Why in News?
● Recently, Agni-5 ballistic missile, with 5,000-km range, successfully tested in India.
Though inducted over three years ago, India’s foremost Agni 5 ballistic missile was
tested for the first time by the user agency, the Strategic Forces Command.
● The nuclear-capable missile is India’s contender for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
(ICBM) with a range of 5,000 km.
What is the Agni 5 missile?
● Agni 5 is India’s long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, which can hit a target
with a precision that is 5,000 km away.
● This range puts almost the entire China within the missile’s target range. Though
officially an ICBM needs a missile to have a range of at least 5,500 km, the Agni 5 is
India’s closest contender for an ICBM, as it can reach countries across other continents,
including parts of Africa and Europe.
● Though the government has claimed that it has a maximum range of around 5,000 km,
several reports suggest that it can hit targets as distant as 8,000 km.
● The nuclear capable missile can carry a warhead of around 1,500 kg and has a launch
weight of 50,000 kg, making it one of the most potent missiles in the country.
What is the history of Agni missiles?
● India began testing the Agni series of missiles in 1989 with the first test for Agni 1, an
Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, with a range of around 1,000 km. At that time only
the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, France and Israel, had IRBM technology.
● Since then, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs have
continued to work on it, bringing the latest available Agni 5 to its present capability. In
addition to the IRBM-capable nations, only North Korea and the UK have ICBM
technology at the moment.
Why is it important for India?
● The government said in a statement , after the test, which was the first to be done
independently by the user agency—the Strategic Force Command, which is a joint
tri-services command, responsible for India’s nuclear weapons—that the test’s success
“is in line with India’s stated policy to have ‘credible minimum deterrence’ that
underpins the commitment to ‘No First Use’.”
● What makes Agni 5 agile is that it is a “canisterised” missile. It means that the missile
can be launched from road and rail platforms, making it easier for it to be deployed and
launched at a quicker pace.
● The canisterisation, which is an encapsulated system in which the missile is stored and
launched from, also gives the missile a longer shelf life, protecting it from the harsher
● While India is among the handful of nations with (arguably) ICBM capability, the next
generation of the missile, Agni VI, under development, is expected to have a range of
around 8,000 km.