Agni-V is a  canisterized, road mobile, 5,000 km range, nuclear capable missile being developed under a Rs 2,500 crore project sanctioned by the Government of India in 2008.

The missile can be launched from anywhere in India in any direction with minimum launch preparation. Users need to specify just the launch and target co-ordinates; the missile automatically computes its flight trajectory. 

"The course of the missile changes depending upon in-flight estimation of system performance.  It has several very strong built-in safety features," a source told The Indian Express.

At a Glance

 Range 5,000 km
 Stages Three
 Warhead Weight 1.5 ton
 Warhead Type Single
 MIRV warheads under development.
 Total Weight  50 ton
 Dimensions 17.2 m long, 2 m diameter
 Status     Design completed.  First Test - Early 2011

Use of Composites

In 2007, the DRDO developed a large rocket motor-casing made entirely of carbon filament-wound composite, a crucial step towards building Agni-V. 

The missile is being developed by adding an all composite third state to the two-stage, 3, 500km Agni III missile.

Engineering the third stage was a major technology challenge. “The third stage, which slopes into the warhead stage, has a conical motor. So far, we have only been doing cylindrical motors; never a shaped motor,” Advanced Systems Laboratory director Avinash Chander told the press in October 2011.

"Agni V has strike range of 5,000 km and is built with high composite content to reduce its weight. The first stage is made of composites while the missile's second and third stages have a large content of composites," Advanced Systems Laboratory director Avinash Chander told the press on the sidelines of the 98th Indian Science Congress held at SRM University in Kattankulathur, Chennai on January 6, 2011.

He said at 49 tons, Agni V weighs just one ton more than Agni III but its range has gone up far more.

Commonality with Agni-III

The missile will have 60% commonality of components with Agni III, including its ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer.

The gyroscope was developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), sister laboratory of ASL, and is part of DRDO's missile complex in Hyderabad.

The ring laser is also fitted on the Shourya tactical missile.

Navigation System

Agni-V uses (Ring-laser gyro-based Inertial Navigation System [RINS] and Micro-Navigation System [MINGS]. The RINS is the same as the one used on Agni-III and Agni-IV. It was developed by Research Center Imarat (RCI), sister laboratory of ASL, a part of DRDO's missile complex in Hyderabad.

The MINGS was first used on Agni-IV

The ring laser is also fitted on the Shourya tactical missile.


The electronics systems are highly integrated with digital connectivity to minimise cabling. 

“What used to be tens of km of cabling has been reduced considerably," a source told the Indian Express in January 2012.

Development Progress

In January 2012, Indian Express reported that  flight systems are being integrated with final tests getting under way.

On June 3, 2011, TOI reported that all the three stages had been tested on the ground and the missile is currently being integrated.

"We have tested the three (solid-propellant composite rocket motor) stages of Agni-V independently...all ground tests are now over. The integration process is now in progress. We want to test the missile in December, not let it spill over to 2012," said DRDO chief VK Saraswat.

On February 10, 2010, speaking to the press VK Saraswat had said the design of the missile has been completed and subsystem testing and material cutting is in progress.

"Agni-V has crossed material cutting stage and subsystem testing is going on. Agni-V is derivative of Agni-III. Practically it is the same missile but it is five metres longer and one tonne heavier. Its navigation system is same.

"Sixty percent missile is available and we are just adding another stage. It will be a three-stage missile and it is the first time we will be building a three-stage missile."

First Test

The first test of the missile is scheduled in early March, 2012.

"Right now we are doing integration in respect of Agni 5," V. K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, told reporters on February 13, 2012 on the sidelines of a function to mark the silver jubilee of Defence Avionics and Research Establishment.

"Integration of Agni 5 is on, one at Hyderabad and the other at Wheeler Island. Later part of March we will be launching this ICBM...", he said. [viaPTI]

On January 19, 2012, Chief Controller for Life Sciences and International Cooperation at DRDO W Selvamurthy told the press, "We are planning to test the missile in full operational configuration by the end of February. If it doesn’t happen, it will definitely be in the first week of March.” 

He confirmed that all the three stages of the missile have been successfully tested at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district. [ via CNN-IBN]

Following the successful second test of the Agni-IV missile on November 15, 2011, DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat said in New Delhi on Wednesday, November 16, 2011:

“Agni-V is presently undergoing integration and we may test fire it by the end of February next year. It is right on schedule and the successful test of Agni-IV will prove to be a building block in development of this missile.”

