Thursday, February 11, 2010

5,500-km Agni-V Takes Off In A Year


I spent a few minutes interviewing Dr Avinash Chander, director of India's Agni missile programme (and Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory) on Wednesday evening. He is the country's most valuable rocket scientist today, but you wouldn't know it. Unassuming, quiet and supremely focused on his task, he's a man who has spent the last three years giving the Indian government options that it has never had before. And with the Agni-III strategic missile completing its testing stage and now ready for operational induction with India's Strategic Forces Command, it's time for the next big thing.

At this time next year, India will begin testing its longest range weapon yet, the newest in its Agni family of strategic ballistic missiles, named the Agni-V. According to DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat, the country's seniormost weapon scientist, "The Agni-V has moved out of the drawing board. We have crossed the metal cutting stage. We are now testing and evaluating subsystems and plan to conduct a first flight trial within a year."

According to Dr Chander, the Agni-V will be 22-metres long and approximately 1-ton heavier than the Agni-III. The Agni-V's navigation system and warhead will be identical to the Agni-III, as will a great deal of subsystems, aggregates and electronics. The team has stated that 60 per cent of the first missile system is complete, while the remainder involves the crucial third stage of the missile. Dr Chander revealed today that the challenges that lie ahead include changes in the payload structure, introduction of extra heating and slight changes to the re-entry mechanism. The Agni-V will also be the first Indian missile with a composite rocket motor as opposed to a metallic one.

"The problems we had with previous tests of the Agni-2 and Agni-III were not design defects but problems with quality assurance. We have rectified those problems and don't foresee any such hurdles on the Agni-V," Dr Chander said.

Clarifying that India did NOT have an independent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme, DRDO chief Dr Saraswat said, "The country's requirement right now is a missile with a range in the region of 5,000-km-plus. A missile with a range beyond this has not been identified as necessary for our strategic programme. However, we have the capability to build longer range missiles if the country calls upon us to do so. The building blocks are already in place."

Cocking a snook at the Chinese ballistic missile programme, Dr Chander told me, "I can say that our technology is maturer than theirs. And of course, there is no comparison at all with Pakistan. We are technologically way ahead of them. Of course, the Agni is our very own missile, not borrowed technology."

Agni-V Photo-impression by Shiv Aroor

18 comments :

Shailendra said...

I just saw news and came to know that Agni V will be a virtually end of Agni series missiles. Lets say atmost in 2 years Agni V will be inducted with Indian Army. What next will be done for these missiles ? something like these things -
1. Make the missiles supersonic or hypersonic
2. Can not be detected by any anti-missile or radar. May be use carbon composites as we are using in LCA
3. Make them as much as mobile.
4. Market them and sales to potential customers.

May be some more thoughts by others

Anonymous said...

Pardon my ignorance but why is it that only Indian missiles show stage separations and trusses. Other countries' missiles look like a seamless continuous tube.

IAMBOB said...

You mispelled, "Lie."
- "that lied ahead."

Anonymous said...

Congrats!

but...

"I can say that our technology is maturer than theirs. And of course, there is no comparison at all with Pakistan. We are technologically way ahead of them. Of course, the Agni is our very own missile, not borrowed technology."

Dr Chander is the head of Agni program. It is better if he refrains from making comments on policy matters, or intel that he may or may not be aware.

Anonymous said...

Warhead same as Agni III! Wasn't Agni V supposed to have a MIRV warhead?

Anonymous said...

What happened to the canister design and MIRV head?

GB said...

"I can say that our technology is maturer than theirs"
The chinese missile DF-31 with range of 7000 km is only 13m long while our Agni V will be 22m long. This would make DF-31 more mobile than our missile :(. Any advantages we have because of a bigger missile?

Anonymous said...

can any gurus answer anon5.11. i also have a similar doubt.TIA.

Anonymous said...

GB, 8:41,

Smaller missile does not make missile better rather its technology, accuracy, shield against ABM and stealthyness that makes them better.

Great Shiv.

Hail DRDO.

Anonymous said...

Though A-III is Indian answer to Chinese DF-21, A-V is no match to DF-31

Anonymous said...

While it's good news.

The problem is not about have technology.

I'm sure given enough support and managed well all of India's defense programs will meet the objectives and in time.

The trouble is that there needs to, first decision made and then the time is given to complete, scientists and R&D has to take their time, so unless the first part is complete the next will not move.

After all this is the crucial part in inducting and operating these systems in sufficient numbers.

Hope, we take care of all this soon and get the ball moving and keep things ready as needed.

The china view is that borrowed or any technology they have them inducted into the forces and are deployed.

Anonymous said...

Though not nitpicking the correct spelling would be 'laid' not 'lied' which means lying as per dictionary.net

rajan.shimlacools said...

"The country's requirement right now is a missile with a range in the region of 5,000-km-plus. A missile with a range beyond this has not been identified as necessary for our strategic programme. However, we have the capability to build longer range missiles if the country calls upon us to do so"
WHAT THAT SUPPOSE TO MEAN ??
INDIA DEFINETLY NEED ICBM WITH RANGE OF ABOVE 10,000Km. IF WE HAVE THE CAPEBILITY WHY WE NOT GOING FOR IT> MONEY IS NOT A PROBLEM I AM SURE.

A MAN WITH FIRST CAR AS MARUTI-800, if he had money would go for COROLLA not ALTO OR XING. :-))

iambob said...

Anon 8:23

No.
"Laid" is past tense; it would be a bit out of place in a sentence concerning the present or future.

iambob said...

I agree with Rajan(the guy on top ^).
This pointless limitation on missile range will eventually come to bite India in the Ass.

Anonymous said...

I long for a decent tube launched all terrain missile system. not another ISRO rocket on rail carriage. Agni-2 user trial failures dont surprise me. Its pencil thin structure even looks fragile. DRDO must learn that the system has to work not just in their experimental conditions but on the battelfield.

Anonymous said...

This is all well and good but we need a missile with 14,000 KM range to cover North American continent.

Also, comparision with Chinese is wrong, their program is ahead we must accept this reality. They have already deployed large number of ICBMs (which is why USA treats them with respect). Instead of getting into misguided arguments, focus on making longer range missiles.

Forget these incremental range 'enhancements', let us go straight to 15,000 KM and then fill in the gap with smaller ranged missiles.

Mr. Ra said...

QUOTE>>
Anonymous said...
Pardon my ignorance but why is it that only Indian missiles show stage separations and trusses. Other countries' missiles look like a seamless continuous tube.
5:11 AM
<<UNQUOTE

If I remember correctly, the design showing stage separation with the trusses has been finally accepted as facilitating the stage separation in a relatively better manner.