The Indian missile arsenal serves a number of purposes in New Delhi’s defense strategy. Fundamentally, its ballistic missile arsenal is a means to deliver nuclear weapons to deter both Pakistan and China. The latter requirement has forced the development of not only longer range missiles to threaten major Chinese cities that are bunched on its eastern coast, but also the need to diversify the delivery platforms beyond simple road mobile missiles. To this end, India has developed ship-launched and sub-launched ballistic missiles, and worked with Russia to produce an air-launched cruise missile.

Ostensibly these developments are all to support India’s minimum deterrence doctrine, but as their missile arsenal develops, doubts grow about how firmly they will hew to that doctrine. In particular, the developments of both canister launched missiles, which can be fired much more quickly, and MIRV technology, which was often considered a first strike technology during the Cold War, raise doubts about the future trajectory of New Delhi’s posture. Still there is little talk of India abandoning its doctrine of no-first-use, and many of these moves can be thought of as responses to developments in the Chinese arsenal. The development of an effective sub-launched missile capability could also preserve the retaliatory role of India’s arsenal if it raises confidence about survivability.

Missile Types

Missile Menu Order
Prithvi-I 21
Dhanush 24
Prahaar 25
Agni-1 26
Agni-2 27
Agni-3 28
Agni-4 29
Agni-5 30
Sagarika/Shaurya 31
BrahMos 32
Nirbhay 33