was one of the Indigenous Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) missiles. Since 1995, five variants of the Agni missile family have been deployed and can be carried on road and rail mobile launchers. Key breakthroughs made in the programme include an all-carbon composite heat shield to deal with the temperatures of re-entry, solid rocket fuel, manoeuvrable thrusters as well as a guidance system.

Agni-II

2019: test fired at night for first time

Nov 17, 2019: The Times of India


India conducted successfully the first night trial of ‘Agni-II’, its versatile surface-to-surface medium range nuclear capable missile, from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, defence sources said.

‘Agni-II’, an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), has already been inducted into the armed forces and has a strike range of 2000 km.

A defence official said this was the first time that the sophisticated missile was testfired at night. The 20-metre long two stage ballistic missile has a launch weight of 17 tonnes and can carry a payload of 1000 kg. PTI

Agni IV: 2014

Agni-IV tested, has China within range

Intercontinental ballistic missiles: India, Pakistan, China and others

Rajat Pandit The Times of India Dec 03 2014

India’s dissuasive nuclear deterrence against China got a tad more credibility in Dec 2014 with the country testing the Agni IV ballistic missile, which has a strike range of 4,000-km, from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast in the morning.

The Agni-IV was tested in “its full deliverable configuration” by the tri-service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) in the first such user trials, after one failed and three successful “developmental trials” between 2010 and 2014.

The actual operational induction of the missile, which was tested for a range of only 3,000-km on Tuesday, will take another couple of years.

DRDO scientists said there were no glitches during the missile’s entire parabolic flight path, which was constantly monitored by longrange radars and electro-optical systems all along the coast, till its splash point in the Bay of Bengal.

The SFC has already inducted the short and intermediate range Prithvi and Agni missiles geared towards Pakistan, which has overtaken India both in terms of missiles and nuclear warheads with covert help from China and North Korea over the years.

The road-mobile Agni-IV and Agni-V , in turn, are specifically meant for deterrence against China, which can target any Indian city with its formidable inventory of missiles.

“With Prithvi and Agni-I, II, III missiles already in the arsenal, Agni-IV further extends the reach and enhances India's effective deterrence capability . Agni-IV is equipped with state-ofthe-art avionics, 5th generation on-board computer and distributed architecture,“ said the DRDO.

Agni-V (2016)

See graphic:


Agni-V, characteristics


2016: India prepares the test

Rajat Pandit, December 14, 2016: The Times of India’’


Only 5 Other Nations Have Such Missiles

India is getting ready to test its Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its final operational configuration from Wheeler Island off Odisha after two years. Defence sources said preparations were on in full swing to launch the nuclearcapable Agni-V from its canister on a launcher truck towards December-end or early January . “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 said.

While Agni-V was tested in an “open configuration“ in April 2012 and September 2013, the third test, in January 2015, saw it being fired from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck. The missile's canister-launch version makes it even deadlier since it gives the armed forces requisite flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the 50-tonne missile from anywhere they want.

Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will join the superexclusive club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.

Apart from the shorterrange Prithvi and Dhanush missiles, the SFC has inducted the Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III missiles (see graphic).While these missiles are mainly geared towards Pakistan, the Agni-IV and Agni-V are specifically meant for deterrence against China. China, of course, is leagues ahead in terms of its missile and nuclear arsenals (see graphic).

But the Indian defence establishment believes the Ag ni-V is sufficient to take care of existing threat perceptions. As earlier reported by TOI, DRDO has also done some work on developing “manoeuvring warheads or intelligent re-entry vehicles“ to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems, as well as MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) for the Agni missiles. An MIRV payload basically means a single missile is capable of carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets.

2016: ready for user trials by military

Nuclear and conventional missiles in India, a timeline; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, December 17, 2016

Rajat Pandit, Agni-V with China tested in December 2016, Dec 27 2016 : The Times of India

See graphics:

1. Some facts about Agni-V

2. Agni-V, an inter-continental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile, some facts

3. Nuclear warheads, India, Pakistan and China

Agni-V, an inter-continental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile, some facts
From: January 19, 2018: The Hindu
Nuclear warheads, India, Pakistan and China; The Times of India, December 14, 2016

Agni-V , India's most formidable missile with a range of over 5,000 km, is now ready for user trials by the military after it underwent its fourth and final test-firing from the integrated test range off the Odisha coast.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), dubbed a “game-changer“ in strategic deterrence because it brings the whole of China and much more within its strike envelope, was fired from its canister on a launcher truck just after 11am.

