Adding teeth to its security forces’ attack power, India successfully test-fired surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni 5 (written also as Agni V) today. The range of this missile is 5,000 km. The missile was test-fired from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island at 7:50 PM.
While India maintains its no-first-use policy, it is constantly enhancing its nuclear-capable weaponry.
India had tested Agni 5 for the first time in April 2012. The second test was held in September 2013, the third in January 2015 and the fourth in December 2016. Seven tests were conducted till December 2018.
These tests involved firing the missile from different types of launching pads — stationery and mobile. India tested Agni 5 also by changing its trajectories and targets. Agni 5 has so far passed all the tests.
The missile can be fired even from a moving truck.
Before Agni 5 and hereafter
Agni 5 aims primarily at enhancing India’s nuclear deterrence against China. Until recently, the longest range missile India had was Agni 3, with a range of 3000–3500 km. This range was not sufficient to reach targets in the extreme eastern and northeastern regions of China. Most of the important economic centres of China lay on its eastern seaboard.
Senior defence scientist M. Natarajan disclosed in 2007 that DRDO was working on an upgraded version of the Agni 3 known as the Agni 5 and that it would be ready in 4 years.
The missile was to have a range of more than 5,000 km.
It was estimated that the missile will be operational by 2014 to 2015 after four to five repeatable tests. Indian authorities believed that the solid-fuelled Agni 5 is more than adequate to meet current threat perceptions and security concerns. Even with a range of only 5,000 km, the Agni 5 could hit any target in China, including Beijing.
The missile will allow India to strike targets across Asia and into Europe. The missile’s range will allow the Indian military to target all of China from Agni 5 bases, in central and southern India, further away from China. The missile is likely to be similar to other missiles of 10,000 km range.
The missile was designed to be easy to transport by road, through the utilisation of a canister-launch missile system, which is distinct from those of the earlier Agni missiles.
Agni 5 would carry MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) payloads, which India is concurrently developing. A single MIRV equipped missile can deliver multiple warheads at different targets.
With a launch mass of around 50 tonnes (49 long tonnes; 55 short tonnes) and a development cost of over Rs 2,500 crore, Agni 5 incorporated advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.
It took its first stage from Agni 3, with a modified second stage and a miniaturised third stage enabling it to fly a distance of 5,000 km. The second and third stages are completely made of composite material to reduce weight.
With a canister-launch system to impart higher road mobility, the missile, will give the armed forces much greater operational flexibility than the previous generations of Agni missiles.
The accuracy levels of Agni 5 and the Agni 4 (range 3,800 km), with their better guidance and navigation systems, are far higher than Agni I (700 km), Agni 2 (2,000 km) and Agni 3 (3,000 km).
According to the then Project Director of Agni 5, Tessy Thomas, the missile had achieved single-digit accuracy already in its second test.
Submarine version work in progress
The Defence Research and Development Organisation is trying to make Agni 5 more lethal and also increasing the range up to 10,000 km.
As of now, Agni 5 can only be operated only from the ground. Work is underway on the submarine version of the missile.