Recently, India successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Intercontinental Ballistic Agni-5 Missile. It is developed by Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The firing capacity of Agni 5 is said to have a range of 5000kms to 8000 km. It has a three-stage and is road-mobile and solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile.
According to experts, the missile will boost India’s nuclear resistance against its eastern neighbour, China. The missile was inducted three years ago, but this is the first time that it is being tested by Strategic Forces Command, its user agency.
Agni-5 missile and its importance for India and its defense
The Agni-5 missile is a long-range surface to a surface ballistic missile. It can accurately hit a target that is at a distance of 5000kms. Officially an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile needs to cover a distance of 5500 km, but still, the Agni 5 is India’s nearest answer to the parameters of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
India’s newest weapon can cover entire China and most parts of Europe and Africa. It can carry a warhead of around 1500kgs, with a launch weight of 50,000kg. However, according to many reports, this missile’s original hitting range is close to 80.
A ring laser gyroscope based inertial navigation system (RLG-INS) is mostly responsible for making the Agni-V missile reach its target. Not only this, Agni-5 is equipped with another guidance system called micro inertial navigation system (MINGS) as a backup in case of an emergency.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Indian Government said after the test that its success “is in line with India’s declared policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that signifies the commitment to ‘No First Use’ “.
Also, Agni 5 is a“canisterised” missile that makes its mobility easy. It means that the missile could be launched from rail and road platforms, enabling it to be deployed and released at a rapid pace. The canisterisation is an advanced system in which the missile is stored and launched. It also gives the missile a longer shelf life, saving it from the rough climatic conditions.
India is among the handful of nations (probably) with weapons like ICBM. But, it is the next generation of the missile which is considered even more advanced. The Agni VI, which is under development, is assumed to have a hitting range of around 8,000 km.
History of Agni Missiles
India started to test the Agni series of missiles in 1989. The first missile in this series was Agni 1, an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile, having a hitting range of around 1,000 km. Only the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, France, and Israel had IRBM technology during that time.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs have continuously done research and worked on it from that time onwards. Thus, this brought the advanced Agni 5 to its full capability. Moreover, except the IRBM-capable nations, only North Korea and the UK have ICBM technology at the moment
Chinese HSGV vs Indian ICBM
China has a missile called hypersonic missile glide vehicle that is released by a rocket moving in the Earth’s lower orbit. This travels at more than five times to 25 times the speed of sound. The HSGV can carry nuclear payloads giving the launching country an advantage to target almost any place worldwide.
The difference between an ICBM and HSGV is that the ICBM goes through a parabolic trajectory, in which it goes up and then comes down like a ball. On the other hand, a hypersonic glide vehicle orbits the Earth at a lesser height, and its movement can be manipulated. Its most significant advantage is that it can substitute track or target while being in the air.
As per the report of Rand Corporation, the HSGV advantage is its “in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned” and the “ability to fly at unpredictable trajectories; these missiles will hold huge areas at risk throughout much of their flights.”
The report further stated that hypersonic technology can be used for dual-use, like using it for non-military usage including space launch and spacecraft retrieval. However, “once a nation acquires hypersonic technology, its intentions can change”.
“The current situation, with hypersonic research openly disseminated and widely spread among governments, industries, and universities, presents challenges for nonproliferation,” it said.
Also, hypersonic missiles can cover a distance of approximately 5,000 to 25,000 km per hour, making them six to 25 times quicker than an aircraft. This makes them even dangerous.
With the tensions between China and India in recent days, a lot more advanced weapons could be seen from both the countries in future.