Powered by three-stage rocket motors, the 50-tonne missile tore into space to a height of 500 km before following its predetermined flight-path to the “splash point“ in southern Indian Ocean 20 minutes later. President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Modi congratulated DRDO. The Agni-V test, monitored by radars and tracking systems, met all the mission objectives. The country has achieved a very high-level of self-reliance in missile technologies,“ said the defence minister's scientific adviser G Satheesh Reddy . Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, among others, congratulated DRDO scientists for the “successful“ test-firing of Agni-V , which is designed to carry a 1.5-tonne nucleartipped warhead.

TOI was the first to re port in its December 14 edition the impending test of Agni-V , which will now undergo at least two user-trials by the tri-service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) be fore full-scale production and induction.

The missile's canisterlaunch final operational version is significant because it gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and launch the missile from wherever they want within a matter of minutes. The hermetically-sealed canister gives the missile higher reliability , enhanced mobility, less maintenance and longer shelf-life. Some more fireworks are likely again over the Bay of Bengal when SFC conducts user-trials of the 4,000-km Agni-IV , which is also designed with China in mind, in the first week of January. Apart from the shorterrange Prithvi and Dhanush missiles, SFC has inducted the Agni-I (700km), Agni-II (2,000km) and Agni-III (3,000km) missiles till now.

Also in the works is AgniVI, which will be armed with “manoeuvring warheads or intelligent re-entry vehicles“ to defeat enemy defence systems or MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles). An MIRV payload basically means a single missile is capable of carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets.

2018: successful “first pre-induction trial” of Agni-V

Rajat Pandit, Entire China could soon be within India’s N-strike zone, January 19, 2018: The Times of India


DELHI KNOCKS ON DOOR OF SUPER-EXCLUSIVE MISSILE CLUB Induction Of 5,000km-Range, N-Capable ICBM Just A Step Away

India is a step away from gate-crashing into the super-exclusive club of countries with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the successful “first pre-induction trial” of Agni-V that, with a range of over 5,000km, brings all of Asia, and thus China, within its nuclear strike capability.

Sources said India’s most formidable missile will undergo one more pre-induction trial “within this year” before it is inducted into the Agni-V regiment already raised by the Tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with the requisite command and control structures.

Once that happens, India will rub shoulders with the US, the UK, Russia, China and France. While a belligerent North Korea has, over the last six-seven months, rattled the US with tests of its two new ICBMs — Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 — expert opinion is divided on whether they are fully operational and deployed as of now.

In its first pre-induction trial conducted by the SFC, the 17-metre Agni-V was launched from a canister atop the road-mobile launcher from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha at 9.53am. The three-stage missile zoomed to a height of over 600km in its parabolic trajectory and then splashed down around 4,900km away towards Australia in the Indian Ocean barely 19 minutes later.

The missile’s canisterlaunch version makes it deadlier because it gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the missile from anywhere they want. “Since the missile is already mated with its nuclear warhead before being sealed in the canister, it drastically cuts down the response or reaction time for a retaliatory strike…only the authorised electronic codes have to be fed to unlock and prime it for launch,” said a source India, of course, wants a credible strategic deterrent against an aggressive and expansionist China, which has a large arsenal of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The SFC already has regiments of the Prithvi-II, Agni-I, Agni-II & Agni-III (see graphic) missiles, which are mainly meant to deter Pakistan. Agni-IV and Agni-V, in turn, have been developed with China in mind.

Designed to carry a 1.5- tonne nuclear warhead, Agni-V has been tested four times in “developmental or experimental trials” earlier. The missile was tested in an “open configuration” in April 2012 and September 2013, while it was test-fired from hermetically sealed canisters mounted on transport-cum-tilting launcher trucks in January 2015 and December 2016.