On September 27, 2011, DRDO Chief V K Saraswat told the press, "The first development flight of Agni-V will be in the month of December this year... Agni-V will take us to a level of 5000 km plus class of missile systems which meets all our threat requirements."

Following the successful testing of Prahaar missile on July 21, 2011, V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, told Hindu from Chandipur in Orissa.

“All the three stages of Agni-V have been tested successfully on the ground. The integration activity of Agni-V is now in progress. Our team, headed by Avinash Chander, is working hard for launching Agni-V in December. It will be a national mission.”

On June 3, 2011, speaking on the sidelines of the annual DRDO award function in New Delhi, DRDO chief VK Saraswat said, "Agni-V missile would be ready for test by the end of this year, probably in December." 

He made the remark in response to questions from media, after Defense Minister AK Antony asked the DRDO to develop the Agni-V at the earliest during is address at the event.

Earlier, Chief Controller, research and development of DRDO, W Selvamurthy, said in Pune on Thursday, April 29, 2011 that the first test of the missile is scheduled in March 2012. 

Speaking to the press on January 6, 2011, Advanced Systems Laboratory director Avinash Chander told the press that the missile will be tested by the end of the year. 
Speaking to the press on September 12, 2010, DRDO Director General and Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defense V.K. Sarsawat had said:

"Agni-V should be ready to be test-fired anytime next year. It is an intermediate-range ballistic missile,” said the Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defense.

Test Trajectory

Speaking to Business Standard in October 2011, ASL director, Avinash Chander said the missile will fly southward, re-entering the atmosphere over the Tropic of Capricorn and splashing down at the target somewhere between the southern tip of Africa and Australia.

“No Indian missile has ever travelled so far except for ISRO rockets... For the Agni-5 we have to develop a network of tracking systems, which will do the job out to 5000 km and beyond. And our ships will have to be at the target area to collect the data,” Chander added.

Tracking Radars

Besides the existing radars at Chandipur, Dhamra, Puri and Mahakalpada, one radar will be placed at Andamans and another X-band radar in a ship which will track the missile till its point of impact. If required, another radar will be positioned at Visakhapatnam. [via Express News Service].source.

MIRV Warheads

VK Saraswat, DRDO's Chief Controller of Missiles and Strategic Systems, told Business Standard in May 2008 that DRDO is working on a 5,000 km range Agni-5 missile, with multiple warheads (MIRVs) that can maneuver and send out decoys to confuse enemy anti-missile defenses. 

In October 2008, ASL Director Avinash Chander told Business Standard: 

“We have made major progress on the MIRVs in the last two years.”

Chief Controller R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems) at DRDO, Avinash Chander, said.

On January 15, 2012, Chief Controller R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems) at DRDO, Avinash Chander, told the press that Agni-V will feature Multiple Independently-Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) with each missile being capable of carrying 3-10 separate warheads, 

He was addressing a press conference at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory to mark the conclusion of its year-long golden jubilee celebrations.

MIRV technology is very similar to the multiple satellite launch technology that ISRO has mastered and repeatedly demonstrated using its PSLV launcher. However, warhead separation requires a higher degree of accuracy than satellite separation. MIRV is effective only when accuracy of the individual warheads is high, allowing relatively small warheads to be targeted at widely dispersed targets.

MIRVed missiles deployed on nuclear submarines represent a potent second strike capability in support of a no first use nuclear doctrine like the one embraced by India.

Canister Launch

The mobile missile will be the first Indian strategic missile capable of canister launch, allowing it to be deployed and launched from any part of the country. A canister launch capability is also compatible with reports that the missile will ultimately equip India's newly launched nuclear powered submarine - INS Arihant.

Placing the missile in a hermetically sealed canister facilitates long term storage. The missile canister is made of maraging steel allowing it to withstand the 300 to 400 t shock generated when the  50-ton ejected out.

All future missiles will be canister based ASL Director Avinash Chander told Business Standard in October 2009, 

“The Agni-5 is specially tailored for road-mobility,” explains Avinash Chander, Director, ASL. “With the canister having been successfully developed, all India’s future land-based strategic missiles will be canisterised as well”.

Canister technology was initially developed for the naval variant of Brahmos missile. The technology was completely mastered during the development of the K-15 missiles that will initially equip INS Arihant.


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