Explained: The significance of Agni-4, Agni-5 - India - DNA
A recent article in the Chinese state-run People Daily on India’s “killer” missile recognized that Agni missiles would be a game changer, transforming the way the world looks at India’s defence arsenal.
Titled ‘Risks behind India’s military build-up’, the article focused on the capability of the soon-to-be-tested 5,000 km-range Agni-5 missile and said the missile with the potential to target many of China’s cities highlights India’s intention to become a major power in the region.
Though Agni-5’s capability as an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) will be tried and tested only when it is launched in February 2012, the success of the Agni-5 mission is almost assured, following the successful test of the Agni-4 on November 14.
A look back at this year will establish that test of Agni-4 was the highpoint of India’s indigenous defence production programme in 2011.
Launched from the Wheelers’ Island off the coast of Odisha, the Agni-4, with a range of 3,200 to 3,700 km, has the capability to carry nuclear warheads.
Scientific advisor to the defence minister and DRDO director general Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat told DNA that the successful test of Agni-4, an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), represents a quantum leap in terms of missile technology in the country.
“Agni-4 is a major technology step up as far as our ballistic missile programme is concerned as we are in a different league altogether,” he said.
Besides paving the way ahead for the success of Agni-5, Agni-4, he says, will also give a tactical edge in the development of long range surface to air missiles (LR-SAM), medium range surface to air missiles (MR-SAM) and short range surface to air missile (SR-SAM).
“Apart from the missile technology maturing significantly as we are now self-reliant by about 85 % in developing the systems, we have also been able to do it in a cost effective way. Agni-4, which weighs the same as the Agni-2, can travel 1,000 km more than the latter. This shows that efficiency of the systems have matured significantly as we are able to carry more payloads on the same platforms,” he added.
Further, Agni-4 can be propelled on road mobile launchers, unlike its predecessors which were based on rail mobile launchers.
Agni-4 was earlier named Agni-II Prime which was a failure. The flight of Agni-II Prime which was scheduled in December 2010 plunged into the sea soon after the lift-off.
The testing of Agni-4 would be completed by the end of next year following which production would start in 2013.
The missile, which was test-fired on November 14, followed its trajectory, in a text book fashion, attained a height of about 900kms and reached the pre-designated target (after 20 minutes of flight) in the international waters of Bay of Bengal.
Agni-4 is lighter in weight compared to its predecessors and has two stages of solid propulsion and a payload with re-entry heat shield.
The composite rocket motor was used for the first time and the Missile System was equipped with modern and compact Avionics with Redundancy to provide high level of reliability.
Agni-5 will be India’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a strike range of about 5000 km. While Agni-5’s predecessors are in the range of 700 to 3,000 plus km range they have the capability to strike several of Pakistan cities.
Agni-5 can reach many of China’s cities. In the ICBM category, China has the Dongfeng missiles (DF-41, DF-31A, DF-31, DF-5A, DF-5 and DF-4) in its arsenal with an operational range between 5,000 and 15,000 km.