Agni-3

The Agni-3 is an intermediate-range, two-stage solid propellant ballistic missile. Compared to the original Agni-1 and Agni-2, the Agni-3 is shorter, wider, and capable of delivering a heavier warhead. Whereas the two-stage Agni-2 is 20 m long, the newer missile is only 16.7 m long. With a width of 1.85 m and a weight of 48,000 kg though, the Agni-3 delivers a heavier warhead a greater distance.1

At a Glance

Originated From: India
Possessed By: India
Class: Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM)
Basing: Rail-mobile, possible road-based TEL
Length: 16.7 m
Diameter: 1.85 m
Launch Weight: 48,000 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 2,000 kg
Warhead: Nuclear fusion 200-300 kT; possible MIRV version
Propulsion: 2-stage solid propellant
Range: 3,000-5,000 km
Status: Operational

Most estimates of the Agni-3’s range are between 3,000 and 3,200 km,2 though some sources list it as high as 5,000 km with the potential to reach 6,000 with better motors and a light payload.3 One explanation for the higher range estimates could be the development of a chromium coating, which Indian scientists claimed in 2008 would boost the range of the Agni-3 to 4,900 km.4 An Indian defense official claimed in 2008 that the induction of the Agni-3 meant New Delhi had the capability to strike even Shanghai in China.5

The maximum payload of the Agni-3 is 2,000 kg. Some suggest a fusion warhead of about 200-300 kT will be the primary warhead and others claim the Agni-3 could carry MIRVs, conventional high explosives, or submunitions.6 The RV likely uses an imaging infrared or active radar terminal correlation seeker, reported to have an accuracy of 40 m CEP.7

Rail-based launchers have exclusively fired the Agni-3 so far, though reports suggest future development of a truck TEL for a road-mobile version as well. In 2014, the Indian Ministry of Defence declared the Agni-3 part of the arsenal of the armed forces and the missile was part of its third user trial in April 2015.8

Sources

  1. James C. O’Halloran, “Agni 1/2/3/4/5,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 33.
  2. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2012,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 68 issue 4 (2012) 98; Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2015,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 71 issue 5 (2015) 80.
  3. James C. O’Halloran, “Agni 1/2/3/4/5,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 33.
  4. Karthik Subbaraman & Peerzada Abrar, “New tech to boost missile range by 40%,” The Economic Times, September 10, 2008, Accessed on http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2008-09-10/news/27724374_1_coating-longest-range-missile-missile-range.
  5. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2015,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 71 issue 5 (2015) 80.
  6. James C. O’Halloran, “Agni 1/2/3/4/5,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 34.
  7. James C. O’Halloran, “Agni 1/2/3/4/5,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 34.
  8. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2015,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 71 issue 5 (2015) 80.