India successfully tested its first nuclear-capable, long-range intercontinental ballistic missile, Agni-V on January 31, 2015. The over 5,000-km Agni-V in its canister version was tested on Wheeler’s Island in the Bay of Bengal and it reached its designated target point perfectly, meeting all the objectives of the mission.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India, Agni-V is a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, that has made India enter the “elite nuclear club” comprising countries like China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, and possibly Israel. Agni-V missile was earlier first tested on April 19, 2012, and then on September 15, 2013. According to senior officials of the DRDO, another test of Agni-V will be undertaken jointly by with Indian army, before it officially enters the service of the India’s Strategic Forces Command by the end of 2015.
What are the features of Agni-V missile
- It is under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and is a part of the Agni series of missiles.
- It is 17 m long, capable of carrying a 1.1t payload, and the range of the missile is around 5,500–5,800 km.
- The nuclear missile climbed to a height of more than 600 km and hit the designated target point perfectly in the Indian Ocean after 20 minutes.
- The missile incorporates all major modern and advanced technologies, with composite motor casing, along with ring laser gyroscope, accelerometer for guidance and navigation, monitored by radars and electro-optical systems.
- It has the capacity to carry Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) payloads, which can handle multiple warheads at different targets.
What does it mean to India?
This canister missile system has been successful in fulfilling the long-term long-term objectives that our country’s indigenous integrated missile development programme launched way back in 1983. According to Dr VG Sekaran, Agni programme mission director and director-general of DRDO Missiles and Strategic Systems, the objective of the Agni-V has been achieved and this is a momentous occasion and a great step in the nation’s deterrence capability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated the scientists from the DRDO for the successful testing of the missile and said that Agni-V was an asset for the country’s armed forces.
Some of the significances of Agni-V for the country are:
- This will be the first intercontinental missile that will allow India to strike neighbouring countries across Asia and into Europe.
- The missile once officially launched will give our country the ability to attack or threaten neighbouring countries like China with nuclear weapons. This is something which the country presently lacks.
- Agni-V will give the armed forces the much-need operational adjustability to quickly transport and fire the missile from anywhere they want.
- This is also a road-and-rail-mobile canister that can be fired from stop-to-launch within a short time, along with the added benefits of longer shelf-life, higher reliability, and reduced maintenance.
There is no doubt that India seeks harmonious and peaceful relations with its neighbours. But, it cannot be denied that there are some geographical, strategic challenges and realities, which threaten the country, and this cannot be ignored or neglected. The Agni-V missile is a major achievement towards strengthening India’s nuclear deterrence or defence capability. According to defence analysts, the missile will definitely provide a great deal of resilience and flexibility to India’s strategic defence and strike capability. Besides, the successful test of Agni-V, no doubt, represents the country’s self-reliance insofar as technological power is concerned.