Indian Missile Program Updates

Mission Divyastra: Agni-5 Missile with MIRV Technology


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agni Missiles, MIRV Technology

Mains level: India's missile arsenal and the deterrence created

In the news

  • India’s recent successful testing of an Agni-5 Missile equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology with multiple warhead capabilities, termed Mission Divyastra, marks a significant milestone in the nation’s defense capabilities.

What are Agni Missiles?

  • Agni missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable surface to surface ballistic missile.
  • The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) and tested in 1989.
  • After its success, Agni missile program was separated from the IGMDP upon realizing its strategic importance.
  • It was designated as a special program in India’s defence budget and provided adequate funds for subsequent development.

Variants of Agni missiles

  1. Agni I: It is a Medium Range Ballistic Missile with a Range of 700-800 km.
  2. Agni II: It is also a Medium Range Ballistic Missile with a Range more than 2000 km.
  3. Agni III: It is also an Inter-Medium Range Ballistic Missile with Range of more than 2,500 Km
  4. Agni IV: It is also an Inter-Medium Range Ballistic Missile with Range is more than 3,500 km and can fire from a road mobile launcher.
  5. Agni-V: Currently it is the longest of Agni series, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km.
  6. Agni- VI: The longest of the Agni series, an ICBM with a range of ICBM 11,000–12,000 km.

About Agni-5 Missiles

  • Indigenous Development: Agni missiles, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), have been integral to India’s defense arsenal since the early 1990s.
  • MIRV Technology: The latest variant of Agni incorporates Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology, a sophisticated capability possessed by only a handful of countries globally.

Developments in MIRV Technology

  • Targeting Versatility: MIRV technology enables a single missile to target multiple locations, potentially hundreds of kilometers apart, significantly enhancing its operational effectiveness.
  • Range and Strategic Focus: Agni, equipped with nuclear warheads, boasts a range exceeding 5,000 km, primarily aimed at countering threats from China.
  • Limited MIRV-Equipped Nations: Currently, major nations possessing MIRV-equipped missiles include the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom, with emerging capabilities in Pakistan and Israel.
  • Complex Technology: Developing MIRV technology requires miniaturization of warheads, independent guidance systems, and sequential release mechanisms, making it a challenging endeavor.

Strategic Significance of the Mission Divyastra

  • Versatile Strike Capabilities: MIRV-equipped missiles enable simultaneous strikes on multiple targets, overwhelming enemy defenses and maximizing damage potential.
  • Deterrence and Defense Penetration: These missiles pose a significant challenge to missile defense systems, as multiple warheads with independent trajectories can thwart interception efforts.
  • Strategic Balance and Deterrence: For nations like India with a no-first-use policy, MIRV technology enhances the credibility of response strikes, serving as a potent deterrent against aggression.

Try this PYQ from CS Prelims 2014:

Which reference to Agni-IV Missile, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. It is a surface-to-surface missile.
  2. It is fuelled by liquid propellant only.
  3. It can deliver one-tonne nuclear warheads about 7500 km away.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3


Post your answers here.
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