India developing missile deterrence against PRC

India developing missile deterrence against PRC

Mandeep Singh

India’s Agni missile program is supplying the country’s Armed Forces with domestically produced medium- and long-range missiles to counter the arsenal of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

India successfully tested the Agni V missile, pictured, in late October 2021. The Agni V has a range of 5,000 kilometers. India also tested the medium-range Agni Prime, which can hit targets at 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers, in late June 2021.

India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed the Agni V and Agni Prime for the country’s tri-service Strategic Forces Command (SFC), India’s Ministry of Defence reported. Although the DRDO has previously tested Agni V missiles, the October 27, 2021, launch of the 50-ton, three-stage Agni V was the first by the SFC and the first at night. The missile’s 5,000-kilometer journey ended with a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.

The June 28, 2021, launch of the 24-ton, two-stage Agni Prime was the DRDO’s first reported launch of the missile. It met “all mission objectives” with a high level of accuracy, the Defence Ministry stated.

The tests are in keeping with India’s goal of having a “credible minimum deterrence,” according to the Defence Ministry. Each of the nuclear-capable missiles was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, which is about 225 kilometers southwest of Kolkata, Jane’s Defence reported.

The Agni V and Agni Prime are “canisterized” missiles that release pressurized gas from a sealed canister before the rocket motor is ignited, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Missile Defense Project. This technology, sometimes known as a cold-launch system, lowers the thermal stress on the launch vehicle. The missile’s enclosed canister is also designed to protect it from adverse weather conditions, lowering maintenance costs.

Jane’s reported that the missiles are “road-mobile,” and that the Agni Prime also can be launched from a rail-mobile base.

The single-warhead Agni V strengthens India’s deterrent position against the PRC, The Times of India newspaper reported. The PRC’s missiles include the Dong Feng-41, which has a range of 12,000 to 15,000 kilometers and can strike any Indian city. Beijing has also reportedly embarked on a massive development of missile silos for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The DRDO began developing the Agni V in 2008 and carried out seven tests between 2012 and 2018. India’s missile arsenal also includes the Agni-1, which has a range of 700 kilometers, the Agni-2, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers, and the Agni-3 and Agni-4, which have a range of 2,500 kilometers to more than 3,500 kilometers.

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.