Agni-5

The Agni-5 is India’s developing ICBM program, which consists of a three stage solid fueled missile potentially with MIRVed warheads.1 Though the missile has only been tested out to 5,000 km, classifying it as an intermediate range missile,2 news reports and officials consistently refer to the missile as an ICBM, potentially suggesting an extended range.3 It was first tested in 2012, and then successfully tested again in 2013 and 2015.

At a Glance

Originated From: India
Possessed By: India
Class: InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
Basing: Road-mobile
Length: 17.5-20 m
Diameter: 2.0-2.2 m
Launch Weight: 49,000-55,000 kg
Warhead: Unknown
Propulsion: Three-stage solid propellant
Range: 5,000-8,000 km
Status: Development

The Agni-5 is carried by a road-mobile truck, allowing the missile to move throughout the country. The 2015 test also was the first canister launch of the missile, allowing easier storage of missiles and quicker launches.4 A fourth test scheduled for 2016 has been delayed multiple times, reportedly because of a technical problem with the battery.5 Some sources have suggested that this test may be the last before operationalization in 2017,6 though the DRDO has claimed that it will take three more tests before moving to user trials with the Army.7

While many have suspected the Agni-5 will carry MIRVed warheads, it is unclear that India has developed the capability yet. Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris argue that the expense of developing MIRVs and potential incompatibility with India’s no-first-use doctrine suggest that these reports are overblown.8 Indian officials however maintain that they are working towards MIRVed warheads and maneuvering warheads as well to defeat ballistic missile defenses.9

Sources

  1. James C. O’Halloran, “Agni 1/2/3/4/5,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 33.
  2. Zachary Keck, “Destination Beijing: India to Test ‘China-Killer’ Nuke Missile,” The National Interest, January 30, 2015, Accessed on http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/designation-beijing-india-test-china-killer-nuke-missile-12156.
  3. Jhinuk Chowdhury, “The Agni-V and India’s ICBM Strategy,” The Diplomat, February 5, 2015, Accessed on http://thediplomat.com/2015/02/the-agni-v-and-indias-icbm-strategy/.
  4. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2015,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 71 issue 5 (2015) 80.
  5. The Economic Times, “ICBM Agni-V stuck due to technical snag: DRDO chief S Christopher,” July 3, 2016, Accessed on http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/icbm-agni-v-stuck-due-to-technical-snag-drdo-chief-s-christopher/articleshow/53031884.cms.
  6. Aditya Bhat, “’Final’ Agni-V canister test to be conducted soon, PM Modi may attend missile trial,” International Business Times India, March 5, 2016, Accessed on http://www.ibtimes.co.in/final-agni-v-canister-test-be-conducted-soon-pm-modi-may-attend-missile-trial-669487#olZLfxMssbD3kdOJ.97.
  7. The Economic Times, “ICBM Agni-V stuck due to technical snag: DRDO chief S Christopher,” July 3, 2016, Accessed on http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/icbm-agni-v-stuck-due-to-technical-snag-drdo-chief-s-christopher/articleshow/53031884.cms.
  8. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Indian nuclear forces, 2015,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear notebook, Vol. 71 issue 5 (2015) 81.
  9. Express News Service, “DRDO Gears up for Canister Launch of Agni-V,” The New Indian Express, February 6, 2016, Accessed on http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/DRDO-Gears-up-for-Canister-Launch-of-Agni-V/2016/02/01/article3255695.ece.