19 April 2012 test launch of the Agni V
|Type||Intercontinental ballistic missile|
|Place of origin||India|
|In service||2014 (testing)|
|Used by||Strategic Forces Command|
|Manufacturer||Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO),
Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)
|Unit cost||500 million (US$8 million)|
|Diameter||2 metres (6 ft 7 in)|
|Warhead weight||1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb)|
|Engine||Three stage solid fuel|
|Over 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi)|
|Ring laser gyroscope and inertial navigation system, optionally augmented by GPS. Terminal guidance with possible radar scene correlation|
|Accuracy||less than 10 m|
|8 × 8 Tatra TEL and rail mobile launcher (canisterised missile package) |
|Transport||Road or rail mobile|
Agni-V is an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. It is part of the Agni series of missiles, one of the missile systems under the original Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. According to DRDO chief, the exact range of Agni V is "classified" but afterwards he described Agni V as a missile with a range of 5,500–5,800 km.
Senior defence scientist M. Natrajan disclosed in 2007 that DRDO was working on an upgraded version of the Agni III, known as the Agni-V (Earlier known as Agni-III* and Agni-IV), and that it would be ready in 4 years. The missile was to have a range of more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi).
The Agni-V is expected to be operational by 2014 to 2015 after four to five repeatable tests by the DRDO. Indian authorities believe that the solid-fuelled Agni-V is more than adequate to meet current threat perceptions and security concerns. The missile will allow India to strike targets across Asia and into Europe. The missile was designed to be easy to transport by road through the utilization of a canister-launch missile system which is distinct from those of the earlier Agni missiles. Agni-V would also carry MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) payloads being concurrently developed. A single MIRV equipped missile can deliver multiple warheads at different targets.
With a "launch mass" of around 50 tonnes (49 long tons; 55 short tons) and a development cost of over 25 billion (US$400 million), Agni-V will incorporate advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance. It takes its first stage from Agni-III, with a modified second stage and a miniaturised third stage to ensure it can fly to distances of 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi). With a canister-launch system to impart higher road mobility, the missile will give the armed forces much greater operational flexibility than the earlier-generation of Agni missiles. According to a source, the accuracy levels of Agni-V and the 3,800-kilometre (2,400 mi) Agni-IV (first tested in November 2011), with their better guidance and navigation systems, are far higher than Agni-I (700 km [430 mi]), Agni-II (2,000 km [1,200 mi]) and Agni-III (3,000 km [1,900 mi]). According to the Project Director of Agni V, Tessy Thomas, the missile achieved single-digit accuracy in its second test.
Preparation for testing
The Indian defence minister A. K. Antony, addressing the annual DRDO awards ceremony, asked defence scientists to demonstrate the 5,000-kilometre (3,100 mi) missile's capability at the earliest opportunity. DRDO chief V. K. Saraswat told Times of India in mid-2011 that DRDO had tested the three solid-propellant composite rocket motor stages of Agni-V independently and all ground tests had been completed. In September 2011, Saraswat confirmed that the first test flight would be conducted in 2012 from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast.
In February 2012, a source revealed that DRDO was almost ready for the test, but there were scheduling and logistical issues since the missile was to traverse halfway across the Indian Ocean. Countries like Indonesia and Australia as well as international air and maritime traffic in the test zone had to be alerted 7– 10 days before the test. Moreover, Indian Navy warships, with DRDO scientists and tracking and monitoring systems, were to be positioned midway and near the impact point in the southern Indian Ocean.
First test launch
On 19 April 2012 at 08.05 am, the Agni V was successfully test-fired by DRDO from Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa. The test launch was made from the Launch Complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island using a rail mobile launcher. The flight time lasted 20 minutes and the third stage fired the re-entry vehicle into the atmosphere at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 mi). The missile re-entry vehicle subsequently impacted the pre-designated target point more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi) away in the Indian Ocean. The director of the test range, S.P. Das, informed BBC that all test parameters were met. According to news reports the Agni-V was able to hit the target nearly at pin-point accuracy, within a few metres of the designated target point.
Chinese experts say that the missile has the potential to reach targets 8000 km away and that the Indian government had deliberately downplayed the missile's capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries. The exact range of Agni-V is classified.
Second test launch
On September 15, 2013 India conducted a second test flight of Agni-V from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. The missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from Launch Complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 8:50 am. The flight duration was little over 20 minutes and hit the pre-designed target in the Indian Ocean with an accuracy of a few metres.
The Agni-V is a three stage solid fuelled missile with composite motor casing in the second and third stage. In many aspects, the Agni-5 carries forward the Agni-3 pedigree. With composites used extensively to reduce weight, and a third stage added on (the Agni-3 was a two-stage missile), the Agni-5 can fly significantly more to inter-continental range.
