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Science & Technology

Successful Test Firing of Agni V

  • 11 Dec 2018
  • 4 min read

India successfully tested its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Agni V which has a strike range of 5,000 km, from Dr. Abdul Kalam Island (formerly the Wheeler Island) in Odisha.

  • This is the third successful launch of Agni-V this year (2018) and the fifth launch of the missile in a canisterised form.
  • Agni-V is the most advanced surface-to-surface indigenously built ballistic missile.
  • It is a three-stage, solid fuel 17-metre tall, and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes.
  • Agni-V is a fire and forget missile, which once fired cannot be stopped, except by an interceptor missile.
  • It has been developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program)

  • It was conceived by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in field of missile technology. It was approved by Government of India in 1983 and completed in March 2012.
  • The 5 missiles (P-A-T-N-A) developed under this program are:
    • Prithvi: Short range surface to surface ballistic missile.
    • Agni: Ballistic missiles with different ranges, i.e. Agni (1,2,3,4,5)
    • Trishul: Short range low level surface to air missile.
    • Nag: 3rd generation anti-tank missile.
    • Akash: Medium range surface to air missile.
  • The launch operations were carried out and monitored by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
    • SFC is a part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) which was created in 2003 to manage India’s nuclear arsenal.
    • NCA is India’s nodal authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapons programme. It has an Executive Council (headed by National Security Advisor) which gives input to the Political Council (headed by the Prime Minister). The Political Council, authorizes a nuclear attack if need be.

Canister Based Launch System

  • Canister based launch system- serves as a container for transportation; a housing during storage aboard a vessel; provides operational flexibility.
  • A canister launch system can be either hot launch, where the missile ignites in the cell, or cold launch, where the missile is expelled by gas produced by a gas generator which is not part of the missile itself, and then the missile ignites.
  • Cold launch is safer than hot launch as the ejection system will eject the missile by itself even if there is a missile failure. In case of Agni V, it will be a cold launch.
  • In case of hot launches the problem is the heat produced by the missile at the time of launch. The hot launch is better for small missiles as the ejection part itself will be done by using missiles own engine.
  • In addition to this technology, India is also working to master the Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology which is also considered as India’s technological solution for Minimum Nuclear Deterrence.
    • The fundamental characteristic of deploying MIRVs is its ability to deliver several warheads along separate trajectories, which confers it flexibility of multiple targeting.
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