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Agni-5, India's answer to China's lethal missile

Last updated: 11 February, 2010
New Delhi:Feb 10, DHNS: 1:17 IST

India’s ultimate ballistic missile—nuclear-capable Agni-5 that can hit an enemy target 5,000 km away—will be ready for its maiden flight trial next year.

Chief military scientist V K  Saraswat, left, and Programme Director AGNI missile Avinash Chander pose with a model of the Agni missile in New Delhi on Wednesday. AP The strategic missile, which once developed could hit objects deep inside China, has moved from the drawing board to the testing phase in which various sub-systems and rocket motors are being tested, V K Saraswat, scientific adviser to the defence minister, said here.

The three-stage missile will be slightly longer and heavier than the 3500-km range Agni-3 whose last development trial was successfully conducted last Sunday.
Missile diameter, warhead and key components in the navigational system will be the same as Agni-3.

Avinash Chander, director for the Agni programme said 40 per cent of Agni-5 would be new while 60 per cent would come from the existing A3 block.
Scientists admitted there were design challenges in the propulsion system, in the control and guidance for the payload's re-entry and in the payload design. “But these are not insurmountable challenges,” Saraswat said.
He said Agni-5 would be India’s answer to China’s Dong Feng-31 and DF-41 which could strike at a distance of 6,000 to 8,000 km.

Saraswat denied India having an intercontinental ballistic missile programme. “We are developing only Agni-5 with a 5000-km plus range. It is required for full deterrence,” he said.

He, however, admitted that Agni-5's range could be increased by reducing its payload weight. But since it is a strategic missile with a specific mission, reducing the payload would not serve the mission objectives.

Range and lethality of a missile depends on threat perception. As the building blocks for ICBM-range missile are basically the same, it can be integrated as and when the requirement arises depending on the threat perception. Saraswat said Agni-3, the 3,500-km-range strategic missile, was in the process of induction. And the DRDO was ready to hand it over to the strategic forces command.

The missile that can carry 1.5 tonnes of nuclear-capable warhead underwent four flight tests. The first in 2006 failed. But three subsequent tests succeeded.
Asked why more tests were not being conducted before announcing the missile’s readiness, Chander said three tests were adequate to improve the parameters. However, since 80-100 tests are to establish a missile's reliability, that could not be established in three tests, he said.
DH News Service

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