No intention to cap missile programme with Agni-5 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 20 April 2012

No intention to cap missile programme with Agni-5

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 21st Apr 12

After the near-perfect debut of the Agni-5 long-range ballistic missile, which yesterday travelled 5000 kilometres to accurately strike a target in the southern Indian Ocean, Dr VK Saraswat, the Defence R&D Organisation chief, declared that the Agni programme would continue and that there was no question of capping India’s missile programme.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Saraswat said, “Our development needs are based upon today’s threats, and also evolving threats…. So there is no question of capping any programme…. Today, in a short time, we have gone from Agni-4 (launched in Nov 11) to Agni-5, Obviously we have a threat profile which is evolving and I am not sure it will ever remain static. So we are going to continue to develop missiles to meet our future threats.”

The first big enhancement to the successful Agni-5 will involve creating the capability of hitting several different enemy targets with multiple warheads on a single missile. This technology, called multiple, independently targetable, re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) is already being developed by the DRDO.

Dr Avinash Chander, the DRDO’s chief controller of missiles, explained that such a missile would be “all-composite”. The Agni-5 has three stages, with the second and third stage built of composite materials. The next missile will have a composite first stage as well, making it lighter and, therefore, able to carry a heavier payload than the 1.5 tonne payload of the current Agni-5.

According to DRDO sources, an MIRV payload would be significantly heavier, since it would consist of several nuclear warheads, each of them weighing about 400 kilogrammes. A 5-warhead MIRV, therefore, would weigh two tonnes.

“The primary modules of MIRV are in an advanced stage of development. Realization and integration of them into a weapon is just a question of threat perceptions and the need as it arises,” said Chander.

Saraswat laid down a two-year time line for the Agni-5 to enter operational service. “We will do two more validation tests, which should take about 1½ years. After that, we will begin production (of the Agni-5) and we will start handing it over to the military. Once they have it, they will do some launches for their training as well. This will take about two years.”

The DRDO chief revealed that the missile was 80% indigenous, with just 20% consisting of “those components which are easily available as part of the electronics components industry.” He stated that the missile does not contain a single critical component that is under embargo.


  1. construction of a highway linking Gwadar to the chinese province of Xingiang is planned... trade route to the Central Asian Republics...

  2. Y near perfect.. 1st line ??

  3. Bravo! They should keep it up.

  4. The accuracy of Agni-V is disputed. As stated in the press under 10 m to several hundred meters. Ajay can you please let us know what is the truth.

  5. Lots of details Ajai sir. Thanks.

  6. I guess we kinda like our DRDO chief, Dr. VK Saraswat. He seems like a cool chill guy hanging out with his scientist buddies by the A5, in casual wear. He is a missile expert, and that what we need to be focussing on at DRDO these days. I hope he hangs around for a while until the missile program is fully developed.

  7. @ Ajai Shukla :

    If a warhead weighs only 400 kg , then why do Agni-2, Agni-1, Agni-4 have payload of 1 kg ? They are single warhead missiles .

  8. I like the way Dr Saraswat commented about the missile programme being not static and it would evolve in line with the threat perceptions.

    India should not in any way curtail its progress just to please the international community. National security, integrity and sovereignty preclude other inputs when it comes to providing the necessary tools to safeguard the nation.

    India, one of the biggest democracies in the world is precluded as a permanent member of the Security Council in the UN by vested interests who could veto anything and everything not in their interests, it should strengthen our resolve to be the best among the best before we even think of any compromise in our defence undertakings.

  9. @ Nayan

    The press can tom-tom an accuracy of 5 millimetres for all I care. I'll go by what the DRDO says, which is "several hundred metres".

    The accuracy (CEP) of ICBMs with even the most advanced guidance systems is estimated to be at least a couple of hundred metres. Forget claims, this is what the estimations are.

    You can be pretty sure that, with incremental improvements, the accuracy of the Agni-5 will improve to these levels. For now, it is "a few hundred metres."

  10. Any news regarding canister launcher and TEL?

  11. @Vizagite

    first i tink its a type in u r post 1kg should be 1 T

    India is yet to perfect the low mass nuclear warhead(~ 300kg)... It should have been already ready/getting ready in BARC... We need pokran 3 to validate the same and also possibly the fixes for some glitches in thermo nuclear design which we did in pokran 2... More over Agni 1, 2, 4 with 1 T we can have only 2 warhead with 400kg design(if such a thing is ready with us)... but then to be MIRV you need more tech that will add to the mass... As the missile is capable of having 1T, why to waste remaining... So we would have increased the yield...

  12. It is hoped that in Future DRDO will prove as they have claimed in the past that they have the technological prowress to develop ICBMs Agni VI, VII, VIII etc. which can reach upto a distance of 12000 kms which means all across the globe.Agni would indeed be a Weapon of Peace.

  13. Sir.
    The nation must reward Rs. Ten Lakh to each of the team members of Agni-5. They have made India proud and safe.

  14. Ajai: the following is an actual quote from G. Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, RCI, as reported in The Hindu (T.S. Subramaniam is quite reliable when it comes to defence reporting, unlike say Rajat Pandit).

    The key is whether this accuracy can be repeated over multiple tests, since CEP is a statistical estimate, after all.

    Modern day ICBM's accuracy is classified. A few meters accuracy cannot be ruled out for the U.S ICBMs.

    ****Quote from Hindu****

    G. Satheesh Reddy, Associate Director, Research Centre Imarat, said the missile's two navigation systems, on-board computers, control actuator systems and mission interface units used the latest technology. During the mission, the on-board computer estimated the trajectory every few milliseconds and made the missile system follow that path. Besides the propulsion, Mr. Reddy said, both the navigation systems worked perfectly, giving accuracy of a few metres.

  15. It is true that with power we earn respect also opponents know you are not to be messed with read comments of China foes to counterparts huh!

  16. This is an exmaple of how the DRDO and media makes fools of indians.....


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