Total flight duration for the first flight test of Agni-V on 20 April 2012 was for 1130 seconds. The first stage ignited for 90 seconds.
"The Agni-5 is specially tailored for road-mobility," explained Avinash Chander, Director, ASL. "With the canister having been successfully developed, all India's future land-based strategic missiles will be canisterised as well." The missile will utilise a canister and will be launched from it. Made of maraging steel, a canister must provide a hermetically sealed atmosphere that preserves the missile for years. During firing, the canister must absorb enormous stresses when a thrust of 300 to 400 tonnes (300 to 390 long tons; 330 to 440 short tons) is generated to eject the 50 tonnes (49 long tons; 55 short tons) missile.
In future, Agni-V is expected to feature Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) with each missile being capable of carrying 2–10 separate nuclear warheads. Each warhead can be assigned to a different target, separated by hundreds of kilometres; alternatively, two or more warheads can be assigned to one target. MIRVs ensure a credible second strike capability even with few missiles.
Reactions to testing
In India, the success of the launch was received with much acclaim and widespread media coverage. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the DRDO by issuing a statement: "I congratulate all the scientific and technical personnel of the DRDO and other organisations who have worked tirelessly in our endeavour to strengthen the defence and security of our country. Today's successful Agni-V test launch represents another milestone in our quest to add to the credibility of our security and preparedness and to continuously explore the frontiers of science. The nation stands together in honouring the scientific community who have done the country proud." Missile program director Avinash Chander commented that the launch signified "giant strides taken by India in its integrated missile development programme." The Defence Minister A.K. Antony also congratulated the DRDO chief Dr. V.K. Saraswat and DRDO team including its Programme director Dr. Avinash Chander and said that "The immaculate success of the Agni-5 is a major milestone in the country's missile research and development programme." Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary of India wrote, "In reality, while self-restraint and attachment to peace do mark our policies, we choose soft options also because we are conscious of our weakness and lack of military preparedness. [..] China, in any case, possesses missiles with even longer range. Earlier it was India that was vulnerable to Chinese missiles and now the reverse will be true, creating a better balance in deterrence."
- People's Republic of China – A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Liu Weimin, said, "China and India are large developing nations. We are not competitors but partners. We believe that both sides should cherish the hard-won good state of affairs at present, and work hard to uphold friendly strategic co-operation to promote joint development and make positive contributions towards maintaining peace and stability in the region." The state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the test was "a historic moment for India, and it shows that India has joined the club of the countries that own ballistic missiles." However, CCTV listed some of the missile's shortcomings and reported that "it does not pose a threat in reality." More negative commentary can be found in Global Times, which reported that India "still lags behind in infrastructure construction, but its society is highly supportive of developing nuclear power and the West chooses to overlook India's disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties" and warned India not to "over-estimate its strength". Subsequently, they also claimed that although India may have missiles that can reach all parts of China, India stands "no chance in an overall arms race" with the country. Chinese experts say that the missile actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) away and that the Indian government had "deliberately downplayed the missile's capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries".
- Pakistan – Pakistani websites and news agencies prominently displayed news of the launch. An article by the Associated Press reported that Pakistani officials showed no concern, with the foreign office spokesman Mozzam Ahmed Khan saying only that India had informed it of the test ahead of time in line with an agreement they have."
- United Kingdom – The BBC reported that the launch marked the moment India joined an "elite nuclear club" that also included China, Russia, France, the US, the UK and possibly Israel.
- United States – The United States stated that India boasted of an excellent non-proliferation record and that it had engaged with the international community on such issues. Mark C. Toner, a US State Department spokesman said, "We urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear capabilities. That said, India has a solid nonproliferation record." Moreover, responding to comparisons with North Korea's attempted launch of a long-range rocket that same week, Jay Carney said that, "India's record stands in stark contrast to that of North Korea, which has been subject to numerous sanctions, as you know, by the United Nations Security Council."
- A Washington-based think tank has claimed that The US is supportive of India's efforts to close missile gap with China and is comfortable with the progress being made by New Delhi in this regard. Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for South Asia, and Baker Spring, research fellow in National Security Policy, at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank said in a commentary, “The lack of US condemnation of India's latest missile test demonstrates that the US is comfortable with Indian progress in the nuclear and missile fields and appreciates India's need to meet the emerging strategic challenge posed by rising China.” “It is telling that no country has criticised India's missile test,” the US experts wrote. “The US change in position with regard to Indian missile capabilities demonstrates how far the US-India relationship has evolved over the last decade,” Curtis and Spring said.
- NATO – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that they did not think India was a missile threat, nor a threat to NATO and its allies, despite India's advancement in missile technology.
- Related development
- Related lists
- V. K. Saraswat, Director General of DRDO
- R. K. Gupta, Project Director for Agni-V
- Tessy Thomas, Project Director (Mission) for Agni-V
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