The Agni-IV is an Indian solid-fueled intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with a range of up to 4,000 km. The two-stage missile, previously named Agni-II Prime, is a derivative of the Agni-II MRBM with extended range. India has flight tested the Agni-IV eight times since its first test in 2010.
Agni-IV at a Glance
- Originated from
- Intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)
- Possessed by
- 20.0 m
- Launch weight
- 17,000 kg
- 1,000 kg
- Nuclear or conventional
- Two-stage solid propellant
- 3,000 – 4,000 km
- In development
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) began developing a 5,000 km-class missile named the Agni-IV in 2007.1 In 2011, the DRDO reapplied the Agni-IV designation to an upgraded variant of the Agni-II, the Agni-II Prime, developed by its Advanced Missile Laboratory in Hyderabad.2 This missile featured an enlarged first stage motor, an upgraded second stage motor, improved guidance and electronics, and new thrust vector control systems compared to the original Agni-II.
The Agni-IV’s first flight test took place on December 10, 2010; the missile crashed into the sea shortly after launch due to errors its control system.3 The DRDO conducted the missile’s second test at its Odisha Integrated Test Range on November 15, 2011. Launched from a road-mobile launch truck, the Agni-IV travelled 3,000 km and reached a maximum altitude of 900 km before landing in the Bay of Bengal.4
On September 19, 2012, the DRDO successfully test launched the Agni-IV to a range of 4,000 km. The test missile reportedly carried a live conventional payload, which landed near its target with an accuracy of under 100 meters.5
On January 20, 2014, the DRDO successfully flight tested the Agni-IV to a range of 4,000 km. Launched from a road-mobile launcher, the missile reached a maximum altitude of 850 km before landing in the Indian Ocean. The missile reportedly carried a mock nuclear warhead (“the entire warhead minus the nuclear part”), detonating its conventional explosive lenses near its target. 6
|December 10, 2010||Failure||DRDO trial; trajectory deviation seconds after launch due to Stage 1 control system failure. Crashed into sea.|
|November 15, 2011||3,000 km||900 km||Success||DRDO trial; carried 800 kg explosive payload|
|September 19, 2012||4,000 km||Success||DRDO trial; carried explosive payload; landed in sea under 100 m accuracy|
|January 20, 2014||4,000 km||850 km||Success||DRDO trial; carried mock-nuclear payload with explosive lenses|
|December 2, 2014||Over 3,500 km||Success||SFC user trial|
|November 9, 2015||Success||SFC user trial|
|January 2, 2017||3,100 km||Success||SFC user trial|
|December 3, 2018||Success||SFC user trial|
On December 2, 2014, the Indian Army Strategic Forces Command (SFC) conducted its first user trial of the Agni-IV, successfully launching it to a range of “over more than 3,500 km.” The trial was the first of three to four tests typically conducted before induction into service.7 SFC conducted three additional successful tests on November 9, 2015, January 2, 2017, and December 3, 2018.8
The Agni-IV is two-stage, solid-fueled missile weighing 17,000 kg. The missile is approximately 20 meters long and 1.2 meters in diameter at its lower stage. It is designed to carry a 1,000 kg payload to ranges up to 4,000 km, but in 2017 Indian Army sources suggested it would test the missile to ranges under 3,500 km to meet user requirements. 9 The Indian Ministry of Defence has, on various occasions, claimed the missile’s range as 3,000 km, 3,500 km, and 4,000 km.10
The Agni-IV uses a 1.2 meter-diameter, maraging steel-cased first stage and a roughly 1 meter-diameter carbon-fiber-cased second stage to generate 710 and 39.5 kN of average thrust respectively. It employs an inertial guidance system with ring laser gyroscopes and flexseal thrust vectoring systems to control its orientation in flight.11 According to India’s defense ministry, the missile is accurate to less than 100 meters circular error probable (CEP) at a range of 4,000 km.12 It is capable of loading nuclear and conventional payloads, and was reportedly tested with unitary conventional and partly assembled nuclear payloads in tests. Its nuclear payload is estimated to weigh 1,000 kg.
- Y. Mallikarjun, “DRDO begins work on Agni-IV missile, first trial likely in early 2009,” The Hindu, August 9, 2007, https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/DRDO-begins-work-on-Agni-IV-missile-first-trial-likely-in-early-2009/article14812678.ece,
- T.S. Subramanian, “Agni-IV test-flight a ‘stupendous success,’ The Hindu, November 15, 2011, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/agniiv-testflight-a-stupendous-success/article2629274.ece; T.S. Subramanian, “Agni II Prime to be tested again,” The Hindu, November 11, 2011, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/agni-ii-prime-to-be-tested-again/article2615949.ece.
- “Agni-II Prime nuclear-capable missile successfully test-fired,” The Indian Express, November 14, 2011.
- Subramanian 2011
- T.S. Subramanian, “Agni-IV scores a hit yet again,” The Hindu, September 20, 2012, https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/agniiv-scores-a-hit-yet-again/article3916483.ece.
- T.S. Subramanian, “Agni-IV scores yet again,” The Hindu, January 21, 2014, https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/agniiv-scores-yet-again/article5598945.ece; Sanjay Badri-Maharaj, “The Agni-II Trial Failure: Evaluation rather than Flagellation is needed,” Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, May 15, 2017, https://idsa.in/idsacomments/agni-ii-trial-failure-evaluation-rather-than-flagellation-is-needed_sbmaharaj_150517; T. S. Subramanian, “Agni-IV missile successfully flight tested,” The Hindu, January 20, 2014, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/agniiv-missile-successfully-test-fired/article5596563.ece.
- T.S. Subramanian, “India successfully tests nuclear capable Agni IV missile,” The Hindu, December 3, 2014, https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/india-successfully-tests-nuclear-capable-agni-iv-missile/article6656285.ece; Y. Mallkarjun, “First user trial of Agni IV on Dec 2,” The Hindu, November 30, 2014, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/first-user-trial-of-agni-iv-on-dec-2/article6646763.ece.
- “Nuclear capable, long-range Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired,” Hindustan Times, November 9, 2015, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/nuclear-capable-long-range-agni-iv-missile-sucessfully-test-fired/story-PDj8emHBp6R1foQovDLcvL.html; T.S. Subramanian, “Agni-IV test a ‘grand success,'” The Hindu, January 3, 2017, https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/Agni-IV-test-a-‘grand-success’/article16980733.ece; “Nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired,” The Hindu, December 23, 2018, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nuclear-capable-agni-iv-missile-successfully-test-fired/article25811990.ece.
- Subramanian 2017
- “Milestones in Indigenous Defence R&D during the Year 2011:” Release ID 79092, India Press Information Bureau, December 21, 2011; “Republic Day Parade 2012: A Curtain Raiser,” Release ID 79885, India Press Information Bureau, January 25, 2012; “Achievements of the Ministry of Defence during the Year 2012,” Release ID 90913, India Press Information Bureau, December 18, 2012.
- Subramanian 2011; Rajaram Nagappa, Evolution of Solid Propellant Rockets in India (New Delhi: Defence Research and Development Organisation, 2013).
- “Successful flight testing of AGNI-IV,” Release ID 87855, India Press Information Bureau, September 19, 2012.