Unless INDIA stands up to the world no one will respect us.
In this world fear has no place, only strength respects strength
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
- 4th June 2018 marks an important milestone in India’s Missile capability when its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Long Range Ballistic Missile Agni-5, which has a strike range of 5,000 km was successfully test-fired. At present, India has in its armory the Agni series — Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
- This achievement is the culmination of a long and arduous journey of the INDIAN, INTEGRATED MISSILE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME initiated in the early 1980s and has successfully overcome all obstacles and international resistance to be a member of the ELITE Missile Club of the world.
- Post independence, research in missile technology received an impetus from the Government and made steady progress over the years. In early1980s, the DEFENSE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT LABORATORIES (DRDL) had developed sufficient expertise in the fields of propulsion, navigation and manufacture of aerospace materials based on the study of Soviet rocketry technologies. Upgrading this proficiency to the next level was axiomatic and the political leadership felt the need to consolidate this expertise for achieving an integrated and holistic arsenal.
- The INTEGRATED GUIDED MISSILE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (IGMDP) was formally instituted under the stewardship of Dr Abdul Kalam in 1983. The scientists proposed developing one missile at a time but the defense ministry under Dr Venkatraman mandated the concurrent development of the complete family of missiles.
- This resulted in an evolution of the following missiles simultaneously
(a) Short range surface-to-surface missile (PRITHVI).
(b) Short range low-level surface-to-air missile (TRISHUL).
(c) Medium range surface-to-air missile (AKASH).
(d) Third-generation anti-tank missile (NAG).
- The Agni missile enjoined the IGMDP as a technology demonstrator project for re-entry vehicle, but later became part of the arsenal as a ballistic missile with different ranges. The Interim Test Range at Balasore in Orissa was concurrently developed as the official launch site for missile testing.
- The international community in particular the elite MISSILE TECHNOLOGY CONTROL REGIME (then an informal grouping of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) saw the dramatic progress of INDIA’s IGMDP which successfully test-fired the first Prithvi missile in 1988, and the Agni missile 1989. The REGIME decided to thwart India’s progress by restricting access to technology that would help India in the programme.
- India surmounted this hurdle by forming a consortium of defense research labs(DRDO), industries and academic institutions to develop sub systems, components and material indigenously. Though this process slowed down the pace of development the entire range of restricted components were successfully developed within organic resources.
- The PRITHVI family is a short range surface to surface tactical missile, developed as a battlefield missile to carry a nuclear warhead in its role as a tactical nuclear weapon. First test-fired on 25 February 1988 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, it has a range of up to 150 to 300 km.
- The land variant is called PRITHVI while the naval operational variant of PRITHVI I & PRITHVI II class missiles are named DHANUSH (meaning Bow). Both variants are used for surface targets. THE PRITHVI MISSILE specifications has since evolved continuously and undergone a number of changes. PRITHVI I class of missiles were inducted into the Indian Army in 1994, and PRITHVI II missiles were inducted in 1996. PRITHVI III class has a longer-range of 350 km and was successfully test fired in 2004.
- TRISHUL was a short-range surface-to-air missile developed as a part of the IGMDP. It had a range of 12 km and was fitted with a 5.5 kg warhead. It was conceived for low-level (sea skimming) targets at short range to defend naval vessels against missiles and as a land based short-range surface-to-air missile. India officially shut down the project on 27 February 2008.
- AKASH is a medium-range surface-to-air missile developed as part of India’s IGMDP to achieve self-sufficiency in the area of surface-to-air missiles. AKASH is a medium-range surface-to-air missile with an intercept range of 30 km. AKASH flies at supersonic speed, reaching around Mach 2.5. It can reach an altitude of 18 km. The missile has a terminal guidance system capable of working through electronic countermeasures.
- The first test flight of AKASH missile was conducted in 1990, with development flights up to March 1997. In December 2007 Indian Air Force completed user trials for the AKASH missile system. Consequently, the missile system was inducted formally into the Indian Air Force assets. The Indian army is also expected to follow suit.
- NAG is a third generation “Fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile. It is an all-weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km. NAG can be mounted on an infantry combat vehicle a helicopter launched version is also being evolved. Nag was test fired for the 45th time on 19 March 2005 from the Test Range at Ahmednagar. The production is subject to user trials and acceptance by the Indian Army.
- The Agni missile series was conceived as a “Re-Entry Vehicle” project and a Technology Demonstrator. The Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III missiles were developed under the IGMDP. The successful completion of the IGMDP after the third test of Agni-III was formally announced on 7 May 2008. Subsequent projects were to be developed as independent projects.
- Agni-IV was tested on 15 November 2011 and has a range of 3,000 km, and can carry a warhead of 1 ton. Agni-V with 5,000 km range was tested on 26 December 2016. Agni-V shares the similar design as Agni-III with an extra stage added to further increase the range by 1,500 km. Agni-V will be road mobile and it has been stated that all Indian missiles developed after this will be road mobile as well.
- BrahMos (Brahmaputra+Moskva rivers) is the world’s fastest cruise missile in operation. The missile travels at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service, with the air and submarine-launched versions currently in the testing phase. The missile BrahMos-2 being built under collaboration with Russia (under testing) is the fastest hypersonic missile in the world travelling at a speed of Mach-7 (7 times the speed of sound). Brahmos missile systems are the most accurate and are considered better than the next systems Tomahawk missile systems of USA. India in 2013 became the first country in the world to have a submarine-launched supersonic cruise missile (BrahMos).
- India is on the threshold of becoming one of the few powerful nations possessing a nuclear triad (strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles) rendering it as a member of the elite club which till now has only three countries USA, Russia and China.
- AGNI-VI is being developed to be capable of a range of 10000 kms, which would give India the power to strike any part of the world barring South America and very small parts of North America.