“The missile’s flight performance was monitored by radars, range stations and tracking systems all through the mission. All mission objectives were successfully met. This successful test of Agni-V reaffirms the country’s indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence,” said a defence ministry official. Though the DRDO has often proclaimed it can develop missiles with strike ranges of 10,000km to match the Chinese DF-31A (11,200km) and DF-41 (14,500km) missiles, the Indian defence establishment believes Agni-V is sufficient to take care of existing threat perceptions.

There is, however, interest in ongoing DRDO work on developing “manoeuvring warheads or intelligent reentry vehicles” to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems, as well as MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) for the Agni missiles. An MIRV payload means one missile can carry several warheads, each for different targets.

2018/Induction into the Strategic Forces Command

Rajat Pandit, 20 years after Pokhran-II, ICBMs on way, May 12, 2018: The Times of India

Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Forces Command (SFC), a timeline;
AGNI V's range
From: Rajat Pandit, 20 years after Pokhran-II, ICBMs on way, May 12, 2018: The Times of India

Missile That Can Hit China, Parts Of Europe Being Handed Over To Strategic Forces Command

India has kicked off the process to induct its first intercontinental ballistic missile Agni-V into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), 20 years after the country conducted the five Pokhran-II underground nuclear tests under ‘Operation Shakti’.


Defence sources said “several systems and subsystems” associated with the over 5,000-km-range missile, which brings the whole of China as well as parts of Europe and Africa under its strike range, “are being handed over” to the new Agni-V unit raised under the SFC.

“The second pre-induction trial of Agni-V is slated to take place soon (the first one was on January 18 this year, after four developmental trials since April 2012). If successful like the earlier tests, the Agni-V unit with its missiles can be shifted to a strategic base,” said a source.

The tri-service SFC already has Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km) missile units. While some Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters have also been jury-rigged to make them capable of delivering nuclear bombs, the third leg of the “nuclear triad” is represented only by the solitary nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant as of now.

While the “weak” underwater leg is a continuing concern because SSBNs are considered the most secure and effective platforms for retaliatory nuclear strikes, especially for a country like India that has a declared “no first-use (NFU)” policy, sources say the SFC and the PM-led Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) have taken “big strides” since they were created in January, 2003.

There is, of course, the longstanding controversy over whether India actually achieved its “declared yields” in the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear detonations, which included a 15 kiloton fission device, a 45 kiloton thermonuclear device (hydrogen bomb) and three sub-kiloton devices.

Some experts have even called for junking the NFU policy because India is faced with two nuclear-armed hostile neighbours.

But such debates apart, sources say a lot of work has been carried out to establish underground nuclear command posts, command and control centres as well as strategic missile bases at different locations. “Redundancies, alternative chains of command, targeting strategies for retaliation and operating procedures for ‘launch on attack’, among other things, have been ensured,” said another source.

“Till SSBNs with nuclear missiles over 3,500-km range are inducted, the Agni missiles and nuclear glide bombs delivered by fighters will remain the mainstay of India’s deterrence posture,” he added.

Operational deployment of the over 50-tonne Agni-V, which will take about a year, will add some much-needed teeth to the deterrence posture against China. Agni-V, which carries a 1.5-tonne nuclear warhead, is more deadly than the earlier Agni variants because it’s a canister-launch missile to ensure swift transportation and firing. “It reduces the response time as well as ensures higher reliability with less maintenance,” said the source.

Before the test in January, the three-stage Agni-V underwent four “developmental trials”, with “open configuration” tests in April 2012 and September 2013. Then, it was test-fired from hermetically sealed canisters mounted on transport-cum-tilting launcher trucks in January, 2015 and December, 2016.

Agni-V, 5000 km range

Rajat Pandit, Oct 28, 2021: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: In a strong strategic signal to China amidst the continuing 17-month military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, India tested its most formidable missile, the over 5,000-km range Agni-V, on Wednesday evening.

The “successful test” of the Agni-V, which brings even the northernmost part of China within its strike envelope, is in line with India’s stated policy to have “credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first-use (NFU)”, said the defence ministry.

“The missile, which uses a three-stage solid fuelled engine, is capable of striking targets at ranges up to 5,000 km with a very high degree of accuracy. It was tested for its entire range. The launch went off very well,” said an official.

