Social media has gone dippy with an image of presumably an AGNI-V in an all composite cannister roll, mounted on what looks like a Volvo multi-axle truck. An accordion type tarpaulin system for inclement weather protection behind the driver’s cabin can also be seen.
Riding high on the success of several mission last year, with the “5,000”-plus km range missile in its arsenal, India is the eighth nation in the world to have ICBM capabilities. Though nothing is known about the capabilities of PLA’s ballistic missiles, AGNI-V was reported to have one of the best accuracy levels among all ICBMs in its class by none other than the Project Director of AGNI-V Tessy Thomas, that the missile achieved single-digit accuracy in its second test. This makes AGNI-V one of the deadliest missile in the world. A symbol of DRDO’s technological excellence, the missile equipped with highly accurate ring laser gyro based inertial navigation and most modern micro inertial navigation system with advanced compact avionics is capable of taking down targets in whole of Asia and half of Europe.
One of the key improvements in the Agni-V system is its ability to be canister launched. Canister launched system indicates that missiles could be mated with their warheads. There is a concern therefore that canister launched missile could indicate that India could make a shift from its ‘recessed deterrence posture’ to a ‘ready deterrent posture’. Recessed deterrence posture is a posture in which missiles are not mated with their warheads while in ready deterrent posture the warheads are mated with their delivery systems. Recessed deterrence posture puts lesser burden on the command and control of the nuclear forces, hence, managing a ready deterrent posture could be a challenge for the nuclear command and control in India. The cannisterised Agni-V gives the forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport as per requirement on a short notice. Canister launched missiles can be preserved for years.
New Delhi has been very careful to restrict the range of the missile at the moment to 5000km by keeping the missile’s flight trajectory a depressed one. A depressed and lofted trajectory result in the reduction of range of the missile. There are also reports that the range of the missile was purposely restricted to an IRBM capability due to diplomatic pressures from the US, though these reports have been denied by the government of India.
Although the defence strategists had planned an early induction of Agni-V compared to its medium and intermediate range siblings, the Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has fast-tracked the process.
The New Indian Express reported that Agni-V in the future would be equipped with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). MIRVs are multiple warheads fitted on a single re-entry vehicle. These warheads are miniaturised nuclear warheads rather than a single warhead. Such systems enable a ballistic missile to evade enemy missile defence system. The missile like the other ones in the Agni category missile system is a solid-propellant missile system that is mobile.
It should be noted that the authenticity of the Tweet is unverifiable.