Today on 1989, India successfully conducted a test flight for Agni I missile. Agni I is a Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and has a operational range of 700-1200 KM. In just 23 years, on 19 April 2012 India successfully test fired Agni V, a Inter Continental Balistic Missile with operational range of 5000-8000 KM.
Russia, United States, China, France, India, the United Kingdom and North Korea are the only countries that have operational ICBMs.
On the eve of 31st century of Agni I first test, let’s see how India developed a ICBM indigenously.
37 years ago, India felt that it was time to develop a Balistic Missile which can provide a heart of deterrence in times of war. In 1983 India formed the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program IGMDP for Missile development & Production.
Agni I is a Medium Range Balistic Missile (MRBM) began its development in 1979 and it became the part of IGMDP in 1983. It is a two-stage missile with the first stage using the solid-fuel booster motor of the SLV-3 (satellite launch vehicle). This marked the first time that India had used directly a component of its civilian space research program for military purposes.
India Conducted 3 trials for Agni I before 1995. First trial on 22 May 1989, and then on 29 May 1992; 19 February 1994. Though the second trial was a partial failure as the mission objective could not be achieved fully, but the third test was successful.
Results:- Agni I wasn’t fit for weaponization. The missile hits upto the maximum range of 1500 KM but the combination of first stage solid fuel and second stage liquid fuel makes the missile immobile. It requires half a day of preparation to fire and has CEP 100 meters (Circular Error Probability) which was fairly inaccurate.
In 1995, India suspends the missile test program because United States forced India to suspends the testing of Agni missiles. However in 1997, Prime Minister Gowda said that India had no intention of giving up the program permanently, but there was no development in the program.
In 1998 BJP government came into power in center. The Vajpayee government is interested in India’s nuclear program and announced that a new version of the Agni with an extended range was under development.
On 11 April 1999, India successfully test Agni II to a range of approximately 2000-2200 km. The new Agni incorporates a better navigation and guidance system an d the missile informed about tge flight path through GPS. The accuracy of the Missile increase with CEP of just 40 meters.
This time India uses a solid fuel propulsion system in both the stages which allows the missile more mobile and can be ready to launch within 15 minutes.
The missile was capable in carrying conventional and nuclear warheads and are claimed to be a part of the “credible deterrence” against China and Pakistan. Though New Delhi stated that its nuclear and missile development program are not Pakistan centric as Pakistan was not a only security threat to India.
After the success of Agni II, India used the first stage of the system to develop the 700-1200 km range single-stage Agni I, which was first tested in January 2002.
Agni III is the third installment in Agni series. It uses two stage solid fuel propulsion. Agni III first tested in 9 July 2006 from Wheeler Island Odhisa. This first test of the missile was partial success as the second stage from rocket did not separate. It was again tested on 12 April 2007, this time successfully.
Agni III is able to hit target in between 3000-5000 KM with a CEP of 40 meters best in its class.
Agni IV has a range of 3000-4000 KM. This missiles was earlier known as Agni II prime. It was first tested on 15 November 2011 and 19 September 2012 from Wheeler Island off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa for its full range of 4,000 km.
Agni IV can carry a warheads upt 1 tonnes. It is a 2 stage missile powered by solid proponent. It can be fired from mobile launcher.
Agni V is a Inter Continental Balistic Missile (ICBM) developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation of India. It was successfully test fired first time on 19 April 2012. This Missile has a strike range of 5000-8000 KM.
Agni-V ICBM has been designed with the addition of a third composite stage to the two-stage Agni-III missile. To reduce the weight it is built with high composite content.