The test was significant on two counts. One, it was the first “user-launch” of the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by the tri-Services Strategic Forces Command (SFC) after its induction into the armed forces. Two, this is the first time the missile, which has been tested seven times earlier, was launched during night.

TOI was the first to report last month that the over 50-tonne Agni-V would be test-fired in its “full operational configuration” by the SFC in October, in the first such launch since the military stand-off with China erupted in April-May last year.

The missile with a 1.5-tonne warhead was launched from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island, off the Odisha coast, at about 7.50 pm. Flying at 24 times the speed of sound, the missile’s trajectory and flight parameters were constantly monitored by radars, electro-optical tracking systems, telemetry stations and ships before it splashed down in the Bay of Bengal, said the official.

As was earlier reported by TOI, DRDO is also working to develop `multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles' (MIRVs) for the Agni missiles but it will take at least another two years for the multiple-warhead capability to be tested. An MIRV payload basically involves a single missile carrying four to six nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit a separate target.

The existing single-warhead Agni-V in itself adds teeth to the deterrence posture against China, which has missiles like the Dong Feng-41 (12,000-15,000-km) that can hit any Indian city. China has also recently gone in for a huge expansion in new missile silo fields for launching nuclear-tipped ICBMs.

As per the latest assessment of the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI), China now possesses 350 nuclear warheads and Pakistan 165, as compared to 156 of India.

But India remains confident of its credible minimum deterrence. The Agni-V is operationally better than the earlier Agni variants because it is a canister-launch missile to ensure lesser maintenance as well as swifter transportation and firing.

The test of the 17-metre tall Agni-V test comes after a new-generation two-stage missile called Agni-Prime, with a strike range of 1,500-km, was tested on June 28. The Agni-Prime, also a canister-launch missile, will eventually replace the Agni-I (700-km) missiles in the arsenal of the SFC, which also has the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km) missile units. India has also for long modified some Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters to deliver nuclear gravity bombs. The new French-origin Rafale fighters inducted by the IAF are also capable of doing it.

But the third leg of India’s nuclear triad is still far away from becoming robust, represented as it is by the solitary nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant armed with only 750-km range K-15 missiles as of now.

Countries like the US, Russia and China have SSBNs with well over 5,000-km range submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). India has three more SSBNs under development, with INS Arighat now slated for commissioning next year after some delay. The K-4 missiles, with a strike range of 3,500-km, in turn, will take at least one more year to be ready for induction.

Agni-P (2021)

Rajat Pandit, June 29, 2021: The Times of India

In a step towards bolstering strategic deterrence capabilities, India successfully tested a new-generation nuclear-capable Agni ballistic missile from the test range on the Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha.

The advanced two-stage missile called `Agni-Prime’ has a strike range from 1,000 to 2,000-km. “Test-fired at 10.55 am, the missile was tracked by various telemetry and radar stations positioned along the eastern coast. It met all mission objectives with a high-level of accuracy,” said a DRDO official.

Congratulating defence scientists for the successful mission, defence minister Rajnath Singh said, “The Agni-P missile would further strengthen India’s credible deterrence capabilities.”

The Agni-P missile has been developed with new propulsion systems and composite rocket motor casings as well as advanced navigation and guidance systems. “It’s a completely new missile, the smallest and lightest among the entire Agni series of ballistic missiles,” a scientist said.

Significantly, Agni-P is also a canister-launch missile like the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the over 5,000-km Agni-V, which is now in the process of being inducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).

“Canisterisation” of missiles gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to store it for long periods, swiftly transport it through rail or road when required, and fire it from anywhere they want.

“The hermetically-sealed canister protects the missile from the environment. It also serves as a launch platform since the missile is stored in it in a ready-to-fire configuration. It reduces the response time as well as ensures higher reliability with less maintenance,” the scientist added.

The Agni-P missile will require at least a couple of more “developmental trials”, followed by “user trials”, before it is ready for induction. The missile will gradually replace the Agni-I (700-km) missiles in the arsenal of the tri-Service SFC, which also has the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km) missile units.

While India has also for long modified some Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters to make them capable of delivering nuclear gravity bombs, the third leg of the “nuclear triad” is represented only by the solitary nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant at present.

See also

Missiles: India

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